The Safe Webspaces Project Helps Introduce Kids to the Internet

by Kelly Walsh on August 14, 2011

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KiwiCommons provides a space for young students to ease into web browsing with ‘Internet Immunity’.

Guest Post by Tim Szeto

The emergence of the digital generation means educators have had to change their teaching methods to include technology in the classroom to keep students engaged. With this emerging technology, however, we are also opening the doors to the world wide web. And those doors are wide open for students to rush through, without the right tools.

So how do we properly introduce the Internet to students, without thrusting them into a realm where distracting content and online risks reside?

Kiwi Commons picture and link

Building “Internet Immunity”
The Experts from Kiwi Commons believe that helping build a child’s Internet immunity is the best way to equip them with the right skills to make good and responsible decisions online. Just like in the real world where children need to be exposed to their outside environment to build an immunity to certain germs and bacteria, children also need to build an immunity to the risks of the online world. A filtered Internet helps shelter children from these dangers, but as they grow older, they need to be eased off the sheltering, into a completely unfiltered web. The process however, is a gradual one and involves a period of time in which the child is using a partially filtered web. Without this immunity to the Internet, students are likely to fall on the wrong side of the digital divide.

Internet Immunity needs to develop over time, and because of this it is important that online learning be guided through appropriate content. A major part of building Internet Immunity is teaching young people that their online actions, no matter how minor, have a much larger audience than their actions do in the real world. The consequences can be unexpected and could potentially expose a child to risk. 

We need to teach and reinforce core skills so that we all understand key facts about online activity, including:

  • How the Internet works
  • What kind of dangers exist online
  • What can be done to keep personal information private

There is a wide range of tools out there to help educators teach students these online skills. Google Safe Search is a great tool for teachers to filter web content and ensures that no inappropriate content is available through search engine results. However, the one major downfall of Google Safe Search is the advertisements. The ads on the popular search engine are not filtered and many times, illicit content shows up on the automated ads.

YouTube also has it’s own filtering. Safety Mode is a great way to make use of educational media, from Montessori activities to videos from Ivy league universities. The video sharing website hosts a wide range of classroom-appropriate material that teachers can utilize without having to worry about all the distractions that tend to come with using the website.

Introducing KiwiCommons
Kiwi created its own tool in partnership with open{subnet}. The Safe Webspace Project (webspaces.kiwicommons.com) is helping to build safe areas for students to surf within, tailored to specific age groups — 8 and under, 9-13, and 14-17. These spaces can be utilized by educators in the classroom to help ensure students are not viewing inappropriate material, while also giving them the freedom to use a socially curated search engine to find their own content.

Educators can further utilize these spaces, specifically the one designed for kids aged 8 and under, along with Google’s Safe Search and YouTube’s safety mode, to introduce the Internet in the classroom at a younger grade — as young as preschool.

With the help of open{subnet}’s services — a tool that allows users to create their own webspaces, based on any interest or topic — teachers can find or create spaces that are customized to the needs of a specific class or lesson, such as Math, English, Social Studies or World History. These spaces can help keep students focused on the topic at hand, and will also help to eliminate online distractions.

To implement these spaces further, teachers can make use of Iglu, an Internet safety software that can secure classroom computers to these safe webspaces. This helps ensure kids are surfing safely, even when they are not being closely supervised.

For Internet safety resources, news and tips on how to engage your students in the classroom using relevant topics, visit http://www.kiwicommons.com/.

To learn more about the Safe Webspace Project, visit webspaces.kiwicommons.com.

Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
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Fun tool for the classroom – simple Crossword Puzzle maker!

About 

Kelly Walsh is Chief Information Officer, and an adjunct faculty member, at The College of Westchester in White Plains, NY and is the founder and author of EmergingEdTech.com. As an education technology advocate, he frequently delivers presentations on a variety of related topics at schools and conferences across the U.S. Walsh is also an author, and online educator, periodically running Flipped Class Workshops online. His latest eBook, the Flipped Class Workshop in a Book was published in September, 2013 and is available here. In his spare time Walsh also writes, records, and performs original (and cover) songs (look for "K. Walsh" on iTunes or Amazon.com or check out his original song videos on here on YouTube ).

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

TestSoup August 15, 2011 at 9:56 am

This is a great idea. You don’t just open the door and let your kids run outside to do whatever you want (at least, I don’t). You set boundaries that grow and expand with age and maturity, until eventually you trust them to make smart decisions about their actions on their own, wherever they go.

The internet is the new frontier. Failing to educate kids on the proper way to navigate this environment is basically handicapping them.

I do hope software like this has come a long way from when I was in school…

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