Technology

Spotlight On: Online Monitoring and Student Safety

Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment for students. This often includes physical solutions such as security cameras, metal detectors or bullet proof doors and windows. Schools can also leverage technology to help detect potential safety concerns and intervene before a situation gets out of hand. In this interview, Richard Fuller, Executive Chairman of Impero Software, which provides online monitoring and classroom management software to schools, provides his take on using technology to support student safety.

What are some ways that technology can support student safety?

Technology can support student safety in a few ways.

Online monitoring. Software exists that allows instructors or school administrators to monitor which websites and social media platforms students are visiting while on the school network — and what they are doing on those sites and platforms. If school staff discovers a student is visiting sites associated with self-harm, or is having conversations in chat rooms about bullying, they can take appropriate action to address these concerns.

  1. Anonymous reporting. Often incidents of bullying go undetected by school staff because students are afraid or ashamed to report it. If schools offer anonymous reporting systems, students are more likely to report these incidents so school administrators can address them.
  2. Tracking and monitoring of safety incidents. Schools are increasingly seeking auditable recording systems to track student safety incidents and the actions taken. Technology can help them do this electronically, allowing them to more easily integrate, analyze, and store student safety data to improve efficiency and inform counseling sessions or other interventions.

What can schools do to protect students in a 1:1 environment?

School officials should pay attention to what students are doing on their school devices. For instance, if a student is visiting websites about anorexia, or is doing internet searches about suicide, schools need to know about it so they can step in and address the situation. Schools should also teach digital citizenship. This includes everything from how to keep students’ personal information private, to teaching them proper online etiquette. Many schools have students and parents sign a contract promising to use their device in a responsible manner. Teaching (and enforcing) digital citizenship will help students safely navigate the digital world both in school, and at home. 

What are the benefits or drawbacks of blocking websites versus monitoring internet use?

Simply blocking sites that you don’t want students to go to may be the easiest way to keep them focused on Shakespeare rather than watching videos from the latest YouTube star. But simply blocking access to specific content may prevent schools from spotting safety concerns. While some sites require blocking, a monitored approach empowers schools to turn digital missteps, concerns or distractions into teachable moments. It allows teachers and staff to teach digital safety and responsibility, while also identifying inappropriate behavior or potential safety concerns and getting students help when needed.

About the Author

Richard Fuller is Executive Chairman of Impero Software (www.imperosoftware.com/us), which provides student safety and device monitoring and management solutions. He can be reached at 844/346-7376 or [email protected].

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