Safer Internet Day (SID) was nearly three weeks ago, and by all accounts it was a great success. Coordinated by the UK Safer Internet Centre, who have gone from strength to strength in the last year – delivering nearly 500 sessions in schools, and developing a number of exciting new partnerships with industry leaders including Snapchat – SID was celebrated by over a thousand organisations and produced a massive social media presence.
The power of initiatives like SID is twofold: young people are informed about the importance of online safety, their rights and responsibilities on the internet, and how to deal with the dangers they may encounter. Meanwhile companies are made more aware of their their responsibility to ensure this safety, whether through measures to stop predatory behaviour or campaigns against cyberbullying, for example.
This way, the UK Safer Internet Centre argue, we can create a better internet for all, and it’s true: for the almost limitless potential the internet offers, there’s still a lot more that can be done to make it a safer, more inclusive environment for all who use it, very particularly young people.
SAM prides itself on safety – indeed, it was one of the aspects of our content the judges for the Bett 2016 award for Best Secondary Digital Content were most impressed by. This focus on safety isn’t just for the obvious reasons, but also because we believe that focusing creating a safe online learning environment can have a transformative effect on the way students learn. This is particularly true for Special Educational Needs (SEN) students, as well as those who speak English as an additional language (EAL).
In providing an easily navigable, non-distractive platform for these students to engage – and re-engage – with, one in which performance is not judged by peers, learning can become a more rewarding process for students who may otherwise feel excluded by more conventional educational methods, or fear that they will be judged by other students in their classrooms and schools. We see this as providing an online safe space for learning, something which ultimately benefits students of all abilities and needs.