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Extending Duty of Care Considerations to Today’s Anywhere Classroom

By David Wain, National Practice Manager – Education, Data#3

[Reading time: 2.25 min]

Private, State and Catholic educators all have comprehensive systems and processes to ensure schools can meet duty of care obligations to students in their supervision.

What is sometimes overlooked, is where and how technology in schools fits within that overriding duty of care.

Principals and teachers are held to a high standard of care in relation to students. This non-delegable duty requires educators to take all reasonable steps to reduce risk, including:

  • Provision of suitable and safe premises
  • Provision of an adequate system of supervision
  • Implementation of strategies to prevent bullying
  • Ensuring that medical assistance is provided to a sick or injured student
  • Managing employee recruitment, conduct and performance

With technology in schools, the real considerations are more subtle than the tabloid obsession with the risks of social media. In fact, technology can be part of the solution if schools have a clear understanding of the means by which technology can be used to protect students from harm.

Data and Privacy: The Importance of Trust

Duty of care in educationConsider data collection. With the increasing adoption of game-based, self-guided, and adaptive learning technologies, unprecedented volumes of student-related data are being collected by schools, and mediated or held by third-party platforms and technologies.

The information may range from the mundane to the intensely personal and private. Schools must now be responsible custodians of this data, protecting student privacy through whatever means available to them.

It is a combination of technical systems and robust processes. With that combination, schools must make sure – and make clear – that their values are the same as those of the parents; the protection of students and their information at all costs.

Security: Inside and Outside the School Gate

Duty of care applies in the classroom, in the school grounds, and now – in a digital context – it potentially extends outside of the school boundaries as well. Security policies now need to extend to the digital environment as well as the physical environment.

The educational objectives remain the same; providing a safe space in which learning can occur, but in this case online spaces where students remain equally safe to engage with staff and one another.

This includes protecting the school network from external intruders, naturally, but can sadly also mean protecting vulnerable students from their peers.

Schools need to consider what options are available to them to best monitor and uphold standards in the online environment, without hampering the learning experience.

Access: Agency and Authorisation

For hundreds of years schools have instinctively implemented processes to ensure the school gate allowed entry to those who should access, and took swift action to remove those who shouldn’t be on school grounds.

In a digital world, the motives remain the same, but the systems, process and technology governance used to achieve that aim are new and evolving.

One way this can be achieved is via policies based around context-aware network access management, utilising role-based and device-based permissions.

Designed well, a school’s access systems can grant students the ability to choose and utilise whichever application best enables their creativity, or that best aligns with how they learn as individuals.

Those same systems can also be used, for example, to restrict certain applications or capabilities during class-time, such as device cameras.

Technology in schools does present challenges, but with the right approach it can also be a powerful enabler of positive learning environments while meeting duty of care obligations.

The Anywhere Classroom: Limitless Learning

The Anywhere Classroom of today means that the walls and fences around the school yard have collapsed.

A delicate balance must be struck between privacy protection, context-based security and access, and how data can best be used to advance educational outcomes.

As always, the student experience must remain the central focus. For more information about how The Anywhere Classroom from Data#3 addresses these key areas, visit data3.com.au/theanywhereclassroom.

Tags: Education, Mobility

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