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Monthly Archives: September 2016

Computer says no: tips for beginners

No one starts their life a computer expert, learning about technology is something that takes practice and time, but there are some things to be aware of which can save you a lot of hassle as a beginner.

Backing up

Technology makes lives easier and tasks quicker, but every now and then it can go wrong. Not backing up your important data is a common mistake that leaves rookie computer users in hot water. There are so many easy ways to back up your information these days there is really no excuse to leave it vulnerable.

Stop and read

With the ease of getting the job done faster, also comes the temptation to speed things up further, it is unlikely you would sign a document without understanding what you are agreeing to first, but frequently users click through terms and conditions accepting any request they see. At the very least, this can result in programs downloading onto your device without your knowledge.

Always hit save

Pretty much anyone you speak to who works with computers will be able to recall an incident where hours of work went to waste due to failure to click the save button. It is easy to do, you get so enthralled in the job at hand your neglect that simple step. Then your computer crashes or restarts and your document is no more. The lesson learned here is to click Save regularly, even if you are not yet finished.

Email attachments

One key cause of computer viruses and malware comes from opening email attachments. Even if the email is from a source you know and trust, be vigilant and open any attachments with caution. One of the key ways fraudsters like to tap into your computer security is by pretending to be someone you know, so if something looks suspicious, don’t open it.

Power surge

Devices which are plugged into a wall outlet are vulnerable to power surges. A way of protecting against this is by using a surge protector, this makes sure nothing is damaged if a surge travels through your power lines. If you use a desktop computer, it is recommended to use a UPS on your computer. This can be more expensive, but will protect your computer from a surge and will also temporarily stop it turning off should the power go off for a moment.

Keep up to date with scams

Finally, keeping yourself up-to-date with the latest scams and phishing tactics will help keep you savvy whilst navigating the online world. If you are in the know about viruses you are much more likely to use your computer in a way which runs the lowest risk of infection and if you are unlucky, recognising the signs of a virus will mean you can spot the problem promptly and take steps to remedy.

It is time to review your approach to safeguarding

Although there’s little doubt that the increasing use of technology in schools is a huge plus for academic learning, there’s also no mistaking that it’s a platform open to abuse. Grooming, paedophile activity, child abuse, sexualisation, bullying and radicalisation – these are just some of the safeguarding risks we need to be vigilant of in today’s digital world. In response to this growing concern, the Department for Education (DfE) has updated its statutory guidance on safeguarding, “Keeping Children Safe in Education,” and this came into force this September.

While acknowledging both the opportunity and the threat that ever advancing technology brings, the guidance increases the responsibility for school leaders to put in place an effective approach to safeguarding.  Overall, it is designed to help identify children at potential risk from the range of safeguarding concerns – so that effective intervention/prevention strategies can be put in place.

With this increased responsibility in mind, e-Safe, our approved e-safety partner, has shared some important facts that you should consider when reviewing your safeguarding strategy.

Fact #1 – Appropriate filtering and monitoring systems must be in place

When it comes to online safety, traditional filtering solutions play a significant role in achieving a safe environment. Yet, with over 1 billion sites on the web today (Internet Stats, August 2016), the DfE recognises that it’s pretty much impossible to filter out all the illegal, inappropriate and potentially harmful content. Add to this the responsibility to avoid ‘over blocking’ to ensure our children’s learning opportunities aren’t stifled, and it becomes imperative that, in addition to filtering solutions, effective monitoring systems are also in place.

Fact#2 – The markers of harmful and inappropriate behaviours are often incredibly subtle

The new DfE guidance states that you must have early visibility of the markers of harmful and inappropriate behaviours, so that intervention strategies can be put in place to stop the risk from escalating. The challenge here is that the markers associated with the range of safeguarding risks can often be incredibly subtle. Rarely is it single stream behaviour that registers intent, but more likely an overall pattern of seemingly isolated incidents over time. Expertise is needed in the range of behaviours to ensure the subtle markers are identified.

Fact #3 – ‘Poor practice’ is failing to react to the early warning signs of abuse and neglect

The new DfE guidance states that not only must you have visibility of the behaviour markers for safeguarding risk, you must also react as early as possible, putting in place an effective intervention strategy that’s designed to prevent that risk from escalating. Failure to do this, to spot the early warning signs, can damage reputations – of the leadership team and of the establishment – as Ofsted inspectors will always report on whether or not arrangements for safeguarding children are effective.

Fact #4 – Record keeping is vital: the effectiveness of interventions must be measured and reported on

Both the DfE and Ofsted require that when intervention plans are put in place, the effectiveness is measured and used to refine future intervention strategy. The reporting element of the monitoring solution that’s in place is important for providing a baseline of behaviours for this measurement: helping to illustrate the effectiveness of interventions as the baseline changes over time.

Fact #5 – Behaviour trends – and markers of risk – change all the time

Threat libraries need to evolve and adapt to detect emerging behaviour trends, at an international, national and local level, in order to maintain detection accuracy across the range of threats.

Fact #6 – Almost 1/3 of incidents happen offline – in the evenings, weekends and holidays

Most monitoring software solutions, and all filtering solutions that offer a degree of keyword detection, are focused on online activity, usually onsite. This means that the significant volume of incidents that happen offline – in the evenings, weekends and holidays – are invisible to the safeguarding team. Therefore, in order to be truly effective, monitoring of school owned devices can’t be confined to school premises in school hours, as incidents are happening off site, offline and out of hours. What is needed is monitoring 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Fact #7 – The markers of the more serious threats are much more likely to be imagery based

While digital content must be monitored for words and phrases in any language, extreme behaviour markers are often detected through imagery, typically moving imagery, on webcam, chat roulette and encrypted applications like Skype. For example, 95% of online child abuse is imagery based. It is vital that the detection technology doesn’t only rely on text or meta data to detect these areas, it must have the capability to monitor static and moving images in isolation.

Who is e-Safe?

e-Safe provides a unique, comprehensive outsourced monitoring solution for schools that’s designed to help school leaders to meet their statutory duty to safeguard the children in their care. How e-Safe helps with safeguarding e-Safe provides the 3 vital components for detecting early safeguarding risks, online and offline, 24/7 365 days a year:

1. Advanced detection software – with the capability to monitor words and phrases in any language, as well as images that are moving and static.

2. Expert interpretation & assessment. A dedicated team of behaviour experts work behind the scenes to identify the early warning indicators of inappropriate and harmful activity.

3. Dynamic Threat Libraries – updated daily to maintain detection accuracy, in line with emerging behavioural trends within the locality, across the country and around the world.

For further information about e-Safe, and how it can form the basis of a comprehensive safeguarding strategy, please contact us directly.

 

The benefit of using ICT in schools

The role of ICT in schools is an undeniably important one. In addition to the advantages it offers for general learning, all jobs now require a level of IT proficiency and that requirement is rapidly growing.

Today’s generation of school attendees have grown up alongside technology. To them navigating a computer or technical device has become second nature. Bringing technology into the classroom can help to bring another level to learning, placing children and young people in their element and often helping to make the task more engaging.

ICT can be an enormous advantage in aiding learning for both teacher and pupil. Integrating technology into lessons helps to give young people a wider range of skills to use in later life and can help to keep teaching methods fresh.

Technology comes in all manner of forms. From video to podcasts, the interactive to the investigatory, these fantastic tools can help teachers provide different styles of learning easily and effectively, giving each student the best possible chance of full comprehension. With pupils tweaking the learning styles to suit the way they best learn, precious time is freed up to assist those that might be struggling.

With the aid of ICT in schools, the passive educational mould is broken and the teacher becomes an active advisor in the classroom, helping young people become partially responsible for their learning and actively explore subjects.