Considerations for introducing a digital tool/app into the classroom
Introducing a new digital tool or app to your class can bring many benefits and enhance teaching and learning experiences. However, it is important to be mindful of the potential risks and prioritise online safety when introducing digital technology in the classroom. Here are some important considerations before introducing a new app or technology to the classroom:
- Seek permission from school management: Explain how you intend to use the app/tool, how you will manage the tool and any associated risks.
- School Policies: Familiarise yourself with the relevant school policies, including Acceptable Use Policy, Codes of Behaviour, Social Media Policy, Privacy/GDPR Policy and ensure students are familiar with them and other rules and policies as appropriate.
- Get to know it: Become familiar with, and test, all features including the privacy and security settings on the platform that you intend to use. Manage the permissions of participants for example; disabling user audio and video cameras, disable private chat. Always use school email and school-approved communication services.
- Assess its need: Assess the need for introducing a new digital tool or app. Ask yourself; What is the purpose of using the app? How will it enhance the teaching and learning experience? What value will it add to the learning objectives? Will the app benefit students’ learning? Ensure students understand the purpose and relevance to the learning objectives of the tool you are introducing. Ensure that it supports the desired learning outcomes and is suitable for the age and abilities of your students.
- Age Restrictions: Consider the age of your students and check your school policy, the terms of service, age requirements and appropriateness of the platform. Look at the app’s age restrictions, games will also have a PEGI rating to help identify this.
- Parental Consent: Communicate with parents or guardians about the app/tool you plan to use, providing them with information about its purpose, benefits, and potential risks. Obtain parental consent if required by school policies or local regulations.
- Data Footprint: If students are required to sign-up for services, use school emails and check that the service is GDPR Compliant. For more information, visit: https://www.dataprotection.ie/
- Privacy Settings: Familiarise yourself with the privacy settings, who can see the content, who can comment, most services allow you to adjust privacy settings, and the policy of any new online services. Encourage students to create strong passwords using a random mix of numbers, letters and special characters and remember the longer the better!
- Digital Citizenship: Foster a culture of digital citizenship by discussing and setting clear expectations about respectful online behaviour and communication.
- Critical Thinking: Teach students to think critically and evaluate the credibility and reliability of information they encounter within the tool/app. Encourage them to verify information from multiple sources before accepting it as true.
- Piloting and Evaluation: Consider piloting the app/tool with a smaller group of students before implementing it fully. Gather feedback from students and colleagues to assess its effectiveness and make any necessary adjustments.
- Reporting Mechanisms: Ensure students are made aware of what they can do if they encounter something inappropriate or upsetting online and know how to get support, report a problem on the app/tool itself.
- Training & Support: There is a wide range of support from the Oide Technology in Education and the Oide Digital Technologies team to help teachers and schools effectively embed digital technologies into teaching, learning and assessment. The supports include free online courses, good practice videos, blended learning support, free education resources, and technology/ICT support for schools.