Research report: Mapping online safety needs and priorities in education
What does the report aim to achieve?
As one of the main outcomes of the eSafety Label+ project, this report allowed us to identify the key strengths and weaknesses of online safety in schools across Europe, as well as to identify areas of improvement. In addition, it assesses the current certification process of eSafety Label and the impact of the initiative in the school environment.
The report draws upon a quantitative research carried out among 1,150 members of the eSafety Label community and forms an evidence base for all further eSafety Label+ project activities.
Ultimately, the research aimed at mapping out schools' needs and strengths in terms of online safety in order to:
- make the eSafety Label accreditation process easier for teachers and other school staff,
- make the information provided by the eSafety Label community better at fostering capacity building,
- improve guidelines for school staff
Main Outcomes & Recommendations
Overall, the results of the survey on which this research is based on have been very positive, revealing that the majority of participants considered that no improvement was necessary regarding the Assessment Form (AF). This confirms process' usefulness and clarity which are essential in order to obtain an eSafety Label.
When asked about the most important procedures for obtaining a label, most repondents considered that the usability of the website, the reliability of the process through which a Label can be obtained as well as the information available on the website should rank highest, followed closely by the support received before the submission of the Assessment Form.
According to the survey, the vast majority of teachers, head teachers and educators do not consider necessary any modification to the Action Plan that schools receive upon submitting the Assessment Form. The Action Plan plays a crucial role in improving a school's online safety as it highlights the areas that require further development which need to be tackled before a better label can be awarded. Only a small percentage of respondents suggested that the Action Plan should be simplified and made clearer.
A fairly high percentage of respondents emphasized the need for school staff to receive further support in the context of online safety practices. This could suggest that the eSafety Label initiative should create agreements with organiaations or authorities which can act in schools and therefore apply a "netiquette" through transnational education programs.
The report equally reveals that the majority of educators organise events in their schools in order to train school staff as well as the wider school community on multiple issues surrounding online safety. It is worth mentioning that although parents are also informed about issues around ICT use and online safety in schools, most respondents feel that they should become more actively involved in this area.
Among the areas of improvement revealed by the surbey worth mentioning is the fact that a considerable percentage of respondents do not have an Acceptable Use Policy (AUP). An AUP, is a short document providing guidance to a range of users, enabling them to safely access the internet and interact with mobile technologies. This means that the eSafety Label+ project, could propose that the Acceptable Use Policy or the 'School Policy' template be implemented in more schools in Europe.
Furthermore, the survey results indicate that the entire eSafety label accreditation process is very well received and of high quality, not only in terms of the technical process, but also when it comes to interactions between the various actors involved. Specifically, the role of National Coordinators was highly appreciated by respondents both for the clarity and speed of their responses and its added value to the overall process.
Another area for improvement highlighted by the report is the incident case repository. The survey revealed that most respondents have failed to grasp the importance of reporting incidents online, as a best practice and knowledge sharing among community members. Having taken this into account, the revamped version of the eSafetyLabel portal places a far higher emphasis on incident cases andthe way in which they are showcased.
Finally, the report highlights how the eSafety Label+ project should motivate educators whose school does not yet meet the criteria for a bronze, silver or gold label. This can be accomplished in two different ways:
- In terms of content, by providing up-to-date action plans and checklists covering the three key eSafety areas of work: infrastructure (i.e., network security), policy (i.e., Acceptable Use Policies) and practice (i.e., counselling),
- from a pedagogical point of view, by coaching a dynamic group of eSafety Champions empowering them to lead in a peer-to-peer manner and further mainstream a comprehensive set of best practice solutions.
Interested to find out more? Download the full report