New internet safety qualification avoids the 21st Century Internet
The Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA) started a large consultation exercise this year to construct a qualification in Internet Safety (a bit like proposing a qualification in handwriting, if you ask me) which seems to have ended up with a ridiculously small number of people sat around a table coming up with multiple choice questions on the Internet.
The final draft outline of the qualification has been published and is, frankly, a real disappointment. I'd go as far as to say it probably needs a rewrite from page 1 if it is to make a difference to what is actually going on in the 'real' cyber world of our kids.
There is no mention of learning how and why weblogs, wikis, podcasts and social networks work for learning or business applications. In fact, the document recommends fleetingly - with no guidance on possible pitfalls at all - that teachers encourage students go onto and subscribe to MySpace and Facebook pages which might be of personal interest to them. There is no specific mention from what I can see of mobile technology and its safety implications.
It hints of what happens when public consultation takes place without enough consultation from those working in depth on what is coming next in the internet. You end up with a concentration on resolving past errors, rather than looking at how to avoid future ones. Far easier to do, of course, and it lends itself to multiple choice because we know all the answers already.
My greatest concern is that there is currently no guidance for teachers on how to guide students on what they are actually doing other than what inaccessible edubloggers are putting out there (how many teachers do you know read blogs?). First, there should be some serious teacher-focussed qualifications on internet safety that all staff must undertake and then digital literacy, concentrating on safety but above all on the positive uses of technology, should be taught across the curriculum.
The world apparently admires Scotland for the work we do in breaking ground on new technologies, yet this Internet Safety document would not have seemed out of place 10 years ago, and since then so much has changed.
I have offered my point of view as a Web 2.0 enthusiast and have been kindly rejected, and told that I might be able to take part in a pilot application of the qualification. Anyone else fancy putting together an alternative to this qualfication with me? We'll do it for free and put it forward to try and make a difference.