Safe learning spaces are a key to education. How can we (as educators) expect our students to learn if they do not feel safe. This idea applies to both in person classrooms and digital spaces. When teachers create a safe learning environment – whether in person or online- it allows students to participate freely and engage with their education.
However, there are some things that teachers need to think about. First, it is our responsibility to create the safe space. When looking at setting up digital spaces, this means knowing what data is being collected and where it is being stored. Even before we present the digital space to students, we need to ensure that we are taking EVERY precaution to keep them safe. It is becoming more and more common that digital tools, and platforms will take user information for their own purposes. Unfortunately, this means that students are becoming increasing complacent with allowing others access to their personal information. I believe this stems from a lack of knowledge in why privacy is important and how the data is being used. Second, it is the teacher’s responsibility to educate their students on the data privacy and protection as well as what their rights as individuals are. How will students understand their personal safety in online environments if they are never taught?
As online spaces evolve, teachers will have to continually learn how to create safe learning spaces. It is no different than an in-person classroom. If there was a leak in the roof, you would move you class to a different space until it could be fixed. You would make sure that any personal information of your students was stored in a secure location, with limited access. Safety is key when building learning environments for students and teachers.