How to Ensure Learner Safety in Online Learning and in Hybrid Set-up

Two years into the pandemic, the landscape of education has never been the same. Having to teach online, one of the biggest concerns is security, especially for our learners.  So why do we value it in the first place? Because we value data and information. We want our students to be safe, to ensure continuity in learning even online. This also applies even if we do a hybrid or face-to-face setup since we would still continue using online learning tools and gadgets in our schools.

But this would also mean that there are vulnerabilities and vulnerabilities lead to exploits. In the past years, attacks have been relentless. There’s cyberbullying, zoombombers and hackers, and malware attacks.

The question stands, “how do we ensure learners’ safety in online learning?”

P.I.E Framework (Key points) :

  • Policies
  • Infrastructure
  • Education

POLICIES- it is the course of action and guidelines that we should follow in order to ensure learner safety.

1. Review your country’s policy. (In the Philippines, we have the Data Privacy act, Cybercrime Law, and Child Protection Policy.)

 2. Review your school’s policies as well if these are aligned with the existing laws. If there are none, teachers and stakeholders can lobby for laws to ensure learner safety in online learning. Schools can then tailor fit their policies that are aligned with the national policies and their context. 

INFRASTRUCTURE- is the backbone of education and technology. By improving infrastructure such as devices, network connections, and safety features, we add extra layers of protection for students.

1. Recommend specs for devices used by students.. 

2. Make an inventory on efficient and appropriate apps and websites for classes. 

3. Enable security features of software and device. Use external technologies like MDM or Mobile Device Management to manage the screen time and the devices of the learners. Using MDM, teachers get to restrict designated apps during synchronous sessions. In this way, students are guaranteed to focus in class and not get distracted by other external apps that are not needed during class. Parents can also avail its services so they can monitor and restrict the screen time of their children so students can balance their school-leisure time. 

EDUCATION- Digital citizenship and learner safety should be staple topics that should be integrated into the curriculum and be taught in workshops.

1. All stakeholders of educators should be learn and apply digital citizenship. We can partner with computer teachers and school formators through modules. There are also free resources like for students to go through. Security topics are discussed like not sharing passwords, not putting sensitive information online, talking to strangers in the internet, and other practical ways to protect one’s identity online. 

2. We should strengthen home-school partnership which is a collective effort to monitor and guide students how to navigate the online world

3. We should work together with school formators co-educators to create an ecosystem of safe and secure learning environment through providing socio-emotional support for students and proper-handling of incidents such as academic dishonesty and cyberbullying.

As adults tasked to protect the security of our students, we must do work-arounds and strategies based on improving these 3 key points in order to ensure learner safety in online learning and hybrid set-up.

Special thanks to: T4 Education founder Vikas Pota and staff, Moderators Andria Zafirakou and Jim Tuscano, and my co-winners Ana Elicker from Brazil and Candelaria Durruty from Argentina