Monday, 10 May 2010

The safe use of new technologies

(Yet another thank-you to Phil Bradley!)

Ofsted has produced a report - "The safe use of new technologies" - in response to the report of the Byron Review, "Safer children in a digital world."
Although it's looking at the use of the internet in schools, this is essential reading for those of us providing internet access in public libraries, if only as an antidote to some of the more hysterical responses to somebody's finding inappropriate content. We can put up as many safety barriers as we like, they're not infallible and no substitute for an e-safety culture. An effective e-safety culture addresses the questions "what do we do when something goes wrong?" and "how do we help the customer safely learn from the experience?"

The section on "Internet safety training for teachers and the wider workforce" applies with equal, or possibly greater, force in public libraries given that our clientele is so very much broader. If a 'one size fits all' approach to e-safety training is inadequate for dealing with the needs of a small customer base of defined age range, known ability and controlled context how more inadequate is it with a wide customer base where none of these factors are limited or defined? And how many of us are even able to provide that inadequate 'one size fits all' training scheme for all our staff? In the local government culture, spending on the technology to try to keep the bogeyman at bay is an acceptable, essential investment; spending on equipping staff to deal with real life is an optional extra.

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