1. Depending on the age of the students in your care, avoid email use on the wider net until you feel your students have shown they are ready to move on with safety. At our school, we encourage emails and even have some lessons where the children are not allowed to speak to one another verbally, but they are allowed to communicate via email. It means the children have no choice but to learn the email skills correctly and they also come to realise that incorrect sentence structure and lack of grammar can make it difficult for the recipient to read. Text-speech is not allowed and all email is through the Intranet only.
2. Encourage sensible aliases for monitored email and chat exercises.
3. Set up an account or accounts for pupils via an online email system such as G-Mail and monitor for correct use. Have all messages copied and forwarded to your own teacher account as a means of keeping control until you feel the student is ready to go it on their own. Set all spam filters and safety configurations appropriately.At our school, we encourage emails and even have some lessons where the children are not allowed to speak to one another verbally, but they are allowed to communicate via email.
4. Focus on the positives of email use as opposed to reiterating the negatives constantly. Yes, children need to be made aware of the possible issues, but the benefits usually outweigh the problems if used wisely.
5. Encourage interaction between classes and year groups. It is important to remember that by setting up email accounts for the children in a safe school email system, you are offering a better alternative than what they may go and do by themselves without such a system in place.
6. Don’t be afraid to teach the basic skills of email use to children of an early age, i.e. Don’t open attachments from people you do not know, never give out your name and address to anyone over the Internet unless you are 100% sure it is safe to do so.
7. Promote some homework through the use of emails. Make sure your school has a policy about teacher/student interaction via emails though.
8. Reinforce good grammar and letter writing structure via email. many children will drop the use of capitals and spelling rules as soon as they enter an email account. Likewise, make sure you always show good literacy examples in your own emails as a means of highlighting how easy it is to keep interaction correct whilst having fun.
9. Watch for instances of peer intimidation or bullying. Randomly open children’s accounts as a class exercise, using an interactive white board is very effective in this instance, which will keep the children on their toes and aware that accounts are monitored. It is not an invasion of privacy as you need to explain to the children at the outset that all interaction is monitored and open for all to see.
10. Email use needs to be promoted. It is an effective communication tool and has some great advantages over ‘snail mail’. Teaching it’s effectiveness helps prepare children with the necessary skills they need as they develop.