Beyond the Classroom resources for schools, students - Page 15 of 16 - Education Matters
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Bullying – Not just a problem for schools

Over the last 20 years, awareness of the harmful effects of school bullying has been growing in Australian and overseas communities, schools have, with differing degrees of success, taken up the challenge of addressing bullying as part of their ethical responsibility to keep young people safe. We have begun to understand that bullying affects all levels of society; it is, in a very real sense, everybody’s problem, Sandra Craig, manager of The National Centre Against Bullying, reports on bullying at the challenges for Australian schools.

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Top tips for staying safe online

AVG (AU/NZ) explains how the school community can work together – to protect one another.

Technology provides us with that ability to connect with each other seamlessly across the globe like never before, and yet, with all these advancements we still continue to face the very real dangers of escalating cyber crime, privacy breaches, and other important issues like cyber bullying and harassment.

It is important that teachers, parents and students all work together as a community to ensure they keep each other safe, and this can be achieved through open and honest communication and discussion, common sense tips and tricks, as well as implementing appropriate security technologies.

“It can sometimes be difficult to quantify the real dangers that are present, but start by asking friends if they’ve had a computer infected by malware, or if they’ve ever been the target of cyber bullying, and you might just be surprised how wide spread these things are”, says Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG (AU/NZ).

“Staying safe online is not as hard as most people think, and often relies on good old fashioned common sense, and the willingness to improve for the sake of those around us that we care for”, McKinnon added. “Taking responsibility is vital, and these are some simple guidelines to follow.”

  • Upgrade old computers, and keep them up to date. As computer operating systems mature they inherently become more secure through regular updates, but it is also necessary every few years to upgrade to the latest versions as well – for example, if you’re still using Windows XP it’s time to upgrade! It is also important to ensure that you have automatic updates enabled at all times.
  • Install Internet Security software and keep it up-to-date. Anti-Virus solutions provide good basic protection against viruses, worms, Trojans, spyware and adware. However, to keep your school and students safe online today you really need the additional layers of protection provided by an Internet Security software suite, like AVG Internet Security.
  • Teach students how to set strong passwords, and keep them private. This is especially needed on social networking web sites like Facebook. Also make sure they know how to properly set the privacy information on social networking sites so that their personal information can only be seen by those they trust and give permission to see it. A recent New York Times survey found that up to a third of teenagers will share their passwords with close friends, so it is important to address this issue as well.
  • Never use a computer with the “Administrator” account privilege. Affecting mostly people using older and insecure operating systems (like Windows XP), up to 90% of all security vulnerabilities can be mitigated against simply by setting up regular user account with a strong password for normal daily use – thus eliminating the need to have administrator rights. Access the administrator account only on those rare instances when you may need to install software or change system settings. Make sure all school computers are set up this way, and educate parents and students about this simple measure.
  • Teach everyone to stop and think before they click. Through social media and other sites, we share information at a rapid pace, and so we’re confronted with links to websites and files all the time. Be sure that you understand how to “roll over” a link to view the real destination first, and please make sure you have good web scanning software, like the free AVG LinkScanner® for Windows and Mac computers. It will do a real-time check for any malware payloads that may be lurking on the web page.
  • Don’t forget to secure mobile devices, like phones and tablets. Computing no longer happens only at desks or in the office or classroom; it happens on public transport and in busy cafes. Mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets these days are as fast as computer were 5 – 8 years ago – we are all walking around with computers in our pockets! These need to be protected, so ensure you enable PIN number locks, activate phone tracking features (like “Find my iPhone” for iPhone, or AVG Mobilation for Android) for lost or stolen devices, as well as security scanning software.

Just remember that by discussing and implementing some of these guidelines with your school community, you’ll be helping to raise awareness and combat some of the challenges facing all of us that benefit so greatly from modern technology. At AVG we’re all about protecting our community of users, and we help schools with discounts of up to 50% on our award winning protection software – backed up with expert technical support from the AVG (AU/NZ) team based in Melbourne.

Want to help your school’s students, parents and/or teachers to learn more about today’s online threats and how to stay safe online? Then have Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor for AVG (AU/NZ) come and speak at your school.

See  http://www.avg.com.au/security-advisor/ for details

How is your retirement shaping up

Do you have enough for your retirement?

There are many people who are over 65 years old and are still in the workforce. Some enjoy their jobs and are happy to keep working but others simply don’t have enough money to comfortably retire. If you are approaching retirement, you may be interested to know how much money your retirement will cost, and if you won’t have enough, what you can do to meet your objectives.

So how much do you need in retirement? The ASFA Retirement Standard provides an approximation of how much you need to live on when you retire depending on whether you would like a comfortable or modest lifestyle and whether you are single or a couple. To check out these balances visit www.ngssuper.com.au/how-muchsuper- is-enough/

Secondly, it is useful to look at NGS Super’s Future Super Calculator. This shows how your super is growing and your approximate balance at retirement if you continue to earn your current income. If you won’t have enough, you can give your super a boost by making extra voluntary contributions to your super on an ongoing basis which can really add up over time. NGS Super’s Extra Contributions Calculator demonstrates how adding extra to your super can really impact your final balance at retirement.

Need some extra guidance? Financial planning can help!

We understand that planning for your retirement might seem daunting but seeing a financial planner can make a big difference. NGS Financial Planning can assist you to determine your goals and make a plan that suits your individual needs.

As an industry super fund, we do not pay commissions to anyone and our financial planners operate on a fee-for-service basis. To find out more about this service or to make an appointment, please call 1300 133 177.

Important information
This is general information only. Before making a financial decision, consider seeking professional advice. Issued by NGS Super Pty Limited ABN 46 003 491 487 AFSL No 233 154 the trustee of NGS Super ABN 73 549 180 515. NGS Financial Planning Pty Ltd ABN 89 134 620 518 is a corporate authorised representative #394909 of Mercer Investment Nominees Limited ABN 79 004 717 533 AFSL No 235906.

School libraries supporting 21st century learning

School libraries

Libraries have existed for millennia. Their purpose has always been focussed on knowledge acquisition and sharing for the development of society. In the 21st century, school libraries are re-engineering themselves to focus on learning, curriculum and the skills needed for 21st century learning.

The evolution of school libraries into flexible, dynamic, high-tech learning centres designed to prepare students as responsible digital citizens to function effectively in a complex information landscape is dependent on visionary leadership and strategic planning to reach this level of functionality. “School libraries provide a common information ground for supporting learning across the school and fostering the development of deep knowledge through the provision of accessible resources, and the development of sophisticated information and technology understandings and skills” (Hay & Todd 2010a, p. 30).

The Student Learning through Australian School Libraries study (2004-2006) highlighted the value students placed on the technology, services, environment and support provided by their school library. The study found that flexible access to computers, printers, internet and other resources, including teaching expertise, before school and at non-class time was valued highly by students (Hay 2006). In 2010, one principal stated, “When I enter my own school library I see a social network – students and teachers doing all manner of things – everything from reading, promoting, quiet games, social skilling, researching, working on the computers, group planning, the list becomes quite endless. I see a thriving centre of learning – and something that is integral to the way the whole school functions” (Hay & Todd 2010b, p. 5).

The concept of a knowledge commons or learning commons becomes the physical and virtual catalyst for inquiry, imagination, discovery, creativity and innovation. The school library becomes the hub for networking, information access, digital literacy instruction, learning and knowledge creation – a shared space for all students and the school community. The advantage of a ‘commons’ approach is it provides an opportunity to re-engineer the school library into a place/space that brings together the library, information technology and a qualified team of information, technology and learning staff whose combined knowledge, skills and expertise collectively support the integration of 21st century learning into the curriculum.

The report of the School Libraries 21C online discussion, commissioned by the NSW Department of Education and Training, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit, identifies a set of principles underpinning 21C school library design as an instructional zone within and beyond the school. In summary, the following points are identified:

  • A facility which features fluid library design that allows for the customisation and personalisation of learning.
  • A blended learning environment which harnesses the potential of physical learning spaces and digital learning spaces.
  • A learning centre whose primary focus is on building capacity for critical engagement – giving emphasis to thinking creatively, critically and reflectively with information in the process of building knowledge and understanding.
  • A centre of learning innovation where teachers and teacher librarians are involved in creatively designing learning experiences.
  • A learning environment that demonstrates the power of pedagogical fusion where pedagogy underpins the decision making behind a school’s information architecture.
  • A facility consisting of seamless search interfaces.
  • A facility which seeks a balance between print and digital collections and which does not privilege one format over another.
  • A centre that supports literacy learning.

(Hay & Todd 2010b, pp. 15-16.)

The new mission of teacher librarians is a return to the original purpose of libraries, that is “to improve society through facilitating knowledge creation in their communities” (Lankes, R. D.).

As identified in the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, there are three major factors driving role changes for all educators:

  • The increasing amount of resources and social networks available for learning;
  • The increasing ubiquitous nature of mobile devices; and,
  • The increasing need for digital media literacy so that students can utilise the above resources and mobile access for learning and knowledge creation.

“The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators” (Johnson, et al 2011, p. 4.). This key trend highlights the importance of why school libraries need to function effectively in the school community.

The abundance of resources adds to the complexity of the information environment in which students work. It highlights the need to continue the highly effective practice of collection development undertaken by teacher librarians to support the curriculum across different platforms on which resources are available. As an example, in an always-connected world, the recent announcement by Apple to introduce iBooks 2, iBooks Author and New iTunes U (Apple Events 2012) identified that there are already 20K education iPad apps and 1.5 million iPads in education institutions. Teacher librarians know which apps are free and trustworthy and can then recommend these to staff and students. The same collection development skills used to evaluate “traditional” resources to determine which are current, relevant, authentic and authoritative, are also applied to online databases and web sites.

The mobile devices students use to access these resources are multi-functional and make it easily accessible via the Internet. As indicated in the Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, “Mobiles have moved to the near-term horizon because of the rise of a new class of devices, led by the category-defining blockbuster that is the Apple iPad” (Johnson, et al 2011, p. 14). The multifunctionality of tablet devices heralds the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to educational use. With always-on internet it is imperative that the skills required to assess the relevancy and credibility of information, and to then make sense of this information, is paramount.

“Digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession” (Johnston, et al 2011, p. 5).Digital media literacy can be defined as the ability to locate, access, organise, understand, evaluate, analyse and create content using digital media (Wikipedia; Australian Communications & Media Authority). Even though this level of literacy involves knowing how to use technology it is “less about tools and more about thinking” (Johnston, et al 2011, p 5.).

The general capabilities in the Australian national curriculum, especially “critical and creative thinking”, provide a vehicle for teacher librarians to be active in the delivery of digital media literacy skills through inquiry based programs. For example, research pathfinders encourage active engagement in the interactive information seeking process. Pathfinders provide a starting point for the generation of questions, discussions and identification of suitable and relevant resources. Collaborative knowledge building environments such as wikis can facilitate the inquiry based activities that allow students to engage in collaboration, construction, knowledge sharing and creation. The school library is an ideal environment to engage in conversations about digital citizenship, the impact of a student’s digital footprint, ethical use of information and social responsibility in an always-connected world.

The vision is to go beyond school libraries being perceived as repositories of information artefacts to being flexible, dynamic learning environments; “centres of inquiry, discovery, creativity, critical engagement and innovative pedagogy” (Hay & Todd 2010b, p. 40). To make this vision a reality is a challenge for school leadership so that the best learning environment, resources and learning is available for all Australian students.

References

Apple Events 2012 Apple special event January 2012, Viewed 21 January 2012.

 http://www.apple.com/apple-events/educationjanuary- 2012/

Australian Communications & Media Authority 2009 What is digital media literacy and why is it important? Commonwealth of Australia.  http://www.acma.gov.au/WEB/STANDARD/pc=PC_311470#=

Hay, L 2006, ‘School libraries as flexible and dynamic learning laboratories … that’s what Aussie kids want’, Scan, 15 (2), pp. 18–27.

Hay, L & Todd, R.J. 2010a, ‘School libraries 21C: the conversation begins’, in Scan, 29 (1), pp. 30-42. Viewed 22 January 2012.  http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21cexsum.pdf

Hay, L & Todd, R.J. 2010b, A school libraries futures project: school libraries in 21C, NSW Department of Education and Training, Curriculum K-12 Directorate, School Libraries and Information Literacy Unit. Viewed 22 January 2012.  http://www.curriculumsupport.education.nsw.gov.au/schoollibraries/assets/pdf/21c_report.pdf

Johnson, L., Adams, S. and Haywood, K. 2011, The NMC Horizon Report: 2011 K-12 edition, The New Media Consortium, Austin, Texas.

Lankes, R. D. The atlas of new librarianship: companion website. Viewed 22 January 2012.

 http://www.newlibrarianship.org/wordpress/

  Wikipedia 2012 Digital literacy, Last modified 21 January 2012. Viewed 23 January 2012.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy

Be Super Savvy

Super Savvy

For most Australians, superannuation is one of their biggest and most important financial assets, often second only to owning their own home. But as you generally don’t see your superannuation until you retire, it often seems to be a case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As a result, most people are not saving enough to have the lifestyle they desire during retirement. According to the peak body for superannuation in Australia, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), longer life expectancies mean many people now spend over a third of their lives in retirement – but often do not plan accordingly.

“Currently most people are retiring with superannuation savings considerably lower than they need to support a comfortable standard of living in retirement,” Pauline Vamos, CEO of ASFA, said.

ASFA Retirement Standard figures show singles will need $21,587 a year, and couples $31,263 a year, to live even a modest lifestyle in retirement. And this assumes home ownership.

For a comfortable lifestyle, which includes extras such as international travel from time to time and better quality clothing and household goods, singles will require $39,852 a year, and couples $54,562. The average retirement balance of a person with an accumulation superannuation account (the kind most people have) is about $140,000.

“Fifty per cent of men are currently retiring with less than $90,000 in superannuation savings, while 50 per cent of women are retiring with less than $55,000,” Vamos said.

For those on defined benefits, the picture is slightly different, with an average super balance around $180,000 at retirement. Although most are now closed to new members, some educators are members of defined benefit (DB) schemes and have been for some time.

As they take length of membership into account, DB funds can provide a more substantial retirement benefit than standard accumulation schemes receiving only employer contributions.

Even so, most Australians’ final balance remains well below what is estimated to be needed to live comfortably in retirement. But there are plenty of things people can do now to take control of their superannuation now to ensure they reach their desired retirement lifestyle.

“To get the most out of the magic of compound interest, it’s best to start early and take advantage of all the tax breaks, rebates and Government schemes offered to help Australians build their retirement balance,” Vamos said.

The Government is also looking to increase the compulsory superannuation contribution rate from nine per cent to 12 per cent.

According to Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) modelling, Australia’s current super settings will generate relatively low retirement incomes by international standards.

ASFA research shows raising the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent would provide an extra: $36,000 for someone on a wage of $30,000; $61,000 for someone on a wage of $50,000; and $121,000 for someone on a wage of $100,000.

“An increase in the Superannuation Guarantee to 12 per cent will deliver substantially more adequate outcomes for individuals and households,” Vamos said.

ASFA’s top 3 tips for getting the most out of your super:

  1. Consolidate your super accounts and look for lost super.
    For most people, it doesn’t make sense to have multiple super accounts, unless perhaps the low-cost provided by some funds is important to you. By rolling all your accounts into one, you could save more than $100 a year in fees. If you’re not sure where all your super is, try the ATO’s SuperSeeker (at www.ato.gov.au or call 13 28 65) or contact your previous employer/s.
  2. Start contributing early and contribute what you can, when you can.
    The earlier you start building your super balance, the more time you have to take advantage of compound interest. If you have left it till later and your balance needs a boost, ask your employer about salary sacrificing a percentage of your wage (before tax) into super.
  3. Take advantage of the Government Co-contribution.
    If you’re eligible and make a voluntary contribution to your super account, the Government will match those personal contributions up to $1,000. The $1,000 limit is reduced by 3.3 cents for each dollar of income over $31,920 and phases out at $61,920.

Careers

Australia has the fourth biggest superannuation savings pool in the world, with close to $1.4 trillion. And this number is only set to grow as Australians entering the workforce benefit from almost a lifetime of compulsory superannuation savings.

ASFA provides a range of superannuation and financial services courses across Australia from introductory courses right through to specialist training. For 21 years, ASFA’s Superannuation Principles course has been the benchmark industry course for graduates and new super professionals looking to advance their skills.

ASFA Learning also offers:

  • Diploma of Superannuation
  • Advanced Diploma of Superannuation
  • Diploma of Financial Planning
  • RG 146
  • Traineeships

New online safety resource from Cybersmart

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released Cybersmart Networking – a new online safety resource for students aged 12 to 14 years.

Cybersmart Networking uses a realistic online environment to teach young people how to stay safe on social networking sites, without exposing them to real risks.

Using the message ‘Private Lives in Public Spaces’, Cybersmart Networking teaches children about social networking in a protected environment.

Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users, and those who will shortly be venturing onto this space, with real experience of the potential issues and how to manage them,” said Sharon Trotter, Manager of Cybersmart Programs.

Students work online and in real time to solve an internet-based problem from the safety of their school. Cybersafety experts including police, education, government and child welfare advocates, New online safety resource from Cybersmart act as guides to help students navigate through the scenario.

The activity is part of the ACMA’s suite of Interactive Shared Learning activities that are designed to educate and empower students so that they can manage cybersafety issues, discover what information is safe for them to post online, and negotiate the balance between their private and public online lives.

The 50-minute activity is provided free of charge to schools across Australia. It is accompanied by comprehensive lesson plans reinforcing the learnings from the activity itself, and instructions for students and teachers.

Thirty-thousand students nationwide have already participated in Cybersmart’s online Interactive Shared Learning activities. Cybersmart Networking has been tailored to provide new social networking users with real experience of what can go wrong and how they can stay safe. It complements Cybersmart Detectives, which addresses online grooming and protecting personal information, and Cybersmart Hero, which addresses cyberbullying.

Sign up your school to participate in Cybersmart Networking by completing the online form.

Schools wishing to participate in upcoming events can email  isl@acma.gov.au or register your school at: www.cybersmart.gov.au