​Digital Literacy Skills:  
Enhancing student and staff digital literacy is a big focus at St James. This semester, we have access to additional support through a Digital Skills Education Officer who has been working with all classes in various ways to assist the understanding of using technology effectively. From logging on to using apps and programs to their full potential, these are some of the areas of focus within our classrooms. From a parent perspective, we encourage you to explore the St James Parent Portal, which allows access to a lot of information regarding school activities, permission slips and other school related information. Also, there is the BCE Connect app, which allows for direct access to St James information. Please drop in to the office for assistance with this feature.

Cyber Safety:
As easy as it is to promote technology use, we must always consider the safety of students (and ourselves) online. Last night, I attended a Cyber Safety Information session hosted at Iona College by Susan McLean, a leader in Internet Safety in Australia. Without being alarming, some of the statistics were frightening. Her main message was ‘to be a parent, not a friend’ when it comes to the use of online systems. She covered topics including appropriate ages for playing online games eg. Fortnite, how risk is managed at home – location of technology use in the home, not using headphones to communicate and whilst students may be ‘tech savvy’ they are ‘cognitive poor’ in the choices they may make.

She referred to a report stating, ‘the average eight year old has spent one year in front of a screen,’ and that this is now being seen in the incidence of eye abnormalities, particularly short-sightedness. Susan also explained that the minimum age for social media use is thirteen years of age and that in today’s world, students must consider the potential missed opportunities including leadership, volunteer work and employment/internship that may arise through the misuse of social media, as employers become increasingly aware of the influence of social media today.

Within the classroom environment, our students are educated on the importance of always using their device with respect and responsibility. Each student from Year 2-6 have signed an iPad contract outlining their responsibilities when using the iPads. However, there is no substitute for the need for vigilance as we guide them through learning to use these machines properly.