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Ohio adopts statewide internet safety curriculum

State districts using EasyTech Online Safety from Learning.com to educate students about appropriate online behavior while meeting E-Rate requirements

ince its inception in 2001, the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) has required internet content filtering to keep students safe online. Policymakers amended CIPA in 2008, requiring that students also be educated on internet safety. In addition to providing this required online safety training, schools must show evidence that training has occurred. With the new requirement taking effect for the 2012 school year, school administrators in many Ohio districts expressed their anxiety about meeting the new standards and retaining their E-Rate funding to state education officials. To qualify for E-Rate, CIPA requires districts and schools to have an internet safety program for all students, and E-Rate is a major source of funding for internet access in the state.

In response, the Ohio Department of Education (DOE) and Ohio Board of Regents conducted a survey to identify the specific needs of districts. Administrators from more than 300 districts in Ohio responded to the survey, and all of them identified a need for a curriculum addressing the new CIPA requirement to provide online safety training. As a result, the state department of education and Board of Regents chose to pursue implementing a statewide solution, enabling districts across the state to collaborate and share best practices. The groups issued an RFP for a curriculum that covers grades K-12, is easy to use, includes a learning management system (LMS) or reporting system, allows for anytime, anywhere access, and provides ongoing professional development and support.

After a rigorous selection process, the Ohio department of education and Board of Regents chose the only solution that met all requirements: EasyTech Online Safety curriculum from Learning.com. The state purchased EasyTech and now provides it at no cost to all Ohio public and chartered nonpublic school districts. EasyTech Online Safety provides schools with a comprehensive, grade-appropriate curriculum that satisfies E-Rate requirements for grades K through 12. The curriculum teaches students the skills they need to be ethical digital citizens, helping them stay safe as they use the internet and other digital communication tools. It also addresses topics such as cyberbullying, social networking, cell phone safety, online research ethics, online scams and identity theft. Resources for teachers and parents provide strategies to discuss challenging online safety topics, both at school and at home. “As the internet becomes more integrated into the classroom, it is crucial for students to learn how to stay safe online,” says Lorrie Germann, E-Rate coordinator at the Ohio Department of Education. “The feedback we received from schools using Learning.com was overwhelmingly positive, and we’re proud to offer this resource to Ohio teachers and students at no cost.”

Learning.com also provides professional development workshops around the state, along with a series of webinars describing best practices for district or school staff members responsible for implementing EasyTech. “As a former district technology coordinator, I have accessed a number of online learning management systems. Of all the systems I have used, Learning.com’s is by far the easiest,” says Germann. “It is very intuitive and simple to navigate. With my first use, I was able to create classes, assign curriculum, enroll students and even create my own curriculum, with no training at all.” Germann says the response from Ohio educators has been overwhelmingly positive. They have told her that the LMS is incredibly easy to use, that students love the content, and that they appreciate the ability to implement based on their needs and aren’t locked into one approach. Overall, Germann says the comment she hears most often is, “Please continue to provide this valuable resource.”

For more information, go to learning.com.