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Stop policing: how to positively engage with learners working online

When learners work online it can be scary for educators. Even with firewalls and filters in place, we all know that within a few minutes of opening their devices, students can find themselves on websites where they shouldn’t be – either because it’s dangerous, or just off task. With access to software that allows us to intervene in student browsing, it can be tempting to use it to just shut down bad behavior. But policing learners online will not help them learn what good browsing behaviors look like, and definitely will not set you up for positive, trusting relationships with your students.

This summer, a group of educators from around the world participated in our Hapara Champion Educator course to learn more about how to create positive, engaging digital learning experiences. We asked these educators to share how they use Hapara features to positively interact with students working online without policing them, as they help learners build the skills they need to be successful in a digital world.

How can you use the open tabs or send messages features in Hapara Highlights to positively engage with students without policing them?


Billy Worthy:

Positive feedback during tasks. I do writing prompts and ask students to volunteer their work for a top 3 in the class. [Sending messages] would help me to encourage the writing process and maybe give those who are embarrassed the incentive to participate a little more if they knew their work was teacher approved ahead of presenting.

Cindy Chamberlain:

I often send short emails to my students, sometimes to encourage, sometimes to suggest a new avenue, sometimes to help, and sometimes to say well done. The students enjoy getting them and if you do it regularly, they do not go off task very often and therefore [there’s] no need to use it as a watchdog tool. I like sending a link to them….most times it is to help or develop critical thinking but sometimes it’s just a cute or funny video that might go with their assignment. It’s a great feature

Rachel Duckworth:

We have a huge focus at our school on developing a Growth Mindset & increasing Student Agency so I often use the messages feature to let kids know how impressed I am with their focus and effort.

Amy Hudson Estepp:

Feedback is so much more important than grades. The timely manner in which you can use it will assist students more in development than grading and returning weeks later. Students can correct and revise quicker with interactions and better learning can take place.

Lyn Koresh:

Sharing a tab of a resource that a student found would be a way of encouraging other students.

Let us know how you find positive ways to interact with students online in the comments!

How to send a message in Highlights:

Learn what to focus on when building a culture of digital citizenship, including conversation starters for learners and educators!

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