Even before the current COVID crisis there was already high growth and adoption in education technology, with global ed-tech investments and the overall market for online education projected to reach $398 Billion by 2026.But what you may not know is that people are already grabbing their share of this lucrative industry.
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Evidently, an increase in child deaths is the significant issue as another child death becomes an additional statistic yet, it doesn’t correlate to what effect it has internally on all parties concerned. With the emerging digital age, it is vital that everything online is scrutinized and it is our responsibility as educators to guarantee a child’s safety.
Reducing the number of deaths is the obvious priority but subsequent factors of the online world such as crime, county lines, sexual abuse and grooming all have increased. A survey produced by Children’s Commissioner for Wales Professor Sally Holland stated that:
“four in 10 of the 17-year-olds taking part in her survey said they felt lonely most of the time while 30% of 17 to 18-year-olds said they felt worried most of the time.”
Isolation and loneliness will lead young children to become involved in dangerous predicaments as their intrigue is raised. This is where online safety is paramount as it is an accessible route for criminals to target potential victims to exploit.
“County Lines has contributed to 807% increase in children referred for support by councils in relation to modern slavery.”
With this excessive increase, it demonstrates how important safeguarding is in online education. Gangs will utilise social media as a ploy to flaunt a lavish lifestyle and lure young children into Country lines due to their naivety and inability to comprehend that they are indeed victims.
Not only will children be exploited for financial gain, but online it allows predators to seek out young vulnerable people for their own gratification through grooming. Last year the NSPCC stated the Police recorded:
“over 10,000 online child sex crimes in a year for the first time.”
But not only in the UK is this prevalent, the problem is increasing Internationally. The Times reported that in Thailand during the pandemic:
“Police and child protection organizations say that cases of abuse, including the extracting of pornographic images from children, increased last year by as much as 40 per cent.”
With less school time because of recent lock downs, it has led to less education whilst increasing vulnerability. With schools now reopen it is critical that children are being supervised.
In addition to this, the UK has seen an increase in radicalization. COVID has led to more seclusion resulting in close relatives and friends taking advantage of young children. Sky reported that over the past 2 years there has been:
“more than 1,500 children under the age of 15 [who] were referred to the Prevent counter radicalization programmer.”
Ultimately the diminishment of social interaction due to COVID that young children will have with their peers and teachers leaves them exposed, further highlighting the importance of safeguarding young children online.
Educational barriers need to be broken online
Online education is a valuable asset as it enables learning remotely and breaks down the barriers at home unveiling a glimpse of what may be going on behind close doors.
Unfortunately, not all children can be monitored online due to a number of factors, one including, inadequate resources due to socio-economic backgrounds.
A tragic example of safeguarding importance lies with Chadrack Mbala Mulo, 4. Had there been sufficient communication between his school and home prior to his mother’s death, he may still be alive. He died from starvation as a result of being unable to feed himself due to him being mute and having autism.
His unexplained absences, which were not pursued in thorough depth, ultimately led to his death. Remote online education would have ensured that his scarce logins on education portals would have raised flags and an investigation would have occurred properly.
Sadly, this is just one case of thousands who are at risk in similar situations exemplifying why safeguarding children who are learning online is vital.
Educating children about the dangers online is the key
Our opinion is that educating young children before they can be exposed to the dangers will be the best option to minimize exploitation.
Here at EdClass It is our mission to guarantee that every child home or abroad gets the chance to learn safely with our DBS checked staff ensuring remote learning is completed in a correct and secure manner.
All chats are recorded and sent to their corresponding schools’ server to guarantee safeguarding elements.
Our EdClass Designated Safeguarding Lead Cara Radford said:
“Safeguarding online is massively important especially during COVID when everyone is online. Pre-COVID, a lot of parents were looking into what their children were doing online but now parents are busy balancing working from home and parenting which has meant more opportunity for people that are looking to groom children.
So, educating children into not befriending people they don’t know on forums and not disclosing personal information is really important, more so now than ever.”
Online safety is now part of the wider safeguarding requirement for schools but it is a fast changing and sometimes seemingly inaccessible world for staff. However, all members of the staff team should have at least a basic awareness of online safety so that, should an incident occur, they can respond appropriately and quickly.
This is the first in a free series of videos that will not only help raise awareness in the team but also has a partnering child-friendly version of the principles discussed to extend the training into the classroom. The content is appropriate for everyone from Senior Leadership to new to education staff in any role and can be used to support a combined staff and classroom awareness campaign. In this first episode, we look at some key elements of online safety and some of the safeguarding responsibilities of the team will need to be aware of.
Our team at the Child Protection Company have been creating high quality training solutions since 2008 and every one of our courses draws on the experience of expert safeguarding professionals. Our training courses are developed in house, and are regularly updated to remain in line with the latest government guidance and legislation.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken a direct swipe across several industries such as manufacturing, finance, and healthcare among others. It has also affected the education sector. Around 1.2 billion students and youth are or were forced to study from home as a result of the virus that has already killed more than 483,000 people globally.
But this is not where the story ends. For some, it’s where it begins. A crisis likes this requires us to question our methods of teaching and learning. Big and small companies are coming up with novel solutions for the education challenges posed by the virus. The future of education is unfolding right before our eyes as digital learning takes center-stage.
Education institutions and stakeholders form partnerships.
Students have to continue learning even if it means using alternative methods. Over the past several months, we have seen governments, private and public companies, publishers, educators, and technology providers forming partnerships to find a temporary solution to the ongoing crisis. China launched a remote program to keep students learning. Primary school students received their educational material on national television.
When governments began locking down their countries, many tech giants such as Facebook, Google, and Twitter encouraged their employees who could work from home to do so. Twitter and Square employees will continue working from home even when the coronavirus is contained.
Working from home was only a temporary solution. However, it has become permanent for some employees. This, in turn, will have domino effects that can potentially extend beyond the tech industry. While the online education sector has been growing even before the start of the virus, we are likely going to see a scenario where more students opt to learn from home. It is still very early to say goodbye to onsite learning. There will always be students who prefer mortar-and-bricks classrooms.
Ed tech companies prepare for an influx of users.
Technology has become a very important factor in the delivery of education. Existing edtech companies know that. The majority of them are preparing to handle an influx in the number of users on their platforms. Education Ecosystem has been scaling content on its platform to give users a variety of practical projects to learn from. Users can complete a variety of practical projects such as using machine learning in stock trading or creating a login system for a game in Unity among others. These vary in nature and they are provided by vetted experts who have many years of experience in their career fields.
Other growing edtech companies are knocking on the doors of venture capital firms to raise funds to sail through these times. New Markets Venture Partners, an edtech VC, has seen an increase in the number of education companies reaching out to them for investments, said the firm’s general partner Jason Palmer. The bottom line is that education companies see an opportunity that extends beyond the coronavirus pandemic.
The future of online education.
Here in Europe and across the globe, education companies have become a lifeline for the millions of students who can’t attend physical classes due to the coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic pushed the world toward an experiment of working or learning from home.
It is no longer just an experiment. It could be the future of education. There is still a long way to go before remote learning becomes the major norm internationally. But this pandemic has shown us what the possibilities are. And with education companies coming on board to save the day, they have set for themselves a future where anything is possible.
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