A full recording of this event is available on YouTube. View it here.
On Wednesday September 15th, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted a virtual fireside chat titled, “School’s Back - Now What?” FOSI CEO Stephen Balkam led a conversation with Diana Graber of Cyberwise and Cyber Civics, where they explored a number of topics surrounding what back to school looks like in 2021. They discussed ways that parents, educators, and school administrators can support each other in providing a quality learning environment and experience for students this year.
The conversation opened with a brief overview of the current educational landscape, emphasizing all the work that educators have done to adapt to different styles of teaching in the past few years and how resilient children are for maintaining their academic lessons through the changes as well. As an educator herself, Diana shared personal stories from her classroom, noting that students felt technology and video conferencing software allowed online learning and socialization to happen easily, but not without its drawbacks. She remarked that both students and teachers have become much more tech savvy over the past year and a half, and those skills are valuable moving forward, predicting that the state of education will not regress back to pre-pandemic operations, instead incorporating more technology, devices, and increased EdTech in curriculums.
The importance of social and emotional learning (SEL) was heavily discussed, acknowledging the likelihood that teachers will have to address current events that a student sees at home or while using their device. Being able to have group conversations about what is going on in their students’ lives allow for more engaging lessons and meaningful student-teacher interactions. Diana and Stephen also spoke about the ways communities, schools, and families can come together and set technology rules or “classroom norms” that everyone would operate from to keep their classroom community digitally safe and healthy.
During a Q&A period, Stephen and Diana answered questions from the audience on everything from hybrid learning and how to engage parents in digital academic activities to building and encouraging resilience related to viewing difficult online content, cyberbullying, and sexting.
CyberWise and Cyber Civics
Diana Graber, author of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship with Technology (www.raisinghumansinadigitalworld.com),” is the founder of Cyberwise (www.cyberwise.org) and Cyber Civics (www.cybercivics.com), two sites dedicated to improving the digital literacy skills of adults and children.
Founder & CEO
Family Online Safety Institute
For the past 30 years, Stephen Balkam has had a wide range of leadership roles in the nonprofit sector in both the US and UK. He is currently the Founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), an international, nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, DC. FOSI’s mission is to make the online world safer for kids and their families. FOSI convenes the top thinkers and practitioners in government, industry and the nonprofit sectors to collaborate and innovate and to create a “culture of responsibility” in the online world.
Prior to FOSI, Stephen was the Founder and CEO of the Internet Content Rating Association (ICRA) and led a team which developed the world’s leading content labeling system on the web. While with ICRA, Stephen served on the US Child Online Protection Commission (COPA) in 2000 and was named one of the Top 50 UK Movers and Shakers, Internet Magazine, 2001.
In 1994, Stephen was named the first Executive Director of the Recreational Software Advisory Council (RSAC) which created a unique self-labeling system for computer games and then, in 1996, Stephen launched RSACi – a forerunner to the ICRA website labeling system. For his efforts in online safety, Stephen was given the 1998 Carl Bertelsmann Prize in Gutersloh, Germany, for innovation and responsibility in the Information Society and was invited to the first and subsequent White House Internet Summits during the Clinton Administration.
Stephen’s other positions include the Executive Director of the National Stepfamily Association (UK); General Secretary of the Islington Voluntary Action Council; Executive Director of Camden Community Transport as well as management positions at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (London) and Inter-Action. Stephen’s first job was with Burroughs Machines (now Unisys) and he had a spell working for West Nally Ltd – a sports sponsorship PR company.
Stephen received a BA, magna cum laude, in Psychology from University College, Cardiff, Wales in 1977. A native of Washington, DC, Stephen spent many years in the UK and is now has dual citizenship. He writes regularly for the Huffington Post, appears often on TV and has appeared on nationally syndicated TV and radio programs such as MSNBC, CNN, NPR and the BBC and has been interviewed by leading newspapers such as the Washington Post, New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, radio and in the mainstream press. He has given presentations and spoken in 15 countries on 4 continents.