Advice to Parents

Introduction

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As your child gets older, they will spend an increasing amount of time using a computer, whether doing research for homework tasks, chatting with friends or playing games. For a lot of parents, computers, and especially the Internet, can seem a little daunting. However, whilst your child may understand computers, and especially the Internet, better than you, they will still benefit from your help and guidance.

Using ICT at Home

Obviously access to a computer at home is highly desirable. If the student has access to a computer then they can continue their studies at a time that is convenient to them. Access to the Internet is also extremely helpful since many of the tutorials and materials for ICT are stored electronically and can be downloaded from the school network via the Internet. Nonetheless, for those without access to the Internet, a portable USB memory stick can prove to be a value substitute, allowing the students to easily copy materials in school and take them home.

There have been many studies in the UK and across the world on ICT's effect on learning and teaching, and on the importance of having access to computers and/or the internet at home, both for children and parents. Here are some of the key findings*:

  • Used effectively, ICT can improve attainment
  • Using ICT at home and at school develops a key life skill
  • Pupils with supportive and involved parents and carers do better at school
  • Pupils enjoy using ICT and find it both motivational and fun
  • Parents like to use ICT to communicate with and learn more about school, and want to use it more
  • Using ICT provides access to a wider and more flexible range of learning materials

Home use of ICT by pupils:

  • Improves their ICT skills
  • Provides more options for what they learn and how they learn it
  • Supports homework and revision
  • Provides increased motivation, and more efficient and improved presentation
  • Connects learning at school with learning at home
  • Makes learning more fun

Parents can:

  • Find out information about current and prospective schools through websites, etc.
  • Keep in touch with educational and social events being organised by the school
  • Play a more active role in school life, find out about the work of the governors, the parent-teacher organisation and more
  • Get details about their child's lessons and homework, and where to get help and useful background information
  • Keep in touch with the school, individual teachers, clubs and other parents

Software We Use

There are a number of packages that we will use in school, some of which are commonplace and you may already have purchased some of these packages for use at home. The list below shows the packages in order of importance / use for their studies in ICT, along with an indicative price for a student licence (please note that these are significantly lower than the normal retail prices):

Package Student Licence (approx. £ ) Supplier
Microsoft Office 2007 †
incl. Word, Publisher, Access, PowerPoint, Excel
£75 Ramesys Ltd
Adobe Macromedia Studio 8
incl. Dreamweaver, Flash, Fireworks
£75 Ramesys Ltd
Serif Design Suite ‡
incl. DrawPlus, PagePlus, PhotoPlus, WebPlus
£35 Serif Ltd

† this licence allows installation on up to 3 computers per household (non-commercial use)

‡ this is a special promotional price available to Moorside Students - details available on request

Although we use other software packages throughout the courses in both Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4, some are rarely used, some are free of charge and some are not available for retail purchase. Other departments will utilise an even wider range of applications (e.g. the Music Department frequently use programs called Dance E-Jay and Cubasis). For a complete up-to-date list of applications used by a department, please contact the relevant Department Head via e-mail (see contacts menu).

Guidance For Parents

Buying A PC / Getting Online

For many, purchasing a computer is seen as a worthwhile expense if it will help their child's education. Buying a PC is not cheap, so, if you are going to take the plunge, bare in mind the following tips to make an informed choice:

  • Decide what the PC is going to be used for (by everyone);
  • Learn some of the jargon;
  • If you don't understand something - ask!;
  • Ask people for recommendations;
  • Decide on how much you are prepared to spend;
  • Do your research (e.g. magazines, flyers, the Internet etc);
  • Consider what accessories are really needed beforehand;
  • Is portability really important?;
  • Decide what software do you need (especially Anti-Virus software);
  • Get the whole family involved.

If you're going to buy an Internet enabled machine, you will also need to consider which Internet Service Provided is best suited for your needs. The Internet brings many benefits, but to ensure you stay safe and secure on the Internet, consider the following:

  • Broadband (always on) vs Dial-up connections
  • Wireless Network capabilities
  • Internet Security (e.g. firewalls)
  • Anti-Virus software and updates
  • Anti-Spyware protection

How to keep your child safe online*

  • Consider using internet filtering software, walled gardens and child-friendly search engines. Use your browser's controls as some offer differing degrees of security for each family member.
  • Check out what child protection services your Internet ServiceProvider (ISP) offers -do they filter for spam, for instance? If not, ask them why.
  • Keep the computer in a communal area of the house, where it's easier to monitor what your children are viewing.
  • Tell children not to give out their personal details. If they want to subscribe to any services online, make up a family email address to receive the mail.
  • Children love to chat, but make sure they only use moderated chat rooms and encourage them to introduce you to their online friends.
  • Encourage your children to tell you if they feel uncomfortable, upset or threatened by anything they see online.
  • Involve your children in writing your own family code of acceptable internet use. Remember that what's acceptable for a teenager isn't necessarily OK for a primary school-aged child, so get their input.
  • Computer kit is expensive so bear in mind that a child with a laptop may be vulnerable when carrying it to and from school.
  • The web's a great resource for homework, but remember to use more than one site in research to get broad, balanced information and always reference your research sources.
  • Surf together. Go online with your children and become part of their online life. The key to safe surfing is communication.

Plagiarism and The Internet

Plagiarism is becoming an increasing problem in education due, in no small part, to the accessibility of information on the Internet and the growing simplicity and power of the tools to find it. The Internet is a great research tool and has done much to enhance and enrich the learning experience, but, as you may have heard in the news, students are increasingly using it to simply copy information (usually verbatim) to complete coursework and homework tasks; clearly this kind of use of the Internet undermines the purpose of independent study.

There are a number of common misconceptions among students regarding the Internet and the information found there, including:

  • That everything on the Internet is free for them to copy and use;
  • That the fact that they can find the answer is all that the teacher is interested in;
  • That copying large sections of material and passing it off as they own is acceptable;
  • That teaching staff automatically assume they've understood what they have copied;
  • That the information on the Internet is always factually correct and consequently does not need to be corroborated or verified with another source.

Parents can help their child's research by helping them conduct the Internet searches and then evaluating with them what they find. Parents can help their children to develop a reasoned judgement about the information they've found and. perhaps most importantly, parents can encourage their children to become more inquisitive, to question and challenge the validity of what they're seeing on the screen by asking themselves:

  • Where is the information coming from;
  • How reliable is it likely to be;
  • Whether the information is up-to-date;
  • Whether the site is offering fact or opinion;
  • Whether the information is complete;
  • Whether the information is appropriate and therefore fit-for-purpose.

For more advice on checking web-based information sources, visit;