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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please note that the following information relates to the eSmart Schools portal and program which will be available for Victorian schools to access from January 2024.

The eSmart Schools program is free for all Victorian schools. Schools located outside of Victoria can explore the range of free eSmart products and resources which include eSmart Media Literacy Lab and eSmart Digital Licence+. Click here to explore these options.

The refreshed eSmart Schools program now provides a school-led approach to promoting online safety, with focus areas that embed digital citizenship at an organisational level, as well as support for teachers to build the skills, competencies and opportunities students need to thrive in a digital world.

The eSmart Schools Framework of six domains has been replaced by two units, featuring focus areas and goals which will promote online safety in schools by:

  • Embedding positive digital citizenship through school culture and operations
  • Fostering the development of positive digital citizenship through teaching and learning

Schools will be able to create an eSmart Commitment Plan by selecting focus areas from these units and then have the option of working with an expert Advisor to support the implementation of their Commitment Plan. Schools will be encouraged to recognise improvement through outcomes and the practice of regular reflection to identify gaps or improve on activities is an integral part of committing to being eSmart.

Schools will also have access to resources designed for school staff, students, families and community members, which can be used to support the implementation of the eSmart Commitment Plan or be used as stand-alone activities.

The refreshed eSmart Schools recognises that each school has a unique culture and differing needs. Schools will be able to select elements and appropriate goals from Units which will best support these needs, through their Commitment Plan. Schools have the option to complete a diagnostic tool and work with an Advisor to select their goals and consider what activities will help them meet the goals in their context, or to work alone with their plan.

eSmart Schools is underpinned by the eSafety Commissioner’s Best Practice Framework for Online Safety Education, an evidence-based best practice framework for a nationally consistent approach to online safety education in schools. Engaging with eSmart Schools can ensure that this framework is embedded in your school policies and practices, and that you have the support to regularly review these. In addition to this, eSmart Schools is:

  • School-led: Schools can choose their eSmart journey based on their specific community needs, by selecting resources and lessons that suit their requirements, or setting an eSmart plan that can be used to deliver and evaluate needs-based outcomes.
  • A whole school approach: eSmart Schools helps create a culture that promotes the positive use of digital technology, aligning digital citizenship practices across the school and home, and into the community.
  • Support throughout: If you choose, expert advisors can assist in identifying your school’s needs and develop a bespoke plan. These advisors are available to provide you with guidance at every step to help achieve and maintain your school's commitment to online safety and positive digital citizenship.
  • Engaging and empowering: Enabling student voice through resources that guide meaningful participation in the design, development, and implementation of their digital citizenship education, both in school and the community.

Schools who have recently engaged with their eSmart Advisor and made use of their portal will be contacted during Term 4 to help support their transition to the new eSmart plan. All other schools will be informed of the changes ready to engage with the program for the 2024 school year.

After registering, schools will have the option to complete a diagnostic tool to identify current areas of need, and either browse and use provided resources, or create an ePlan. When a school creates this plan and works with an Advisor, they will receive confirmation that they are recognised as being committed to becoming eSmart- this commitment is what will identify an eSmart School. After setting this plan, schools will be asked to achieve and maintain their commitment, in order to continue to be considered an eSmart School.

When you work with an Advisor to create an ePlan which suits your needs, you will receive access to digital assets which you may use in your school communication and promotions. These assets will be valid for the two-year cycle in which you begin your commitment.

Your Advisor will make time to map your current efforts within the framework to the goals in the new Units, and help you set an ePlan. If you have already achieved certain goals, you are able to note that within your new plan. You will have two years from registration to work on your ePlan.

If you are in the stages of uploading evidence, you will be able to do this during Term 4 2023. Your efforts will then be merged into the new eSmart portal, and you will be able to re-engage with your advisor who will support you to see how these actions fit into the new eSmart Units. You will receive recognition for your commitment to becoming eSmart for the two-year cycle. At that point, you will be invited to re-engage for the next cycle or have the option to just access the Unit descriptions, resources, and support page.

If you have recently achieved eSmart status and would like to continue to engage with eSmart Schools, please contact us to arrange a discussion with your eSmart Advisor. Your Advisor will work with you to ensure your previous work is linked to the relevant goals as part of a new ePlan. Your advisor will also support you to review your process every two-year cycle and help you to identify any gaps which can be readdressed, ensuring that you are continually working on this commitment. Because of this, there is no requirement to provide evidence that you have reached eSmart status.

The eSmart Schools program recognises that continuous review and engagement with policies and practices is essential to maintaining best practice. All schools who register for the refreshed eSmart Schools and engage with an Advisor will have access to network meetings and events, and be able to seek support.

At the end of the two-year cycle, you will receive a self-assessment tool which will allow you to rate your progress against outcomes. At that point, you can engage with your Advisor to discuss your results, noting areas that may extend into your next ePlan. After setting a new plan, you will receive recognition for your commitment for another two-year cycle.

We have refreshed our eSmart Schools program to ensure it meets the needs identified through a comprehensive two-year review that involved consultation and co-design work with school leadership, teaching staff, students, parents and carers, academics, and government stakeholders. If you have not been engaged with eSmart Schools for a while, we recommend that you begin by registering and requesting a consult with an Advisor, where you will complete a consultation to identify what your school needs, and create an ePlan. While it is possible that work you have previously completed as part of eSmart Schools may still be relevant, the rapidity of changes in the space of digital citizenship means we would encourage you to consider a renewed approach to setting, achieving and maintain your commitment to eSmart.

The new eSmart program has two units.

Unit 1 focuses on embedding positive digital citizenship through focusing on school policies and practices, including upholding child rights and encouraging meaningful youth participation in the design of their digital citizenship education. Within this unit, schools will be provided with resources to ensure policies include process around digital citizenship and expected behaviours, as well as effective supervision of students, through a rights-based lens. Schools will be supported to ensure their whole school planning incorporates digital citizenship education through curriculum design, implementation and review. Further resources will encourage the participation of students in the design and delivery of their digital citizenship education, along with support in engaging the wider community, including families, school networks and community organisations.

Unit 2 focuses on building positive digital practices through teaching and learning. Within this unit, schools will be provided with resources that build teacher capacity for teaching digital citizenship through strengths-based, age-appropriate, and curriculum-aligned activities. Engaging students through student voice by providing resources which allow meaningful participation in their digital citizenship education is emphasised. Unit 2 will also encourage community engagement, with goals encouraging schools to build shared expectations across schools in their local network, and showing the value in aligning the messages shared at school and home.

The new portal will be available in early 2024

To access the portal, you will need to ensure that the person from your school who will hold responsibility for your ePlan follows the prompts on the eSmart website to register. They will then be able to log in to a unique school portal, where there is the option to view each unit and focus area and their relevant resources and articles. The portal is also where schools have the option to request a consult with an Advisor, which will guide you towards identifying needs. At that stage, you may choose to engage further by creating and implementing an ePlan, or you may choose to only access resources. Registering to access the portal initially is not a commitment to completing a plan.

All Victorian schools can access the eSmart Schools program at no cost. Schools outside Victoria may still access certain resources through our public webpage, and can still register for and use the eSmart Digital Licence+ and the eSmart Media Literacy Lab, which are available to all schools in Australia at no cost.

eSmart actively connects school communities and their families to encourage a unified approach to keeping children safe online. Goals and resources offer ideas on how to ensure that there is consistency in the messages given to students and their families. Schools who engage with eSmart will also be able to connect with others through webinars and events, building a community of practice.

Unit 2 will focus specifically on fostering development of digital citizenship through teaching and learning, and includes suggested in-class activities which can be used by teachers to improve their practice, and build student understanding.

Alongside these activities, you are able to register for and utilise our other eSmart products, the Digital Licence+, currently aimed at students aged 10-14, and the Media Literacy Lab, for Secondary School students in Years 7-10. Check regularly for dates of upcoming information sessions, where expert Advisors will talk through these products. You are also able to explore these products independently, and us the contact form available on each program’s home site if you have any questions that are not answered by the DL+ handbook or MLL product manual.

Digital citizenship encompasses all aspects of our online behaviour including how communicate and interact with others online, how we create and consume digital media, how we share information including our personal data and that of others, and the way we present and represent ourselves in digital spaces.

In many ways, it’s a natural extension of learning digital literacy. Once a person has a basic understanding of how to use digital tools and technologies, they must also understand how the ways they use them can impact their own life and potentially the lives of others as well.

Digital citizenship and the ability to practice it influences the overall health of individual online users and online communities.

Digital and media literacy and online safety education are the foundational skills needed to practice digital citizenship.

Digital Literacy is considered a building block to digital citizenship and is the ability to use, understand and engage with digital tools and technologies successfully. Media literacy is also part of digital literacy and it the ability to critically analyse, evaluate, and understand various forms of media that exist online and includes any form of online content.

Online safety education is another building block for digital citizenship and incorporates an understanding of potential online risks and taking proactive measures to avoid them. It also includes the development of critical thinking skills to equip children and young people to avoid engaging in behaviour that could potentially put others at risk.