'Helping to ensure a safe and positive community' by Jon Burton

2nd September 2017

One of the greatest strengths of IATEFL has always been its nature as ‘a big family’ with members supporting each other, sharing ideas and discussing the topics of the day. But how do we support and protect this in the 21st century?

Clearly a major development of recent years has been the growth of online communication and collaboration. This has brought with it huge benefits to an international association such as IATEFL, and has made possible the webinars, online meetings, online conference, email interactions and social media platforms that many of us take for granted these days.

On the other hand, just as we recognise the dangers and pitfalls for our students, we must be aware of online threats such as viruses, spamming and identity fraud, as well as abuse and bullying that can raise their ugly heads in this new world. There is also the never-ending battle of trying to keep our inboxes from getting out of control!

So how is IATEFL working to reduce and eliminate these dangers? Well, in terms of internet security and protecting your personal data, we have recently upgraded all areas of our website to the same ‘secure socket’ encryption that the members’ area has used for quite some time. In addition we make sure our website is backed up on a daily basis and that our payment processing is fully compliant with security standards.

We’ve had a long hard look at the ‘inbox issue’ and developed some simple advice in our document IATEFL and emails which we hope you will find useful, not only for your emails with the IATEFL community, but perhaps also to help take back control of your inbox in general.

IATEFL’s social media platforms on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and YouTube are growing fast in their popularity with nearly 10,000 followers of our Facebook page, over 15,000 members of our closed IATEFL discussion group and over 13,000 followers on Twitter. Such exciting growth and interest, from members and non-members alike, means we must be very careful to continue to offer users what they want: a vibrant global EFL community, a safe and respectful place to share ideas and opinions, and platforms free from self-promotion and unrestricted advertising. We hope that members feel our recently developed social media policy will help to ensure this continues to be the case long into the future, helping to ensure your online safety, and a positive community spirit, in the digital age. Information on all of IATEFL’s guidelines can be found at www.iatefl.org/about-iatefl/key-documents

There is no doubt that the internet is a wonderful tool to help us achieve our aim of ‘linking, developing and supporting ELT professionals worldwide’ and we invite you, if you haven’t already done so, to join our online community, join in the debate, and join in the fun!

I started teaching English during breaks from university in the early nineties  and have been involved in English language teaching ever since. My journey has taken me from teaching in Spain, France and the UK to teacher training, materials writing, testing, marketing, quality inspections, academic management, and then senior management as principal of a language school and then a further education college. In 2016 I was delighted to be selected as the new Chief Executive of IATEFL and to join the fantastic team here at Head Office. Since then I have been busy getting to know many of the wonderful volunteers and members who have made, and continue to make, this association such an exciting, relevant, international and innovative community of ELT professionals.