Our cyber safety experts have been searching for the answer to the simple question – What is the best way to teach children about Internet safety and the dangers that they encounter while interacting with people online? While traditional presentations are effective, we were looking for a way to get students to connect the dots regarding the dangers that are online and appropriate online behavior. There needed to be a way for them to really ‘get it’. For example, children can tell you that it is wrong to talk to people they do not know online. However, they do not understand how a online predator connects with them.
The objective of Cyber Safety’s Internet safety curriculum is for students to develop a deeper understanding of the dangers of the Internet and inappropriate online behavior thus making the connection between online actions and consequences of those actions. While students gain a keener understanding through the initial student presentation, this 4 session course pushes the students to the next level of learning. They will engage in active learning techniques to personalize the topics covered.
The Internet safety curriculum utilizes a pretest to assess the students’ current understanding of the material to be covered. The instructor uses this information to tailor the course to increase its effectiveness.
What we have learned in administering numerous Internet safety curriculum to middle school and high school children, is that students need to connect the instruction with their own unique experiences for it to truly sink in. Traditional presentation styles in which an instructor lectures to a class is not 100% effective. To connect the dots, they need to understand why Internet safety is important to THEM.
The majority of material is delivered using a student-centered approach to learning. While the instructor is an authority figure, the students play an equally active role in this course. The instructor’s primary role is to coach and facilitate student learning and overall understanding of the material. The material is taught through a number of different activities: videos, case studies, small and large group discussions, and small group projects.
An end of course test is given to measure the students’ mastery of the material. This can also be used by the school to record a grade for an ‘Internet safety’ unit of the class.