The goal of this research-based curriculum is to increase the knowledge and awareness of children in grades 9-12 about cyber-skills (the curriculum is currently being tested in several Middle Schools for effectiveness in that population).
Examples of topics covered in the curriculum are:
knowledge of how digital communications are used,
The emotional impact of different digital communications,
laws and regulations concerning electronic messages, images, and video,
factual concepts such as understanding the utilization of computer “cookies” or Internet Protocol addresses.
Because digital abuse can result from lack of basic knowledge about digital communications, it is anticipated that increased cyber-skills may reduce digital abuse and cyberbullying. The ways in which electronic communications can impact daily living and relationships is also covered. Because this curriculum is intended for use in Massachusetts, references to laws are, at times, specific to that state.
Challenges this Curriculum Addresses
In research conducted on more than 300 college freshman at the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University during the 2010-2011 academic year, students scored, on average, in the 60th and 70th percentiles on questions testing their knowledge of basic electronic communications. For example, students were asked if it is possible to copy the screen from someone’s social networking profile, even if that person’s profile is set to “private.” Other questions asked about privacy online, the impact of using digital communications on tone and understanding, etc.
The Curriculum contains the following:
Ten lessons for Grade 9, in the form of Writing Prompts; Ten lessons for Grade 10, in the form of Writing Prompts; Five lessons for Grade 11, in the form of educational reading, surveys of opinions & thoughts, and class discussion; and Five lessons for Grade 12, in the form of educational reading, surveys of opinions & thoughts, and class discussion
Methodology and Approaches Utilized in this Curriculum
Discussion and Opinions. In every lesson, the Curriculum utilizes the lesson as a springboard for discussion in class.
Online Interactive Elements. The 9th and 10th grade Curriculum utilizes paper primarily, with a few online videos. Students read or watch videos, write their Prompt, and utilize their Prompts to begin a class discussion. The 11th and 12th grade curriculum can be accomplished via paper, but we strongly encourage teachers and schools to utilize a very simple online system which permits students to read or watch a short educational video, express their opinions via a few survey questions, and then instantly see digital feedback about the aggregated opinion of all of their grade-level peers. Seeing how the group thinks and feels about cyber issues is the springboard for the Class Discussion in these grades.
Technology Requirements: Minimal: Internet access to the MARC website, and the ability to project or show videos to students. Ideal: Internet access for each student, in computer labs or laptop carts for Grades 11 & 12.
Curriculum objectives broken down by year:
Privacy and Anonymity Online
Using different sources of information
Internet Protocol Addresses
Sexting & Social Pressure*
Consequences of posting and tagging photos of other people
Handling digital communications when you’re angry
Understanding cyberbullying versus cyber conflict
Terms of Service Agreements
Methods for reporting digital abuse, harassment, or threats
Nature of friendship and online “friends”
Cyberbullying versus free speech
Online pictures and images*
Why do you need digital privacy?
Criminalization of online behaviors
Cell phone applications and privacy
What’s a cookie?
Shooting video – Is that illegal?
Being Smart on Facebook
Computer Crime rising in the U.S.
Does a ban on cyberbullying do any good?
What’s behavioral tracking online?
Do adults view cyberbullying accurately?
Advising about cyberbullying: How should people react?