New materials help to fill the gap of teaching cyber ethics in the classroom

Jan 12, 2009 11:16am


By Michael Kaiser, NCSA Executive Director

Today, NCSA is pleased to announce the launch of a new partnership with CyberSmart! The CyberSmart! Cyberbullying Package is a positive and empowering suite of K-12 lessons provided free to schools. These new materials directly address a gap in the ability of our schools to teach cyber security, cyber safety, and cyber ethics issues. CyberSmart! Cyberbullying Package is a positive and empowering suite of K-12 lessons provided free to schools. These new materials directly address a gap in the ability of our schools to teach cyber security, cyber safety, and cyber ethics issues.

Cyber bullying is a significant problem in the United States. A recent study found that 11% of middle school students said that they had been electronically bullied at least once in the last couple of months.

In December 2008, the NCSA released 2008 National Cyberethics, Cybersafety, Cybersecurity Baseline Study, conducted by Davina Pruitt-Mentle, Ph.D. of Educational Technology, Policy Research, and Outreach (ETPRO) on behalf of NCSA.

Among other findings the study highlighted that:

  • Less than 25 % of educators felt comfortable teaching students how to protect themselves from cyber predators, cyber bullies and identity theft.
  • Only 8% of educators said their school included cyber security, cyber safety and cyber ethics topics as part of the state curriculum, health/safety curriculum or one-day assemblies.

If we are going to rapidly address the problem of cyber bullying, we need research-based thoughtful materials to support classroom activities. That’s exactly what the CyberSmart! Cyberbullying Package contains.

The lessons adopt an integrated approach, based on current research findings and best practices from the fields of cyber security, school violence prevention, and character education to impact behavioral change. The resulting package of materials focus on developing critical thinking and decision-making skills, guiding students to define the problems and issues themselves and “own” them. Without this ownership, no behavioral change can occur.

The CyberSmart! Cyberbullying Package includes standards-based, non-sequential lessons designed to be integrated into the existing curriculum by classroom teachers. It also includes home connection materials and prevention activities that extend classroom learning out to the school, families, and the community.

NCSA is thrilled to be working with CyberSmart! on this new partnership. CyberSmart! played an integral role in the creation of NCSA seven years ago and we are thrilled to be working closely with them again on this effort.