Saturday, July 10, 2010

WoogiWorld Cybersafety: I'm Not So Sure

I played a couple of rounds of WoogiWorld's CyberSafety game this morning, looking for tools I can use with my elementary students next year. I think I've mentioned before I'm stressing over what to do with them, since I've always been such a grade 7-up oriented person.

Obviously, I'm all for teaching cybersafety, but I HATE all these FBI-type programs that scare the bejeezus out of people.  The now famous  2007 report by the NSBA states that fears are often exaggerated by the media, with school districts over-reacting by blocking everything that's blockable.  How are kids supposed to learn responsible use of these sites and tools if we aren't able to access them to teach them?

Which brings me back to WoogiWorld.  I love that it teaches appropriate and safe online behavior. But does anyone else think it over-stresses the fear factor?  I want them to be careful, but I don't want them thinking predators are lurking behind every chat line.  Am I over-reacting?

Have any of you used WoogiWorld with your students?  What do you think?


  1. You are not off-base! I have been in an elementary library for 8 years, and this is a hot button topic with me! In our district, rather than stressing that digital citizenship is an essential part of the overall curriculum for every class, the librarians have been tasked with teaching a stand-alone internet safety program. We use Netsmartz to some extent, and it is not quite as fear-based as many programs that I've seen. Other than that though, I try to infuse my curriculum with digital citizenship learning rather than teaching "lessons."

    Nancy Willard's Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use is a really good resource that might help administrators and teachers see a more common sense approach to digital citizenship.

    I would LOVE to know what other elementary programs look like. Has anyone found a packaged digital citizenship program--that's what my district seems to be looking for--that is not fear and danger based?

  2. Jamie, thanks for the heads-up on Netsmartz and Nancy Willard's site; I'll definitely take a look at those.

    I, too would love to hear what others are doing, and how they structure a session. I think I have 40 minute weekly segments with each grade.

  3. Carnegie Cadets: The MySecureCyberspace Game" is nice. It offers 4 missions: avoiding spam emails, protecting personal information, avoiding inappropriate websites, and cyberbullying. This game is not fear-based, and it comes with The Teacher's Companion, which has 13 lessons that accompany the game. It's provided as an outreach project from Carnegie Mellon University.