New online safety curriculum helps schools document CIPA compliance

Beginning in the 10-minute kindergarten course, an animated character named Sammy Smart introduces students to basic internet safety concepts, such as what constitutes personal information and how school equipment should be used.

The lessons become more robust as students grow older, so that the fourth and fifth grade version contains discussions about not only personal safety, but also cyber bullying and ethical responsibility.

The middle and high school programs introduce new concepts such as source credibility, social networking, and sexting. As they follow along the lessons, the older students reflect on their personal experiences with internet safety in an embedded electronic journal.

At two hours, the middle school program is the longest of the AUP courses. Research shows that “the rubber hits the road” in internet safety issues among kids that age, Sund said.

She said the personal journal activity starts in sixth grade, because by that age, the goal is for students “not just to follow the rules, but to develop and follow their own rules.”

During Sund’s tenure as a deputy superintendent, she found online safety education to be insufficient: Once a year, teachers would read aloud basic rules and then pass around printed copies of the school’s AUP agreement for students to sign.

Through conversations with students, it became apparent to Sund that kids, especially at the elementary school level, lacked basic internet safety knowledge.

“It was amazing what the kids didn’t know—they did not know they shouldn’t go meet someone in the park. … It was frightening, frankly,” Sund said.

AUP Online teaches online safety much more effectively than the former method of reading and signing print-outs, said Lisa Shigemasa, who teaches fourth and fifth grade at Baldwin Stocker School in Arcadia, Calif.

By the time Shigemasa tried the AUP Online courses around January, her students already had signed the school’s AUP four or five times before—but completing the online program made digital safety “much more real” for her students, she said.

As an example, Shigemasa pointed to a citation-maker activity: “No matter how much we tell them, ‘You have to do it,’” students don’t always listen, she said. In the AUP Online program, “they actually went and did it hands on.”

With audio, visual, and kinesthetic components, the online lessons appealed to all learning styles, Shigemasa said.

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