During the course of the year, I often come across new sites and apps. Some are awesome (my favourite this year is Quizlet) and some are so-so but I try to take the time to check them all out and at least “kick the tires” to see what they do. A few months ago I stumbled across this digital citizenship and safety offering from Google. (I have previously written about internet safety, here and here).
The site is called Be Internet Awesome. Google has created a straight-forward curriculum guide for teachers, based on their 5 fundamental tenets of digital citizenship and safety:
- Share with Care (Be Internet Smart)
- Don’t Fall for Fake (Be Internet Alert)
- Secure Your Secrets (Be Internet Strong)
- It’s Cool to Be Kind (Be Internet Kind)
- When in Doubt, Talk It Out (Be Internet Brave)
The curriculum is aimed at students in Grade 3 to 5, which is a great age to really delve into these topics. Many children at this age are beginning to interact with one another on the internet, either through social media or online gaming. Helping them learn good digital citizenship skills at this age will pay off as they get older.
The curriculum is organized into the 5 sections above and includes easy to organize discussion activities, games and vocabulary. This is all well and good (and certainly helpful for many teachers who struggle with knowing what to say to kids when it comes to these topics) but for kids, the best part is that the culmination of 4 of the units is a chance to put what they’ve learned to practice by playing “Interland”, Google’s online digital citizenship game, designed to compliment the curriculum. In Interland, you become a colourful Internaut who battles hackers, oversharers, phishers and cyberbullies by using the skills you’ve learned.
Players work their way through Tower of Treasure (where they learn about keeping things secure), Kind Kingdom (where they battle cyberbullies and build up other characters with kindness), Reality River (where they learn to spot fake), and Mindful Mountain (where they learn to “share with care”). The graphic interface is bright and geometric and the characters are generically cute or scary. Kids do not need to create an account and it works well on both laptops and iPads.
Teaching kids good digital citizenship skills is an “it takes a village” kind of thing. In its teacher resource package Google includes an information letter you can send home to parents and there is also a safety pledge that kids can sign with their families. In addition, you can print off posters, badges and certificates.
I have to say, I think Google has hit a home run with this one and if I were teaching Grade 3 to 5 students, this would definitely be a part of my year plan!