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Advancing children's cyber safety education

Advancing children's cyber safety education - The Tweeting Galah

It's crazy to think that 18 months ago, I was sitting here writing about the launch of my first book, The Tweeting GalahIt was such an exciting time, and an amazing project to work on. I always wanted to do a sequel and was delighted when "The Tweeting Galah" had done well enough to allow me to invest in a second. I need to say a huge thank you to those who have supported me in this journey - from posting kind words of encouragement, to purchasing copies and spreading the word among their networks.

Coming in January 2019, is The Surfing Penguin. It will see new and familiar faces return to outback Australia, as they explore and navigate their way through the digital world. Together, they overcome challenges and learn how to be the best versions of themselves online. The book includes more illustrations from John Field, which are vibrant, quirky and just plain amazing!

What to include in "The Surfing Penguin"

There will be a few different cyber safety issues addressed in this book, ones which I feel are particularly relevant today:

  • Viewing age-inappropriate online content
  • Cyberbullying
  • Online gaming & trolling
  • Sharing personal information & location services

I touched on cyberbullying in "The Tweeting Galah" - when classmates uploaded a video without Balbina the Bilby's permission, and she was upset when everyone was sharing it and laughing at her behind her back. However, as we know there are so many different forms and experiences of cyberbullying. In "The Surfing Penguin" the focus will be on the role that bystanders can play in becoming upstanders. Too many students witness cyberbullying occur online - we need to empower them to stand up for others and equip them with the language and tools to do so. Little Balbina returns to plays a significant role in this.

I also wanted to explore cyberbullying/trolling from the perspective of the perpetrator. A lot of attention is given to targets of cyberbullying and what they can do to respond. I wanted to look at the reasons why a child might choose to hurt others online, and what could be done to help them, to prevent them continuing this behaviour.

Privacy concerns continue to be an issue for us all... and I've been particularly interested in the rise of location services within different apps. The whole "Snap Map" thing inspired me to explore the issues that come from sharing your location online...however as someone who is frequently lost and relies on Google Maps to get her home, I also wanted to highlight that when used appropriately location services can provide great benefit!

Finally, I address inappropriate content. This is one of the issues that is brought up most frequently when I speak to parents. This year at school, I've been teaching the cybersafety aspect of the Protective Behaviours curriculum. One of the big focuses I've had with Year 3-4 students has been around Media Classifications. More specifically, teaching students (and their parents) how to know whether a movie, TV show or game is age-appropriate for them. I find this to be such a big issue - with many primary-aged students engaging in games which are way too adult and violent for them. This was a topic I knew I had to address in "The Surfing Penguin."

Advancing "The Surfing Penguin"

I had been (pleasantly) surprised by the number of teachers who use "The Tweeting Galah" as a teaching resource. Knowing that my book was helping other teachers was awesome, and so I knew I had to make this next book even more interactive and useful for them:

  1. Reflection Questions: I included reflection questions in "The Tweeting Galah" based on Bloom's Taxonomy of Higher Order thinking. This time around I have still been inspired by Bloom's, however have also tried to make the questions more open-ended as well as some that may involve students doing some research. I believe this will assist in helping students form a deeper understanding of the different issues. I also included more white space under each question, so students can write their responses straight into the book - less set-up time and prep needed! Also gives students ownership over their own copy.
  2. Augmented Reality: I included some basic augmented reality in "The Tweeting Galah" using Zappar. I was so proud of this, as it was the first time I'd had a go at creating any AR! This time around, I have employed the services of a professional - Marc Najera - and I'm so excited by what we've been able to put together. I really believe the augmented reality in this sequel will be a huge selling point for both students and teachers. We are including learning activities which tie in with Protective Behaviours and reinforce key cybersafety themes. Some of these activities can be downloaded, printed, assessed and displayed around the classroom. Others are actual games - yes, fun games! - that could be used as an incentive for early finishers. I believe AR offers so much in education (it's an area I'm really interested in exploring more in the future), and absolutely stoked that my book is going to include these advanced components.
  3. Lesson Library: I established the Lesson Library on my website earlier this year. It's designed to provide teachers with a growing range of resources to use in conjunction with "The Tweeting Galah" - and soon, will also include resources for "The Surfing Penguin." As a teacher who has had to write many new programs for different year groups, I know how valuable it can be to have access to ready-to-go resources, aligned with the Australian curriculum. We're all busy. There's no point re-inventing the wheel! I know "The Tweeting Galah" series can offer more to teachers than just checking off the "cybersafety" component of ICT Capability/Digital Technologies. It ties in with Protective Behaviours, Health and English very naturally. There's also scope to utilise it in Design Technologies, Maths - even Science! My goal in 2019 is to build up this library with lots of awesome ideas to help teachers use this book in a variety of different, meaningful, and integrated ways. I also want to encourage more teachers to share their own resources to the library and grow it into a real community.

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