Today, children are exposed to technology at an increasingly young age – adding to the challenges they face in navigating the Internet safely and responsibly. Research shows students exposed to digital media are increasingly at risk of cyberbullying and inappropriate social media posts. An average of 9 to 15 percent of K-12 students report they have been cyberbullied in the last year.
The UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education is stepping up, preparing K-12 students to successfully navigate the digital world through a specially designed cyber safety curriculum. This innovative curriculum will be implemented with teachers, middle school students and parents.
Supported by a $300,000 grant from the National Science Foundation, Cato College will implement cyber safety modules with 200 middle grade students from four schools from Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Cabarrus County and Kannapolis City school districts and the Lake Norman Charter School. They expect to train 30 teachers and 20 school technology facilitators.
Pictured left to right: Chuang Wang, Patti Wilkins, Florence Martin, Teresa Petty and Weichao Wang
The UNC Charlotte’s collaboration team includes experts from a variety of fields, making it possible to take cybersecurity concepts to the middle school classrooms and to teachers and tech facilitators.
- Instructional systems technology – Associate Professor Florence Martin
- Middle school teacher education – Associate Professor Teresa Petty
- Cybersecurity – Associate Professor Weichao Wang
- Research methodology and program evaluation - Professor Chuang Wang
- Instructional design – Associate Professor Patti Wilkins
Martin is the principal investigator on the grant; Wang, Wang and Petty are co-principal investigators.
“This program will provide a new method to train qualified teachers and technology facilitators for K-12 so they can bridge the gap in cyber safety education in the schools,” Martin said. She added, through this curriculum, the importance of digital citizenship and cyber safety will reach thousands of young children so that they can better protect themselves in this network age.
Project goals include developing e-learning modules, communicating the importance of digital citizenship, training and equipping teachers to successfully facilitate programs and empower students speak out against cyberbullying, including creation of cyber safety videos for social media.