This spring some students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will get the opportunity to pilot a program on Internet safety education.
The i-SAFE program provides age-appropriate K-12 curriculum and accompanying classroom and community activities to educate students on subjects like cyber bullying, personal safety online and intellectual property rights when it comes to plagiarism or illegally downloading media.
"With as much technology that is in the schools right now we feel it's important to be proactive in both educating our educators and educating our schools as well," said Lori Manion, professional development coordinator for the district who's also on its education technology committee.
She said the federal government is also urging school districts to have something in place as far as online safety curriculum for students.
So far teachers at eight schools around the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have volunteered to be guinea pigs for i-SAFE including Redoubt Elementary, Soldotna Middle, and Homer High schools.
"At this point we don't have exactly what that's going to look like," Manion said. "I can't even tell you how many classes it's going to be in yet."
She said the district does not know all the answers about the program yet, like how it will work at smaller versus larger schools in the district, but it is planning a training for teachers in January to discuss specifics.
Assistant Superintendent Sean Dusek said the pilot will be used to look at the program to see how intensive it is and to see if it meets the district's needs.
He said the i-SAFE curriculum has a lot of different ways it can be used in the classroom, from individual computer lab lessons to teachers presenting topics on an overhead projector. There are also lots of accompanying videos and worksheet activities.
For example, the intellectual property lesson might contain a module for a middle school language arts class to learn about citing sources correctly.
"How do you make sure you're citing other people's work and make sure you're not doing online plagiarism?" Dusek said, citing an example of a lesson.
Some other topics included in the curriculum include lessons on digital literacy, social networking, cyber community citizenship and general appropriate behavior online.
"There's a lot of different options to help kids make better choices online," he said. "Kids are online a lot outside of school."
"It's amazing how many kids have a Facebook page and there's a lot of things that go up on Facebook and there's a lot of people out there looking for it," he added. "The Internet has been around long time, we've invested a lot in technology and (iSAFE) is really in tune with 21st century learning in schools."
The i-SAFE program also includes education for parents and outreach with local law enforcement agencies.
She said in some instances law officials will present to students about certain Internet safety topics that tie in to their agencies, like cyber predator identification.
"Kind of to give it more of a pizzazz," Manion said.
And the parent aspect of the curriculum will help parents become aware of what is going on for their children online, she said.
"Our hope is to rather than wait and be reactive we want to be proactive about it," Manion said.
The i-SAFE program will roll out in classrooms in February.
Brielle Schaeffer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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