In a society where technology and the online world are playing an increasingly big role in people’s lives, it becomes evident that schools also need to be up to speed with the latest online trends: both in terms of the opportunities they present and the challenges they pose. Education about online safety should surely begin at home, but it is by no means the sole responsibility of parents and caretakers: teachers should also be able to provide their pupils and students with all the necessary tools to face the online world in an empowered and responsible manner. It goes without saying that industry and other stakeholders (such as government and policymakers) also have a role to play.
When it comes to online issues and trends, ‘fake news’ has unfortunately taken centre stage in 2017 – for this very reason, one of the main objectives of this online course is to promote media literacy and stress the importance of critical thinking skills, with which all children and young people should be equipped from the very start. It is only through this means that they will be able to distinguish reliable sources of information from misinformation. With multiple initiatives being undertaken at national level to educate youngsters about the dangers of fake news (for example, Le Monde journalists in France and their British counterparts from the BBC in the UK have developed resources which can be used in schools), we believe schools and teachers can play a crucial role in building young people’s resilience to fake news.
Apart from providing teachers with tools to tackle fake news in the classroom and beyond, this course intends to offer teachers essential knowledge, tips and tools to handle a wide range of issues such as online abuse, cyberbullying, sextortion, establishing positive online relationships, the impact of technology on health and well-being and, above all, hate speech and radicalisation.
Overall, this new and updated edition of the online safety MOOC will enable participants to gain a better understanding of new and old risks and challenges that young people face when they go online. With the course moderators, they will discuss strategies for supporting young people and helping them to develop safe and responsible online and offline behaviours. A wide range of resources that can be used in schools will be provided, and participants will also be asked to share their own experiences, challenges and successes.