Just in time for back-to-school: New distance learning resources are available on Wide Open School.
In addition to the “Cyber Cadets” game, the site has a Fun Stuff area that includes dozens of games with a wide range of age appropriateness. Some games like “Whack a Ghost” and “Let It Snow” are seasonal and fun but don’t have a strong connection to the theme of Internet safety, so you may want to save those for special occasions. Still, classroom materials and video tutorials for teachers make this site a great resource for educators trying to find creative ways to teach kids about these serious issues.Continue reading Show less
Editor's Note: The Carnegie Cyber Academy is no longer available.
The Carnegie Cyber Academy is a densely packed warehouse of cyber security information for kids. The site features a downloadable (180 mb) Flash game called "Carnegie Cadets" that takes about 10 minutes to set up. Once logged in, kids become cadets in a virtual school that contains lessons, tours, and tests on a range of Internet safety topics such as cyberbullying, privacy, and safe Web browsing. As they complete missions and learn about the various subjects, cadets earn badges and points they can exchange for room décor for their virtual dorm rooms. The site is free to use, and many games are online in the Fun Stuff section. A Library section on the website hosts an extensive glossary ("cyberpedia") of related terms and offers suggestions for researching on the Internet safely.
One standout mission is the “Personal Information” game in the Clubhouse Chatroom. Kids first go through a lesson in privacy with the Clubhouse Supervisor, Betty, who explains concepts such as identity phishing and cyberstalking. Kids then complete the mission by moderating IM chat comments and deciding whether the "clubber" is maintaining safe privacy standards. Chatters who ask for details about people’s offline identities are kicked out of line.
Kids can learn key online safety practices, including how to recognize spam subject lines, dangerous pop-up ads, sketchy chat comments, and cyberbullies. They're given detailed instructions on both identifying and dealing with potentially unsafe online elements; then they're able to play games and test what they've learned.
The game isn't networked, so kids won’t be able to show off their cool designs for each other unless they're working together in a physical classroom. While kids can review tips as often as they'd like, specific feedback ("What makes this ad spam?") would help them build even stronger safety skills. Overall, the site addresses these issues well, and rules and understanding about online safety will stick with kids even after the fun and games are over.