PULLMAN – K-12 educators, after school program personnel, parents and others who work with children now have access to in-depth training about online safety that includes how to effectively teach this information by grade level to students.

“Internet Safety for Educators” is a new comprehensive six-week online course developed and offered by Washington
State University’s Center for Distance and Professional Education in partnership with internationally-recognized Internet safety expert Linda Criddle.

Online financial scams, identity theft, bullying and sexual exploitation are on the rise, and states have recognized the critical need for Internet safety education for both teachers and students. In 2006, Virginia became the first state to mandate the integration of Internet safety topics into school curricula. New Jersey, Florida, California and Connecticut are also calling for a similar approach, and more states are following this lead.

To date, however, balanced, broad and authoritative education that teaches how risks occur and what individuals can do to avoid them has been difficult to find. John Thielbahr, director of Professional Education at WSU indicated that there are currently many Web sites offering general tips about how to stay safe on the Internet.

“Unfortunately they largely fail to explain the broad scope of online exploitation or provide tangible solutions,” Thielbahr said. “That’s what makes this course unique and why we are thrilled to offer it to educators across the country.”

“Internet Safety for Educators” was developed in response to the growing recognition of the importance of Internet safety training in schools. The course teaches real solutions to help teachers, students, families, and schools collaborate to create an environment of Internet safety.

Criddle said that knowledge about Internet safety, not fear or denial, is key in keeping children safe online.

“Although the Internet can present real safety risks, it is core to the very infrastructure of our society. Identifying risks and teaching youth to ‘look both ways’ online allows everyone to reap the positive opportunities the Internet enables for education, research and recreation, and to do so safely.”

Through the course, participants receive comprehensive training on how to help safeguard children from the full spectrum of Internet risks.

Course content includes:

– The genesis of Internet risks and an understanding of predatory behavior.

– An overview of risks inherent in the connected world children live in.

– How to use and understand common Internet tools, as well as an
exploration of cutting edge technologies and trends and how these can be teaching aids in the classrooms.

– How to identify the true information individuals share through their
actions, emotions and behaviors, and how this information affects risk.

– The ethics and issues surrounding online interactions and what it takes to negotiate online safety with families, friends and classmates.

– How to establish safer Internet use in the classroom, build appropriate school policies and how to evaluate the school’s own online presence for risk.

Criddle’s credentials include 13 years with Microsoft where she was the child and personal Internet safety expert for MSN for the last several years, co-author of the award winning book “Look Both Ways: Help Protect Your Family on the Internet” from Microsoft Press, and co-author of numerous patents in the areas of emerging technology and online safety.

Criddle’s passion for consumer safety led to establishing her own company LOOKBOTHWAYS Online Safety Consulting LLC that focuses on building information and tools for families, youth and educators as well as consulting with prominent organizations including the British House of Lords, several State Attorneys General, international law enforcement agencies, and leading technology companies.

Co-instructor Nancy Muir is an author of more than 50 books on technology topics and co-authored “Look Both Ways: Help Protect Your Family on the Internet.” Muir holds a certificate in distance learning design from the University of Washington. The course is also co-instructed by Earl Boysen, a 20 year veteran of the technology industry with experience in teaching and tutoring in middle-school and high-school settings.

“Internet Safety for Educators” is taught online in an asynchronous format allowing 24/7 access to course materials. Course participants interact with fellow students and instructors via discussion boards and work on a small group project to maximize learning. The course has been approved for 30 clock hours or two graduate or undergraduate credits. Course sessions begin every six weeks. To register or learn more, visit http://capps.wsu.edu/InternetSafety.