Learning to be safety-savvy online

  • Education
  • Sunday, 08 Oct 2017

Education Director-General Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yuso



With more youngsters accessing social media, the Government is introducing online security in schools to create good digital citizens.

INTERNET users are getting younger with every click, and the Education Ministry wants to make sure that children from as young as six, are protected from growing online threats.

The ministry, says its director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof, is introducing an Internet safety, online ethics, and time management module, for Years One and Two students.

The module is the first of six being developed by the CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) with input from the ministry as a National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) collaboration project.

The objective of the first module, Dr Khair explains, is to ensure that pupils:

> Practice Internet usage rules and ethics.

> Ask their parents, or teachers, for consent before using the Internet, computers, and other mobile devices.

> Follow age-restriction rules when opening social media accounts.

> Can differentiate, and evaluate, the sustainability of content, or materials, on websites and social media.

> Know about personal information safety, and understand the effects of disclosing personal information in cyberspace.

> Can identify healthy communication in cyberspace.

> Respect the privacy of others.

> Understand the need for, and abide by, the Internet usage timetable set by parents at home, and by teachers in school.

Other module topics are on cyberbullying, social media, and digital citizenship.

“The modules, to be accessible online by students, aim to strengthen digital resiliency, foster good digital citizenship among schoolchildren so that they know their roles and responsibilities, promote a safe and healthy digital lifestyle, and guide students in understanding the day-today digital risks like cyberbullying and cybercrime, when they go online,” he says, adding that the modules will be piloted in selected schools once ready.

The pilot study is to allow a review of the modules’ feasibility in terms of student understanding, content relevance, competency of teachers, and infrastructure readiness of the schools.

“The results of the pilot test will be useful in improving the modules,” explains Dr Khair.

CSM, he says, was entrusted under the 11th Malaysia Plan to investigate the level of cyber security awareness among primary and secondary students nationwide.

A six-month survey was conducted last year to obtain baseline information on the level of cyber security awareness among students, and to do a gap analysis of ICT education in schools. The results were used to prepare lesson modules to raise cyber security awareness among students.

“The modules will be of great benefit as they provide structured content with guided activities for students, teachers and parents.

“When the modules are implemented, students will not only gain new knowledge, skills, and information, but they’ll also be entertained. It’ll take education beyond classroom walls,” offers Dr Khair.

Teachers and parents, he says, can use, adapt and adopt, the modules to suit their needs. Parents can also monitor their child’s progress through formative and summative assessments derived from the modules.

Cyber security and cyber safety awareness, he says, is part of digital learning. “Learning nowadays is facilitated by technology, or by instructional practice, that makes effective use of technology. This is true across all areas, and subjects.

“There’s a wide spectrum of learning that uses technology. From blended and virtual learning, and game-based learning, to accessing digital content, collaborating locally and globally, participating in online communities, and creating and expressing new ideas and innovations, we turn to technology.

“So, our task is to ensure that students have the knowledge, and skills, to protect themselves, and to be responsible when online.”

While there are no plans to teach cyber wellness as a subject, Dr Khair stresses that cyber safety, and ethics, are already embedded within the ICT curriculum in primary and secondary schools.

“It’s integrated into the curriculum at all levels. We’ll continue to cooperate and collaborate with all public and private organisations to ensure safe use of the Internet from early childhood,” he assures.

The ministry, he adds, already has in place several measures to increase cyber safety awareness in schools. These include:

> Guidelines on social media usage for teachers and students.

> Making digital citizenship, with technology and cognitive domains, a tool to measure students’ digital skills.

> Promoting more responsible usage of Internet through co-curricular activities.

> Promoting cyber interaction among children in a controlled environment. The Virtual Private Network (VPN) was created to ensure security, and privacy, in schools.

> Providing content filtering and intrusion prevention system (IPS) in school networks.

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