When did your organization launch and why? Founders Diana Graber and Cynthia Lieberman launched Cyberwise in 2011 after both earning M.A.’s in “Media Psychology and Social Change” from Fielding Graduate University. They decided to combine their respective backgrounds in media, production, and marketing with this education in how media effects human behavior in order to provide parents and teachers with information about kids and technology.
In 2015, Graber launched Cyber Civics, a middle school digital media and literacy curriculum for middle school, when she discovered that teachers needed an easy, turnkey in-classroom program to teach digital citizenship, information literacy, and media literacy to their students. After piloting the program for several years in her own daughters’ school, she made if available for other schools to use too. Cyber Civics is now being taught in 25 states.
What does your organization do? What are your main goals and projects?
Cyberwise provides free resources for parents and teachers, we also offer inexpensive online courses on topics such as online privacy, reputation management, and online safety. We produce a bi-weekly newsletter as well as informational videos on our YouTube channel. We have a lively and engaged social media presence and enjoy the support of partners Surfie (a parental control software) and Fielding Graduate University, where we earned our M.A.’s.
Cyber Civics provides a turnkey digital citizenship and literacy curriculum for middle school, with support resources for parents and teachers. Our main goal is to help students become ethical, thoughtful, and competent digital citizens. Current projects include traveling the country to make presentations to parents at school, visit conferences, and to conduct workshops for schools and teachers. We are busy getting schools in 25 states ready to teach Cyber Civics in 2017-18.
What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization? For Cyberwise our motto says it all (No Grownup Left Behind). We are committed to helping parents and teachers have the information they need to help kids become safe and productive online. What makes us stand out is the founder’s unique training in “Media Psychology and Social Change” from Fielding Graduate University. Plus, we do not peddle in fear, we believe in empowerment through knowledge.
As far a Cyber Civics goes, we are unique because we provide a truly turnkey, sequential series of in-classroom lessons that build upon a foundation of digital citizenship. Once students understand the fundamentals of digital citizenship, Cyber Civics helps them become fully digitally literate with lessons on topics such as: search skills, copyright, fair use, Wikipedia, recognizing fake news, identifying stereotypes, and so much more. Many schools address “digital citizenship” with a single lesson or assembly and never get to all this other vitally important information.
What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members? For Cyberwise, your audience may want to check out our online courses and most specifically our partnership with PD Learning Network whereby educators can earn university credit from the University of the Pacific by taking our “Digital Literacy for Teachers and Administrators” course.
For Cyber Civics, all three levels of the program (Digital Citizenship, Information Literacy, and Media Literacy for Positive Participation) are now available to schools: We even offer Cyber Civics for Families.
Schools that subscribe to Cyber Civics also receive send-home letters with suggested parent/child activities that align with each lesson. Additionally, schools that subscribe now receive the remainder of this school year and all summer added to their yearly subscriptions at no additional charge (so they can familiarize themselves with the lessons before next school year). Cyber Civics is also available for home school use.
What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy? Everything we do is connected to media literacy!
Why is media literacy important to you? We believe media literacy is critical to being a positive and productive citizen today. Knowing how to use the powerful devices at our disposal is an essential skill for young and old alike!