Training pupils in Primary 1, 2 and 3 to be Cyberwellness Ambassadors.
When you are navigating the Internet for research or recreation and trying to avoid its unsavoury nooks and crannies, a little help can go a long way. At Teck Ghee Primary School, adventures in cyberspace are backed up not only by teachers but also schoolmates who help steer their peers away from the perilous corners of the world wide web to make surfing a fun and fruitful activity.
With two Cyberwellness Ambassadors in each class, "Cybersafe Kids@Teck Ghee" is a cyberwellness programme that ropes in pupils as online safety guides to their classmates. From managing a Cybersafe Kids Corner to explaining the importance of respecting intellectual property rights, the ambassadors assume a broad range of responsibilities to help make the Internet a wholesome experience.
Getting pupils on board for safe surfing
Appointed at the start of the school year, the ambassadors go through a school-based training session to prepare them for the tasks ahead. One regular duty is maintaining the Cybersafe Kids Corner, which features presentations on cybersafety themes created by pupils. The ambassadors meet regularly to plan the content of the corner and choose new display items from their schoolmates' submissions.
Cyberwellness Ambassadors during a visit to the MDA's Cyber Wellness bus.
The school also organises various learning journeys and excursions for the ambassadors throughout the year. For instance, during this year's mid-term break in March, the ambassadors got on board the Media Development Authority's Cyber Wellness Education Bus at Teck Ghee Community Club.
For Jerald Pang, a Cyberwellness Ambassador in Pri 5, visiting the various interactive stations in the bus was an eyeopening experience. "The learning journey was fun," he said of a series of quizzes that offered stamps with each right answer and a prize when a pupil bags all the stamps. "Some collected the stamps so as to get a small gift, but I didn't," Jerald added. "I learnt a lot about cybersafety and using the Internet wisely."
Taking part in quizzes in the Cyber Wellness bus.
Explaining the thinking behind the programme, Mr Chris Ng, who helps to co-ordinate Cybersafe Kids@Teck Ghee, said, "It is essential in this day and age that children don't see computers only in terms of gaming and social media. They must learn about other benefits and also recognise and handle issues like cyberbullying and addiction."
Harnessing social media to the effort, the school uses online discussions on a Cyberwellness page in its learning management system to convey lessons on safe and responsible surfing. The ambassadors also help by posting their thoughts or blogging about their adventures in cyberspace. Sajiv Kalaichelvam, a Pri 6 ambassador, shared that it was a pleasure to pen his opinions online. "Last year, I contributed a post about being part of the InfoComms group at school and what I thought about it," he said.
Equipped for the long run
Ms Lee Limin, another teacher who co-ordinates the cyberwellness programme, pointed out that cyberbullying is a special concern as it can drive vulnerable victims to depression or even suicide. Within the school confines, the pupils are relatively safe, but she sees a need to equip them for Internet explorations at home and elsewhere. "They may not get the full significance of it now, but a cyberwellness programme is useful and they will benefit from it in the long run," she said.
The CyberWellness Ambassadors help to maintain displays on the Cybersafe Kids Corner.
The school also hopes to show pupils how to use online tools without embarassing, or worse, endangering themselves. "There are different issues to be addressed," stated Ms Mastura Bte Samsuddin, a Pri 5 form teacher who pioneered the cyberwellness programme and now serves as its advisor. "For instance, the language used and the thinking reflected in the posts. We need to guide students to use social media to communicative effectively and to promote good values as well."
Such goals are certainly a handful for both the teachers and ambassadors, but this year's cohort has shown impressive resourcefulness and spirit. Working with the school's Drama Club, the ambassadors staged a skit complete with multi-media projections about intellectual property and copyright.
A screenshot from a cartoon by a pupil that illustrates the effects of Internet addition.
Clearly relishing such challenges and his role as an ambassador, Sajiv stated, "We get to help out during cyberwellness programmes and give talks to share what we know with others."
Being an ambassador is a privilege not taken lightly. On being named an ambassador this year, Jerald declared, "I feel very proud to be a leader. I am very happy to be in-charge of the activities and I like going on the learning journeys." Ang Anattanon, a Pri 5 pupil and three-year veteran in the role, shared that when he was in Pri 1, he had already wanted to be a Cyberwellness Ambassador. "So when I was selected in Pri 3, I was really proud and pleased," he revealed with a chuckle. "It is fun and we get to share ideas with our teachers and friends."