The School of Social Networks
1- Presentation of the School of Social Networks
At the beginning of 2020, eduPad and European Schoolnet launched a European general interest initiative, the School of Social Networks. The aim of the School of Social Networks is to educate children in primary school, especially around the age of 9 or 10, on how to use social media in a safe and responsible way. This free service aims to be the starting point for an ongoing conversation between children, parents and teachers to get children used to turning to their parents or teachers when a situation is overwhelming.
– Through an educational game, the child can interact with a Chatbot animated by popular Monster Messenger characters, leading to a fun, engaging and stimulating chat experience. This will allow them to explore and reflect by being confronted with typical interactions they are likely to encounter on social networks and to try to “catch” the 59 question cards asking them about the right behaviour to adopt.
– In honour of Safer Internet Day, the School of Social Networks is launching a digital card game to create a space for dialogue between primary school teachers, parents and children. The game invites children to answer one of the 59 question cards and gives teachers and parents access to advice on how to answer them. For each correct answer the child or group wins a card. The first to 3 cards wins the round.
– At the same time, a range of teaching materials and activities allow parents and teachers to have an informed and critical exchange. In this way the educational game becomes a starting point for questions and discussion. This way, the child learns about the risks and opportunities online in an open dialogue with their peers, teachers and parents, in order to explore the digital world together.
The service has been designed so that the online activities are carried out at home, supervised by parents (20 minutes) and that in the classroom the teacher uses the activities and printable question cards to encourage a group exchange (30 minutes to 1 hour).
The project fills a gap in the current educational landscape. Many social media platforms have age restrictions in place which – in theory – prevent access to children under 13-16 years of age, according to national legislation. However, studies show that many children have access to several social networks at a much younger age without any parental control, sometimes as young as 7 or 8 years old* Meanwhile, online courses on safety and media literacy are mainly aimed at the secondary level, with a lack of teacher expertise and resources for younger age groups.
In short, The School of Social Networks aims to empower children and young people from an early age. Together with their peers, parents and teachers, pupils will start to acquire the appropriate knowledge, skills and attitudes to become active, critical and creative online thinkers and practitioners. They will feel more confident and comfortable expressing themselves, communicating with friends and family, and enjoying and creating different types of content and services, while relying on each other for help and support when needed.
2- A European project with impact
In France, we have forged partnerships with the Canopé network and Clémi, UNAF and the players in Safer Internet France, Internet Sans Crainte and Net Ecoute, in order to federate an educational ecosystem around this platform, allowing the addition of complementary resources adapted to the country and the sharing of new activities between teachers.
eduPad and European Schoolnet, via its network of Ministries of Education, are preparing the deployment of the project in a number of other countries making the chatbot and teaching materials of the School of Social Networks available in a growing number of countries and languages, with the long-term objective of reaching millions of children, parents and teachers across and beyond the European Union.
The long-term vision is to federate a European resource base driven by a transnational educational network and to have a national ecosystem to ensure its deployment in each country.
The launch of this Open-Source project is funded until January 2023 thanks to a no-counterpart grant received during the “Google.org impact for change” challenge of which this project was the winner. We are preparing a model for the sustainable financing of this public service to ensure its deployment throughout the world. This service is hosted in Europe and does not collect any personal data.
Founded in 2011, eduPad is a publisher of educational applications, whose applications are used by 10 million children in 146 countries. With Monster Messenger, a secure social network for children aged 6 to 10 launched in 2016 and partnered with Facebook Messenger Kids in 2019, eduPad has gained unique experience of children’s expectations and behaviour on social networks.
Founded in 1997, European Schoolnet is the Brussels-based network of 34 European Ministries of Education. As a non-profit organisation, European Schoolnet aims to bring innovation in teaching and learning to its stakeholders: ministries of education, schools, teachers and researchers.
– The School of Social Networks: https://schoolofsocialnetworks.org/
– eduPad: https://www.edupad.com/
– European School Net: http://www.eun.org/
The card game in paper version (100 copies can be made available free of charge to teachers and parents).
The virtual card game is accessible here: https://schoolofsocialnetworks.org/card-game/
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