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mrkstvns

BE PREPARED! ...to teach a Cyber Chip class...

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For the past few years, I've been teaching the Cyber Chip in our troop. Not necessarily because I like it, not because I think it's a particularly great program, or even because I think I'm uniquely qualified to do it ... I've been doing it simply because nobody else did it.

I've taught the class several times --- most often for newly bridged ex-Webelos scouts who wanted to earn Scout rank. A couple times for older scouts working on Star rank or merit badges that required it.

THOUGHTS ON MAKING CYBER CHIP WORK FOR A TROOP
Here are a few of my experiences and observations:

 

  • BE PREPARED ... TO EXPLAIN
    It should go without saying that you should know what you're talking about, but I underestimated the depth of content the first time and my classes get better the more I know. Understand the Cyber Chip requirements, but more importantly, understand the issues.  At a minimum, I recommend looking at the links below (CYBER CHIP RESOURCES).  
    The last link, for Media Smarts, was the most useful to me in this regard. NetSmartz has some good resources, but Media Smarts is geared more towards adults and the way we read. I found everything on their "Digital Issues" page to be particularly relevant.
     
  • BE PREPARED ... TO UNPLUG
    Murphy's Law, being more like a Law of Physics than like a Municipal Ordinance, doesn't lend itself towards bending or breaking. If you think you'll just bring a laptop and view the required videos online, I can guarantee your class will be a failure. The first time I tried it I discovered that, 1: Nobody in our troop knew the password for the church's Wi-Fi, 2: My laptop's speakers can't be heard further than 2  inches from the screen when you have a group of 12 chatterbox boys in a room, and 3: Giving up on the church's Wi-Fi and connecting via a parents' AT&T Mobile G4 Internet is a great way to watch the NetSmartz actors doing "The Robot" (and taking 12 minutes to watch the 3 and a half minute video). 
    My most recent classes have gone faster and more smoothly because I downloaded the videos as a zip file ahead of time and staged them on my laptop's hard disk. I also bought a pair of powered speakers and we project the screen onto the wall.  Figure this stuff out BEFORE the class because Mr. Murphy WILL be lurking...
     
  • BE PREPARED ... TO ADAPT
    Take point 4 in the "Announcing Cyber Chip" flier to heart --- adapt the class to your unit. As a matter of fact, take the whole flier to heart --- especially the part about incorporating games. If you STOP lecturing and START doing more games, the scouts will pay attention (and even look forward to re-doing the class in a year or two).  The suggestion of "Jeopardy" is a good one. I've also had good luck using a "Family Feud" game ("we surveyed 100 cyberbullies and asked them....") 
    Or you can stick to the "no more, no less" philosophy and just lecture them. Your choice. But the scouts already think Cyber Chip is boring. There's a good reason for this: it is. The material is not anything they really care about --- especially in an organization that sold them on the promise of "adventure".   Spice it up and laugh with them and everyone will get through it.
     
  • BE PREPARED ... TO ASK FOR HELP
    In another thread on this forum, a well-respected member suggested turning Cyber Chip over to the PLC and let them figure it out. That's a great suggestion!  (If your goal is to just treat the Cyber Chip as another rubber-stamped check-off.)
    Be for real, the PLC members think Cyber Chip is as boring as the new scouts do. There's a reason for that. It is. If you can get older scouts to chip in, help them be successful. Prepare yourself very well in advance, have a lot of suggestions, and work with the teaching scouts to develop some fun approaches and strategies. The NetSmartz Mini-Activities document has some good games that scouts can lead themselves (I've had very good results with "Take a Stand", sometimes good results with "Simon Says", and dismal results with the other activities...your mileage may vary).
     
  • BE PREPARED ... TO DISCUSS "POLICIES"
    Schools and school districts have already grappled with some of the issues around electronics and internet use.Take a look at 'em if you can.  Cyber "policies" are very common and most make a lot of sense. They provide "rules of the road" for kids to know what is, and what is not, acceptable behavior online. Cyber Chip asks families to also set "rules of the road" and troops to set "rules of the road". 
    - TROOP:  Know the troop's Electronics Policy so you can discuss it (requirement 5 or 6, depending on age group). If the troop doesn't have a policy, sit down with the Scoutmaster and SPL and hammer one out --- BEFORE the class, so that nobody asks you to be untrustworthy and just rubber-stamp that you discussed what you know darn well you didn't. 
    - FAMILY:  You won't know what policies a family might set (requirement 2), but you can have a low-key group discussion about what rules the boys follow and what they think are useful/reasonable/effective.  A good way to do this is to just think about the 6 basic questions a professional journalist asks about ANYTHING...."WHO", "WHAT", "WHEN", "WHERE", "WHY", and "HOW".    Think about how those apply to games, apps, devices, content, etc. Keep in mind that all this changes every year.  
     
  • BE PREPARED --- TO RECOGNIZE
    Get the Cyber Chip cards and patches from the Scout Shop before the class. Have Scoutmaster sign the stack of cards. Hand these out as final step in the class....after all, the boys don't care about the boring material. They care about having the card so they can get a requirement signed off.  

SAMPLE COURSE OUTLINE
Here's how I did my most recent class...

  1. ROUNDTABLE DISCUSSION (~10 minutes, max --- keep it fast and focused)
     - Overview - Brief back-and-forth about what is Cyber Chip and what issues we should care about (Steer conversation towards overarching themes of "Stranger Danger" and "Cyberbullying" for younger scouts and about "Privacy" and "Reputation" for older scouts, while reinforcing "Stranger Danger" with room for scouts to introduce other issues of concern to them).  Invite Scoutmaster, Committee Chair, or other adult to do this, but be prepared to wing it.
    - Policies - high-level, "rules of the road", families and troop have policies just like school does 
    Troop electronics policy (invite SPL or Instructor to do this, but be prepared to wing it) Remember troop goal is more about avoiding distraction than safety.  Elicit thoughts/feedback from scouts.
    - Family policies, (did scouts actually sign a document with parents? act shocked when nobody does, so pretend like you're winging it, though you know what kind of rules might be included based on who,what,when,where,why,how...elicit scout thoughts on each others' contributed "rules") 
     
  2. VIDEOS (~15 minutes, total)
    - Format is watch a video then do a quick roundtable discussion:  "Thoughts?"
    - TV / Computer / Projector is pre-setup and staged with appropriate videos from NetSmartz. 

    For new scouts we use Grade 6-8 materials, corresponding to NetSmartz "Teens Talk Back" tag.  Staged videos are:
    - "Friend or Fake"
    - "Teens Talk Back: Cyberbullying"
    -"Teens Talk Back: Meeting Offline

    For Star / older scouts, we use Grade 9-12 materials, corresponding to NetSmartz "Real Life" tag. Staged videos are:
    - "Survivor Diaries"
    - "6 Degrees of Information"
    - "You Can't Take It Back" or "2 Kinds of Stupid"
     
  3. TEACHING ACTIVITY / GAME
    Use game-oriented approach to teach skills.  If you want to see how boring you can make the class, follow the requirement to the letter and let the boys use the EDGE method to teach other something about one of the issues.  I did it that way once.  Once.  Games and fun are really the way to approach this requirement. This is one where you can definitely let the older scouts SPL/Instructors lead (if they want to --- I've had almost 40% success getting them to grab some ownership on this and to lead the games. Use "Jeopardy" or "Family Feud" for maximum fun, or one of the "NetSmartz Mini-Activities" . If you didn't work with the older scouts ahead of time to prepare them, don't count on making this activity work (it won't). 
     
  4. WRAP UP
    Hand out cards and/or patches on the spot. Ask scouts to take turns reading off points of the "Internet Pledge".  
     

CYBER CHIP RESOURCES

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Must be a common theme this time of year, my troop just did this. I sat in with the older scout group. Most of it was see videos and talk about them. It worked but there's something that really helped. The adults had plenty of real stories of scammers and ways they had tried to gain someone's trust online. We didn't need to tell that many but just enough to get the scouts thinking about it. For example, all the Eastern Europeans joining this forum and trying to convince us they're really scouts. Reality is a much better teacher than bullet points. When it came time to do the project we suggested a skit so they could have fun with it. Than I said, in my best Russian accent "Me Boris, we friends, give money." They got really into it after that.

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