Challenge Early College HS students learn about cybersafety and digital citizenship peer-to-peer

Underclassmen at Challenge Early College High School took their recent lesson about cybersafety and digital citizenship very seriously. As one of the Phase II PowerUp schools, Challenge students will get laptops by the end of October and must undergo digital citizenship training. At Challenge they are doing the training a little differently. Challenge ECHS seniors were trained by HISD instructional techs, and they, in turn, are training the 9th-, 10th- and 11th-graders during their Advisory class.

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“They’re actually getting the information from the perspective of a student, and it’s from a facilitator in their own advisory, so it’s someone they’ll actually listen to,” said Challenge senior Sandra Torres. “They won’t tune out the student because they’re so connected to them, so they’re actually going to pay attention and take into account what they say.”

The strategy to have peers teaching peers is working. By learning from someone closer to their age, the underclassmen are getting valuable information that has the potential to change their futures.

“We look up to our facilitators and recognize they are really good examples, so we would want to be more like them, to become a better individual ourselves,” said Challenge student Annette Mata.

The students learned about the dangers posed by the Internet, from cyberbullying to posting photos and comments on social media.

“I learned that I have to be mindful and know what I’m posting and make sure it’s safe and appropriate,” said Mata. She acknowledged that the wrong thing “would ruin our reputation, and it would really ruin our future. Imagine what college or what job we could get if they find, ‘oh, this person put this on this social media.’”

PowerUp is HISD’s comprehensive districtwide initiative to transform teaching and learning through digital-age instruction, technology, and personalization. The program is not about the device, according to Superintendent Terry Grier. The program is designed to create creating anytime-anywhere learning for students so they can have the world at their fingertips. It is imperative that they learn the skills that complement technology so they aren’t replaced by technology.

“We want to make sure we are preparing our students to be 21st century learners as well as 21st century citizens,” said Brittany Lewis, HISD Instructional Technology.

October is National Cyber Security Month, and students and their parents can learn more by visiting HISD’s cybersafety website.