‘Web Aware’ helps students get internet savvy

26 Jan 2011

Waterford Institute of Technology and Co Kilkenny-based Coláiste Pobal Osraí have launched an online awareness project to help the younger internet generation understand risks, such as cyber bullying, when socialising online.

Funded by Campus Engage, the Web Aware project will promote self-awareness among young people when online. It’s specifically aimed at transition-year students.

Laura Widger, eLearning co-ordinator, Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT), says Web Aware consists of a series of online lessons to promote a better understanding of how the internet works and the potential threats that people face when gaming, shopping or socialising online.

This is WIT’s first collaboration with students at second level to design and create an online learning programme.
“We are delighted to collaborate with Kilkenny VEC and Coláiste Pobal Osraí. Cathnia Ó Muircheartaigh, the principal of Coláiste Pobail Osraí in Kilkenny, played a crucial role in developing the project and it part of the curriculum for transition-year students in the school,” says Widger.

Web Aware
John Sheppard, course leader of WIT’s BSc in computer forensics and security, worked closely with Widger and the staff and students from Coláiste Pobal Osraí to create and deliver the material for the course.

“The course is delivered in online and face-to-face workshops, with the students working through lessons at their own pace. There are three main sections in the project, which look at online ethics, privacy and the security of online actions,” explains Widger.

“Each consists of an online lesson and case studies demonstrating threats, such as online fraud and identity theft, which stimulated the group discussions during the workshops. Many students shared experiences of receiving spam, problems with shopping online and phone calls received from people regarding bogus security updates and seeking credit-card details to upgrade this software.
“Other case studies highlight the consequences of inappropriate behaviour in online environments, an issue which has become a real concern for young people, parents and teachers,” she says.
The content will be available in both English and Irish and deposited into the National Digital Learning Repository so it can be reused for free in accordance with Creative Commons Licensing.

For further information on the project, visit the Web Aware site or contact Laura Widger at lwidger@wit.ie.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic