E-learning: Preventing & Responding to Cyberbullying
I led the creation of this 30-minute e-course, published by SMART Technologies in 2012. This course is aimed at K-12 teachers, administrators and parents and is offered as a free public service on the SMART Learning Space (a learning management system). This course won the 2012 Saba Humanitarian Award for e-learning and is an excellent example of my skills in branding, instructional design, structuring information and creating effective interactivity.
You can search for and then register for this course at http://www.smarttech.com/learningspace. Registration is free.
The objectives of this project were to create a relatively low-cost, high-impact showcase course on the topic of cyberbullying (a topic of current interest to SMART Technologies’ primary market). This course would be heavily promoted and used to drive traffic to SMART’s learning management system, which hosts an array of paid learning opportunities for K-12 educators. It would also be an effective public service that is relevant to the SMART Technologies mandate for promoting effective use of technology within classrooms.
After some research, we determined that there was already a wealth of in-classroom resources for teachers to use with students, but little to help alleviate the fear-generating uncertainty felt by many adults about the social technologies themselves. We decided to focus on a message of empowerment and de-mystification, symbolized by the Cyber Hero character we created. 
Representation of initial brainstorming, vision, symbols and the refined learning objectives for the course.
My instructional design work is grounded in Merril’s traditional learning sequence, Activate > Demonstrate > Apply > Integrate, but I alter this sequence when appropriate to encourage the learner to actively construct their learning experience. In this course, I used an inquiry-style approach for the main section to encourage higher-order thinking.
The definition and impact of cyberbullying are presented at the beginning of the course as part of the activation sequence. The typical use of each social technology, abuse potential and suggested responses to abuse are explored in the main section of the course, using a branching format and a recognizable instructional pattern for each branch. The branches are summarized by a short section that emphasizes how the prevention of and response to bullying is similar across social technologies. A conclusion of the initial example and exploration of the last learning objective form the final section of the course.
Design outline with final screens mapped to their location within the structure.
Research notes and draft scripting.
As an introduction to the topic and support for the cyberbullying definition, I experimented with embedding a free online polling website (Urtak.com) into the course. This website enabled us to create a series of opinion questions to spark controversy and engage the learner. The website stores the learner’s responses and immediately presents each response within the context of other participants’ responses (which, to date, number over a thousand).
Using this tool provided me with a quick and effective way to create a broader social context for the learner without the investment of creating and maintaining a discussion group. Click here to try out this poll. No registration is necessary.
Innovative use of a free online polling technology, Urtak.com, to activate the learner's prior knowledge of the topic and create a context for learning. 
To promote SMART Technologies products while maintaining the integrity of the public service focus, we developed an innovative aesthetic that you can view here. Created in Adobe Flash, using in-house photography and illustrations, we decided to present the opening story sequence as a puppet play that takes place on a SMART Board interactive whiteboard. This aesthetic promotes the key features of the SMART Board interactive whiteboard: digital inking and touch-interactivity with digital objects, without losing the focus of the course topic.
Innovative aesthetic treatment that indirectly emphasizes the SMART Technologies brand.
One of the supporting objectives of this course was for learners (primarily teachers and school administrators) to recognize that both students and adults can be the victims of cyberbullying. To make this point without simply listing it, I designed a question with a seemingly obvious answer to follow up the introductory story. Knowing that most learners would identify the student as the only victim, the feedback causes the learner to reconsider their initial perception, making the instructional point more effectively. This slide also creates additional motivation to learn the content by involving the learner directly in the “potentially career-damaging” consequences.
This, and the other interaction points in this course, are good examples of authentic interaction in e-learning (interaction that engages the mind more than the mouse).
Use of a standard Captivate question template to prompt the user to reconsider their initial perception and provide additional motivation to learn the course content.
In the main section of the course, we wanted to show the typical (positive) use of a sampling of common social technologies and then encourage the learner to anticipate how it could be abused. There are endless technologies as well as endless ways to abuse them, but we wanted to empower the learner to predict problems and provide solutions in a generalized way.
It is difficult to ask open-ended questions in e-learning because the answers must be verified by the e-learning software in order to provide feedback (i.e. there is no adaptable human instructor who can respond to the learner individually). To create an open-ended effect that would encourage learners to predict and anticipate, we designed a free-text entry field that learners type their ideas into before they are presented with some possible answers. We worded this section carefully to emphasize the value of first considering the situation and then comparing your answers with those given. Hopefully, this results in an experience where the action of thinking through the problem does not seem gratuitous.
Representation of the branching course structure for this section. The most familiar technologies are listed first to scaffold the learner into being able to anticipate abuses of the less familiar technologies, but each branch can be accessed in any order or skipped.
The initial slide of each branch demonstrates several typical (positive) uses of the social technology. The points presented on this slide provide the information the learner needs to make the knowledge extension required on the following slide (a constructivist or inquiry-style instructional approach).
Use of free-text entry to pose an open-ended question that encourages the learner to extend their knowledge and make predictions before they’re presented with possible answers.
The third slide in each branch shows several ways to use the technology to fight technology-abuse. The overall message is one of empowerment because many of these features are already built into the social technology and are similar to each other.
Summary slide emphasizing that you follow a similar approach to preventing and responding to cyberbullying, regardless of the social technology being used to bully. Again, this enforces the empowerment message by emphasizing that you have the knowledge to handle a variety of situations.
To achieve the last learning objective I used a traditional Activate > Demonstrate > Apply instructional sequence. This sequence resolved the initial example (which was created in two parts) while raising the final question of how to recognize and deal with bullying if the victim refuses to participate in the process.
The center slide is a nice example of an emotive, visual way to present content that could have been traditional bullet points.
Concluding instructional sequence, including examples of content presented visually instead of as bullet points, and another free-text entry extension activity.
E-learning: Preventing & Responding to Cyberbullying

E-learning: Preventing & Responding to Cyberbullying

A 30-minute course that empowers even those with limited technology skills to educate young people about how to prevent and respond to cyberbully Read More