My name is Pauline Stirling and I am Head of Citizenship and Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) at Christ the King College, a Christian secondary school on the Isle of Wight. I write the programme of PSHE and create the PSHE resources for the whole college and I am always looking for new ways to make PSHE more relevant and interesting, involving outside agencies and speakers if appropriate. Online safety and anti-bullying education is not limited to PSHE but needs a whole college cross-curricular approach so when the opportunity came along to join the eConfidence project, I applied for it.
I had little knowledge of serious games so when I first became aware of the project, I consulted the college's ICT department. They knew much more than I did, and they confirmed that being involved in the research project would be a good idea. There were a few issues at the start, with the pilot tests, due to limited access to working computers. This was later resolved and it was not difficult to recruit students but it was difficult to get all students to attend regularly due to various activities within college.
So, the majority of students quickly became very involved in the tests, meaning that attendance was no longer an issue. One of the main benefits of these games were that students could work individually and did not need to share their thoughts with anyone else. All students view the topics of online safety and bullying differently and it was refreshing for students to be able to participate in activities individually.
Following the pilot tests, students commented that they enjoyed participating and liked the fact that they could progress through the game independently. I would, therefore, recommend eConfidence games to other teachers and students as useful educational resources in fostering positive behavioural change linked to bullying and safe use of internet issues. The overall impression was that this was a positive experience for all.