ProjectEVOLVE Report: Understanding Online Safety Delivery and Assessment in Schools

23 Jun 2023 UK SIC

In the ever-evolving digital landscape, ensuring online safety and promoting digital competencies among students has become a paramount concern for education professionals. Recognising this need, SWGfL as part of their work for the UK Safer Internet Centre developed ProjectEVOLVE, an innovative platform designed to support educators in delivering effective online safety education and assessing students’ digital competencies throughout their school journey. By providing tailored teaching resources and assessments, ProjectEVOLVE aims to inform classroom activities and influence national policies.

Recently, the latest ProjectEVOLVE report compiled by Professor Andy Phippen from Bournemouth University was released. The report presents an in-depth analysis of the data collected from the ProjectEVOLVE database, one year after the initial evaluation. The findings shed light on the platform’s growth, its impact on educational establishments, and the state of understanding when it comes to staying safe online.

Rapid Growth and User Engagement

The analysis reveals a remarkable surge in the adoption of ProjectEVOLVE by educational organisations across England. In just one year, the number of establishments utilising the platform has grown by an impressive 80%, totalling 11,923 establishments. This growth is accompanied by a substantial 118% increase in individual users, reaching a total of 52,356. These numbers speak volumes about the platform’s recognition and value in addressing online safety and digital literacy across various age groups.

Knowledge Assessment

The teaching resources provided by ProjectEVOLVE have garnered significant attention, with users accessing them 676,924 times, reflecting a remarkable 168% increase from the previous year. Additionally, 64 schools have accessed these resources over 500 times, highlighting the platform’s popularity and its critical role in delivering effective online safety education.

Assessments conducted using ProjectEVOLVE’s knowledge maps have experienced exponential growth, witnessing a 1,220% increase to a total of 18,409 assessments. These assessments make use of 709,252 knowledge maps, enabling teachers to support students’ knowledge development and evaluate their understanding of online safety and digital competencies.

Key Findings and Insights

Primary Education Emphasis: The data collected indicates that aspects and knowledge maps within ProjectEVOLVE are predominantly utilised in key stage 1 and 2, with the most significant activity occurring in key stage 2. This finding poses a challenge for policymakers to effectively integrate online safety and digital competencies education into secondary settings, while also urging senior managers to recognise its importance.

Reinforcing Knowledge: The analysis highlights that aspects assessed in later stages of education exhibit weaker knowledge compared to those presented earlier. This underscores the significance of reinforcing and developing online safety knowledge as young people grow older, ensuring a robust foundation for responsible digital citizenship.

Emphasis on Media Literacy: The most popular aspects and knowledge maps within ProjectEVOLVE revolve around media literacy and broader Personal, Social, Health, and Economic (PSHE) education topics. This encouraging trend underscores the importance of connecting online safety issues and digital competencies to subjects that resonate with young people. However, there is a noticeable lack of access and knowledge regarding technical aspects, cybersecurity, and privacy, requiring greater attention.

Consistent Knowledge Gaps: While there are regional variations in knowledge levels across the country, the general pattern of knowledge remains consistent. Strengths lie in understanding online relationships, self-image, and identity, while weaknesses persist in areas such as security, privacy, and managing online information. This consistency highlights the need for comprehensive education in these critical areas.

Importance of Cybersecurity: The limited coverage of cybersecurity and privacy-related topics within ProjectEVOLVE indicates a lack of institutional and policy knowledge regarding the significance of good cybersecurity practices. The findings emphasize the need to prioritize cybersecurity and privacy education to develop further resilience against online harms.

To read the full report, you can visit the SWGfL website to download it for free

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