JCU researchers set sights on uni bullying
James Cook University researchers are developing video-based techniques to help Australian university students counter cyberbullying .
JCU’s Dr Margaret-Anne Carter said the problem is becoming increasingly significant as the online education sector grows.
“There are many benefits of 21st century digital communication technologies. But we also recognise that there are potential disadvantages including exposure to unethical behaviours, such as cyberbullying,” she said.
JCU journalism students in a second-year video production class created video stories of cyberbullying scenarios based on academic research.
Some of these student videos were published on the Prevent Cyber Bullying website. They depict the effects of bullying on the bullied, the bully and the bystander.
Dr Carter said a different approach was needed for young adults in university settings. “Some people fall through the gaps of the high-school anti-bullying programs. We worked with students to create a website that helps users within higher education to navigate the complexity of online spaces in a meaningful and ethical manner. We try not to repeat in an adult space what was not effective in high school.”
She said the project had helped the students who made the videos understand a complex issue and to become aware that cyberbullying at universities was not acceptable.
Dr Carter said many were surprised by what could be defined as bullying. “Some couldn’t see what the problem was. But there was good buy-in, some students could see that even if they were robust enough to withstand online attacks, others were not.”
Dr Carter said the researchers had no wish to limit freedom of expression. “Freedom of speech is what Australia is all about. We don’t want to limit anyone’s ability to express their views, but there is an appropriate tone for all forms of communication
and an ethical code of engagement.”
The researchers have put the program through three levels of trials and now plan to develop teaching modules on how to engage with others in safe, productive and respectful ways.
Link to paper: http://bit.ly/296BUhO