The Cyberspace Research Unit (CRU) is involved in a number of on-going projects including:
The COUNTER Research Project
COUNTER is a European research project exploring the consumption of counterfeit and pirated leisure goods. Funded by the European Commission’s Framework 7 programme, the COUNTER research project is designed to collect data, generate knowledge and disseminate findings on the European landscape for the consumption of counterfeit consumer goods.
It proposes a research project that explores:
- Frequency and distribution of counterfeits
- Consumer attitudes to counterfeit and pirated goods
- Legal and ethical frameworks for intellectual property
- Policy options for engaging with the consumers of counterfeits
- The use of copyrighted goods in the creation of new cultural artefacts
- Impacts of counterfeiting and control of intellectual property
Further information on the COUNTER Research Project can be found at www.counter2010.org
The ISCA Project
The Internet Safety Content Agent (ISCA) Project is led by the Cyberspace Research Unit (CRU) of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN) in partnership with the Home Office Internet Task Force (HO ITF). The Project is directly funded by the European Commission and aims to raise Internet safety awareness and education levels in the UK across a variety of target audiences, but primarily teachers, parents, carers and young people.
Traditional methods of dissemination of Internet safety education and/or awareness raising materials have focused on delivering information from a single online source. This project focuses on providing Internet safety awareness materials in an extensive network of third party websites to deliver maximum coverage. Essentially, the project will provide high quality Internet safety materials free of charge to content and service providers.
The HO ITF Sub Group G – Public Awareness, provides the foundations on which the ISCA Project operates and can accurately be described as the Project’s ‘central hub’. At the start of 2005 Group G underwent a substantial restructure to align itself with the ISCA Project objectives. The Group is chaired by the CRU and consists of members from the education sector, children’s charities, law enforcement and government agencies, Internet Service Providers, Internet Content Providers and the technology and mobile phone industries.
The Project also has a dedicated Steering Committee to provide guidance, support and objectivity, and to advise on project direction, commercial sensitivities and political correctness.
Formation of a single, comprehensive, topical set of approved internet safety materials for UK-wide dissemination (to be approved by HO ITF) Creation of a central holding web site containing the approved internet safety information in a downloadable format: Internet promotion via banner advertisement links on other popular websites and sharing links with trial ware companies.
A benchmark awareness and media campaign to promote the materials, the website, and aid mass dissemination. An established and implemented UK ‘train the trainers’ network – involving creation and launch of an internet safety programme of education targeted at teachers and parents, to facilitate knowledge augmentation.
Identification of the various internet safety related activities/campaigns/projects in operation across the UK: Map the various entities, facilitate knowledge exchange and networking (the project will aim to identify activities/campaigns which align with the ISCA Project’s objectives and facilitate joint efforts within the arena of internet / create synergies and avoid duplication of effort).
Further information and advice about online safety can be found at: www.internetsafetyzone.co.uk
INSAFE is the European Awareness Raising Network created to confront the growing challenge of child internet safety issues, which is on national, European and international agendas. The creation of the network is an important step in the European Commission’s Safer Internet Programme (SIP). In a double-edged action to co-ordinate the numerous, multi-facetted initiatives springing up daily throughout the world, it is matched by the launching of national Safer Internet awareness nodes that co-ordinate actions at the national level. INSAFE aims to optimise European added value through the exchange and pooling of expertise and resources between nodes and other key players across Europe and internationally. It is led by European Schoolnet (EUN), in partnership with the Cyberspace Research Unit (CRU) of the University of Central Lancashire (UK). The initiative is backed by the Council of Europe.
The CRU is working with EUN to co-ordinate and re-inforce actions undertaken by national nodes and to raise the visibility of the network. The goal is to support and promote not only the work of national Safer Internet awareness nodes, but also that of all individuals, organisations and agencies active in the field.
Through a programme of bespoke training, the CRU is facilitating knowledge transfer throughout the Insafe Network, via virtual learning environments, using international specialists and a multi-disciplinary approach. As teaching methods and learning media become more and more diverse, especially with internet access, the CRU are currently designing and researching online training modules for use by children, parents, teachers and educators.
The content of the modules are concerned with ‘back to basic’ training and are especially aimed at other project nodes across Europe (Knowledge Augmentation for the Nodes, KAFTN).
The efficacy and effectiveness of the Network is also being monitored by the CRU.
The members of the network commit themselves to:
- Share expertise, information, resources and best practice
- Build knowledge together on Internet safety issues and media literacy
- Foster synergy between nodes in order to achieve European added value
- Advise and support new members of the network
- Promote Safer Internet through common special events
Further information about INSAFE can be found on the website www.saferinternet.org
Further information and advice about online safety can be found on: www.internetsafetyzone.co.uk
The Cyberspace Research Unit’s key strengths lie in the expertise it has built up in the area of Internet safety, as experience gained developing and testing programs of education has culminated in an unique understanding of the factors that underpin children’s use of the Internet, and has allowed us to develop methodologies to evaluate other programs of education about Internet safety.
Key elements of the Cyberspace Research Unit’s work regarding Internet safety for children includes the web based educational resources that have been developed to teach children and young people about Internet safety, principally the “For Kids By Kids Online” website.
The site is constantly evolving and it is tailored to allow for differentiation, so that all children (or indeed, parents) with differing levels of knowledge about the Internet or computers can find easily accessible and relevant guidance. The site has become a popular resource for many schools, which provide links on their websites to encourage parents to visit, but even during school holidays the hit rate to the site is high, which indicates that it has appeal outside of the context of the school environment. Furthermore, the site has a huge potential for branding and marketing as the website’s characters and approach have been proven to appeal to all age ranges. The Unit’s work in the field of Internet safety has involved working in many different capacities and has led to the production of a number of key outputs as follows:
Over the last three years the Cyberspace Research Unit spearheaded the European Commission’s research developing programs of education and raising awareness about Internet safety, see www.internetsafetyzone.co.uk
The Home Office commissioned the Cyberspace Research Unit to carry out research for sub-group F of the Internet Task Force, which resulted in the report “Children and Young People’s Use of Chat Rooms: Implications for Policy Strategies and Programs of Education” that involved nearly 1400 children aged 9 to 16, across 42 schools in the UK. The British Educational Communications and Technology agency (BECTa) contracted the Cyberspace Research Unit to evaluate the efficacy of the 2002 pilot Internet Proficiency Scheme, which had been developed by BECTa, the QCA (Qualifications and Curriculum Authority), and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES).
The Cyberspace Research Unit has also conducted a number of studies for software companies, such as a usability study for a filtering company, which aimed to evaluate the ease with which parents or carers with differing levels of computing skills managed to download and install filtering software onto their computers according to the needs of their own children.