Addressing safety is hard enough on students. Give them a safe space

"There are no wrong answers, only the opportunity to choose different responses and see how the virtual human responds and receive real-time virtual coaching," says Deborah Serri, Kognito vice president of product.

No matter the amount of money and resources allocated to school security, trouble manages to find its way into our nation’s classrooms.

Despite only being halfway through the fall semester, several districts have already dealt with threats on campus. Gun violence among students is becoming a regular occurrence at Friday night football games. The number of cyberattacks targeting educational institutions continues to grow. These incidents alone take a toll on students’ emotions and ability to learn, and so does increasing security measures.

“Hardening,” the term used to describe the process of reinforcing a school for the safety of its students, can make students feel less safe at school. So how can schools address safety while also providing a safe space for students? Deborah Serri, Kognito vice president of product, recommends making the shift to virtual training.

An interactive violence prevention suite aimed to foster safe and caring school environments equips teachers, families and students with the knowledge and skills to identify and respond to threatening behavior such as bullying,, harassment and self-harm.

Users have access to five role-play-based simulations:

  • Individual content about bullying prevention for teachers, families and students.
  • Realistic interactions based on actual student feedback: This simulation helps students learn to identify hints of a potential threat when talking with another student.
  • Evidence-based practice: Similar to a video game, users can choose responses as they engage in conversation virtually and receive personalized feedback.
  • Learn best practices in accordance with CASEL Core Competencies: Users will learn how to demonstrate empathy and rely on support systems and responsible decision-making.
  • Simple online deployment: School systems are able to assess the effectiveness of the program through pre-, post- and three-month follow-up surveys.

Each simulation helps enable schools to develop a healthy school culture and reduce school violence.

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“The ability of the end user to engage in the simulation and practice in a safe environment is by far the biggest advantage of Kognito’s simulations over direct instruction,” Serri says. “There are no wrong answers, only the opportunity to choose different responses and see how the virtual human responds and receives real-time virtual coaching.”

Virtual interaction allows for increased interaction than any in-person training could offer, Serri adds. In addition, having access to feedback and data helps schools to make decisions specific to their students and culture.

“These simulations can be deployed either within a school or at home,” Serri explains. “They’re available anytime on demand. The learning platform features a dashboard and reporting so that administrators can monitor compliance.”

Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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