This year is 5th Annual Educators in VR Cyberbullying Month in October 2023. Over the past five years, we’ve explored the challenges in and around privacy, security, and protection in the metaverse and online. This is such a critical subject that touches everyone’s life.
Recently, a teacher shared her involvement in this year’s Cyberbullying Month friends at the school. Yesterday, one of the support staff said, “I need to tell you about what happened to me. You need to tell others that this is real. If it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone.”
She told of a call from her son, with a bit of a reputation for trouble, claiming he was in jail and needed bail money right away. Unable to contact her son, without a thought she wired the money she could not afford – you know the end of this story. The criminals found his voice online. They also knew enough right answers to convince her. Hours later, she found her son safe with no idea his identity was being used in this way.
This is real and it can happen to anyone. The easy anonymity of the metaverse may increase our risk. Next month, we will discuss the techniques bad actors use to bring harm, financial, mental, and physical, to us and our friends and family, why they do it, what we can do about it, and how we should respond.
When our team was attacked over a year ago, the first question people asked was, “What did you do to make them attack you?” This is the wrong question, and led us to change our training and workshops to include this important point. A person does not have to “do” anything to become the target of a bad actor or troll. Attacks are usually random. No one deserves to be attacked.
We are determined to increase awareness and educational opportunities to empower people, to help people understand that there are solutions, and hope in all of this. By understanding the risks, the strategies, and the why, the more we can focus our energies on the positive and fun experiences.
Please click the event link for the time in your time zone. Unless otherwise mentioned, all events are on the ENGAGE XR platform. The events are free and open to the public, but registration with the platform is usually required.
Cyberbullying Special Events
We begin this year’s 5th Annual Educators in VR Cyberbullying Month with an introductory special event, and welcome many special guest speakers sharing their expertise on the subject, including our Educators in VR Teams covering the topic from their unique XR industry perspective. We are pinning down dates and times for a few more workshops, so stay tuned for updates.
September 26 – Cyberbullying Month Introduction: Join us for the 5th Annual Cyberbullying Month where Educators in VR explores the complexity & diversity of bullying online and in the metaverse. This topic impacts all of us across the web and metaverse. EDVR will tackle discussions on privacy, security, safety, response training, the impact of AI for moderation in gaming, and how to prepare ourselves and our students and children for the now and the future.
October 3 – Privacy, Security, and Safety in the Metaverse: Educators in VR hosts an open discussion on privacy, safety, and security in the metaverse as part of the 5th Annual Cyberbullying Month activities and events with Educators in VR. Privacy, safety, and security concerns have evolved in the metaverse. With the arrival of AI and the ability to our XR devices to collect biometric data, do you know your rights when it comes to privacy and security? What are they? What data is being collected? What can we do about it? Let’s talk.
October 4 – A Tempered Approach to Youth in Immersive Education: Dr. Angelina Dayton of the Virtual World Society discusses how to approach youth in the metaverse to discuss security, privacy, and safety from her unique perspective as a parent and scientist.
Dr. Angelina Dayton is an Aspen Institute Tech Policy Fellow, virtual reality researcher, user experience designer, speaker, consultant and trainer. Her specialty is design and deployment of XR technologies into complex organizations for the purpose of large-scale deployment and mass adoption. Her expertise in human computer interaction is based on an anthropological assessment of how best to integrate emerging technology into highly structured, low-resourced environments. She has worked with over 50,000 first time virtual reality users to create an XR-skilled workforce. Some of her current passion projects involve XR curriculum and training in rural communities within indigenous communities.
October 12 – Where Diversity & Cyberbullying Meet: The Educators in VR Diversity Team is centering on the intricate connections between diversity and cyberbullying. In this virtual space, individuals from diverse backgrounds, ethnicity, genders, and ages have come together to explore how the digital realm both amplifies and mitigates issues related to inclusivity and harassment, collectively working towards a deeper understanding of how we can harness the power of virtual reality to bridge divides, promote empathy, and ultimately combat cyberbullying while celebrating the richness of diversity.
October 19 – Safe Historical Virtual Spaces – EDVR Cultural Heritage Preservation: Learn how to create safe educational worlds exploring historical sites in the metaverse as part of the 5th Annual Cyberbullying Month activities in October. We will tour you through some historical sites in ENGAGE XR and discuss user experience in world building for safe experiences. Educators in VR’s Cultural Heritage Preservation team project meets regularly to discuss and share information about cultural heritage, history, landmarks, museums, and other man-made and natural preservation tips, techniques, apps, virtual worlds, and museums, helping us understand not just how to preserve and protect but enjoy our history in XR.
October 20 – Cyberbullying Concerns in the Metaverse and Beyond: Virtual worlds and online games provide a new platform for interactions. Unfortunately, this also means they can be venues for advanced options for cyber bullying. Join us for a discussion with Dr. Loyce Best Pailen and her team from the Center for Security Studies at the University of Maryland Global Campus on the challenges for teachers and students in the metaverse and beyond. They will discuss traditional cybersecurity bullying concerns, including addressing cyberbullying in virtual worlds is to foster a supportive community, create and enforce clear rules, and educate players about appropriate online behavior. Developers, moderators, and players all have a role to play in making virtual worlds safer and more inclusive spaces.
- Dr. Loyce Pailen, Senior Director Center for Security Studies, UMGC
- Dr. Brandie Shatto, Professor and Program Director for Educational Technology at UMGC
- Robin Burns, UMGC GenCyber Lab Manager
- Sean Flowers, UMGC GenCyber Lead Curriculum Manager
- Jennifer Hull, Academic Program Coordinator, UMGC
October 26 – Let’s Talk About Race with Bodyswaps: The EDVR Diversity Team welcomes special guests from Bodyswaps for a fascinating interactive discussion on race. Michael Avis of Tapvigo Solutions and Christophe Mallet of Bodyswaps unveil a powerful VR training program designed to confront the challenges of microaggressions, biases, and privilege in a safe and dynamic environment.
The Bodyswaps VR training program goes beyond conventional approaches by focusing on emotional engagement, immersion, exploration, psychological safety, and self-reflection. By offering scenarios that enable users to practice confronting microaggressions and responding positively, this innovative program has received glowing feedback from students, boosting their confidence to address these issues in real-life situations. Experience a profound understanding of how VR can create a safe space for practicing conversations about race, the significance of authentic representation, and the core principles of effective VR training. EDVR members receive 10% off Bodyswap programs!
October 26 – The Fine Print of the Metaverse: The large VR corporations write impressive Terms & Conditions that lay out their relationship with you, an individual user. These T&C’s aren’t negotiable, so we seldom bother to read them, we’ll have to tick the box anyway. Mark takes a look at a few of the things in VR that you may have already technically agreed to. But are they fair? Did you realise what you agreed to?
Mark Jeffcock is a long time educator specializing in digital technologies and one of the leaders of the EDVR Virtual Hardware Team. Educators in VR’s Virtual Hardware Team meets regularly to discuss the technology and hardware behind our virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality experiences. Topics include VR labs, choosing headsets, budgets and funding, and exploring the hardware behind the technology as well as the safety challenges and impact of usage.
October 31 – 5th Annual Cyberbullying Month – Finale: After a month exploring the issues of harassment, attacks, trolling, security, privacy, and bad behavior in the metaverse, we close out the month with your thoughts and experiences. What have you learned about cyberbullying, especially in the metaverse. How can Educators in VR, and you, do more to bring awareness and improved education on this subject so important to all of us. Come share what you’ve learned, your experiences, and your thoughts on this issue.
Educators in VR Cyberbullying Training
Educators in VR offers a wide variety of training programs focused on privacy, security, and safety, including the popular Cyberbullying Response Training that takes participants step-by-step through interactive responses to bad actors and uncomfortable situations in virtual reality. We offer these to a variety of schools, associations, and businesses.
The Cyberbullying Response Training introduction is a free one-hour workshop with our EDVR Metaverse Ethics Team. The dates in October for the Response Training in ENGAGE XR are as follows. Click the link for the time in your time zone:
The VR Event Moderation Training is a 4-week experiential workshop for teachers, students, researchers, businesses, speakers, and entertainers with the desire to host an event in virtual reality. The training explores public event moderation in the metaverse, dealing with trolls, cyberbullying, event support, and the partnership between moderators and hosts for a successful VR event. A one-hour introduction is offered twice in October.
XR Research into Cyberbullying
Our EDVR XR Research Team has spent years digging into the research in and around all the various angles on online bullying, especially in the metaverse. The diversity of perspectives in the research are fascinating, and tell us much about the human condition, behavior, and psychology. We’ll also explore some of the different techniques used in this research, and open the door to how this research will evolve in the future with the growing presence of the metaverse and improved technology, especially AI.
Welcome to the 4th Annual EDVR Cyberbullying Month Events
Please join us to discuss and learn more about cyberbullying in the metaverse and beyond in October. Bring your family and friends, especially your students! We look forward to sharing our expertise with you, and hearing from you.