This mini-course, Emotional Healing Within a Safe Online Community, is the first course that all students take at WeBelong School; it is the prerequisite for all other coursework. This particular 5-week-long class is designed for each incoming group of young adults, from ages of about 16 to 25, to ground their emotional healing in a socially and emotionally safe online community called the Safety Net. Classes of other age groups have a differentiated prerequisite mini-course according to their ages. It is our hope that students will use this online support group for balance and support during their time at WeBS and beyond into whatever configuration they choose.
At WeBelong School, we talk share our feelings as part of emotional healing; this is actually the first prerequisite of attending WeBS. Students who are already on a committed path of emotional healing come here to continue their healing, growing, and learning within a safe community. Necessarily, then, all students at WeBS need to know and practice and become proficient in the guidelines of social safety on the Safety Net because that is where we communicate our feelings together online. So what is ordinarily considered too personal to put online is exactly what we're communicating about online! We put inordinate amounts of time and energy into creating safe space at WeBS.
To be able to take advantage of such an emotionally open online support group, students must understand the parameters for safely using discussion boards, which are by nature not necessarily private. As we sometimes painfully know with the Internet nothing is ultimately guaranteed private; therefore, we have a three-pronged protection system: We have the highly secure protection for the Course Management System that includes the Safety Net, and we also have an additional layer of protection through the most powerful online security system available. So what we discuss online, usually through the written word, is kept totally private, so that trust can grow and flourish. The next aspect of protection is for everyone using the Safety Net to be invested in protecting its privacy, too, and keeping it safe. For instance, we use avatars and code names to protect identities. And that is where a learning process occurs, one which this mini-course addresses partially by creating a rubric, or set of standards in a chart form.
Here's the rubric that the class builds from and creates together for Netiquette, or online etiquette. The tone we take when we write to each other online is so important because online we don't have any visual cues at all; we usually haven't even met each other in person! I advocate my version of the Online Golden Rule: "Post unto others as you would have them post unto you."