LATIN AMERICA – July 18 2022 Microlearning for young people to be safe online KOMIK SOS, an educational resource using comic art, was created in order to teach young people how to use the internet safely. During the COVID-19 pandemic, young people spent a lot of their time online. To teach them how to navigate safely in the internet, SOSvirtual from Latin America developed KOMIK SOS, a creative educational response using comic art. "Young people have been facing a lot in recent times", says Sergio Fernandez, ICT Director of SOS Children's Villages in Latin America. "They have been spending a lot of their educational and social interactions using technology. We had to come up with agile and dynamic educational alternatives to support them through difficult and risky situations in this new digitalized context. But we wondered where we could find a creative and suitable answer?" The answers came directly from young people using their creativity, characters, voices and fantastic stories. KOMIK SOS is a microlearning methodology launched on SOS Children's Villages' e-learning platform SOSvirtual. Adolescents and young people create and develop comic characters that inspire and teach peers via YouthLinks and other social media channels, which help them learn how to use digital devices and navigate the internet safely. After mastering learning goals, users will go through a gamified escape room based on the stories as well as social media posts that reinforce the learning principles. Developing the characters Young people from 13 to 21 years old actively take part in all stages of the creation process. In the initial stage, carried out from July to August 2021, they followed the call to be part of a "Talent Expo." As a result, 98 adolescents from 16 South American countries submitted 114 characters. In two workshops, professional illustrators helped the participants develop illustration and expression skills, shared techniques and motivated the youth to create their own characters. "The participation of adolescents and young people in activities of this type is of great importance because it promotes spaces where everyone can freely express their feelings and thoughts," says Clariany Bernal, Program Coordinator of Adolescent and Youth Development. "It increases motivation and reinforces the exploration of their talents, allowing them to enhance their skills and acquire new knowledge that has a direct impact on their personal growth and development processes." "I felt happy and excited to be one of the six chosen. It makes me feel that I have great potential." - 15-year-old participant from Panama. In September 2021, the characters were digitalized and replicated to become part of a unified “universe” as it is known in the comic world. All features imagined by the young people were replicated and enhanced. With characters ready, in October 2021, stage 3 covered the creation of the stories for this collective universe. All of the stories include key learning principles: Be safe, be smart, be creative and be responsible online. In two additional workshops, “My Voice, My Stories,” the participants created the basis of the narrative stories that are being used in the comics. Phases 1 and 2 of the workshops were carried out online due to COVID-19. The illustration experts adapted and used technology to share illustration techniques with young people. Workshop method: The Card Game The “My Voice, My Stories” workshops were conducted with sort of a card game methodology, including all characters submitted in special cards with features assigned by their creators. The mission of the game was to discover the relations among the characters, plots, locations and emotions. "Through their characters, the participants showed us how they see the world and their interest in saving all those who live in it," explains Diana Lucero Matta Figueroa, a Youth Care Specialist at SOS Children's Villages in Peru. In addition, it has been fundamental to include the participants as co-creators of the new strategies that will be the basis of educational and inspiring stories for other young people in the region. In Peru, we consider this initiative extremely relevant to foster youth participation". Amplify their voices Since this is a transmedia educational approach, next steps include using social media channels to connect with young people, thus giving them access to key content and principles on healthy use of technology to be safe and smart online. Other virtual activities like escape rooms are also planned, in all of which young people’s participation is a must. After all, this is their creation.