Okay, I’m taking my reviews a bit out of order here, but for good reason. I just got a copy of Hackerteen: Internet Blackout, an ‘edutainment’ graphic novel from O’Reilly. In addition to the tech stuff I play with, I’m also a Scoutmaster, and work a lot with 12-13 year old boys, so this stuck me as something I ought to look into.
Hackerteen is no Dark Knight, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. The art is good enough (better than some of the Alpha Flight, The New Mutant books I remember from years gone by) and the story is pretty solid (Legion of Super-heroes inanity anyone?), which makes this a good vehicle for teaching. It’s designed to teach kids:
- How Internet tech works
- How to protect themselves online
- How to work with other people on the ‘net to improve the world.
One interesting idea is the collection of URLs for the hackerteen website lurking in the book—like this one: www.hackerteen.com/bluescreen.php”:http://www.hackerteen.com/bluescreen.php. I think better use could have been made of them, but I’m not entirely sure how. It didn’t help that they’re all tucked into footnotes.
I guess the real proof will be in how kids take to the books. I’ll be loaning it to a few kids in the target audience to see what they think. I’ll try to capture their feedback and share it here.