Scarcely a day goes by without the mention of cybersecurity in the news—from Edward Snowden breaching security at NSA (and now following NSA on Twitter), to customers of Target and Home Depot having their data compromised, to Hillary Clinton’s private email server and private email account while she was Secretary of State, to hacking of sensitive government data by foreign citizens, cybersecurity is in the news and is newsworthy. One of the more common themes in cybersecurity is the dearth of qualified cybersecurity professionals and how the United States might address that lack in the education system. Several colleges and universities have begun to add cybersecurity programs, and credentialing bodies are developing certificates and credentials for those already in the workforce but perhaps lacking the proper skills and training. The ACM Education Policy Committee and the ACM Education Council have both entered into discussions about cybersecurity education. The Committee for Computing Education in Community Colleges (CCECC) of the ACM Education Board has done quite a bit of work on cybersecurity education at the community college level. But, where is cybersecurity education in K-12?
Once again I had the pleasure of representing CSTA at a great K-12 education conference. This conference was the National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference held in Linthicum, Maryland (near Baltimore). Tammy Pirmann (CSTA School District Representative) and I both presented sessions about CSTA and cybersecurity education. Tammy’s panel discussion focused on curriculum and programs of study while my panel discussion and break-out session focused on standards. The conference had a great mix of K-12 educators, post-secondary educators, state-level educators, industry and governmental organization representatives, and curriculum developers.
There are some really awesome cybersecurity initiatives taking place in K-12 classrooms. I was able to participate in three hour workshop about the Baltimore County CyberSTEM program in which elementary school students engage in hands-on activities and learn about the field of cybersecurity. They learn to apply basic security concepts through gaming, modeling and simulation, robotics, digital forensics, cryptography, system vulnerabilities and cyberethics, safety and security, while investigating exciting careers that interconnect the fields of science, math, technology and computer security.
The sessions about the standards pointed out that there is much common ground among the organizations working in the computer science, engineering, and technology education space. It was good to have an open dialog and to be reminded that we can all work together to become stronger—and to promote cybersecurity education through our various groups. Even very young (Pre-K) children need to learn the basics of cyber safety—most of them use some sort of device before they ever enter a formal classroom. There was much discussion about standards and where cybersecurity education standards would logically fit. The National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) is working with the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation to lead the Formal Cybersecurity Education Component. Their mission is to bolster formal cybersecurity education programs encompassing kindergarten through 12th grade, higher education and vocational programs, with a focus on the science, technology, engineering and math disciplines to provide a pipeline of skilled workers for the private sector and government. They have a great interactive Cybereducation map that highlights schools, teachers, companies and agencies that support Cyber Education in the United States.
The good news for K-12 CS educators is that there are many great resources to assist you in the classroom as well as opportunities for you and your students. The National CyberWatch Center K-12 Program extends the National CyberWatch Center mission of advancing cybersecurity education by leading collaborative efforts and strengthening the national cybersecurity workforce to the K-12 community. Check out their fantastic summer programs for students (camps) and PD opportunities for teachers. Perhaps you attended a program last summer—we learned about them at the 2015 CSTA Annual Conference! (They also have curriculum resources for teachers.)
So, when you are ready to implement cybersecurity education in your K-12 CS classroom, the resources are there. You will be able to find curriculum resources, PD for yourself, speakers for your students, summer camps for your students, career opportunity resources, and much more. You might even plan on attending the next National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference. Cybersecurity is everywhere, and it should be in your classroom.
CSTA Board of Directors Past Chair
National K-12 Cybersecurity Education Conference http://www.edtechpolicy.org/C32015/index.html
National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) http://csrc.nist.gov/nice/education.html
Interactive Cybereducation Map
National CyberWatch Center K-12 Program http://www.nationalcyberwatch.org/programs-resources/
CSTA Annual Conference http://csta.acm.org/ProfessionalDevelopment/sub/CSTAConference.html