Podcast | New K-12 Cybersecurity Learning Standards for Schools

September 15, 2021


Episode 19: New K-12 Cybersecurity Learning Standards for Schools

K-12 cybersecurity often takes the back seat when it comes to new initiatives school district leaders undertake. This is despite cybersecurity being at the top of the priority list for district technology departments, according to CoSN’s The State of EdTech Leadership 2021 survey report.

School districts continue to face cyberattacks and student data continues to end up on the dark web waiting to be used by hackers in ways that can harm students, such as identity theft. It raises the question—what is being done to educate students in the classroom about the cyber threats schools are experiencing? How can teachers better teach students about what to look for and how to improve their own security posture?

The good news is cybersecurity is increasingly making its way into the classroom curriculum. Students are learning more about cyber risks and how to protect against them. In fact, CYBER.ORG recently released its own set of K-12 Cybersecurity Learning Standards for teachers, school districts, state departments of education, and more to help integrate it further into their curriculum.

Kevin Nolten, the Director of Academic Outreach at CYBER.ORG, joins us again for this week’s episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast. Kevin shared more about the core cybersecurity education concepts that school districts should be teaching students in the classroom, how teachers can integrate them into their curriculum, and how these standards will evolve as the K-12 cybersecurity landscape changes over time.

Continue reading below for a preview of our conversation. Be sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience on your favorite podcast platform to listen to the rest of our conversation with Kevin, and never miss another episode!

JK: For those who may not have caught our previous episode, or aren’t as familiar with CYBER.ORG, let’s have you start off with a quick overview of the organization and a bit of the work you’re doing.

KN: CYBER.ORG at its core is a workforce development organization focused on introducing students to the cybersecurity workforce pipeline. It’s no secret that there are a plethora—over 500,000—of cybersecurity jobs available today. And we don’t have a workforce to fill it. By 2023, that number is forecasted to be just shy of 2 million.

One of the things CYBER.ORG focuses on is building a foundation of cybersecurity among students. To not only give them the skillsets needed to live, work, play in cyberspace safely and ethically. But, also to introduce them to cybersecurity careers that exist today. We’re a team of curriculum developers and trainers to ensure that our team is developing content curriculum resources that are starting to shape the future workforce.

My goal, with every student being cyber literate, is that we start to close that gap of cybersecurity job vacancies in our country.

JK: As the first national effort to align cybersecurity criteria across all 50 states, can you talk about the importance of having these standards in place? Not just for K-12 education, but all industries, as cybersecurity applies to them all.

KN: In my previous podcast with you, I talked about the state of cybersecurity education. I mentioned that there are several cybersecurity deserts across the country. That’s a void of cybersecurity resources, cybersecurity policies, and education resources within those communities. As we paid attention to different states, different communities, we noticed that there are very few top-down resources for teaching cybersecurity.

As an educator, I know the importance that standards play in a state. They all play a role in shaping what is taught in the classroom. We saw that there are no resources out there that focus specifically on cybersecurity K-12 across the board. That’s where CYBER.ORG jumped in, to work with a slew of partners to develop them.

By having these standards, we allow teachers to have some confidence as to what to teach and when to teach it. Teachers have the ability to go to our site, look at these standards, and know at which specific grade levels they need to teach specific concepts in regards to cybersecurity.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with Kevin below and check out previous episodes on the ManagedMethods podcast page. Make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!