The State of K-12 Cybersecurity Education

March 3, 2021

 


Episode 5: The State of K-12 Cybersecurity Education

K-12 cybersecurity is at the top of every school district’s priority list. This is especially true now that district’s are operating in remote and hybrid learning environments, where more school activity is taking place from the homes of students and staff. IT teams are tasked with educating teachers and staff on cybersecurity and safety best practices, especially as more cloud applications are being used in the classroom and administrative offices.

But where does cybersecurity stand when it comes to educating students on the topic in the classroom?

That was the topic of discussion in this episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast. We are joined by Kevin Nolten, the director of academic outreach at CYBER.ORG, a cybersecurity workforce development organization that targets K-12 students with cyber career awareness, curricular resources, and teacher professional development.

We discussed the state of cybersecurity knowledge and skills among students, the initiatives focused on improving cybersecurity curriculum adoption in schools, and ended talking about why now is the time to get students educated about cybersecurity—even as early as kindergarten.

Continue reading to learn more about Kevin and CYBER.ORG, and listen to the rest of our conversation to hear how the organization is working to get kids educated on cybersecurity. Subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience by finding the podcast on your favorite platform, which you can find by clicking ‘subscribe’ in the episode player on this page.

JK: Thank you for joining us today, Kevin. How about we start off with you sharing more about yourself, your career, how you got to where you are today, and some more background on CYBER.ORG.

KN: I am what I like to call a recovering educator. Before joining CYBER.ORG, I was an assistant principal of a K-8 school in Louisiana and have been with CYBER.ORG for going on six years now. My role with CYBER.ORG is to lead a team of individuals who are focused on creating cybersecurity resources for K-12 educators.

We’re doing this all under a grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and their Cybersecurity Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

JK: I know CYBER.ORG released a compelling survey last summer with EdWeek, on the state of cybersecurity education in K-12 schools. It provided sort of a dim look on the lack of cybersecurity knowledge and skills among students. Can you share more about that survey and the importance of increasing cybersecurity education in K-12 schools?

KN: We worked with EdWeek on this report because CYBER.ORG observed a lack of research data about the scope and scale of K-12 cybersecurity education in the United States. When we travel the country we take a look at schools who are not teaching 21st century skills like cybersecurity to our students.

When we look at our K-12 education system, we take a look at a system that is primed for innovation, primed for opportunity to ensure our students are graduating with skills that are transferable into the workforce, a two-year associate’s degree program, or straight into a four-year undergraduate degree program.

When we say “our students need to be employable right out of high school,” how do we do that? CYBER.ORG wanted to take a look at that cybersecurity landscape and in this report we saw that 45% of K-12 students are currently receiving some kind of cybersecurity education. To some people, they may say “that’s not bad.” But, I look at it and say “well, what if only 45% of students took a world history class?” Would that be acceptable?

When we take a look at our digital age today and we are connected at every facet of life, we have to ensure that we are educating the next generation, cyber-literate workforce. No matter what field they go into.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with Kevin below, and make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!