Adam A. Phyall III, Ed.D.
Director of Professional Learning and Leadership
“With great internet comes great responsibility.” That is, more or less, how the saying goes. Unlike a particular mystical hammer, everyone is worthy to wield the power of the Internet. So, how can we, as educators, turn our schools into training grounds for the future Guardians of the Internet? Grab your capes; it’s time to suit up!
How often have you heard a student say, “But I only shared my password with my best friend!” or “I just use the same password for everything.” It’s 2023, and we’re living in an interconnected digital age, yet some adults even overlook the basics of cybersecurity, increasing the chance of evil-doers causing harm to our systems. But what if we educate our students about cybersecurity and inspire them to become its future guardians? Just think about it. Today’s meme-posting, TikTok-ing, Roblox-loving student could be tomorrow’s firewall architect or ethical hacker, protecting students and adults from cybersecurity threats!
It’s not just learning about safeguarding passwords or avoiding suspicious emails. It’s also a matter of understanding career opportunities. According to a cybersecurity workforce study, there were 3.4 million unfilled cybersecurity jobs globally in 2022. The demand is there, but the supply isn’t keeping up. Just imagine how empowering it would be for our students to fill this gap! The journey to becoming a cybersecurity hero can start early.
So, how can an educator go about preparing a cybersecurity hero? Try integrating a Cyber Security Lesson from The Achievery into Your Curriculum. The Achievery, a free online digital learning platform, offers a variety of resources, including engaging videos and learning activities, to teach your students about the importance of cybersecurity and how they can build a future career in this field. The lessons are designed by experts in the field, such as ATT, iCivic, Road Trip Nation, Media Smarts, and many more. Create your free account today and find the perfect cybersecurity lesson for your K-12 students.
Don’t just limit discussions about cybersecurity to a list of “Don’t” statements. That’s only covered on the first week of school. Integrate it into all subjects. Whether you’re teaching History, Math, or English, you can weave in topics about the ethical use of technology, data privacy, and online safety. For example, when teaching about the American Revolution, discuss how information was protected during those times and segue into modern encryption methods.
Use cybersecurity examples that students can relate to outside of school. It’s about preparing students for real-world challenges. Identity theft, cyberbullying, and online scams are unfortunate realities. A well-prepared student is less likely to fall victim to these pitfalls.
To spark career interest, you can organize a mini “hackathon” where students have to solve a series of cybersecurity puzzles. Inspire students to explore cybersecurity career topics for projects and papers. Work to develop career pathway opportunities in cybersecurity. Collaborate with local colleges and universities to offer dual-credit courses in cybersecurity.
Offer badges, certificates, or even extra credit for students who complete cybersecurity courses or challenges. This will validate their efforts and instill a sense of achievement.
By embedding the importance of cybersecurity into our educational approach, we’re doing more than preparing students for the potential threats they may face. We’re inspiring them to become the heroes of tomorrow, armed with the cybersecurity skills needed to protect us all.
So, fellow educators, let’s undertake this mission together: to create a future that’s both technologically advanced and secure. And remember, in the digital world, we’re all guardians in training. Let’s inspire our students to become Future Ready!