As 2020 drew to a close and a new year approached, we at CYBER.ORG began reflecting on our work and our library of resources to explore opportunities for updates and further development. From that reflection came a stark realization. Though we have infused “cyber” into all our curricula threads, we lacked direct and cohesive cyber and cybersecurity resources for elementary and middle school students. We also recognized improvements that needed to be made to the structure and content already offered in our course threads.
So this is a “what’s new with CYBER.ORG curricula” post. Also note these changes will apply June 1, 2021, unless otherwise stated.
First up, a contender for “most popular course in our library”, Cybersecurity. This high school course is designed to prepare students for the CompTIA Security+ exam. The previous iteration revolved around content for the 501 exam, but CompTIA recently updated the exam to 601, so our high school cybersecurity team updated the course to match the new content. Expect the same course structure and resources, just with updated teacher notes, activities, and labs.
Next up our middle school team has been both creating new content, and revamping older content. While much of our current content remained the same, some much-needed improvements became apparent as we internally audited our middle school course offerings.
One of the first courses to get attention was Cyber Fundamentals. We have begun to define and title our content by “what it is” rather than creating trendy names that don’t fully represent the content. Cyber Fundamentals housed content related to coding and programming. While these are cyber related topics, they do not form the fundamentals of all things “cyber”. Therefore, we changed the name from Cyber Fundamentals to Coding Fundamentals which is truer to the nature of the content.
Lessons here will walk students through basic programs using either a block-based language or Python, depending on the grade level and a student’s familiarity with coding. In this course you will find a new content structure as well. New lessons and activities were developed for the micro:bit using MakeCode and other content was retired or moved to more appropriate locations. Some lessons relate specifically to cybersecurity topics and were given their own space as well.
We also recognized the lack of direct cybersecurity related content. Though cybersecurity awareness has been infused throughout all grade levels in our current library, there was no place where teachers could find cohesive, scaffolded, transdisciplinary lessons about cybersecurity. Building off our current work and activities that proved most popular with teachers and students, new modules were created to address cybersecurity head-on.
*Coming late summer, 2021*
Cybersecurity Basics builds essential knowledge of how information exchange can affect individuals and communities. Each module includes elements of humanities, math, ELA, science, social studies, and cybersecurity through hands-on activities.
Within Cybersecurity Basics you will find:
- Our updated Media Literacy module will focus on the reliability and accuracy of information sharing and how to recognize trustworthy sources.
- Cryptography walks students through encryption using actual historical examples of monoalphabetic and polyalphabetic ciphers. Students then clarify the difference between encryption and encoding using Morse and Binary Code before ending with ASCII and the Vernam Cipher. Ties to Coding Fundamentals gives students the chance to create digital versions of some of the unplugged activities as well
- Scenario content is also included that give students the opportunity to investigate a cyber related incident and attempt to discover the cause of the event based on given evidence
More changes will be made as we continue to chart our path as an organization. New content will be created, and existing content will be updated, and revised. These are exciting times as we work to provide the best possible experience for our teachers.
If you would like to know more about CYBER.ORG and our curriculum offerings, please contact us!