The Career and Technical Education Computer Technology program has updated its curriculum to place a greater emphasis on cybersecurity-related careers.
This new focus is driven by critical shortages in the technology workplace and the federal government. The field of cybersecurity is growing in importance and this skill set is in increasingly high demand.
The new curriculum was designed by instructor Jonathan Easton based upon the CAE-CD framework sponsored by the National Security Agency and the Department of Defense as part of the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education. Through hands-on activities, students learn how to protect information systems, data and computer networks.
Students perform activities such as password cracking, “ping of death” and denial of service attacks on targeted computers in a controlled environment. Then students use this knowledge to implement countermeasures to protect computer systems against those attacks. Other activities include practicing encryption and code breaking, using Linux OS and virtualization.
Learning about computer hardware and networking remains an important part of the curriculum as foundational understanding. Each student builds multiple computers and will design and configure computer networks and servers.
Mr. Easton’s instruction approach follows the “blended” classroom model. A major feature of this approach is student voice and choice in classwork. Coursework is organized into assignment “playlists” which allow students to decide how they approach content and the pace at which they work.
“It is absolutely essential for career-focused education that students take ownership of their learning,” Easton said. “In regards to a career in technology, the idea that there is some amount of knowledge or skills that would ever be ‘enough’ is absurd. Likewise, that there is some amount of work which would be an ‘A’ or a ‘C’ is superfluous to real career preparation.”
Another major aspect to the blended classroom model is that a significant amount of the classwork is online. Mr. Easton uses Google Classroom, Classcraft and other technology to make his classroom available to the students at any time and any place they can get online.