As the need and demand for digital learning have grown, there has been a sharp rise in the number and intensity of cybersecurity attacks on K-12 school networks and their users. These attacks—including phishing, data disclosure, denial of service, and ransomware attacks—threaten students’ and schools’ cyber safety and privacy by making their personal and educational information vulnerable. These increasing cybersecurity threats highlight a need for cybersecurity education targeted to school administrators and staff to ensure they are adequately prepared to decide which educational technologies to use and how to optimize their security configurations and features. This project will provide cybersecurity education directly to school administrators, technology support staff, and teachers across North Carolina through the novel Cybersecurity Awareness-Ask-Action (AAA) program. This professional development program will equip school educators with a deeper awareness of how to secure their educational technologies, the communication skills to enable them to ask security- and privacy-related questions of software providers, and critical information on how to act when they recognize a threat to the digital privacy and security of their schools.

The project has three goals.

  1. First, the team will identify and analyze educational technology applications for collection, storage, and access to different student and school data types. 
  2. Second, the project team will design and develop workshop modules for school administrators, technology support staff, and teachers.
  3. Last, the team will facilitate a summer Cybersecurity AAA program to implement the modules with school administrators, technology support staff, and teachers.

Outcomes are expected to improve the cybersecurity protection of K-12 school systems and further secure their student data. Evaluation results will be used to improve training modules. Materials will be made freely available for use by other school systems across the country.

This project has been funded by the National Science Foundation – Award No 2122416