By Albert Palacios, CTE CyberNet Program Manager, U.S. Department of Education
Cybersecurity is vital to national security and prosperity, yet many high schools do not have sufficient teachers or cybersecurity education programs to meet the labor market demand. To help increase the supply of cybersecurity professionals, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) launched the CTE CyberNet — a national professional development initiative and network of high school educators. ED coordinated the development of CTE CyberNet with multiple Federal Government partners, including the NICE program office. CTE CyberNet aims to increase the number of career and technical education (CTE) high school teachers who can effectively prepare students for cybersecurity education and careers. Through CTE CyberNet, teachers can enhance their technical and pedagogical abilities to teach rigorous coursework aligned with the NICE Fframework. In addition, they can discover connections to local and national cybersecurity employers and industry stakeholders.
With input from subject matter experts, ED identified three Centers of Academic Excellence (CAE) Regional Resource Centers (CRRCs) to design, host, and lead the inaugural cohort of local CTE CyberNet academies during summer 2020 and the 2020-21 academic year. The three CRRCs were selected to lead the academies because of their experience hosting professional development programs and assisting other CAEs. The three 2020-2021 CTE CyberNet academies are being hosted by Moraine Valley Community College, Dakota State University, and San Antonio College. Each CRRC is bringing CTE CyberNet to life through localized programming and industry connections that reflect the region’s specific education and employment needs. While each local academy is different, all are delivering rigorous instruction, maintaining ongoing support throughout the academic year, and building a well-networked community.
More than 100 teachers in proximity to the three CRRCs applied to the 2020-21 academies. In June, each CTE CyberNet academy began its summer intensive session with 10 teachers. The teachers undertook 80 hours of rigorous, virtual professional development delivered by instructors from the CRRCs. The coursework and activities included technical content such as network security analysis, encryption, and hardware scans, as well as emerging topics, including AI, blockchain, and quantum computing. Teachers also became familiar with hands-on learning practices like interactive activities, challenges, and simulations. Many are integrating these topics and approaches into new cybersecurity courses for their classrooms, and some are pursuing dual-credit agreements with local community colleges.
In addition to local instruction, teachers across academies convened for a series of virtual panels exclusively for CTE CyberNet. The first highlighted the federal commitment to cybersecurity education and featured representatives from ED, NIST, NSA, and DHS. Speakers provided examples of interagency collaboration, shared federally -sponsored resources for cybersecurity educators, and recognized the critical role of high school teachers in addressing one of the nation’s most pressing strategic priorities. In the second panel, leaders from Mastercard, Northrop Grumman, and Offensive Security shared private-sector perspectives on workforce needs and their strong support for rigorous secondary education in cybersecurity. Their insights, as well as support provided at the local level from Amazon Web Services and Kali Linux, helped teachers see the value and importance of their work. As the summer intensive sessions concluded, teachers heard from a panel of current students and early-career professionals and joined virtual networking sessions to get to know their peers from other academies.
This summer was just the start of the year-long academies. CTE CyberNet teachers have continued into an accelerator, which provides additional professional development, resources, and technical assistance throughout the academic year. Like the summer intensive session, each accelerator is designed and delivered by local academies and includes mentorship, coaching, content, support, and peer networking to help teachers implement new lessons and practices in the classroom.
To learn more about CTE CyberNet from the U.S. Department of Education and opportunities to get involved, contact CTE CyberNet Program Manager Albert Palacios at email@example.com or visit https://cte.ed.gov/initiatives/cte-cybernet.