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Headshot Young Girl

Charlsie Wigley


United States

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Last spring break, I was called into work due to a ransomware attack that had taken place in my district. In the months following, I spoke with several staff and students who did not understand what had occurred and operated from a place of fear when it came to discussing cybersecurity threats that impacted their daily operations in schools. I began asking myself what we were doing in our schools to help our youngest students process these events. I started looking closer into self-paced curriculum products that students were being shown to learn about cybersecurity. When looking at these materials, a theme of fear emerged. Fast forward to a few months later when I had transitioned into a new school and district as an elementary Technology Coordinator. In this new role, I noticed a similar pattern with both digital literacy training materials for students and adults. When I spoke with staff who had fallen victim to a phishing test attempt and were required to complete remediation training, I heard messages of fear. One staff even stopped integrating technology in her lessons altogether out of fear. Around the same time, more and more students were asking me questions about things they had heard online about hacking and even the ransomware attack that had happened months before in my old district. While it may be easy to say that these are just observations made in Mountain Brook, Alabama, I see these patterns reverberate online with the same training materials shared as solutions to challenges with teaching young students best online practices. With education being the number one targeted industry for cybersecurity threats, I can't help but believe that this challenge for both staff and students needs more energy with innovative thought on the future as bad online actors themselves continue to innovate.

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