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The Pandemic's 'silver lining'

April 9, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has created much upheaval in education, as teachers, parents, and students find a new normal through remote learning. 

The crisis has also caused the cancellation of live educational engagement events, such as those put on each year by Dakota State University’s CybHER® program. CybHER’s mission is to empower, motivate, educate, and change the perception of girls and women in cybersecurity. 

“We recognize the extenuating circumstances we now find ourselves in and the difficulty this brings in educating our children and students,” said Katie Shuck, a DSU graduate student in cyber defense. Yet she sees something of a silver lining, through new CybHER programs now offered online. 

“These are some things that we’ve been wanting to do, and we're glad we finally have time to create these resources,” said Shuck. 

One of CybHER’s new virtual resources includes a new YouTube Learning Channel

“Here teachers or parents can find short, recorded lessons that they are welcome to use,” Shuck said. Many of these lessons are similar to programs CybHER brings into schools. They will also be adding newly created programs that will have more hands-on activities for students.  Viewers can subscribe to the channel for free. 

In addition, their website, www.CybHER.org, contains abundant resources to learn about cybersecurity, coding, and other cyber-related topics. Each Tuesday, they post on social media some CybHER Tips. Video podcast are coming soon on a variety of cyber topics, along with interviews with people on the frontlines of cybersecurity. Virtual scavenger hunts are planned as well. 

These are based on ideas that co-founders Dr. Ashley Podhradsky and Dr. Pam Rowland first envisioned when they came up with the engagement concept in 2013. They planned to create a variety of outreach channels, themed as Cyber Hours, Cyber Minutes, Cyber Seconds, but soon got busy with events. In the past seven years, they have held 130 events, reaching 20,000 young women. This current changes in routine now allow for the development of some of their original plans, and some new ideas. 

Shuck noted that teachers may contact CybHER through their webpage if they have ideas for virtual programs or activities. CybHER will also be happy to discuss the security and privacy of the technology resources teachers may be using.

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