NICERC, the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center, is funded by the Department of Homeland Security and is a trusted source for cyber, STEM and computer science curriculum for grades K-12. This partnership means EduTech will be able to extend the reach of NICERC resources statewide to provide greater professional development opportunities for educators.
“This NICERC certification will provide valuable resources to help empower teachers and introduce students to 21st century career fields that are in demand globally,” said North Dakota Chief Information Officer Shawn Riley. “Additionally, teaching good cyber hygiene like strong passwords and other security measures to our students starting at an early age is valuable regardless of what career field they go into.”
“By focusing on K-12 educators, we begin creating a strategic, disciplined, and deliberate solution to diversifying the state’s workforce base,” said Kevin Nolten, NICERC’s Director. “As educators, our responsibility is to ensure that our students are employable in a 21st century economy and that they know how to ethically live, work and play in cyberspace.”
NICERC also partnered with EduTech, the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction (NDDPI), Bismarck State College, North Dakota State University and Google in early August to host a Cyber Teacher Summer Seminar. As part of their training, middle school teachers received a class set of micro:bits™, a coding resource, and high school teachers received a class set of Arduino Shield-Bots™, a robotics and programming kit, for use in their classrooms. In total, NICERC is committing $100,000 of classroom equipment to North Dakota middle and high school educators who complete the training provided by EduTech in the coming months.
“As the only high school math teacher at Warwick Public School, I have no class periods open to teach the fantastic technology we were exposed to at the Cyber Seminar, so I will be offering a Robotics Club as part of Warwick’s 21st Century after-school program,” said Warwick Public School math teacher Rita Kaeding. “Students in grades 7-12 are excited to get started on computer programming when the activities begin next week. It is great to have EduTech’s support as the students and I delve into a whole new learning experience.”
Kirsten Baesler, North Dakota Superintendent of Schools, said “NDDPI is pleased to partner with multiple state agencies on this important work, and we are grateful EduTech has secured this certification as an Official NICERC Training Partner. It is critically important that our North Dakota schools have trained teachers who will be able to teach our students the vital skills of cybersecurity, coding and computer science. Their future and the vibrant future of our state depend on it.”
Complementary to the NICERC partnership, EduTech recently was named a Microsoft Training Partner, giving EduTech access to up-to-date training materials and regular collaborations with Microsoft personnel in order to provide statewide professional development opportunities using Microsoft tools. EduTech is also working with Code.org to further extend available training options for North Dakota educators. For students, numerous cybersecurity camps and activities will be promoted in the coming months to complement ongoing statewide efforts, including Hour of Code, which coincides with Computer Science Education Week in December.
These activities are part of a statewide effort by nearly 40 organizations from across North Dakota’s educational, workforce, military and information technology sectors to create a multi-faceted, comprehensive approach to computer science and cybersecurity education and workforce training, termed “K-20W.”
Riley presented on the state’s cybersecurity education and workforce efforts at the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) monthly webinar Aug. 28. The presentation, titled “Building North Dakota’s Cyber Moonshot: Every Student, Every School, Cyber Educated,” is available here on NASCIO’s website.
Partnership with industry is an important component of the “K-20W” initiative. Recent examples include a collaborative effort with Palo Alto Networks and Bismarck State College to expand the college’s Cybersecurity and Computer Networks Program. North Dakota is also a Microsoft TechSpark program participant, a national civic program to introduce digital initiatives designed to foster greater economic opportunity and job creation.
Photo caption: (from left) Tabitha Teel with EduTech, Joseph MacAdam and Tommy Gober with NICERC, Matthew Scherbenske with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, and Tracy Becker with Career and Technical Education were part of the team conducting the Cyber Teacher Seminar at Bismarck State College in August.