Teaching Cybersecurity with Humor
Some days it might seem impossible to motivate your students when having to cover a lot of dry material. However, the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) nailed it with Mansur Hasib and his techniques for teaching his Risk Analysis and Compliance course.
Who better to reach out and spice up flat cybersecurity content than the hilarious, innovative college students themselves? For each class, four students led 30 minutes of discussion on a portion of the syllabus. They were rated on the humor they injected into the discussion and how they engaged their classmates.
Stemming from play acting and storytelling to funny cartoons and games such as Cybersecurity Jeopardy, Cybersecurity Millionaire, and Cybersecurity Bingo, these students were spot on. They not only entertained but also related to their assigned cybersecurity topic.
The classroom was then divided into peer groups of eight students. Each student applied what they learned into a research paper on an organization of his/her choice. They passed their drafts around their respective peer group to read and provide constructive comments. Each student took that feedback and rewrote the paper for a final grade.
To take it one step further, students then wrote a second paper with a comparative analysis of all organizations selected in their peer group with a set of recommendations for each one. The second draft was peer reviewed and rewritten for its final grade, giving the students a variety of ways to do a comparative analysis paper.
The results? Amazing. Every student’s work improved as they enhanced their writing style repertoire. Additionally, the students internalized the material better because they had to present it.
In the end, the students had two solid research papers and a presentation, which they could take on job interviews. Several students even acquired jobs because they showed this tangible work. Most importantly, students loved the way they learned. That’s why National CyberWatch Center highlighted this Innovation in Cybersecurity Education in their recent publication. To read the entire article, visit page 12 here.
FULL SUBMISSION (pg.12 in National CyberWatch Center’s Innovation in Cybersecurity Education):
TEACHING CYBERSECURITY USING GAMIFICATION AND HUMOR
For my Risk Analysis and Compliance course, we have to cover a lot of dry material such as NIST 800-53v4. To create an atmosphere of humor and fun, I carved out a large part of the course lectures into student-led lectures. During the first class, I divided up the entire required reading among all students. I continued to provide context for the initial three classes. After that, all classes are led by students with me providing input and additional practical insights where appropriate. For each class, four students lead 30 minutes of discussion on a portion of the syllabus. They were rated on the humor they injected into the discussion and how they engaged their classmates.
Students found funny cartoons and animations to depict cybersecurity issues and concepts. They created games such as Cybersecurity Jeopardy, Cybersecurity Millionaire, Cybersecurity Bingo, and various other games. Some have engaged the entire class in play acting. They also were rated on their creativity in narration and their ability to share stories and examples related to their topic.
I divided the class into groups of about eight students. Each student applied class learning to write research papers on an organization of their choice. Each student picked a different organization on a first-come-first-served basis. They uploaded a draft for their respective peer group to read and provide constructive comments two weeks before the final due date of the paper. Students read all their peer group papers and provided constructive comments. Each student then took the feedback and rewrote the paper into its final form to be graded. Students then wrote a second paper with a comparative analysis of all organizations in their peer group with a set of recommendations for each organization. The second paper draft was also peer-reviewed. Thus, students got to see a variety of ways to do a comparative analysis paper.
Every student’s work is improved because they are able to see a wide range of papers and styles of writing. Students internalize the material much better because they have to present. They also follow each presentation more closely to learn because they know they will have to present themselves. At the end of the class, students have two solid research papers and a presentation, which they can take to a job interview. Several students acquired jobs because they could show their tangible work. Students love the format of the class and appreciate how much they learned. I still get feedback from students who took this class and learned so well that they were able to apply that in their jobs immediately.