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Grok Academy: Cyber security unplugged

Grok Academy cyber security

 

Grok Academy has introduced new cybersecurity resources for lower primary school students that are intended to support the Australian Curriculum and prepare students for digital futures.

When Grok Academy first launched the Schools Cyber Security Challenges in February 2019, as part of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies (AC:DT) curricula, one of the key takeaways in the media coverage was that parents often don’t consider the dangers of social media posts celebrating their children’s birthdays. This is because birthdays are often used as passwords – and by revealing the dates of a child’s birthday, individuals might inadvertently divulge their password. In the world of cybersecurity, seemingly harmless, simple actions taken online can have some potentially serious consequences. This is why it is critical that children and parents become well-versed in the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies (AC:DT) resources – perhaps one of the only curricula that children can teach their parents.

CYBERSECURITY CURRICULUM FOR LOWER PRIMARY STUDENTS

When Grok Academy initially created the Schools Cyber Security Challenges for Years 9-12, they were intended to be taught with the compulsory AC:DT Curriculum. Recently, however, Grok Academy launched new cyber resources for early years and lower primary students in Years F-4, which have been developed to meet the new requirements of Version 9 of the Australian Curriculum. For Years F-2, the focus is on understanding and identifying personal data and learning about usernames and passwords, such as those used for their school accounts. It also introduces the subject of privacy and the notion that some websites and apps store personal data online.

As part of the compulsory Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies, Grok Academy has launched new cybersecurity resources for lower primary students Years F-4. For Years 3-4, the expectations are on creating and memorising passwords that are easy to remember, but hard for others to guess (so, no birthdays!). It also asks students to consider what personal data is stored and shared in their online accounts, and what the associated risks could be.

Grok Academy’s Digital Detectives ‘unplugged’ card game is a free resource available to all Australian schools that teaches children about the importance of online privacy and security using realistic scenarios and characters that kids can relate to.

DIGITAL DETECTIVES

The most exciting element of these new resources for early primary is a new ‘unplugged’ activity called Digital Detectives – a simple card game that is engaging, fun and educational for young students and teachers alike. Grok Academy has created realistic scenarios and characters that kids will relate to easily and the game guides them to make safe choices when tempted by friend requests or sharing private information. Although it may seem counterintuitive to use physical props for a digital curriculum, the team at Grok Academy felt it was more important to use assets that were 100 percent accessible to all early primary students across Australia – without needing to rely on fast broadband or computer equipment.

The card game could not be simpler: Players pick one card from the pile and follow the instructions. Play finishes when all the cards have been used, or when the chosen duration of time ends. The player with the most cards wins the game. There are also blank cards at the end of the pack for teachers to include their own scenarios. As an example, one scenario focuses on personal privacy, based on the fact that some websites and apps store personal data online. This helps kids to understand why it is important to identify what personal data is stored and shared in their online accounts and discuss any associated risks. As it is a K-2 resource, the scenarios and options are simple and easy to relate to.

With the support of industry and government partners – ANZ, The Australian Signals Directorate, The Department of Industry Science and Resources, AWS, BT, CBA, Fifth Domain, NAB and Westpac – all of the Digital Detectives card games have been made free to every school across Australia.

Grok Academy’s lower primary level Schools Cyber Security Challenges are designed to teach children the fundamentals of online privacy and security at the critical time when they first start learning how to use technology.

WHY START YOUNG?

The need for students, even as young as early primary school students, to understand the fundamentals regarding online privacy and security is stronger than ever. And here’s why: According to Statista, over a third of 2- 5-year-olds in Australia either have their own mobile phone (9%) or have access to someone else’s (22%). Regarding other devices, approximately 18 percent of 2- 5-year- olds have their own laptop, tablet, or PC, while 8 percent have their own login on a shared laptop,
tablet, or PC. Unsurprisingly, these percentages increase as the student population gets older. At the same time, hacks and cybercrime continue at pace, evidenced by the news about Optus, Medibank, Uber, LJ Hooker, and many other, data breaches last year, these issues can occur regardless of age demographics, geography, or socioeconomic variations.

Therefore, the Grok team believes that starting cyber education as early as possible is critical to ensure that cyber security skills are learned and embedded when they children first begin to learn about using technology. Furthermore, when kids engage with these programmes – they work. The Schools Cyber Security Challenges has been efficacious, reaching over 170,000 students (46% of whom were female).

A 2021 survey conducted by Grok Academy found 77 percent of students believe the Cyber Security Challenges gave them an understanding of personal cyber security risks. From an educator perspective, the survey found over 80 percent
of teachers believe that the Cyber Security Challenges gave their students insight into the role cyber security plays in industry, while over 90 percent found the resources helpful in delivering the Digital Technologies curriculum.
The project also sparked interest in cyber security as a profession, with 22 percent of students stating that they would consider a career specifically in this field. Given Australia needs another 156,000 digital technology workers by 2025, this is heartening news for Grok.

THE ROLE OF TEACHERS AND PARENTS

Despite the uptake in interest in cybersecurity curricula – there is still more work to do. Interestingly, according to the Federal Government’s National Online Safety Survey, only one third (31%) of teachers, carers and supervisors have been trained in how to identify or respond to children at risk from using the internet. This is concerning, highlights the Grok team, since teachers have a critical role to play in formal and informal cyber education, while parents should guide and model cyber safety behaviour at home.

The Cyber AU Privacy resources, created by Grok Academy, therefore include lesson resources that make it easy for teachers to understand and deliver Version 9 of the AC:DT curriculum confidently. These include teacher lesson plans, student booklets, and parent handouts. The additional materials ensure that teachers can share what and why the students are learning, and parents are armed with basic information to reinforce the lessons and behaviours their children are embracing at school. Grok Academy believes that the Cyber AU Privacy resources will be an important foundation for students developing the skills and understanding to stay safe online and keeping their personal data private.

For more information or to have a Digital Detective pack delivered to your school, visit: grok.ac/primary-privacy

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