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UCD cybersecurity pilot course for Junior Cycle is rolled out to more Irish schools

Posted 24 October, 2022

A UCD pilot programme introducing cybersecurity to post-primary students is to be trialled further across Ireland following a recommendation to the Government.

The course, developed by the UCD School of Education, aims to help Junior Cycle students understand its key aspects and challenges, as well as evaluate the field as a possible career opportunity later in life.

The programme launched in 2021 to a number of schools in Kildare, Carlow, Cork, Galway, Louth and Offaly takes a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, and includes aspects of computer science, psychology, law, ethics, communications and crisis management.

“The School of Education is delighted to be involved in this important initiative drawing on the expertise of teachers, government departments and industry partners to make our contribution to a safer cyber world,” said (opens in a new window)Dr Rachel Farrell, Head of the Project Implementation Team.

The course was a recommendation of Ireland’s National Cyber Security Strategy, with the aim of introducing a cybersecurity education in secondary schools.

The pilot programme is now being extended by a further two years to refine the course materials, obtain feedback from a larger pool of participating schools and explore how it can be sustained going forward.

This extension follows an interim report received by Ossian Smyth TD, Minister of State at the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications (DECC).

“"This short course is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn about cyber security, particularly how to better protect their data, devices and ultimately themselves from malicious cyber activities,” he said.

“The short course also facilities early pathways towards STEM-based career options, helping us to address the cyber security skills gap as we evolve towards a digital economy and society."

The UCD team behind the course arranged webinars and learning supports to teachers, created a website (opens in a new window)www.cyberwise.ie to share web-based resources, and organised a shared learning day event last May with schools, teachers and pupils.

It was developed in collaboration with the National Centre for Cyber Security (NCSC), the Computers in Education Society of Ireland (CESI), the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) and Cyber Ireland, with (opens in a new window)Professor Joe Carthy, from the UCD School of Computer Science, chairing the Work Group. Funding was provided by the DECC.

By: David Kearns, Digital Journalist / Media Officer, UCD University Relations