Cyber Security Curriculum from ISU


Iowa State University has created the nation’s first cyber security curriculum for the K-12 classroom.  We hear a lot about literacy and digital literacy.  What about security literacy?  The Security Literacy Project is dedicated to providing educators the materials needed to teach security-literacy to grades K – 16. The prime goal of practical computer security literacy is to provide students with the information and processes to secure their digital devices and information. The topics and objectives of the teaching modules are designed specifically to meet this goal.

The primary method for educating students and the general public about cyber security has been through limited awareness campaigns and the construction of top-ten security lists.  

Formal computer security education is the key to combating the threats intrinsic to the Information Age.  Each day, people are inundated with alerts and pop-ups informing them about patch updates, antivirus signatures, firewall exceptions, suspicious emails, and malware threats but lack the proper education or vocabulary to make value-based decisions regarding the benefits and consequences of taking specific action on these items.  This course in practical computer security provides the context and knowledge for students to apply computer security best practices when faced with a novel situation and the ability to be proactive, not reactive, in the face of new threats. It is argued that computer security literacy is not only the next logical step in computer security defense; it is the most important step that, we, as individuals can take.  Through this website and project ISU encourages and promotes security literacy.

Two types of materials are available to support various classroom settings and curricular objectives.  

  • The first set of materials are called Cyber-Toons and are short (1-2 minutes) videos designed to be played in a class to simulate discussion around a topic.  The Cyber-Toons can be included into any class and are more targeted at middle schools.  An instructors guide, discussion questions, and short assessments are provided with each of the Cyber-Toons.
  • The second set of materials are longer modules (5 to 10 minutes) that are also in video format.  These are designed to be used in class or in a “flipped” course (where students watch the videos before class).  Like the Cyber-Toons instructors can pick modules based on topic to be included in any existing course.   A curriculum for a school that wants to teach an entire course on security literacy is also provided.  The modules are designed for upper middle school and high school.  

Access the course at

Awesome Tables are… Awesome!

Awesome Tables is a web application that allows you to turn Google spreadsheet data into easy to filter tables, maps, cards, and more. The Awesome Table documentation will help you create your first table step by step. You might want to look at the example templates on their site first to get an idea of what this application can do!

Once you’ve created your Awesome Table, you can either let people view it on the Awesome Table site or embed it into your Google Site with Insert>Gadget – then search the public gadgets for Awesome Table.

Here is an example table view made by copying the spreadsheet of all the Google Expeditions available to teachers and students.

Here is an example of the Geocode template which creates a Google Map from Spreadsheet Data – this one is on some Famous Iowans.

Here is an example of the Cards template – the Google sheet pulled in all the tweets with our #ghaea hashtag, then Awesome Tables makes it not only sortable and clickable but easy on the eyes!

Make YouTube Work for You!

YouTube Extensions can help you enjoy and have more control over how you use YouTube in your classroom or at home. Here are some I learned about from Daniel Sharpe @get_sharpe at ISTE in Denver this summer (plus a couple others that I use.) (Thanks, Daniel!)

Google Cast for Education

“Teach and learn from everywhere!”  – “Make every student a presenter.”

New from Google this summer, Google Cast for Education gives students the ability to share their Chrome screen and sound wirelessly through the teacher’s computer connected to the projector and speakers. The teacher then can accept or deny their request to project. The beauty of this is that when students are doing presentations or showing a video they created or even if they just want to share a photo or some resecastarch they found with the class, it’s as simple as clicking the extension! No more moving from their seats, unplugging the teacher device and speakers, and plugging in to the student’s device.

To get started, teachers need to install the Google Cast for Education app
and set it up – name it. Students need the Google Cast extension in their Chrome browser. Chrome management admins can install the new Cast for Education app for all teachers, and the Google Cast extension for their entire domain. Important… make sure Chrome is updated to the newest version for this to work!

Oldies but Goodies


tablet pc and colorful real books. 3D illustration. Vintage styl

I came across a list of 50 Web 2.0 Tools for Educators.  Many were ones I had not used for awhile.  It occurred to me that all of you may have forgotten about these too.  Here is a link to the Simple K-12 List published in October, 2015.   

Several on the list would be useful in teaching reading and writing.  

Blabbarize makes pictures talk.  It is a free resource.  It does require a login.  Students could write their own stories and then record themselves reading the story.  Once published the picture will tell the story.  

Vocaroo is another audio tool.  It doesn’t require a login.  Students would push the record button and record what they wanted to say.  When finished the site generates a URL of the recording making it easy to share with others.  This would be a great tool to have students review their fluency and for teachers to archive student improvement in fluency.  

Story Jumper  “StoryJumper is a site that gives teachers, students, parents, and authors a fun set of intuitive tools for writing and illustrating stories. Our goal is to inspire anyone that’s ever wanted to write an illustrated story to get started!”
Storybird  “Storybird lets anyone make visual stories in seconds. We curate artwork from illustrators and animators around the world and inspire writers of any age to turn those images into fresh stories.”

Zaption Is Closing

For a couple years, I’ve been promoting Zaption to make interactive videos for flipped or blended classroom learning. However, as of this summer, Zaption is moving on to bigger and better endeavors. (If it’s technology, it’s going to change.) So… for those of you Zaption fans, you can still use all the videos you’ve made interactive simply by exporting them to EdPuzzle. Start by going to and follow the directions in the video below.

Where should a young Social Scientist look?

Do you wonder where to get high quality information and data about all of the countries of the world?  Would you like to skip combing through a plethora of useless resources on Google to find a few nuggets of information about different countries?  The Iowa AEA Online Databases offer the solution.Where should a young Social Scientist look-  (1)

CultureGrams from ProQuest goes beyond basic facts and figures with local perspectives on more than 200 countries, detailing daily life and culture, including history, customs, and lifestyles. From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, each concise, reliable, and up-to-date report is written and reviewed by local experts, providing users with unique, intimate cultural details from a real insider’s perspective.

Britannica Online offers several databases for the young social scientist.  The first is the Britannica Encyclopedia school edition with over 120,000 articles revised and updated on a continuous bases.  These articles are offered for elementary, middle and high school students.  Each has the text to speech component.  Multimedia and additional resources are included. Encyclopædia Britannica World Data Analyst combines detailed statistics with powerful tools for analysis and display, this resource features a unique collectioWhere should a young Social Scientist look-n of in-depth information about the countries of the world and allows you to create interesting and informative comparative charts and tables. The last is SIRS, Social Issues Researcher for grades 9-12.  This provides information on current topics in countries of the world from newspapers, magazines, reference books and select websites.  Young Social Scientists will find much in not all what they need in these resources.  

Image Quest


Are you looking for some high quality images?  Don’t want to rely on Google Images?  Did you know that Image Quest is part of the Britannica Online product provided as one of the Iowa AEA Online Databases.  Here is a direct link.  You will need to log in with your AEA Database Username and Password.  Ask your teacher librarian for these or call the Green Hills Media Center for access.  844-366-0503.
You can access it through the Britannica Portal too.  Click on the Your Britannica Resources in the upper right.   Choose Image Quest on the top of the drop down.  

How to diagnose the truth??

“We live in an age of information overload, including abundant misinformation, unsubstantiated rumors, and conspiracy theories whose volume threatens to overwhelm journalists and the public.” Giovanni Luca Ciampaglia, Study: “Computational Fact Checking From Knowledge Networks,”

Someone said to me recently that it was easier to be a student before the Internet because most of the information came from print resources which were written by experts in the field and vetted by editors. Therefore the accuracy of the information was not suspect. In this context I do have to agree with my friend. So how can turn students into discerning consumers of information who can vette information without the aid of an editor?

I do wonder about truth. Information and resources are increasing exponentially. Now all of us are potential authors with a world audience. It is part of the soul of every librarian that all have access to information and be able to discern what is valid and what is not. As a librarian and now instructional technology consultant I understand the importance of information literacy. How do we vette information now?

There are ways to get at the truth in the online world however it takes time, knowledge and diligence. Caitlin Dewey, a columnist for the Washington Post, was writing a weekly column entitled; “What was Fake on the Internet” has given up. She posted her last one December 18, 2015. She states that she just can’t keep up with the numbers. So what is an average person to do? Quit reading the Internet? Unlikely.

Here are a few tips.

One of the best ways is to use the advanced search in Google. Click on the gear once you have put in your search topic. You will then have the options to narrow your search by last update, site or domain, exact phrase, and language to name a few. So for instance. I could search for all of the articles about Pope Francis as an exact phrase, then add in the past year with the site .gov. The results are only from U.S. government sites within the last year about Pope Francis.

What’s the first thing you should do if you see a fishy headline? Google the exact headline. You should immediately see links debunking it if it’s fake.

There are some Fact Checking sites available. Of course if I really wanted to be suspicious I would ask who checks these sites. Snopes The website was founded by David Mikkelson, who lives and works in the Los Angeles area. What he began in 1995 as an expression of his interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources. Both, and check the campaign trail. What about Wikipedia? Here is a link to an article “Using Wikipedia to Automatically Fact-Check the Internet”

Check the source. Does the About page give any clues as to the sponsors or purpose of the page?

What about the author? Did you know that Twitter and Facebook puts a Blue Check Mark next to their account name if they have verified their occupation?

So why does it matter that much of the information we view and perhaps believe is inaccurate? What decisions do we make based on the information we believe? Political thinkers have long claimed with Jefferson that, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” The idea is obvious: If citizens are going to make even indirect decisions about policy, we need to know the facts about the problem the policy is meant to rectify, and to be able to gain some understanding about how effective that policy would be. In the larger sense, if we are going to decide who runs the country — and we are, if you think the electoral college allows for that — we need to know the facts about the candidates’ records.