SJSU School of Information and College of Business Collaborate in Cybersecurity Education


Cybersecurity risks and threats are an increasingly common fact of 21st century life, and Dr. Patricia C. Franks, associate professor at the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information and program coordinator of the Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) degree program, is committed to making sure students learn how cybersecurity will impact their lives and careers in the future. Last year, Franks received a Research, Scholarship, and Creative Activity (RSCA) grant from SJSU to collaborate with College of Business faculty in creating cybersecurity learning modules that could be integrated in future courses.

Working with Dr. Leslie Albert, an associate professor of Management Information Systems (MIS), Franks developed the project, which was entitled, “Security through Collective Intelligence: Cybersecurity Key Competencies and Supporting Learning Modules.” Franks and Albert were able to identify the key competencies that will be necessary for both citizens of an increasingly interconnected world, and for employees working in records, information, and other fields impacted by cybersecurity issues.

The essential competencies identified by Franks and Albert are far ranging, especially in the workplace. According to their RSCA grant proposal, “Employees who work with data must be proficient in the use of privacy and security tools, and be knowledgeable regarding standards, laws, and regulations governing the use of that data.”

Comprehension of cybersecurity issues is a key factor of effective management strategies as well. “Managers must understand how to develop and implement an organization’s security and privacy strategies, preventing security risks from impacting shareholder value and trust and determining risks associated with unwarranted release of employee data,” stated Franks.

Franks and Albert conducted a literature review, discussed their findings, and then worked together to develop learning modules that use “vignettes” or case studies and related discussion questions to imaginatively convey how key areas of information management including emerging technologies, intellectual property, and cyber risk management are affected by cybersecurity issues.

By working collaboratively, Franks and Albert were able to draw on their own experience and, at the same time, design flexible and creative educational materials that could potentially be used across the university. “Our efforts to create these learning modules benefited greatly from our collaborative approach,” Franks explained in her final grant report. “We each took the lead on specific modules related to our area of expertise and then provided input and recommendations on each other’s work to ensure that modules could be used for students beyond our individual program areas.”

After the learning modules are piloted in School of Information and College of Business courses, they will be revised and then published by the Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching (MERLOT) so that others may use them. These learning modules are one of the ways SJSU faculty are fulfilling the need identified by the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) for innovative educational programs in the field of cybersecurity.

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