Digital life skills course involves risk awareness
By Simone Knapp
Exploring the myths surrounding Information Technology (IT) security and learning about computer attack and defence are the focus of a new online U of S course designed to teach digital life skills.
Called IT Security Awareness, the course is available to members of the U of S community to help them become aware of the risks they face both at work and at home. “We are a society of knowledge workers. This course is about the safe use of our tools,” said Terry Roebuck, a local and national expert in IT security and an instructor in the Department of Computer Science.
“Many people don’t understand the risks,” he said. “The classic thought of a computer hacker is an individual who attacks a corporation. Today, there are companies of hackers who attack individuals,” and this course will teach the digital life skills people need for the computing environment of today and in the future.
Roebuck developed the course content with the help of a Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) grant and assistance from the Department of Campus Public Safety and Security, while Jim Greer and Gina Koehn, also from the Department of Computer Science, developed the delivery method and e-learning component using the department’s ihelp system.
IT Security Awareness focuses on the theory, rather than on the how-to aspects of IT security, he said. The theory will provide participants with a foundation of knowledge they can use to protect themselves and it is applicable to everyone. This class takes a non-technical and platform independent perspective, said Roebuck, and follow up application-orientated courses for specific computing platforms are available through ITS.
Sheila Flory from ITS Training Services has been working on making the course available to the campus community using the Training Services registration system. In a 2005 training needs survey, over 1,400 respondents indicated that IT Security was their number one priority for IT-related training, she said. “It is obviously an issue of concern for people on campus.”
During the course Roebuck, the course facilitator, will monitor the system which has both a real-time chat function and a message board. Participants can go through the course material at their own pace, but the facilitator provides participants with the opportunity to have a more interactive experience than a traditional online course provides. To help foster the interactive environment of the course, the class size is limited and registration is required.
For information about future course offerings, check the IT Systems section of the ITS Training Services website at http://focus.usask.ca/courses/.
Simone Knapp is Communications Officer in ITS