ECPI University Dean of Computer & Information Science Dr. Keith Morneau recently presented at the COVA CCI National Cybersecurity Education & Research Conference on September 20, focusing on experiential learning’s vital role in cybersecurity education. The conference aimed to bridge the academic and industry cybersecurity gap through a focus on experiential learning research and practice.
Dr. Morneau’s presentation concluded with an interactive session, encouraging questions and discussions from the audience. This dynamic exchange allowed for a deeper exploration of experiential learning's potential in cybersecurity education and shed light on ECPI's ongoing efforts to mitigate the cybersecurity skills gap.
“In a digital age fraught with evolving cyber threats, ECPI's commitment to experiential learning serves as a beacon of hope, paving the way for a skilled and resilient cybersecurity workforce poised to safeguard our digital future,” said Dr. Morneau.
Here’s a Q&A with Dr. Morneau about the presentation.
Tell us about the Cybersecurity Skills Gap.
Dr. Morneau: “The persistent cybersecurity skills gap has long been a major concern in the tech industry. According to CyberSeek, there are 663,434 job openings in Cybersecurity. There exists a significant disparity between the demand for cybersecurity professionals and the available talent pool. This gap has urged academic institutions and organizations to seek innovative solutions to bridge this divide.”
How is Experiential Learning a New Learning Paradigm?
Dr. Morneau: “Experiential learning is a progressive educational methodology. Departing from traditional classroom-based learning, experiential learning engages students in hands-on experiences, apprenticeships, and cybersecurity competitions enabling a more interactive and practical understanding of the subject matter.”
Share how ECPI Fosters a Community of Practice.
Dr. Morneau: “ECPI highlights the integration of experiential learning within a community of practice, promoting collaboration and knowledge sharing among cybersecurity professionals. By facilitating an environment conducive to learning from experiences and industry experts, ECPI endeavors to cultivate a robust ecosystem for immersive learning and professional growth. Becoming a member of the cybersecurity community requires building one’s professional identity in real-world activities of the community.”
What is the Applied Learning in Cybersecurity?
Dr. Morneau: “The application of experiential learning within the cybersecurity domain is important. By simulating real-world cyber threats and scenarios, students are exposed to practical challenges, helping them develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and a deeper understanding of cybersecurity concepts. Figure 1 (right) shows the progression of cybersecurity activities from the practice fields of lecture, lab, and canned projects to the real fields of competitions and internships/ apprenticeships/ externships.
Think of football. Football teams have practices where they learn the skills and techniques of their positions and games where they apply those skills and techniques in real situations. The games are where football players cultivate their professional identities. Just like in a cybersecurity program, the practices are the lectures, labs, and projects they work on, and the real fields are the competitions and internships/apprenticeships/externships where students develop their professional identity.”
How Can We Empower the Future Cybersecurity Workforce?
Dr. Morneau: “By underscoring the pivotal role of experiential learning in cybersecurity education, this approach equips students with not only theoretical knowledge but also the practical acumen necessary to excel in the cybersecurity landscape. It empowers students to enter the workforce with a solid foundation and hands-on experience.”
How is ECPI Commitment to Experiential Learning?
Dr. Morneau: “ECPI has an unwavering dedication to integrating experiential learning into their cybersecurity programs. The institution is committed to immersing students in practical experiences and hands-on activities, ensuring they are proficient in both theory and application.”
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