At age 77, McConnell is now working to fight false data aimed toward younger individuals.
“We have to perceive this so we are able to recognize what’s taking place to us, and be capable to not solely perceive it, to have the ability to navigate by it,” McConnell stated. “That is what I name digital literacy.”
McConnell is government director of Cyber Florida, which relies on the College of South Florida in Tampa. The group works with children all through the state at universities, excessive colleges, and even these in youthful grades.
Increasing this system
Cyber Florida helped arrange the cybersecurity program now being taught at many Florida colleges. The brand new challenge, Cyber Citizenship, is much more bold.
“We predict if we are able to do that for Florida, we are able to replicate it throughout the nation,” he stated.
Separating reality from fiction on-line is a serious problem for the nation as an entire, as evidenced by the swirling claims surrounding final yr’s presidential election and the continuing pandemic.
But colleges nationwide are nonetheless making an attempt to determine methods to educate digital abilities to a youthful technology that more and more lives, research and performs on-line.
At Countryside Excessive Faculty, pc trainer Jason Felt stresses that he steers away from politics, however does have casual discussions on how disinformation is weaponized.
“One of many issues I’ve talked to my college students about are nation-state actors, and the way nation-state actors attempt to assault the USA, create web sites, net servers, and that individuals will go the data round,” he stated.
The U.S. intelligence group discovered that in each the 2020 and 2016 elections, Russia employed a spread of on-line strategies in an try to assist former President Donald Trump, and undermine his Democratic rivals, Hillary Clinton and President Biden.
Felt stated he principally teaches children who have already got good pc abilities, and a few are getting ready for a profession within the tech trade.
Instructing all grades
The expanded program now within the works goals to make digital literacy one thing all Florida college students get, at a number of grade ranges, earlier than they end highschool.
One other key accomplice on this challenge is New America. The Washington assume tank is curating dozens of essentially the most promising on-line instruments and constructing a website designed to be user-friendly for lecturers, mother and father and faculty programs nationwide.
“What we wish to do with this challenge is create a one stop-shop, a searchable database,” stated Lisa Guernsey, head of the Instructing, Studying, & Tech program at New America. “We’re designing it for Florida educators first. However from the start, we’ll additionally ensure it is open to all educators throughout the nation.”
New America plans to have this portal up on its web site by summer time. Academics and faculty districts may seek for the fabric that most accurately fits their wants, Guernsey stated.
“Typically a trainer may wish to assist college students perceive what deep fakes are,” she stated. “In different instances, a trainer might wish to spend a number of weeks speaking about what it means to confirm sources.”
There isn’t any date but for the cyber disinformation lessons in Florida, however trainer Jason Felt says it may possibly’t come quickly sufficient.
“The Web is an excellent software. It is linked us in a approach that is by no means actually been seen earlier than. However it’s a blessing and it is also a curse.”
Instructing college students the distinction, he says, is a big problem.
The companions for the Cyber Citizenship challenge are within the means of compiling a full database of on-line assets. Thus far, they are saying, they’ll possible embrace assets akin to Checkology, Learn to Discern, Breaking Harmony Square, and COR: Civic Online Reasoning.
Observe Greg Myre @gregmyre1.