To address the growing threat of cyber-attacks across the UK, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) has worked with the Department for Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) to grant Edge Hill University more than £39,000 to improve cyber security teaching and learning.
Recent global studies indicate that while various universities offer courses related to cyber security, there remains a serious shortage of cyber security professionals to meet the demand of this rapidly growing sector.
Edge Hill University Senior Lecturer in Computing, Dr Chitra Balakrishna welcomed the grant, saying that alternative learning methods such as gamification will be explored in order to advance the skillset of practitioners.
“While universities across UK have been offering a variety of courses related cyber security for a few years now, the fresh graduates often lack the readiness to apply their skills in real-world scenarios, thereby making them less employable.
“The reason for this could be that the current education system is not equipped to accommodate the changing needs of this new generation of learners. Unconventional methods such as problem-based learning and gamification are being explored to enhance engagement and learning experience.
“The project CyberGaTE is an acronym for ‘ A Gamified Virtual Training Environment for Cyber Security’. It aims to address the cyber security skills gap between theory and practice through innovative teaching methods,” Dr Balakrishna said.
Gamification is the application of elements of gaming design and game mechanics in a non-game context. Game players regularly exhibit risk-taking, strategising and problem solving, behaviours that are ideally required in a cyber-security professional.
Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive of the HEA, said: “The Higher Education Academy is pleased to be able to offer support to these higher education providers to develop innovative projects that will improve cyber security teaching and learning. If the UK is to be equipped to respond to the increasing threat of cyber-attacks, we must ensure that the next generation of cyber security specialists receive the best teaching and learning to furnish them with the skills needed.”
The 16 month long project will engage employers, higher education institutions, and students within UK to build and assess CyberGaTE’s effectiveness and dissemination of good practice.
The work is funded from the Government’s five-year, £860m National Cyber Security Programme to protect and promote the UK in cyber space.