Decoding Teacher Perceptions of the Usability and Feasibility of a Technology Enhanced Cryptography Curriculum

Antonenko, P., Xu, Z., Koh, D. H., Dawson, K., Wusylko, C., Benedict, A., & Bhunia, S. (2021). Decoding teacher perceptions of the usability and feasibility of a technology-enhanced cryptography curriculum. Paper presented at the 2021 Conference of the American Educational Research Association.

This study reports empirical data on educator perceptions of the usability and feasibility of a cryptography focused curriculum that uses tablet games and activities and is framed using a comic book narrative. The curriculum and apps are being designed for implementation in informal K-12 settings such as afterschool programs and so the data was provided by informal educators who will be implementing it. Educator feedback focused on the ease of use and appropriateness of vocabulary, comic book story and characters, app navigation, perceptions of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral engagement, and design of the teacher implementation guide. This research provides implications for the design, implementation, and evaluation of technology enhanced curricula for elementary age children and educators in informal learning settings.

Cultivating Elementary Students’ Interest in Cryptography and Cybersecurity

Xu, Z., Koh, R., Antonenko, P., Dawson, K., Bhunia, S., Benedict, A. (2019). Cultivating elementary students’ interest in cryptography and cybersecurity. Presented at the 2019 Conference of the UF Nelms Institute for Connected Worlds, Gainesville, FL.

This poster provides an overview of the CryptoComics project. Specifically it addresses the following aspects:
• Cryptography is the foundation of cybersecurity (Paar & Penzl, 2010).
• Skills underlying the basic encrypting and decrypting practices in classic cryptography requires a fundamental understanding, awareness, and sensitivity in making sense of language, while more recently, mathematical algorithms (Swenson, 2008).
• Encrypting and decrypting practices in classic cryptography parallel the skills children must develop to gain morphological awareness and become successful readers, writers, and symbolic analysts.
• Morphological awareness is the recognition, understanding, and use of word parts, or morphemes, that carry significance – a critically important but often overlooked component of K-12 education (Henbest & Apel, 2017).
• Morphological awareness helps students become successful readers, writers, and symbolic analysts (Reich, 1992).
• Connecting cryptography and morphological awareness in K-12 education would serve as a new, exciting, and societally important context for improving morphological skills, awareness and knowledge of cybersecurity, and development of identity in STEM.

Design of a Technology-Enhanced and Culturally Responsive Curriculum to Engage Elementary Children in Cryptography and Cybersecurity

Antonenko, P., Xu, Z., Koh, D., Dawson, K., Bhunia, S., Benedict, A. (2020). Design of a technology-enhanced and culturally responsive curriculum to engage elementary children in cryptography and cybersecurity. Paper presented at the 2020 Conference of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.

This presentation discussed the experiences and strategies of a diverse, interdisciplinary team of researchers and teachers in their quest to design and develop an innovative curriculum for engaging elementary-age children in cryptography and cybersecurity education. The presentation focused on the efforts to ensure cultural responsiveness of the curriculum design and effective use of touch-screen technology. Qualitative data were discussed to show evidence of the usability and feasibility of the approach.