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Changing the Course of Technology Practice through Curriculum

Jennifer A. Kurtz, MBA

"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." —Mahatma Gandhi

I am convinced that those who pursue information assurance (IA) studies share a deep commitment to changing the way technology is practiced. Have you ever wondered whom to thank for the changes to IA course curriculum at Regis? It's a team. You may be a member of the course creation team, even if you've never received the playbook!

Course development at Regis University—at least in CC&IS—is a collaborative effort that requires input from a variety of contributors: students, faculty (regular and adjunct), instructional design, web programmers, and external reviewers. The latter stakeholder group includes the following organizations that set standards for education to which Regis University IA programs comply:

  • National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST)I, an agency of the US Department of Commerce and developer of authoritative guidelines for implementing and securing technology, in addition to the training framework that supports the National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE)II
  • Sponsors of the Federal program designating Regis University as a Center for Academic Excellence in Information Assurance Education (CAE/IAE)III, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Security Agency (NSA)
  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)IV, the nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) and grants accreditation to deserving programs in applied technology learning worldwide.

Although students might not feel as though they are part of the process, their input guides the choices we make or feel allowed to make. (Yes, faculty members are constrained in how they develop courses!) Fellow faculty member Bob Bowles and I have been especially determined to incorporate feedback about workload, textbook expenses, and professional certification preparation in our planning for MSIA 670 and 672, for example.

Because of a recent change to the IA program, MSIA 670 is no longer mandatory, but still offers an essential orientation to students who have not worked in technology fields extensively. We are also modifying courses so that they mirror one another in terms of topic flow and required texts. The revised MSIA 672 represents a deeper dive into the IA concepts and practices introduced in MSIA 670, and will be augmented by one additional text that is modestly priced. We have also revised the ratio of research paper to lab assignments, and balanced the workload more evenly across the eight-week session. These changes address complaints about information overload in the first two weeks and assignment overload in the last two weeks. Frankly, faculty members will welcome these changes as well!

Just rewriting course curriculum typically spans a period of one to two months for faculty. During that time the revised content is reviewed at least three times by the assigned adjunct faculty developers, the Regis IA program lead, and the Regis instructional designer (ID) project manager. In the next step, spanning about one month, the approved content goes to the ID web developer for coding and is reviewed by an external IA expert. The final review and launch requires about two additional weeks. Although individual faculty can tweak the final course curriculum in their delivery, the intent is to ensure consistent quality of learning independent of who facilitates the course and how the course is developed (in-person, online, hybrid).

As in the real world of building more secure technologies and practices, building more effective security instruction requires collaboration, situational awareness, responsiveness, and multiple iterations. It's a team process!

Learn more about the online courses in the MS in information assurance degree at Regis. Call 877-820-0581 or request more information today!

I For NIST information, see <http://www.nist.gov/>.
II For NICE information, see <http://csrc.nist.gov/nice/>.
III For CAE/IAE information, see <https://www.nsa.gov/ia/academic_outreach/nat_cae/institutions.shtml>.
IV For ABET information, see <http://www.abet.org/>.