Cybersecurity students develop teaching aids for Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Students enrolled in a cybersecurity class at Old Dominion University recently completed a service-learning project to develop teaching aids that can be used to instruct middle- and high-school students in Virginia Beach about cybersecurity.

The project received funding from the National Science Foundation.

The service-learning project was a part of an undergraduate class, Cybercrime and Cybersecurity, taught by Brian K. Payne, vice provost for academic affairs at Old Dominion. Payne worked closely with Emily Eddins, ODU’s assistant director for service learning.

Representatives from Virginia Beach City Public Schools consulted with the students throughout the project. Chief contacts from the school system were Sara Lockett, director of the Office of Technical and Career Education, and Theresa Dougherty, coordinator for business and information technology.

Students developed a range of teaching aids including a “spear-phishing” game, promotional posters, brochures, and presentations on topics related to cybercrime.

On June 21, the students presented their projects to Virginia Beach officials and guests at Old Dominion University.

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As part of the presentation, Payne reminded the group, “Cybercrime is such a large issue that it will take all of us working together to address it. One way we can help is to serve our local community.”

Focusing on the value of service learning, Eddins said, “Projects such as this one are a win-win. Students win because they learn about a topic and they learn about the community. The community wins because they receive something from the efforts of the students.”

Casey Cusmina, a cybersecurity student from the class, recognizes the mutual benefit to both groups.

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“As university students we should strive to try and make the local community better, not only for the good of the community but to also help build skills and connections for our future,” Cusmina said.

Cusmina created four posters to educate students and teachers about password safety, phishing, shoulder surfing, and public WiFi.

The ODU students pitched their projects to the Virginia Beach officials and three guests, who served as judges to identify the top three projects.

The “top” project was a “spear-phishing” presentation/game developed by computer science major Sangeet Mokha. Her project, along with the others created by the students, were given to the Virginia Beach school system.

“We look forward to sharing these materials with our colleagues in Virginia Beach,” Dougherty said. “I think they will find them very helpful.”

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John Mangalonzo ( is the managing editor of Local Voice Media’s Virginia papers – WYDaily (Williamsburg), Southside Daily (Virginia Beach) and HNNDaily (Hampton-Newport News). Before coming to Local Voice, John was the senior content editor of The Bellingham Herald, a McClatchy newspaper in Washington state. Previously, he served as city editor/content strategist for USA Today Network newsrooms in St. George and Cedar City, Utah. John started his professional journalism career shortly after graduating from Lyceum of The Philippines University in 1990. As a rookie reporter for a national newspaper in Manila that year, John was assigned to cover four of the most dangerous cities in Metro Manila. Later that year, John was transferred to cover the Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines. He spent the latter part of 1990 to early 1992 embedded with troopers in the southern Philippines as they fought with communist rebels and Muslim extremists. His U.S. journalism career includes reporting and editing stints for newspapers and other media outlets in New York City, California, Texas, Iowa, Utah, Colorado and Washington state.