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SAFE-Net Workshop Reaches Across Pennsylvania

SAFE-Net, a program of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, funded by the National Science Foundation, has reached across Pennsylvania to raise awareness about safe practices in use of the Internet.

PITTSBURGH, PA., February 15, 2010 - SAFE-Net, a cyber-security awareness program of the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC), recently connected a Carnegie Mellon University cyber-security expert with 75 educators at six school districts in eastern Pennsylvania via videoconferencing. Titled "The Educator's Role in Safe Computing," the three-hour interactive collaboration between PSC and the University of Pennsylvania's MAGPI Internet2 regional connector, highlighted how K-12 educators can raise awareness about cyber security and safety in the schools.

"Cyber security involves more than small barriers, such as anti-virus software and knowing to delete spam," said Wiam Younes, training and awareness coordinator with CMU's Information Security Office, who presented the cross-state videoconference from PSC. "It requires a wall of defenses. Cyber-security education must be thorough to help students and teachers keep themselves safe from the wide range of threats and dangers online."

"The K-12 community, understandably, is particularly sensitive to security threats and this session was very helpful in fostering safe Internet practices," said Greg Palmer, executive director of MAGPI, which is part of the central Information Systems and Computing division at Penn. "With a growing emphasis on incorporating Web sites and virtual tours into the curriculum, it's important to have sessions like this, and videoconferencing allows the widest possible distribution without tapping into already strained budgets. We're looking forward to collaborating with PSC and 3ROX to offer additional program sessions, the next being on February 26."

Wendy Huntoon, PSC director of networking, helped to arrange the collaboration with MAGPI, an eastern Pennsylvania counterpart to 3ROX (Three Rivers Optical Exchange), a high-performance network hub for education and research in southwest-central Pennsylvania and West Virginia. "This PSC and 3ROX collaboration with MAGPI," said Huntoon, "leveraged their expertise in K-12 education with videoconferencing to deliver services in K-12 school districts. With SAFE-Net as a pilot program, we demonstrated that we can use video as a content delivery method, as MAGPI has done for years, as an effective way to reach educators within the school environment, with the convenience and economy of not having to gather at a central location."

These six Pennsylvania school districts participated in the Jan. 28 SAFE-Net video workshop:

  • Carbon Lehigh Intermediate Unit, Schencksville
  • Bucks County Intermediate Unit, Newtown
  • Colonial Middle School, Plymouth-Whitemarsh
  • Cornwall-Lebanon School District, Lebanon
  • Montgomery County Intermediate Unit, Norristown
  • The School District of Philadelphia Education Center

Educators who participated could receive continuing education credits issued by CMU.

Through SAFE-Net, PSC presents workshops that train educators and provide materials for classroom learning, developed in collaboration with the CERT (Computer Emergency Response Team) Program at CMU's Software Engineering Institute. These materials address cyber threats, measures of protection, and questions of cyber ethics that arise as a result of social networking and other wide uses of the Internet.

The SAFE-Net Web site, http://csa.3rox.net, provides free information, including classroom and parent materials about cyber-security issues, with lessons geared to grade levels 1-3, 4-6, and 7-12.

SAFE-Net is funded by an NSF grant for Cyber Safety Awareness.

Additional information about the Safe-Net training offered via videoconference is available at http://www.magpi.net/Community/Programs/Educator%E2%80%99s-Role-Safe-Computing.

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