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Edtech Advocacy &
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Engage, Empower, Connect — Explore a Reimagined Middle School Cybersecurity Club

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Listen and learn : Snapshot

Snapshots are a pairing of two 20 minute presentations followed by a 5 minute Q & A.
This is presentation 2 of 2, scroll down to see more details.

Other presentations in this group:

Abbey Ramdeo  

This session will explore the risks youth face online, challenges the common fear-based approaches to teaching digital safety, and explores a new model that offers six to eight weeks of club activities and content for engaging youth in cybersecurity. The model — called Engage, Empower, Connect — focuses on skill development and empowering marginalized youth.

Audience: Teachers, Professional developers, Technology coordinators/facilitators
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Topic: Safety, security & student data privacy
Grade level: 6-8
Subject area: Computer science, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
  • Create experiences for learners to make positive, socially responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community.
  • Model and promote management of personal data and digital identity and protect student data privacy.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The Actua team wants to present and explore a new model for teaching youth about online safety and cyber security using a new framework and project - Engage, Empower, Connect or E2C. Actua’s Cyber Smart Framework was created in early 2021 in collaboration with Cyber Security professionals, law enforcement leaders, educators, and other experts in the field. This Framework guides the approaches of Actua’s E2C Project and informs content development, while providing other educators with an overview of key concepts and learning outcomes for a cyber safety education.

E2C reimagines teaching digital citizenship and cybersecurity by engaging marginalized youth (e.g. young women, trans, femme, non-binary folks; racialized youth, and those facing socioeconmic challenges) through a model mobilizing empowerment, community-building and digital-skills development. We know that there are ongoing challenges that youth, particularly marginalized youth face when navigating and exploring online spaces. This can range from password protection to data security, from online bullying to child exploitation, from screentime concerns to age appropriate online behaviour concerns or predatory risks. This ongoing problem was the catalyst for the development and deployment of our pilot project.

Having youth be afraid of the internet, fearful to use digital platforms is not how to meaningfully teach and support digital citizenship. Telling marginalized youth groups that they are being targeted and that they will be susceptible to predators can further problematic mentalities regarding those particular marginalized groups. Treating youth as though they are unable to protect themselves may even lead to self-reinforced ideas where youth feel disempowered, disengaged, and disconnected from peers, global communities and their personal potential. The need for an approach that does not victimize, infantilize, or render youth incapable was a motivating factor for our E2C project.


E2C is a model that disrupts our typical ways of teaching about online safety through the use of Engagement, Empowerment, and Connection. In our project/framework we define ‘Engage’ as equipping youth with the tools (knowledge) to understand cyber safety as a fundamental element of being a digital citizen and user. ‘Empower’ is defined as supporting youth to practice the skills and transform their knowledge into action where youth are protecting themselves and using cyber security measures independently and safely. For ‘Connect’ we determined this would be the development of a mindset that relies on and created positive communities and healthy relationships both online and offline.

The learning outcomes designed for youth in the E2C project include: (1) Understanding what digital literacy is and demonstrating personal responsibility for consuming technology, (2) Articulating benefits to using and creating with technology, (3) Identifying risks when navigating online environments, and appropriate actions to mitigate risks, (4) Practice cyber safe behaviour through various proactive behaviour (e.g., creating strong passwords, avoiding release of personal information/breaches, etc.), (5) Identifying biased data sources and identify reliable sources of online information, (6) Understanding appropriate interactions with others online, including preventing cyber bullying and avoiding harm, and (7) Promoting safe behaviour online, including protecting personal information, positive social interactions, and appropriate connections with strangers.


Our 20 minute session will dive into the re-imagined cyber safety framework developed by Actua with insight some :

1. Overview of the challenges and risks youth face as Digital Citizens in 2021 (interactive discussion with audience): 5 minutes
2. Actua's Cyber Safety Education Framework (speaker presentation)
3. Exploration of Activities & Play - a taste of the activities designed using the framework (speaker presentation & audience input)
4. Tips & Resources: 5 minutes

Supporting research

To begin the groundwork for our E2C project we conducted research that resulted in the development of several research resources to support our work on this interactive session and overall project. Some of these research resources include;

1. Actua’s Cybersafety Curated Content Library. This library of over 30+ resources includes; scholarly articles, activities, lesson plans, information webpages for parents, students, and teachers, and more. This curated library of resource content was compiled and reviewed by multiple project contributors including some of the panelists featured in the session presented here. In building on this body of research our project draws on the gaps we identified, namely in response to supporting marginalized youth in developing knowledge and skills as related to online safety and cybersecurity.
2. Contributions from key stakeholders such as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ottawa Police Services, Cybersecurity Education professional subject matter experts, Child Psychologists, and leaders with the Boys and Girls Club of Canada. These contributions took the form of dialogues, interviews and a roundtable advisory group.   
3. We also tied several Grade K-12 curriculum resources and rationale into our project and panel development such as; We specifically drew on concepts outlined in the framework guidebook such as; Cybersecurity, Online Safety, Law and Ethics, Cyberbullying, Cyber Innovation, Privacy and Security, Digital Citizenship, Equity in Computer Science, and Identity.

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Abbey Ramdeo, Actua

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