FLIPPED CLASSROOM AND EDUCATIONAL VIDEOS TO IMPROVE THE CYBERSECURITY COMPETENCIES IN FUTURE COMPUTER ENGINEERS

B. Bordel , R. Alcarria , T. Robles, D. Martin

Universidad Politécnica de Madrid (SPAIN)
The incredible evolution of computer engineering technologies in the last years is a major challenge for professors in areas such as robotics, artificial intelligence, or cybersecurity. Specifically, cybersecurity students must acquire generic but very technical competencies, through the use of particular commercial technologies. These technologies may be consolidated (so sometime are old-fashioned) but present a very fast learning curve; or may be innovative solutions, but with deep abstract symbols, and sparse available teaching materials. On the other hand, current Bologna degrees are mainly horizontal, and evolve from the most basic subjects to business-oriented applications. This approach, nevertheless, is not completely compatible with cybersecurity contents, as most work methodologies and technological mechanisms follow a vertical view in this context, according to the full stack engineering that are becoming so popular in the last years.

Three additional facts make this situation more challenging. First, students tend to be very heterogeneous, with very different academic levels. That makes very difficult to introduce some innovative technologies. Secondly, some learning materials for cybersecurity are very expensive, and tend to be sparse in Universities. Students might have temporary access to some commercial tools, but not for a long period; what makes difficult to work competencies in the top levels of Bloom’s taxonomy. Finally, students show great frustration levels, as they are aware about the problems and deficiencies in their learning; what prevents them to get highly valued (and high quality and well-paid) jobs.

As a potential solution, we think that a flipped classroom methodology, together with educational videos which can be freely accessed by students and where contents are explained as brief pills according to a vertical approach may attenuate this challenging situation.

Therefore, during the second term of the year 2019/20 in the Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, a pilot experience has been conducted. In this experience, the main objective is to maximize the practical content of subjects, so students may acquire top Bloom’s taxonomy competencies in the competitive area of cybersecurity. Thus, students may use the available commercial tools as much time as possible. In order to support the students’ practical activities, educational videos explaining all needed theoretical contents will be recorded and published in Youtube and Moodle. Students could view these videos while employing the commercial tools and developing their roject; as well as at home, in order to consolidate the acquired knowledge or to prepare the future in-person sessions.

During this experience, different subjects where considered. Some of them work the fundamentals of cybersecurity, such as “Security in Systems and Networks”, while others are focused on application such as “Geomatics”. Students were evaluated through a global project, a presentation, and a technical discussion. The final purpose is students to be able to justify and reason the proposed technical design and their decisions. In order to make statistical valid comparisons, the results were compared to previous courses as control group. Results showed that students’ satisfaction highly increased and their academic results also went up in a very relevant manner. On the other hand, technical competencies were acquired in a deeper way than in traditional methodologies.