Coding, cyber security learning popular among Lakota students

More Lakota school middle school students are taking advantage of elective computer coding and cyber security classes and for good reasons said their teachers.

Lakota’s Intro to Coding and Cyber Security Classes at the school system’s junior schools offer both personal-paced learning and an opportunity to expand on learning skill sets the teens can also apply in other classes, according to Lakota officials.

And the classes spark in some students an interest in moving on later to join Lakota’s nationally acclaimed Cyber Academy program offered at both district’s high schools.

“The Intro to Coding and Cyber Security course allows students to learn about computer science and cyber security at a young age,” said Ridge Junior School teacher Nathan Jeffers.

“These are very important fields of work in today’s world and this class lets students see if this is something that is interesting to them,” said Jeffers.

The 17,700-student, which is the largest in Butler County and 8th biggest in Ohio, was one of the first in the region to offer free learning laptops to its students and is one of only two public school systems in Greater Cincinnati to have Cyber Academy programs at the high school level.

In December, Lakota officials learned Lakota East and Lakota West high schools’ programs were ranked fourth and 12th respectively out of more than 400 high school cyber programs across America by the National Cyber League (NCL) in its fall 2023 power rankings

According to cyber learning industry experts, only about half of Ohio’s public schools offer such learning while the employment opportunities in cyber security fields remains high with more than 572,000 unfilled cybersecurity jobs.

The district’s courses are elective offerings for grades 8-12 and more than 500 junior high students participated in the digital learning classes last school year, said Betsy Fuller, spokeswoman for Lakota.

“Some students take both cyber and coding, depending on their interests,” said Fuller. “And we offer three high school coding courses with two of them being advanced placement courses. Students can also take cybersecurity courses at the high school. Next year we will have four courses.’

Topics covered include: Computer Science, which uses game-like software; Game Development involving creating a level in the software and having peers play it; Web Development - creating a webpage on a topic of their choosing and Cyber Security using problem-solving cyber security situations.

“One of the biggest highlights is that students can work at their own pace,” said Plains Junior School teacher Tom Thompson. “Most students learn more than a semester of Computer Science. We purchased a year-long license for the software, and students usually work well past the minimum required.”

Thompson added: “In almost any field, coding skills can boost a career. Knowledge of coding can take a career to the next level.”

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