University of South Florida

Muma College of Business

Tampa | St. Petersburg | Sarasota-Manatee


image of students in a computer classroom

Stock image by Pikwizard.

USF receives a state grant to overhaul the digital information technology course for secondary students

TAMPA – A USF Muma College of Business faculty member with expertise in cybersecurity and information systems is spearheading the modernization of an introductory digital information technology course taken by thousands of middle and high school students in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Thanks to a $630,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education’s Cybersecurity/IT Educational Pathways grant program, Associate Professor of Instruction Clinton Daniel will lead “The Modernization of Digital Information Technology-USF” project.

image of clinton daniel

Clinton Daniel

“This modernization of this introductory course is a rare opportunity to hopefully get young people interested in the technology industry by teaching them the basics of information technology, cybersecurity, and the skills needed for today’s business environment. This is an amazing opportunity to work directly with the school teachers to create and test the highest quality of relevant content,” said Daniel, who teaches in the School of Information Systems and Management and is the program director for the Bachelor of Science in Business Analytics and Information Systems degree.

The one-year grant runs through August 2023 and is part of the $15.6 million awarded statewide aimed at expanding cybersecurity and IT training in Florida. The list of funded projects was announced by the state in late June.

The Digital Information Technology course is an introductory class that provides students with a basic overview of business and information systems and includes learning to use databases, the internet, spreadsheets, web page design, cybersecurity, and other relevant topics designed to meet industry standards. It is taken by middle and high schoolers and is often the students’ only opportunity to have a formal education in technology, Daniel said.

Under the $630,000 project, Daniel will:

  • Modernize the digital information technology course curriculum to meet the state’s standards. The new coursework will be available in multiple mediums and languages — a free pdf book, a comic book version, and an online course.
  • Hire 10 teachers — five Hillsborough and five Pinellas teachers — to review and test the course content and provide teacher and student feedback
  • Hire a team from the USF Innovative Education department to develop an online course that aligns with the textbook and contains digital content. The digital course will be offered free throughout the state.

The multi-million-dollar funding is through a joint endeavor of the state’s Department of Education and the Florida Center for Cybersecurity, also known as Cyber Florida, to prepare more students for careers in cybersecurity and information technology and address the national skills shortage in those industries.

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest growing and most lucrative fields in the United States. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it is expected to grow by 33% in the next decade, which is "much faster than average." With a median pay in six figures, students can get high-paying jobs right out of high school.

Several other USF projects were funded, including:

  • A $1.39 million project called “Expanding the pipeline of the Cyber/IT workforce-USF.”
  • A $560,000 project titled “Towards Empowering the Next Generation of Cyber Professionals/Pathways - USF.”
  • A $150,000 project called “Cybercrime Investigation Training for Florida Law Enforcement Officers- USF.”

Daniel, an Army veteran with expertise in cybersecurity, is also the program director for the Master of Science in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity Management degree. He has experience teaching students at a variety of levels and environments.

Daniel said he wants to expand the accessibility of the course to all student learners, whether that student speaks English as a second language, has a disability, or is taking the class in alternative education settings.

He plans to hire a professional comic book developer to create a story-driven digital information technology course that covers many of the same topics in the textbook.

One of the class modules will be cybersecurity and include lessons on topics such as cyber hygiene.

“Many young people have smartphones with powerful capabilities, but there are minimal formal opportunities in the classroom to teach them about the safety and sophisticated use of their devices. So, the comic book creator is going to hit this issue hard,” he said.

He also wants to hire a Spanish instructor and four students to translate the course content into Spanish. In the future, the course textbook could be translated into other languages and USF Libraries has agreed to offer the translations on its digital commons platform and to make the versions available for free on a global scale.

In addition, course designers in the USF Innovative Education department plan to make the video and audio versions of content accessible to students who have limiting disabilities, he said.

Daniel said his motivation behind the project grew from his close collaboration with teachers in the schools’ career and technical education program as well as working with teachers to bring high school seniors to attend USF Big Data Day, an annual event that highlights career paths in the information systems industry.

Return to article listing

About Business News

Welcome to USF Muma College of Business news. We are dedicated to sharing compelling stories about our innovative research, outstanding faculty, staff, and students, and significant accomplishments from all three campuses. Here we are one college, six schools, and all business.