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News from Fachhochschule Dortmund




Navigating the digital world safely


Tabea Dobbrunz (left) and Prof. Dr. Andreas Harrer co-developed the SecAware.nrw self-learning platform at Fachhochschule Dortmund.

From password security and online fraud methods to network security, cloud services, social media and the General Data Protection Regulation - the online self-learning platform www.SecAware.nrw(Opens in a new tab)  offers extensive cybersecurity know-how. The training courses, specially designed for students and researchers, are freely accessible to all interested parties and represent a large digital pool of knowledge.

In 20 lessons, each lasting just a few minutes, SecAware.nrw provides the most important information for navigating the digital world safely. Users decide for themselves whether they prefer to follow explanatory videos or read through texts. They can quickly test their knowledge in quiz sections and the interactive elements provide variety in learning and increased motivation. They were largely developed by Tabea Dobbrunz. The research assistant has a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Computer Science from Fachhochschule Dortmund. She now works together with research assistant Sina Warmer on the SecAware project at the Institute for the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains (IDiAL) at Fachhochschule Dortmund University of Applied Sciences and Arts and is jointly responsible for the innovative training modules and the didactic concept. "The interaction in the lessons was particularly well received by users in tests," she reports.

Easy to understand, intuitive to use

For two years, the experts from the Digital Transformation of Application and Living Domains (IDiAL) and the Faculty of Computer Science at Fachhochschule Dortmund worked on the learning platform, which is funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, in cooperation with the Institute for Internet Security at Westfälische Hochschule in Gelsenkirchen, which is responsible for project management and content. "Continuous evaluation is an important part of the project," explains Prof. Dr. Andreas Harrer. He teaches and researches human-computer interaction and web engineering at the Faculty of Computer Science. "Even in the early project phase, we started to analyze the use of the platform using eye tracking and put the learning content to the test with students, employees and professors," says the computer scientist. The result is a self-learning academy that is easy to understand and intuitive to use. "The target group of the offer is broadly diversified. Whether you're a computer scientist, mechanical engineer or designer - we want to meet everyone at their respective level of knowledge," adds Tabea Dobbrunz. The learning modules on the platform therefore build on each other, but can also be accessed individually.

Following the launch of SecAware.nrw, the work at Fachhochschule Dortmund and Westfälische Hochschule will continue. "Fortunately, we will be able to continue this project over the next few years," emphasizes Prof. Harrer. "With regular maintenance cycles, we can now ensure that the content is always up to date. And we are already working on further content." At the top of the list is the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). What can chatbots like ChatGPT do and what are their limits? How can AI-generated images be recognized? Can AI help with learning and what needs to be considered when it comes to data protection? The first learning content on this topic will be made available at www.SecAware.nrw in the coming months.

Screenshot of the "SecAware.nrw" website - Here, users are supposed to recognize and mark suspicious posts in the social media comment.

Creating interfaces to university IT

The university IT departments will also be more closely involved as the project progresses. There are currently no specific recommendations for tools such as password managers or cloud services on the self-learning platform. "In future, we want to create tailor-made interfaces to the services offered by the respective university," says Prof. Andreas Harrer. The aim is to integrate SecAware.nrw as the basis for IT security training. "Our content can already be integrated into the university learning management systems ILIAS and Moodle," says Tabea Dobbrunz. This means that teaching staff and employees, as well as students, will be able to acquire the relevant IT certificates with the help of SecAware content.

Notes and references

Photo credits

  • Fachhochschule Dortmund | Benedikt Reichel
  • SecAware.nrw
  • SecAware.nrw