EdTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Education https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/ en How to Ensure Data Remains Safe in the Age of Ransomware https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/how-ensure-data-remains-safe-age-ransomware <p>Whether you are a teacher, parent, student or IT professional, you have witnessed the extraordinary transition the education sector has recently undergone. Despite schools having already facilitated distance, digital and <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/remote-learning" target="_blank">remote learning</a> for some years now, there is no doubt that the global lockdown has acted as a catalyst for further rapid and momentous change.</p> <p>As systems continue to evolve, it is crucial that data security strategy advances at the same speed. This means ensuring watertight protection of educational data against one of the most common forms of attack: ransomware.</p> <p>Data collected on students, staff and teachers may be highly personal or sensitive and could include student performance data, demographic characteristics or responses to surveys. This data is attractive to potential hackers because they understand the impact a data breach could have on an institution’s reputation and see a better chance of obtaining a ransom for their crimes.</p> <p>If schools took proactive precautions, such face-offs might never be necessary. IT teams should consider a data protection strategy built on a foundation of education, implementation and remediation to become impermeable.</p> Rick Vanover https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/how-ensure-data-remains-safe-age-ransomware 4 Ways to Launch a Data Initiative — or Get One Back on Track https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/4-ways-launch-data-initiative-or-get-one-back-track <p>Data-driven initiatives have helped schools improve student learning outcomes and measure technology ROI.</p> <p>The School District of Palm Beach County in Florida, for example, relies on its data systems to spot which students may be falling behind and need more academic support in a school that may be doing well as a whole. “We use data to make sure we can drill down to every student and every other facet of the organization,” <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/k-12-schools-build-culture-and-community-around-data" target="_blank">says Superintendent Donald Fennoy II</a>.</p> <p>Yet starting a data initiative can be challenging. Despite understanding the benefits and importance of data, many school leaders and educators still struggle to make sense of what they’ve collected and place it at the core of their decision-making. Here’s what they can do to launch a successful data initiative.</p> Amy Burroughs https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/4-ways-launch-data-initiative-or-get-one-back-track K–12 Schools Build Culture and Community Around Data https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/k-12-schools-build-culture-and-community-around-data <p>As data transforms educational processes, it’s easy to forget what the alternative looks like. Without data — and a culture that facilitates data-driven insights — decisions may be based on opinion, assumption or speculation.</p> <p>Data supports decision-making by ensuring that insights are accurate and actionable, says Jennifer Bell-Ellwanger, president and CEO of the Data Quality Campaign, a nonprofit organization that advocates for data policy and use. That’s especially important as schools seek to provide academic continuity amid current remote learning challenges of the pandemic.</p> <p>“Data is going to be that thread that allows school leaders and teachers to plan for what kids need,” she says.</p> <p>Districts of all sizes are using data-oriented processes and solutions to personalize instruction, manage IT and educational resources, and support operations. The experiences of three districts — the <a href="https://www.palmbeachschools.org/" target="_blank">School District of Palm Beach County</a> in Florida,<a href="https://www.district279.org/" target="_blank"> Osseo Area Schools</a> in Minnesota and <a href="https://www.saugususd.org/" target="_blank">Saugus Union School District</a> in California — demonstrate the diversity of data initiatives and the importance of building a culture around them.</p> Amy Burroughs https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/k-12-schools-build-culture-and-community-around-data How to Protect Student Data When Using Online and Emerging Tech https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/how-protect-student-data-when-using-online-and-emerging-tech-perfcon <p>Schools need technology — a lot of it — to operate both remotely and in person. But there’s another need that K–12 administrators should also prioritize, experts say: data privacy.</p> <p>“With the sheer volume and quantity of online services, districts should look at all the details,” says Ed Snow, assistant director for the instructional technology services team at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. “Most of these technology systems are <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/content/cdwg/en/solutions/cloud/overview.html" target="_blank">in the cloud</a>, and there is data being transferred back and forth, so that piece of the puzzle has to be fortified and secured.”</p> <p>The privacy concerns of remote learning, such as images captured on camera during videoconferencing, are just one facet. Administrators at many schools also are doing temperature checks, raising questions about medical data and HIPAA compliance. Some are using surveillance technologies in support of contact tracing, opening up another avenue for privacy violations. Those newer efforts involve collecting sensitive information on students and employees — data schools are required to safeguard.</p> <p>“Administrators and IT leaders at the school and district levels must protect student privacy, both because it’s the right thing to do and because it’s the law,” says Mindy Frisbee, senior director of learning partnerships at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). “That means that only the right people have access to the right data at the right time, and there are legal and secure ways that we can do that.”</p> Adam Stone https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/how-protect-student-data-when-using-online-and-emerging-tech-perfcon Q&A: Melissa Lim on Embracing Change and Tech During Distance Learning https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/qa-melissa-lim-embracing-change-and-tech-during-distance-learning <p>When describing how her school district is handling remote learning, Melissa Lim uses a word some might find unusual: opportunities.</p> <p>It’s well documented that public schools across the country still are wrangling with challenges of remote learning — everything from securing devices to engaging students online. But despite those problems, some educators see opportunities to approach education in new ways.</p> <p>That’s one reason why <em>EdTech</em> chose Lim as one of our <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/09/30-k-12-it-influencers-worth-follow-2020">2020 K–12 IT Influencers</a>. Lim, a technology integration specialist at Portland Public Schools in Oregon, recently answered questions from <em>EdTech</em> about how she and other educators are finding opportunities for innovation during remote learning.</p> Marquita Brown https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/qa-melissa-lim-embracing-change-and-tech-during-distance-learning Want to Enter a School Building? Get Scanned First https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/want-enter-school-building-get-scanned-first <p>Interactions at schoolhouse entrances look a bit different during a major health crisis.</p> <p>At some schools, there no longer are packs of students crowding through doors or parents lingering to say goodbye. Instead, school officials stand by — or drones fly over — scanning the temperatures of those seeking to enter the building.</p> <p>Infrared thermometers are a key technology K–12 schools are starting to use as part of efforts to prevent the spread of illness in school buildings. K–12 leaders, like those in other industries, still use standard options for limiting viral spread in buildings, such as requiring everyone to wear a face mask, enforcing physical distancing and regularly sanitizing commonly touched surfaces. But as students and teachers returned to school buildings in <a href="https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2020/02/25/2003731583" target="_blank">Taiwan</a>, <a href="https://phys.org/news/2020-07-school-temperature-curb-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">Australia</a> and Denmark, officials have adopted infrared sensor solutions that automatically identify increased temperatures in hopes of reducing the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks. Some U.S. schools are following suit.</p> Doug Bonderud https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/want-enter-school-building-get-scanned-first 4 Troubleshooting Tips for Smooth Remote Learning https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/4-troubleshooting-tips-smooth-remote-learning <p>When school districts started to reopen with online and hybrid learning this fall, familiar issues emerged.</p> <p>In some schools, students and teachers couldn’t log in to their learning management systems. Videoconferencing platforms crashed for many. Internet connections at home and in school buildings failed. Device shortages and cyberattacks prevailed, even pushing some districts to delay reopening.</p> <p>Morgan Polikoff, an education professor at the University of Southern California, tells <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/08/us/school-districts-cyberattacks-glitches.html" target="_blank"><em>The New York Times</em></a> that many districts are unprepared for online learning, “not because they’re incompetent or aren’t trying; they just don’t have the expertise to do this.”</p> <p>The challenges certainly have come with some valuable lessons. For one, school and district leaders learned that if they aren’t prepared for the worst, they will see similar surges in technical issues whenever their schools need to pivot to remote instruction. Having a Plan B has never been more important.</p> <p>But what fail-safe strategies should school and district administrators take the lead on to help troubleshoot common tech problems with remote learning? Here are a few to consider.</p> Diana Gross https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/4-troubleshooting-tips-smooth-remote-learning Meeting Demands for a Modernized IT Infrastructure https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/resources/white-paper/meeting-demands-modernized-it-infrastructure <p>Outdated infrastructure doesn’t just cause headaches for IT teams. A failure to update servers, storage and networks can lead to a surprisingly diverse array of issues that reach throughout an enterprise. Development schedules are delayed, product launches are pushed back, customers become frustrated and employees may even leave a company at least in part because of subpar experiences with technology.</p> <p>Through modernized solutions such as hyperconverged infrastructure, all-flash storage arrays, and private and public cloud resources, organizations can achieve a number of benefits. A modernized IT environment can improve cybersecurity, dramatically reduce maintenance costs and increase revenue, among other positive business outcomes. It can also allow an organization to make better use of IT staff members, moving these professionals from support roles to more strategic projects.</p> <p>However, IT modernization must be driven by an organization’s specific business goals and should include efforts to standardize, simplify and automate environments. By taking a strategic approach to IT modernization, businesses can maximize the return on their investments and set themselves up for success.</p> <p><strong>Learn more by downloading our white paper: "Meeting Demands for a Modernized IT Infrastructure."</strong></p> https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/resources/white-paper/meeting-demands-modernized-it-infrastructure Insights Report: IT Investment Priorities and Realities https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/resources/white-paper/insights-report-it-investment-priorities-and-realities <p>The educational technology landscape is rapidly evolving. Over the past few years, school districts have witnessed changes ranging from an influx in emerging technologies such as virtual reality to a greater emphasis on data security amid increasing cyberthreats. But many schools still struggle to adapt. Some continue to rely on systems that make it difficult to seamlessly integrate new tools for learning, while others lack proper cybersecurity training for their staff.</p> <p>School districts can’t afford to lag behind, especially with the coronavirus pandemic spotlighting gaps in technology access, adoption and security during remote learning. Yet budget remains a top concern for educational leaders across the country. Navigating public education funding, especially during an economic slowdown, is a challenge for those looking to implement new technology initiatives or upgrade existing infrastructure.</p> <p>To make smarter decisions about technology spending and to be ready for unpredictable scenarios that may disrupt operations, education and IT leaders must always think ahead.</p> <p>This IDG survey, conducted in partnership with CDW, offers key findings to help technical and nontechnical leaders across industries plan for future spending. Insights include:</p> <ul><li>Why addressing the human side of cybersecurity is crucial to mitigating insider threats</li> <li>How deployment and integration strategies for new tools impact workplace productivity</li> <li>Cloud computing’s role as a digital transformation catalyst</li> <li>How embracing a data-driven culture can enhance and transform student learning</li> </ul><p><strong>Learn more by downloading the full report: “IT Investment Priorities and Realities.”</strong></p> https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/resources/white-paper/insights-report-it-investment-priorities-and-realities With E-Learning, Proactive Network Investments Pay Off https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/e-learning-proactive-network-investments-pay <p>For school districts across the country, the quick pivot to remote learning in the spring put their IT networks to the test. The demands of the new school year — with many districts implementing in-person instruction, remote learning or a hybrid approach — are also continuing to push the limits of schools’ IT environments.</p> <p>So far, the districts that have successfully adapted to the constantly changing demands of 2020 have been those that have made proactive investments in their IT networks — refreshes and builds aimed not only at meeting their existing connectivity and computing needs, but also at preparing for future growth and unanticipated spikes in demand.</p> <p>“Those districts that had already designed their one-to-one environments to extend outside the physical building are doing well,” says Amy McLaughlin, project director for the Smart Education Networks by Design initiative at the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).</p> <p>McLaughlin points to connectivity-extending initiatives such as cloud applications and <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2019/01/fetc-2019-10-steps-develop-successful-k-12-bus-wi-fi-program">Wi-Fi on buses</a>, which are continuing to serve districts well during the pandemic. Some schools, she notes, have parked connected buses in neighborhoods to further accommodate students who need access.</p> <p>“Schools that had been doing these initiatives beforehand were ahead of the game,” McLaughlin says. “They were already thinking outside the physical campus, already thinking about how to extend the network and ensure 24/7 access. The shift was a lot easier for them than for those who were focused on a very traditional model of everything onsite.”</p> <p>For three IT leaders in Texas, Colorado and New Jersey, having a strong district network was a recipe for success during an unprecedented time.</p> Calvin Hennick https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/10/e-learning-proactive-network-investments-pay