EdTech Magazine - Technology Solutions That Drive Education https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/rss.xml en CoSN2020: Boost the Success of E-Learning with the Right Tools https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/cosn2020-boost-success-e-learning-right-tools%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Many school districts across the country, as well as educators and parents, are getting an unexpected crash course in e-learning because of closures meant to help quash the spread of COVID-19. But when some normalcy is restored and opportunities arise again for more deliberate <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/02/how-e-learning-supports-demand-instruction-k-12-schools-perfcon">implementation of remote learning</a>, what tools can help make the experience a success?</p> <p>“Many students don’t even have laptops and monitors, and so if you have to basically enable virtual learning, all of the students need to have laptops and monitors,” says Aruna Ravichandran, chief marketing officer for Cisco Webex.</p> <p>The surge in <a href="https://www.cdw.com/content/cdw/en/articles/computersandaccessories/2020/03/06/how-to-telecommute-w" target="_blank">e-learning</a> for K–12 schools has also put a stronger spotlight on persistent issues of equity. In <a href="https://www.cosn.org/sites/default/files/COVID-19%20Member%20Exclusive_0.pdf" target="_blank">recently released guidance</a> on e-learning, the Consortium for School Networking notes this critical question: “Does the district have an adequate supply of devices to support delivering online learning to students?”</p> <p>Many families lack computing devices and internet access. Families with multiple school-age children may have only one device for them to use for e-learning.</p> <p>In New Jersey’s Camden City School District, only 30 percent of families have internet access and electronic devices for students, Superintendent Katrina McCombs told <em><a href="https://www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/coronavirus-closed-schools-inequity-technology-laptop-philadelphia-new-jersey-20200318.html" target="_blank">The Philadelphia Inquirer</a></em>. The shutdown “has just exacerbated the inequalities,” she told the newspaper.</p> <p>In Massachusetts, <a href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/24/nation/still-waiting-laptops-some-boston-students-struggle-stay-connected-teachers-school/">Boston Public Schools</a> closed on March 17 and aren’t slated to reopen until at least April 27, according to <em>The Boston Globe</em>. It’s estimated that between 8,000 to 10,000 of the district’s students lack the technology needed to have regular access to a computer, internet or both, the newspaper reported.</p> Marquita Brown https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/cosn2020-boost-success-e-learning-right-tools%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E How Wi-Fi 6 Is Helping Schools Stay Connected https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/how-wi-fi-6-helping-schools-stay-connected%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Wireless use is growing exponentially, and that’s putting pressure on K–12 networks.</p> <p>When the <a href="https://www.rdale.org/" target="_blank">Robbinsdale Area Schools</a> in Minnesota received funding to expand a classroom virtual reality pilot project, for example, the IT team suddenly needed to deliver VR-quality streaming to some 400 new wireless devices.</p> <p>“Things get sprung upon us all the time,” says Dan Jagusch, a WAN/LAN specialist for the district. “We want to be ready to help the students achieve whatever their goals are.”</p> <p>To be ready for future networking, including expanding calls for wireless connectivity, Robbinsdale embraced the new <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2019/11/keep-wi-fi-6-mind-when-planning-network-upgrades" target="_blank">Wi-Fi 6 standard</a>. Last summer, the district installed 972 new <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/content/cdwg/en/brand/aruba.html?cm_mmc=vanity-_-aruba-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">Aruba</a> access points across 15 buildings.</p> <p>With Wi-Fi 6 (the common name for the 802.11ax wireless standard), clients in dense environments could see a fourfold increase in throughput. For schools struggling to meet the bandwidth demands of an increasing number of wireless devices and applications, the new standard promises seamless connectivity.</p> <p>The rising number of vendors with Wi-Fi 6 access points attests to the growing interest in this technology. In addition to Aruba, others include <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/content/cdwg/en/brand/cisco.html?enkwrd=cisco" target="_blank">Cisco</a>, <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/search/?key=commscope&amp;searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">CommScope</a> and <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/search/?key=engenius&amp;searchscope=all&amp;sr=1" target="_blank">EnGenius</a>.</p> Adam Stone https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/how-wi-fi-6-helping-schools-stay-connected%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E VR Gives Students New Ways to Learn https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/vr-gives-students-new-ways-learn%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Teachers are putting their students at the center of their lessons, giving them close-up looks at faraway planets and long-ago battles — all with virtual reality.</p> <p>It’s a trend Kristen Powell, an assistive technology trainer and consultant with the education agency <a href="https://www.cciu.org/" target="_blank">Chester County Intermediate Unit</a> (CCIU) in Pennsylvania, noticed a couple of years ago at schools served by the regional education agency. Teachers used VR headsets and software to make lessons more engaging and realistic in subjects such as science and history.</p> <p>She began to wonder whether VR might work in special education. “We’re always looking for what’s new out there to help our students move forward,” Powell says.</p> <p>What she discovered, and what more and more educators across the country are beginning to realize, is that VR is a useful tool for students with special needs, particularly those on the autism spectrum. Many students with autism need practice navigating real-life settings and scenarios that neurotypical students take for granted. VR headsets and software can provide lifelike simulations that allow students to repeat behaviors multiple times before applying their learning in the real world.</p> Calvin Hennick https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/vr-gives-students-new-ways-learn%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Q&A: Joe Phillips on Boosting Efficiency Through Technology https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/qa-joe-phillips-boosting-efficiency-through-technology%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Joe Phillips’s professional background isn’t typical of a K–12 technology director. He has 16 years of active duty experience in the U.S. Army, serving in roles such as CIO, chief of HR and chief of staff, earning a medical retirement after he was injured in Afghanistan. He ran a bakery with his wife and operated a corporate housing company. That business experience informs his work to maintain a zero-based budget for the technology department at Kansas City Public Schools in Missouri.</p> <p>Phillips talked with <em>EdTech</em> about developing an efficient, budget-conscious technology program that supports operational and academic goals.</p> Marquita Brown https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/qa-joe-phillips-boosting-efficiency-through-technology%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E CoSN2020: Experts Warn Districts to Prioritize Privacy, Security with E-Learning https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/cosn2020-experts-warn-districts-prioritize-privacy-security-e-learning%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>As schools across the nation shift to online learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, some educators are trying out new mobile apps, free trials of software, and other tools that promise to enhance or at least support their efforts.</p> <p>To that end, experts offer some advice: Be cautious. As they work to move instruction online, administrators and other educators should not deprioritize privacy.</p> <p>“You obviously have all of the privacy concerns that carry over from the use of ed tech generally,” says Amelia Vance, director of <a href="https://ferpasherpa.org/covid-19faqs/" target="_blank">education privacy</a> for the Future of Privacy Forum. “Is this company using data in an inappropriate way? Is this a privacy-protected product? Does the school have a data governance policy? When is information going to be deleted? Who has access to that information? Do people just have what information they need to do their job and no more? Because every additional person who has access to information can increase the risk that that information is shared and inappropriately or breached.”</p> <p>The current surge in online learning will likely contribute to dramatic growth in uncontrolled, unregulated use of technology by educators in K–12 schools and higher education, Vance says. Educators typically turn to those options when there is not a centralized alternative available from their school, she says.</p> Marquita Brown https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/cosn2020-experts-warn-districts-prioritize-privacy-security-e-learning%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Technology Bolsters On-Demand Teacher Training https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/technology-bolsters-demand-teacher-training%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>As education evolves to keep pace with digital transformation, K–12 districts and university-based teacher preparation programs are turning to technology to bolster professional training.</p> <p>“Teachers don’t have a lot of time,” says Penny Westfaul, curriculum director in <a href="https://www.jcsd.ms/" target="_blank">Jackson County School District</a> in Mississippi. “They get frustrated when you introduce something but then don’t have a way to bring them up to speed quickly.”</p> <p>Frustration could impede teachers’ ability to successfully integrate technology into their instruction.</p> <p>That was the case at JCSD until about a year ago, she says. Most of the district’s 500 teachers, spread across 13 schools, were relatively comfortable using technology as part of the instructional delivery process, but few could say the same about tools used as part of learning, such as <a href="https://www.cdwg.com/content/cdwg/en/brand/google.html?cm_mmc=Vanity-_-google-_-NA-_-NA" target="_blank">Google</a> Classroom.</p> <p>“I think everyone was familiar with PowerPoint, or even something like an interactive whiteboard presentation,” Westfaul explains. But beyond that, she says, the teachers would often need training that would be difficult to provide when their schedules were already packed.</p> Chris Hayhurst https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/technology-bolsters-demand-teacher-training%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Factors to Consider When Preparing for E-Learning https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/factors-consider-when-preparing-e-learning-perfcon%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>When faced with unexpected school closures, <a href="http://publish.gwinnett.k12.ga.us/gcps/home/public/home" target="_blank">Gwinnett County (Ga.) Public Schools</a> has a backup plan in place: <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2019/10/school-closed-snow-learning-doesnt-stop">digital learning days</a>.</p> <p>Since 2017, the district has been using digital tools to continue instruction and communication when inclement weather days, natural disasters and other emergencies force them to close their buildings.</p> <p>Yet adopting <a href="https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2020/02/how-e-learning-supports-demand-instruction-k-12-schools-perfcon">e-learning</a> — also called remote learning, distance learning or cyber days — wasn’t an easy feat. From network and connectivity issues to teacher training, the district had a lot to work through to deliver instruction online and provide alternative assignments for students who lacked devices or internet access at home.</p> <p>Today, many school districts are facing similar hurdles as they prepare for distance learning in response to <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/schools-childcare/index.html" target="_blank">the CDC’s recommendation</a> to plan for extended closures due to COVID-19.</p> <p>“This is a health emergency, but we know there are other emergencies that can happen, whether they are fires or tornadoes,” says Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking. “So how do we make sure that learning can continue?”</p> Micah Castelo https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/article/2020/03/factors-consider-when-preparing-e-learning-perfcon%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Hard Lessons of Ransomware Attacks Inform Tech Strategies https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/hard-lessons-ransomware-attacks-inform-tech-strategies%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>In September, the staff members of <a href="https://www3.rps205.com/Pages/default.aspx" target="_blank">Rockford Public Schools</a>’ technology department faced their worst IT nightmare: A ransomware attack was spreading across the data center and encrypting servers.</p> <p>The Illinois district’s IT infrastructure is designed to text IT staff when a server disconnects. On a Thursday night, Executive Director of Technology Jason Barthel and his team were bombarded by a barrage of texts. About 85 of 300 virtual servers shut down in rapid succession.</p> <p>Barthel logged in to investigate but couldn’t restart the servers remotely, so he rushed to the data center to discover that the servers, some housing mission-critical applications, were encrypted. He disconnected internet access to contain the outbreak, which prevented further encryption, but many systems were already affected.</p> <p>“We decided school would go on, but it was going back to basics: life ­without technology for several weeks,” Barthel says.</p> Wylie Wong https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/article/2020/03/hard-lessons-ransomware-attacks-inform-tech-strategies%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E How IT Leaders Manage Cybersecurity with Remote Learning https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/media/video/how-it-leaders-manage-cybersecurity-remote-learning%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>School districts must keep cybersecurity a priority, especially when they're forced to quickly move instruction online. Bad actors can take advantage of moments when IT staff are strained with creating backup e-learning plans and managing them in times of adversity, such as the COVID-19 outbreak.</p> <p>In this video, Joe Phillips, director of technology at Kansas City (Mo.) Public Schools, shares ways his district is staying secured as they temporarily shift to a mixed remote learning environment and consider an extended e-learning program.</p> https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/media/video/how-it-leaders-manage-cybersecurity-remote-learning%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E Best Practices for Ensuring Data Privacy in a Remote Learning Environment https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/media/video/best-practices-ensuring-data-privacy-remote-learning-environment%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E <p>Today, many school districts are considering or preparing for long-term remote learning in the face of a pandemic. Part of that preparation should involve solutions to protecting student data. </p> <p>In this video, Eileen Belastock, director of academic technology at Mount Greylock (Mass.) Regional School District, shares tips for maintaining student data privacy as staff and students access software platforms and other digital tools from locations outside the district's networks.</p> https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/%3Ca%20href%3D%22/k12/k12/k12/k12/higher/media/video/best-practices-ensuring-data-privacy-remote-learning-environment%22%20hreflang%3D%22en%22%3Eview%3C/a%3E