Six Major Benefits of Using Technology in the Classroom

Benefits of Using Technology in the ClassroomThere are many benefits of using technology in the classroom, and its use gets nearly universal acclaim from educators. According to the study Education Technology Use in School, from Gallup and the non-profit NewSchools Venture Fund, more than eight in 10 teachers (81%), principals (88%) and administrators (92%) agree that they see “great value in using digital learning tools in the classroom.” Even higher numbers of teachers, principals and administrators see great value in using tech tools in the future.

The benefits of using technology in the classroom isn’t merely anecdotal. An analysis published in Review of Educational Research found that classroom technology led to statistically significant performance improvements in English language arts (ELA), writing and middle school science (though science scores improved more for boys than for girls). Also, students from low-income backgrounds and homes where English is a second language saw improvement in scores across a variety of subjects. In some cases, these students improved test scores in writing more than their better-off peers.

The benefits of using technology in the classroom are many, and are significant. Those benefits include the following six:

  1. Better Access to Learning

No longer does the size of the school dictate the amount of resources available to its students. Regardless of where a school is located, how big it is, and how well funded it is, a world of knowledge is available to nearly every child (and teacher’s) fingertips. As business technology review site TrustRadius puts it, “With information at the tips of our fingers, learning is now boundless.” Tech-savvy teachers can even use technology to present ideas beyond the chalkboard or written page, such as by introducing activity models, and interactive controls for students.

  1. Increased Teacher Collaboration

Technology lets teachers collaborate and share ideas and lesson plans online. There is a vast and vibrant global teacher community, giving proactive educators many opportunities to tap into new ideas and strategies, and to provide students with additional resources. According to the website Schoology Exchange, one of many collaboration sites for teachers, “The beauty of collaboration is not only the ability to tap into various perspectives and ideas, but also to share responsibility for our students’ learning. The more people invested in a student’s education, the better the chance that student has to be successful.”

  1. Improved Parental Involvement

Most guardians today have extremely busy schedules and may not have the time to assist their children with homework, or come to class for parent-teacher conferences. With technology tools, however, parents may be able to meet with teachers via web conferencing, or check their child’s attendance, assignments and grades through web portals like PowerSchool.

  1. Money-Saving

Technology can be pricey, but it can also open the door to educational experiences that would otherwise be impossible, or cost significantly more money. For example, virtual field trips and virtual labs let students explore new frontiers without leaving their desks, and electronic documents, emails, electronic textbooks and other online resources lets schools save money on books, paper, printing and more—while still providing students with enriching educational resources.

  1. Students are More Engaged

According to the Center for Teaching and Learning, “Research has demonstrated that engaging students in the learning process increases their attention and focus, motivates them to practice higher-level critical thinking skills, and promotes meaningful learning experiences.” Fortunately, technology can play a major role in providing new and playful ways to learn. For example, videos or live streaming content can offer students a new perspective, and make a concept or subject easier to understand. These videos are often more entertaining and engrossing than classroom instruction. Per the Education Technology Use in School survey, more than half of all students say that technology makes school more interesting, 42% of students would like to use technology more often at school, and only 8% said they would like to use technology less.

  1. More Personalized Learning

Customized, personalized learning is critical to student success. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Center for Digital Education (CDE), personalized learning is the No. 1 educational technology priority around the country, including digital curriculum in classrooms, computing devices in classroom, and professional development in personalized learning practices. The Education Technology Use in School survey reports that most teachers (57%), principals (65%) and administrators (73%) think digital learning tools are more effective than non-digital tools for personalizing instruction.

Getting the Benefits of Using Technology in the Classroom with Single Path

While technology can improve learning, students need access to that technology regardless of income levels and other factors. At Single Path, we work with schools and school districts across the country to ensure they can take advantage of all the benefits of using technology in the classroom. Our educational consulting services help schools make smart technology choices, and implement them effectively. We help provide technology that engages students, and puts schools on a better path to forging students’ futures.

Contact us to learn more about enhancing your school’s performance with technology.

 

What You Need To Know About Windows 7 End of Life

If your organization uses Windows 7 you are probably already aware Microsoft plans to discontinue this popular operating system beginning January 14, 2020. Windows has taken every opportunity to remind you of the Windows 7 End of Life event. After January 14, Microsoft will no longer offer technical assistance or software updates for Windows 7, including updates that help protect PCs from new cyber threats. If you’re a Windows 7 user, what does this mean for you, and what do you need to do before January 14?

Why is Windows 7 End of Life Happening?

Microsoft says they need to end Windows 7 support so they can focus on newer technologies. Windows 7 is 10 years old after all, which is about 200 years old in tech-years. But Windows 7 also remains incredibly popular, with recent reports showing that Windows 7 is still being used on more than 37% of all PCs.

Microsoft actually started the Windows 7 End of Life process by ending mainstream support on January 13, 2015. At that point they stopped adding new features and honoring warranty claims. However, they have still provided regular patches and updates to ensure security issues and bugs are fixed. That will no longer happen after January 14. The termination of support for Windows 7 comes just after Microsoft introduced Windows 10, and Microsoft wants you to upgrade to the new system, boasting that their Windows 10 software is the most secure Windows ever. But should you?

What’s the Big Deal? I think I’ll Keep Windows 7.

While your Windows 7 operating system will still work after January 14, the lack of security patches is a real concern. As PC Place points out, “The biggest issue with continuing to use Windows 7 is that it won’t be patched for any new viruses or security problems once it enters End of Life, and this leaves you extremely vulnerable to any emerging threats. What’s more, if a large number of people continue to use Windows 7 after the End of Life date, that could actually be a big incentive for malicious users to target viruses and other nasties at Windows 7.”

That Sounds Bad. What Are My Options? 

  1. Upgrade to Windows 10

Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is by far be the easiest transition for your organization in response to Windows 7 End of Life. As TechRadar reports, “because both operating systems are made by Microsoft the upgrade process is relatively easy, and in many cases you can keep your files on your PC. This means you’ll experience the minimum of disruption when upgrading to Windows 10.”

And most reviews of Windows 10 have been positive, with the new system offering a number of new features including facial recognition, faster start-ups, “ink-accelerated technology” with a stylus, and new editing tools for photos and videos.

One of the biggest problems, however, is the possible expense involved—and purchasing the new operating system is only a fraction of that cost. You see, you might also have to buy everyone a new computer. As Microsoft says: “The best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10. And the best way to experience Windows 10 is on a new PC. While it is possible to install Windows 10 on your older device, it is not recommended.”

Here are the minimum hardware specifications for Windows 10:

  • Processor:1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card:DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display:800 x 600 resolution

If all of your organization’s computers have those specifications, you’re set for your Windows 7 End of Life software purchase and transition. If not, however, you need to upgrade your hardware before you switch. And while prices continue to go down on many computer models, this can still be a sizable investment.

  1. Upgrade to a different operating system

Windows may be the most popular PC operating system, but it’s not the only one. For example, Linux has been around since 1991, and is a completely open source system (meaning it is free). Apple is also an option, although that will also necessitate brand new hardware, and many of your programs might not be compatible with their operating system.

Still, you might want to look into other options, especially if the expense of converting to Windows 10 is out of your budget.

  1. Upgrade to Windows 10, Slowly

While there are some advantages to simply pulling the Windows 7 End of Life band-aid quickly, it’s also possible to dip just one foot into the water. If you simply can’t make the switch before January 14, Microsoft is offering Windows 7 Extended Security Updates. These will continue to deliver updates and patches for Windows 7 business users after January 2020. However, these extended security updates aren’t free, and Microsoft is charging a per device fee. Current pricing is $25 a device for the first year of updates, $50 per device for year two, and $100 a device for year three, with no guarantee updates will be offered beyond that date. However, this approach may allow you the flexibility of updating or purchasing new computers in phases, and reducing a single year financial hit.

I’m Not Sure What To Do!

That’s what Single Path is here for. Choosing new technology applications for your school or business can be a difficult decision, especially when resources are limited. We are continuously meeting with companies, schools and other organizations to provide guidance on their Windows 7 End of Life choices, and help them make smart decisions, evaluate their current tools, and to continuously re-evaluate them. And our large menu of security solutions can help protect you from cyber threats, or rebound if you are hit by one. With considerable experience working with small-to-medium sized businesses, plus schools and school districts, we can help you operate with confidence.

Contact us for more information!

Eight Negative Impacts of Technology

Negative Impacts of TechnologyAs a company that specializes in providing digital solutions for organizations of many shapes and sizes, we often witness the excitement generated by the access to new technology. But we also see the negative impacts of technology, especially with kids. As financial company Credit Donkey warns, “In a world of instant gratification and continual distractions, technology has the ability to make users easily distracted, impatient and continually bored. Technology can also make users forget important information, communicate in shorthand, and be incapable of deep thinking.” But of the many negative impacts of technology, we believe these are the eight most important.

1. Depression and Other Mental Health Issues

A University of Michigan study found that Facebook use led to a decrease in happiness and overall life satisfaction. The cause of depression may be exaggerated expectations triggered by online reality, and unrealistic social comparisons. Says Saju Mathew, M.D., a Piedmont primary care physician, “When we get on social media, we are looking for affirmation, and consciously or not, we are comparing our life to the lives of others,” he says. “As a result, we may not enjoy what’s in the moment.”

Also, research from the University of Gothenburg in Sweden found a link between heavy cell phone use in young adults and depressive symptoms. This is what some call “Chronic Smartphone Stress,” which is caused by constant anticipation of a message, email or other notifications, and the depression that might follow from the lack of them.

2. Lack of Sleep

Most adults sleep with their cell phones nearby, and so do their children. In fact, four out of five teens sleep with their cell phones in their room, and nearly a third of them sleep with the phones on their beds. Unfortunately, as The Washington Post reports, “The blue light emitted by the screens of mobile devices has been associated with poor sleep, researchers say, but mobile devices also can cause emotional stimulation—through violent games or engaging forms of social media—that also can impair sleep or simply delay the moment when people fall asleep.” A lack of sleep impacts your health and personality.

3. ADHD

As any school administrator can tell you, there has been a tremendous rise in ADHD over the last 15 years. In fact, there has been a 43% increase in ADHD or ADD diagnoses between 2003 and 2016 according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While the exact connection between technology and ADHD is incomplete, a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association reports teens who frequently use modern digital media platforms, such as social media, also show an increased risk of ADHD. And a study done at Duke University found that, at-risk adolescents experienced more conduct problems and higher ADHD symptoms on days they used technology frequently.

4. Obesity

The increased obesity in children has been well documented. According to the CDC, 18.5% of America’s youth is now considered “obese,” compared to just 5% a few decades earlier. One cause of obesity is a lack of physical activity, and children who overuse electronic devices are less physically active. While play time has been shown to improve mood and increase self-esteem, sedentary activities (such as Internet use) not only lead to decreased physical activity, but have been linked to feelings of social isolation and depression.

5. Learning Barriers

As Credit Donkey reports, “Studies show that students, and people in general, are less apt to remember information because they know they can find it within seconds online. The study also shows that students are more likely to remember where to get the information rather than remembering the information itself.”

Additionally, a survey by antivirus company McAfee found that 21% of students admitted to using their internet devices to cheat, such as by texting a friend, looking up answers or even sending pictures of their exams to others. The same survey reports that 47% of those students reported knowing someone who used a device to cheat.

While the Internet can be a great source of learning, these reports remind us that they can also be a barrier to it, and one of the negative impacts of technology.

6. Decreased Communication and Intimacy

According to a Pew Research study, 25% of married couples admit to texting each other while home at the same time. Also, 25% of couples have felt their spouse or partner was distracted by their cell phone when they were together—and that number jumps to 43% for younger adults (18 to 29-year-olds). While the study reports that 74% of adult Internet users say the Internet had a positive impact on their marriage or partnership, 20% said the Internet impact was mostly negative.

7. Cyberbullying

You may already know that cyberbullying is the use of the Internet, cell phones, video game systems or other technology to send or post messages intended to hurt or embarrass someone else. A 2007 Pew Research study found 32% of teens were victims of cyberbullying. Nearly a decade later, a 2016 study by the Cyberbullying Research Center found those numbers were nearly identical. The National Crime Prevention Council puts that number even higher, at 43%. The NCPC also reports:

  • Nearly 20 percent of teens had a cyberbully pretend to be someone else in order to trick them online or get them to reveal personal information
  • Seventeen percent of teens were victimized by someone lying about them online
  • Thirteen percent of teens learned that a cyberbully was pretending to be them while communicating with someone else

Yet only 11% of teens speak with their parents about incidents of cyberbullying.

8. Loss of Privacy

With a few clicks, anyone can discover someone’s Facebook page and collect contact information, pictures and much more. The information can then be used for hacking and viruses. Anyone with email knows that hackers are constantly scheming to get people to reveal credit card information, social security numbers and so on.

Stopping the Negative Impacts of Technology

Many of those negative impacts of technology can be avoided with better and more open communication along with increased cyber education. This not only provides a greater awareness of one’s own actions, but helps users recognize the actions of others. As a leading provider of Internet security services, as well as cloud services and other technology solutions, we see the good and bad of technology every day. Technology can be a wonderful thing, bringing people closer together, delivering a nearly unlimited access to knowledge, promoting freedom of expression and providing countless conveniences from shopping to learning. And while the pitfalls are also numerous, so are the resources available to combat them.

If you have any questions about the negative impacts of technology, please reach out to us at Single Path. As experts on cybersecurity, we are always eager to share our knowledge and advice, just as we are always delighted to discuss the many services we provide for schools and businesses.

Contact us

The Why and How Behind Protecting Student Data and Teacher Data

In May of 2017, The Economist declared that data has replaced oil as the most valuable resource in the world. This means organizations that keep a lot of data, such as schools, are at significant risk from those trying to steal it. Districts and individuals who follow best practices for protecting student data and teacher data, however, can help stave off many threats.

The Numbers Behind the Why

In 2018 alone, K-12 schools reported 122 cyber attacks, resulting in “the theft of millions of taxpayer dollars, stolen identifies, tax fraud and altered school records,” per an article in Campus Safety magazine. Just one of those attacks affected 500,000 students and staff in the San Diego Unified School District, where names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, mailing and home addresses, phone numbers, health information and legal notices were stolen.

Those 122 cyber attacks were just the successful ones. In May 2018, the K-12 Chief Information Officer at the Kentucky Office of Education Technology testified to Congress that four billion attempted attacks had been launched against Kentucky’s education data infrastructure over the last academic year. It was also reported that phishing attacks had increased 85 percent from the previous year (see our previous blog posts on phishing techniques, Part 1 and Part 2). 

Why Teachers are at Risk

Teachers are targets because of the vast amount of demographic and administrative data that the school or district collects including teachers’ names, addresses, dates of birth, photos, Social Security numbers, banking information, performance data, health conditions, education credit information, and work records. Stealing this information can lead to identity theft and financial fraud. For example, recently hackers infiltrated the Cleveland school district’s payroll system, and were able to steal a large number of employee paychecks. Hackers did the same to teachers in the Atlanta Public School district.

Why Students are at Risk

Like teacher data, student data is also vulnerable as schools collect an ever-growing amount of information to meet state and federal requirements. Protecting student data is important as it can be particularly attractive to hackers due to clean credit histories and the availability of hard-to-collect information such as students’ mothers’ maiden names. How profitable can hacking be? According to a report from the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy, a child’s Social Security number can be sold for $25 to $35 on the dark web. Multiply this by hundreds or even thousands of students, and one school’s data base can be worth six figures.

How To Start Protecting Student Data, and Teacher Data

Protecting student data, and teacher data, is an ongoing job that involves a lot of time and resources. At the very least, you should incorporate the following seven best practices for protecting student data, and teacher data, as soon as you can.

1.    Secure Devices

While network protection may seem like your first priority, protecting your physical assets is just as important. A stolen computer can include a goldmine of data. As we wrote in a previous blog post, “The mere presence of physical safeguards will strongly discourage malicious acts and provide peace of mind for those in the school.” Keep unused computers locked safely, and track all the hardware you have. You can’t protect what you don’t know you have.

2.    Encrypt Everything

Encryption scrambles text to make it unreadable by anyone other than those with the keys to decode it. By keeping back-up files as well as emails and shared files encrypted, hackers will be unable to read them, should they gain access to them.

3.    Make Strong Passwords

As we’ve reported previously, 60% of people use the same passwords for everything and 81% of data breaches are due to weak, default or stolen passwords. Too many people repeat the same password over and over, so if one password is stolen, many sites are compromised. Other users choose passwords that are easy to remember, but also easy to guess. A password manager can be a critical tool in creating impossible-to-replicate passwords.

4.    Back-Up Data

The easiest way to thwart a ransomware scheme is to have a back-up of your data. Back-ups also protect you from any sort of disaster, whether natural or hacker-originated. Cloud computing can make backing up data, and restoring it later, much easier. Complete cloud migration now can eliminate a lot of headaches later.

5.    Educate Staff

Most data breaches stem from human error. For example, the 2017 Equifax data breach, one of the biggest in recent memory, was blamed on a single employee failing to follow security warnings. Even the most senior IT professional can make a mistake, but the more someone knows about threats, the less of a chance they will fall victim to one. That’s why training your staff on best practices, such as how to spot a phishing email, or what not to divulge on social media, can make a big difference.

6.    Educate Students

Not all students may fully understand the criminality of cybercrime, whether they are attempting to hack a school’s network or conducting a DDoS attack as a prank (which is exactly what happened to the school district in St. Charles, Illinois). Per an article on educational tech news provider EdSurge, “Students could potentially piggyback onto unsecured WiFi networks without ever leaving school property, making them susceptible to cybercrime. Providing lessons in ‘digital citizenship’… can go a long way to help protect school assets and the student’s identity.”

7.    Call Single Path

Most districts have limited expertise or resources to plan, implement and share the processes needed to protect their teachers and students. Often, a third-party provider will best be able to monitor, manage and protect the school or district. At Single Path, that’s exactly what we have done for many school districts, such as Great Lakes Academy in Chicago. Our comprehensive suite of services, including managed cloud services and security offerings are designed for businesses and schools to assess, prepare and protect against risk. Let us help you start protecting student data and more.

Ask us how to get started! 

Why DDoS Security is Critical for your School (and what is DDoS, anyway)?

If you regularly follow our blogs, you’ve read about the dangers of Phishing and Ransomware, but there’s a third method of cybercrime that can be just as damaging: a DDoS attack, or “Distributed Denial of Service.” A DDoS attack occurs when a hacker takes control of thousands of computers and aims traffic at a single server, overwhelming its network to knock it offline or slow it to a crawl. Without appropriate DDoS security protocols, an attack can cause mass and immediate disruption.

EdTech Magazine reports that DDoS attacks “are on the rise. For schools, the attacks can shut down websites, phone systems and prevent users from accessing the internet and applications.” Here are some recent examples of school-related DDoS security issues in recent years,:

  • The Miami-Dade County Public school system was unable to provide online testing for three days after a series of DDoS attacks crippled their new, high-touted computer-based standardized testing system.
  • Minnesota Department of Education twice had to suspend its state testing when a DDoS attack kept students from logging into its online assessment system.
  • The St. Charles, Illinois school district lost online access for employees and all of their 13,000 students. According to a report from eSchool News, “the hackers cut off the entire district’s internet access for four hours at a time and then repeated the process 10 more times over the following six weeks.” Eventually, two students were charged in the attack.
  • Rutgers, Arizona State and University of Georgia have all been victims of recent DDoS attacks. After an attack, Rutgers spent $3 million dollars and raised tuition 2.3% just to upgrade their DDoS security, and then became a DDoS victim again less than a year later.

The Simplicity of a DDoS Attack

Many schools, even those that are on the alert to cyberthreats, may not be paying much attention to their DDoS security. But it doesn’t take a cyber-genius to launch a DDoS attack. You can find relatively simple how-to videos on popular sites such as YouTube. The ease of launching such an attack, combined with inadequate DDoS security, makes this scheme popular with a wide variety of groups as a form of protest, as an act of “revenge,” as a distraction from another cyberattack, or even just for “fun.”

The lack of DDoS security can also harm schools through their vendors or partners. In September of last year, millions of families across 45 states were impacted by a DDoS attack on the app Infinite Campus, which provides a “Parent Portal” allowing parents and students the ability to check grades and other information.

How To Implement Your DDoS Security

Schools have become a target for cybercriminals, accounting for 13 percent of all data breeches in the first half of 2017, which involve nearly two billion student and parent records. But schools can incorporate numerous strategies to increase security, including their DDoS security, such as by switching to cloud networking, monitoring cyber-traffic for abnormal patterns, and adding backup internet service providers to keep networks up and running. School districts can also upgrade their firewall protection and their network architecture. Sounds like a lot of work? It can be.

That’s why Single Path partners with schools to help protect their IT technology from hackers, and to make upgrades and changes as easy and as turnkey as possible. We consult and implement, provide continual monitoring, and can also educate your staff on data security best practices. We also provide a wide variety of Managed/Cloud Services. DDoS security can be challenging, which is why you need a team like Single Path to help protect your organization from harm.

Ask us how to get started!

 

 

 

Cyber Incidents for K-12 are Rising. Is Your Student Data Vulnerable?

Data leaks are becoming so commonplace it seems like we’re almost becoming immune to them. Another ransomware attack on a business. Another virus crippling a network. Another identity theft scam. But then something happens that shakes us up and reminds us … this is not okay. Such as when an attack hits a little too close to home. For example, this—hackers are now specifically targeting schools.

CNN reported that a school district in Montana was forced to shut down more than thirty schools for three days after hackers infiltrated their network. The hackers sent threatening text messages to staff and students. School Superintendent Steve Bradshaw explained, “The messages weren’t pleasant messages. They were ‘splatter kids’ blood in the hallways,’ and things like that.” The messages also included disturbing references to “Sandy Hook.” But the hackers weren’t done. They also demanded up to $150,000 in bitcoin or they would release stolen school records. At least three other states were hit with similar school data extortion attempts.

Malicious hackers are going after schools because of a combination of weak data security and available information that is ripe for exploitation. As schools rush to incorporate technology in their schools, security protocols are sometimes afterthoughts. Vulnerable information can include social security numbers, birth dates, medical records and financial information.

An attack leaves one school district $10,000 poorer

Can your school afford to send ten grand to a hacker? Leominster Public School district officials recently had to ask themselves that question. A hacker attack left this Worcester County, Massachusetts school district unable to access email, health services, food services, library services, help desk and file services, backup services and more. The attackers demanded $10,000 to decrypt the files. Despite FBI warnings to never pay ransomware, the district felt they had little choice but to pay up. “If we had not used the option of paying the ransom for the decryption of our files, we would most assuredly be in for a much longer recovery at a much higher cost,” said Leominster Superintendent of Schools Paula Deacon. “In the case of one of the file servers, there were over 237,000 files which were encrypted, covering all departments in Central Office.”

According to an article in the Leominster Champion newspaper, the school is now making changes to their network to remove vulnerabilities including replacing old computers. The cost of this overhaul? More than $435,000. 

It’s a bigger problem than you think

How many school cyber incidents do you think have occurred in the last two years? Ten? Twenty? Try more than 330 (and growing)! In an attempt to categorize, defend and combat these threats, EdTech Securities has published a map that includes all manner of school-related cyberattacks including data breaches, phishing attacks and “other occurrences that lead to school and personal information being exposed.”

Check out the Interactive Map

The amount of exposure and consequences of those incidents vary widely. The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a number of cyber incidents including: 

  • Hackers in Iowa’s Johnston Community School District released school and parent information along with threats to kill the children. A hacker claimed the information was released to help child predators.
  • Hackers stole $56,000 worth of paychecks being sent via direct deposit to Atlanta Public School employees
  • Hackers stole $75,000 from employees of the Fulton County School district in Georgia

One state gets ahead

Many school districts are realizing the threats of a cyberattack are all too real, and are proactively working to protect themselves. Schools in Indiana are leading the way. As reported by Indiana Public Media, the Indiana Department of Education has targeted thousands of dollars in cyber funding for certain schools. Schools can apply for matching grants of up to $25,000 to build up their cybersecurity systems and improve 24-hour system monitoring. Says Chief Technology Officer John Keller, “Cybersecurity is a layered concern that goes across really all sectors. I mean, it’s not just a teacher thing or a school administrator thing, it’s our students, our staff.”

What you can do

Waiting until a cyberattack hits can be costly to schools and devastating to the families or staff whose information is breached. Fortunately, there are many resources available. For example, the U.S. Department of Education provides a number of cyber-resources and documents related to Security Best Practices, from a Data Breach Response Training Kit to a Data Security Checklist. But it can be daunting to read and figure out exactly what you need to do, especially without a partner to help guide you.

At Single Path, we work with schools across the country to help them uncover and tighten up weaknesses, implement security measures, and create recovery plans if the worst happens. We can help overhaul your entire system, as we did for Great Lakes Academy in Chicago, provide training like we did for Saint Anne Parish School in Barrington, Illinois, and offer any or all of a full range of security offerings.

Ask us how to get started!

 

School Technology Resources: The Four Things Superintendents Need to Know

school-technology
The vision, a path to get there, and the tools and encouragement to reach it—the superintendent’s leadership is critical in defining all those and more, and nowhere is this more evident than in defining the district’s school technology initiatives. Whether these tasks are delegated to a team, an individual, or even taken on by the superintendent himself or herself, the importance of these tasks cannot be underestimated. And the time to act is now. According to Forbes Magazine, a recent survey by TES Global showed 96% of teachers reported that technology made a significant impact in the classroom.

Education technology is a growing part of any superintendent’s role, but with this responsibility comes not only the excitement of possibility, but also trepidation. There is a lot to tackle, and the learning curve can be long. But if the superintendent understands the following four key elements, he or she can navigate even the rockiest technology waters effectively. If you are in dire need of online class assistance, then make it a point to check out Aimhigh-writing.

  1. Define Goals

It’s tempting to want to just jump onto the technology bandwagon, but look before you leap: you have to know where that wagon is headed. There are just too many different options out there! Before taking the leap to enhance school technology, the superintendent needs to look at the landscape and figure out not only what technology, but also why the technology. Start with the objective you want to achieve, whether it’s individualized student instruction, augmenting teacher-parent communication, facilitating resource sharing, or all the above.

According to a post by the Center for Digital Education, schools should, at minimum, strive to meet these five technology goals:

  • Make learning engaging and individualized
  • Measure student progress against college and career ready standards
  • Connect teachers to tools and individuals who can help them become effective
  • Provide broadband connectivity for students
  • Use technology to become more productive, improve student learning and manage costs
  1. Create the Right Team

This isn’t a one-person job. Ensuring the right team is in place is critical for successful technology implementation. As we wrote in our blog post, 5 Ways To Keep Your Teachers and Staff Up-to-Date on Technology, the support team should be flexible and available to train others on any new tool. Your Tech Team can consist of teachers, administrators and support staff. But whoever is chosen, they must be accessible, eager and part of making the decisions that matter. An empowered team is a more effective one.

  1. Proper Training

Just like there are a wide range of technology options, there is a wide range of your staff’s comfort in using them. Some staff members may pick up technology quickly, while others may need a more time-consuming helping hand. But everyone who will be using the technology needs to understand it properly. Technology without proper training is like giving a student a textbook without instructions or lesson plans!

With so many tools out there, each one that is incorporated into curriculum, or into the daily learning environment of the classroom, is doomed to fail without a mastery of expectations and instructions. The right team will go a long way in ensuring proper professional development.

  1. Measure Success

Technology should constantly be examined to ensure it’s meeting expectations. In our recent blog post, The Four Main Steps When Choosing Technology For Your School, we referred to an article on ISTE.org, which stressed how leaders need to continually assess how effectively the technology is being applied. Regular evaluation of how the technology is impacting student assessment and achievement is vital, as is continuously ensuring teachers are successfully applying the technology. Without defining clear metrics to measure success, there will be no way to gauge whether the technology is meeting expectations.

While the potential of EdTech is enormous, it is also daunting. But with the proper leadership and expectations, schools can quickly embrace, master and thrive with the new resources at their disposal. It all starts from the top. And with the superintendent’s blessing, understanding and encouragement, schools are likely to see significant benefits.

At Single Path, we work closely with school districts, top to bottom, to provide custom IT solutions for K-12 schools and districts. We help them understand the technology options, choose the right ones, master them, and ensure the team is using them to maximum benefit. We’re not just an IT resource, but a true collaborative and consulting partner providing expert advice, analysis of your needs, access to cutting-edge technology and assisting in its implementation and ongoing service and support.

Tablets vs. Textbooks: Does It Even Matter?

The tablet vs. textbook debate is one that has been going on for quite some time, and with more and more technology entering the classroom, this debate won’t end anytime soon. The questions this leads many people to ask are, “Are tablets a suitable learning tool for students?” and “Should they be replaced by textbooks?” There is no denying that tablets are incredibly brilliant tools. We use them to communicate with family and friends, organize our schedules, and find new information. But when placed in a classroom, how well will students be able to learn?

The debate as to whether more school districts should make the digital leap is met with fierce opposition from publishers as well as other tech naysayers, who see the value of printed textbooks unrivaled by tablets.

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both sides.

Pros and Cons of Tablets

Pro #1: Easily Adaptable

Students today learn and engage differently with technology than previous generations. Tablets allow students to feel empowered by the learning process by playing to their strengths. It also provides them the opportunity to learn how to use computers for the rest of their lives. Across many industries, computers power a lot of what we do professionally, so introducing this as an educational tool will help set them up for future career success.

Pro #2: More Capacity

One tablet has the ability to store more books than a student will ever need for the entire duration of their education. Tablets can also be used to store homework, quizzes, and tests – eliminating heavy loads from students’ backpacks and desks.

Pro #3: Access to the Latest Information

Tablets aid teachers in providing their students with the most accurate and up-to-date information possible, allowing lesson plans to be updated in real time. Publishers have been criticized for making minor amendments to text volumes and charging schools top dollar for new editions. Once textbooks go digital, the print costs will be eliminated, which will result in textbook savings of as much as 60% for school districts.

Con #1:  Cost

The initial investment in technology can be steep for some students and schools. Not all educators or families can afford them, and the student experience should not be based on what people can or cannot afford. Everyone should have access to Anton Chekhov Quotes and learning materials. Along the same lines, tablets have high curb appeal and run the risk of getting stolen if mistakenly left in a public place.

Con #2: Overexposure

Overexposing students to blue-light screens is one of the bigger risks of computer-based learning. It can be difficult for students to separate “computer time for learning” and “computer time for playing”, thus, leading them to spend time browsing the Internet or on social media sites when they should instead be following a lesson plan. This could ultimately affect their ability to concentrate on the task at hand.

Pros and Cons of Textbooks

Pro #1: Strategic Learning

When analyzing the benefits of textbooks or tablets, one of the biggest advantages is that textbooks are professionally curated documents. They have been organized in the best way to present the information in a logical order and are fact-checked by academic professionals, check these RIC Publications textbooks variety options for all ages and grades.

Pro #2: Better Absorption

It is common knowledge that handwriting notes allows for better absorption in remembering important teachings and lessons. This experience is very similar when reading a typed book vs on a computer screen and is said to play a key role in the learning process.

Con #1: Outdated Information

It goes without saying that the biggest disadvantage of textbooks is the use of outdated information when the latest version is not yet available. Great teachers can combat this by providing additional pointers to provide the most up to date data, however, this approach runs the risk that not all relevant information will be relayed.