3 things to know about school network security

A new report offers insight on the ways in which school network security is compromised--and how IT leaders can prepare

Cyber attacks account for more than half of all incidents in education–all the more reason why school network security should be a top priority for IT leaders, according to a new report.

Education is still one of the sectors most at-risk for data breaches, as the Verizon 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report details.

“Education continues to be plagued by errors, social engineering, and inadequately secured email credentials,” it notes. “With regard to incidents, DoS attacks account for over half of all incidents in education.”

Of 382 incidents, 99 came with confirmed data disclosure. When known, the motives behind security breaches are largely financial (80 percent), followed by espionage (11 percent), for fun (4 percent), due to a grudge (2 percent), and upholding an ideology (2 percent). More than half (57 percent) of threats are external, and 45 percent are internal.


7 programs that are transforming education

Digital learning opportunities are helping innovative educators drive student achievement as they're transforming education

Innovative tools and strategies are transforming education, and the best educators recognize this growing trend and harness it to benefit their students.

Fuel Education’s Transformation Awards recognize schools, districts or organizations that are successfully transforming education, the way teachers teach, and how students learn. The awards highlight seven exemplary programs from Fuel Education’s partner school districts.

Each Transformation Award winner uses online courses and adaptive learning tools to meet the varying needs of their students, who represent different demographic, economic and geographic backgrounds.

The winning programs use online learning to overcome challenges in unique and inventive ways, whether through providing students with the means to earn a high school diploma after dropping out, filling teacher vacancies, helping students recover credits, differentiating instruction based on real-time progress data, or providing students with access to a wider variety of elective courses.

The 2019 Fuel Education Transformation Award winners are:

• Achieve Online School (Colorado) – for using online curriculum with a blended component to provide at-risk students with flexible options, individualized learning solutions and robust extracurricular opportunities like archery, rock climbing and ropes courses.

• Cabarrus County Schools (North Carolina) – for using the Middlebury ELL program during an elective class block to supplement regular instruction, helping approximately 100 students a year learn academic English.

• Granger High School (Utah) – for implementing the Construction Youth Mentorship program, an initiative that provides both credit-recovery classes and hands-on construction education to help at-risk students graduate.

• Miami-Dade Online Academy (Florida) – for using online teachers to provide full-time learning to students across the state while consistently outscoring statewide averages on standardized testing.

• Seneca Center (California) – for developing a program that supports credit recovery, promotes independence and provides flexible opportunities for students to focus on college and career readiness.

• Southern University Laboratory Virtual School (Louisiana) – for creating a statewide high school-university partnership, helping students earn college credits online while in high school.

• Vanguard Leadership Academy (California) – for providing credit recovery opportunities while teaching principles of leadership and civics through in-person activities and field trips.


3 ways to find time for personalized learning

There's an underestimated resource for personalized learning--here's how to use it to your advantage

When schools think about incorporating personalized learning, it may seem intuitive to consider resources like specific technologies or professional development plans. But there’s another critical resource that too often gets discounted but is hiding in plain sight: time.

Although schools may manage to add more time on the margins with a “just do more” mindset, personalizing learning at scale will require a massive rethinking of how schools use time, alongside pursuing new strategies that can save time.

Related: Taking personalized learning to scale

Put simply, traditional systems aiming to adopt new approaches to teaching and learning but not willing to do away with legacy structures (e.g. traditional staffing arrangements, instructional delivery, and scheduling) could have all the best intentions in the world, but will inevitably run up against real time crunches.


10 reasons school librarians are more important than ever

School librarians are often some of the most influential people in the building--here's why

Without question, some of the most important members of the school community are the school librarians.

Also known as library media specialists, school librarians play a unique role in our schools. Often asked to take on a wide range of duties, these passionate and savvy educators deserve more than only a week of praise.

And in case you need a reminder of all that school librarians do for our students and our schools, we’ve put together a list–but it’s only a start.

10 reasons school librarians are super valuable

1. School librarians know tech.
In many schools, the library media specialist is the go-to expert on all things tech. Don’t know how to use that new projector? Looking for a great app for annotating texts? Can’t figure out your new phone? Ask the librarian!


Tips for surviving all types of assessments

Assessments can be stressful in the best of situations--here's how to make it through

Whether you are a first-year teacher or a veteran teacher, classroom and system-wide assessments can be a time of high anxiety and stress for everyone involved.

In this recent edWebinar, Vernice Y. Jones, a candidate in the M.Ed. in the School Counseling Program at Freed-Hardeman University, TN, lays out strategies and ground rules for what works and what doesn’t work when it comes to assessments.

Classroom prep for assessments

Preparing for the classroom, system-wide, or state-mandated testing requires organization, training, a great attitude, and patience. Be prepared and unrushed by arriving early on assessment days, wearing comfortable clothing and shoes, making all your test copies ahead of time, and having a stash of snacks for the students.


4 strategies for boosting creativity in education

Most everyone knows the 4 C's, but creativity in education is an especially important "C"

Creativity in education is more important than ever in the innovation age, where it’s not so much what we know but how we use what we know.

At San Lorenzo Unified School District, our 12-hour teacher tech academies are centered on the 4 C’s: collaboration, communication, creativity and critical thinking. I ask teachers to introduce themselves by stating their name, site, grade or subject and the “C” that is of greatest interest to them. Invariably, a good percentage choose creativity.

Teaching creativity seems to present a catch-22. Teachers who don’t consider themselves to be particularly creative don’t think they can teach their students to be creative. On the other hand, highly creative teachers find it difficult to articulate how they developed their creativity, much less prescribe a strategy for passing creativity along to others.

Creativity is more than being artistic or expressive. Creativity is the ability to make new things or think of new ideas. It’s not limited to the fine arts or performing arts. It must be part of everything we endeavor to do, especially in the innovation age. Creativity in education cannot simply be about changing STEM to STEAM by adding an “A” for art. It must be a reason for collaboration, a hallmark of communication and a result of critical thinking.


10 signs you’re doing SEL right

SEL is transformative—here’s what to look for to know if your approach is working

Teachers, school counselors, and school leaders impact student social-emotional learning (SEL) to the degree that they transform each student’s mindset by empowering the self of the student.

SEL is more than simple observable changes in behavior or short-term boosts to motivation. Student SEL is the process of deep change—changing beliefs, assumptions, and paradigms of reality. For example, SEL is going from “no hope” to “hope,” from resignation to having dreams and a passion to pursue new possibilities, from anxiety and depression to inner peace and happiness.

Related: 5 ways we develop SEL in our schools

When K-12 educators use SEL best practices and methods, they can produce transformational results in school-aged children and adolescents. The focus of this article is not on these methods, but instead on how to understand if you are indeed using SEL effectively and achieving your vision and expectations for SEL.


‘Personalized success plans’ are the next big thing

5 recommendations to take personalized success plans from theory to practice

Personalized success plans, maps of in-school and out-of-school efforts that will help all students achieve, are emerging as a viable way to address all of a student’s needs–even if those needs are largely at home.

What’s the “why” behind personalized success plans? Traditional reform efforts have focused mostly on academics or in-school aspects. But these reforms don’t account for students facing gaps in educational achievement, attainment, and opportunity.

These gaps disproportionately impact students of color and those living in poverty. And these students, who say they feel increasingly marginalized, say they are disengaged in school and are less likely to obtain postsecondary degrees or credentials to help them succeed in the modern economy.

The Education Redesign Lab released a new report identifying personalized success plans as a promising strategy to support children both in and outside of school, along with a toolkit to guide communities to develop and implement what it refers to as Success Plans.


4 ways to improve digital equity in your classroom

When we consider students' perspectives, small changes can have a big impact--especially when it comes to digital equity

As a former middle school teacher who taught in a lower-income, majority-minority school equipped with lots of “high tech” tools, I often wondered about digital equity. For me, students’ access to tech at school wasn’t the issue. However, I knew that things were a lot different once students left my classroom. Because the majority of my students lacked internet access at home, I never assigned homework that required technology.

But that was over 10 years ago, and a lot has changed since then. Today, using tech for teaching and learning–both in class and for homework–is a lot more common than it was. Nevertheless, many teachers and students are struggling to adapt to a world where it seems like everyone is connected, yet not everyone has the same access.

A number of key findings in Common Sense’s recently released research report, The Common Sense Census: Inside the 21st-Century Classroom, speak to this disconnect. According to the report, nearly a third of teachers said it would limit their students’ learning “a great deal” or “quite a bit” if their students didn’t have access to a computer or the internet. Yet, nearly a third of teachers also shared that they assigned homework online at least once a week–although those teachers who said they did assign digital homework were more likely to teach in affluent, non-Title I schools. Together these findings highlight the importance of understanding that, while access to technology may be nearly universal today, using those same technologies for learning isn’t always equitable.

Curious to learn more about digital equity and its implications today, I attended a local community roundtable focused on how digital inequity affects schools and their communities. I wanted to know more about what students, educators, and community leaders think about leveling the playing field when it comes to edtech. At one panel, a distinguished group of experts, from city officials to district tech leaders, discussed what they saw as the most pressing issues. Solutions they proposed ranged from providing free citywide broadband access to giving students cellphones with preloaded data plans.


7 things supporting broadband best practices

Connectivity is king, and having top-notch broadband best practices can help school and district leaders keep students in the game

State leadership can have a powerful impact on broadband best practices in K-12 schools–and a new report highlights success stories and strong policies supporting broadband connectivity.

State K-12 Broadband Leadership: Driving Connectivity, Access and Student Success, the new report from SETDA, highlights how state leaders are instrumental in advocating for policies and policy decisions that focus on broadband networks, bandwidth capacity, Wi-Fi implementation, and off campus access for low-income families.

“In order to provide personalized learning experiences for students to best prepare them for college and careers, and to compete in a global economy, all schools need access to reliable, high-speed broadband,” says SETDA’s incoming Executive Director, Candice Dodson. “No two states approach broadband implementation the same, however, state leadership is essential to the process in implementing high speed broadband for all.”

Key elements in broadband best practices

1. State leadership practices: Each state is different because of various factors in play, including geography, state education agency practices, and state procurement laws. Some states have implemented a statewide network, while some states solicit different state agencies to collaborate with each other and partner with non-profit organizations. Other states collaborate with various state agencies or external organizations. Sometimes the state legislature plays an instrumental role in expanding access for schools. In other states, infrastructure programs include provisions to ensure classrooms have updated and reliable wi-fi.

For instance, in Arkansas, connectivity is the top aim–100 percent of the state’s K-12 school districts were connected to high speed broadband through the Arkansas Public School Computer Network.