5 tools every school tech director should use

Teaching methods have changed dramatically over the last few years, leading to numerous electronic resources entering the classroom. This makes school IT a formidable challenge—security experts have to juggle budget constraints with heavy traffic on the network due to a huge number of connected devices.

There is no stopping the use of technology to enhance student engagement and learning. Therefore, cybersecurity concerns are increasing along with K–12 schools’ dependence on technology.

While no network is impervious to assaults, a reliable and effective network security solution is crucial for safeguarding student data and decreasing districts’ vulnerability to data theft and sabotage.…Read More

Digital On-Demand Class Sets for Required Curriculum Books Now Available in Sora Student Reading App

CLEVELAND – To help educators provide students with the books they need as efficiently as possible, OverDrive Education announced the new On-Demand Class Set digital access model for curriculum titles. This model makes available ebooks and audiobooks on-demand in the Sora reading app to as many students as needed, with or without codes. Digital On-Demand Class Sets give schools the flexibility to allocate budget for assigned classroom reading even in situations where classes and rosters are not finalized. Educators can use this model – as well as many other cost-effective models in the OverDrive Marketplace – with required reading for English language arts, history, social science and other classes, as well as for all-school required reads and literature circles.  

Educators can buy digital On-Demand Class Sets in bulk to correspond with the units of study and modules they plan to teach throughout the school year. Rostering a list of students is not required, so schools can purchase the approximate number of class sets they think they’ll need. Students use copies as needed, and if demand is higher than anticipated, schools can purchase more copies and make them available within hours. When a student borrows an On-Demand Class Set title in Sora, they will have access for three months, ensuring availability throughout their unit of study.

“On-Demand (Digital) Class Set rentals significantly increase our capacity to be responsive to district-wide curriculum needs,” said Suzi Tonini from Denver Public Schools in Colorado. “They’re a smart, responsible use of our curriculum budget dollars. In short, they’re a game-changer!”…Read More

3 collaborative strategies to bolster cybersecurity

In the fall of 2021, the Center for Internet Security’s Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC) reported an expected 86 percent increase in cybersecurity incidents targeting K-12 school systems over the course of one year. Public and private schools provide a broad surface area for exploitation and are often the target of malicious hackers looking for financial gain or to steal the sensitive personal data of teachers and students.

Countering these ransomware attacks with proper cyber hygiene practices can be especially difficult if there is little or no room in the IT budget, or if curriculum leaders lack involvement in the effort to enhance cybersecurity.

As a result, there are a few helpful benchmarks that can assist IT administrators in their ever-evolving quest to bolster cybersecurity measures and limit schools’ exposure to pervasive attacks. …Read More

How we created a computer science curriculum in 5 steps

Even with a strict budget, limited teacher expertise in computer science, and the chaos of a pandemic, the Metropolitan School District of Pike Township (MSDPT) launched a comprehensive and engaging K-5 computer science curriculum for every student.

As an instructional specialist at MSDPT during the launch, I now understand how much collaboration, clever resource management, and hard work are required to run a successful K-5 computer science program. 

As computer science has been launched into the national spotlight, schools across the country are finding ways to integrate STEM themes into early education. Although we faced challenges at MSDPT, we were able to find solutions that fit our budget and empowered our existing faculty to teach this specialized subject with confidence.…Read More

3 ways educators can leverage videos

As Covid-19’s Omicron variant is pushing some school districts back into distance learning, teachers may be frustrated at the return of video meetings. However, imagine if video wasn’t as ubiquitous as it is today.

I contend that video technology helped to save education during the pandemic, and therefore should not be abandoned. As years of research from Harvard University has shown, the benefits of capturing and sharing videos to support preservice teachers, new teachers, and instructional coaching are far too great.

While a districtwide system dedicated to recording, annotating, and sharing video may sound like it would require a big budget, teachers can get started using just their cell phones. The evidence is all around us. From TikTok to Instagram to Snapchat, students are perfecting complex dances, learning, and showcasing their skills with musical instruments, teaching each other about climate change, and more.…Read More

Why evidence-based solutions are critical for edtech buying

As districts budget for the 2022-2023 school year, they’ll have some additional funds to spend thanks to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund created by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

To ensure that these funds are well spent and will benefit students, Congress has mandated that 20% of district funds and 5% of state funds must be spent on evidence-based programs to recover from learning loss; plus additional funds for evidence-based enrichment, summer and afterschool programs.

When it comes to early childhood STEM resources, evidence of efficacy is more than just a stamp of approval. Evidence gives confidence that those products will lead to the buzzing environments we want for our youngest students, full of playful learning, collaboration, and the kinds of concrete engagement that come with hands-on manipulatives.…Read More

OverDrive Education Donates Juvenile & Young Adult Titles to Schools Worldwide

CLEVELAND – September 1, 2021 – To help schools meet growing demand for digital content without increasing budget, OverDrive Education donated over 280 juvenile and young adult titles to more than 50,000 schools around the world. This updated Sora Starter Collection bundle includes high-interest ebook, audiobook and Read-Along titles that are always available to students through September 1, 2023. Sora is the leading student reading app for schools worldwide.

This free collection allows over 50,000 schools and millions of students with the Sora app to encourage community engagement with young readers through book clubs, classroom discussions and more. The Sora Starter titles expand schools’ individual digital collections, removing barriers and providing access to more resources for literacy 24/7 anytime, anywhere. Notable titles include The Great Gatsby, Iggy Peck, Architect, Separate Is Never Equal and Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Ebooks, audiobooks and Read-Alongs in this collection come from Sourcebooks, Jump!, Bellwether, Triangle, Lerner, Kaleidoscope, Rosen, Abrams and Duke Classics. More information about the titles can be found here (title availability may vary by region).

“The collections of Simultaneous Use ebooks and audiobooks have been wonderful during the pandemic – the titles are often among our most circulated,” said Denise Hull, Technician, Learning Resources at Aurora Public Schools in Colorado. “I want to offer my sincere gratitude to the Sora team and to the publishers for making this happen. We’re excited for our students to enjoy the new titles added into this refreshed Sora Starter Collection.”…Read More