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

Critical steps to bolster K-12 cybersecurity

This past August, the Center for Internet Security’s Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center (MS-ISAC), which serves state and local governments, reported that it expects an increase of as much as 86 percent in cybersecurity incidents aimed at K-12 school systems over the course of the current school year. Attacks on schools had already dramatically increased during the rush to distance learning during the pandemic. Having found some fairly easy targets, attackers are now piling on with threats like phishing schemes that can lead to ransomware, data theft and other criminal activity.

K-12 organizations almost never attract the highly sophisticated types of attack used for stealing national secrets. However, they are regularly attacked by a plethora of hackers looking for a quick buck or worse, wanting to steal the personally identifiable information of teachers, staff, and especially young students with blank slate credit histories ripe for exploit.

Countering these rampant threats is especially difficult when factoring in one of attackers’ most valuable victim profiles: children. Growing up in a continually connected world, the internet is integral to the lives of today’s young students. But digital natives aren’t necessarily being taught about proper cyber hygiene practices needed to safeguard their home or school technologies. For schools, the risks are compounded by the increased number of personal devices being connected into the school network, where hidden threats can quickly spread. Once hackers gain a foothold in the system, poor cyber hygiene also improves their ability to move laterally and escalate privileges as they go, compounding the damage.…Read More

Creating classroom community in a digital space

One of my favorite parts of being an educator is the sense of community that is created with each new class of students. Fostering that feeling in person has its challenges of course, but is a bit easier to administer and coach when you’re face to face. When asked to build that same sense of community with my students through a computer screen as we went into a distance learning mode, my brain started to misfire. How am I going to do that? Are the students going to be engaged in their learning? Will they be able to feel that sense of belonging in a virtual classroom setting? So, after a few days of crying and worrying, I accepted this new challenge.

My teaching and tech skills were going to be put to the ultimate test.

As I’m reflecting on this past school year, I think it’s the strongest bond I’ve ever built with a group of students, thanks in part to technology and the community building that had to initially happen in our virtual classroom. My goal for this article is to share strategies and tips that worked well and helped me nurture and grow that strong teacher to student relationship through a screen, despite the collective challenges we faced.…Read More

5 learning strategies that are here to stay

Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on student engagement and online or hybrid learning strategies related to pandemic teaching. This year’s 4th most-read story focuses on some learning strategies that have staying power.

In 2020, students, teachers, and parents made an extraordinary pivot to distance learning with no preparation at all. From the district perspective, investments have been made in technology and infrastructure that may not have been made otherwise. We all gained phenomenal skills and insights as a result of having to make this abrupt turn, and then having to sustain that as the global pandemic persisted.

Now, we’re at a point where students, parents, and teachers all deserve to sustain those investments and the skills that they’ve built over time in order to reach one another and continue the learning. There will be some undeniable academic, social, and emotional gaps, of course, because kids have been away from their friends, teachers have been away from their classrooms, and school leaders have been away from their buildings.…Read More