Can web filtering really harm the kids?

Web filtering is undoubtedly an essential when it comes to school cybersecurity. However, when the service is not set up correctly or a number of blocked categories is way too high, it starts to annoy both staff, and kids. Let’s see how to use web filtering to stay safe out there on the internet and make full use out of it.

Starting with the basics, it makes sense to remind ourselves what CIPA is. The Children’s Internet Protection Act, signed into law in 2000, is a document that regulates the exposure of inappropriate content to children. To be precise, the content that shall be filtered or blocked is divided into 3 groups: obscenity, child pornography & content harmful to minors. To receive funding, an educational institution must follow the guidelines of the act. The easiest way to comply with it is to purchase a web filtering solution. Needless to say, K-12 schools must be CIPA compliant to use E-Rate discounts, but those schools and libraries that do not receive the fundings do not have this obligation.

Web filtering solutions work on a DNS level, blocking all unwanted websites: both malicious ones with viruses lurking around, and all kinds of explicit content. In a nutshell, the DNS system matches IP addresses and the names of the websites working as a phonebook of the Internet. DNS filtering, however, also categorizes the website to see if it belongs to any restricted groups. This part is usually customizable: you choose which type of sites you want gone (or vice versa – you create an Allow list, which contains only the resources you want your students, staff & guests to see, and everything else is blocked), and leave it be.…Read More

Los Angeles Unified School District Offers Spectrum Enterprise Stay Connected K-12 Solution to Families as a Way to Receive Robust Home Internet Access at No Cost to Students

LOS ANGELES – Charter Communications, Inc. today announced that it is working with the  Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), the country’s second largest school district, to help thousands of families who lack robust internet connectivity at home enroll in the  Spectrum Enterprise  Stay Connected K-12 solution, which is provided at no cost for students. The Stay Connected K-12 offering is part of the District’s broader efforts to help close the digital divide in its communities and make it easier for all students to fulfill their academic potential.

Stay Connected K-12 provides schools the ability to offer high-speed, reliable broadband internet access directly to their students in their own homes so learning and teaching are uninterrupted. Participating families are not billed for the service.

“Without reliable internet access, our students don’t have what they need to learn,” said Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of LAUSD. “It’s as simple as that. Los Angeles Unified is relentless in our efforts to equip our students with the resources they need to achieve their full academic potential.”…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

3 tactics to center educator wellness

I’m currently a 4th grade teacher at an elementary school in North Carolina, a Post Master’s student at the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, and a Science partner with Next Generation Academy. I have been in the profession for nearly two decades. So much has changed over the years: from overhead projectors to online collaborative tools–not to mention the internet as a teaching resource, district leadership, teaching standards… the list goes on.  

But one lesson that’s grown more important as the years pass is the importance of wellness. The pandemic has shown, clearly, the impact wellness has on students: the U.S. Attorney General recently reported a 40 percent increase in student sadness or hopelessness while Mental Health America shared that 2.5 million kids live with severe depression. 

While we correctly center students in the education conversation, we also need to discuss educator wellness. The 2021-22 school year is notable in that it’s marked by a  shocking staff shortage that continues to grow. One reason most likely is the extreme measures that teachers take to ensure students get a great education (think stuff like giving up lunch time, planning periods, and days off, professional development on their own time). This means 48 percent of teachers think of quitting, and that number could be growing. …Read More

Kajeet Appoints Industry Veteran Chris Felix as Vice President of Education Sales

MCLEAN, VA. Jan. 8, 2022 — Kajeet®, a leading provider of IoT connectivity, software and hardware solutions that deliver safe, reliable and controlled internet connectivity to nearly 3,000 customers, today announced the appointment of Chris Felix to the newly created role of vice president of sales within its education business. In this role, Felix will spearhead business development and account management for Kajeet’s global education customers, further bolstering its mission of closing the digital divide in education and beyond.

“While significant progress has been made to eradicate digital inequities, over a billion school-age students worldwide are still without adequate internet access at home. We at Kajeet feel that this is unacceptable,” said Daniel J.W. Neal, Chairman, CEO and founder of Kajeet. “The addition of Chris to our mission-focused team will support our strategic growth in the global education market and reinforce our position as a leading provider of safe, reliable and secure IoT connectivity solutions for students and educators alike.”

Felix is a seasoned and strategic leader who brings more than 30 years of telecommunications experience to his new role. Before joining Kajeet, he served four years as vice president and general manager of government solutions at Sprint, where he successfully revitalized its federal government sector and aligned two sales organizations into a single, unified team on the heels of its merger with T-Mobile. Felix started his career in telecommunications at Verizon Wireless, where he quickly worked his way into management roles. Throughout his 27-year tenure at Verizon, Felix held several executive-level leadership positions, including a three-year stint as regional president of Verizon’s Upstate New York region and three years as vice president of federal government sales.…Read More

4 predictions for computer science education in 2022

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts across the country have seen an influx of funding for student devices, internet access, and a variety of edtech tools. While equity of access is still a challenge in many communities, this new funding has advanced a unique opportunity for schools to create pathways to computer science education, overcoming some of the challenges that made it inaccessible to many students in the past.

When combined with many states’ adopting new computer science standards, the pandemic has the potential to accelerate K-12 computer science education across the country. Some schools will find it difficult to fit new computer science into an already busy daily schedule.

But there’s a fix! Educators across the country are working on curriculum to integrate computer science into core content areas, alleviating the problem of where to fit a new computer science course into the busy school day. Computer science education is also being used as a tool for gauging social emotional learning. When computing devices become available to all students, it becomes equally important for districts to have a plan for the types of programming environments and platforms students will use as they build CS skills across the grades. Computer science is quickly becoming another tool, like the pencil and paper, that students use to express themselves and to demonstrate mastery of content in unique ways. Here’s where I see these trends going in the new year.…Read More

7 reasons E-rate funding is critical for schools and libraries

Reliable high-speed internet access isn’t a “nice to have” – it’s absolutely essential for teaching and learning. Without reliable connectivity, students and teachers lose access to the digital tools and resources that make learning engaging and relevant.

In its annual E-rate Trends Survey, E-rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning takes a look at the federal E-rate funding landscape and analyzes how the funding stream supports learning in schools and libraries.

“This year’s Trends Report indicates that the E-rate program is solid and steady,” said John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning. “While connectivity needs continue to evolve, the Trends Report tells a very important story about E-rate as a vital resource for schools and libraries. The past two school years have showed us that school communities depend upon broadband access and network security.”…Read More

5 strategies to build better information literacy in students

We live in the age of information. Thanks to the internet, we now have all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. Just think about it: Cooking, philosophy, engineering, literature–anything you could possibly imagine can likely be found using a simple Google search.

It’s pretty astounding when you take the time to consider it. Of course, many of us have learned the hard way that not everything you find online is reliable or true.

This presents educators with a difficult problem. The internet is an inescapable part of our students’ lives. As they grow, students will turn to online resources to help them navigate their education and build upon what they’ve learned. Yet, at the same time, it’s human nature to focus on information that reinforces our preexisting worldview, and many of us passively ingest all kinds of media while browsing social apps.…Read More

3 reasons E-rate funding remains critical for school internet access

The federal E-rate program remains a vital and trusted funding source to bring “mission-critical” internet access to schools and libraries, according to an annual report tracking trends and developments related to the federal funding stream.

The 2021 E-rate Trends Report, from E-rate compliance services firm Funds For Learning, arrives as school systems work through COVID-related impacts, including the Homework Gap and on- and off-campus broadband needs.

Responses from a record-breaking 2,164 applicants indicate that E-rate remains essential, and network security is now an urgent concern.…Read More

3 approaches to help students become responsible cyber citizens

Children are getting more screen time than ever—a side effect of the pandemic’s impact on our usual routines.

It’s not just the pandemic, however. Kids’ media preferences are changing as new apps and sleeker technology make it easier to stay connected (and be entertained) wherever they go. Just in the past four years, we’ve seen dramatic shifts in online video viewing, smartphone ownership, and more.

Technology and the internet are omnipresent—and today’s youth must be equipped with skills to safely consume, evaluate, and share information online—including how they interact with their peers.…Read More