Rethinking your K-12 cloud strategy

The new school year is upon us, and IT teams are ramping up strategic tech investments and systems to help ensure a smooth year ahead. For many of these IT teams, challenges around cybersecurity are top of mind, with recent research revealing over half of lower education organizations were hit by ransomware in the past year. On top of this, concerns remain around cloud costs, including new limits on free cloud storage, leaving some wondering what they’re supposed to do and having to pay up.

In light of these shifts and growing risks, K-12 IT teams need to rethink their approach to cloud storage costs and security. We recently experienced challenges at Hotchkiss School with our past cloud providers in this regard. We could not obtain the amount of secure storage we needed due to not only data consumption and performance challenges, but also because of their egress fees. In order to modernize and innovate, education decision-makers will need to embrace hybrid or multi-cloud storage options that keep their data secure by moving away from mainstream, high-cost cloud providers.

Further, to meet growing demands on schools’ IT departments, IT leaders will need to adopt a flexible cloud mindset that enables them to effectively and securely store and leverage the growing deluge of data they are inundated with – everything from student health care data to device and research data. Let’s dive into how a high performance, multi-cloud approach can help K-12 schools check the following major pain points off their list.…Read More

Don’t wait to secure your endpoints from cyberattacks

As we enter a new school year, among the myriad things that instructors and administrators need to be concerned about, ransomware remains high on the list. According to the K-12 Security Information Exchange, there were 166 publicly disclosed cyber incidents affecting 162 school districts across 38 states during the 2021 calendar year.

The rise of remote learning and the use of more devices comes with a price – more endpoints mean more opportunities for potential exploitation. This isn’t a new refrain, but we continue to see challenges facing endpoint security. Cyberattacks against schools can result in closures, not to mention high and unbudgeted remediation and recovery costs.

School districts are already grappling with one of the hardest missions out there – educating our youth – and having to worry about a potential data breach can’t take away from this. Fortunately, in this situation, knowledge is power. Understanding the potential risks that your endpoints face is key to knowing what needs to happen to mitigate these risks and keep your information and systems safe.…Read More

What if we gave every teacher a work from home day?

School and district-based staff are understandably wary about the new school year. Teachers, the majority of whom are women, are struggling under the immense pressure of pandemic schooling. Many have worked long hours to try to support their own families while keeping up with the demands of online teaching and changing COVID-19 protocols.

Teacher retention rates were already declining pre-pandemic, and the shortage of educators across roles may be widening. Preparation programs are facing fewer numbers of new educators entering the workforce; thirteen percent of graduate programs surveyed by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education reported seeing “significant declines” in the numbers of new students. Of those graduating, many may be turning to remote options right out of the gate. Member programs in the national Virtual Learning Leadership Alliance reported increased hiring of online teachers since 2020.

Educators want the same flexibility that’s traditionally more available to those in corporate settings. In a 2021 survey, fifteen percent of teachers said flexibility to work from home would “make a major difference in reducing the likelihood they leave the profession.”…Read More

3 steps to creating a comfortable learning environment

Students have started a new school year and are facing the many challenges still present with in-person learning amid a pandemic. One of the most important to address is how schools address student safety and health–both physical and mental. CDC research has already documented the negative effects COVID-19 has inflicted upon children’s mental well-being.

Schools that established health and safety policies and procedures before this academic year began are best poised to help protect their students’ well-being. But it’s not too late–as school leaders confront the evolving situation, security technology can help build an environment where students feel safe, comfortable, and confident, and where every person’s well-being is prioritized.

Integrating security technology doesn’t have to be a complex process. Keep reading for an easy-to-follow approach school leaders can use to identify and execute on opportunities for enhancing their students’ health and safety journey.…Read More

Using the rule of threes for a technology strategy

As the new school year starts amid fresh uncertainty, educators are grappling with how to navigate what I’ve come to call the “And Era.” The And Era is not about going only remote or returning to purely in-person experiences, but adopting the best of both. While many schools are bringing kids back into classrooms this year, the spread of the Delta variant and other factors out of their control mean they must again be prepared to support a mix of virtual and in-person learning.

That means focusing on what they can control–developing and deploying a strong technology strategy that will give them the agility to combine varying degrees of in-person and remote elements into a seamless learning experience. The heart of that strategy should center around three interdependent components: hardware, software, and the network.

While the stakes are enormous, the American Rescue Plan (ARP) and its $130 billion in new K-12 funding offers great hope that schools will be able to secure the technology, expertise- and resources they need to build an educational infrastructure for the next generation. Given the possibility that many students will spend one-fourth of their learning journey under these trying circumstances, making best use of those funds to implement a thoughtful technology strategy is more important than ever.…Read More

Delta variant forcing districts to find new ways to assess learning

At this point last year, we hoped we’d be on the other side of COVID-19. Instead, the combination of the Delta variant and a new school year means educators and administrators are finding themselves in a state of flux. Cases in school districts are on the rise. Large numbers of students are quarantining. In some instances, there aren’t enough teachers in school buildings to conduct in-person learning.

As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic, teachers are facing a whole new type of disruption to their ability to teach. Now more than ever, they need to be able to continually assess learning, to have a line of sight into what students know and what students do not yet know.

Why is it so hard right now?…Read More

Do your teachers think PD is a dirty word?

This past year, teachers were introduced to a lot of new technology to help facilitate distance learning. And, because of this, professional development (PD) time often morphed into technical training–how to use Zoom, how to best utilize a new learning app or software program, how to troubleshoot student device issues.

With so much on teachers’ plates, this so-called PD became draining. Teachers simply couldn’t spend any more valued time learning yet another new program. And they weren’t getting the important support they needed to make tactical pedagogical shifts for their evolving learning spaces.

Heading into a new school year, we have a chance to hit the reset button to restore true PD time into teachers’ schedules.…Read More

3 technologies needed for remote learning

As everyone spends the summer preparing for a new school year, many are preparing for virtual options to stick around post pandemic. In a recent survey conducted by Instructure, two-thirds of the educators surveyed believe remote learning will impact classroom practices in the future. But what will this future look like, exactly?

A recent survey of districts estimated 56 percent of schools will offer a remote learning option in the fall. One of the biggest lessons this past school year taught us was that educators teaching students online and in-person at the same time is typically not a successful teaching model. Moving forward, many districts offering a virtual option are planning to have virtual teachers solely with virtual students, while teachers back in their regular classrooms will only teach in-person students.

In this same survey, 89 percent of teachers said they taught online for the very first time during the pandemic. So as districts ask teachers to volunteer to switch to remote teaching, there are technology considerations to get in place this summer to help make teaching virtually this coming school year a success.  …Read More

8 COVID learning practices this district is keeping

As educators across the U.S. enter their classrooms for a new school year–one that is still a bit uncertain given concerns over new COVID variants and how to safely bring students back to school–many are bringing new strategies, tools, and practices with them.

While COVID presented educators with myriad challenges, it also prompted many to discover new ways to teach, to lead, and to inspire. In fact, many educators are starting this new school year with so-called “COVID learning practices”–tools, mindsets, and strategies they never used or knew about until COVID forced their hands.

One important–arguably the most important–lesson? Learning cannot return to how it was pre-COVID.…Read More