Ransomware attackers head back to school

Just when we thought the painful trend of ransomware attacks on public schools might be waning, news arrived of a massive incident. Over Labor Day weekend, the country’s largest school district, Los Angeles Unified, experienced a ransomware attack. The district serves 600,000 students and described “significant disruptions affecting access to email, computer systems, and applications.”

There was good news, though. The district appeared to catch the attack early, shut its systems down and avoided more serious problems. A lot of the time these attacks result in the loss of social security numbers and all kinds of other data, amounting to a serious violation of children’s privacy. For such a large district, this could have been catastrophic. LAUSD’s impressive response likely resulted from some smart preparation.

LAUSD was unfortunately not the only school to be victimized this year, and in other cases, some of the consequences appear to have been more severe. Staff at Cedar Rapids, Iowa schools saw their personal information stolen this summer, including Social Security numbers, driver’s license numbers, bank account numbers, and even medical history information. …Read More

3 ways to strengthen your student data privacy compliance strategy

Cyberattacks and data breaches are infiltrating K-12 communities. To proactively thwart these attempts to steal student data, states such as New York are passing legislation that requires school districts to adhere to stipulated student data privacy compliance regulations.

With so much on their plates already, creating, implementing, and monitoring an effective data privacy compliance strategy is a time-consuming and stress-filled task for most school district leaders.

As the Director of Instructional Technology at a New York school district, I have been leading our data compliance efforts, and I very much understand the significant challenges schools are facing. To help other districts navigate this unpredictable landscape, I have put together the following recommendations:…Read More

How digital books connect vulnerable students with reading

The definition of success is a “favorable or desired outcome.” At Title I schools, where students are often at a disadvantage from the start, measuring success can look different depending on the student and the circumstance. So when it comes to reading, sometimes success can look like a student simply picking up a book.

In my classroom, students generally read below grade level. However, the increasing prevalence of 1:1 device programs over the last year sparked a significant improvement in their reading habits by providing more access to ebooks and audiobooks. Using digital books has given students access to a wider variety of texts at different reading levels that they can browse with a degree of privacy, removing stigma and instilling a love of reading.

Confidential access to digital books for readers of all abilities…Read More

3 keys to protecting student data and privacy

When the sixth-largest school district in the United States announced in early April that hackers were holding its data ransom for $40 million, administrators everywhere paid attention.

The Fort Lauderdale-area district has 232 schools and a budget of $2.6 billion for the 2020-21 school year—seemingly, the district has plenty of resources to protect against cyberattacks. It also has thousands of students and staff who use hundreds of applications and technologies each day.

How do educators ensure that they keep students’ data, records, and personal information private and secure? And, on the flip side, how do they ensure that the integration with other systems remains seamless, so student data is always up to date, accurate, and accessible to teachers, students, parents, and district officials?…Read More

Edthena Makes it Easy to Blur Teaching Videos with New Feature

In a physical classroom, it’s easy to move the camera to hide details. It’s quite a bit harder when teaching is Zoom-style or hybrid.

The rise of teaching in virtual spaces has increased the need for teachers to be able to hide parts of their classroom videos, such as students’ names, for privacy reasons. Now, Edthena is making it easy for teachers to blur teaching videos before sharing with peers and coaches for instructional feedback on the award-winning platform.

“While sharing videos inside Edthena is always safe and secure, there are times when masking student information is important – maybe a teacher wants to share a video of teaching as an example across the district and the student name should be redacted,” said Adam Geller, founder and CEO of Edthena. “Our new platform functionality helps teachers quickly and easily blur whatever areas of their videos they need, with no extra programs or extension needed, so they can focus their time on self-reflection and collaborative PD.”…Read More

Promethean Announces iKeepSafe Student Data Privacy Certification in the U.S. for ClassFlow Software

 Promethean®, a leading global education technology company, today at TCEA 2021 announced its ClassFlow platform had received iKeepSafe certification renewal. The certifications for FERPA, COPPA, and California (Student Privacy – CSPC) mean that ClassFlow has been assessed by iKeepSafe and meets iKeepSafe’s rigorous standards. iKeepSafe assesses and certifies for compliance with U.S. federal and state privacy laws, helping to eliminate privacy concerns during remote, hybrid, or in-person teaching.

Promethean’s ClassFlow enhances remote learning as a cloud-based lesson delivery service with advanced collaboration tools for student engagement. ClassFlow keeps remote, hybrid, and in-person students interested in interactive lessons, activities, quizzes, and thousands of immersive resources, lessons, and activities from educators worldwide. It also helps teachers deliver dynamic lessons to students’ devices and brings interactive classroom displays to life for effective hybrid learning. As ClassFlow is cloud-based, it can be accessed anytime and anywhere.

iKeepSafe privacy certifications ensure that edtech products are compliant and demonstrate responsible privacy, safety, and security practices. ClassFlow received the following certifications:…Read More

The Social Institute Unveils Curriculum for 4th Graders on SEL

 The Social Institute today announced that it has expanded its pioneering social-emotional learning curriculum to meet the needs of fourth grade students, available beginning in January of 2021. The developmentally appropriate lessons come after requests from schools, and will focus on The Social Institute’s Seven Social Standards, which serve as a set of guiding principles for social media and tech use. Examples of standards include: Protect Your Privacy Like You’re Famous, Strike A Balance, and Find Your Influencers.

Surveys reveal the average age kids get cell phones is ten years old, and exposure to mobile devices begins at a much younger age. Further, most parents report technology use has become more prevalent in the last year as schools and families turned to technology to assist with remote learning activities during COVID-19.

“Ten-year-old students today have more information in the palm of their hands than any previous generation,” said Micah Adams, Head of Content at The Social Institute. “Combine that with the fact that they now use technology as a primary means to connect with one another, and it’s clear that we need to be empowering and equipping this age group with the skills they need to succeed in today’s digital world. Nobody gets behind the wheel of a car without first learning the rules of the road and then discussing and practicing potential scenarios with adults. Why should this be any different?”…Read More

Research Shows the Need for More Support to Protect Privacy and Advance Digital Equity

The Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT) today released a new report — with accompanying survey findings — that reflect the urgent need to provide improved student privacy support to teachers, parents, and students. Almost half of teachers report they have received no substantive training on data privacy, and only four in 10 parents say their schools discussed their data protection practices. Despite that, parents and teachers report favorable opinions of the continued use of education technology even after the pandemic ends.

The report, titled “Protecting Students’ Privacy and Advancing Digital Equity,” is based on significant data collection and outlines steps education leaders and policymakers should take. These include prioritizing privacy-focused teacher training and proactively communicating with parents about how schools are protecting their children’s data. Additionally, leaders can reduce inequity through closing the digital divide while protecting privacy, and scale up the good practices of special educators, a standout from their peers, to protect all students. The recommendations were shaped by surveys and focus groups commissioned by CDT. View the findings here.

“It can be easy to overlook hard-to-see issues like digital safety and student privacy during a time of crisis like COVID-19,” said CDT CEO Alexandra Givens. “But as our research shows, safety and privacy are vital concerns, and the vast majority of teachers and parents support more online learning even after the pandemic. It’s critical that policymakers, schools, teachers, and parents work together to protect students.”…Read More

Encrypt Email and Attachments

Today, and in the coming days, data privacy will become even more important as the need to collaborate and share data securely increases. For many, data protection is not a choice, it is a legal and operational requirement.

To better support organizations hit especially hard by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Virtru is offering the following through June 30, 2020:

  • K-12 Education institutions and organizations supporting the defense and intelligence mission may receive unlimited complimentary licenses.
  • Any Healthcare, State and Local Government, or Nonprofit organization may take advantage of up to five complimentary licenses.

For more information visit https://www.virtru.com/covid-19/…Read More