ISTE23 Redux—AR/VR Over AI?

Up until about Thanksgiving last year, another acronym that began with the letter “A” was most popular in education circles. Like AI, it has mixed reviews on its practical effectiveness but still carries excitement in its potential. 

Augmented and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) was and is still at the forefront of edtech as evidenced by the show floor at ISTE last week. According to’s  “Virtual Reality In Education Global Market Report 2023” report, space grew from $8.67 billion in 2022 to $11.95 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow to $46.14 billion in 2027. Major players like Google, Microsoft Corporation, Meta, Samsung and Lenovo continue to invest major resources into its development.

To help break down just where the technology is as it relates to being a true teaching tool in the classroom today I spoke with ClassVR’s Chris Klein. The company was launched at the Bett Show in London in January 2017 and has since been installed in more than 40,000 classrooms worldwide. Have a listen.…Read More

5 things every K-12 employee should do to protect student data

Student data privacy and security are top priorities for edtech leaders. When asked to rate the importance of these topics, 68 percent of respondents said they were more critical than the prior year, according to an annual survey of K-12 chief technology officers from the Consortium for School Networking.

While IT leaders in education have their hands full trying to protect the student information stored and accessed in the software and data systems used by their schools, the actions of other employees throughout the district can support—or undermine—these efforts.

Here are five practical steps that every school or district employee should take to keep student data from being compromised.…Read More

How Seminole County Public Schools keeps 66,000 students safe every day

Today, more so than ever, school administrators must be prepared for all types of emergencies, and to do this, they need help. Of course, you can’t be 100-percent prepared since an emergency is unexpected and things change. However, there are ways to ensure your school is as prepared as it can be, so when the time comes everyone knows what to do to help mitigate the situation.

In schools, active shooter incidents typically come to mind first, based on the news headlines we see daily, but there are a lot of other incidents to prepare for. For example, regular emergency responses that take place include:

• Medical emergencies such as a heart attack, lethal allergy, seizure, or critical injury
• Fire in a chemistry lab or cafeteria
• A missing student
• Violence against teachers or amongst students
• Illegal substances or potential weapons on site
• Non-emergency injuries…Read More

The biggest changes to school security in 2018

The complexity of ensuring our schools and education facilities are both safe and secure has grown tremendously. Brass key systems are increasingly supplemented with secure credentials as access management has become more critical. The continued development of mass notification systems and video surveillance has made them critical components of a holistic security solution. And now, a major next step is upon us in the evolution of physical security as we look to more effectively manage lock-down procedures.

In the past five years, the biggest change in school security has been to transition from the idea of the big red button–where a single action locks all openings–to a more sectored approach. The new way of thinking is that the big red button locks down perimeter and exterior doors, but interior doors are locked locally based on location, situation, and teacher and faculty decision.

When discussing why this change is appropriate, it is important to look at the specific needs of education campuses today. Physical school security can be broken down to subsections, including perimeter fencing and gates, the building exterior, visitor-access management, and interior spaces. In previous iterations of lockdowns, systems were developed that allowed one system to lock every door: the centrally controlled, universal-lockdown concept.…Read More

3 tips for effective school-emergency communications

It’s no secret that Americans experienced more than our fair share of natural disasters in recent months. Wildfires razed entire neighborhoods in California. Hurricane Maria decimated entire regions of Puerto Rico. The event that impacted my world was Hurricane Harvey. The deadly storm dealt its mighty blow right as the new school year got underway.

I was still new to my position, having served as the Head of School at Texas Online Preparatory School (TOPS) for just four weeks. Floodwaters rendered students and their teachers disconnected. As a school leader, I’m accustomed to dealing with emergencies. But little did I know this event would inspire a whole new playbook!

While few things during disasters tend to go perfectly, I’m extremely proud that, thanks to our school’s virtual format, TOPS remained opened and served our students well during the hurricane and subsequent floods. Learning continued for students and, in the process, provided families with a sense of normalcy during the crisis. Here are three best practices about effective communications that may be helpful for other school leaders when emergencies strike.…Read More

#1: 6 underground apps students hide from schools

[Editor’s note: This story, originally published on April 19th of this year, was our #1 most popular story of the year. Happy holidays, and thank you for tuning into our 2017 countdown!]

Technology is nearly ubiquitous in classrooms, and it holds extreme importance in the lives of today’s children.

But with technology comes responsibility, and many ed-tech stakeholders emphasize the importance of teaching students about digital citizenship, being aware of their digital footprint, and being responsible and safe online.…Read More

Block and tackle: How to mitigate a cyberattack on your school

Cyber-attacks have been making headlines after massive data breaches at Fortune 500 companies. According to a recent report by the Business Continuity Institute[1] and the British Standards Institution, nearly nine in 10 businesses worldwide are worried about the threat of cyber-attacks.

Recently, the panic has spread to educational institutions. Unfortunately, schools, colleges and universities are perfect targets, often possessing out-of-date security systems and a wealth of sensitive, monetizable student data. According to the Wall Street Journal[2], cyber attackers have struck more than three dozen schools this year, including recent news of an attack on the Flathead Valley School District[3].

Experts warn these attacks are likely to increase, and educational institutions are increasingly prioritizing investment in technology and systems to prevent cybersecurity breaches.…Read More

How to protect school district servers from overseas cybercriminals

Beginning on September 13th, the hacker group known as the TheDarkOverLord Solutions, the same hackers that breached Netflix’s servers, breached a Montana school district’s server and stole personal information including addresses and medical records. The hackers made contact with school officials and families making violent physical threats late on Wednesday the 13th and the following Thursday. Schools across the area were closed down and extracurricular activities were cancelled the 14th-19th due to the threats, affecting over 15,000 students. On Monday night, the sheriff’s department released a 7-page ransom letter that was sent to the school board demanding a bitcoin payment to stop the threats and prevent the release of the stolen information. Law enforcement including the FBI and other agencies are working diligently to identify the whereabouts of the hackers and have encouraged recipients to not make contact with the hacker or pay the ransom.

While there is no imminent threat of real physical harm due to the believed overseas nature of the hacking group, what is most concerning is how easily the hackers were able to access the district’s servers–they shutdown an entire community for multiple days and stole stockpiles of information on staff as well as past and current students.

The district has decided to not pay the ransom, so there is the potential for identity theft to occur if the hackers decided to release or sell the stolen personal information on the dark web. Details of how exactly the breech occurred have yet to be released; however, it is most likely to be a part of a mass malware distribution that discovered a vulnerability in the small Montanan community and is now affecting the lives of hundreds who had their information stolen.…Read More

Video of the Week: Simple ways teachers can protect student data privacy

Ed. note: Video of the Week picks are supplied by the editors of Common Sense Education, which helps educators find the best ed-tech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to use technology safely and responsibly. Click here to watch the video at Common Sense Education.

Video Description: Privacy can be a complex, intimidating topic. But there are some steps any teacher can take to better protect their students’ data when using online tools. Make these simple privacy and security checks a habit whenever you visit a website or use it with your students. For more tips for protecting student privacy, check out Common Sense Education’s resources on the topic.

Video:…Read More

The top 5 cybersecurity threats for schools

You’d be hard-pressed today to find a school that doesn’t consider safety a high priority. We go to great lengths to keep those inside school walls safe, running drills and spreading awareness in case of threat. There’s one kind of threat schools often overlook when it comes to safety, however, and that’s cyber attack.

Cybersecurity isn’t a new concern by any means—it’s just one that’s taken many schools quite a long time to develop a safety plan. With recent ransomware attacks like WannaCry and Petya, the potential theft and leakage of data, particularly confidential information, should be on the minds of all school leaders.

If your school hasn’t thought about cybersecurity as a growing concern, it’s time to learn what the threats are and what you should be doing to keep your school, and its data, protected. To start, here are the top five cybersecurity threats schools face and how you should prepare:…Read More