Weak cell service? How schools can solve this still-pervasive problem

Today’s students are more connected to their devices than ever before, whether they’re using their tablets or cellular devices to take notes in class, conduct research, or write a report. As such, strong cellular connectivity has become a must for schools and universities. Faculty and students rely upon secure wireless data and mobile coverage in order to teach, learn, and grow together. Having good cellular service also enhances safety on school grounds, keeping staff connected in emergency scenarios in which an instructor or staff member is not near a landline telephone and must instead place a cellular call for immediate assistance.

Unfortunately, due to the nature of cellular signals, schools can’t always provide consistently strong cellular signal for students, faculty, and staff. Accessing a strong indoor signal can be difficult depending on campus size and location, the distance to the nearest cell tower, or natural obstructions such as mountains and district budgets.

Construction materials can also cause issues with cellular signal. Modern schools and universities are usually a combination of older buildings and newer, environmentally friendly construction. Both styles can interfere with radio frequency waves coming from the nearest cell tower. What’s more, the many hundreds of students and teachers in the buildings can easily overload a weak network.…Read More

How video cameras help improve classroom learning and campus safety

When Micah Watson, an 8-year-old with autism, came home with bruises, his parents suspected their son had been mistreated in a closet-sized “calm room” at Plano ISD’s Miller Elementary School. It took two years for the child’s mother, Bethany Watson, to finally see video from that day, which showed Micah being forced into a tiny padded room at the elementary school in Texas. The door was held shut while the child yelled, “No! No! Let me out now!” At one point the teacher egged Micah on with, “Kick me. You’ve already done it. I don’t care.”  The student was knocked to the ground in an attempt to remove his shoes. When the child begged to be let out, the teacher responded, “No.”

This horrific incident led to important changes at Plano ISD and throughout the state of Texas. The teachers involved in the incident were fired. All calm room spaces at Plano schools must now be at least 50 square feet and without doors. This episode, combined with similar high-profile occurrences across the state, led Texas to pass SB507, requiring cameras in special education classrooms. Advocates of the law say the video cameras go a long way in both easing parent concerns and in protecting teachers from wrongful accusations.

The topic of video cameras in the classroom has been brewing for years. Schools that have deployed cameras in public areas have experienced dramatic safety benefits. For example, Fraser Public Schools in Michigan found that the incidents of fighting dropped to near zero. Police officers have found body cams provide an important defense against false accusations.…Read More

GenCyber Teacher Camp at COD

The GenCyber Teacher Camp at COD camp program targets middle and high school teachers who are passionate about providing students with the tools they need to be safe and responsible online. COD faculty from CIT and HSTI guide teachers through hands-on activities using current technologies, introduce the concept of digital citizenship and present online safety information to take back to the classrooms. Teacher applications are available beginning May 22, 2017.

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Frontier Internet Cyber Safety Grant

The internet provides students a vast resource for research and learning. Yet, navigating the beneficial and dangerous places online has been an ever-evolving battle. What have you as a teacher and your classes learned when it comes to cyber safety? Tell us, and you could win a $1,000 grant to buy technological equipment or supplies for your room.

 

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Tutoring marketplace offers on-demand learning

The social learning marketplace MindSpree is revamping the tutoring landscape by offering on-demand services nationwide.

The Arizona-based education technology company was founded in 2015 by Keith Rezendes after noticing the tutoring industry was not fulfilling the needs of many. As a former professor and veteran tutor, Rezendez wanted to create a place where students could receive the highest quality tutors for the best value.

“MindSpree is committed to education and student success,” said Rezendes. “By utilizing the sharing economy, MindSpree can utilize tutors across the United States to share their knowledge and expertise with all types of students who are eager to learn.”…Read More

Impero Software’s keyword library addresses online safety concerns

New terms will help schools flag potential instances of bullying, abuse, self-harm or radicalization

It makes the headlines often: A young man or woman in the U.S. ends his or her own life due to bullying or becomes radicalized and attempts to join ISIS or other hate groups. In both instances, adults in these youth’s lives are often left wondering what they could have done to intervene.

In an effort to protect students in this always-on and connected world, Impero Software, a remote monitoring and management software provider, has updated its keyword libraries to include a more comprehensive list of U.S. specific terms related to bullying, self-harm, radicalization and more, in order to alert educators so they can help students before a tragedy occurs. Impero will showcase the updated library in their booth #708 during the 2016 ISTE conference June 26-29, 2016 in Denver.

The updated library, combined with Impero Education Pro software, gives educators an edge on internet safety by helping them monitor and analyze student activity on school devices. The software alerts educators when a student uses words or phrases that match a term in the keyword library.…Read More

Blackboard launches New Learning Experience platform

Integrated platform enables personalized learning, streamlined communication with family and community engagement, and unified workflows

Blackboard has launched a new K-12 platform for districts and schools that brings together institutions, parents, teachers, and learners in an integrated approach that addresses fundamental requirements for student success including school safety and security, family and community engagement and personalized competency-based learning.

Blackboard’s offering combines multiple products, integrations, and professional services that can be deployed individually or as a comprehensive solution.

Technologies include: Blackboard Mass Notifications™ (formerly Blackboard Connect™), Blackboard Web Community Manager™ (formerly Blackboard Schoolwires™), Blackboard Mobile Communication App™ (formerly Blackboard Parentlink™), Blackboard Social Media Manager™ (formerly Sociability™), Blackboard Collaborate™, Blackboard Blackboard Open Content (formerly xpLor), and a choice of Blackboard’s leading learning management systems: Blackboard Learn™ or Moodlerooms™ and their mobile apps for students and teachers.…Read More

How every school can promote safety in a digital world

Keeping students safe in the digital era — with its myriad dangers — means a proactive IT strategy

Technology has become a mainstay within the walls of today’s schools. One-to-one computing is enhancing and enriching the student experience, transforming the way we teach and the way we learn.

K-12 schools were expected to spend approximately $4.7 billion on technology this past year, according to IDC, with no sign of a plateau. But as rapid technology adoption continues unabated, the safety of the students who are meant to benefit from these advances is frequently overlooked.

The evolution of learning with computers

When desktop computers first appeared in schools, the curriculum focused on typing, word processing, and basic coding skills. Then search engines arrived, completely revolutionizing the way students accessed and consumed information over the web.…Read More

How safe is my student data?

Ed tech companies are not immune to hackers and vulnerabilities. But schools can protect themselves

data-safetyA few years ago I was attending a meeting at my county office, where a vendor who runs a popular education site was making a presentation. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit I wasn’t paying close attention. It was a product our district was already using, and I was our top level administrator for my district’s domain on the site. Stifling a yawn or two, I started to do what any bored student would do—see if I could break stuff.

Eventually, I happened upon an exploit by chance. I was working both in my district’s instance (the domain and accounts registered for our schools) as well as the one the county office set up for this presentation. Sometimes when I signed out of one, it signed me out of the other as well.

I signed into my district as the top-level admin, and then redirected to the county site by simply changing the URL. In doing so I gained top level privileges to the county’s instance, too, which should have been reserved exclusively for the vendor reps making the presentation. I raised my hand and asked, “Do you know someone can gain higher privileges than they should have?”…Read More

Group presses for safeguards on the personal data of schoolchildren

A leading children’s advocacy group is challenging the educational technology software industry, an estimated $8 billion market, to develop national safeguards for the personal data collected about students from kindergarten through high school, The New York Times reports. In a letter sent last week to 16 educational technology vendors — including Google Apps for Education, Samsung School, Scholastic and Pearson Schoolnet — Common Sense Media, an advocacy group in San Francisco that rates children’s videos and apps for age appropriateness, urged the industry to use student data only for educational purposes, and not for marketing products to children or their families…

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