School’s offline for summer: 3 tips for easy device reclamation

Across the country, millions of students have been learning remotely since March 2020. According to the US Census, nearly 93 percent of people in households reported their children engaged in some form of distance learning this year. With that in mind, as another school year ends, device reclamation is more distributed than ever.

For school IT teams, this means a chaotic time when the district’s computers–especially those the students use for learning–must be accounted for and inspected for usability ahead of the next school year. Device collection is always challenging, but never more so than this past year that saw education institutions rapidly scaling 1:1 programs to enable remote learning.

Whether you’re approaching the device reclamation period or are looking for ways to improve it next year, there are a variety of decisions and steps that IT teams can take to ensure that end-of-year device reclamation is as painless as possible.…Read More

5 reasons to not pass on password protection

For many of us, not a day goes by that we aren’t logging into an account for various tasks, entertainment, or work. As such, we’ve all heard stories of failed password protection…the cousin who had their bank account emptied after their account was accessed or the friend who had their data stolen from a company-wide hack. 

Beyond the stories we share, recent statistics tell an even more compelling story in favor of strong passwords. Here’s how: according to recent studies, 81 percent of breaches at companies or organizations leveraged stolen or weak passwords (2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report) and one million passwords are stolen every week (2019 Breach Alarm). 

Although no password is uncrackable, increasing the complexity of the password can make the process more difficult and has proven an effective method for dissuading hackers, ultimately keeping your accounts and information protected. Check out these five tips to inform a more secure password strategy:…Read More

Oransi Offers 5 Tips for Schools Seeking Better Classroom Ventilation to Help Stop COVID-19 Spread

Experts agree that ventilation in schools is inadequate and many administrators seek clarification regarding best practices to improve classroom air quality and reduce infectious disease transmission.

School administrators continue to struggle with selecting the right ventilation system for classrooms, as more states reopen schools for in-person learning. The U.S.-based air purification company, Oransi, offers the following guidance for schools that will allow them to select the right ventilation products, the first time, thereby helping to avoid any delay when reopening.

To achieve good indoor air quality the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states there are three strategies:

1) source control (removes the source of the pollutant),
2) ventilation (brings in fresh air from outdoors)
3) and air cleaning (through use of an air purifier).

For school ventilation there are two options: a HEPA air filtration system or an HVAC ventilation system. Knowing which option is right for a school depends on the efficiency (percentage of particles of a given size that are removed by the air filter with each air pass) and if enough air is moving for the room size.

Commercial HVAC systems are expensive, time-consuming to upgrade, and generally use lower efficiency air filters that do not remove fine particles such as viruses – allowing them to pass back into a room’s air. However, upgrading or installing an HVAC system is the right solution if there is a very large space to clean – usually larger than 1,500 square feet – and removing viruses or fine particles is not a concern. But a new HVAC system may not be realistic when a school’s budget is limited or the campus buildings are older and source control and proper ventilation cannot be achieved. In this case, HEPA air purifiers may be the best supplemental solution for a school’s budget and layout.

But how can schools select the right HEPA air purifier? Oransi offers the following tips:

1) Based on the recommendation of Harvard University School of Public Health, look for 5 air changes per hour (ACH). If a school’s existing Commercial HVAC system provides 3 ACH, then the air purifier selected would need to provide 2 ACH as a supplement.

2) Look for a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter.…Read More

A tech leader’s tips for making remote learning safe

When COVID forced school districts nationwide to quickly pivot to remote learning, we not only had to configure mobile devices for students to take home, but also implement safeguards to shield them from inappropriate content while outside school walls. We took both responsibilities very seriously, knowing that families were relying on us to maintain both a continuity of learning and safety for their children.

With 45 school sites and about 22,000 students to manage, we knew this would be a major undertaking. To tackle the challenges, we first upgraded our system to accommodate the 20,000-plus Chromebooks that our students would need to learn from home. Then, we acquired additional licenses for ContentKeeper, a school web filter we’d been using since 2017. Using this combined approach, we’ve been able to maintain control of content within social media websites; allow students access to educational content; and block or unblock sites as needed.

Getting everyone online and on board…Read More

5 ways to be an innovative online instructor

In a landscape where online instruction has become more commonplace due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some educators face challenges associated with operating as an online instructor in a virtual environment.

Even to those remote instruction veterans, there is certainly an element of frustration that can exist when it comes to finding unique ways to engage students as an online instructor.

The following 5 tips can help you to be an innovative online instructor who engages students:…Read More

Aperture Education creates free 2020 Winter SEL Guide

This has been a difficult year for both teachers and students. Winter break offers a chance for everyone to relax and recharge. To help support the social-emotional wellbeing of teachers and students during the break, Aperture Education is offering a free downloadable 2020 Winter SEL Guide. The Guide includes tips to support social-emotional well-being, cope with loss and grief, and keep academics on track, and more. Also included is advice to help everyone de-stress over the break and create a plan to start the New Year strong. Some of the articles include:

  • 10 Tips to Help Students Manage Anxiety and Stress During the Holidays
  • 10 SEL Activities for Educators to De-Stress Over Winter Break
  • 4 Ways to Start the New Year Strong

The Guide also provides SEL-related ideas and resources to support virtual learning. To download the 2020 Winter SEL Guide: 2020 Winter SEL Guide.

 …Read More

5 tips to help districts bridge the equity divide

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed historic equity gaps that have long plagued our schools and society. Schools have always served as a hub of support and aid to children, their families, and communities. At our district, the majority of students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch And while Broward County Public Schools (BCPS), like districts nationwide, has focused on COVID emergency responses to ensure that students get the social, emotional, and academic supports that they need, we recognize that as our students return to the classrooms, they are returning to a different world.

In the wake of this unrest and the political tensions, our teachers must be prepared to have some difficult conversations. A key piece to these discussions and, ultimately, closing the inequity gaps is to look at the long-term, root causes of inequities and provide all adults who work with students the opportunities to learn how to address, discuss and examine implicit bias as a community.

Related content: How COVID put a spotlight on equity…Read More

Curriculum Associates Launches New Resource Kits to Support Schools

As part of its continued support of educators during this unique school year, Curriculum Associates has launched two new resource kits for both school leaders and teachers. The Teaching and Learning in 2020 Kits for Leaders and Teachers—both free and available online—provide multiple resources containing practical tips, valuable best practices, and printable guides and templates for effectively managing and delivering online Personalized Instruction and teacher-led remote instruction using i-Ready. 

“We’ve spoken with educators across the country to understand what they need most this school year,” said Rob Waldron, CEO of Curriculum Associates. “Based on these conversations, we created these kits featuring a curated collection of turnkey tools and resources to help ensure their success—and, ultimately, the success of their students—in this remote environment.”

Both the Leader and Teacher kits focus on six overarching themes: adapting plans to unique needs, partnering with and supporting families, engaging all students, actively managing personalized learning, providing teacher-led instruction remotely, and using data to help make decisions.…Read More

In an uncertain fall, remote assessments and focus skills offer clarity

Teachers around the country have a lot of questions this fall. How will the lack of summative assessment data from last spring impact the school year? How quickly can I determine what students may have missed in the chaotic close of the 2019–2020 school year? Are remote assessments accurate? How can I parse the interim and formative assessment data of incoming students and focus on the areas that will provide the greatest return?

The answers will vary from school to school, but across the board, assessment is going to be critical in getting students back on track.

Missing and Remote Assessments: Do We Have the Data We Need?…Read More

New guide provides on-ramp and interstate for novice and veteran teachers

As educators around the globe swiftly moved to online teaching in the spring, Aaron Johnson, associate dean of Education Technology at Denver Seminary, was coordinating the course transitions from in-person to online at the Seminary, while putting the final editorial touches on his book Online Teaching with Zoom: A Guide for Teaching and Learning with Videoconferencing Platforms.

This newly published guide, available on Amazon, provides tips for teachers, presenters, and trainers who instruct in a variety of settings from elementary school through postsecondary institutions, as they navigate the new normal of remote instruction with videoconferencing technologies.

“Teaching with technology requires a thoughtful approach, because the tools we use shape our communication,” said Johnson. “The challenge right now is that few of us have time to ponder such things. My goal with Online Teaching with Zoom is to save teachers hours by providing practical guidance that’s been tested in the classroom and is informed by how media affects learning.”…Read More