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Feature for District CIO

Privacy is key. At Carl Sandburg High School in the Consolidated High School District in Illinois, above, Chief Technology Officer John Connolly, on right, discusses with a teacher some of the data and privacy features to be aware of when working with different apps.

Attacks by external hackers on Sony and Target make big headlines, but in K12 the threats more often come from the inside. Plaguing districts with increasing frequency are distributed denial of service attacks that, for pure mischief’s sake, saturate servers with so many external communications requests that they cannot respond to legitimate school traffic.

Allan F. Daily High School students in Glendale USD take part in a total computer rebuild, used as a student-led training session. A student demonstrates with his classmates how to replace the CPU chip.

Students trained in IT support are providing teachers with Johnny-on-the-spot resources and bolstering the responsiveness of districts’ lean tech staffs. The eager students provide districts with an inexpensive and much-needed tech resource; and the students gain experience, new skills, and confidence.

The Protecting Privacy in Connected Learning toolkit is an in-depth, step-by-step guide to navigating the four major federal laws.

The increasing shift to online learning and collaboration has created new concerns around student privacy. Keeping data as secure in the cloud as it would be in a locked file cabinet requires communication, diligence and strong policies.

A media specialist in the Cherry Hills Christian Schools in Colorado helps a student with a lesson. The district combined an MDM solution with district-owned iPads for student learning.

Whether devices are tablets or laptops, or owned by the school or the student, they all require IT support. Recent support developments include bundling digital learning applications and the physical device with the cost of mobile device management (MDM) software.

At Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools, learning technology department members Jason Bihler and David Bassett work on a server with 7,000 wireless access points.
A Boone Elementary School student in the Kansas City Schools in Missouri, above, does school work through Pearson SuccessMaker. Fees for software licenses often vary.

The move toward personalized learning and the ability to deliver resources via the cloud are transforming the way districts purchase digital content for math, reading and other parts of the curriculum. As this landscape changes, district also are spending more on digital resources.

Anton Inglese, CIO at Batavia Public School District in Illinois, helps a student practice a math lesson on his tablet. He says he gained more insight into classroom practices while studying for the CETL test, and now considers the big picture when upgrading technology.

Given the need for qualified school technologists, there are a few training programs that specifically address the unique combination of technical and pedagogical skills needed for leaders and their staff. How then, do district technology leaders and their staff develop that unique set of skills?

Rachel Moseley, chief information officer at Scarsdale Public Schools in New York, above, shows Diego Gomez, a pre-law student doing an internship with her IT team last summer, where to find information on the district website and where to find the spreadsheet that he needs to update.

Wyoming’s Laramie County School District implemented its first student information system more than 15 years ago so teachers could enter grades electronically and share student progress with other educators. Almost immediately, district leaders realized they needed additional information systems to compile special education data, monitor No Child Left Behind standards, track visits to nurses and send emergency notifications.

Students in algebra class at Free State High School at Lawrence schools take part in blended learning lessons.

Blended and online learning platforms are changing K12 pedagogy by providing students with some control over their path, time, pace and place of learning. This sharp departure from the traditional factory-based model of teaching and learning is increasing student engagement and freeing up time so that teachers can provide one-on-one instruction.

The main goal of President Barack Obama’s ConnectED initiative is to shift funding from outdated technology to build broadband and Wi-Fi networks to give all schools high-speed internet access.

The federal push to provide all students with high-speed broadband and mobile devices is kicking into high gear, with over a billion dollars pledged for school technology and an overhaul of the program that provides discount internet access.

Students use their own mobile devices to work out math problems in an economics and personal finance class at Marshall High School in Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia.  (Photo: Donnie Biggs)

Districts that have implemented BYOD successfully have found building a powerful Wi-Fi network, developing explicit acceptable use policies, and communicating those policies clearly to students, parents and teachers are critical steps in the technology transition.