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Landlines are out and internet-based phones are in for many schools this year, as the modernized E-rate program begins scaling back funds for traditional phone service.

Discount rates for long-distance calling, cell phones and other services will drop by 20 percent every year starting this year, as determined in the July 2014 E-rate Modernization Order adopted by the FCC. E-rate funds for email, web hosting, paging and phone directory assistance were completely eliminated this year.

Companies that collect student data would be barred from using or selling it for anything other than educational purposes, under a law proposed in January by President Barack Obama. Called the Student Digital Privacy Act, it would also prevent companies from using data to target advertising to students.

An elementary school technician from York School District in Maine helps students record a weekly news broadcast —a job not often assumed by a support technician in the past.

Student-centered CIOs must now focus more on the user experience than on just keeping networks and machines functioning.

“To be successful you have to dedicate 80 percent of your resources toward the service side of IT, and 20 percent to keeping the boxes working,” says Jason Saltmarsh, an education technology consultant and former district technology director. In the past, before students were in charge of their own devices, the opposite was true.

Students at Charles County Public Schools in Maryland are now exposed to computer science curriculum starting in kindergarten.

In 2020, there will be 1.4 million computing jobs available in the United States and only 400,000 computer science students in the education pipeline.

But the number of students may slowly be increasing, as 25 states now count computer science courses toward high school graduation requirements, compared to 11 states in 2013.

When students use technology in the classroom, every keystroke creates a trail of digital information.

States are ramping up student data privacy laws, with lawmakers in the 2014 legislative cycle passing 30 of 120 proposed bills aimed at protecting personal information.

The most comprehensive law was passed in California in September. It prohibits educational sites, apps and cloud services from selling or disclosing students’ personal information. The data also cannot be used to target advertising to students.

The FCC recommends schools have internet access of  at least 100 Mbps per 1,000 users in the short term. The FCC will provide $1 billion per year for  Wi-Fi connections in 2015 and 2016.

High-speed broadband is in and phones are out, according to the recent FCC order to update the federal E-rate program. Administrators will have new funds to expand district Wi-Fi capacity, but will need to make up for lost phone and email subsidies.

Teachers can use products from companies such as AirWatch to manage student devices in the classroom.

Mobile device management is now a central part of classroom supervision as teachers compete with laptops, tablets and phones for students’ attention.

The ability to freeze a device’s screen, block inappropriate apps or lock students into particular educational content can help teachers transition smoothly to online testing, 1-to-1 and BYOD, experts say.

Students from Bronzeville Scholastic Institute High School in Chicago use refurbished computers, saving on technology costs for the district.

District CIOs looking to save money on computers are increasingly turning to refurbished technology. Buying preowned equipment puts more devices in the hands of students and keeps old machines out of landfills.

Schools that can’t afford to compete with the private sector in hiring technology specialists are looking to other options, such as hiring part-time experts, bringing in volunteers or finding funds to retrain teachers.

While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.

Rural schools that don’t have the ability to build or maintain a wireless network may have another option that gives students internet access in class and at home: LTE networks.

LTE, or Long Term Evolution, is a wireless technology that offers fast data download and upload speeds for cell phones and tablets. While Wi-Fi is delivered by building access points that connect to the local area network, LTE (commonly known as 4G) is powered by cellular carriers’ cell towers and requires a monthly fee.