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Feature for District CIO

Source: The Broadband Imperative II: Equitable Access for Learning, SEDTA (DAmag.me/bbd)

Educators and students, of course, increasingly rely on the internet for everything from online curriculum and research to playing edu-games and posting grades.

Ultimately, the answer to delivering school bandwidth might require a radical rethink in which districts scrap expensive IT infrastructure in favor of pure wireless connections.

How a VPN sidetracks the internet, keeping the data at your school secure.

Schools thrive on free and open exchanges of information, but as soon as a principal reviews attendance records or examines student grades held on a district server, that openness must end.

By combining the plumbing of the internet with heavy-duty encryption, a VPN can help keep a district’s secrets. Under the surface, VPNs use a technique known as tunneling to create an encrypted data path from sender to receiver and back.

Phishing attacks often involve receiving an email with an attachment or link from what appears to be a colleague’s email address.

It’s typically altered by just one letter—for example, instead of j.jones@schoolsample.org, it may be j.jones@schoolsanple.org (the “m” is replaced with an “n”). A user may not notice the subtle character change and click on an attachment (unleashing a virus or malware), or follow a link to a phony site that lures them into revealing private information.

When the central Connecticut town of Cheshire moved to reduce power use, it upgraded six of its eight public schools with the latest internet of things technology. The plan combined energy-efficient LED fixtures with sensors and cloud-based servers that automatically turn the lights off in an empty room or adjust brightness.

The district cut its electricity bill by 84 percent, saving about $390,000 out of an annual $65 million budget.

While online curricula platforms have propelled personalized learning to new levels, Coppell ISD in north Texas takes the concepts a step further.

Andrew Smith, chief strategy officer in North Carolina’s Rowan-Salisbury School System, is leading a digital-first initiative that three years ago aimed to give an iPad or a MacBook Air to all students—and their teachers—from grades 3 through 12. Rowan-Salisbury became 1-to-1 by the 2014-15 school year.

When it comes to data analytics, Maribeth Luftglass,CIO at Fairfax County Public Schools in Virginia, focuses on ensuring privacy of all student data. And, she adds, it should be a top concern for all CIOs. (Photo: Donnie Biggs, Fairfax County Schools)

Just a few years ago, CIOs—if they were involved in data analytics at all—would run a report, export it into an Excel document and share it with teachers and district leaders once a week or at the end of each semester. Now it’s all about creating systems that aggregate and sort data automatically, making it easier for educators to view crucial information every day

WHO KNOWS THE ANSWER?—A teacher at Immaculata-La Salle High School in Miami reviews an analysis report with her students to discover concepts they are struggling with to better inform instruction for the rest of the class.

Two decades ago, most student response systems were simple clickers that could only record and display answers to multiple-choice or yes-no questions. But now, many systems let students enter free-form responses to questions. Teachers can see those responses as they are entered, and can provide immediate feedback.

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