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Feature for District CIO

At Lawrence Public Schools in Kansas, teacher Paula Barr sits with second graders in her blended learning classroom at Quail Run Elementary School.

Widespread use of digital learning materials, an intensifying focus on achievement and the influx of digital devices into classrooms are increasing districts’ need to have some form of learning management systems (LMS), experts say.

High school mentors help teach middle school students about online safety and responsible use of social media at Columbia Public Schools in Missouri.

Only a handful of school districts attempt rigorous, round-the-clock monitoring of social media traffic to spot threats against their schools or students. Leaders in these districts say the extra level of security acts as an early-warning system that can prevent young people from hurting themselves or others.

Students at Columbia Public Schools in Missouri have had their social media traffic monitored for the last few years.

Laws in different states provide varied leeway when it comes to monitoring students’ public and private social media activity.

Under an Illinois law that was passed last year, district administrators (after parental notification) can demand a student’s social media passwords if they have “reasonable cause” to believe they will find evidence the student has violated school rules.

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.

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.

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