Author: Scott Rupp

From Chaos to Control, Tackling Device Tracking with IT Asset Management In K-12 Schools

Syed Ali

By Syed Ali, founder and CEO, EZO.

In today’s digital age, technology has become an integral part of the education landscape. K-12 schools are increasingly relying on technology to enhance teaching methods, improve student engagement, and streamline administrative processes. Although the investment is necessary, the rapid pace of technological advancements brings with it significant challenges.

During the COVID pandemic, millions of K-12 students across the US relied on borrowed devices from their school districts, with Chromebooks being the most common for remote learning. Schools rapidly adopted Chromebooks in 2020, as the demand surged during the transition to remote or hybrid learning models, resulting in millions of students receiving laptops, tablets, and Chromebooks from school districts nationwide.

Fast forward a few years, and now, many K-12 districts are still scrambling to account for all those devices, year after year. This includes not only locating and recovering missing devices, but also making sure clear policies and procedures are in place for future distribution, collection, liability, and insurance claim filings for those devices that can’t be found, as well as budgeting time and staff to inspect and repair any tablets that do come back before they’re redistributed.

Take for example the 77,000-student Greenville County, S.C., school system which made headlines during the summer of 2020 when it revealed that it had been trying to recover nearly 5,000 of the more than 58,000 Chromebooks that were distributed to students during that school year.

Another example comes from the Chicago Public School District. The district reported that computers and other devices that amount to at least 8% of the Chicago Public Schools’ “technology assets” had been listed as “lost” during the pandemic. Also, the district said it had depended on its schools in the district to take a regular inventory, but that the process continues to be time-consuming and inconsistent as only 35% of Chicago’s 500 district-run schools have a technology coordinator on staff.

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Transact Campus Partners with Luxer One for Secure, Frictionless On-Campus Package Delivery

Transact Campus, “Transact,” the award-winning leader in innovative mobile credential and payment solutions, today announced a partnership with Luxer One, a premium manufacturer of package management systems and smart contactless lockers, owned by ASSA ABLOY, the global leader in access solutions. This partnership will deliver a turnkey solution for on-campus package delivery, including hardware, software, installation, service, support, and package delivery company facilitation.

The Luxer One partnership addresses campuses’ desire for a versatile and secure package delivery system, enhancing the student experience by providing a reliable, around-the-clock package pick-up service. Use cases beyond package management include laptop and lab equipment exchange, library holds, bag and personal item storage, and pickups from the student bookstore. In addition, the partnership includes configurable integration with Transact Campus ID solutions, enabling students to access lockers using their Transact Mobile Credential or physical credential.

“At Transact, we are committed to transforming the campus environment into a place where innovation thrives and the campus experience is seamlessly connected,” said Rasheed Behrooznia, SVP and General Manager, Campus ID Solutions, Transact. “Our partnership with Luxer One not only provides a superior, frictionless student experience, but also strengthens the security and connectivity between students and client facilities.”

Prior to the partnership with Luxer One, students were constrained by limited package pick-up hours and had to endure long lines, or risk their packages being left unattended. Luxer One significantly reduces costs associated with staffing a mail room for extended hours.

“This collaboration represents a significant milestone for Luxer One as we continue to innovate and enhance our offerings for valued customers. By joining forces with Transact, we are combining our expertise and resources to revolutionize the way universities manage packages, item exchange, library orders, and even temporary bag storage. Together, we will deliver unparalleled convenience, efficiency, and security as a full campus solution. We are excited about the endless possibilities this collaboration brings and look forward to the incredible advancements we will achieve together,” said Josh Middlebrook, President, Luxer One.

The partnership will provide a secure, convenient, package delivery solution on Transact-enabled campuses which reduces the burden on administrative staff and enables efficient management of daily operations. In addition to the primary benefit of a frictionless student experience, this union also provides secure package delivery assurance, and reduces costs for campuses.

Ransomware’s Prime Target: Securing Educational Institutions

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Anthony Cusimano

By Anthony Cusimano, director of technical marketing, Object First

In recent years, ransomware has become the most destructive cyber threat impacting industries of all sizes –in the first half of 2022, there were over 236 million ransomware attacks worldwide. Threat actors have launched ransomware attacks on various targets, including businesses, hospitals, supply chain infrastructures, and education systems, to extort money in exchange for stolen data.

According to a 2022 year-end report, schools sustained the same number of ransomware attacks in 2022 as in 2021, with the most significant attack being Los Angeles Unified School District, which included over 1,300 schools and 500,000 students. While the goal of educators is to establish secure learning environments for students – be it through online or in-person education – far too many are faced with the challenge of ever-increasing ransomware attacks that makes safeguarding IT environments to ensure data protection difficult.

Education systems shouldn’t have to suffer the continuous data theft and extortion that the past few years have burdened them with. By incorporating affordable ransomware-proof tools, these organizations can ensure the safety of backups and effectively defend against ransomware attacks without paying the ransom.

Why the education system continues to be a prime ransomware target

Schools have a wealth of sensitive information about their students and faculty on hand for cybercriminals to target. This includes information such as financial aid records, birth certificates, behavioral records, and addresses that, if left unprotected, can be stolen and sold on the dark web.

Ransomware attacks pose the most significant cybersecurity risk regarding operational disruptions and overall expenses for K-12 schools and districts. This is often because these school systems need more money and education to adopt proper security tools. Within school systems, allocating resources to defend against cyberattacks is restricted by a limited budget, resulting in inadequate IT infrastructure and smaller teams – further weakening visibility to detect potential threats before it’s too late. Because of this, when compared to other industries, the education system falls short of proper protection.

But that’s not all. While there are many reasons why ransomware attacks against education systems have been and continue to remain rampant, a primary reason for this surge is that the COVID-19 pandemic increased reliance on virtual platforms for students to participate in remote learning. This shift created an even larger threat landscape for an underprepared and under-resourced industry, expanding vulnerabilities while perpetuating increased data being stored electronically. This, paired with a strained IT budget and lack of dedicated resources to fight ransomware, has left schools open for attackers to capitalize on.

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4 Ways K12 Districts Use Tech To Connect with Families

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Lindsey Canny

By Lindsey Canny, copywriter, Skyward.

If your students, families, and employees had more options, would they still choose you? Take a lesson from the districts who already know the answer to that question because of their powerful online identities.

By building your district’s online presence through technology, you encourage ongoing engagement from students, employees, and parents. You stand out to your community and communicate a strong culture. Dive in to a trove of examples in four core platforms.

  1. District website

Your website is the first place the community turns to for finding information about the district. Make sure they like what they see by taking the following into account:

  1. Social media

Building a social media presence keeps brand messaging in your own hands. Keep the focus on school culture with these in mind:

  1. Videos

Videos offer viewers a way to peek into your community’s day-to-day life and culture. Here’s how to put your district’s best image on display:

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Modern Campus Recognizes the Best Higher Education Websites of 2022

Modern Campus - Serent CapitalModern Campus, a provider of higher education solutions for driving student enrollment by attracting, engaging and converting students, recognized eight colleges and universities for excellence in website design and management.

These eight winners were chosen from more than 700 postsecondary institution websites powered by Modern Campus Omni CMS, the only content management system purpose-built for higher education. The winning websites were recognized for their effectiveness at providing students with informative content and engaging user experiences, driving conversions, maintaining interest, and improving enrollments.

In no particular order, the Best Higher Education Websites of 2022 are:

Since the website is the front door to an institution, it plays a crucial role in driving student enrollment by attracting, engaging, and converting students. It’s one of the first places that prospective students visit and serves as an important touchpoint in their enrollment decision.

Modern students expect higher ed websites to be optimized for their phones, deliver personalized experiences, and showcase the return on their higher ed investments upfront. They also prefer to experience the campus virtually before applying for it, found a recent study of higher school students conducted by RNL.

“Colleges and universities have been leveraging their websites in innovative ways to improve their prospective students’ digital experiences,” said Kimberly Prieto, vice president for product at Modern Campus. “On behalf of Modern Campus, I’m really excited to recognize the institutions that are leading the innovation and accomplishing specific goals with their websites. These websites share the very best of what the institution has to offer in a highly engaging manner.”

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Ensuring Schools Have An Effective Cloud Infrastructure Can Enhance Learning

By Gloria Zhang, director of cloud programs, ASCENDING.

The dramatic shift over the last few years in the way students learn may have kickstarted the move to more technology-driven classrooms and remote learning, but the clear advantages to students, educators and parents that came as a result of that digital leap have led education leaders across the country to keep pushing forward with technology infrastructure investments.

Cloud computing allows educators to collaborate more efficiently, improving the student and teacher experience by streamlining internal processes, such as assigning homework, accessing school resources and creating lesson plans.

If approached correctly, it can cut costs for schools, increase the security of student and teacher data and create a flexible IT environment that adapts to changing data storage needs.

However, while IT leaders may be eager to make the transition, schools must approach the process cautiously, developing a plan and obtaining qualified personnel to ensure they receive the benefits that so many other organizations have experienced.

Take the time to plan

Transitioning workloads to the cloud is not easy – IT leaders must ensure they are aware of what systems they’re looking to improve internally and the challenges they face. Without a plan, leaders run the risk of compromising student and teacher data and overspending on the cloud, eliminating many of the cloud’s benefits.

Planning starts with an analysis of the current environment. IT leaders must examine their current on-premises workloads and identify any existing issues, so these are not transferred to the cloud environment. By evaluating the current landscape, the team can also determine what they are trying to achieve in the cloud and how they would like to close these gaps.

Assessing on-premises workloads will also give the migration team a good idea of how much data they are moving, how long the process will take, and how much it will cost. With new students entering the classroom each year, understanding the timeline and how to ensure minimal downtime for operations is crucial for schools looking to migrate without disrupting classroom learning. For example, schools may wish to perform the majority of the process in the summer when students are at home.

This planning phase should also include a strategy for moving the data. While the workloads can be transferred all at once, it’s often better to shift the data in pieces, starting with those not vital to daily function. Transferring non-critical data allows IT teams to identify errors in the process early on and fix them before moving data more essential to daily classroom learning.

Once these factors have been evaluated, leaders can move forward with ensuring they have all components necessary to ensure sustained success.

You will need help – hire qualified cloud professionals

Many school IT teams are not equipped with the resources and knowledge necessary to ensure a cloud migration is smooth and completed correctly.

It’s important to realize that the cloud poses many unique challenges, and while an individual may have several years of IT experience, it does not mean they are equipped to handle a cloud migration.

Experienced cloud practitioners can proactively address issues by establishing cybersecurity or error alerts and know how and when to utilize unique tools such as cloud formation to avoid common mistakes made during migration, allowing systems to transition smoothly from one environment to another.

Cloud practitioners are essential to the cloud migration process – especially when supporting uninterrupted learning and handling the personally identifiable information of children and teachers. To create an effective cloud team, schools should partner with IT staffing firms to evaluate candidates’ abilities against the school’s unique requirements. This streamlines the selection process by identifying the most qualified individuals with the necessary technical skills.

Implementing the services the cloud has to offer can be intimidating, but the shift improves efficiency, enhances student and teacher experiences, and reduces the threat of data breaches and cyber threats.

The cloud also increases elasticity, so schools can adapt as student enrollment and data needs grow or decrease. But to ensure all these benefits, cloud migration must begin with a carefully thought-out plan and hiring a cloud team.

Artificial Intelligence In Schools: Look Past Hesitations To See Opportunity

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Melissa Smith

By Melissa Smith, vice president of education, Glowforge.

Do we fear the robot or do we embrace it? When it comes to the topic of ethical artificial intelligence (AI) in schools, the question is usually met with a split response. While you may love or hate the technology, the reality is — it’s not slowing down any time soon. In fact, AI in schools is projected to grow by 36.0% in the next eight years. Knowing this, the key is to keep an open mind and work to understand the applications of ethical AI within the school system. 

Before we dive in, let’s piggyback on a prime example of a new-to-market product that shook up the old: 3D laser printers.

A little over a decade ago, kids had two options; art or tech class. The latter still had woodworking involved. So, when 3D laser printers came on the scene, strong opinions persisted. However, in time, it became clear to all that 3D laser printing mechanisms didn’t stifle creativity, in fact, it inspired – and made the ‘tech’ in STEAM more accessible than ever before. 

By giving students the tools they needed to create physical objects, 3D laser printers were bridging the gap between art and technology. Years later, this bridging is as important as ever before given careers in STEAM fields are in high demand.

Ms. Gonzalez, a high school art teacher in California, shared her thoughts on how a leading laser 3D laser printer, Glowforge, impacted her classroom. She says it has been a game-changer for my students. It’s given them the opportunity to explore their creativity in new ways and has opened up doors for them in STEAM fields. I have students who are now considering careers in architecture and engineering, which is really exciting to see.”

As you can see: In time, the hesitations fade, and the benefits take over. 

With that, let’s approach ethical AI with the same open mind today.

Here are six ways ethical AI can help educational systems from teachers to students:

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Head of The Class: Cox Predicts Education’s Next Steps To Bridge The Digital Divide

Steve Westerman
Steve Westerman

By Steve Westerman, vice president, Cox Business

Technology impacts nearly every aspect of our daily lives, and education is no exception. It has transformed school systems, enhanced the learning experience and created an engaging environment for students of all ages. But not all communities are equally equipped to thrive in the digital age.

The COVID-19 pandemic shined a spotlight on the decades-old issue known as the digital divide. It’s the lopsided demographic gap between those who have access to modern technology and those who don’t. Even as kids have returned to class, this inequity persists across school districts and at home.

As of 2021 a quarter of the population still did not have broadband internet connection at home – a necessary gateway for homework, studying, and both peer and teacher connections. And Cox Communications recently surveyed more than 2,000 of its affordable internet customers and found nearly half (48 percent) had obtained home internet access for the first time through Cox.

As classrooms move from remote-only learning to increasingly digital spaces, there are ways school systems and community leaders can work together to tackle today’s digital divide issues for more equitable education.

Certain areas, demographics will require more support

The digital divide reduces a student’s economic outlook for lifehen they start behind their peers, they are likelier to stay behind. And the opposite is true: Greater internet and tech access leads to a greater long-term economic return.

According to Cox Communications’ survey of affordable internet customers, 90 percent of households say Cox internet access has had a positive impact on their children’s education, specifically in helping them complete homework, attend school virtually and access learning resources.

However, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) recently reported that in its state alone, full digital access remains lower among Latino (63 percent), Black (71 percent) and low-income households with school-aged (K-12) children (59 percent). This disparity makes it difficult for students to compete for secondary education and higher paying jobs.

Rural areas, too, continue to lag compared to their urban and suburban counterparts, though adoption is growing. According to Pew Research, “while broadband adoption has not significantly increased for urban and suburban Americans in the last five years, rural residents have seen a nine-percentage point rise in home broadband adoption since 2016.”

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How Franklin University Pivoted To Meet The Needs of Current and Future Healthcare Workers

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Dr. Patrick Bennett

By Dr. Patrick Bennett, vice president, academic quality and planning and dean of the School of Education, Franklin University.

According to a US News Report, there will be a shortage of over 400,000 home health aides, almost 100,000 nursing assistants and lab techs, and almost 30,000 nurse practitioners in the coming years. A study from Elsevier found that 47 percent of medical workers surveyed plan to seek a new job in the next two or three years.

Not only is there a worker shortage in healthcare, people want more options in choosing how they prepare – an educational degree or a skills-based training program – for that career. We’ve come to the point where offering new pathways to employment are not only a nice option to offer, they are essential. Because the training required for healthcare employment is constantly evolving, these pathways must be responsive to industry and market needs. That means taking a new look at how traditional higher education and skill-based training work together.

Giving students flexible, practical options

Franklin University serves mostly adult, non-traditional students. These are typically career-oriented individuals who are very practical and seek to use their time as efficiently as possible. For them, education is not solely focused on getting a bachelor’s degree. It’s often about what can I use right away? Our programs have served students seeking full degree programs, but now we also offer skills-based programs. What we’ve sought to do, however, is to also stay true to our roots as a degree-granting institution, making it easy for students to apply their job training work toward degree credit they can pursue simultaneously or in the future.

As we say on campus, any school can get you started. Franklin can help you finish. In addition to awarding credit for specialized skill-development courses, we also evaluate practical experience such as what a student might bring from military credit, direct work experience, industry-recognized certifications, or previously earned coursework regardless of the institution. We believe that such life experience and practical, applied knowledge is valuable, so we address each student’s experience individually and consider how that experience translates into coursework that can count for credit. This is called articulated credit or sometimes prior learning credit and it is changing how skills training and traditional education work together.

As a result of our approach, students can begin their education journey through our FranklinWORKS Marketplace, get a professional certification, and then later leverage that same coursework toward a degree. For example, a student can be in the field working as an X-ray tech or pharmacy tech, and then later complete a degree by building on the original courses they took to get their certification.

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AI In The Classroom: A Revolutionary Tool Or A Hindrance To Learning?

Brian Sathianathan
Brian Sathianathan

By Brian Sathianathan, co-founder,

Education has undergone a massive shift in recent years due to technological advancements, with the internet and computers becoming essential tools for both students and educators. Among these technological advancements are AI-powered chat programs, which have revolutionized the way students learn.

ChatGPT is one of these language programs that has recently gained immense popularity, thanks to its ability to provide students with instant answers to their questions or prompts. This has sparked heated debate amongst educators. Some believe that AI technology like ChatGPT should be embraced, while others are quick to argue that it has no real benefits for students when it comes to learning. This article will explore both sides of the argument and examine the pros and cons of using programs like ChatGPT in educational settings.

Why Educators Should Embrace ChatGPT

Let’s begin by examining the pros when it comes to embracing AI programs like ChatGPT in schools. For one, ChatGPT is designed to provide instant answers to students’ questions. This can be incredibly useful, especially for students who struggle with a particular subject or concept. Instead of waiting for a teacher to respond to an email or schedule an office hours appointment, students can get the help they need, or at least get pointed in the right direction, right away.

This can be particularly helpful in the case of emergencies, such as when a student is struggling to complete an assignment or study for an exam. ChatGPT can also help personalize learning for each student. The AI program can track a students’ progress and provide tailored feedback based on their performance. This can help teachers identify areas where a student is struggling and provide additional resources to help them improve. The AI program can also recommend additional materials for the student to review, based on their individual learning style and pace.

AI programs can also save teachers a lot of time. Instead of answering the same questions repeatedly, teachers can direct students to the AI programs. This frees up time for teachers to focus on other tasks, such as lesson planning and grading. The AI programs can also handle routine tasks, such as setting reminders and scheduling appointments.

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