Colby-Sawyer College is set to receive $1.5 million in federal funding to support the construction of a new home for its school of nursing and health sciences.
The $1.5 million, allocated as part of the 2022 government funding legislation signed into law last week, is among more than $62 million being directed toward New Hampshire-based projects as a result of the advocacy of U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen. These funds bring the college’s total amount raised for the $10.5 million project to $7.9 million.
“We are incredibly grateful to Sen. Shaheen for her continued support of higher education and of the college’s commitment to preparing future generations of healthcare professionals,” Colby-Sawyer president Susan. D. Stuebner said. “A new home for the school of nursing and health sciences will ensure that Colby-Sawyer is prepared to meet changing trends in healthcare education well into the future while also addressing the immediate workforce needs of healthcare providers both locally and across the country.”
As if the education system hasn’t already dealt with enough difficult change in the past two years as a result of COVID-19, the shift to remote/hybrid school also laid bare the cybersecurity gaps faced by many districts. Bad actors took advantage of already vulnerable systems and struck hard.
Ransomware attacks have been relentless. There were a record-setting 408 publicly disclosed cybersecurity incidents in 2020 in the K-12 sector, across 40 states, according to the State of K-12 Cybersecurity: 2020 Year in Review. Numbers for 2021 are still being finalized, but given what we’ve seen in terms of ransomware and cyber incidents overall, we expect them to be even higher.
Steps are being taken at the federal level; Joe Biden signed into law late last year the K-12 Cybersecurity Act to provide schools with more resources. But as we move further into 2022, ransomware attacks are still being perpetuated against schools even as districts try to bolster defenses. It can be hard to know where to focus first, so let’s examine some of the key things security IT teams should consider this year.
Uncertainty creates opportunities for bad actors
This year will experience the heightened cybersecurity threat level that the last two years saw. The year is still young, but we’ve seen schools across the country revert back to virtual learning as a result of the Omicron variant. Those types of shifts can too often open up potential opportunities for bad actors to strike, as cybercriminals operate on a “kick ‘em while they’re down” mindset. And we’ll continue to see malicious actors evolve their methods as needed to bypass or fool current cybersecurity efforts and continue their successful attack campaigns.
Circumstances make it clear that the focus for districts and schools must now become transitioning the short-term actions they initially took – both to facilitate virtual learning and combat cyber risk – into longer-term and more strategic cybersecurity approaches.
Shannon Flynn is a freelance blogger who covers education technologies, cybersecurity and IoT topics. You can follow Shannon on Muck Rack or Medium to read more of her articles.
In the United States and around the globe, there is a gender divide. There is a clear education gap between men and women and even a technological one. These gaps become even larger chasms when looking at women of color. This leaves the question, on a global level: how do we bridge the education gap using technology?
What Is the Digital Gender Divide?
Before we can begin to look for solutions to the digital gender divide, we must first understand what it is. The technology gap itself can be broken up into two key components:
The difference between groups with access to quality technology (or any at all) and those without
The difference between groups with access to the internet and those without
Globally, girls and women will have less access to technology than the other gender. This problem is exacerbated in developing countries.
Several factors can cause a lack of access for women, but the largest factor is stereotyping. In many countries, technology is not believed to be for women and many fear its usage would lead to discrimination from their male counterparts.
There is also a gender gap when it comes to education. Like the digital technology gap, there again must be a solid understanding of the vast disparity between genders in the classroom as well as equal access to the classroom.
While the education gap has shrunk in many highly educated countries, it persists globally. Globally, 16 million girls will never enter a classroom, and women account for two-thirds of the 750 million adults without basic literacy skills.
Even in the United States, this education gap persists between black women and their white counterparts, both in quality of education and access to it. From lack of access to college-ready classes and being concentrated in schools with fewer resources, to the lack of black representation among teachers, the educational gender gap persists for women of color in the United States.
By Maureen Wentworth, manager of strategic partnerships, Ed-Fi.
Last year flew by in the blink of an eye. We had some things to get excited about like unprecedented federal funding, tiptoeing back into offices, and limited in person convenings. We also faced some challenges and anxieties . . . like unprecedented federal funding, tiptoeing back into offices, and limited in person convenings.
With 2022 off to an eerily familiar start in some ways, we find ourselves better positioned to take on the challenges ahead. As a community, we’ve responded in big and small ways to the unprecedented need for data and technology to meet the needs of our students and educators.
We’ve identified three prevailing themes that state education agencies should keep in mind while mapping out priorities in this new year.
The urgency to modernize our data systems is again on display in 2022.
Over the course of the last year, about $190 billion in federal support was allocated through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds and to be spent within the next two to three years. The Data Quality Campaign reports that “over half of all states’ ESSER plans proposed using these funds to strengthen data systems or promote effective data use “and 29 state plans describe state efforts to create new education data systems or modernize existing ones.”
We have seen firsthand the commitment to systems modernization in the strength and growth of the Ed-Fi Community. The year 2021 saw new projects and pilots launching in eleven states, and seven statewide implementations leading the way to new use cases and expanded opportunities for connected data.
In 2022, states will continue to push the Ed-Fi data model to support efforts in early childhood education, graduation pathways, educator preparation, and expanded analytics capabilities. The SEA Modernization Starter Kit, will help jump start efforts for states looking to implement real time data collection while leveraging the Ed-Fi Data Model and open-source technology tools that support students across their states.
Modern Campus, a leading engagement platform for higher education, announced the appointment of Jessica Phinn as chief people officer. In this newly created role, Phinn will lead all aspects of human resources, from recruitment through onboarding, employee engagement and beyond. The announcement aligns with the wider focus of Modern Campus continuing its terrific growth, maximizing the potential of its over 400 team members to transform the higher education industry.
Phinn joins Modern Campus with a wealth of experience across more than 20 years of progressive human resources leadership at multiple large organizations, including Pepsi Bottling Group and Loblaw. Before joining Modern Campus, Phinn held the position of senior vice president, people and engagement at Nelson Education, Canada’s leading K-12 education company.
“Maintaining our rapid growth requires creativity and passion at every level of the organization,” said Brian Kibby, chief executive officer at Modern Campus. “Bringing in Jessica as Modern Campus’s Chief People Officer positions us to continue our exponential growth by harnessing the talent and engagement of every member of our team. Her leadership will enable us to create a truly welcoming environment for everyone who’s joined Modern Campus recently through acquisition, while continuing our tradition of excellence in building a workplace that rewards and nurtures leaders.”
“Modern Campus has a well-earned reputation as a beacon for top edtech talent, and because of this and the highly engaged leadership team, it is a role that I found to be extremely compatible and one that I simply couldn’t pass up,” Phinn said. “I’m a firm believer that employees are truly a company’s most valuable asset, and with this I found a perfect match in Modern Campus. I am truly excited to join the organization and engage with all my new colleagues as they continue on their growth trajectory.”
Phinn holds a Bachelor of Human Resources Management from York University and is a certified human resources leader (CHRL).
The rapid growth of Modern Campus is due in part to welcoming five new companies in the past 12 months. The company acquired interactive campus map and virtual tour provider nuCloud in early 2021, followed by academic catalog and curriculum management provider DIGARC, and student engagement and development leader Presence. In January of this year, Modern Campus announced its acquisitions of leading higher education text-messaging provider Signal Vine and Augusoft, a leader in enrollment management for continuing education and corporate education programs.
Modern Campus partnered with Partners in Publishing on this executive search.
Shannon Flynn is a freelance blogger who covers education technologies, cybersecurity and IoT topics. You can follow Shannon on Muck Rack or Medium to read more of her articles.
Many workplaces and educational institutions have been operating in a high-risk, digital environment due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. More schools are considering implementing a bring=your-own device (BYOD) program as a result.
However, school administrators, parents and teachers have some concerns regarding students bringing in their own devices.
Adopting a BYOD program may not be feasible for all schools — whether it’s a lack of resources or poor understanding of how technology can be used in classrooms. Education professionals must learn the ins and outs of a BYOD program before implementing one.
What Is a BYOD Program?
A bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program allows students to bring their personal devices into the classroom for educational purposes. These programs are gaining popularity in educational institutions nationwide, and the trend will likely continue.
The Deer Park Independent School District in Texas is a good example. Chief technology officer Kari Rhame Murphy says that the transition to BYOD was surprisingly easy, but only because she and her team spent two years planning for it.
Aside from just schools, it’s not surprising that more employers adopt BYOD programs to benefit their employees. Consider all the people working from home — is it easier to let them use a personal device or issue one from an organization?
Historically, education IT professionals have supported their respective colleges and universities from the behind the scenes. They’ve provided and maintained the critical infrastructure that allowed their institutions to serve learners, largely in the shadows, maintaining everything from server racks to campus Wi-Fi, to the printers in the library.
Of course, leading technology is no longer a “nice-to-have” for any business, and higher education is no different. Arguably, the technological infrastructure is as critical to helping set learners’ expectations of the institution as programming itself.
So, for the modern education IT professional, the most important topic they should be focused on is the student experience—both inside and outside the classroom.
By modernizing the digital experience being used to engage learners, IT professionals can help their respective institutions make massive strides to becoming environments better suited to the expectations of the modern learner, no matter their age.
Everyone today is first and foremost a digital consumer; they use Netflix, Amazon and Uber on a daily basis. Modern colleges and universities need to ensure students are able to access critical institutional information, resources and administrative tools when and where they want.
This means creating a secure environment that allows students to log into a portal to access receipts, request (and pay for!) transcripts and perform other bureaucratic and administrative tasks that are usually performed by front-line staff. It also means creating environments that automate adaptive communications, ensuring that learners are receiving relevant messaging from the institution through their preferred channels at the right time.
What’s more, IT has a role to play in supporting the delivery of high-quality academic experiences. That’s not to say the CIO will be teaching classes, of course. But it does mean creating an infrastructure that allows program catalogs—which are generally PDFs uploaded to the website—to be digitized and updated from a single location. It also means creating workflow structures that allow program approval processes to be automated and simplified, so that everyone from the program chair to the accreditation body is in the loop when something changes.
Instructure, the makers of Canvas, have released new data that explores how the pandemic has impacted K-12 education and identifies six key trends moving forward for U.S. schools. Positive shifts include teachers and parents becoming more open to new ways to teach and learn, and finding value in technology to stay connected. Student engagement became the leading metric of student success, with 92% of educators calling it the most important factor. The data also underscores challenges in areas like equity, with low income households more than twice as likely to report difficulty in helping their children remain engaged.
“Our school communities persevered through incredibly challenging dynamics this past year, but overall we came through it more adaptive, open to new approaches and deeply focused on student engagement,” said Trenton Goble, VP of K-12 Strategy at Instructure. ”At the same time, there is a lot of hard work ahead. About half of educators and parents feel students have significantly fallen behind due to COVID-19. We know technology will remain pivotal, as the pandemic shifted its role from a nice-to-have to an essential service that connects teachers, parents and students with the entire learning journey.”
The research revealed six key trends that parents and educators across the country feel are important to teaching and learning in K-12 education.
Investing in teachers = investing in student success.
High-quality teaching continues to be recognized as the leading factor contributing to student success, and investing in immersive professional development is critical to supporting teacher preparedness, building and deepening skill sets, and promoting teacher efficacy.
85% of parents ranked it as the most important factor.
When looking at social-emotional factors, both educators (99%) and parents (91%) rated “the student’s relationship with teachers” as the top factor.
Professional development for teachers received the most funding in the switch to remote learning, and is expected to remain the top two priorities for future funding.
If you had asked me a couple of years ago about what common challenges schools face from an IT perspective, I would have said a lack of device inventory and restrictive budgets. This isn’t the case anymore. The pandemic brought swift and necessary change to the way schools approach technology. When in-person learning became impossible, school administrators were forced to invest in technology to pivot to remote learning.
When COVID-19 hit, schools started supplying their students and educators with devices that made remote learning possible. They bought tablets and laptops in staggering numbers and shipped truckloads of devices to schools to provision and distribute. This generated a new set of challenges related to the management and security of devices.
IT teams at schools struggled to effectively manage the flood of new devices due to lack of time, lack of resources, or both. The result was that best practices were missed as the school environment was extended to the homes of millions of students and faculty. At the same time, cyber threats exploded and schools started to get hacked in record numbers. To date, our educational institutions remain one of the largest targets that exist for cybercriminals.
Now that hybrid and remote learning has become the new norm, schools must address the issues that came along with the procurement of large fleets of devices. They can begin by taking a critical look at their inventory management practices, identity infrastructure, and security of the devices.
Communicating with everyone on campus can be challenging. It might seem easy to send out a mass email or text message for regular updates, but when it comes to sharing critical information during a crisis, neither of these methods on their own is very effective.
Campuses are large and people are spread out. It’s difficult to ensure that everyone will receive a message, much less receive at the same time. Most campuses have other communication tools in place, but the more tools a campus needs to manage, the longer it can take to get a message out.
That’s why many campuses are turning to mass notification systems to quickly share information and automate safety plans. A complete mass notification system will help a campus enhance its safety and communication by leveraging every available communication channel to deliver a message during an emergency.
Mass notification systems that can connect to mobile devices as well as devices on campus such as desk phones, IP speakers, desktop computer and digital signage can be much more effective in getting information in front of people than relying on text messages or emails alone. That’s because this approach can leverage intrusive audio in addition to text and visual cue like blinking lights. This helps interrupt ongoing activities to grab people’s attention and alert them to what is happening. It also helps reach areas of campus that might have poor cell phone reception or classrooms where cell phones may be put away or on silent. This makes messages more immediate and emphasizes the urgency of the situation.
Campuses can also take advantage of consistent messaging going out across all channels by building and recording notifications in advance. On large campuses this can be especially helpful as social media and word of mouth rumors can sometimes outpace the flow of information from official sources. Creating one source of truth give people on campus a reliable place to turn to for information during a crisis.
The other area campuses can benefit is in automation. Safety plans are multifaceted processes that involve different people performing various tasks to achieve a successful outcome. But even well thought out plans can be overly complicated leading to steps being missed which can put people at risk. With the proper configuration, a single button push on a panic button, mobile app, or mouse can launch notifications to all the devices on campus.
Notifications can also be automated by connecting to different Internet of Things devices. AED cabinets, water sensors, gunshot detectors and motion sensors on security cameras can all be configured to trigger notifications when activated. This ability extends into monitoring systems as well like the National Weather Service to receive automatic alerts when severe weather approaches, early earthquake warning systems, and even phone systems to know when 911 has been dialed from a campus phone.