Chandler Unified School District Deploys Fortinet’s Security Awareness and Training Service

Fortinet, a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity solutions, today announced that Chandler Unified School District is providing its more than 5,200 faculty and staff with Fortinet’s information Security Awareness and Training service to build cyber awareness and to further strengthen the district’s security posture.

Tied with the White House National Cyber Workforce and Education Summit in July, Fortinet announced the expansion of its existing Security Awareness and Training service to K-12 school districts across the United States free of cost. Chandler Unified School District joins other districts across the U.S. reaping the benefits of Fortinet’s free service offering, enabling them to build a cyber-aware workforce and improve their skillsets to avoid breaches at educational institutions.

Chandler Unified School District Selects Fortinet’s Cyber Awareness Training
Chandler Unified School District has seen the value of Fortinet’s service and is deploying it across the district to provide its faculty and staff with skill sets and knowledge that could prevent them from falling victim to popular cyber adversary methods, such as social engineering attempts, helping to reduce their cyber risk.

Colleen Flannery, Chief Technology Officer for Chandler Unified School District shared, “With more than 5200 staff and faculty logging in from both school and personal devices, it’s important everyone has the skills to recognize social engineering and other popular attacks. Cyber criminals don’t discriminate against the education sector, which presents a real need to ensure all our faculty and staff are cyber informed and know best practices. There’s no reason why a public school district should pass up this opportunity Fortinet is providing free of cost to use their award-winning training curriculum to instill must-have cyber skill sets. More than ever, cybersecurity is everyone’s job, and we want all our school members to practice this in their day-to-day online activities.”

Building Cyber Awareness in K-12 School Districts
Many K-12 school districts are rapidly transforming their networks to implement e-learning and other digital programs to enhance student learning across distributed campuses. As part of school districts’ digital transformation, it is critical that schools implement the right security solutions with integrated and comprehensive protection to keep the large amounts of personally identifiable information (PII) they store secure. At the same time, as the first line of defense, it is also essential for all school district employees to have a fundamental cyber awareness knowledge in order to spot any threats or cyberattacks.

To address this need, Fortinet offers its Security Awareness and Training service at no cost to all K-12 school districts in the U.S., and has updated the training for this offering to be education-focused, aligned with NIST 800-50 and NIST 800-16 guidelines. This initiative will help more than 8 million staff and faculty members across the country.

Validation as a Certified Cybersecurity Training Program
Providing further validation, local governments are recognizing Fortinet’s Security Awareness and Training service customized for school districts as a certified program, including the Texas Department of Information Resources, who added the service to its list of approved and certified cyber training options as part of the statewide employee requirement for cyber awareness training.

Rob Rashotte, VP of Global Training and Field Enablement at Fortinet said, “As the first line of defense, it is critical that school faculty and staff are able to identify and report threats to keep sensitive data and information secure. Fortinet’s Security Awareness and Training service, with customized learning content for school districts, will help develop cyber-aware culture to prevent these institutions from falling victim to cyberattacks. Making this service free to K-12 school districts in the U.S. is part of the Fortinet Training Institute’s initiative to make training more accessible to help close the cyber skills gap. We are excited to see additional validation from local governments that are making this service a certified program as part of their approved list of cyber training programs for employees.”

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Colby-Sawyer College Earns Top 10 Rankings in U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Colleges Issue

#328 Colby-Sawyer College - Forbes.comColby-Sawyer College has once again been recognized as one of the top colleges in the region by U.S. News & World Report, earning a pair of top 10 rankings in the publication’s 2023 Best Colleges issue.

The annual report, released Monday, ranks Colby-Sawyer in a tie for second place in its Best Undergraduate Teaching (North) category for regional colleges, and in the top 10 in its Best Regional Colleges (North) category for a sixth straight year. Colby-Sawyer also earned a 23rd-place ranking on the report’s Top Performers on Social Mobility (North) list.

“We are delighted to be recognized by U.S. News as one of the top institutions in our region,” said Colby-Sawyer President Susan D. Stuebner, who last week announced plans to cut tuition by more than 60% to $17,500 to begin for the 2023 academic year in an effort to increase transparency in college pricing. “Many prospective students and families find this information useful in their college searches. Our top 10 ranking affirms our institutional strength to prospective students.”

Colby-Sawyer ranks in a tie for second place in the report’s Best Undergraduate Teaching Among Regional Colleges (North) category, which recognizes schools where faculty and administrators have “an unusually strong commitment to undergraduate teaching” according to the U.S. News website. This is the third consecutive year that the college has ranked in the top three in the Best Undergraduate Teaching category, which utilizes the results of a peer assessment survey of college presidents, provosts and admissions deans to determine rankings.

“I am especially glad to see the college recognized again by U.S. News for our undergraduate teaching,” Stuebner said. “Our faculty are very talented and well-versed in their respective fields, and they work tirelessly to support our students’ growth academically. Whether it be teaching an introductory course or working with a student on their senior capstone, our faculty are deeply committed to student learning. US News’s ranking reflects their very hard work to help students explore, connect and make a difference.”

Colby-Sawyer earned a ninth-place ranking in the report’s Best Regional Colleges (North), placing ahead of 35 similarly sized institutions from Pennsylvania to Maine. The category ranks both public and private institutions focused on undergraduate education that grant fewer than 50% of their degrees in liberal arts disciplines. Of the eight schools to place ahead of Colby-Sawyer in the category, only four are privately funded.

Colby-Sawyer also placed 23rd in U.S. News’s rankings for Top Performers in Social Mobility (North) category. The category made its debut in the report’s 2020 Best Colleges issue and recognizes institutions for advancing social mobility by enrolling and graduating large proportions of students awarded Pell Grants.

U.S. News groups colleges into categories based on the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, which it calls the most widely accepted classification system in U.S. higher education. The report bills itself as the top peer benchmarking and performance assessment tool in higher education.

What Is Geospatial Data and How Does It Play a Role In A Safe Return To School?

Responses from Amanda M. Melvin, lead public health analyst, HSR.health.

Geospatial data is information that describes events, objects, or features within a location on or near the surface of the Earth.

The role geospatial data plays in the safe return to school has to do with where the school is situated in addition to where the students and teachers who attend that school live. This information allows us to use geospatially encoded data surrounding the COVID crisis to determine the relative safety of a school. We also consider the surrounding area of the school, the students and teachers, and environmental data pertaining to the school itself. All of these data points are involved in determining the probability of disease transmission within the community and to understand how best to mitigate the associated risks.

Can AI be used reliably to track and identify the risk of disease transmission in a school environment? What about new variants of COVID-19?

In short, there is little AI can’t do. Using AI, data scientists are able to develop new solutions to critical world problems on a daily basis. For example, data scientists are now able to leverage broad sets of geocoded data and machine learning models to identify the risk of disease transmission continuously across various circumstances and environments.

In regards to identifying the risks associated with the unfortunate rise in new variants of COVID-19, yes, AI can be used to reliably track and identify these. A defined place like a school and individual classrooms have specific air flow patterns that can be modeled to test viral propogation. The movements and interactions of teachers and students within that space can also be modeled to assess the level of potential exposure to infectious diseases.

This goes for both known and novel variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. Anticipating the next dominant variant is critical to an effective response.

In identifying risks in a school setting, how do geospatial data and AI work together?

Geospatial data and AI work hand and hand to paint a complete picture of the risks in a school setting. Geospatial data informs the initial conditions of this analysis. By leveraging data that represents the ZIP Codes or home counties of the student body, teachers, administrators, parents, and others who may frequent the school, the model can accurately capture and inform an accurate representation of that school or district’s specific COVID-19 situation.

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What’s New In Ed Tech Interoperability

Casey Thompson

By Casey Thompson, digital media manager, Skyward, Inc.

Interoperability—the ability of software programs to seamlessly connect to one another by seamlessly exchanging information and common language—is something we’ve been steadily working towards in edtech. Plenty of progress has been made, but in many ways it feels like we’re only starting to scratch the surface of what’s possible, and the work that needs to be done to get there.

At the same time the interoperability conversation continues, we’re also smack-dab in the middle of a new era of teaching and learning in K12 schools. More learning is happening outside of school buildings than ever before. Teacher happiness and retention continue to be a high priority, with a big part of that happiness focused on cutting down and streamlining tedious administrative tasks so teachers can maximize their time.

A strong student information system (SIS) can be a cornerstone of your district’s educational data, creating ways to communicate with parents, monitor progress, manage remote learning, and support staff all in one swoop. However, we also know that your SIS is just one piece of the edtech interoperability puzzle. So, let’s explore the current discussion and increasing importance around the need for edtech interoperability in K12 schools:

Interoperability and Remote Learning:  The Continued Push for Open Standards

Remote learning—in some form—is here to stay, and to prepare for the classroom of the future, many schools and districts invested heavily in edtech platforms to engage students and fill in learning gaps. However, more edtech often leads to an increase in siloed information—unless the platforms have made it their mission to adopt open standards for interoperability.

The call for edtech that prioritizes interoperability has been louder than ever before, with a national snapshot from the IMS Global Learning Consortium showing that schools and districts that prioritized interoperability open standards when choosing digital tools and resources were able to make a more seamless shift to remote learning. In March 2021, IMS took the facilitation of open standards to the next level with the launch of their Standards First program. Educational institutions and edtech suppliers alike are encouraged to sign the pledge, which demonstrates advocacy, transparency, and trust over the shared goal of open standards.

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The Greatest Challenges and Most Difficult Obstacles Facing Schools Regarding IT Services

Rich Benbow

Response from Rich Benbow, vice president, Western Governer’s University.

Some traditional colleges have a resistance to change and haven’t adapted as well as they probably could to digitize their programs. WGU is a digitally native university, so when the pandemic hit, it was easy for us to scale to meet the massive influx of new students who wanted to learn new skills and qualifications during the lockdown.

But not every traditional brick-and-mortar institution was able to adapt as quickly. I feel we have always been very innovative in being able to adopt new technologies, but other institutions don’t have the same infrastructure. Their governance can often prevent them from adopting new technologies and ways of teaching as quickly as possible. 

Whenever you digitize information, there is always a cybersecurity risk, but as a company, we always aspired to be at the forefront of technology and innovation. We have many dedicated departments who are committed to using top-tier technology to ensure students’ information is safe and secure. 

Students today use various devices to attend online classes – smartphones, tablets, desktops, etc. This means that we constantly have to adapt and ensure that our technology is compatible with the myriad of new devices continually being made. 

How the Cloud Powers Research In Higher Education

Randy Shore

By Randy Shore, VP delivery and support, Kion.

Doing more with less is the mantra of higher education leaders today. Various IT solutions have emerged to help accomplish this lofty goal, but the cloud has proven better than the rest, and with good reason. In fact, the global Cloud Computing in Higher Education market held a value of $2.1 billion in 2020 and is forecasted to reach nearly $8.8 billion by 2027. Additionally, the cloud easily empowers researchers to focus on the thing they do best: research.

From student recruitment and talent management to administration and fundraising, the possibilities are endless for cloud users in higher education. But to fully understand how institutions can best harness the cloud, it’s vital to not only study up on the ways the cloud can support your researchers, but the challenges your organization may face during the adoption process as well.

How can the cloud support research in higher education?

Cloud computing removes friction, giving academic researchers the computing power they need, when they need it. For instance, the cloud can help with data analysis and visualization, which, along with other managed services, can save researchers time as they don’t need to focus on creating data visualization clusters. In fact, cloud-enabled research has proven to cut down development times and increase application performance and developer productivity by 20%.

Additionally, the cloud can help mightily with an organization’s compliance efforts that are required both before and after a research grant is awarded. For instance, every institutional researcher must specify every service and solution that will be employed before receiving a grant. While each university may tailor the offerings, by standardizing around common managed cloud services, security and compliance accreditations can be inherited and re-used to speed up the research grant process

One key thing to keep in mind here is that grants come with strings attached. Think about it—higher education researchers have their hands on a lot of data, including government data in many instances. Much of this requires access control and physical media control, like locking servers behind fences, as well as data security controls. This often leads to additional expenses and processes for universities looking to host in internal data centers and often creates complexities as they can’t comply without these measures. With the help of the cloud, the organization holds more individual control over its data. Some of these controls, including access controls, can be inherited for organizations relying on AWS, for instance, thanks to the Shared Responsibility Model.

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Dear Ed-Tech Providers: 3 Ways Interoperability Wins You More Business

Sean Casey

By Sean Casey, manager of strategic partnerships, Ed-Fi Alliance.

“Help teachers support students.” Many software providers in the ed-tech space have impactful statements like this at the forefront of their mission. But staying true to a mission-driven value proposition is not always easy.

Luckily for ed-tech providers, adopting interoperability means that living your mission and operating a successful business do not have to be at odds with one another. Finding ways to be competitive will only improve ed-tech products — to the benefit of students, teachers, and of course, the providers themselves.

Why Disparate Datasets Hurt Everyone, Especially Students
Even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit, there was a growing reliance on technology and digital tools within the education space. COVID-19 merely exacerbated existing issues, such as fragmented ed-tech software, and transformed data standards and interoperability from “nice to have” to “must have” overnight.

The need for seamless and secure transmission of data across systems is (and remains) enormous and urgent. Every key player across the education ecosystem — from districts and teachers to students and parents — is relying on integrated software to help them navigate these waters.

To that end, ed-tech software providers must make interoperability a top priority to remain competitive, profitable, and mission-driven.

#1: Interoperability Makes You a Stronger Technology Partner

As an ed-tech software provider, it might be helpful to think of yourself as a technology partner versus a technology vendor. While the latter provides solutions that enable districts to gather data, a technology partner is committed to helping customers achieve their data vision: how districts plan to leverage their data across various systems to make improvements in serving every learner and supporting every educator.

Technology providers like PowerSchool offer their customers the ability to unify data through standards-based interoperability. As a result, they’re also more likely to help a customer attain their data vision and thus be seen as a true partner supporting a district’s mission — not just a vendor looking to further its business.

#2: Interoperability Helps You Successfully Navigate an Evolving Education Landscape

While achieving interoperability isn’t necessarily the at the top of every ed-tech provider’s “to-do” list, the pandemic, and the resulting impact it has had across education, underscored the urgency in prioritizing it to stay competitive and keep business afloat.

The truth is, it’s unlikely that education as a whole will ever return to its pre-pandemic ways. Learning models will continue to be a hybrid of in-person and virtual instruction, meaning the volume of data being collected through software will only increase. Ensuring that districts can easily and efficiently integrate multiple systems to support their education strategy/plan is paramount, particularly as student assessment results and state reporting continue to roll in, pile up, and present data-tracking pain points for districts.

#3: Interoperability is a Strategic, Forward-Thinking Business Strategy

In the years since COVID-19 first became part of our lives, software providers are combining their powers for good by merging and expanding upon their ed-tech services. Similarly, conglomerates are acquiring more companies and consolidating in order to offer a one-stop-shop suite of services.

In both scenarios, interoperability is essential for success. Merging products means enabling data to integrate across systems in a smooth and efficient way. And for conglomerates, creating a fully compatible ecosystem for an easy user experience is a top priority. If multiple tools are eventually going to live under the same roof, interoperability effectively increases the sale price of an ed-tech software provider, as it’s already primed for integration and ready to get to work.

Technology providers that adopt a data standard and achieve interoperability, like Infinite Campus and Aeries, who both provide student information systems to the education space, become a more lucrative partner/investment option compared to competitors that don’t.

Final Thoughts: Interoperability is the Rule, Not the Exception — and It’s Here to Stay
At this stage, every business across every industry has realized that affording customers the ability to share data seamlessly must be the rule, not the exception.

If nothing else, the pandemic has shown us that integration is an inevitable necessity to move forward, and that to be successful in the future, we must change how we think about interoperability.

For ed-tech software providers specifically, interoperability is a way to help school districts measure what they want — not what they’re already measuring. It’s a way to deepen the role ed-tech plays in the larger education ecosystem, build ongoing and positive customer partnerships, and increase competitive equality. It’s a way to prime your business for success without ever losing sight of the mission: Help teachers. Help students. Improve education.

What Is Education 4.0?

Shannon Flynn

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.

As new technology emerged, educators saw the introduction of Education 2.0. Professors and teachers could now take advantage of electricity and lights to provide a better experience in the classroom. Once laptops started becoming available to more of the population, they began the phase of Education 3.0. This meant educators could use the wealth of the internet to show material and ask students to find their own.

Currently, education is entering the stage of Education 4.0. What does this mean for teaching and how can educators use it to benefit their students? Here is a look at what this new era of education can bring.

How Can Education 4.0 Help Students?

Education 4.0 relates to the dawning of the fourth industrial revolution. The production of technology like artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and 3D printing is increasing, making it more available to the average consumer. Progressive digital devices are becoming more prominent in people’s lives worldwide — and education is no outlier.

Many students now are interested in a different way of learning. As education costs rise, nearly 70% of adults want alternate options for credits. The pandemic created a need for people to learn outside of the traditional classroom and Education 4.0 could do that for them. Busy students could learn anytime and anywhere, increasing accessibility for many.

Continued learning for adults has many benefits for them and society. Research has shown lifelong education can postpone a person’s symptoms of Alzheimer’s or dementia. They’ll also continue to communicate with people of all backgrounds and further their careers. Being able to utilize technology like AI and virtual reality will change how curriculums form and make experiments more accessible.

Recent Education 4.0 Trends

With new technology comes new chances to improve the lives of students. Here are just a few advancements education could see by implementing Education 4.0.

1.    Virtual Reality for Education

Imagine if you could stand in ancient Rome during class or perform a dangerous experiment without the consequences. This is what utilizing VR in the classroom can do for students.

By making lessons more interactive, students could likely show greater rates of retention and focus. Additionally, they’ll be able to learn more because they’ll have more access to information that was previously out of reach.

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Infosec Institute Launches Free Resources to Help Organizations Level Up Their Cybersecurity

Infosec Institute, a leading cybersecurity education provider, today announced free cyber education resources to help organizations and employees level up their cybersecurity during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) and beyond.

Hosted every October by the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), NCSAM aims to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and provide resources for individuals to be secure online.

In support of this initiative, Infosec is providing a comprehensive security awareness and training toolkit, featuring:

“For organizations and individuals everywhere, securing data and systems is no game. As the threat landscape grows, education and training must grow to meet it,” said Jim Chilton, Infosec General Manager. “National Cybersecurity Awareness Month is an opportunity to build excitement and momentum within organizations around cyber education that employees can use to protect themselves at work and home. Infosec is pleased to offer these free resources to make training accessible and engaging for everyone.”

As National Cybersecurity Awareness Month approaches, Infosec will release additional complementary resources for use by organizations, including a hands-on skills challenge, a training webinar for security awareness administrators, and discounts on instructor-led boot camps. All Infosec NCSAM resources are powered by the award-winning Infosec IQ and Infosec Skills security education platforms.Infosec IQ security awareness and training empowers employees with the knowledge and skills to stay cyber-secure at work and home with over 2,000 awareness and training resources.Infosec Skills helps cyber professionals upskill and get certified with unlimited access to 1,200+ hands-on cybersecurity courses, labs and cyber ranges.

Access Infosec’s Cybersecurity Awareness Month toolkit here.

Hybrid Classrooms and the Future of Ed Tech

Christian Young

By Christian Young, Pro AV product manager, ATEN Technology.

The adaptation to the “new normal” in education pushed schools and other learning facilities to evolve and transform their classrooms into hybrid environments. This allowed faculty to instruct students on campus and online at the same time to meet their curriculum and complete their teaching calendar periods on time.

The main benefit of virtual classroom solutions is that by facilitating collaboration and synchronous learning – allowing active participation and interaction with the teacher in real-time – they create a learning environment that is most analogous to a physical classroom.

However, teachers were exposed to technology and methodologies that were not part of their daily routine or that they may not have experienced before, so their learning curve to comply with this adaptation had to be rapidly enforced. In addition, more online content creation spaces were needed, and physical lab spaces were compelled to be virtualized. At the same time, education providers needed to balance these hybrid learning setups with new forms of live or asynchronous learning and content delivery methods to avoid hybrid fatigue.

These opportunities for smart classrooms presented challenges that solution providers needed to overcome as well. For example, solutions must integrate and work seamlessly with diverse Professional AV (Pro AV) equipment, multimedia devices, and control systems in existing classrooms. These solutions must be easily implementable yet scalable and present protection against cyber threats as more classes move to an online platform. Also, the delivery of content should be dependable and accurate. These solutions should focus on the student experience, offering collaborative functions so interactivity can provide motivation and improve learning outcomes.

Schools have started to look at technology that may have been only seen just for corporate or even government applications only. As interactive multimedia classrooms become more popular, there is an increase in the kinds of devices being used in these hybrid environments. More content needs to be displayed, and this will see both more displays in total and an increase in the ways that displays are utilized. Livestreaming and broadcasting are now essential elements of the hybrid classroom, especially in PBL (project-based learning) scenarios. Video signal transmissions need to be bidirectional for fully interactive learning.

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