With so much emphasis being placed on technology these days, school districts around the country are desperately trying to find a way to integrate the educational benefits of new devices and software while still protecting the privacy of their students and staff. Unfortunately for many CTOs, integrating the two isn’t as easy as they’d like.
One of the major hurdles school chief technology and information officers are facing is that so many education startups are going straight to the source and offering their products to teachers for free as a way to gain positive word of mouth reviews. While this is beneficial for teachers as it allows them to find new and creative ways to help their students learn, it can spell big trouble for school districts if the hot new application turns out to have lax security protocols.
Melissa Tebbenkamp, director of instructional technology for the Fairfax County school district, said that it is common policy for school districts to vet each application that teachers want to use before allowing students to come in contact with it. The programs are checked to make sure that students’ email addresses aren’t exploited or shared with third parties, along with other safety and privacy measures.
“We have a problem with sites targeting our teachers and not being responsible with our data,” said Tebbenkamp. “For school technology directors around the country, it is a can of worms.”
Balancing innovation and security in the classroom
Steve Young, chief technology officer of the Judson Independent School District in San Antonio, said that there is a delicate balance that has to be struck between providing teachers with free access to the best learning programs and protecting against data breaches and identity theft. And it’s a problem that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon. According to research from the Software and Information Industry Association, the market for educational software for prekindergarten through 12th grade students was valued at almost $8.4 billion, an increase of close to $1 billion from 2010.
Clearly classroom technology is sticking around, and both teachers and administrators are eager to find ways to safely integrate applications and devices into lesson plans. One way to make the use of educational technology easier it to implement classroom management software like Faronics Insight. Insight enables teachers to more effectively manage educational programs used by students both at school and remotely.