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Cyber-powered learning at school and home can promote secure connectivity

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Most parents equip their students with mobile devices of some sort be they iPads, iPods, tablets or smartphones and schools are preparing to create a safe, secure and productive cyber-powered environments for education and administration-centric activities with such devices. Over the past decade we have seen by default policies that rely upon personal devices and internet access to engage students at home with quizzes and homework assignments. Now more schools are implementing policies for use of personal devices known as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), which grant large populations of devices access to a secure network for a variety of purposes and data.

Granting purpose-driven and secure access to large numbers of devices for entire student-teacher populations of a school district is a uniform challenge in converting from an analog-centric learning environment to cyber-powered engagement for instruction. Superintendent of the Eureka Union School District in Granite Bay, Linda Rooney, is very excited about the groundwork in progress to establish the infrastructure essential for an internet-powered learning environment. It is an integral part of the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) for the 2014-2017 period required by the State of California Education code 15497 which grants school districts spending flexibility to meet local needs and implement Common Core requirements.

Currently, EUSD students do not use their own devices in class and labs on campus because the high volume of connectivity cannot be supported. “We decided that until we could create an environment that would allow students and teachers to have a productive experience with wireless connectivity we could not create a BYOD policy,” she said. According to Rooney, the upgrade to the district’s capacity for internet connectivity is strategic in the following ways: 1) lays the foundation for uniform, robust and secure connectivity, 2) supports district staff needs to do their jobs, and 3) provides for access to instructional materials for the entire student body.

Cyber secure connectivity experiences at home

While schools prepare to incorporate secure mobile connectivity into the learning experience on campus, parents can leverage similar security measures at home.

  • Clarify that internet connectivity is a privilege, not a right.
  • Establish a culture of transparency which explains that there is no privacy in the cyber realm, and that private is keeping personal stuff from the world, not from parents.
  • Create a family-approved app listing that tracks every app used by every individual in your family. Implement a family policy that declares downloading apps for free or a fee is serious business. Kids need to learn right away that apps can contain malware and access to networks where nefarious and malicious characters can cause harm. So have your child explain why they are interested in downloading an app, and how they will benefit. Conversations like this will give you a chance to impart your wisdom about being engaged on line in safe and responsible ways.

For more about creating a culture of confidence and transparency at home, go to: A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media.

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