Back-To-School Tips for Online Safety

Backtoschool.jpg

You’ve seen them on TV, the back-to-school ads are full throttle as the summer months turn to fall.

Soon, children around the world will be starting a new year of classes. This means shopping online for new clothes, school supplies, and connecting on social media with classmates. While this can be fun, that doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Digital attackers have been after people’s information since the internet was invented. Tricking children is one of the easiest ways to get quick access to banking credentials and other personal information. It’s up to parents, teachers and all those who are tech-savvy to share their knowledge and help children protect themselves online.

Here are some helpful tips to keep kids safe online.

1.       MANAGE YOUR PASSWORDS

When returning to school and establishing online accounts, it’s best to protect yourself online with password managers. Using a reputable password manager and different passwords for every account will keep your account safe and let you remember and keep all your passwords in one place. Most importantly, never share access to accounts with anyone. Keeping your identity safe should be the number 1 priority.

2.       BUY CAUTIOUSLY

If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is. Buying clothes or books online can be scams and are used to prey on young people. Attackers will even set up fake shipping addresses to lure potential victims into a sense of security. Be cautious online to avoid these phishing scams.

3.       ONLINE GROUND RULES

Hundreds of thousands of children will log onto social media accounts for the first time this year, and it’s important for parents to lay down ground rules for basic safety. These include:

-          Don’t share personal information on social media
-          Be careful what is visible in photos (like ID cards or driver’s licenses)
-          Turn off location services when you don’t need them.

4.       KEEP FRIENDS REAL

Staying in touch with classmates when you’re not face to face is a norm now. This includes phone numbers and social media accounts like Facebook and Twitter. It may be hard, but avoiding the temptation of building a large friend group of people you may not even know now will help a lot in the long run. Strangers will always try and add you on social media, but by either ignoring them or blocking them, it can save you a lot of strife in the future if they send you inappropriate content.

5.       SECURE YOUR NETWORK

Homework on-the-go may seem like the perfect solution to a work-life balance. But connecting to Wi-fi in public places could mean that anything you do can be seen by anyone with a connection. It’s best to keep off of sensitive sites like bank accounts until you get home or onto a secure server. Remember, always look a green lock or https in front of the URL instead of http to indicate a secure website.

6.       ENCRYPT YOUR DEVICES

It is a fact that every day $7 million is lost a day in cellular phones. That amount of data is staggering and is all in jeopardy of being compromised. Students need to enable encryption on their mobile devices. On Apple, simply adding a passcode enables the encryption, while on Android, it is also simple to set up.

7.       COLLABORATE SAFELY

Being able to collaborate with students through technology is great, but making sure it’s done safely is important. Accidentally spreading malware can be as simple as plugging in a friend’s USB or opening an email. Try using collaboration services like Google Docs or Microsoft 365. These services are safe and effective for collaborating since you never directly share anything.

8.       VALIDATE YOUR SOFTWARE

Use sites like www.urlquery.net and www.virustotal.com to verify sites and downloads before using them. This can save you a lot of time and hassle.

9.       COMMUNICATION IS KEY

While parental controls can play a vital part, it’s important to have an open communication with your children about what they are doing online. Kids should feel like they are allowed to talk openly about their use of technology to adults they can trust. Adults, in turn, should be able to advise children on how to use the internet to the fullest and safest potential.

10.   REPORT ONLINE ABUSE

Cyberbullying is a major issue. If you see something, say something. It can help immensely. The best thing to do is to talk to a trusted adult and let them handle the situation at hand. In online chatrooms, especially ones for teens, there can be dangerous people. If something looks suspicious, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

OVERALL: Be safe, stay cautious

If something looks suspicious, a quick Google search will always help. The internet is a great tool with endless resources, but is also filled with dangers. Knowing how to navigate safely will help throughout your life.

(Story via Tripwire)

How Campus Ransomware Concerns Could be Solved with Data Analytics

Image via Jumpshot

Image via Jumpshot

Data analytics tools could help colleges and universities identify and respond to signs of ransomware attacks.

According to Ed Tech: Focus on Higher Education, one such tool, Splunk Insights for Ransomware, builds on Splunk's existing data analytics tech to help university IT departments quickly identify a ransomware attack, streamlining a process of addressing an attack once it has been detected.

With ransomware incidents rising 35% in 2015, solutions that can constantly monitor for such an attack are increasingly critical in saving time and money for institutions.

Education has become one of the primary targets of ransomware attacks, in which a network is infested with malicious software that blocks access to files or threatens to publish them until a ransom is paid. Due to the sensitivity of data often in question, as well as its necessity to job performance, these attacks have proven successful in many cases.

Beyond adopting solutions that can monitor the network for these attacks and prevent them, college and university IT leaders must ensure that campus stakeholders are educated on how to avoid falling victim to malicious activity, as well. In most cases, the No. 1 threat to network security is the end user.

At the University of Dayton, Associate Provost and CIO Dr. Thomas Skill has addressed this in recent years with an campus wide campaign focused on running phishing tests; sending updates, warnings and the latest security news; and offering incentives and prizes for people to complete certain actions as a way to promote greater awareness among students, faculty and staff.

With this, it could really help reduce the chances of ransomware on college campuses as well as high schools.

(Story via Education Dive)

Taking Notes with Tech

Image via Meeting Tomorrow

Image via Meeting Tomorrow

In a 2014 article in Psychological Science called “The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard,” Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer claimed that while note taking in itself could be beneficial to student learning, using a laptop proved to be detrimental. A recent article from Scientific American, “Students Are Better Off Without a Laptop in the Classroom,” added fuel to this fire.

Before blaming a device—either the pen or the laptop—we need to identify what is best for individual students by considering what I call the four S’s of note taking. Does the system students are using:

  • adequately support the students’ learning needs?
  • allow students to save their notes to multiple locations?
  • let students search for salient points?
  • permit students to share with peers and teachers?

Support

What if, because of individual learning styles, using pen and paper is a detriment to learning? By providing students with digital options, we can remove a number of barriers to learning and create a least restrictive environment.

1. Using text-to-speech options. When typing content, students have the option of hearing it played back through text-to-speech. Imagine the potential for an English language learner or struggling reader to be able to listen to his or her own notes. On either iPad or Mac, the Speak Selection option reads back any text typed into any app. The Read&Write Chrome app provides this feature, and Microsoft’s Learning Tools include text-to-speech in both Word and OneNote.

2. Recording media directly in notes. Others may benefit from recording audio directly into a note. Google KeepOneNote, and Notability include the capability to record audio directly into a note, and the latter two also support audio syncing—the ability to sync anything typed or written with the audio recording. While a student might not replay an entire class, he or she might tap on a word and jump directly to that portion of the audio.

Though rarely considered a note taking tool, Book Creator can be used as a multimedia notebook. Students can not only record audio narration onto the pages of their books, but also include video. Imagine capturing video observations of a science lab or recording a classmate solving a math problem on a whiteboard.

3. Establishing visual hierarchy. Most note taking and word processing tools quickly create bulleted or numbered lists. Several of my former students with visual-spatial challenges found that aligning text and creating visual order helped them better synthesize the information. And note taking apps like OneNote and Notability allow students to organize their notes using a familiar hierarchy. They can replicate digital structures they might use in the physical world, like binders, notebooks, and pages.

Digital notes offer multiple dimensions—text, images, drawing, handwriting, audio, and even video—that paper notes do not. Students need the opportunity to identify strategies that best support their learning.

Save

Whether students take notes using a digital platform or capture pictures of analog notes in an app, technology allows them to save their work indefinitely. Google Keep automatically saves in Google Drive and OneNote in OneDrive. Notability can sync via iCloud or automatically back up to any number of cloud-based options, such as Google Drive, Dropbox, or OneDrive. Once students can access their learning from anywhere and any device, their work is truly saved.

Search

The fact that students can save notes doesn’t mean they can find what they wrote or typed. Beyond file names and organizational structures, students can also search digital notes to locate desired information. Consider the search possibilities afforded by Google Keep, OneNote, or Notability: Students can look for specific words or phrases in typed text as well handwritten notes.

The potential also exists to tag content—to apply keywords to notes describing the overarching purpose, important details, or even a rating of understanding. Students can take pictures of handwritten notes and tag them by topic, concept, or level of comprehension. So students can add another layer of organization, apply an additional layer of understanding, and reflect on their work.

Share

When choosing a note taking strategy and platform, a key component should be whether or not a student’s notes can be shared among peers as well as with teachers, tutors, or parents. Going beyond simply emailing a document or copying a piece of paper, digital notes can become a collaborative experience—especially when students use tools such as Google Keep and OneNote that allow multiple people to write on the same note at the same time.

Today’s students require strategies that support their acquisition of knowledge, allow them to save their notes across devices, permit them to search through vast quantities of information, and share their learning with the rest of their community. By teaching these four S’s, we’re providing them with the skills they’ll need to succeed in a world that requires not only constant access to information but also the ability to synthesize it.

(Story via Edutopia)

E-Rates in School Can Be Critical for Internet Access

Image via Shuttershock

Image via Shuttershock

A large majority of E-rate applicants (87 percent) said the federally funded program is vital to their internet connectivity goals, according to an annual survey that tracks program applicants’ perspectives on the program.

In the midst of leadership changes in the White House and the FCC, as well as education budget cuts, ed-tech stakeholders have raised questions regarding the promise of the E-rate program to deliver safe and proper broadband connections to students in the U.S.

According to initial feedback from Funds For Learning’s annual E-rate applicant survey, E-rate recipients continue to rely on E-rate funding to provide connectivity for schools and libraries across the nation.

Seventy-nine percent of survey respondents said they have faster internet connections to their sites because of E-rate, and 78 percent said they were able to connect more students and library patrons to the internet because of the E-rate program.

This year, approximately 1,100 applicants completed the Funds For Learning survey, representing about 5 percent of all school and library applicants nationwide. Full survey results will be available in the fall.

In CoSN’s 2016 Infrastructure Survey, respondents revealed that, for the fourth year in a row, school systems identify cost of ongoing recurring expenses as the biggest barrier to robust connectivity. In fact, this number increased from 46 percent in 2015 to 57 percent in 2016–another reason E-rate funding remains critical to schools’ connectivity.

Schools and districts routinely turn to E-rate funding for affordable and state-of-the-art technologies, including centrally-managed gigabit Wi-Fi platforms that leverage the cloud, and switches that can easily scale up as demand increases—which it inevitably will.

One such example is Columbia Public Schools, a Missouri school district that covers 300 square miles between St. Louis and Kansas City and serves 18,000 students. As Christine Diggs, director of Technology Services for Columbia Public Schools, points out, “Fast and reliable Wi-Fi access is now simply an imperative for delivering a 21st century education.”

Columbia Public Schools provides a device for every two students, with the eventual goal of equipping each student with their own Apple iPad. School-issued devices and use of other mobile devices were placing a heavy demand on their existing network, which could not be counted on to reliably deliver digital educational content when needed.

The district resolved these challenges by investing in gigabit Wi-Fi—1,400 Wave 2 access points and 100 controllers. This new, robust Wi-Fi network architecture fully supports more than 20,000 Wi-Fi connected devices and a wide range of applications and services, including teacher evaluations, classroom collaboration, guest access, student information systems, Google Apps, scientific simulators, video streaming, and IP-based security cameras.

(Story via eSchool news)

Media Literacy Tools in New Chromebook

Image via Shuttershock

Image via Shuttershock

From cyberbullying and phishing to conducting better research, digital citizenship is the keystone of educating K–12 students on how to best navigate the internet.

Now ed tech’s most popular device, the Chromebook is getting some built-in technology aimed at boosting one tenet of digital citizenship: media literacy.

Studies indicate that media literacy, or the ability to recognize the quality of a news story or article, is pretty low among today’s digital natives. With rises in untrustworthy sources proliferating across the internet, it’s more important than ever for educators to make sure their students have the skills to assess online media.

Chromebook Apps Build Literacy into Browsing

Earlier this summer at ISTE’s annual conference, Google announced that it had worked with educators to develop media literacy apps specific for Chromebooks to help students evaluate the information they see online.

“Bringing current events into the classroom is a great way to engage students in what’s happening around the world,” writes Google for Education’s Karen Greenleaf in a blog post. “With countless online news sources to choose from, it’s more important than ever for students to develop media literacy skills that help them understand the difference between reliable information sources and ‘fake news.’”

As one part of its effort to boost media literacy, Google launched Be Internet Alert to teach students how to explore online content with confidence that they won’t fall for fake or misleading stories. This is just one component of the tech giant’s Be Internet Awesome campaign of interactive curricula.

In addition to this, Google also bundled media literacy apps on its ever-popular Chromebook to help facilitate critical thinking. The Scrible app helps students collaborate to find authentic online sources. They can annotate passages, comment on key points and engage in a live conversation about the quality of sources.

The other app in the bundle, Frontier, is a library of online lessons that allows students to have choice in the topics they read and write about.

With these apps and initiatives working together, it can foster an interest in digital citizenship and media literacy in young people.

(Story via Ed Tech)

Google Updates Classroom and Forms

Image via Google

Image via Google

With a new school year poised to begin, the tech giant announced 10 new updates to Google Classroom and the popular G Suite tool, Google Forms.

“This year, we’re sending teachers back to school with updates designed to help them do what they do best — teach,” writes Google Classroom software engineer Sarah Wu in the announcement blog post.

Google Classroom Updates Boost Organization

Based on feedback from educators, a big part of the Google update focused on adding features to ease organization. One update makes it easier to facilitate more personalized learning — letting students take control of their own learning — by creating a dedicated page for each student in Classroom that breaks down the student’s work by class.

“With this new view, teachers and students can see the status of every assignment, and can use filters to see assigned work, missing work, or returned and graded work,” writes Wu.

Also, to assist with organization, Classroom now lets teachers (and students) reorder classes based on schedule and priority.

Other updates let educators grade with decimals, add profile pictures via mobile, transfer class ownership and display a code to simplify students joining a class.

Other Updates Improve Classroom Integration and Utility

Integration is another big component of the latest Classroom updates. By better integrating the platform with School Directory Sync, admins now can use student information to set up Google Classroom for educators before classes even start. Another update supports apps like Quizizz, Edcite and Kami.

Many educators are already using Google Forms as a tool for midyear check-ins and quizzes. Soon Google Classroom will allow educators to import grades from real-time quizzes in Forms. Also, Forms now has question-by-question grading and feedback, improving the utility of the tool.

With the latest update, Google also launched a community of teachers who range from first-time users to longtime experts. Participants can access and share resources and tips through the Training Center or #FirstDayofClassroom.

“When teachers need help, they don’t need to look any further than their fellow teachers,” writes Google Classroom’s Lindsay Rumer in a blog post. “For every teacher ready to use Classroom, there’s a teacher ready to help.”

Looks like Google Classroom will be even more helpful for teachers and students in the upcoming year.

(Story via Ed Tech)

Spam in Chrome Extension due to Phishing

Image via Credit Union Times

Image via Credit Union Times

Phishers hacked an extension for Google Chrome and abused their ill-gotten access to push out spam to unsuspecting users.

The security incident befell Copyfish, a type of software which allows users to extract text from images, video, and/or PDF documents. Only the program’s Chrome extension suffered as a result of the attack. It’s Firefox counterpart was not affected.

Copyfish’s developer, a company known as a9t9 software, says it’s traced the trouble back to a phishing attack that occurred on 28 July.

“A team member received an email from Google’ saying that we need to update our Chrome extension (Copyfish) otherwise it would be removed from the store. “Click here to read more details” the email said. The click opened the ‘Google’ password dialog, and the unlucky team member entered the password for our developer account. This looked all legit to the team member, so we did not notice the phishing attack as such at this point. Phishing for Chrome extensions was simply not on our radar screen.”

The firm doesn’t have a screenshot of the fake password page but explains it appeared “only once,” which a9t9 software feels is a “clear giveaway” in hindsight. It did take a screenshot of the initial phishing email and its reply, however.

The bit.ly link is clearly visible in the text-based version of the phishing email seen above. Unfortunately, the team member was using HTML-based email at the time of the the attack. They didn’t spot the bit.ly link hidden in the message and assumed it was legitimate.

After they clicked on the attack link and entered in the password for a9t9 software’s developer account, those behind this attack updated the extension on 29 July to “V2.8.5”. The modified add-on began pushing out spam and ads the next day.

Copyfish’s makers noticed the issue fairly quickly. But they couldn’t do a thing about it.

On 31 July, someone helped a9t9 stop the extension from pushing out spam. But Copyfish’s illegitimate owners could update the extension in the future to resume its malicious activity. To help prevent this from happening, the software company is currently working to reach the Chrome Store admins, report this instance of abuse, and regain access to their program.

Attackers are known to target login credentials for a variety nefarious purposes. As a result, it’s important that organizations and users alike protect themselves. For instance, enterprises should conduct phishing training with their employees and instruct them to hover their cursor over links embedded in emails before they click on them.

(Story via Tripwire)

5 Great Apps for School Libraries

Image via appsforschools

Image via appsforschools

Libraries are one of the best sources of information for young students. They can get books, help from libraries, and have a place to study and do homework. With technology all around us, libraries are taking note and becoming tech-savvy. If your school is looking to upgrade their technology game, check out these great apps for libraries.

1. Buffer

Buffer is a way to merge different social media accounts for easier and faster posting. Schools can use Buffer to link many different social media accounts including the school’s Twitter and Facebook, and the library’s Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus.

The app can be used to type one message that will post to all accounts, or to select the accounts you want to post to.

2. G Suite

Many schools now use automatic bibliography generators, but now you can use things like Google Forms to offer students assistance as they learn to generate their own bibliographies.

Students can submit their bibliographies with a Google Form, and a librarian can review it and send feedback through Google Hangouts or Google Sheets.

3. QR Generator

Ever wanted to put a link straight to the source in your works cited page? Simply input a QR code and you can do just that.

4. issuu

If your library is looking to create a makerspace, then issuu can help a lot. This app creates online flipbooks out of PDFs, which can help organize makerspace materials.

The only downside is while the makerspace has a photo album that students can flip through to help them generate ideas for their next projects, it’s hard for multiple students to access it at once.

5. MackinVIA

MackinVIA can be used to generate assignments for the class, interact online with the class and view their assignments, favorite digital content and add it to the digital backpack, highlight and take notes within the online books which can be saved to Google Drive or OneDrive, and much more.

Using these apps can help the efficiency of any school library, and are definitely worth checking out.

(Story via eSchool News)