Modern methodologies for classroom IT management: How to protect school data and uphold access policies

Today’s post was brought to you by the Microsoft Education Partner Advisory Council

 

Modern ways to set up and manage classroom technology

 

Welcome to the Modern Methodologies for Classroom IT Management blog series from Microsoft Education. This is the first in a five-part set of posts examining best practices for purchasing, deploying and managing school information technology. Each post has links to helpful resources on how to set up and deploy education technology in the classroom.

In this first post, we examine how many schools are taking advantage of cloud-based services and apps, and the measures they’re taking to protect sensitive data and enforce proper access rights. Then in the second post of the series, we cover the challenges of managing today’s range of devices in a multi-platform, access-from-anywhere world. The series topics are:

  • How to protect school data and uphold access policies
  • School devices in a multi-platform, access-from-anywhere world
  • Setup and deployment within a teaching and learning environment
  • Collaboration and communication technologies for school use
  • Adoption and change management for education technology

For more guidance on how to plan your IT initiative, please see the recently released Transformation Blueprint, co-developed by Microsoft and the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE).

Once you’re caught up, continue to Part 2: Better learning for everyone with secure, connected devices.

Build a base: identity and single sign-on

 

To create or refresh the foundation of your learning environment, start with a file management system that integrates with secure identity management. This lets you quickly control access privileges and connect applications.

Dynamic user account and group provisioning and management is central to automating the most common IT tasks around user registration and login. Consider the value of solution features such as self-service account management (e.g., password reset), parent registration, role-based access control and single-sign-on.

Be sure your services can ‘talk to each other’ with shared student and class-specific data, while allowing only the approved users to view and edit the information. Some solutions offer remote management of key functions associated with user account management, such as automatically wiping a computer if it is lost.

“The most notable benefits of Windows 10 have been the ease of application deployment, and the ease of user experience around the single sign-on. We project a significant increase for the high school students with regard to device utilization rates because of easy sign-on.”

– Authors: Anderson, Cushing, and Ustav Arora., The Economic Value of Devices Operating the Windows 10 Platform for K-12 Educational Institutions. Framingham, MA: IDC, January 2017.

 

Seek out and adopt best practices for safety

 

According to a recent survey by the Consortium of School Networking, 62 percent of IT leaders rank cybersecurity as a major concern. Some 60 percent of responding schools have partially or fully implemented single sign-on (SSO), a common foundational element for online security.1 Look for an SSO solution that automatically signs users in to both on-premises and cloud-based applications. Check that the solution is straightforward to deploy and administer, with self-service password reset/change functionality. 

As you select and roll out new classroom technology, be sure to document the measures taken to promote security and privacy. Provide a technology “acceptable use” policy with specific examples, and educate students and parents on their responsibilities.

Resources

 

Integrating school, class, and user data

 

Data interoperability is another high-priority area for school IT projects.1 Look for services that enable your separate IT systems to access the same, up-to-date student information system (SIS), institutional, and class-related data. Then your school can benefit from administrative time-savers such as automatic assignments and app licensing that aligns with real-time class rosters.

Resources

 

 

Defending data security and privacy

 

With more than 2.1 million malware samples being created and spread every week2, the community of solution providers is constantly at work developing new ways to protect your school. If any data is released inappropriately or lost, there is a potential risk of affecting people negatively with, in some cases, permanent harm. There are increasing reports of hackers blocking out users or holding data for ransom, and schools should be proactive to prevent attacks3.

A student reaching into her backpack to retrieve her Windows 10 2-in-1 device.

Begin by documenting the details of when data is delivered or exchanged within your information system. Include information like the data producer and recipient, and what specific action or intervention is the intended result of the data access. Then, determine how much training in security measures is needed by each type of user.

 

“We are constantly threatened by ransomware and identity theft. Windows 10 allows us to make use of new tools to increase our level of security.”

– Jan Rindom​, Head of Department, Pedagogic IT,​ Copenhagen Municipality

Make sure your school users and teams know what’s required to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA),4 the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), and other relevant federal, state, and local regulations around data and technology. You can incorporate real-time, wide-scale communication tools into your security measures, such as sending mass IM or email announcements to save time and phone calls in an urgent situation.5

Resources:

 

Getting started

 

With today’s automated edtech tools and services, you can maintain school data safety and enforce user access policies more thoroughly without adding staff time. Get started today with these free resources, and be sure to look for the next post in this series: Managing devices in a multi-platform, access-from-anywhere world.

  1. Identify your priorities: Education transformation guidance for K-12 schools
  2. Visit the Microsoft Education landing page to view proven solutions
  3. Watch the video and see these recent case studies

 

1. CoSN 2017 K-12 IT Leadership Survey
2.Windows 10 security solutions web page, Microsoft.com
3. Cybersecurity in K-12 education: Schools face increased risk of cyber attacks, Fedscoop, Corinne Lestch, July 17, 2015
4.U.S. Department of Education Policy Compliance Office page on FERPA
5. Beaverton School District Mass Notification System, School Messenger