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 part, we examine how 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. Next, in the second post of the series, we’ll 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 the classroom
  • 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.

 

Real-time info for collaboration and administration

 

Many institutions want to offer support for real-time interaction for team projects, research, 3-D, and multimedia creations. How can multiple people edit a document at the same time without fear of losing their changes? Cloud-based services handle concurrent users smoothly, automatically providing the appropriate information access for each user.

What if people from different time zones want to leave informal messages for each other, to be read at the recipient’s earliest convenience? Most information flow scenarios gain significant efficiency from persistent chat, presence, multiple real-time authors and other advances in collaboration technology.

“You will see students working together collaboratively, sharing ideas through Office 365 and working on their own. And right next to them, there are children who are leading others, sharing their knowledge, and helping push everyone forward.”​

– Charlotte Coade​, Year 6 Teacher, ​Simon de Senlis Primary School, Northampton, ​United Kingdom

The benefits of real-time collaboration apply to IT administration as well. Sometimes more than one person has responsibility for managing devices, enterprise software and apps for your school. Cloud-based education technology solutions are designed to handle multiple administrators working in the service at the same time.

Check the capacity of each solution to meet your current and expected needs around communication and real-time data access.

 

Resources:

 

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 control access privileges quickly 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 importance 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, such as wiping a computer if it is lost. You may want to document the top scenarios faced by your users, from classroom instruction, assignments, testing and evaluations, to a student team video project using 3-D animation to illustrate a point. By prioritizing these frequent use cases, you can better determine where to put your resources to improve the experience for people in your organization.

“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. As much as 50% improvement is anticipated.*”

– 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.

*Compared to prior versions of Windows​

 

Defending app data

 

Data security is an everyday concern. With more than 2.1 million malware samples being created and spread every week1, 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 attacks2.

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. Determine how much training in security measures is needed by each type of user and make sure the solution you choose includes repeated, appropriate training in security measures for everyone.

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

“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

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. Windows 10 security solutions web page, Microsoft.com
2. Cybersecurity in K-12 education: Schools face increased risk of cyber attacks, Fedscoop, Corinne Lestch, July 17, 2015