One of the trends in education has always been expecting teachers to do more with less. As time goes on, teachers are expected to join more committees, teach more and higher standards, and be trained in more and more areas outside the core duty of teaching kids. Now comes a proposal by the state of Nevada wherein teachers would carry concealed weapons and become “reserve school police officers”. While I’m sure the lawmakers see this as an attempt to solve the security problem on campus, what it really does is draw teachers further and further away from their core duty of educating kids. A favorite quote:
“Teachers get into education to teach, not to be cops,” Trump said. “Teachers are already overwhelmed with all of the academic, behavioral and administrative tasks they have to perform. To say you’re going to add a whole other role and mind-set is unrealistic.”
One of the great promises of the digital age is the paperless workplace. The only problem is, people like paper (and books and printers and scantrons) and have often tended to keep both digital and paper copies of important information. While some businesses have moved in the direction of a paperless workplace, few educational institutions have. However, here is an interesting article from Education World which discusses three classrooms trying to make the transition. A particularly interesting quote:
”The school district’s goal to move to a paperless environment is an ongoing process that requires constant evaluation and new initiatives,” he said. “Although in today’s world, some processes are more efficiently completed using paper, the school district recognizes that rapidly advancing technology will result in more and more practical applications of paperless processes.”
In the movie Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back, Carbonite was the compound Darth Vader used to freeze Han Solo. In the world of Web 2.0, Carbonite is an online backup system for PC computers. Basically, with the purchase of a one year subscription for $50 (or only $10 with this great rebate at Amazon.com), you can securely encrypt and backup as much of your hard drive as you would like. The beauty of an online backup is that, even if your house burns down, you will still have your critical documents, photos, life’s work, etc. After creating hundreds (if not thousands) of educational documents over the years, it’s about time that I secured them. The Carbonite installation process is very simple, and the user interface is very well designed. Now my encrypted documents are safely backed up “off site” waiting to be restored if needed.
Sometimes in education, we are moving so fast, we fail to see that the playing field has changed beneath us. I believe now is one of those times where things are rapidly changing under our feet, but at times we fail to notice. Online security is rapidly changing, and I’m not sure education in general is ready for that change.
Today I read a great blog entry on Email Policies, which suggests that you have an email policy whether you know it or not! The basic theory of the article is that each company (ie school district) has gone with ease of use OR security… but not both. A nice short read that brings home subtle, sometimes hidden choices we make when providing web services to staff.
In a related vein, banks are making significant changes to login security as a result of 2005 paper entitled “Authentication in an Internet Banking Environment” put out by the government. The bottom line of this article is reached rather quickly with the statement:
“The agencies consider single-factor authentication, as the only control mechanism, to be inadequate for high-risk transactions involving access to customer information or the movement of funds to other parties. Financial institutions offering Internet-based products and services to their customers should use effective methods to authenticate the identity of customers using those products and services.”
Now simply replace the statement “access to customer information” with “access to district employee or student information”. Basically, these same changes being made by financial institutions in the near term will be coming to a school district near you in a few years! Single factor authentication (userid and password only) is on it’s way out and is being replaced by more robust security measures.