As “back to school” is just a few weeks away, it’s likely that school technology preparations are in full swing. It’s all hands on deck as the IT team unpacks, uploads, downloads, restarts, troubleshoots, and networks thousands of devices that will be used in classrooms in the coming school year. With all of those digital devices comes the need to map out their physical placement on the network, but also to make certain of the safety of students while they are utilizing these all too necessary resources.
The following are four crucial tips for ensuring school technology safety is prepped and ready for the new school year:
review & update acceptable use policy (AUP)
The district AUP is the foundation for ensuring the understanding of acceptable technology use behavior by a school district’s community members. Most districts have a policy in place to review and update their AUPs on a yearly basis by a committee or board. District IT directors need to keep cognizent of the AUP and ensure that it makes sense with any new technological resources. Common Sense Media suggests that an AUP consists of the following topic areas:
Use of Network, Internet Safety (privacy, inappropriate content, unwanted contact), Filtering and Monitoring, Copyright and Ownership of Work, Network Security and Privacy (student data), Disciplinary Action, Digital Citizenship, Social Media Usage
Prior to school start is a good time to look for any areas that may not be spelled out clearly, or may need to be revised to fit new technology adoption. Once the AUP is revised, make sure that all necessary parties approve it. Then be sure to update any servers and file sharing applications with the new version. If necessary, schedule some professional development time with district faculty and staff to go over new areas so that everyone is prepared when school begins.
*Impero Education Pro network, classroom, and internet safety management software has a function that allows the school’s AUP to be visible to any device that logs onto the school’s network. Users must read through and agree to the AUP before accessing anything on the device.
review & update internet safety curriculum
Having an internet safety curriculum in place in a school district is now a crucial part of technology management. In order to keep students safe and promote good digital citizenship, schools have to teach students (and staff) what’s out there on the web, how to navigate it, and what to do in any given situation. Plus, if a school district is receiving eRate funding, an internet safety curriculum is required. To see if your school is in compliance with the Children’s Internet Protection Act, required by eRate, check here. Additionally, schools will want to make sure the internet safety curriculum program adopted complies with state laws and standards. To check the laws in a particular state, look here.
review password policies and best practices
Just like leaving a vehicle unlocked, or purse unattended at the supermarket, not having a password policy could expose the school to security breaches, or even invite them. As the new school year approaches, it’s a good idea to review the current district password policies and best practices, update where needed, or develop them if they don’t exist. Don’t reinvent the wheel, though. There are many schools with password policies on their district websites. Marana Unified School District has a great example here.
Impero Education Pro can help keep passwords sorted, and allow teachers and administrators to change passwords easily and remotely.
add or update student monitoring policies and programs
As part of the technology department’s back to school preparation, consider adding or updating device monitoring policies and programs. Rather than simply blocking and filtering content, consider adopting a policy of monitoring online activity, then assessing flagged content for context. With the vast, ever changing landscape of the internet and online apps, IT managers and educators can’t possibly know what to block. A device monitoring software, such as Education Pro, can help open up technology opportunities for students and teachers while providing a safety net in which to ensure online activity is a positive, educational experience. If your school doesn’t yet have monitoring software installed, now is the time to act.
Impero Education Pro is network management, classroom management, and internet safety device monitoring software combined into one simple, intuitive suite. Education Pro’s monitoring features provide extensive libraries of terms relating to bullying, weapons, violence, suicide, adult content, and more. The libraries run on algorythms that detect and flag terms and phrases that may be indicators of danger, harm or misuse. The monitoring software runs on all computers connected to a school’s network, all device platforms, and all online apps and browsers. The keyword library function is free to existing Education Pro customers by contacting Impero’s Customer Support Portal for download instructions. New customers receive the full keyword library with purchase of Education Pro.
back to school, back to safety
With thousands of devices on multiple platforms, one to one and BYOD programs, it’s never been more important to ensure that a school district’s technology safety policies are up to date. Although back to school preparation is hectic enough just getting all of those devices up and running, prioritizing safety policies such as those mentioned in this blog is worth it to start off to a productive, innovative, and safety school year.
To find out more about how Impero education network management software can help your school with online monitoring and internet safety, request a free demo and trial on our website. To talk to our team of education experts, call 877.883.4370, or email Impero now to arrange a call back.