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Opinion


Biometrics in K-12: Vendor Claims and Your Business Plan

My own quest for "The Truth about Biometric Devices in Schools" led to this three-part series on biometrics in K-12. It's a controversial topic, not just in the United States, but in other countries, such as the United Kingdom, which has its own concerned citizens fighting to ban fingerprinting of children in schools. My premise has been that before you decide to ban its use or buy into biometrics, you need to have an understanding of the technology itself and applications available, knowledge of key issues and concerns that have been raised, a keen eye for vendor claims, and then a sound business plan of action that leads to a security solution you really need.

Data Protection: Make a Wise Decision

It's not unusual for school district staff members to emulate Lewis Carroll's Mad Hatter, wearing six or eight hats simultaneously in their everyday efforts. Sometimes, the hat hardest to wear is IT management, which is important and challenging at the same time.

Putting the IT in Green

While IT departments are increasingly doing a good job at greening their own backyards, they're still fairly siloed when it comes to involvement in larger sustainability initiatives.

Biometrics in K-12: Ban or Buy? (Part 1)

Biometrics are creeping into nearly every market in our society. The technology is used in forensics, government and law enforcement, healthcare systems, the military, business enterprises, and now in education to authenticate transactions, control entry into various facilities, monitor time and attendance, secure access to laptops, PCs, and networks, and more.

Showing Support for Teacher Websites

It’s necessary in this era of accountability for teachers to have a classroom site, and to post their pages among those of the school or district site. The name of the school or district and its logo should appear on all pages to provide evidence of an official connection and a unifying element among all teachers’ sites at the school. Unfortunately, I don’t always see this.

Mobile Matters for Blended Learning

In the third installment of their monthly column, blended learning experts Michael B. Horn and Heather Staker address BYOD and other mobile device strategies for blended learning.

Biometrics in K-12: Issues and Standardization

I began this three-part investigation on using biometrics in K-12 after reading The Truth about Biometric Devices in Schools. In part 1, I defined biometrics and indicated that they are creeping into nearly every market in our society, particularly since the tragedy of September 11. There are applications used in education to authenticate transactions; control entry into various facilities; monitor time and attendance; secure access to laptops, PCs, and networks; and more. I introduced you to the most commonly used biometrics in schools, which are fingerprints and handprints, provided resources for you to make your own investigation into the nature of those technologies and products available, and left you with concerns to think about. Now I'll delve more into those issues that have been raised by parents, students, and civil liberties groups. All of this is intended to help you better decide to ban its use or buy into biometrics. Stay with me, for in part 3 we'll look at vendor claims and a sound business plan of action that leads to a security solution you really need.

A Taste of Web 2.0

In the initial launch of Collaboration 2.0, Dave Nagel (2008) reported that during 2008 educators can look for "a continued trend toward more and more hosted, mashed-up, collaborative tools in education, from assessment platforms to collaborative learning tools (such as blogs and wikis) to online delivery of audio and video to full-blown productivity tools, such as Google Apps for Education and others" (p. 2). Everything on the Web sounds good.

Know Your NLEs

More and more schools across the country are bringing digital media into the curriculum--from digital painting and graphic arts to digital print production to digital video editing. In particular, there seems to be a surge of activity in the digital video editing space, with schools offering courses designed as either electives to fulfill an art requirement or as prep for students looking to pursue careers in production and post-production.

Why BYOD, Not Banning Cell Phones, Is the Answer

It's difficult to have a conversation about using cell phones for learning without someone complaining that the phones will be a distraction. These complaints are presumably made by those who have never been in schools where cell phones are used as learning tools. Those who have know that not only do teachers find distraction is not an issue, they also find students are more engaged and excited about learning.

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