Finding the right ed tech tools can help students and teachers focus, collaborate, and create. By redefining the relationship between IT departments and educators, a strong partnership prevails where effective communication and problem-solving fosters meaningful collaboration.
As K–12 institutions continue to expand their digital footprints by adapting new technologies, concerns of ransomware attacks also continue to grow. In fact, according to SonicWall’s 2023 Cyber Threat Report, ransomware attacks were up 827 percent in 2022 for K–12 schools. How then do schools mitigate vulnerability?
In this article, Suchi Rudra shares how schools can safeguard against cyber threats by
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According to the World Health Organization, the volume of a classroom should be less than 35 decibels for good learning conditions. But today’s classrooms are much noisier. The average classroom today can be as loud as 77 decibels – that’s equivalent to the sound of a vacuum cleaner!
The rise in 1:1 device policies, new instructional methods and changing dynamics in the classroom make now a great time to evaluate how noise impacts students – and educators. Cutting noise pollution can help everyone in a classroom hear and be heard in ways that can also personalize learning. There are learning outcome advantages too. Students need instruction to be 15-20 decibels louder than background noise to support higher learning recovery rates. Headsets help students focus by removing those external distractions.
Educators looking for ways to lower noise pollution and keep students focused can try one or more of these tips, tools, and tactics.
Mute machines and devices
The technology and devices in and around learning environments in school or at home contribute to continuous background sounds. The beeps, buzzing, and whirring from these devices might seem par for the course, but they can distract students.
What to do
District and school leaders should factor in sound output when evaluating school equipment. Paying attention to noise levels as well as features that easily mute notifications and other sounds can help lower the overall classroom noise.
Students need instruction amplified 15-20 decibels louder than background noise. Without that amplification, learning loss can occur. A microphone can help the teacher’s voice cut through classroom noise pollution.
What to do
The Yeti Microphone provides broadcast-quality sound to give educators confidence that students can clearly understand information and instructions.
Classrooms are often built to maximize space, but that’s often done at the cost of sound. In districts or schools, administrators and school leaders can help teachers modify classrooms to reduce the impact of noise. If teachers are leading classes in a remote or hybrid style, tip sheets can be created so teachers can set up personal spaces properly.
What to do
For both in-person and remote settings, adding rugs to bare floors, hanging curtains over windows, or putting soft materials like felt or cork on walls can improve the acoustics of a room and reduce noise.
Use an app
Apps are handy for many aspects of classroom management. That’s the case for reducing classroom noises as well. Educators can choose from a variety of paid and free apps to help manage classroom noise.
What to do
There are many available apps that measure and display noise levels. The visuals in the apps range from stoplights and bouncing balls to smiley faces so educators can choose what works for their classroom best.
Hand out headsets
By reducing background noise, headsets can help students differentiate between ambient noise and educational content they need to hear. They also make audio clearer. So whether students need to hear instructions from a teacher or educational technology, headsets, especially those designed to wear for extended periods of time, can help students hear with greater ease and less frustration throughout the school day.
What to do
The soft foam padded ear pads in Logitech Zone Learn create noise isolation and keep students comfortable. Plus, the headset has adjustable side arms to fit students’ heads.
Taking just a few of these steps can make a big difference in cutting noise pollution in schools and districts, while boosting focus and stamina among students.
What do classrooms of the future entail and how do we build a plan to meet future demands? K–12 education is on the cusp of answering these questions and more as it moves away from traditional styles of teaching and learning to focus on educational technology and classroom innovation.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought forth clarity on many pain points in education, especially with the digital divide. Many schools were still operating under a 19th century framework when the pandemic started, further exasperating the need for upgrades. Since 2020, $190 billion in federal funds have been distributed to help schools close the digital divide through updates and infrastructure. However, the challenge still remains of how schools can secure long-term funding to continue modernization efforts.
In 2022, ed tech adoption in K–12 settings increased by 99 percent. The demand for digital learning software shows that technology is not just an add-on in classrooms anymore, but a primary tool that allows teachers to create individualized education plans, interactive content, and repositories of course content. Despite the many benefits, there are potential hazards to avoid by following a few best practices.
The mention of esports typically conjures images of teenagers in headsets, positioned in front of colorful keyboards and brightly lit computer monitors. As competitive gaming grows popularity at high schools and colleges across the nation, it becomes even more important to lay the groundwork for these teams early on. Learn how to introduce game-based education to increase students’ skills.
The Herraez twins noted that technologies have changed with time — from photocopies to Microsoft OneNote — but the delivery process remains the same for many schools. Teachers deliver information to students, who are expected to absorb and remember the lessons.
The Herraezes shared strategies they used when working as fifth and sixth grade educators in Utah. They argued that personalizing learning and teaching students self-management skills prepares them for the workforce they’ll one day enter. They cited data from the World Economic Forum’s 2020 report “The Future of Jobs,” which showed the increased demand for employees with self-management skills.
As they explained the ways they incorporated these pedagogies and skills into their classrooms, the Herraezes encouraged districts to follow their example.
The COVID-19 pandemic essentially ended the conversation about whether school districts should embrace one-to-one programs that put a computing device into the hands of every student.
“During COVID, a large number of individual devices were deployed,” says Amy McLaughlin, Cybersecurity Initiative director at the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN). “We exited the conversation of, ‘Should we do one-to-one?’ and entered the conversation of, ‘How do we maintain one-to-one?’”
As McLaughlin notes, the lifecycle for mobile devices such as laptops and tablets is much shorter — about three years, she suggests — than the lifecycle of a school building. In a 2022 CoSN survey, 75 percent of districts said federal economic stimulus funds were significant for supporting hybrid learning. Of those that relied on emergency funding for IT initiatives, 60 percent used the money to purchase devices.
Educators work hard to set students up for success in a world that is increasingly digital. A 2018 report by the Institute for the Future and Dell Technologies estimated that 85 percent of children entering today’s K–12 schools will eventually find themselves in jobs that don’t currently exist, making educators’ jobs even more challenging.
Add to that the new technologies vying for students’ attention in classrooms and on devices, plus the mental and emotional difficulties many students are facing following the pandemic. How can school districts engage students and set them up for success in a future world of advanced technology?