Juggling Act

With new content rules for schools, controlled cloud collaboration.

GUEST COLUMN | by Trevor Hellebuyck

CREDIT Metalogix.pngWe’re smack in the middle of a new era of collaboration, and nowhere is that clearer than in the educational world. Students and educators alike do their work and share information much differently than they did just a decade ago. Think about today’s classrooms, where content is in constant motion between students, teachers, platforms, and a wide range of electronic devices.

Students and educators alike do their work and share information much differently than they did just a decade ago.

Yet like our physical world, our digital world is not uniform, and no single educational institution will be standardized on just one enterprise content management or cloud collaboration platform. This can make it difficult for IT administrators to monitor and manage all of these disparate platforms. Since there is no single point of control for content management coming from within the organization, students (and instructors as well) often find themselves turning to cloud solutions that IT has not sanctioned—such as Dropbox, Box, Google for Work, or Salesforce—to be able to get their work done.

There are a few problems with this piecemeal approach, both from an organizational and educational perspective. Since these platforms have been neither approved nor deployed by IT, they lack the type of rigorous compliance and governance rules—internally and externally—as sanctioned on-premises solutions. Despite this reality, IT still is charged with managing and monitoring these platforms to protect their content. From the student and teacher perspectives, content entrusted to public cloud collaboration solutions is not necessarily secure. The public cloud has long been criticized for its penetrability by hackers, potentially jeopardizing personal data (students and/or educational institution staff), as well as educational data, such as academic research content that may be privileged or confidential.

Yet when we’re talking about today’s learning institutions, the last thing we want to do is lose the freedom that the cloud offers. Students and educators need the ability to do research and get their work done from anywhere, at anytime. They must be able to communicate and share information with fellow students and colleagues—no matter which platform or device others are using—on and off campus.

Fortunately, a new type of technology solution has emerged that allows students and teachers alike to enjoy the freedom of classic cloud collaboration, but in a controlled setting. This solution provides one point of control through which IT administrators can both monitor and manage the panoply of cloud collaboration platforms likely to be seen on any campus, no matter who has deployed them. It works via a comprehensive set of cloud apps that allow for content lifecycle management of data stored and shared across diverse cloud platforms.

Here are some benefits for educational institutions that embrace this new form of controlled cloud collaboration:

  • Any-to-any migration. Having a simple cloud-based interface allows for moving content from any type of file share solution onto the platform chosen by the IT administrator, for greater consistency, compliance, and security. In addition to any-to-any cloud migration, controlled cloud collaboration also facilitates content replication, synchronization, and platform provisioning.
  • Easy permissions management. Permissions is an important part of safeguarding data for educational users, and controlled cloud collaboration simplifies the process with a single interface for permissions management for any cloud collaboration platform, as well as auditing and reporting. The solution additionally enables content classification, cloud service management, and monitoring/reporting on usage.
  • Protection of sensitive content. Controlled cloud collaboration uses a single interface to allow administrators to quickly scan their extended collaboration environment. They can easily find and move sensitive content, provision users, and manage usage.
  • Security monitoring. To protect educational users’ content, the solution monitors unauthorized usage, scanning continuously for suspicious or inappropriate content placement. Controlled cloud collaboration backs up and archives content no matter where it is housed in the cloud.

In conclusion, it is clear this trend is not going away, it is only growing in popularity and soon (if not already) will be grouped inarguably under “best practices.” Students, educators and administration will continue to require the freedom to choose the platform that best fits their needs for content management and collaboration. To limit their ability to do this, is to limit their ability to learn, collaborate and be successful in today’s dynamic global learning environment.

Luckily, IT professionals now have the power to retain/regain control of their end clients’ disparate platform choices. By leveraging a solution that empowers IT with a single point of control to monitor, manage and protect, IT can balance its own goals and requirements while ensuring user freedom and optimized productivity. This is what we call a win-win.

Trevor Hellebuyck is Chief Strategy and Product Officer at Metalogix.

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Shaping the Future

At the intersection of education and technology, working with the most creative minds.

GUEST COLUMN | by Anne Wintroub

CREDIT ATT Aspire Accelerator.pngAs part of AT&T’s Aspire initiative – which accelerates the learning revolution and connects it with the young people who need it most– we’ve invested more than $350 million to help ensure all students have access to the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond. We know that in order to truly accomplish this mission, we must look to those “on the ground”: the teachers and inventors who are creating solutions for our students using the power of technology.

When we first launched the AT&T Aspire Accelerator in 2015, it was with the goal of finding and fostering the ideas of these very individuals, who represent the most innovative, groundbreaking startups in edtech.

We know that in order to truly accomplish this mission, we must look to those ‘on the ground’ – the teachers and inventors who are creating solutions for our students using the power of technology.

Since then, we’ve had the opportunity to work with some of the most creative minds in the edtech startup world. I find myself constantly learning from these folks and rethinking where learning and technology intersect. This past year, I’ve been able to work with companies like Bitsbox, which teaches school-aged kids to love coding, and Cogent Education, a company developing “interactive case studies” that allow students to solve real-world problems by applying the scientific method and real time teacher feedback. We also worked hand in hand with Talking Points, an organization that connects educators, parents and students through a multilingual texting platform allowing educators to communicate with parents in their own languages via two-way translation.

In addition to the $100,000 financial investment and mentorship from AT&T[1], the participating startups benefit from working with other industry pioneers. For that reason, we created an Accelerator Board of Advisors made up of leading innovators from education and technology – Charles Best, the Founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, Sebastian Thrun, the Founder and CEO of Udacity, and Kimberly Bryant, Founder of Black Girls Code – just to name a few. As is the case with any startup, and particularly within edtech, the input and feedback from those that have made waves in the industry is invaluable.

I often have people ask me what the true role of technology in education should be. For me, the answer is as simple as looking at the other industries we engage every day – retail, transportation, healthcare. 20, 15, even 10 years ago, technology wasn’t a critical piece of the puzzle in these arenas. Today, you couldn’t imagine life without the technology we have so readily available – when we check out at the grocery store, when we’re waiting for the next train to come, or when we’re trying to find and book a doctor’s appointment. Why should education be any different?

We know that the jobs of tomorrow will require skills steeped in technology. We also realize that today’s students live surrounded by technology that wasn’t a reality for the generations before them. Technology can improve how students learn both in and out of the classroom. We truly believe that the startups that have been and will be a part of the AT&T Aspire Accelerator will be the individuals helping to shape what the future of edtech will look like, and we’re excited to be along for this important ride.

[1] The Accelerator welcomes for profit and no-profit companies. The non-profit companies receive charitable contributions instead of investments.

Anne Wintroub is the Director of Social Innovation at AT&T and runs the Aspire Accelerator program, which is accepting applications for the 2017 class thru February 7. Visit www.att.com/aspireaccelerator to learn more.

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Trends | The Modern Learner

CREDIT Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon.pngWill Richardson and Bruce Dixon have put together an excellent case—actually an urgent case, for the reimagining of today’s schools. In 10 Principles for Schools of Modern Learning: The Urgent Case for Reimagining Today’s Schools, they have composed a deeply thoughtful essay gleaned from years of experience and timely in its delivery here and now in 2017. “On one side are the centuries old traditions, expectations, and practices of a system of education and schooling created for another time but still deeply rooted in our various cultural fabrics. On the other side is a fast-changing and expanding new story of learning in a globally networked world, one marked by new opportunities and complex challenges, driven by the increasingly ubiquitous technologies that connect us,” they write. In the whitepaper, published by Educating Modern Learners, the pair articulate a compelling case for change, and provide plenty of actionable steps to do so. We live in interesting, exciting times, and Will Richardson and Bruce Dixon have not only captured that, but are graciously pleading for your continued participation and your strong leadership in transforming our education system into a more ideal environment. They also have a plan to help get us there. Learn more.

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Cool Tool | RefME

CREDIT RefME.pngThis may be one of the world’s first multi-platform tools to completely automate the citation, referencing and bibliography process for over 7,000 referencing styles. With it students can create accurate citations for any source in seconds and complete an entire bibliography in minutes. They can create separate projects for each essay or piece of research, storing all of the references together, ready to export straight into their papers as a ready made bibliography. They can collaborate or share work with others by inviting them to join a project, which gives them full access to view, add, and annotate citations. RefME’s award-winning mobile app lets students scan a book’s barcode using their smartphone’s camera, or search for its title, author or ISBN number in order to generate the citation. All one’s work is synced and stored across every device and on RefME.com, where students can find a more extensive interface and even more tools at their disposal. Desktop users can also make use of RefME’s handy WebClipper add-on for Google Chrome, letting them instantly add a citation for the web page or online journal straight into the relevant project on RefME.

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Cool Tool | Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy

CREDIT Official SAT Practice Khan Academy.pngWith the Official SAT Practice on Khan Academy, students can practice for their SAT test in reading and math. And as of just recently, thanks to a partnership between the College Board and Turnitin, students can also practice for the optional essay portion of the SAT using Turnitin Revision Assistant, and get authentic sample scores generated by Turnitin Scoring Engine. The Official SAT Practice will map out a learning plan for the student based on their PSAT or SAT scores, or they can take a diagnostic test. The writing practice, however, doesn’t require the diagnostic test. Students can choose writing practice and go directly into Revision Assistant which gives immediate, actionable feedback. Using Natural Language Processing, Revision Assistant recommends how the student can improve their essay by showing them feedback on the screen highlighted to the text it references. Additionally, when writing on the scored portion of SAT practice prompts, two of the essays students can submit are scored by Turnitin Scoring Engine. The numbers they get back, company officials say, is a fair estimate of how a student would perform on the essay portion of the SAT because the scores are based on official SAT scoring rubrics from the College Board.

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