Page 15 - THE Journal, March/April 2019
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Another potential application comes from mytaptrack, which using an IoT solution to track the behaviors of students with disabilities. Teachers are given a programmable button to mark behavioral trends of students during different learning activities.
“Teachers are finding that having a button is not intrusive to the learning experience,” said mytaptrack CEO Nikody Keating. “When they are sitting down for conversations with parents, the data collected changes the entire conversation because there is data to back up the conversation rather than just relying on a teacher’s memory. We’re seeing a lot of data myths dispelled and more discussions with parents to make the learning environment a collaborative experience.”
However, most school districts are not as advanced in their IoT solution development. For California’s Fresno Unified School District, Philip Neufeld, executive director of Information Technology, sees the need to focus on how to provide internet connectivity to as many students as possible outside of the classroom.
Fresno has WiFi on school buses through Cradlepoint’s IoT solution set, and the school district is also offering WiFi at remote sites for suspended students to keep up with their coursework. Connectivity is essential for school district services such as healthcare clinics and disaster recovery operations as well.
Providing security for devices
As school districts start to explore providing more options to teachers and students in terms of connectivity, cybersecurity concerns become more prevalent. The extent of the Mirai botnet attack that took advantage of unprotected IoT networks showed CIOs and their industry partners that IoT systems need separate and distinct networks that are not connected to district data centers.
One solution is to create a software-defined perimeter for all IoT devices to enable students to access the WiFi and 4G LTE connections in the classroom and on school buses, but to limit the number of websites or applications that they can access.
“We can route the traffic before it goes anywhere and make specific addresses accessible so all other addresses are null and void, which prevents a sensor from getting hacked by a foreign country,” said Kajeet CEO Daniel Neal. “We tighten up the traffic so it is only routed to the designed place that is supposed to be routed to.”
Network segmentation can also be a valuable tool to direct traffic for specific purpose areas. For instance, the technology behind connecting student devices would be running
on a dedicated part of the network that is separate from the mechanisms that control the HVAC systems. By using this kind of technology, the different networked systems can still be monitored and tracked, but the information following through these environments is kept separate and distinct.
Gartner finds that school districts looking to cement their cybersecurity strategies should segment their operations into four operational areas: cybersecurity, risk management, business continuity and audit and privacy. While confidentiality, integrity and availability are important security objectives, a priority should also be placed on privacy, safety and reliability.
“The challenge in education today is how to make a difference in student educational learning outcomes with all the data that is now accessible,” said Gartner’s Calhoun Williams. “The IoT schema expands on that challenge exponentially, but the data doesn’t do anything until you get insights on how to do something better.”
Sara Friedman is a reporter/producer for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe covering education policy and a wide range of other public-sector IT topics. Friedman can be contacted at or follow her on Twitter @SaraEFriedman.
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