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Los Angeles Unified School District – Hack the iPads!

October 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It didn’t take long, but soon after the Los Angeles Unified School District began their rollout of some 650,000 iPads to their students, they ran into some technical issues. Students in at least one of LAUSD’s high schools quickly discovered a way to bypass the security on the devices. Still in Phase 1 of the program, only 15,000 of the devices have been given to students, but already the District has suspended home use of the iPads due to the security issues. According to reports, LAUSD had been using software that “lets school district officials know where the iPads are, and what the students are doing with them at all times. This software also lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.” There are now questions circulating around whether the LAUSD staff was well prepared for these devices and their implementation, and what is going to be done moving forward to continue the rollout and secure the iPads.

student using mobile device

In my previous article I wrote about how educational staff need to be prepared to properly utilize iPads in their classroom. IT staff responsible for managing these iPads should also receive the proper training and preparation. What’s interesting to note here is that, at least in my experience, Apple’s stance on iPads in education is generally fairly hands-off. They recommend managing or locking down the iPads as little as possible. The idea here is that these are best served as single user devices and the best experience for the student is full ownership and manageability of the iPad out of the box. iPads aren’t meant to be used like a rolling cart of laptops going from room to room. They don’t support user profiles and managing or locking down the iPads introduces more complexity than is needed.

You want to protect the investment in these devices from theft, and prevent students from accessing inappropriate content, but if you are planning on allowing the students to take these devices home, you can only go so far. As evidenced from the LAUSD issue, students quickly discovered the iPads were so locked down they couldn’t use them at home, so they found a way to delete the configuration profiles which essentially removed any of the locks or restrictions on the iPad. Some students even went so far as to offer ‘unlocking’ service for $2. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Now, it’s a daunting task for any IT department of any size to introduce over half a million new devices under your umbrella of responsibility. Add to this, that depending on the MDM solution chosen, each of these iPads have to be unboxed and configured before being handed to a student. Now, when something goes wrong they have to be collected, and reconfigured. It stands to reason that Phase 1 will remain a trial phase until some of these issues are worked out. Read More »

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Day 2 of Educause 2013: Videoconferencing, Engagement and the Student Experience

October 18, 2013 at 9:06 am PST

Day 2 of Educause 2013 has been both information-filled and somewhat fascinating. During the general session this morning, author and renowned game designer, Jane McGonigal, shared some intriguing facts about the power of gaming in higher education. A few facts she shared that I found especially interesting included -- 71% of employees are not engaged (at a cost of 300 billion dollars per year), and that the longer you stay in school, the less engaged you become.

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Security: Vital for Technology-enabled Education

October 11, 2013 at 8:47 am PST

More and more we are seeing the education landscape change to include more technology for collaboration and mobile learning. Colleges and universities are enabling secure networks for staff and students to access resources on-campus and off. With October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) and Educause next week, we are hearing a lot of talk about the importance of campus network security and threats. Read More »

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Educause: Bringing Together Technology and Education to Invest in Our Future

It’s amazing to think about the way a traditional classroom operated only a few years ago.  As Renee Patton recently pointed out in her blog post, there were rules, there were barriers, and they were all kept within the confines of an educational institution.  As technology has advanced, those rules have been challenged, barriers overcome, and an entirely new era of learning has emerged.

The collaborative nature of education, educators and learners has allowed new technologies to thrive and innovation to accelerate.  We’re flipping classrooms, implementing mobile learning programs and developing entirely new ways for students to connect and engage.  And we’re looking with excitement toward a future that will continually change the way we teach and learn. Read More »

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3 Ways The Internet of Everything Is Improving Our World

This blog was originally posted on Huffington Post.

Every day, we’re bombarded with seemingly unsolvable issues — health care crises, struggling schools, poverty, and climate change are just a few. These issues may at first seem too big for any of us to solve. But in today’s technology-driven world, we actually have more power than ever.

The growth and convergence of people, process, data, and things on the Internet — the Internet of Everything — is making networked connections more valuable than ever before, creating unprecedented opportunities to bring about social good.

How? Let me give you three examples.

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