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Are Your Parents Safe Enough For You?

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The events that took place in Oxford, Michigan, in early December 2021 were tragic and horrifying, much like all of the other school shootings that have taken place from Columbine to Oxford. The difference in the Oxford shooting is that the parents were arrested and held responsible for their child’s actions. 

How many times do we as teachers contact parents only to hear that it is our problem to handle? Now, let’s be clear, not every parent avoids school contact, and not every parent plays the blame game. But, some do and oftentimes those are the ones we need support from the most because often they are parents of children with either behavioral or academic challenges. 

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CITE 2022: Women Boldly Approach Tech and Leadership Roles

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This year, California IT in Education had a record number of female attendees at its CITE conference, panelists said in Wednesday’s “Every Role is a Starring Role for Women in Technology” session.

Speaking to an audience of men and women, panel host Ari Flewelling, professional development manager at CDW Education, celebrated that word about the conference had spread. “That means the people who have been coming, whether it be our female- or male-identifying attendees, are telling people, and they are bringing someone with them,” she said. “And that is a great strategy to help with recruitment, employment and mentorship.”

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Hiring practices were talked about at length in the panel discussion and in CITE 2022’s Tuesday keynote session, which featured Danielle Feinberg, a visual effects supervisor at Pixar Animation Studios. In the keynote, Feinberg explained her own early career experiences and what it took to make the leap to her current position.

Women Should Confidently Apply for the Jobs They Want

When Feinberg started at Pixar, she worked primarily on lighting in animated films because she was awestruck by the way it could change a scene and tell a story.

She showed examples from films she worked on, including “Finding Nemo,” “Wall-E,” “The Incredibles” and “Coco.” Each project had unique challenges. “Finding Nemo” needed to appear believably underwater, “Wall-E’s” setting needed to look more like post-apocalyptic Earth than Mars, “The Incredibles” pushed the team to animate a character with long hair and “Coco” featured more lights than any previous Pixar film: 8.5 million in a single scene.

Feinberg CITE 2022

Danielle Feinberg, Visual Effects Supervisor at Pixar Animation Studios, demonstrates the effects of lighting in an animated film with a scene from “Coco.”

With each challenge, Feinberg and her team rose to the occasion, often under tight deadlines. After the success of “Coco,” she applied for the visual effects supervisor position on the movie “Turning Red.”

“This has typically been a very, very technical job, and I’m not very technical. People tend to think of lighting as one of the less technical jobs,” she explained.

However, the new film’s director was Domee Shi, who had just won an Oscar for her work on the short film “Bao,” and rumors were circulating that Shi wanted the new feature to be a combination of art and technology. “So, I decided to apply,” Feinberg said.

She got the job and added that the first thing she did was stick out her neck and recommend the use of a new technology, which turned out to be so successful for animating bodily movement that the team decided to use it for facial expressions as well.

 

On Wednesday, panelists spoke about the discrepancies in women and men applying for jobs, citing a survey that found women typically will apply only for positions they’re 100 percent qualified for.

“I know I can do this, so I feel confident now applying for those jobs, and I want to integrate that into my own female coworkers’ minds,” said Lisa DeLapo, director of informational and instructional technology at Union School District in San Jose, Calif. “I feel like they’ll never try because they don’t feel qualified, and they are.”

Hiring Practices Need to Change to Include Women and Minorities

Participants in the women in tech panel also talked about the changes they can make from within an organization to support hiring and retention practices.

“When you start looking at people’s resumes and comparing what you’re hiring for, what are the things on that list that are essential? What are the things that would be nice? What could be taught?” Flewelling asked. She also pointed out that many responsibilities are collaborative and won’t need to be handled solely by a new hire.

LEARN MORE: What does it take for women in K–12 to make it to the top?

“You have to engage your HR department,” added an audience member after raising his hand. “If you’re not proactive with them, they will overlook potential candidates because of their own bias.”

From the corporate side, Danielle Pinta, program manager for Google for Education, said she’s already seeing the effect of companies mentoring and hiring candidates more thoughtfully. “I’ve been in positions numerous times where I’m the only woman in a room full of men, and over the last five years I’ve started to see that shift. Whenever I do see it shift, it feels really good.”

Pinta pointed to the programs Google has around hiring minorities as a way tech companies are moving in the right direction.

Bookmark this page to stay up to date with our CITE 2022 conference coverage, and join the conversation on Twitter when you follow @EdTech_K12 and use the hashtag #CITE2022.

Photography by Rebecca Torchia



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Best Gaming Systems for School Esports Programs

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The best gaming systems for school esports can help to make all the difference in a student and school’s experience of the ever-growing world of esports. Not only will the right rig help students win games but it can also help push the school forward in national standings.

When it comes to STEM learning and social skills enhancement, more and more research reflects positively on esports. From K-12 to college, this covers a wide age range and many students, regardless of physical limitations or skills, may already play, making it an easy transition to get socialized in teams. 

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CITE 2022: Overcome Security Challenges and Prepare for 2023’s Growing Threats

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K–12 schools are facing high stakes when it comes to cybersecurity. Cyberattacks not only put student and staff data at risk, but they’re also expensive and can threaten a district’s reputation. News of successful K–12 ransomware attacks spreads quickly, which may be one reason district IT leaders are looking for any way to mitigate the threats.

The interest in cybersecurity was evident in Long Beach at this year’s California IT in Education conference. Security-focused breakout sessions at CITE 2022 filled quickly, and Wednesday’s keynote featured cybersecurity expert John Sileo.

Experts in cybersecurity sessions spoke at length about how to overcome current challenges to building a stronger security posture in K–12 schools, including the need for additional resources and stakeholder support.

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Invest in Security Resources to Proactively Avoid Cyberattacks

If increasing, high-profile ransomware attacks didn’t emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures, cyber insurance requirements did. However, in a panel discussion Tuesday called “Identifying the Risks and Challenges of Cybersecurity,” hosted by CDW Education’s Professional Development Manager Ari Flewelling, speakers discussed why, often, meeting insurance requirements alone isn’t enough.

“There’s a difference between a checkmark in an audit box and mitigating risk,” said panelist Steven Allison, a field CISO at CDW.

It’s better to pay for a more comprehensive security solution because, while it might be more expensive, it won’t be nearly as costly as a successful cyberattack. If there is a breach, the money will be there. “It takes the incident to create the incident-based spending,” Allison said, but IT departments can try to get that money for prevention.

School districts can also stretch their cybersecurity budgets by bringing in security consultants instead of hiring full-time staff. Many districts are finding it difficult to fill vacant security positions because K–12 institutions can’t pay these specialists as much as the private sector can. However, bringing in a part-time virtual CISO or other security consultant can give districts an expert’s perspective without busting the budget.

REVIEW: Read about the IT leadership and newest technologies at the CITE 2022 conference.

Educate Stakeholders on Cybersecurity Risks and Solutions

Acquiring the necessary funding up front for cybersecurity is often a matter of getting the right stakeholders to understand the risks cyberattacks pose.

“There needs to be support from the top,” said Jon Carrino, director of technology services at William S. Hart Union High School District. “When resources aren’t available because there’s no support from the school board or superintendents, those initiatives become impossible.”

One challenge is that, frequently, board members, superintendents and other administrators don’t have an IT background. This makes it more difficult to convey the importance of proactively mitigating risks.

“Make sure you’re able to communicate the ‘why,’” said Brandon Weber, IT director for the Lancaster School District, adding that it can be helpful to collaborate with the teacher’s union and its leaders. “If they’re on your side, things go far more smoothly.”

Photography by Rebecca Torchia



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URGENT: CYBER SECURITY UPDATE