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Potential E-Rate Changes: Cybersecurity and New Competitive Bidding

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Two major issues are on the minds of E-rate applicants this year, says John Harrington, CEO of Funds For Learning, an E-rate compliance firm. 

First, Funds For Learning’s most recent E-rate Trends Report revealed that many E-rate applicants would like to see E-rate funding expanded to include cybersecurity. Second, The FCC’s has proposed changes to the E-rate competitive bidding process in a manner Harrington and others believe could hinder the administration of the program, which provides discounts of between 20 and 90 percent on broadband access cost for schools and libraries.

E-rate Cybersecurity  

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How to Make the Most of Google Workspace for Education’s Features

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There have been significant changes and advances made to Google Workspace over the past three years. Google is always adding products and features to its platform, and IT administrators may not be aware of the new capabilities at their fingertips.

Educators and IT leaders must keep up with these advancements to make the most of what Google Workspace has to offer. Here’s a rundown of the platform’s newest features, as well as the ways these elements can improve online teaching and learning.

More Options for Users in K–12 Learning Environments

Much has changed for Google Workspace over the past few years, so much so that you may not even recognize the platform if you haven’t used it since before the pandemic. For one, school districts now have more editions to choose from.

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There’s still the free version for education, known as Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals, which offers Google’s suite of collaboration and communication tools, including Classroom, Sheets, Docs, Meet and Gmail. In addition, there’s now the Google Workplace for Education Standard upgrade, which includes a security center to mitigate threats and advanced device and app management solutions.

Another new edition, the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, adds premium engagement features to the Fundamentals version. These include breakout rooms, polls and Q&As in Google Meet, along with the ability to hold meetings with up to 250 participants. This upgrade also comes with unlimited Originality Reports, a feature that uses Google Search to help students keep their writing original and avoid plagiarism.

Finally, Google Workspace for Education Plus includes everything in the standard edition and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade with the further addition of customizable Cloud Search as well as the ability to hold meetings of up to 500 participants, sync rosters directly to Classroom and use document approvals. Core licenses with AppSheet, a no-code development platform, are included at no additional cost. 

With more editions, schools have more flexibility. IT departments used to have the binary choice between paid and unpaid. Now, they can say, “Well, which cool stuff do I need? Do I need it for the teaching and learning side? Or do I want it for the management and security side of things? Do I want both? Then, I’ll level up.”

DISCOVER: Learn more about the benefits of a Google Workspace for Education audit.

Changing Features Offer More Interaction and Oversight

Three years ago, Workspace offered Meet for online interaction and Classroom to facilitate online lectures. Now, with the Teaching and Learning Upgrade, the features have become more robust.

Through Meet, educators can leverage breakout rooms, use attendance trackers and access transcripts of each lecture. Meet also allows for more interaction with the ability to create polls, quizzes and Q&As.

Originality Reports in Classroom and Assignments are unlimited with this upgrade, and educators can use student-to-student matching to detect plagiarism within their own domain. Google has also added external livestreaming capabilities to its Workspace platform.

Security Improvements Keep Online Environments Safe

Google has additionally bolstered security and IT features on the administrative side of Workspace. The security center prevents threats and automates monitoring, while the security investigation tool remediates phishing, spam and other threats.

The investigation tool is a unified way to look at what’s going in within your Google environment and investigate things from a data perspective. With this tool, you can see everything going on within your domain, and you can take both individual and bulk actions on emails and files to mitigate threats, including quarantining emails and changing sharing permissions.

Google has also added the Gmail Security Sandbox, which automatically scans all email attachments to ensure they’re safe, adding an extra security layer to your environment.

IT admins can learn more and evaluate which edition is right for their district with the CDW Education experts at Amplified IT.

This article is part of the “ConnectIT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology” series. Please join the discussion on Twitter by using the #ConnectIT hashtag.

How to Make the Most of Google Workspace for Education’s FeaturesConnect IT: Bridging the Gap Between Education and Technology

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How Districts Are Recruiting & Retaining Teachers & Staff

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Teacher burnout isn’t new, and districts are continually finding new ways to recruit—and retain—new and seasoned educators. Here are some innovative ideas for your district to consider. 

Recruit & Retain Teachers: Digging Into the Data 

Dan Cox, superintendent of Rochester CUSD 3A in Illinois, was concerned about many things when the pandemic lifted, particularly how to move forward. He attended a conference session on teacher morale and discovered EAB (eab.com), a company that helps districts drive change through data-driven insights. With the guidance, Rochester is now refining core instructional strategies, creating postsecondary pathways, boosting staff and student mental health, improving community trust, and creating conditions for employees to thrive. This year, they are focusing on the last one.

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Product Review: Verkada’s CD62-E Camera Offers Easy Setup and Powerful Analytics

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As more schools explore Video over IP cameras, IT departments like mine at the Metropolitan School District of Steuben County in Angola, Ind., are joining the effort to boost physical security at our schools.

When testing IP cameras for my district, I looked for a device that would be easy for our small team to set up and manage. I had the Verkada CD62-E network surveillance camera up and running in less than 20 minutes.

Click the banner to access customized K–12 security content when you register as an Insider.

Verkada’s CD62-E is Easy to Set up, Use and Share Footage

I plugged it into our Power over Ethernet switch, meaning no additional wiring was required. Verkada advertises the camera as “low usage” for bandwidth, drawing only 20 to 50 kilobytes per second, per camera, at rest. And indeed, there was no significant impact on our network with the cameras in use.

The Verkada CD62-E network surveillance camera also sports a durable, vandal-resistant dome design that won’t succumb to those TikTok trends.

Verkada CD62-E specs

The Verkada CD62-E network surveillance camera’s user interface is clean and intuitive. My colleagues outside of the tech department, who have a diverse range of tech skills, needed only about 10 minutes to learn how to use it.

Footage was also easy to share. By simply clicking a button and entering an email address or a mobile number, I could share an MP4 video clip, complete with a watermark that makes the footage admissible as legal evidence.

Verkada CD62-E Processes Footage on the Camera

As a bonus, footage is processed on each camera, virtually eliminating lag time between detection and alerts. Onboard storage also relieves the district of installing network video recorders for local storage and backup. All footage is stored on the camera and then backed up to the cloud.

This was my district’s first time using Video over IP cameras, and it was a huge upgrade to our current system, which dates to the 1990s. The 4K images and videos were clear and crisp. The ability to set alerts and view the cameras anytime, anywhere is a huge timesaver for staff.

LEARN MORE: Here’s what IT leaders should know about investing in IP surveillance cameras.

I also tested Verkada’s analytics, which can filter images based on face match, clothing colors, vehicle type and more. Using a staff member as a “person of interest” to test the face recognition, I received alerts each time he passed the camera, even when he was wearing glasses or a hat.

Motion detection also worked as expected, with alerts for each incident. I was surprised by how consistently well these features worked. Verkada includes these features in cross-camera tracking as well, providing more than one angle and tracking a subject’s movement. This series of Verkada cameras offer occupancy trends data with heat maps to monitor use of space and trends.

Source: Campus Safety, 2022 Video Surveillance Deep Dive Survey, November 2022

Verkada CD62-E is Scalable Across K–12 Campuses

With all of these features and the ease of use, I can see the Verkada CD62-E being a great addition to any school environment. While I only tested one camera, I could easily scale this in a deployment across the district without needing additional equipment or software.

As long as Power over Ethernet is available, each new camera could be brought online and added to the console within minutes. Even better, Verkada’s SAML or OAuth support can be integrated to offer single sign-on for all users, complete with two-factor compliance.

DIVE DEEPER: IT and security leaders lean on technology to improve school safety.

SPECIFICATIONS

Device Type: Surveillance camera
Dimensions: 6.1×4.5 inches with mount plate
Image Resolution: 4K (3840×2160)
IR Range: 98 feet
Onboard Storage: Up to 2TB
IR Range: 98 feet
Lens Type: Zoom
Functionality: IR-cut filter for day and night use
Connectivity: 10/100Mbps, RJ-45 cable connector for network/PoE



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