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project tomorrow logo

Late in 2021, Project Tomorrow released a report, 2021 Project Tomorrow – iboss National K-12 Education Cybersecurity Research Study. Project Tomorrow is a nonprofit whose mission is to support the effective implementation of research-based learning experiences for K-12. This research points to how security and the cloud can shape student learning.

Researchers interviewed nearly 600 district administrators and technology leaders from a cross-section of school districts across the country. The results call for a national response for greater awareness and actions in K-12 cybersecurity. Most importantly, research showed that security is not the job of just the technology department. We need greater awareness. And, particularly, all district personnel, students, and families must act.

There has indeed been negative press on the effects of remote learning. Nevertheless, the pandemic looks like it cemented districts’ commitment to devices, digital resources, and internet connectivity. With this increased usage, the vulnerabilities of school districts have increased. We all hear the reports of ransomware, hacking, data breaches, and other cybersecurity incidents. They have hit school districts with increasing regularity.

The report findings do not reveal technical specifics for protection. Results offer areas of misalignment that need to change. Three key areas surfaced.

  • An effective cybersecurity plan must have shared responsibility across the district.
  • District leaders must reassess the approach to the management of technology.
  • Funding must increase for cybersecurity for both readiness and mitigation efforts.

Share Responsibility for Cybersecurity

The readiness of District Leadership to implement effective methods for protection or response to a ransomware attack or hack to district systems depends first upon the Superintendent. And his or her cabinet must have an understanding of their district’s vulnerabilities and response planning. Unfortunately, the study shows that there is a mismatch in the commitment across leadership.

Chart of Cloud adoption
Perceived use of Cloud

The pandemic showed that district staff needed to adjust their jobs to meet the needs of the moment. This change, or transformation, must continue. Tech staff may need to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud and less about servers and copy machines. Teachers may need to address digital citizenship and online safety more actively.

Reassess Needs to Focus on the Cloud

Software as a Service (SaaS) and cloud are widespread even before the pandemic. That’s only increasing. But Leaders need to ensure training on new technologies. Staff now should spend less time running a data center rather than running cloud applications. Staff to focus on this new landscape. Time is needed for practices and procedures to evolve. Vet SaaS and cloud providers to hone skills. Spend less time spent on, say, testing shrink-wrapped software.

Increase Funding for Cybersecurity and Cloud

Finally, the Project Tomorrow research points to the need for more funding for cybersecurity. These investments should go to awareness training, locking down vulnerabilities, updating security and student safety software, cloud adoption, and having a robust business continuity and disaster recovery plan.

Download the full report.

FETC Conference, January 25 - 28, 2022 Orange County Convention Center Orlando, FL
See Tech Reformers in Booth 4211 in the Startup Pavilion

At FETC, the Future of Education Technology Conference, Tech Reformers, a leader in K-12 Cloud,
is releasing TR | AppStream, a managed AWS AppStream 2.0 service. So, K-12 school districts can now offer virtually any application to students on Chromebooks and any device even with low bandwidth. Enabling all students to access high-end applications, TR | AppStream gives any time, anywhere access to, for example, Adobe Creative Cloud, Autodesk Inventor & Revit, and engineering and computer science applications from Project Lead the Way (PLTW). In sum, virtually any application that schools need students to access at home or in school, TR | AppStream makes it possible on any device. As a managed service, it’s no extra work for IT.

Target equity, the digital divide, and homework gap

While some think that Chromebooks and hotspots have solved the digital divide and homework gap, nevertheless students with only a Chromebook or just a hotspot don’t have equitable access compared to students who can use a full-featured multimedia computer and high-speed broadband at home. With the cloud, Infrastructure as a Service – IaaS, that opportunity gap disappears. A Chromebook or any home computer with an internet connection can tap into all the powerful applications. They stream from servers in the AWS cloud, all managed by Tech Reformers.

Heretofore, creating district platforms to allow virtual desktops or streaming apps have been too expensive and too difficult to manage for most school districts. Building out the virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) has been a huge capital expense. The cloud offers a solution, but district IT staff may not have the time or the expertise to deploy and manage what is needed. But, there are success stories. The cloud billing model may seem fraught with risk so TR | AppStream has per student, flat-rate cost.

TR | AppStream is a fully managed service

AppStream combines AWS AppStream 2.0 with fully managed services focused on the needs of K-12. School Districts who just determine the applications and use cases they want for their students and how many students they have to access it. Therefore, no configuration or VDI environment. So districts pay a per-student price with no need to worry about infrastructure, IT workload, or streaming rates.

TR Appstream Banner

Tech Reformers has created a demo for you to see and test yourself right away. The demo contains free applications for demonstration purposes only. But, when trying, imagine offering licensed software to your students in a fast, easy-to-access portal. For example, you can leverage your Adobe licensing or PTLW commitment to extend usage beyond school to the homes of all students. Tech Reformers will customize to your needs. TR | AppStream can even enable districts to eliminate computer lab desktop computers. Allow students to access productivity, creative, computer science, and technical applications on their laptops.

Try for yourself

Sign up for immediate access to the self-paced demo, and, during FETC, we will be raffling off Tech Reformers Yeti mugs to registered users.

Also available to request are demos for Adobe Creative Cloud, 3D, gaming, or your request. You will get your environments after a setup period and be offered a walk-through.

And, we are looking for districts who want to expand access to all students to be customers this school year at a great discount to try the service. We welcome districts that want to pilot the solution. For equity, bring AWS AppStream 2.0 to your students.

For inquires, reach out to info@techreformers.com, or, if you are in Orlando at FETC, stop by booth 4221.

Tech Reformers is an AWS Partner. If you want help doing it yourself, our AWS Certified Architects help you get started.


Tech Reformers booth at CIT
Booth 704

We are highlighting our partnership with OpenText. About 200 school districts use OpenText. OpenText was named a “Leader” in content management by both Gartner and Forrester.

OpenText Key Capabilities include:

  • Information management (records retention, document management, archiving, etc.)
  • Electronic forms & workflow
  • Business process automation
  • Document capture (OCR), and
  • Integration with M365

Better yet, Tech Reformers offers the only fully hosted and managed OpenText solution designed for K-12. Furthermore, OpenText can integrate with your existing productivity suite.

At CITE, Tech Reformers will be also featuring our K-12 Cloud services not only for information management. We will share our managed services, hosting, and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS). Tech Reformers has proprietary AWS-hosted solutions for OpenText and App Stream 2.0. We have best-in-breed partner solutions for cybersecurity and disaster recovery.

So, please stop by our CITE booth at #704.

Finally, we are having a special get-together. Please join us at our November 18th, 6-8 pm Happy Hour at Dive Bar.

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