Pragmatic Strategies for 2022: Edtech Tools for Physical and Cybersecurity

Security is an insistent challenge that schools face everyday. Whether conducting classes in the building or using devices that enable teaching and learning to happen from anywhere, administrators want to keep their students safe from physical harm and cybersecurity threats. Amplified IT’s “Pragmatic Safety for 2022” panel event sought to help schools like yours address obstacles in their security strategies with expertise from a panel of education and technology professionals. 

Dr. Akilah Willery, an Education Strategist who provides edtech consulting services for CDW, led Amy Mayer, Founder & CEO of friEDTechnology, Mike Jolley, Director of Customer Success for Securly, Mikaela Lea, Principal Field Solutions Architect of Security Assessments for CDW, and Tom Woods, the Google for Education Training Lead for Amplified IT, in a discussion on digital security trends, developing an effective security strategy, and technical tools that mitigate vulnerabilities.

Our experts engaged with attendees by sharing their own experiences with physical and cybersecurity, and answered a series of questions including the following:

How do departments best work together to execute a digital and physical security strategy?

The panelists all stated that cross-departmental collaboration was the best method. Mikaela elaborated, “We need to make sure we’re bringing in everyone. Teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria staff, they see things day-to-day that we may not see in IT so there needs to be proper training across all sectors and a safe space for them to come together to address identified issues.” Attendees were also encouraged to take a look at the US Secret Service National Threat Assessment Center’s operational guide to assess steps their schools can take to develop those comprehensive and targeted prevention plans.   

How do you tactically respond to [security][/security] vulnerabilities? 

Mike explained that schools need to have the right resources available in their district in order to fill these gaps, especially for physical security. “In a school with over 1,500 students, we can’t expect 4 counselors to be able to handle every crisis situation. Teachers need to have some kind of basic training to be equipped to handle these instances until a counselor can be obtained,” he said. 

From a cybersecurity perspective, attendees identified passwords as being a point of contention between IT and teachers. Teachers generally want easy-to-remember passwords for students, but those aren’t always the most secure. Tom agreed that it is better to be proactive than reactive when it comes to vulnerabilities and, again, highlighted training as the key. “What I see the most is a lack of understanding the tools and features that are available to you through Google,” he added. “You need to look at your privacy policies in the Admin console and make sure they align with what you’re doing: frequency of password changes, the complexity of passwords, use of previous passwords, things like that.”

How do you empower various staff members to facilitate change when it comes to school security?

Amy, Mike, Tom, and Mikela reiterated that adoption of new processes and technology can be a challenge but also noted that transferring knowledge and sharing information can ease it. Amy illustrated the need to explain “the why.” “It’s so frustrating when you as an educator are just told ‘no’ and you don’t have an explanation. Being really specific with people and helping them why the answer is no is so important, not ‘we’re the technology department and we said so.”

During the event, the experts also mentioned useful Google Workspace for Education security features, discussed how to divulge technical information for a large non-technical audience, suggested valuable training and tools, and added ways to make passwords more secure. 

Get the full scope of resources shared and enhance the physical and cybersecurity strategies your school uses to keep everyone safe by watching the entire event. Download the recording here

  • Jada Dawson
    Content Creation Specialist

  • About the Author:

    Jada joined Amplified IT in 2021 after 4 years of working as a high school English teacher in a Maryland public school system, and 7 years as a freelance copywriter, content writer, and editor. As the Content Creation Specialist, she is passionate about strategically using words to reach our clients and connect them to the benefit of our services for their classrooms and communities. When she is not writing or managing content, Jada can be found painting her next masterpiece, brushing up on her French language skills, traveling with her family, and teaching Sunday school at her church. She is an avid bubble tea drinker, and loves french fries.