“A Big Year Ahead” – Takeaways from SecurED Schools 2021

The 4th annual SecurED Schools conference concluded back on Thursday, January 14. Though this year’s gathering was held virtually, technology leaders from around Illinois still participated in plenty of insightful conversations about the future of cybersecurity and data privacy.

In particular, this year’s conference focused on one of the largest upcoming challenges for Illinois’ edtech community – attaining compliance with the new Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA). Many aspects of compliance were covered over the course of the two-day conference, including how districts must handle edtech contracting and the new standards for app vetting going forward.

“[It] was great to have someone to start walking me through using these tools and this process,” praised one conference attendee, “I have been totally lost on where to start and this helps tremendously.”

This year’s conference kicked off on January 13 with a cybersecurity presentation by Rod Russeau, Director of Technology and Information Services at Community High School District 99. From there, technology leaders and IT professionals from every corner of the state jumped into sessions led by their peers from across the nation. That included Libbi Garrett, Resource Program Specialist with CITE, who offered insights on SOPPA based upon similar legislation in California.

Beyond SOPPA, attendees also had opportunities to learn about current best practices for a variety of cybersecurity tools and resources. Fortinet, OpenSource SIEM, and CIS Controls were all covered in separate sessions, with their respective presenters all offering real-world use cases for their tools.

“The virtual format worked great,” explained the LTC’s Eric Muckensturm, “Because we went virtual, I think we had more attendees than we might have with an in-person only conference.”

In total, around 300 technology leaders attended SecurED Schools, with districts from Chicagoland all the way down to Little Egypt represented. Though it goes without saying, many of those same attendees walked away with valuable information that will help them keep their home districts safe from the latest cybersecurity threats.

Even though this year’s SecurED Schools has now passed, the statewide conversation around cybersecurity, student data privacy, and SOPPA doesn’t have to end. The LTC Community is a great place to network with your fellow edtech professionals and share insights year-round.

Also, if you missed any sessions during SecurED Schools, you’re now able to go back and watch them at any time. Every session from the conference is available for viewing on demand by registered attendees. For more information about accessing this video library, check your email for a communication from the LTC’s Chris Wherley dated “January 20”.

Thank you again to all of this year’s SecurED Schools attendees and speakers! We hope to see you again next year as we return to our traditional in-person format.