Cybersecurity Awareness Basics for Educators

When it comes to discussing the information we, as well as our students, share online, so-called “cyber hygiene” is a great place to start. This session will focus on several tools educators can use to evaluate cyber hygiene as well as several tools they can use to clean up their personal data sharing habits online.

Be Connected: Hacked, Attacked, and Pwned – Oh My!

This week on Be Connected, we’ll jump headlong into one of the chief concerns for all digitally-connected organizations (including schools) today – the threat of being hacked. In particular, we’ll look at the website www.haveibeenpwned.com and discuss how students and staff alike can use it to discover if their personal credentials have ever been hacked and dumped in a documented data breach.

Be Connected is a weekly webinar series from the LTC focused on facilitating open discussions about pertinent topics within Illinois’ edtech community. Hosted by the LTC’s Chris Wherley and Eric Muckensturm, each session will focus on a specific topic and provide space for participants to ask and answer questions in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Each week will feature a different core topic and a fresh opportunity to connect with your peers. So, be sure to check the LTC events calendar routinely so that you can join in the discussion and Be Connected.

Be Connected: Endpoint Security Software

Do you have the right antivirus software? Is it enough to combat the latest cybersecurity threats?

Join us this week as we discuss leading options for endpoint security software. We’ll also dive deep into different levels of protection needed in today’s schools, and answer your questions about making the most of your endpoint security software.

Be Connected is a weekly webinar series from the LTC focused on facilitating open discussions about pertinent topics within Illinois’ edtech community. Hosted by the LTC’s Chris Wherley and Eric Muckensturm, each session will focus on a specific topic and provide space for participants to ask and answer questions in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Each week will feature a different core topic and a fresh opportunity to connect with your peers. So, be sure to check the LTC events calendar routinely so that you can join in the discussion and Be Connected!

Be Connected: Content Filters

Content filtering – many school districts have been using it for years now. But is content filtering alone enough to keep students from accessing undesirable content on your district’s devices? Join this week’s edition of Be Connected to learn more about the pros and cons of content filtering as well as up-to-date best practices for implementing content filtering. Participants will have opportunities to ask questions and describe their own district’s current filtering regimen.

Be Connected is a new, weekly webinar series from the LTC focused on facilitating open discussions about pertinent topics within Illinois’ edtech community. Hosted by the LTC’s Chris Wherley and Eric Muckensturm, each session will focus on a specific topic and provide space for participants to ask and answer questions in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Each week will feature a different core topic and a fresh opportunity to connect with your peers. So, be sure to check the LTC events calendar routinely so that you can join in the discussion and Be Connected!

Be Connected: Incident Response

The first hours, days, and weeks after a security intrusion can be among the most critical. Is your district adequately prepared to respond to a data breach or other acute cybersecurity threat? Join this week’s edition of Be Connected to learn more about the current best practices for mitigating a known cyber attack. Participants will have opportunities to ask questions and offer their experiences about this all-important topic.

Be Connected: Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor authentication – chances are, you’ve heard about this latest trend in cybersecurity. Many consumer-oriented platforms are now utilizing it, including Google and most major social media websites. But does 2FA play a role in your school or district’s current cybersecurity portfolio? Regardless of your experience with 2FA, tune into this week’s edition of Be Connected. There, you can ask questions about this new cybersecurity standard and share your experiences utilizing it in the field.

Be Connected is a new, weekly webinar series from the LTC focused on facilitating open discussions about pertinent topics within Illinois’ edtech community. Hosted by the LTC’s Chris Wherley and Eric Muckensturm, each session will focus on a specific topic and provide space for participants to ask and answer questions in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Each week will feature a different core topic and a fresh opportunity to connect with your peers. So, be sure to check the LTC events calendar routinely so that you can join in the discussion and Be Connected!

Cybersecurity in K-12 Post 2020 – What to Focus On

Join the Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP), Howard Technology Solutions, and Palo Alto for an interactive roundtable discussion highlighting the main areas of focus for K-12 cybersecurity in 2021, in light of 2020 events. We invite you to engage in the conversation with your experiences from 2020, opinions on what’s worked, and predictions for what’s to come in 2021.

This hour-long roundtable discussion will focus on the following areas:

Securing remote learning
Defending against ransomware
Equity challenges
Funding

5 Things Students Should Do to Stay Safe and Secure Online

Note: This article was originally published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) on February 5, 2021. It has been republished here with their permission, and the permission of the author. You can read the original here.

Today is Safer Internet Day, an occasion to recommit to best practices for protecting digital identity. In the spirit of this important celebration, we’re proud to feature an article by the LTC’s Nicole Zumpano, originally published by ISTE. Each of its timely resources and recommendation will help you make digital literacy and internet safety a cornerstone of your classroom year-round.


As adults, we do everything possible to keep our computers, bank accounts and families safe. Our list of to-dos continues to grow as our use of digital technologies increases. While these tasks are rote to most adults, we can’t expect that our students will follow our lead.  

It is our responsibility as educators to make sure learners know how to do more than surf the web and consume media. All educators — from classroom teachers to technology coaches and school administrators — should lead the discussion on digital literacy. Here are some ways to make sure our students stay safe and secure online:

Teach students to conduct data mines (on themselves)

Students should do this every 3-6 months. While many will Google their names, we need to teach them to dig deeper. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Log out of internet browsers before searching (staying logged in can affect the results).
  • Search (using quotation marks) full legal names, nicknames and usernames.
  • Search Google Images with names/usernames.
  • Use multiple browsers, such as Chrome, Bing, Yahoo, Safari and Firefox.
  • Look beyond the first page of results. Go at least five pages deep until the name/username no longer appears. Take note of what kind of results appear (presentations/social media/images/etc.).

Here’s an exercise I give to graduate students, but it can easily be replicated for high school students.

Check privacy settings on social media accounts

Because many sites may be blocked during school hours, allow students to check privacy settings on those that are not. At a minimum, show students how to access privacy settings (perhaps through a screencast or screenshot). On each social media site, students should:

  • Check privacy settings to see who can view posts.
  • Go through “friends” lists and remove people who should not be there.
  • Search posts and remove any that they wouldn’t want a parent, teacher, employer or college official to see.
  • Look at tagged images that others have posted.  

Watch the video below to seen how Katrina Traylor Rice taught students about digital privacy while teaching a unit on the Bill of Rights.

Teach digital literacies

Digital literacy is a term that has many moving parts. Students need guidance on varying types of literacy, including media (how to “read” media), social (how to interact in an online environment), and information (the ability to locate, evaluate and properly use information).

Safety falls into this category as well. Students need to know, understand and apply password algorithms as well as recognize scams and understand how their data is being tracked and used by companies.

Stress the importance of digital maintenance

This is the spelling list or cursive practice of the digital world. It’s not glamorous to teach but essential for students to know:

  • Teach students how to download Google Drive files to an external drive.
  • Remind them to backup Drive files, important emails, smartphone photos/apps/etc. at least once a month.
  • Make sure parents have access to account passwords in the event of emergencies. Have them write the accounts/passwords on a piece of paper and place it in an envelope in a safe yet visible place.
  • Reiterate the importance of logging out of accounts, not simply closing the browser window.

Start early

Teaching digital responsibility is not just for middle school teachers or library media specialists. It’s everyone’s duty, and we must start with kindergartners. Consider developing a digital media scope-and-sequence to address what should be taught at each grade.

This is something that can be developed by teachers, students and parents alike. At a minimum, make a commitment with grade-level colleagues that you’ll help teach students how to be safe and secure digital citizens. A good place to begin is by reviewing the ISTE Standards for Students.

Being alert — being aware of online actions, and knowing how to be safe and create safe spaces for others online — is one of the five competencies of the #DigCitCommit campaign. Watch the video below to learn how you can get involved in the movement.

Be Connected: Phishing – Don’t Get Caught

During this edition of Be Connected, we’ll discuss phishing attacks and the best ways to prevent your district from falling victim to their deceptive tricks. We’ll also open the floor for questions and sharing about your experiences preventing and mitigating phishing attacks.

Be Connected is a new, weekly webinar series from the LTC focused on facilitating open discussions about pertinent topics within Illinois’ edtech community. Hosted by the LTC’s Chris Wherley and Eric Muckensturm, each session will focus on a specific topic and provide space for participants to ask and answer questions in a relaxed, supportive environment.

Each week will feature a different core topic and a fresh opportunity to connect with your peers. So, be sure to check the LTC events calendar routinely so that you can join in the discussion and Be Connected!

Data Privacy Resources for 2021 and Beyond

Over the past year, classrooms in Illinois and around the world have become more and more reliant on digital resources to safely and successfully facilitate instruction. While remote and hybrid learning continues for many students, one important issue relating to digital learning deserves more attention – data privacy.

In short, data privacy describes the practice of prioritizing the secure maintenance and transfer of personally identifiable information within a digital network. When it comes to today’s students, this can include everything from their name and age to their grades and discipline record. Many educational apps and websites are able to collect this kind of information with minimal notice, making it essential for schools to know where their students’ data is being stored and when it is being accessed.

Current federal laws require schools to safeguard this type of information and prevent its unauthorized disclosure. In Illinois, new legislation known as the Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) will strengthen these requirements and establish new standards for maintaining student data privacy in the digital realm.

On July 1, 2021, all Illinois schools will be required to comply with SOPPA’s data maintenance standards. As this date approaches, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is committed to supporting schools while they upgrade their student data privacy policies. This includes providing your district with timely, actionable information that can support your efforts toward full SOPPA compliance.

In recognition of Data Privacy Day, we want to highlight a few of the data privacy resources we already offer. As the year goes on, we’ll be adding even more useful resources, as well. So, don’t forget to check our data privacy and cybersecurity homepages on a regular basis! 

Data Privacy Resources

Student Data Privacy Laws Overview

This legislation brief outlines many of the most important student data privacy laws currently on the books, both at the state and federal level. This is a great place to start if you want an idea of the current state of legally-mandated student data protection.

Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) Overview

This legislation brief focuses on the details of Illinois’ latest amendments to the Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA). This brief includes information on data types covered by SOPPA as well as its larger impact on school districts.

Implementing SOPPA FAQ

Based upon feedback from Illinois school districts, this FAQ covers many of the most pressing components of SOPPA. In particular, this FAQ outlines the role teachers, vendors, and management all play in maintaining SOPPA compliance, as well as the ways in which existing privacy agreements are impacted by SOPPA.

43 Reasonable Security Practices Aligned to SOPPA

This list of action items is a great starting point for schools that want to upgrade their current student data privacy regimen. Using these practices – all of which have been vetted by data security professionals – Illinois schools can ease their way into SOPPA compliance during 2021 and beyond.

Cybersecurity for Administrators and Educators

This pair of online courses offer administrators and educators a focused look at today’s best practices for securing student data and more. These courses are free and self-guided, so participants can enroll at any time and complete course material at their own pace.

All Things SOPPA

Starting February 9, the LTC’s Chris Wherley will host a weekly online chat focused entirely on helping tech leaders and administrators achieve SOPPA compliance. These weekly discussions are open to anyone with a stake in student data policy and will provide participants with a chance to obtain answers to their situation-specific questions.

Illinois Student Privacy Alliance

The Illinois Student Privacy Alliance (ISPA) is a free consortium that allows school districts to access management tools and resources for data privacy agreements. When used in conjunction with clear policies and procedures, ISPA allows districts to comply with Illinois’ new Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA). Membership in ISPA is free to Illinois school districts.

Learn More about Student Data Privacy

Interested in learning more about student data privacy? The LTC’s knowledgeable team is here to support you as you strive to create lasting, impactful policy decisions. Contact the LTC’s Chris Wherley at cwherley@ltcillinois.org to learn more.