Passwords, phishing and protecting yourself. Tips and lessons.


[Exam­ples Gallery Update: 9/4/2014]

With the recent com­pro­mise of a num­ber of celebri­ties iCloud Photo Streams there is, yet again, more focus on pass­words, secu­rity and how to pro­tect yourself.

In the case of this most recent attack the per­pe­tra­tors sim­ply attempted to use a num­ber of com­mon pass­words along with fig­ur­ing out the secu­rity ques­tions to com­pro­mise the accounts in ques­tion.  Apple has denied that iCloud was hacked by exploit­ing a hole in the “Find My iPhone” fea­ture and that any exposed issue has been patched.

OK… but now what?

We need to bet­ter edu­cate our­selves, our fac­ulty, our stu­dents on how to pro­tect them­selves and their infor­ma­tion as we ask them to do more and more online.

A few tips:

  • To start, make sure you have a secure pass­word. It should have a com­bi­na­tion of upper and low­er­case let­ters, include num­bers and sym­bols and be greater than 8 char­ac­ters long. Birth dates, anniver­saries, fam­ily or pet names should be avoided as they can be eas­ily guessed.
  • This may sound sim­ple, but don’t share you pass­word with any­one. In school this is some­thing that we tell our stu­dents and fac­ulty upfront. At our school we have ways to solve you tech­ni­cal prob­lems with­out you hav­ing to give us your pass­word and if you school or orga­ni­za­tion doesn’t have a way to do that be sure to change your pass­word frequently.
  • Try using a pass­word with a twist. If you don’t want to have a dif­fer­ent pass­word for every site and ser­vice you use try adding a pre­fix of suf­fix to your pass­word for that par­tic­u­lar ser­vice. You might use “MyS3cret_facebook” for Face­book and “MyS3cret_gmail” for your Google account.
  • Enable two-step or two-factor ver­i­fi­ca­tion for your accounts. While this will only really pro­tect you against peo­ple chang­ing you account infor­ma­tion or pass­word it is an added level of secu­rity to take when try­ing to secure your infor­ma­tion online.


Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to “phish” and you feed him all your passwords…”

Phish­ing, as defined by Wikipedia is “… is the attempt to acquire sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion such as user­names, pass­words, and credit card details (and some­times, indi­rectly, money) by mas­querad­ing as a trust­wor­thy entity.

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Finally! An Apple ID for Students under 13.

COPPA_VPC_APPLEAfter much debate, dis­cus­sion and beg­ging by schools Apple has cre­ated a pro­gram that will allow stu­dent under the age of 13 to cre­ate Apple IDs.

This announce­ment was made along with a num­ber of other improve­ments to the MDM plat­form in their “IT in the Class­room” series.

In short schools will need to enroll in an Apple pro­gram that will allow them to eas­ily col­lect ver­i­fi­able parental con­sent so that a par­ent can set-up the account. Once the stu­dent turns 13 the account is then tran­si­tioned to a full account with all rights and privileges.

This focus on 13 is a direct result of COPPA and the restric­tions it places upon par­ents, stu­dents and schools when try­ing to use ser­vice that do not meet the guide­lines set forth by the act.

The act has always had the pro­vi­sion that if schools were able to pro­vide parental noti­fi­ca­tion and con­sent they could use these ser­vices, how­ever the enroll­ment process would often not allow stu­dents to use the cor­rect infor­ma­tion, such as their birth date, and would require them to lie. By cre­at­ing this pro­gram Apple has moved a way from what Danah Boyd (@zephoira) referred to as a “cul­ture of lying” between par­ents and their chil­dren when want­ing to use non-COPPA com­pli­ant web sites and services.

For com­plete infor­ma­tion on this new pro­gram see the following:

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Big Data? We need to focus on Little Data!


It’s every­where!  Peo­ple are talk­ing about it in all aspects of life. Busi­ness, research, edu­ca­tion, eco­nom­ics, social­nomics… you can’t escape it!


Data is every­where and in every­thing that we do. If you’ve bought any­thing, searched for any­thing or signed up for any­thing online you’re part of big data.

Our schools gather data all the time on stu­dents, par­ents, fac­ulty, the assign­ments given, the tests taken, all of it con­tributes to data used to mea­sure schools and those inside their walls.

Dash­boards, info-graphics, charts, spread­sheets and reports are issued using all of the data at our dis­posal to paint the clear­est pic­ture of how “things” are going. But how do we know that the data is right and those “things” are being reported on correctly?

Data is fraught with errors, omis­sions, and mis-entered infor­ma­tion. It’s because of this that we need to focus on Lit­tle Data.

Mark Bonchek (@MarkBonchek) in the Har­vard Busi­ness Review defines Lit­tle Data as:

what we know about our­selves. What we buy. Who we know. Where we go. How we spend our time…”

But what I am talk­ing about is smaller than that, what I am talk­ing about it how we man­age the dis­crete pieces of data that we cap­ture and enter before we can make use of any of this infor­ma­tion, spot trends or make predictions.

Why do we need to focus on Lit­tle Data you might ask? Because we are only as good as our data.

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Posted in Administration & Management, Data Management, Schools | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Make the Bretford PowerSync Cart for iPods work with your iPads

Bretford_R2D2How many of you are still using the clas­sic iPod or iPod Touch in the classroom?

Many of you, like us, have moved from iPods to iPads and with this tran­si­tion may be left with devices and hard­ware to repur­pose or dis­pose of.

As we tran­si­tion to iPad we were able to find peo­ple inter­ested in the iPods, but were left with some of the carts we used to store, sync and power these devices.

The model cart we used was the Bret­ford Pow­er­Sync carts - model TL357LL/A - we had pur­chased  (affec­tion­ately referred to as R2D2). The cart did a very good job at help­ing us man­age our iPods, but wasn’t con­fig­ured prop­erly to deal with our iPads.

Our iPads were going to be used on an as needed basis as part of a pilot pro­gram we were start­ing at our Mid­dle (4–8) and Upper Schools (9–12). We needed to ensure that the devices would be able to be charged on a reg­u­lar basis and if needed securely stored overnight, week­ends and dur­ing holidays/vacations.

We had a prob­lem to solve and “neces­sity is the mother of inven­tion”.  Enter R2D2  and que Star Wars theme song!

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Using Evernote to Manage your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

A teacher is a life-long learner, a stu­dent by nature, and their learn­ing process con­tin­ues to grow and develop in many ways.

Expe­ri­ences in their class­room, con­fer­ences, peo­ple they meet, col­leagues, list­servs, blogs and peo­ple they fol­low on Twit­ter or other social con­tribute to their ongo­ing learn­ing process of.

All of these var­i­ous ways of con­tin­u­ing their pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment and learn­ing are gen­er­ally referred to as their Per­sonal Learn­ing Net­work (PLN) and Ever­note can help you man­age all of it.

Here’s how to Ever­note, the web clip­per, your Ever­note email and by fol­low­ing @MyEN can help you man­age your PLN.

PLN_StackBefore we start, the first thing you will want to do is to cre­ate note­books to orga­nize your PLN.  If you’re work­ing on learn­ing a new ped­a­gog­i­cal process or explor­ing a new cur­ric­u­lar idea you’ll want a note­book for that.  You can even cre­ate a stack of note­books to keep your entire PLN in one place.

Once you have the orga­ni­za­tion ele­ments in place it’s time to get started.

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Evernote Business for Education


Yes­ter­day, in an email announce­ment, Ever­note opened up Ever­note Busi­ness for education.

My first look at Ever­note Busi­ness was when I attended last years Ever­note Trunk Con­fer­ence and heard the announce­ment of this new ser­vice.  While the focus was clearly on the “busi­ness” user, the offer­ings were very appeal­ing to edu­ca­tional insti­tu­tions as a whole and I was very excited.

Out­side of the class­room schools func­tion a lot like a busi­ness. There are groups of peo­ple meet­ing to go over projects or ini­tia­tives,  var­i­ous offices that have infor­ma­tion that they need to share amongst their mem­bers as well as school-wide (company-wide) infor­ma­tion that needs to be dis­sem­i­nated.  The offer­ings in Ever­note Busi­ness allow school to do this much easier.

Here are just a few of my early thoughts on how Ever­note Busi­ness might fit into your school (K-12, col­lege and university).

What might Busi­ness Note­books look like in a school?

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Success is about sharing.

After work­ing for years on our school’s 1:1 Learn­ing Ini­tia­tive we are now com­ing to the end of our first three-year device cycle of and, it is help­ing us exam­ine, inves­ti­gate and reaf­firm where we are and what will be doing for the next three years.

sharing_successWe are tak­ing into account all aspects of our pro­gram, lessons learned from our suc­cesses and fail­ures, con­ver­sa­tions with stu­dents, col­leagues and fam­i­lies, along with new research and exam­ples from other schools and institutions.

And of course we are shar­ing as much as we ever have with any­one who wants to learn from us.  Indeed, the shar­ing process has always helped to steer our pro­gram, and it, I believe, a hall­mark for any strong pro­gram, insti­tu­tion or leader.

Recently we hosted a site visit.  We hosted vis­i­tors from ten schools and five states, all inter­ested in hear­ing about our pro­gram and see­ing our school in action.  The is the third time in as many years that we’ve done this, and all told, we have hosted over 35 schools to date.

We run these events not only because we believe that we’ve had a suc­cess­ful pro­gram so far, but also because  they force us to think about what we are doing and explain our pro­gram in a way that will help other schools grow and develop. Sec­ond, we believe in pay­ing it for­ward  we are shar­ing as oth­ers have shared with us.

As we explored the pos­si­bil­ity of our own 1:1 Ini­tia­tive we went on the road and vis­ited a num­ber of schools and attended numer­ous con­fer­ences (see below) to hear the good, the bad and the ugly from those who came before us. From these vis­its, we learned a great deal about what we wanted to do (stu­dent lead­er­ship), what we needed to explore fur­ther (own­er­ship mod­els) and what we didn’t want to do (for­get about pro­fes­sional development).

The open­ness of oth­ers and their col­le­gial­ity helped us develop our pro­gram and have the suc­cess that we believe we’ve had to this day.

Shar­ing can hap­pen in a num­ber of ways and can be about the big and the small. Suc­cess in shar­ing shouldn’t be judged by size  only by the way it impacts those asso­ci­ted with it.  Truly, from small suc­cess, greater suc­cess can grow.

You don’t need to look far to find exam­ples of suc­cess and shar­ing that we can all learn from easily.

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Posted in 1to1, Administration & Management, Teaching & Learning | 1 Comment

Using device management to teach responsible use.

If you attend an edu­ca­tional tech­nol­ogy con­fer­ence, fol­low any of the Ed Tech list­servs or are active on the Twit­ter hash­tag #edtech you’re bound to find con­ver­sa­tions on device man­age­ment or deployment.

The con­ver­sa­tions will gen­er­ally revolve around how to image and deploy devices, appli­ca­tions (apps), mobile device man­age­ment (MDM — iPad/Android) and push­ing man­age­ment set­tings to each device to con­trol the envi­ron­ment.  You’ll hear about installing pro­files or enrolling device in any one of over three dozen sys­tems on the mar­ket (com­par­i­son chart).

But these con­ver­sa­tins often skip over an impor­tant ques­tion: what are you teaching?

Our school’s 1:1 “Learn­ing” Ini­tia­tive focuses on the teach­ing and learn­ing that occurs with the device. For this rea­son, we don’t have a 1:1 “Laptop/iPad/Tablet/etc” Pro­gram. as the focus is on the learn­ing.  The dif­fer­ence is sub­tle, but since we focus on the learn­ing, we say that.

Because of our focus on learn­ing, we use our man­age­ment sys­tem to help instruct while main­tain­ing a degree of con­trol over the devices.

We use JAMF’s Casper (@JAMFSoftware) suite to man­age our entire fleet of devices. On each man­aged device, the end-user (both fac­ulty and stu­dents Grades 4–12) is an administrator.

While attend­ing the JAMF Nation Con­fer­ence, Damien Bar­rett (@damienbarrett) sat down and gave an inter­view on how our pro­gram works.

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Enough with the jargon! Simplify and talk about Teaching and Learning.

jargonI like things sim­ple.  Break things down for me into their sim­plest terms and let’s talk.

This is the model I fol­low when I talk to any­one about tech­nol­ogy I try to break things down to their sim­plest parts as I would when I was plan­ning lessons for when I taught in my third grade class years ago.

By think­ing about things within the lens of explain­ing some­thing to a 3rd grader, I force myself to focus on key con­cepts and ideas. This is not to imply that I talk down to peo­ple or dumb down the issues; rather I try to under­stand the point or les­son I intend to teach and get those points across clearly and with as lit­tle con­fu­sion or frus­tra­tion as possible.

Sim­plic­ity is some­thing that I think is sorely miss­ing when from pro­fes­sional devel­op­ment in education.

Attend any con­fer­ence — or  take a look at any  con­fer­ence pro­gram — and you will see ses­sions offered on the Flipped Class­room, Close Read­ing, Back­ward Design or what­ever the fla­vor of the month (or the hot book is on ASCD) hap­pens to be.

Recently I attended the Educon 2.5  con­fer­ence at the Sci­ence Lead­er­ship Acad­emy and sat in on an excel­lent ses­sion on “Close Read­ing” with Christo­pher Lehman ( & Kate Roberts (@TeachKate) from Teach­ers Col­lege Read­ing and Writ­ing Project at Colum­bia Uni­ver­sity. I had no idea what close read­ing looked like these days and was intrigued by the description:

With 24-hour news cycles and the con­stant pres­ence of screens, text rushes past us at an aston­ish­ing rate. We must slow down, read closely, and uncover sub­tle mes­sages in texts. This con­ver­sa­tion focuses on study­ing, col­lab­o­ra­tively with stu­dents, close read­ing skills and their trans­fer into media, cul­ture, and daily life.”

Read­ing this I thought I was going to hear a con­ver­sa­tion that related to media lit­era­cies and how to parse infor­ma­tion from all of the dif­fer­ent sources com­ing at each of us — teach­ers and stu­dents alike — on a daily basis.

What I learned was how to “care­fully and pur­pose­fully” read a text to take it apart and “anno­tate, look for pat­terns and ask ques­tions” about those “pat­terns” by using the “lens of word choice and evi­dence”. [Using close read­ing strate­gies I pulled out these words:screens, rushes, sub­tle, media, cul­ture, life — proof I was engaged and pay­ing atten­tion]

But wait… isn’t “Close Read­ing” really just talk­ing about comprehension?!?!?

I asked that very ques­tion and the answer was yes (though nuanced to focus on a short piece of text).

So why not just say you are going to talk about new or improved com­pre­hen­sion strate­gies? Why call is some­thing dif­fer­ent, some­thing that might con­fuse some­one or make him/her think it is going to be some­thing dras­ti­cally dif­fer­ent from some­thing with which he.she has already spent time?

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The Art of WiFi… literally.

The fol­low­ing video was done by three peo­ple in Oslo, Nor­way is amaz­ing!  It uses light and a long expo­sure shot to show wifi sig­nal strength and show the jux­ta­po­si­tion of the phys­i­cal and wire­less worlds is truly a work of art.

More infor­ma­tion here:


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