Monday, April 23, 2012

Google Apps for Education - Safety and Security


Recently we had a question come across the Google Apps User Group message board about GAFE security and privacy. Here is the list of questions:

1.) Does Google meet HIPPA compliance?
2.) Does Google meet FERPA compliance?
3.) Is an additional encryption tool need for Google email?
4.) If we put children's names and other demographic information on the calendars, is it secure?
5.) If we decide to use the forms and data collection functions of Google, is it secure?
6.) Is there any documentation to support that Google Apps are secure?

The first links to visit are:


I also have a presentation that goes through many of these:  http://goo.gl/nwYc4 

Although I am not a lawyer, here are my direct answers to these questions:

1.) Does Google meet HIPPA compliance? - Most schools are not subject to HIPPA guidelines, these records are instead covered by FERPA: 
2.) Does Google meet FERPA compliance? - Yes, since you control the accounts and are the only one that can see personally identifiable student information - and retain all control over that information. More FERPA references here: http://www.diigo.com/user/hthiele/FERPA
3.) Is an additional encryption tool need for Google email? - No, you just turn on "require https" from the control panel
4.) If we put children's names and other demographic information on the calendars, is it secure? - Yes - just make sure your settings don't shoe that to the outside - share Free/Busy only
5.) If we decide to use the forms and data collection functions of Google, is it secure? - Yes - see #2
6.) Is there any documentation to support that Google Apps are secure? - See the FAQ's http://support.google.com/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=60762 and the security whitepaper 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

What We Know to be True About Best Instructional Practices

A group of us have been reading up on best practices in instruction based on research and have been looking for common themes and/or terminology. At the same time we have been investigating how those fit into the Danielson framework. Based on that research I have been trying to cross reference all of it to come up with a common statement that describes the best practices and philosophies that will help to lay groundwork for each domain.

Here is what I have so far:

_______________________________________________

Planning and Preparation

Developing clear intentional goals that are designed through understanding data that leads to action

Classroom Environment

A cooperative and collaborative learning community that is focused on objectives, feedback, and effort.


Professional Responsibilities

Shared leadership that uses care, reflection, and best practices to advance each member of the learning community.



Instruction

Challenging, engaging, and personalized instruction that develops understanding to extend and apply knowledge.

_______________________________________________


What are your thoughts? 
Did I overlook anything? 
How would you make it better?




Monday, April 02, 2012

Enhancing Technology Proposals

Over the past couple of years we have "tightened our belts" across the district. The technology budget and plan is dedicated to maintaining current technology. Yet we still want to encourage our teachers to create and enhance instruction with technology - especially using best practices. 


To encourage this we have begun a process called "Enhancing Technology Proposals" (here is the template for the requests: http://goo.gl/G3h6o). The goal of this is to allow teachers to propose innovate ways to use technology in an action research format. This will accomplish a few things:

  1. There has to be some investment in the plan behind the instructional change
  2. The focus is on instruction and research
  3. We should learn from data gathered from the project 
With limited funding this should help us find the best ideas that are prepared to impact instruction.

Here is the email that went out today to department chairs to begin the process:
There have been several requests this year for adding additional technologies in various areas around the district. As you know, the current technology plan only has funds for maintaining current technology. However, the Cabinet would like to receive proposals for new technology enhancements that may improve instruction.
Proposals for next year (or future years) can be submitted to the Cabinet by completing this proposal form (http://goo.gl/G3h6o) and sending it back to me by April 27th of this year. The proposal format is designed to favor ideas that are built around best practices of instruction and are research based. Teachers are encouraged to work on proposals, but the proposal must be submitted by an administrator.
There is no guarantee that we will be able to fund any of the proposals we receive, but we are open to reviewing them and trying to find creative ways to make some of them happen.
What process do you use for these types of requests and how to you ensure they are instructional in nature?