#EdTech has soared to new heights as COVID-19 induced quarantines force learning institutions to shut their doors. The vast majority of the world’s students are currently unable to attend school, prompting greater reliance on technology-based learning solutions. 

Although these options are mutually beneficial for both learners and educators, education technology has one notable weakness: A higher likelihood of the systems falling prey to ambitious cyber criminals. 

Education Technology: Growth and Development

Incorporating technology into education is inevitable, especially as it has lagged compared to other fields in this respect. One of the issues is the lack of support for educators to learn and profit from new technologies, and the finances to implement them.

The United Kingdom pledged £10 million to support the Education Technology Strategy, a plan published early in April to support and improve digital learning. 

The end goal is to drive change in education for the better through technological innovation. For instance, cutting out time-consuming manual administrative tasks, and allowing teachers to pursue individually tailored training courses online.

Educators and students can communicate easily via existing apps such as Facetime or Skype. Virtual reality can transform how subjects are taught; anti-cheating software should keep the learning process above-board. 

Platforms allow for resources to be shared and updated as needed, as well as provide helpful tools such as speech-to-text and instant messaging. Students can access their virtual classrooms from their laptops, tablets, and phones, allowing for greater accessibility.  

School administrations will be able to review data collected through the usage of such software to better allocate financial resources. Grades, performance, and other crucial information can be recorded automatically for future reference. 

Cybersecurity Hazards

Unfortunately, educational institutions are not exempt from being targeted by hackers and scams, particularly as they become more tech-friendly. In September 2019, a LGfL report revealed 83 percent of schools in the UK had experienced a cybersecurity breach. 

Phishing attacks were the most common type of threat, with malware infection coming in second. Finally, 21 percent of the attacks consisted of spoofing, a technique in which cybercriminals dupe the victim into believing they are a trusted source.

Despite that, the majority of the surveyed schools stated they had defenses in place in the form of antivirus software and firewalls. However, computers and other items that are permanently on-campus are no longer the sole means of accessing sensitive data or infecting the system. 

The fact that digital curriculums allow participants to engage from any device anywhere is a disadvantage where it concerns online security. The “Bring Your Own Device” culture is the primary culprit: Consider the thousands of privately-owned devices that connect to a school or university’s WiFi network per day. 

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Not every gadget is up-to-date with the latest software and safeguards. Realistically, institutions cannot control how students and staff choose to handle their devices, and a single compromised smartphone or laptop could open the door to the entire network.

An additional threat is an operational technology (OT) on campus, which consists of infrastructural appliances that are now sophisticated enough to connect to WiFi networks, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. Such items are easy to overlook as potential entryways for viruses or malicious software, although they can theoretically be used as such. 

As more schools collect, store, and exchange information online, strong cybersecurity is non-negotiable. Vulnerabilities can leave the private data of individuals up for grabs, as well as the institution’s financial records and more. 

IT departments are left with the burden of coming up with a comprehensive defense stratagem to cover all these bases to prevent the worst from happening. 

Protecting Online Educational Communities

Educational technology is the way of the future, and stunting its growth to lessen the risk of cyberattacks is not feasible. Extreme measures such as Orwellian, agent-based software installed on every device that enters school premises are equally unthinkable. 

One method IT departments can employ to stay on the offensive is to track how many devices and what type are connected to the network. Then, security protocols can be created accordingly: For example, restricted staff-only access to specific networks in which sensitive data is transmitted. Protecting the networks themselves is vital, too: institutions must ensure secure connections with a VPN

Nevertheless, the simplest way to boost cybersecurity is through encouraging awareness about common-sense defensive protocols. IT departments cannot be wholly responsible for preventing attacks in the era of BYOD. 

If every individual who uses educational technology invests time in defending their own devices, the chance of a breach occurring should decrease significantly. Users unfamiliar with sophisticated software need to make the effort to fully comprehend how to use the technologies at their disposal to avoid inadvertent negligence.

There’s no doubt that digital educational communities allow students, educators, and administrators alike to thrive. Despite that, all involved must remember that cybersecurity should be a priority — where there are online activities of any sort, there is a risk of cyberattack. 

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The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

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FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

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In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

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We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

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