Many classrooms across the globe are adopting some form of digital learning. And for good reason—over 90% of educators report that digital learning has some form of positive impact on their students. But what is digital learning? Today, we’ll answer that and more.
What is Digital Learning?
Digital learning is an instructional practice that uses technology to enhance a student’s education and learning experience. It generally gives students more control than traditional learning—whether that be in place or pacing. A variety of digital tools can be used within digital learning.
Digital learning is not exclusive to devices in the classroom. Moreover, studies show programs that expand a student’s access to computers and the internet alone don’t necessarily lead to better learning experiences for students. Thoughtful integration of digital tools is imperative.
There’s a wide range of digital tools and reliance on these tools varies between classrooms. Tools include games, e-textbooks, software, online learning, and one-to-one computing.
Benefits of Digital Learning
Now that we know what digital learning is, let’s explore some of its benefits.
Fundamentally, digital learning provides students with access to technology. Even the simplest of digital tools connects students to technology they may not have otherwise used.
Personalized Instruction & Learning
One of the most compelling benefits of digital learning is personalized learning. Whether synchronous or asynchronous, digital learning allows for highly individualized instruction based on key indicators like reading level and strengths and weaknesses of the student. Teachers are better able to tailor learning to student needs. Additionally, it’s easier for students to go at their own pace and focus on more challenging assignments.
Engages and Connects Students
Digital learning tools often involve discussion, debates, and other interactive exercises. These activities foster collaboration between students and between student and teacher. Digital learning allows for shyer students to engage with others more comfortably and sometimes in more nontraditional ways like instant messaging. Digital learning also can connect students with other digital learners across the country or globe.
Prepares Students for the Future
It is said that experience is the best teacher. No matter what the digital tool used, students learn digital skills from using technology hands on. The need for digital skills will only increase in an increasingly digital world. Digital learning inherently teaches digital literacy and equips students with digital skills. Not only are these skills required for middle- and high-skilled careers but they’re also a requirement for almost every job sector.
Steps to Digital Learning Success
If your district is considering implementing digital learning, here are six tips to successful integration.
Plan and budget accordingly. This is the most important, and longest, part of the process. Digital learning should enhance learning experiences and outcomes. Identify instructional shortcomings that will be improved by implementing digital learning tools. Secure buy in from key stakeholders—administrators, staff, teachers, parents, students, etc.
Research digital tools available and choose the best option for your school. From one-to-one computing to bring-your-own-device programs, there are options for digital learning. It is not one size fits all. If introducing new devices into the classroom, be sure to determine the best device for your students.
Train students, faculty, and staff. Be mindful that implementing a digital learning program in your school is likely to be a significant change for all. It could be a student’s first encounter with technology, or a teachers first encounter with that type of device. To overcome these challenges, consistent and comprehensive training is essential. Training should include a review of the device, daily usage, and basic troubleshooting.
Schedule time on spent using digital learning tools. To monitor screen time, institute “lids down” time. Include hands-on activities, learning, and play without digital tools in the curriculum. Remember: digital tools should never replace instruction but should enhance learning.
Teach the nine elements of digital citizenship and online safety to students, regardless of age. As with appropriate training, consistent and comprehensive teaching on these topics is imperative. It will position students to be successful and safe as digital citizens.
Evaluate what works and what doesn’t. Key to maintaining a robust digital learning program is auditing your process and adjust as needed.
How can AGParts Education simplify your digital learning program? From Chromebook parts supply to tech buyback, we can help. Contact us today to get started.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness month. Cyberattacks have been more prevalent in schools, with 408 disclosed attacks in 2020. What can your school do to prevent falling victim to these attacks? What are the most common threats to cybersecurity in education? Today, we’ll answer both questions.
Why Cyberattacks are on the Rise in Schools
The increase of cyberattacks can be attributed to several factors. Schools are viewed as soft and easy targets. Administrators have incorrectly believed that schools have nothing of value or worthy of taking by cyber criminals. More importantly, many schools lack the resources to build a robust cybersecurity program. Often, there isn’t a full-time employee dedicated to cybersecurity. Beyond that, districts often lack employees that have the knowledge and expertise in cybersecurity.
The pandemic also uncovered cybersecurity vulnerabilities. As schools rushed to introduce new technologies for remote learning, it created security gaps. Many schools dealt with videobombing and phishing scams.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats
Here are the most common cybersecurity threats:
As the name implies, a data breach is a leak of sensitive information from a secure to unsecure environment. Whether data is copied or transmitted, it is then used in an unauthorized manner. Generally, the type of information breached is confidential, like student records.
Spoofing & Phishing
Spoofing is essentially a forged email. It can appear to come from a well-known and reputable organization. Upon closer inspection, its sender is someone else entirely.
Phishing is another email scam. The sender falsely poses as a legitimate organization in the attempt to obtain sensitive information (passwords, credit cards, bank information).
Spear phishing is a type of targeted phishing. These appear to be from someone you know with a reasonable request. Upon closer inspection of the email address, you can see that the sender is unknown.
Malware, Scareware & Ransomware
Malware is software that is intentionally designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer, server, or network. Systems can become infected when users download malware disguised as legitimate software online, through peer-to-peer sharing, or via email.
Scareware is a type of malware designed to trick users into buying unnecessary and potentially harmful software. Scareware is socially engineered to cause shock, anxiety, fear, or the perception of a threat.
Another type of malware, ransomware encrypts users’ files then demands the payment of a ransom for users to regain access to their data. Mainly delivered via spoofing or phishing scams, it can also include an element of extortion—releasing user data or images of the victim is threatened if the ransom is not paid.
Denial of Service
Denial of Service (DoS) attacks intentionally overload or disrupt servers to make a website, machine, or network unavailable. While DoS don’t typically result in data theft, they can cost the victim a significant amount of time and money.
A more passive attack, outdated software creates vulnerabilities where unauthorized users can gain access to networks.
Perhaps not as prevalent today but still a risk in schools, removable media (USB drives, external hard drives, DVDs/CDs) can pose cybersecurity challenges. Easily stolen, these devices can be manipulated with malware. Corrupted devices can be intentionally or unknowingly connected computers. Then, device files can infect computers or networks.
Safeguarding Your School Against Threats
Key to cybersecurity in education is protecting your school against cyberattacks. Here’s what your school can do to actively prevent cyberattacks.
Define & Promote Policies
Equally important is creating an Incident Response Procedure in the event of a cyberattack. This will define how to respond to the attack, including operation and communication guidelines.
Update OS & Software Regularly
One of the easiest ways to prevent cyberattacks is by keeping operating systems and software up to date. Updates provide vital security patches and enhancements to both operating systems and software. Maintaining updates can be your first line of defense against malware attacks.
Store Data Securely
Data should be stored securely and in compliance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This is particularly important with increased use of cloud systems. Data should be regularly backed up in the event of accidental or intentional corruption.
Educate Students & Faculty
Reaching young users is key in quelling the tide of cyberattacks. Do this by integrating a digital citizenship curriculum for students of all ages. Educating students on the nine elements of digital citizenship speaks to their role as a digital citizen and the responsible use of technology. Not only could this prevent future attacks from younger generations, but it can also alert young users to cyberthreats as well as how to correctly respond to such threats.
Educating staff and faculty about cybersecurity can prevent attacks that occur due to behavioral issues. Teaching the importance of strong passwords, multifactor authentication, and email etiquette can prevent these types of attacks. Training should be ongoing and sustainable.
AGParts Education has been in the classroom since the Chromebook revolution began, supporting Council Bluffs School District as one of Google’s first 1:1 pilot schools. Find out why 6,000+ US school districts, including Council Bluffs, trust us in Chromebook parts supply, tech buyback, and more. Contact us today to see how we can help your school district today.
Have you heard the buzz about Chromebooks? Whether you’ve heard they’re being used by 40 million educators worldwide, or the fact that Chromebooks posted their best year in 2020, there is no denying their popularity. Which may make you wonder: why do schools use Chromebooks?
Today, we’ll answer that question and unlock why these devices are so popular, particularly in education.
What is a Chromebook?
Before we answer that question, we’re going to answer another: what is a Chromebook? A Chromebook is a type of laptop that runs on Chrome OS. Most work on a Chromebook is done via the internet, so having a reliable internet connection is essential. This doesn’t mean your Chromebook turns into a brick offline, but internet connection is necessary to provide vital updates, as well as sync and host apps.
Why do Schools Use Chromebooks?
First introduced in 2011, Chromebooks have only grown in popularity in both education and retail sectors. Four times as many Chromebooks were sold in 2020 than in 2019. In large part, this can be attributed to the shift to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic; however, Chromebook sales continue to soar. They continue to be a popular choice for schools, especially those with an existing 1:1 digital learning program. Here’s why:
Perhaps the simplest answer as to why schools use Chromebooks is their price tag. The cost of a Chromebook simply can’t be beat. With some models less than a $100, the average price for a Chromebook for education runs from $150-300. Not only that, but Chromebooks have a low lifetime cost, generally requiring little maintenance or repair.
Operating system updates and vital security patches come directly from Google. There is no need for antivirus software, virus protection is integrated with these updates. Generally, these updates run automatically and in the background without disrupting users. Knowing your K-12 devices are protected without having to lift a finger give tremendous peace of mind to schools.
One thing to note about these updates: Chromebooks only receive updates until their Auto Update Expiration date. This date signifies when Google will no longer support the model. On a new Chromebook, you can expect a lifespan of eight years. However, the clock starts when the device is manufactured, not when the device is purchased. If you purchased a 2020 Chromebook with an AUE of June 2028 today, you would have less than seven years to use the device safely.*
Low Maintenance & Easy to Deploy
With automatic updates provided by Google, there is very little to do in terms of maintenance. There is little to no software to maintain or update. Plus, Chromebooks are lean in hardware making them less susceptible to damage (not to mention lightweight!).
Equally easy is deployment. All that is needed is a Google account to get started.
Naturally though, as Chromebooks are used and transported, damage is bound to occur. Here’s the good news—they’re easy to repair and parts are generally affordable. Many tech departments opt to perform repairs in house.
Long Battery Life
With most models boasting a battery life of ten plus hours, Chromebooks can easily power students through an entire school day with charge to spare.
Easy to Use
Chromebooks offer a straightforward user experience. Using a Chromebook is as simple as opening your internet browser. No fancy frills or hoops to jump through, making completing assignments and participation a cinch.
When managing your K-12 Chromebooks, be sure to partner with a company you can trust to assist with all your 1:1 Chromebook needs. From Chromebook parts to buyback, AGParts Education supports 6,000+ school districts across the United States. Contact us today to see how we can help your school district today.
*Based on date of publication (September 2021).
What is the best type of device for your district? Chromebooks are stripped down laptops with a straightforward user experience. Windows laptops and MacBooks are more complicated devices but have their own benefits. Today, we’ll discuss Chromebook vs laptop for students, and what the best option is for your district.
What is a Chromebook? What is a Laptop?
A Chromebook is a type of laptop that runs on Chrome OS. Most work on a Chromebook is done via the internet, so having a reliable internet connection is essential. This doesn’t mean your Chromebook turns into a brick offline, but internet connection is necessary to provide vital updates, as well as sync and host apps.
In the simplest terms, a laptop is a portable computer, created as the compact and portable version of desktop computer. Notebooks are a thinner version and lighter version of a laptop, and Ultrabooks are thinner and lighter than notebooks typically with loads of features. For the purposes of this article, a laptop refers to any non-Chromebook portable computer, specifically a Windows laptop or MacBook.
Chromebook vs Laptop Side by Side
Chromebooks run on Chrome OS, an operating system designed by Google. Windows laptops run on Windows, an operating system designed by Microsoft. Finally, MacBooks run on macOS engineered by Apple.
Each operating system carries its own strengths and weakness, and much is subjective to the user. Chrome OS and macOS have the most straightforward interfaces, making them easier to use for students, while Windows is most complex. MacOS is most intuitive when it comes to multitasking and having multiple applications and windows open. Chrome OS is likely the least multitasking friendly. Ultimately, this all comes down to the students’ needs.
Software & Applications
This is one of the biggest differences when comparing a Chromebook vs laptop. Chromebooks have virtually no software. Most applications run in Google Chrome. Applications are downloaded from the Google Play Store, and no third-party software can be installed on a Chromebook. This makes them boot very quickly.
Both Windows laptops and MacBooks have software, sometimes pre-installed, or bundled, software. Additionally, users often install software packages like Office 365 or Adobe.
No software makes Chromebooks extremely easy to deploy and manage. Setup on a Chromebook is generally simpler than its counterparts. Updates are generally easier to manage, and there is no need for your technology department to install software on hundreds, or thousands, of devices.
When comparing devices, you may be shocked to see how little local storage a Chromebook needs, especially when compared to its Windows laptop and MacBook counterpart. Chromebooks can run on as little as 16GB of local storage. This is largely due to no software. Additionally, Chromebooks rely on Google Drive as their cloud-based storage system.
Although a Windows laptop and MacBook both have their own cloud-based storage, they still boast a large amount of local storage. It is not uncommon to find a laptop with 128GB to 256GB to as much as 1TB. There really is no upper limit in terms of storage
Again, this makes Chromebooks very attractive to schools. Less storage means less money per device.
Virus Protection & Security
Another big difference in Chromebooks vs laptops—virus protection. Google designed Chromebooks with security in mind. For Chromebooks, there is very little to attack, which makes them protected and secure devices. Google delivers updates and vital security patches automatically until the Chromebook’s AUE. These updates require little to no maintenance or oversight making the process easy peasy.
Windows laptops, and MacBooks, are much more complicated devices. MacBooks are generally considered secure devices as macOS has many protections in place against viruses and malware.
On the other hand, Windows laptops are most vulnerable to viruses and malware. They own the market share, making them a more attractive target to malware makers. And while Windows does come with Windows Defender, these laptops generally require a third-party antivirus software in addition. This translates to more maintenance and oversight when using Windows laptops.
In this case, save the headache—Chromebooks are the easiest and bring most peace of mind in knowing your students and devices are protected.
Expect Chromebooks to require the least amount of maintenance, largely due to no software and integrated virus protection with automatic updates from Google. Generally, Chromebooks are also easy to repair in house. This is another attraction—repair can be as simple as ordering a part and watching a tutorial. We have a complete library of 175+ Chromebook repair tutorials for a variety of models.
Expect a Windows laptop to require the most maintenance in managing software updates and any other issues that may arise.
While Chromebooks and some Windows laptops come in at comparable price points, MacBooks are the most expensive device. Unless your district plans to buy a refurbished model, expect to pay an upwards of $1,000 per device.
Chromebooks and Windows laptops for education are affordable and you can generally find models between $200-$400.
Chromebook vs Laptop: The Winner?
Chromebooks make an extremely compelling case for any district. Low price, low maintenance, and easy to use, Chromebooks have everything a student would need for their work. Ultimately though, the winning device all comes down to the needs of your district and students.
When it comes to your 1:1 Chromebooks, AGParts Education has your back. From Chromebook parts to buyback, we support 6,000+ US school districts. Contact us today to see how we can help your school district today.
Chromebooks are a popular choice for digital learning programs across the nation. With many benefits, they offer schools an affordable way to equip their students with computers. Running on the Chrome OS, Google also offers a comprehensive cloud-based office package designed for schools, Google Workspace for Education.
What is Google Workspace for Education?
Formerly G Suite for Education, Google Workspace for Education is a set of cloud-based applications to streamline classroom instruction.
Announced in February 2021, Google Workspace for Education includes all the products that 170 million educators and students worldwide rely on including Classroom, Meet, Gmail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more.
What’s included in Google Workspace for Education?
Google Workspace for Education includes 13 products for collaboration, productivity, communication, and organization, plus an admin tool.
A consistent challenge in remote or hybrid learning models is enabling collaboration. Without applications that can seamlessly allow collaboration, it risks being lost. Google Workspace for Education includes Docs, Slides, Sheets, Drive, Forms, and Jamboard (interactive white board) to promote working together whether together or apart.
With Classroom and Assignments, educators are equipped with simple tools to save time on administrative tasks allowing them to focus more on teaching. It easily connects students with classroom content—syllabi, lectures, notes, teacher feedback, and assignments—essential for student engagement and success.
Arguably one of the biggest challenges of the past school year has been learning to be together while apart. Easy communication tools overcome this barrier and lay foundation for a solid learning environment. Gmail, Meet, and Chat connect teachers and students together easily,
Keep and Calendar will keep your staff and student organized and focused with to-do lists, reminders, and a meeting and events scheduler.
The admin tool keeps you in control—safeguarding against digital threats.
Versions of Google Workspace for Education
There are now four versions of Google Workspace for Education, including a free version.
Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals
Formerly G Suite for Education, this is the free version with a new name and features. It still includes all the apps and security tools that were available in G Suite for Education. It also includes data loss prevention, user data settings with Vault, and will hold Meet recordings up to 30 days.
Google Workspace for Education Standard
A new addition that was released in April 2021 is Google Workspace for Education Standard. In addition to Education Fundamentals, this version provides:
- Enhanced security and control to make digital learning more secure
- Greater visibility through various tools like advanced audit log
- Device and app management
- Investigation Tool
The Teaching and Learning Upgrade
Available for Fundamentals or Standard versions, this upgrade includes advanced multimedia features and tools that focus on critical thinking and academic integrity. The upgrade affects Meet, Classroom, and Assignments.
Google Workspace for Education Plus
Formerly G Suite Enterprise for Education, this version is the culmination of the other three versions and is the most comprehensive in teaching and learning tools, security, and analytics. It is also the most expensive version. Features include:
- Increased storage capacity
- Meet live streaming for up to 100,000 in-domain viewers
- Integrated approvals for Gmail, Drive, Docs, etc.
- Classroom sync with SIS vendors (upcoming late 2021)
Qualifications for Google Workspace for Education
Globally, K-12 schools and higher-education learning institutions are eligible for Google Workspace for Education if they meet certain criteria. Qualifying homeschool co-ops in the U.S. are also eligible.
K-12 and higher-education institutions must be government recognized and formally accredited awarding nationally or internationally approved certifications at the primary, secondary, or tertiary (post-secondary) level.
Why Google Workspace for Education?
Google Workspace for Education offers comprehensive tools for educators to easily manage and streamline their classrooms, sections, and students. It’s a one-stop shop for everything a teacher could need and keeps teachers and students connected whether together or apart.
It’s also ad-free, reliable, and secure. With 24/7 access and one login, it really doesn’t get any easier.
AGParts Education supports 6,000+ innovative 1:1 school districts in Chromebook parts supply and technology buyback. Contact us today to see how we can help your school.