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Walking the Tightrope: Balancing Cyber Security and Access in K12 Schools

As the familiar hum of school buses fills the air, the excitement of a new academic year kicks in. Students return to their classrooms with fresh sneakers and bookbags, teachers are putting the finishing touches on their classroom decor, and parents snap first-day-of-school photos. However, for the technology leaders, it’s about more than issuing devices and ensuring users have the needed access.. Each year presents a renewed challenge of maximizing access for instruction while ensuring the needed security and digital safety inside school systems.

The New Age of Digital Learning

There’s no denying it, we’re in a digital learning age. With each passing year, there’s an influx of new devices, new software platforms, new vendors, and a fresh batch of tech-savvy students ready to explore these digital tools. Technology integration in education has indisputably opened the doors to innovative teaching methods, creating an engaging and inclusive learning environment.

However, with every “new” element introduced, there’s a lurking shadow of potential cyber threats. For school administrators and technology leaders, the task at hand is to ensure that technology facilitates learning while guaranteeing the safety of personal and institutional data.

Striking the Right Balance

Balancing access and security can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope. On one hand, we want to maximize educational access. On the other hand, the more we open, the more risk that can be involved. Here are some strategies to consider from the Future Ready & Microsoft Emerging Practices Guide on Balancing Access, Safety, and Cybersecurity:

A Continuous Journey

Cybersecurity is ever-evolving, with new challenges cropping up each day. As school leaders, while ensuring our students have the best resources available is crucial, it’s equally important to guarantee their safety and the safety of the institution’s data. This balance isn’t a one-time act but a continual journey, ensuring that as our classrooms evolve, so does our protective shield. 

Remember, while the tightrope might seem daunting, it becomes manageable with the proper precautions and an informed community. Let’s embrace the digital age of learning with the knowledge and tools to keep our schools secure.

Adam A. Phyall III, Ed.D.

Director of Professional Learning and Leadership

Meet Adam A.