About this blog Subscribe to this blog

Kineos for Kids!: First Look

Kineo with Hands

The Royal Treatment has been given the first, exclusive look at the Kineo and its specs. It might be for kids, what the iPad is for teachers. I have to admit that with a price of $299, and it’s brilliantly colored sleeves—covering its white face—with hot pink to red—is eye-catching, and attract a lot of attention from educators and students.

The Kineo is specifically designed for kids, schools, and classroom. It is an Android device that plays well with Flash—go figure! With the Kineo, there’s no marketing hype or messaging, and the sites students access need to be pre-approved by teachers or administrators.

Educators will get to touch and order Kineos, for the first time, at the upcoming FETC 2011 in Orlando, Florida, and shipments will begin in March 2011.

The Kineos parent company is Brainchild, which has been an innovative force in tech education. I’ve heard that Achiever!, Brainchild’s formative assessment system for state-specific test preparation and instruction on state standards works well with the device.

Follow the Kineo at Brainchild's site: http://www.brainchild.com/

Understanding Botnets: The Zombie Army

Botnets Botnets are robot networks, or better yet, Internet computers associated with malicious behavior and cyber crime. This zombie army can penetrate and evade firewall and anti-virus protections. They can keep K-12 district technology directors up at night—worrying. They are also the reason IT managers, and educators pushing the technology envelope, lock horns. Understanding Bots can be beneficial for both sides. While combating botnets needs to be a controlled and unified effort, working within a safe system can happen for creative Web 2.0 teachers.

Bots are scary because they are designed to leave networks and computers running seamlessly, by all outward appearances, while they tap data—sending it out to their "bot masters". The IT professional's goal in combating botnets and securing information is to minimize the chance of network penetration and, if an attack occurs, to isolate the threat and eliminate it. While districts may think they have protection in place, some may not have coordinated or organized that defense. Defense is really an individual solution for each school or district—and not cookie cutter.

A note from CDW-G this week had me thinking about some things to consider. So, here are a few bot plans for districts that aren’t all geek.

Install a Windows Firewall. A Windows firewall can block many network-based misuse, especially in K-12 environments, which tend to have huge populations of workstations in labs.

Disable AutoRun. The AutoRun feature, which automatically installs software, can be a problem if a foreign source wants to launch and cause havoc.

Password Trusts. Disabling computers from automatically connecting to each other closes the path that botnets take to spread through the internal network. That means district tech admins control local passwords tightly. While this is good for protecting the network, it can frustrate educators who want more freedom to teach in a 2.0 way.

Network Compartmentalization. If workstations do not need to communicate with each other across departments, IT managers can establish private virtual local area networks (VLANs), or access control lists (ACLs) between subnetworks to limit exposure. Schools already do this if they separate the administrator from the student network. Today, while this works great for data, educators who want to use video and voice options may have difficulty. IT managers will hear about it.

Provide Least Privilege. This is one that made me crazy as an educator trying to push the tech envelope. It always slowed me down getting district tech personnel to do things I could do easily, but from a district technology guarding position, when users are not administrators of their own workstations, it is much harder for malware to affect a system.

Filter Data Leaving the Network. Botnets establish communication with one or more remote servers that hackers use to retrieve private information. For K-12 implementation of outbound access control lists (ACLs) on the firewall should work.

Use a Proxy Server. While it is impractical to block all potentially hostile outbound traffic, forcing outbound traffic through a proxy server will give organizations a secondary point for monitoring and controlling Web access.

By spotting infections early, system administrators can act before the infection spreads too far.

Monitor DNS Queries. The way that a workstation responds to domain name system (DNS) queries is often an early warning sign that the workstation may be infected.

ViewSonic Education: More Than Finches

Viewschool2 ViewSonic products, with their colorful Australian Gouldian finch logo, was something I was very used to seeing in large department store chains and warehouse stores like Costco, but my thinking began to change after a booth stop at the recent InFoComm show in Las Vegas. There I saw an education set up that could rival any whiteboard solution. It wasn’t a case of where had ViewSonic been, but rather that I hadn’t been looking in that K 12 direction.

ViewSonic is more than pretty finches and displays.

Today I found out more about ViewSonic by interviewing Adam Hanin, vice president of marketing, and Melinda Beecher, senior manager of national channel marketing for ViewSonic Americas. “We have always played a role in education, but now we’re looking to do it in a bigger way,” says Hanin, a lifelong K 12 marketplace expert. Beecher, who thinks of her own children using technology, wants educators to know—ViewSonic has ways to “outfit classrooms for the needs of tomorrow.”

Back2School

A short look at the ViewSonic online site will give you a broader understanding of their products. ViewSonic’s ViewBook computers, with Back2School pricing http://www.viewsonic.com/back2school/ ,and their eReaders are two K-12 options that need more sharing. If you’re like me, you might not have looked beyond their displays to other products.

Look into ViewSchool

Check out ViewSchool at http://www.viewsonic.com/viewschool/ where education tech and district leaders can go to learn about tech ideas and solutions, and get the best discounts for purchasing them. If you don’t know what you need, ViewSonic can match needs with designed programs and partners to make an interactive classroom happen. Check out the options at http://www.viewsonic.com/.

Touch Screens: Digital Oak Tag

Can touch screen computers be the new group oak tag and crayons?

TouchSmart Anyone who has taught at the primary and elementary grades has probably grouped Eee students for collaborative learning, and plunked down a large piece of oak tag and a box of crayons or markers. Nothing wrong with that, and it still works, but let’s take that idea to a digital level. What if touch screen computers took the place of that oak tag and crayons in some classrooms?

For this to happen, it might take a little modified thinking about 1:1. Most everyone knows 1:1 as a label for one student to one laptop, but if you’re a primary or elementary teacher, that concept can easily be changed to one computing device to one student group. It would be nice if every school, or district, had funds enough for everything tech, but cash for whiteboards or digital tables might not be available. Why not get a few touch screen computers with larger displays, and use them for classroom group work?

Acer If there’s only enough in an education budget for one computer for a primary classroom, looking at a touch screen computer for a teaching table, or learning center makes sense. It can work not only as a teacher computer, but also as a mini whiteboard of sorts. Small hands on a shared touch screen can work for a teacher-gathered group.

Staying creative about classroom technology tools is a good idea, and all reasonable options are worth a look, because you might just find a solution that works, and at a reasonable price.There's no one-fit solution.

Advertisement

Advertisement

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.