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C-A BOCES Hosts Information Technology Day

OLEAN – Nearly a hundred regional educators converged on Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES Center at Olean recently to engage in a technology playground of interactive digital media igniting curiosity and ingenuity in today’s classrooms and beyond.

The Information Technology Day, planned in conjunction with the Chief School Officers’ meeting, allowed administrators, technology and curriculum coordinators, and teachers to meet vendors and learn about their products.

“The free event was designed to give districts a chance to demo technology they might not otherwise see firsthand,” said Michael Graf, director of Information Technology at C-A BOCES. 

“The hardware on display was geared toward digital media creation, capture and distribution,” Mr. Graf said.  He noted the equipment “complements the efforts of BOCES Instructional Support Services in bringing the best educational practices and resources into our schools.”

Demonstrations included the portable 3D Audio Visual Rover shown by Doug Smith, president of Sound Video Systems in Buffalo.  Participants donned 3D goggles to view interactive videos and objects ideal for lesson incorporation in subjects such as chemistry, biology, anatomy and zoology.

Doug Smith (left) of Sound Video Systems in Buffalo leads a demonstration of the portable 3D AV Rover.

Mr. Smith deftly navigated the AV Rover around a 3D image of a human eye, peeling off layers, labeling parts, rotating and zooming to view from the inside out – all the while saving each version as still images for later use.

 “Smart Boards have been around since 1991 and there’s no evidence that they support enhanced learning,” he said. “Studies already have shown that 3D technology increases memory retention 34 percent better than 2D.”

David Lieu, systems engineer for Polycom, displayed the newest evolution in distance learning and conferencing done right at your desk phone equipped with a personalized camera.  He said smart cameras employ voice and face recognition to automatically focus on the person speaking so the experience emulates face-to-face conversation.

“A show like this demonstrates how technology has improved and can make a real difference in learning,” said Wendy Butler, PreK-4 principal and director of curriculum at Fillmore Central School. 

“Kids are so focused on technology and gaming, that 3D learning fits right in that mold.  Especially for the primary level, hands-on modeling adds doing and seeing instead of just the teacher talking,” she said.  “When kids leave school, that’s the technology they are going to see and what we should be exposing them to.”

Andrew Potter, technology coordinator at Franklinville Central School, believes “students have been learning one way for a long time and technology can expand their learning.  We could make a big impact with small changes.”

Ellicottville Central School technology teacher Chris Edwards previewed a video production system for the district’s multi-purpose auditorium soon to be constructed.  The system enhances broadcasting capabilities for concerts, graduation and other events.  Mr. Edwards also was impressed with Tightrope Creative, a digital signage system that provides custom backgrounds, pictures, animations and templates to easily unify school messaging.

Chris Edwards (right), technology teacher at Ellicottville Central School, reviews the Tightrope media system with a representative.

Following lunch, the day culminated with a network security presentation by Special Agent Brandon Miller and Intelligence Analyst Susan Lupiani, both of the FBI Buffalo Division Cyber Squad.

“Providing districts with great technology is our job, but ensuring we do so in a safe environment is a top priority.  The safety of our students is paramount,” Mr. Graf said of the keynote address.

Agent Miller said the FBI cyber mission focuses on terrorist attacks both domestic and abroad; foreign intelligence operations and espionage; cyber-based attacks and high technology crime.  He said China, Iran and Russia pose the top cyber crime threats.

FBI cyber investigations are conducted through numerous outreach teams across the country and can involve the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and National Security Agency.

 “Every industry across the board is underreported in cyber crime incidents,” Mr. Miller said. 

He stressed the importance of reporting, no matter how small and regardless of minimum loss values.  Crime patterns, connections, IP addresses and other indicators can lead to perpetrators.  A string of crimes linked to the same person(s) also add up in terms of aggregate losses.

The challenge today, said Agent Miller, is that everyone has a computer in their pocket.  A culture of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) in the workplace increases cyber incidents for an organization if they do not have controls to safeguard personal devices of employees and students.

“Hackers can make a back door and access an organization’s email and files or install malware.  They can gain control of lost or stolen devices to learn passwords and logins,” he explained.

When it comes to network security, Mr. Miller advised utilizing lock protections wherever possible, “but if you want data to remain private, do not use cloud storage.”

Analyst Lupiani said in the case of students, the risk is not so much being compromised as being manipulated.  Apps popular with kids – like Snapchat, Vine, Yik Yak, Twitter, Ask.fm and uMentioned – facilitate anonymous crime and cyber activity.

“Even though you may not allow them on your networks, they’re still going to use them outside of school,” she said.  “Know what kids are up to, be involved and ask questions.”

FBI Special Agent Brandon Miller (from left) and FBI Intelligence Analyst Susan Lupiani field questions from C-A BOCES technicians Dave Wymer, Dave Joseph and Bob Bruso.