Ben

 


Tip of the Week: Excel Features for the Power User

Posted July 19, 2018 by

excel iconAs useful as a spreadsheet can be to convey information, they can be a little drab and disengaging if the full capabilities of Microsoft Excel aren’t understood and leveraged. For today’s tip, we’ll go over a few little-known and underutilized features that can help you create spreadsheets with both more style, and more utility.

Visible Zeros

There is a fair chance that, at some point, you will need to input data into Excel that begins with zeroes, whether you’re documenting serial numbers or what have you. The trouble is, Excel has a habit of hiding these zeros, so 0056907 would display as 56907. This unfortunately renders the data inaccurate. However, an easy fix to this is to just add a quotation mark in front of the number. This prevents the zeros from being omitted, so instead of resulting in 56907, you would keep your original “0056907.

Adding a Drop-Down List

Adding a drop-down list to a spreadsheet is a simple, yet effective way to limit the input a particular cell will accept. The first thing you have to do is select the cell that needs to have drop-down capabilities, and then click Validate in the Data tab in the header menu. On the Settings page of the window that pops up, there will be a menu labelled Allow. From that menu, select List and highlight the cells that make up the options you want in your drop-down, and finally, click OK.

Accessing Tools on the Developer Tab

Depending on your needs, you may require some more advanced capabilities in your spreadsheet, like creating option buttons, creating macros, and other features. These can all be found in the Developer tab, which is hidden by default. In order to access it, you will first have to access the Excel menu at the top of your screen and select Preferences. Once you’re provided with the Preferences menu, select Ribbon & Toolbar. You will then see a list of the various options that you can add or remove from your Tabs. Selecting Developer will give you access to the tools that tab contains.

Shading Every Other Row

If spreadsheets have any faults, the eye can easily wander when one is looking at them. Adding shading to the formatting, more specifically, to break up individual rows can be very helpful to someone trying to read the information the spreadsheet has to share. To do this, you will need to highlight the area where you want to display the effect or use the Select All shortcut (Ctrl + A) to apply the effect to the entire sheet. In the Home tab, click into Conditional Formatting and select New Rule from the drop-down menu. You will then have a Style drop-down menu to select from, from which you should pick Classic, after which you should select Use a formula to determine which cells to format. Enter the formula =MOD(ROW(),2) and pick your desired color, and your spreadsheet should be striped quite nicely.

Do you know any other tricks to improve the use of Microsoft Excel? Share them in the comments!


The 3 F’s of a VoIP Solution

Posted July 16, 2018 by

headphones and keyboardCommunication is pivotal to the success of your business, but it’s hard when you have a telephone system that seems like it was built for an age long past. A modern telephone system that utilizes the cloud is the ideal way to approach collaboration in the workplace. You have some options for this, but the easiest to take advantage of is a cloud-hosted Voice over Internet Protocol solution.

Compared to the traditional telephone system, a VoIP phone solution provides substantially more freedom to go about your business as you see fit, as well as the flexibility to adjust needs on a whim and the functionality you expect from an enterprise-level modern phone system.

Freedom

If all you’ve ever known are corded desk phones with a limited reach, then you don’t know the heightened experience of putting on a wireless headset and taking your business on the road. Traditional telephone systems are limited in scope because you’re tied to your desk or within a certain radius of your handset. VoIP phone systems can be used on any connected device, be it a desktop, a laptop, or even a mobile device. Since it’s a cloud-based application, your business can make use of it wherever and however it pleases.

Flexibility

When you implement a traditional telephone system, chances are you have a specific setup in mind that caters to your current needs. Now imagine that your organization is growing at a staggering rate and you don’t have enough phones for everyone. Knocking down walls, running cables, and changing your physical infrastructure just to add a few phones to your network is an overly complicated and expensive process. A cloud-based VoIP system allows you to add new numbers and users when they are needed. As long as your network can sustain the bandwidth (have the IT professionals at Excalibur Technology consult your Internet service provider for more information on this), you can add as many users as you need.

Functionality

A traditional telephone system is subject to the whims of phone providers. This in itself isn’t inherently bad, but the fact that so many of them bundle together unnecessary services makes for a frustrating and expensive system. For example, your business certainly doesn’t need 300 channels of cable television in addition to its phone system. Instead of bundling unnecessary services together, a VoIP solution offers you the opportunity to customize the solution to fit your specific needs. This includes additional options like instant messaging and video chat, in addition to all of the tried and true basics like conference calling and voicemail. Basically, you only pay for what you actually want and need, not what the provider thinks you want and need.

Could your organization use hosted VoIP? Excalibur Technology can help. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.

 


How Data Backup Can Be Used, No Disaster Necessary

Posted July 13, 2018 by

Concept Art: Data BackupData backup may not directly help you boost your productivity, but it is a core component of any responsible business’ continuity plan. Each year, thousands of businesses that don’t take threats into account are forced to close their doors because they didn’t have a contingency plan in place. For every business that plans for the worst there are two that don’t, either because they see the strategy as too cost prohibitive, or because they just don’t understand the amount of threats that could put their business in the position where they would need to close.

There are several aspects of a backup and recovery strategy that business owners (who do see reason to implement one) have to square away. By breaking the strategy into three core parts, your organization can secure a positive ROI from a backup and recovery system that, with any luck, you’ll never have to use.

Data Backup

Deciding on a backup platform is obviously the first step in the process. There are several strategies a small business can use to cover its assets. They could use cloud storage, network attached storage facilities that use hard disk drives or tape backup drives, or even a manual system where people protect the data by backing it up to a hard drive and then take a copy with them when they leave. No matter what platform you choose to utilize, you have to understand that if you look at your data as an asset, it stands to reason that you would want to protect as much data as you can. At Excalibur Technology, we offer a comprehensive backup and disaster recovery service that utilizes network attached storage that pushes copies to the cloud in real-time. This not only provides the kind of data redundancy every organization needs, it allows our clients to thoroughly plan their data recovery strategies.

Before we go into recovery, we’d be remiss not to mention that some data simply isn’t important. Small businesses often have a lot of data they collect but don’t do anything with, so it just sits on their infrastructure taking up space. Some businesses look to data analytics to cut down on dark data, but for the small business that doesn’t have a backup strategy, it might just be putting the cart before the horse.

Data Recovery

If you are looking for a positive ROI, this is where it begins. A business needs to establish acceptable parameters for the recovery of their data. To do this, an organization is going to have to establish what are known as their recovery point objective (RPO) and recovery time objective (RTO). Before we elaborate, we should say that if you are in a position where you need to restore a large portion of your data–whether it be because of malware, natural disaster, sabotage, or blatant negligence–you absolutely have to have these plans made (and tested).

The recovery point objective defines how much data your business could reasonably afford to lose in order to be able to sustain operational effectiveness. Recovery time objective is the maximum time you believe you can go without your data before your business fails. Each figure isn’t static throughout your business. Some of your data is more important than other data, of course, and has to be weighted this way. Therefore, some systems that hold more crucial data will have different RPOs and RTOs than less critical systems.

How the System Provides a Calculable ROI

This is where you can put it all together. How do you calculate the return on investment on systems that you hope you will never ever use?

  • Establish your organization’s hourly realized revenue. To do this you take the amount of revenue your organization has taken in over the past year and divide it by the total working hours you and your staff have logged for that time.
  • Figure out how much you would stand to lose both with and without a backup and recovery system in place.
  • Multiply the hourly realized revenue with both scenario-specific figures you’ve calculated in step 2 and take the difference. This number represents the total avoided loss, in dollars.
  • Finally, plug that figure into this formula to measure your backup system’s ROI:

ROI = (Avoided loss – Cost of backup and recovery system x 100%)

Without a disaster hitting your business, you may think that backup and recovery strategies are a waste of time and resources, but the ROI is clear.

If your business is looking for a backup and disaster recovery solution that can seriously save your business in the event of a disaster–something no ROI calculator will ever tell you–call the IT professionals at Excalibur Technology today at (877) NET – KING.


Know Your Tech: Wizard

Posted July 12, 2018 by

Wizard in a gray robe and hat.At first glance, you might not think about computing when the term “wizard” pops up. However, there is a certain type of program that is used exclusively for the purpose of helping someone install something on their computer.

A Wizard’s Goal

Traditionally, a wizard has been represented by an old man with a beard, robes, and a pointy hat. They might cast spells or have mysterious powers that help guide a young hero on their quest. Ultimately, this is their purpose–to help a hero walk a path that they themselves cannot follow.

Not coincidentally, a wizard program on your computer serves a similar function. Like the mysterious figure Merlin mentoring the legendary King Arthur, or Gandalf the Gray aiding Frodo Baggins in his quest to destroy the One Ring, the wizard software is meant to help the user toward a certain goal. The goal can vary, but it’s usually something like installing or configuring a program on your computer, or perhaps running a scan of your PC.

Qualities of a Wizard

A software wizard will generally break down tasks into a step-by-step process that a user can easily follow. Each step will show up on a separate page. The wizard is designed in such a way that each step must be followed in the correct order before proceeding with the task at hand. Wizards will often use progress bars to show the user how much time they must invest in order to follow the process to completion.

Wizards these days go by different names, or their functionality has been absorbed by other programs on your computer. Some virtual assistants and office assistants work in much the same way, eliminating any need for wizards. However, it’s worth mentioning that wizards are so helpful that many applications and online forms emulate wizards to make things easier for the users–gone, but certainly not forgotten.

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The Internet of Things Gives Great Power to Our Phones

Posted July 09, 2018 by

Concept Art: Internet on a smartphoneThe Internet of Things (IoT) is a bit of a paradox in and of itself. It has been leveraged to accomplish great things, but at the same time, it can be used in a way that can create considerable problems. However, innovations have proven that the IoT isn’t going anywhere, anytime soon, especially now that it can use the devices that we carry in our pockets.

Taking the IoT to New Heights

Smartphones are notorious for swiftly becoming obsolete, which means that there is a great opportunity to re-purpose them and give them new life as a critical component of an IoT device. Just ask NASA.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has long been sending satellites into orbit – despite the intense costs to construct them, let alone get them where they need to go. To help decrease these costs without sacrificing the insight that these satellites provide, NASA started the PhoneSat Project in 2009. Rather than sending a few conventional, expensive satellites into orbit, many nano-satellites can be built from off-the-shelf components and sent into space. These nano-satellites rely on smartphones in order to function.

This initiative has appeared to be very successful, as version 2.4 of PhoneSat, “CubeSat,” reentered the atmosphere on January 31, 2017 after spending more than three years orbiting Earth. These nanosatellites have a relatively tiny price tag of $8,000, and have, thus far, proved massively successful.

Bringing the IoT Down to Earth

Of course, the IoT has far more uses that are much more practical to the user who is not affiliated with NASA. Samsung Electronics created a team whose task was to figure out ways of taking older models from the Galaxy line of phones and figuring out how to leverage them as an IoT device. This “Galaxy Upcycling” team created a huge variety of IoT-powered purposes – including a few for the owners of hungry pets. The Smart Fish Tank they developed could feed the fish through a text message, and the Smart Pet Bowl would send the doting pet owner a picture whenever Fido or Fluffy chows down. This project has since been completed, the final product anticipated to be released soon.

Security Concerns

The same issues plague the IoT powered by a smartphone as have plagued all IoT devices that have come before: namely, security concerns. The IoT is notorious for its devices not having sufficient security installed, and often have no real way to update later. Time will only tell if this will eventually be a fatal flaw for the IoT, or if it will be overcome.

What do you think? Would you consider using an old smartphone to make another object smarter? Tell us why or why not in the comments!

 


5G is Still Going to Take A While

Posted July 06, 2018 by

Concept Art: Blue button that says "5G"As technology has improved in function and convenience, we seem to demand more and more of it at an increasing pace. Take mobile data as an example: 4G was introduced in 2009, and less than a decade later, there is high demand for 5G. Unfortunately, while 5G has been worked on for some time already, it isn’t likely that it will be commonly available anytime soon.

The technology being touted as the driving force behind 5G has quite a few practical issues, many of which may prove to be too much for the anticipated improvements to offset. Many of these issues are rooted in the proposed use of enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) via millimeter wave (mmWave) and the inherent issues with this plan.

Range

A big problem comes from the range of mmWave. Currently, 4G signals can reach anywhere between three and thirty miles, while mmWave can only reach a third of a mile – one ninth of its range now, under ideal circumstances. In order for 5G through mmWave to be successful, there would need to be some major infrastructure updates.

This has been addressed in the planning processes, as it is likely that the cell towers we are accustomed to today would instead be replaced by shorter-range femtocells. These femtocells would be approximately the size of a microwave oven, and could be added to existing pieces of infrastructure, like light poles, traffic signs, and even public transportation vehicles like buses. However, these open up the idea of implementing 5G to more complications.

Connectivity

For example, mmWave signals are incredibly easy to block, which is why there would need to be so many femtocells added to the existing infrastructure. When something as simple as an unfortunately positioned traffic sign can block a signal, signals need to be coming from more than one direction.

There is also the matter of bandwidth that needs to be addressed. Consider how much usage each femtocell would see – they just wouldn’t be able to network as efficiently as necessary for proper use. This would mean that the entire network of femtocells would also need to be connected via costly high-speed fiber cabling, which would be an expensive and time-consuming endeavor.

Cloud Confusion

With cloud computing having become such a widely utilized tool, it only makes sense that the femtocell network would be managed via the cloud. By creating a virtual network in the cloud, software-defined networks (SDNs) and network function virtualization (NFV) could be leveraged to manage the 5G network. Trouble is, there are various kinds of SDNs and NFV, with no one standard. The Linux Foundation is working to change this, but this still isn’t an issue that will likely be resolved in the near future.

Regardless, 5G is going to happen – femtocells are inexpensive and, for all their faults, a potentially beneficial way to make it possible. Furthermore, people want better mobile bandwidth. The technology is just going to take some time to develop.

However, if you want to improve your business’ connectivity now, we can help. Give Excalibur Technology a call at (877) NET – KING.


Cryptomining is Inspiring Cybercrime

Posted July 02, 2018 by

BitcoinBlockchain technology is mainly known for its use with cryptocurrencies. Even though the values of cryptocurrencies have leveled off after the incredible growth it has sustained over the past few months, users are still attempting to use cryptocurrencies to make a little bit of extra cash on the side. Of course, if there is money involved, you can bet that there will also be criminals and shady activity surrounding it.

Criminals love to take advantage of cryptocurrencies due to how much they value anonymity. Unfortunately for hackers, mining cryptocurrency legitimately can be expensive and take a long time. You even need dedicated computer hardware in order to do it, which creates substantial costs, like an increase in your power bill.

Due to how difficult it can be to mine cryptocurrency, a new threat called crypto-jacking has popped up. This type of malware hides on a user’s device and steals its resources for the purposes of mining cryptocurrency. This can lead to devastating results–a higher electric bill, lower device performance as a whole, and more wear and tear on your device’s components. This type of malware only works if the device accesses a compromised website. In the past, this threat would only work if the device remained on the website during the duration of the attack, but hackers have since found ways around this. Some infected websites have gotten so crafty that they can hide a pop-up behind the computer’s task bar, where it can remain for as long as the hacker needs it to.

Crypto-miners are also known for spreading this hidden code to all kinds of websites themselves, as well as through malicious browser extensions. This type of malware has been found on a broad variety of different websites, like the United States Courts, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, and the Australian state governments of Victoria and Queensland. It was found in a text-to-speech translation plugin used on these sites. Consequently, the developer of this plugin removed it from all sites as soon as it was discovered.

It’s incredibly important that your business pays attention to these kinds of events and trends, as they could create considerable issues for your organization’s operations. If you’re paying a lot of money for your business’ Internet solution, then hackers are taking advantage of all your bandwidth to pull a fast one on you. Cryptocurrency mining is one of those tasks that takes its toll on even the most powerful hardware, making it likely to shorten your technology’s lifespan. This ultimately costs your business in more ways than one.

Thankfully, there are ways that you can combat these attacks. Some browsers are incorporating anti-cryptocurrency measures, and some antivirus programs are making strides toward straight-up blocking crypto-jacking attempts in the first place. Furthermore, there are some extensions that also block crypto-mining and crypto-jacking scripts entirely.

Excalibur Technology can help you make sure that your IT solutions are running optimally, as well as securing your organization’s network from potential attacks. To learn more, reach out to us at (877) NET – KING.


EHR and Other Technologies Moving Healthcare Forward

Posted June 30, 2018 by

Smartphone that says "EMR" on the screenIn 2009, when the U.S. Congress passed the HITECH Act, there was an optimism that the legislation would push the medical profession into the information age. As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the United States Government invested tens of billions of dollars into improving the healthcare industry’s use of information technology, and mandated medical practices to implement IT systems that enhance the flow of electronic health records to improve (and speed up) patient care and to try and use that built-in efficiency to cut down on skyrocketing medical costs.

Defined by the term “meaningful use”, the health sector implementation of electronic health record technology (EHR), one of the HITECH Act’s core standards, has now been going on for almost a decade; and, the landscape has shifted dramatically. The investments that the public made has kickstarted an across-the-board shift to EHR. In 2015, 96 percent of hospitals and 78 percent of doctor’s offices used some kind of certified EHR technology.

This changed the way that physicians provide care, insurers reimburse medical organizations, and patients manage their own care. Technology has always been a central part of the healthcare industry, but today, IT usage has significantly ballooned in use. EHR systems are more intuitive, more powerful, and allow for far more integration than the ones that were launched nine years ago. Those platforms always had charting and billing features (the favorite of the healthcare industry), but today’s solutions are hosted in the cloud and have features that push procedural updates to all parties, provide e-prescription services, integrate evaluation and management coding services and lab work data, trigger meaningful use certification, and deliver a pretty dynamic patient portal, which securely allows patients to keep track of their own care and health.

The rapid digitization of the healthcare industry wasn’t just dependent on the whopping $35 billion the American taxpayers outlaid for it to happen, however. Sure, subsidy definitely is a main driver of EHR technology integration, but another, collaboration, has become a major part of the growing medical community. Since the EHR provides parties with secure access, parties that need to collaborate about a patient’s health can do so now faster than ever. This not only provides the construct where better care is possible, it increases and enhances the communication between care providers, whether they be specialists, primary care providers, or emergency care providers.

How Does the EHR Work?

For this process to be a success the EHR has to be comprehensive. The modern EHR is set up to work like this: First, through a patient portal, a person can make an appointment to see a doctor, then when he/she arrives the front office person will check the patient in. A few minutes later a nurse will come get the patient, check his/her vitals and bodyweight, and while doing that, will also bring up the patient’s medical history for the doctor so that when he/she comes in to see the patient, they have all the updated and relevant information.

If it sounds familiar, it is the same way they’ve been doing it for decades, but instead of paper charts in file folders, there is a whole dynamic interface that provides all the patient’s information in real time. Some of the more advanced EHRs work in conjunction with sensors that are inserted in a patient’s body to help track vital levels of a myriad of medical issues. This gives doctors a comprehensive view of the patient they are treating, allowing them to see and treat more patients, and provide more comprehensive care, than with traditional methods.

Once the doctor has seen the patient and he/she has made a diagnosis, the EMR passes back to the nursing staff to handle the remaining procedural tasks. Many EHR platforms have a number of features designed to improve the dissemination of patient care. That’s why it was made a priority by congress. The thought was that the more secure information can be shared about a patient, the better health care providers can deliver. Since this information is the most sensitive information every EHR/EMR solution has to come with a system with heavy encryption. This ensures that any data transferred doesn’t have the ability to be stolen by an intermediary.

Other Technology Innovations Going On in the Healthcare Vertical

The facts suggest that most of today’s healthcare IT is centered around what are known as disruptive innovations. Instead of making steady innovations in the way that people use IT to share data, present solutions, and manage health, medical technology companies have a tendency to focus on trying to make breakthroughs that will change the way we look at Healthcare IT as a whole.

The reality is that business never stops in the healthcare industry. As a result, focusing on technologies that don’t even have a proof of concept is ironically short-sighted. People need better care now. People need healthcare costs to drop now. They can’t wait for the future of the healthcare IT market, because many people won’t be around to see it. By focusing on product innovation and not process innovation, healthcare information technology manufacturers have been misplacing their energy.

Despite the focus on big ideas, there are some ways IT is being used to improve general health. Once such technology trend is the analysis of patient and care-based data to create strategies that both provide better care and strategies to avoid needing it. With the use of data analytics, healthcare providers can track health trends, medicine usage, and other factors to help them create strategies on how to provide the best care for certain ailments.

Using this same information, they can work to educate the public about things to do to avoid sitting in the doctor’s office. Sure, people are always going to get sick, but with better analysis of data, people can get smarter about their behaviors to avoid the hassle, fear, and cost of being a patient.

At Excalibur Technology, we understand that technology is tied with the success of any health care facility. To learn more about how our expert technicians can provide your practice with the tools it needs to provide the best care and to stay compliant with federal, state, and local regulations, call us today at (877) NET – KING.


Understanding the New NIST Guidelines for Password Security

Posted June 29, 2018 by

nist_password pictureThe National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) has released Special Publication 800-63B, titled Digital Identity Guidelines. The document outlines major changes to the ways password security should be approached and leaves a lot of what network administrators and software developers have implemented recently to be wrong. Today, we’ll take a look at the publication, and try to make sense of the sudden change of course.

NIST is a non-regulatory federal agency that works under the umbrella of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Its mission is to promote U.S. innovation and competitiveness by advancing a uniform measurement standard. Many NIST guidelines become the foundation for best practices in data security. As a result, any publication they produce having to do with cyber or network security should be considered.

A Look at SP 800-63B

The newest password guidelines are a swift about-face in strategy as compared to previous NIST suggestions. Instead of a strategy of ensuring that all passwords meet some type of arbitrary complexity requirements, the new strategy is to create passwords that are easier and more intuitive. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Passwords should be compared to dictionaries and commonly-used passwords
  • Eliminate or reduce complexity rules for passwords
  • All printable characters allowed, including spaces
  • Expiration of passwords no longer based on time password has been in use
  • Maximum length increased to 64 characters.

Basically, the new guidelines recommend longer passphrases rather than complex passwords as they are hard for people to remember, and even with complexity rules in place, it was becoming increasingly easy for algorithms to crack passwords (seen in the comic strip below).

The famous "Correct Horse Battery Staple" comic

As stated before, NIST is not a regulatory organization, but federal agencies and contractors use NIST’s information in order to set up secure computing environments in which to display, store, and share sensitive unclassified information.

In making these changes to password strategy, NIST is now considering the fact that many industry professionals knew: a password you can’t remember may be secure, but if it’s so secure that you have to rely on third-party software to utilize it, it’s not really that effective at mitigating risk. NIST now looks at the passphrase strategy, along with two-factor authentication as the go-to risk management strategy. SMS-based two-factor authentication was not mentioned in the final report but has come under scrutiny as it has contributed to multiple hacks in recent times.

The NIST also explicitly commands that network administrators be mindful to forbid commonly used passwords; effectively creating a blacklist of passwords. The new guidelines also suggest that users shouldn’t be using the password hints or knowledge-based authentication options; a common practice among banking and FinTech applications to this day. We’ll see if there is a strategic alteration in these companies’ practices as the new NIST guidelines become best practices.

If you are looking for more information about best password practices and data security, the IT experts at Excalibur Technology are here to help. Call us today at (877) NET – KING to have your password strategy assessed by the professionals.

Comic by XKCD.


No More Pencils, No More Books: Technology in Education

Posted June 28, 2018 by

Children sitting in front of computers in a classroomIn a world that is increasingly centered around technology, it is becoming more important that there is a familiarity with this technology in the younger generations. This is a major reason that many educational institutions are taking strides to adopt and encourage the use of technology in the classroom from an early age. As a result, there have also been some observable benefits.

Technology in K-12

Again, the world is more reliant on technology than ever before, with no indication that this reliance will decrease – or even stop increasing – anytime soon. This means it is only more important for students to be introduced to technology early and taught to use it for productive, practical applications.

More immediately, education technology carries with it numerous potential benefits for both educators and those being educated.

  • Personalized Approach – Any educator worth their salt will tell you that the methods needed to teach one child can be (and almost definitely are) vastly different than the approach it takes to properly teach another – not to mention the differences in progress that can be seen in just about every classroom between the students. Technology can be used to not only assess each student’s progress, but also to customize their experience so they can progress at a rate that suits their learning style.

    Speaking of their learning style, technology also enables each student to learn the way that they are best suited to as an individual. Again, programs can evaluate the most effective way to teach a particular student and present the material in that format. This also helps the student feel more in control of their own education, and thereby invested in it, motivating them to work harder and learn more.

  • Improved Insights and Data – One of the most important parts of teaching is to identify if a class isn’t effectively progressing as they should be, and why. Educational technology can contribute to that end by providing data into the precise places that their students are encountering difficulty in their work. This information could allow teachers to adjust their lessons and address the true pain points that students have, rather than relying on them to raise their hands and ask.
  • Increased Responsibility of the Student – Students require engagement in order to effectively learn, something that teachers find it increasingly difficult to provide with swelling class sizes and a corresponding decrease in the time that can be spent with each of their pupils. Again, thanks to the personalization and independence that technology can supplement their education with, a student doesn’t necessarily require as much direct attention from their teacher to learn. This allows a teacher to direct their focus to those students who may still need additional, one-on-one assistance.

    Furthermore, entrusting devices to students encourages them to be more responsible. Those in younger grades can be taught concepts of respecting possessions (especially those that don’t belong to them), while older students can be taught the importance of safe and responsible technology usage.

  • Skill Development and Cooperation – The purpose of education is to prepare children for their lives as adults, to practice learning so they will have the skills they need to adapt more efficiently to new circumstances and responsibilities in the future. As mentioned before, the world is increasingly tech-reliant, so a familiarity with the concepts of technology is going to be crucial for students later on in their lives. Furthermore, the world is also a highly collaborative place, so allowing students to leverage technology now to practice using it to work together only prepares them better for the expectations of adult life.

Collegiate Technology Use

Of course, technology has also taken a much larger role in colleges and universities, as evidenced first and foremost by the existence of online degree programs. However, this is by no means the extent of technology use at this level. Many schools now manage the majority of their student affairs online, from submitting assignments through email and online portals to signing up for classes. This has all led to college being much more accessible for many, as physical distance or other responsibilities no longer have to stand in a potential student’s way.

Is It Enough?

While it may be easy to view education technology as a means of minimizing a teacher’s role in the classroom, perhaps to ultimately replace it, many teachers see it in a very different light. In fact, the biggest criticisms are made for a very different reason: many educators are concerned that the solutions being developed aren’t fulfilling their real needs.

Educators across the United States have spoken out, stating that developers and designers are creating educational tools that aren’t effectively addressing the real shortcomings that educators are experiencing. However, rather than simply casting criticism, these educators are also calling for an open dialogue so that the solutions that they really need can be created.

For instance, when considering the needs of education, the administrative side of things is easily overlooked. A means of digitizing student records or ensuring compliance to special education standards would also be a huge benefit to a district.

What Comes Next?

As with anything, education will continue to evolve as new technologies are released, and teachers and students alike will have to adapt. Of course, some things will stay the same – as one teacher said, “My Chromebook wasn’t charged,” has become the new “My dog ate my homework.” There is going to be a definite learning curve, so to speak, but as educational technology becomes more the norm and improves, education will likely improve with it.

If you would like your business to be better prepared for the up and coming tech-savvy workers of tomorrow, reach out to Excalibur Technology.



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