Pages

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Mobile Device Management: An MDM Primer for Schools, Non-Profits and Small Business

Mobile devices are infiltrative every aspect of our lives, and that includes education.  Many schools, non-profits and small businesses struggle with the hows, the wheres and the whys of mobile devices on their networks and in their classrooms.  And even as the pedagogical debate rages on about the efficacy of iPads or Chromebooks in the classroom, one thing is for certain: these devices are in your classrooms.  And if they are in your classroom, they are on your network -- and therefore must be managed!



Mobile Devices Are All Around You
More organizations than ever are confronting how to fully embrace mobile devices beyond their executive and sales teams. In a way, IT teams are being dragged into this. Many users have fully incorporated smartphones and tablets into their daily lives thanks to devices and operating systems from Apple and Google. They are choosing the personal user experience of Android and iPhone over the largely business-task-driven BlackBerry devices. They have also adopted application stores in their personal lives, blending activities like web browsing, games, and mobile payments with business uses such as corporate email. The drive to combine the personal aspects of these devices with business functions has created a need for control management of these devices.

So why is it taking so long for schools and non-profit organizations to officially assimilate mobile devices into their organizations? There are a number of reasons, but the biggest is that most of these organizations want to drop the issue into the lap of their IT folks and have them create organization policy in addition to the IT tasks. They put the cart before the horse.

The Essentials: Start with a Strong Foundation
Regardless of your business, industry or users, there are certain basic and advances practices that you should be following. Here are the best practice that will be covered in this series:

  1. Be Realistic with Your Policy
  2. Gain Insight into Who’s Mobile and What They’re Doing
  3. Cover the Basics: Passwords, Encryption, and Remote Wipe
  4. 1,2,3 to Good Policy
  5. Make it Simple to Get Up and Running
  6. Let End Users Take Care of Device Management
  7. Start Planning for Centralized Control
  8. Spread the Word about Your Progress

And some Advanced Practices: Build Upon Your Foundation

  1. Get a Grip on Usage Costs
  2. Automate Compliance Management
  3. Manage Application Restrictions and Your Own Application Storefront
  4. Provide a Backup & Recovery Service

1. Be Realistic with Your Policy
Policy is king... right?  Your policy should:

  1. Support multiple device platforms
  2. Allow personal devices

Frankly, nearly all organizations are doing this now. They just don’t know it. Odds are that you have a policy that says what your computers can and can not do -- right? That you say if your staff can use personal laptops or not? Right? (Let's assume you said yes... because you should!)

You need to be doing it for your mobile devices, too! And it is far more important than you think. You probably have a lot more personal iOS, Android and Windows Mobile devices inside your organization than you think. After all, it’s easy for any mobile device to integrate with mail infrastructure like Exchange using the Activesync functionality you turned on. It is simple for your end users to set up Exchange or Google Apps on their iPhone or Android device. Trust me, they are doing it -- and you need to support it, so you can manage it.

2. Gain Insight into Who’s Mobile and What They’re Doing
Making decisions and quantifying risks about mobile devices is hard without good data on the mobile devices in your environment. For instance, it’s not uncommon for terminated employees to still be using corporate mobile devices—but you can’t stop this unless you know about it.

With a lightweight reporting and inventory tool, you can keep tabs on how mobile devices are being used and by whom.

Make sure the solution:

  1. Empowers your helpdesk to troubleshoot devices
  2. Is accessible outside of IT. For example, your HR process needs to have access during exit interviews to turn off devices for employees when they leave the organization.
  3. Includes strong application inventory and search capabilities

3. Cover the Basics: Passwords, Encryption, and Remote Wipe
Be sure to do the following:

  1. Require a strong password of at least four characters
  2. Set up devices to automatically lock after 5-15 minutes of inactivity
  3. Configure devices to automatically wipe after a certain number of consecutive failed login attempts or if they are reported lost
  4. Enable a level of encryption

Some organizations may want to consider more protection. But before you put yourself in that category, ask yourself one question: Do we enforce this level of security on our laptops?

4. 1, 2, 3 to good policy
You may be worried that you’ll need a new solution to implement the first three best practices. That isn’t necessarily the case. If you have a BlackBerry Enterprise Server, then you are covered on that platform. And with Exchange or Lotus Notes, you can enforce your PIN policy and remote wipe your iPhones, iPads, and Windows Mobile devices. (Android added this Exchange-based security control in version 2.2.) And let's not forget that your Apple Mac OS X Server has a certain level of device management built into it.

Following the principles we’ve already outlined is a responsible approach that takes advantage of existing infrastructure for device and risk management. And it’s a smart one considering that you really can’t stop people in your environment from using mobile devices.

The biggest issue with this approach is that reporting is limited and not scalable—you’ll need to develop and run reports manually, and deal with the lack of a centralized view into all devices.

But taking the first step with reporting and inventorying can dramatically improve your current posture on the uber-popular iPhone and Android devices. Then you can plan a more scalable and robust management
and security solution (as described in the next best practices). In the meantime, click here for our free ActiveSync reporting tool.

5. Make it Simple to Get Up and Running
Don’t make IT responsible for reviewing each request for device and system access. Instead, empower users to enroll their own devices by visiting a single URL. Set up a default policy that approves the users’ devices and pushes down their e-mail and your organizations Wi-Fi profiles. This will create efficiency in your technology footprint, take a burden off your IT department and make your end-users a lot happier.

In addition to making the process easy for end users, simplify things for IT and create innate security on your network. For example, your policy could specify that any Android device with OS 2.2 or above is automatically granted access to corporate systems, while any Android device on an earlier OS version is automatically blocked.

6. Let End Users Take Care of Device Management
With employees relying on mobile devices to get their jobs done, you don’t want basic device management issues to get in the way of productivity. You also don’t want users calling the helpdesk with issues they can resolve themselves. Empower end users with a self-service portal that allows them to:

  1. Enroll their own devices
  2. Lock and wipe their own devices if think they’ve been stolen
  3. Reset their own passcodes
  4. Locate their lost devices

...all without ever calling your IT department!

7. Think About and Plan for Centralized Control
If you have Blackberries, your BlackBerry Enterprise Server is probably well entrenched, both operationally and economically. But it is not multi-platform, and a multi-platform solution is needed to support the variety of devices in your environment.

Consider these four cutting edge best practices:

  1. Adopt an MDM platform that can also manage PCs and Macs as well as mobile devices. The lines between laptops, tablets, and smartphones will continue to blur in both user functionality and IT operations. A versatile MDM solution will cut down on infrastructure costs, improve operational efficiency, and create a single user view into devices and data for operations and security.
  2. Be sure your reporting and inventory tool consolidates both your existing devices and your multi-platform MDM solutions. You’ll rely on your data and reports daily, and you’ll want to avoid any manual processes to access your business intelligence on mobile devices.
  3. Take a look at cloud-based MDM services. When you account for full Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), a LAN-oriented management solution can be costly. Why use a more expensive—and wired— solution to manage remote mobile devices?
  4. Go the agent route with caution. If you can meet your needs with server-side management controls, all the better. Thinking long term, going agent-less is likely to save you a lot of time and effort when moving between different types of devices and platforms. An agent-based solution often requires touching devices or additional support from the IT department to make it all work.

8. Spread the Word about Your Progress
Report on and discuss your mobile device inventory and policy status— including personal devices—in your IT operations reviews. It’s a good way to broaden the discussion beyond those responsible for managing devices in your environment. It’s also an opportunity to raise the visibility of the benefits for your organization, as well as for future resource requirements such as needed involvement from those responsible for security and other areas of IT. Your inventory and reporting tool should make it simple to produce the reports to start conversations in these meetings.

Is It Designed for Any Environment?
The practices we’ve discussed so far should meet most organizations’ needs. In fact, they satisfy the most stringent security and privacy regulations, such as those dictated by the HIPAA, FINRA, and PCI DSS. These regulations only require, in practice, that organizations encrypt their data and are able to destroy data on a lost device. The essential practices cover that and more.

Build Upon Your Foundation with Advanced Practices
With the essentials in place, your organization is primed for an effective mobile IT operation in the near term. Now you need to determine whether or not your organization needs to go a step further with advanced practices.

9. Get a Grip on Usage Costs
You need to be able to track, monitor, and restrict network usage. After all, the costs for international data roaming can reach thousands of dollars per trip. Even domestic usage can quickly add up - it is worth keeping an eye on it for your own sanity, and at some point -- your boss is going to ask about it!

10. Automate Compliance Management
IT needs a way to automatically detect devices out of compliance with policy—and automatically respond. For example, your policy may specify that jailbroken or rooted devices are not allowed in the corporate environment and if one is detected, you will immediately revoke access to corporate systems. Ideally, the detection and revocation should happen automatically. At the same time, you want to automatically notify the user of the action being taken and what’s needed to come into compliance and regain access to corporate resources. Once the device is in compliance, access should be automatically reinstated.

11. Manage Application Restrictions and Your Own Application Self-Service Storefront
Today, most smartphone and tablet vendors do a good job of limiting usage to certified and approved applications. Some would argue they do too good of a job restricting access. Other vendors maintain a very open policy for creating applications, with no formal process for certifying apps. That said, certain organizations or industries may need to restrict the type of application allowed on a corporate-approved device.
If you want to be proactive about it, set up your own enterprise application storefront. This allows you to present a list of approved applications and ease their delivery to mobile devices. Plus, your users will know where to go for these applications and for updates. Some MDM-solution providers can even help you deliver documents such as PDFs to devices.

12. Backup and Recovery for Devices

If any of your users work with critical and unique data beyond email, you may want to consider using a backup and recovery solution. Those using an iPhone or an iPad can rely on iTunes to take care of this. Just make sure your policies are set to force an encrypted backup. For those not using iTunes for backup, you’ll probably need to address specific use cases.

In addition to this MDM primer, I have written Mobile Device Management product overviews for four popular MDM solutions that play nicely in schools, non-profits and small businesses.  Click the links below to read those overviews and help you decide if one of these might be right for your organization!

JAMF Casper Suite Overview
IBM/Fiberlink Maas360 Overview
Miradore's MDM Overview (Free product)
Barracuda's MDM Overview (Free product)


~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Today in History: Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomattox Court House 04/09/1865

Robert E. Lee surrendered what was left of the once vaunted Army of Northern Virginia to the United States and Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on this day in American History, April 4th, 1865.


The people of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania didn’t receive the news until the following day, the morning of April 10th, 1865. Few northern communities could claim to have experienced the full spectrum of the horror of the Civil War as did the residents of Gettysburg. Like nearly every northern town, many of Gettysburg’s residents volunteered to fill the ranks of northern armies. Most of them made it home, but not all. Men like Fred Huber who was killed at Fair Oaks or Alexander Cobean who numbered among the slain at Shiloh, brought the tragedy of distant engagements home to an otherwise peaceful community. Unlike nearly every other northern town, Gettysburg played host to a major battle. The destruction and carnage of war visited Adams County in a manner that was all too familiar in the south, but virtually unknown throughout the loyal states of the North.

The news of the surrender of Lee caused jubilation and celebration throughout Gettysburg. The Adams Sentinel reported the event with a headline proclaiming “Bright Skies! Lee Surrendered and His Whole Army!” and described the ensuing celebration which included the dismissal of all schools and “Cheer upon cheer…given for our victorious Generals, our Government, the Old Flag, Adams Sentineland etc.” “This glorious news,” it continued, “is the precursor of Peace, and a triumph of our principles, which will tell upon the future of the great nation.”

The Civil War did not officially end that day or in that place, a fact those with more than a passing interest in the conflict are quick to cite, pointing to the April 26th surrender of Joe Johnston at Bennett Place, the May 1865 battle of Palmito Ranch in Texas or the furling of the ensign of the CSS Shenandoah in November of 1865, among a host of other “ends.” Yet, it’s tough to view the capitulation of Lee as anything other than the complete dissolution of the southern Confederacy.

Lee and Grant, both holding the highest rank in their respective armies, had known each other slightly during the Mexican War and exchanged awkward personal inquiries. Characteristically, Grant arrived in his muddy field uniform while Lee had turned out in full dress attire, complete with sash and sword. Lee asked for the terms, and Grant hurriedly wrote them out. All officers and men were to be pardoned, and they would be sent home with their private property–most important, the horses, which could be used for a late spring planting. Officers would keep their side arms, and Lee’s starving men would be given Union rations. 

Shushing a band that had begun to play in celebration, General Grant told his officers, “The war is over. The Rebels are our countrymen again.” Although scattered resistance continued for several weeks, for all practical purposes the Civil War had come to an end.

Even if the war didn’t officially end that day, it has become the de facto conclusion for a four year long conflict that refuses to be anything other than complex and endlessly debatable. Even today, the word Appomattox conjures a feeling of finality…both for the Civil War generation, and for our own. 


~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Crowdfunding and Fundraising in schools with Crowdrise

A large part of education and non-profit organizations is fund raising.  There never seems to be enough funding for the various activities and causes that we'd all like to support.  Every independent and public school is always looking for help with raising funds, and sometimes the students are the ones who step up and make the magic happen.




Enter Carissa Peck.  She has created a BLOG in which she discusses and even gives some really great suggestions on how to fundraise for your class.  And not just fundraise, but get the students involved and invested in their own funding.  She focuses on the idea that fundraising, whether it be for your class or some other organization, is something that you can do from anywhere at anytime.  It isn't an activity that needs to be confined to within the classroom, and it need not be something that is done for the edification of the teacher -- that it should be done for the cause.

The entire project came about because of a high school Speech class in San Diego, California.  Carissa talks about using online tools such as YouTube and CrowdRise to create a public presence for your fundraising and even gives some great examples of CrowdRIse done right!

Check out Carissa's BLOG and learn a thing or two about fundraising with your class, not because of it.


~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

American History 101: Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs

Wrigley Field is an American icon in sports that is recognized all around the world.  But the history of the current home of the Chicago Cubs is long and storied reaching back to before the Cubbies inhabited the ivy covered walls.  From a seminary to Weeghman Field to Wrigley Field, the site is historic and a part of the fabric of America's Pastime - Major League Baseball.  




The location that current day Wrigley Field sits upon was once home to the Chicago Lutheran Theological Seminary, with the Hildebrandt Coal Factory across the street.  The block that contained Clark, Addison, Waveland and Sheffield Streets had been inherited by William Passavant, a prominent Lutheran missionary.  Passavant began to develop the land as early as 1868, including building St. Mark's Church in 1874.  He helped establish the Chicago Lutheran Seminary on the site in 1891.

Chicago Lutheran Seminary - Circa 1895
Unfortunately, the seminary wasn't very successful and as early as 1905 rumors were hot that the minor league American Association of Baseball was looking to put a team in Chicago and the seminary was the best spot in town.  Chicago was one of the hottest markets in the country at the time, and was already home to the American League's White Sox and the National League's Cubs.  The Cubs were playing at West Side Park at the time.  Three minor league owners saw an opportunity to snap up some prime real estate just in case the American Association decided to place a team in Chicago.  In 1909 the seminary was eager to move and sold the property to Charles Havenor and Mike Cantillon for $175,000.

Professional baseball once first played on the site in 1914 when the Federal League's Chicago Chifeds moved from DePaul University to the newly constructed Weeghman Field.  Weeghman Field was a modern steel and concrete baseball park that featured a single-decked grandstand roof behind home plate and around to left field.  The original dimensions were quite cozy -- 300 feet to a brick wall in right field and a left field that featured two old seminary buildings at about the same depth with wood fencing.  The stadium sat a total of 14,000 fan but it was not unusual for there to be thousands of fans on their feet in the outfield.  In 1915, the team's name was changed to the Chicago Whales who won the championship.  Today's Wrigley Field is the last remaining Federal League stadium in existence.

The view down the left field line at Weeghman Field
The Chicago Cubs moved to Weeghman Park in April of 1916 and beat the Cincinnati Reds in their first game.  That first season was rather unremarkable, but the Cubs went on to win the National League pennant in 1918.  The Cubs, however, did not play the World Series at Weeghman.  Because they were strapped for cash, Cubs owner Weeghman gambles and rented the larger venue of Comiskey Park.  He hoped that the larger venue would attract more fans and generate more revenue for the team.  Unfortunately, the Cubs lost the series in six games to Boston and failed to attract large crowds -- losing money on the gamble.  This increased the cash flow problems in Cubbie-land and the team took on additional investors, including chewing gum mastermind William Wrigley.  By the end of 1918, Weeghman sold his share of the team and Wrigley became the majority owner.  By the 1919 season, it was known as Cubs Park.

By 1922 Cubs Park was in need of renovations and Wrigley recognized the need for expansion.  He brought back the original park architect to expand the grandstand and playing field area.  The foul area was enlarged, outfield fences were pushed back to 320 feet in left field, 318 in right and 446 to center field.  The expansion of the outfield grandstand increased seating from 18,000 to 31,000 fans.  In 1927, Cubs Park was expanded once again with the addition of a double-deck upper deck area, renamed Wrigley Field and drew over one million fans for the first time.  In the early 1930's the outfield dimensions were re-worked again to 364 feet in left, 321 in right and 440 feet to center field.

In 1937 the famous Boston Ivy was planted along the outfield walls by Bill Veeck.  Field rules state that if a ball is hit into the ivy and does not come out, the outfielder is to raise his hands and the batter receives a ground rule double.  If the outfielder searches for the ball, it is live and the batter can run as long as he wishes.  Another feature added by Veeck was the manual scoreboard.  Another improvement in 1937 was the reconstruction of the outfield bleachers with concrete, instead of wood.

There was a plan in place to erect lights at Wrigley Field in 1942, but the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor derailed those plans when then owner Philip Wrigley (William's son) donated the materials to the war effort.  After the war, Wrigley abandoned plans to erect lights at Wrigley, and they were not put up at the stadium until 1981 -- and the first night game was not played at Wrigley until 1988.  Part of the reason that lights took until 1981, and a night game did not happen until 1988 was the city of Chicago itself.  An ordinance was passed that prohibited night events at Wrigley Field because of its residential location.  This ordinance stood until the 1984 when the Cubs were in the playoffs and then Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announced that the Cubs would lose home-field advantage if they reached the World Series and could not host a night game.  The Cubs failed to reach the World Series that year, but the following year team president Dallas Green said, "if there are no lights in Wrigley, there will be no Wrigley Field."  Green intended to move the Cubs to Comiskey Park for a year as a threat to the city of Chicago.  The Cubs investigated moving to Arlington Heights or maybe building a new stadium outside of Rosemont.  They even discussed selling Wrigley to DePaul University.

Over the years the Cubs aren't the only professional sports team to play at Wrigley Field.  The Chicago Bears (NFL - 1921-1970), Chicago Tigers (APFA - 1920), Chicago Cardinals (NFL - 1931-1939) and Chicago Sting (NASL - 1977-1982 and 1984) played a number of seasons at Wrigley.

With the recent sale of the Cubs to the Ricketts family, Wrigley Field is undergoing another renovation that includes a major Jumbotron installation, seating expansion and new luxury boxes being installed.  There is also currently a debate about the rooftop bars across the street in right field.  Previous ownership (Tribune) had rented the rights to those bar owners allowing them to sell tickets to watch the games, however new renovations will block that site-line into the field.

The current dimensions of the "friendly confines" stand at 355 feet to left field, 400 feet to dead center and 353 feet to right field and it remains one of the most famous sports venues in all the world.



~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Utilizing Technology in Today's Mobile Work Force: Inspection IO

Using technology for the on-the-go professional is always a bittersweet challenge.  The speed at which today's business moves, and at which technology moves is lightning fast -- but not always the same.  Today's mobile professional finds themselves constantly having to keep up with and modify technology to meet their every changing needs.  And these needs and tools are different for different industries.  A new tool has come to the surface for the home inspection industry that I think it pretty neat.



Inspection IO is an all-encompassing web application that allows to you run and manage your home inspection business from anywhere, anytime with any device.  With an account on Inspection IO's website, you have control over every aspect of your home inspection business.  It helps keep you up-to-date on what your team is doing, and it keeps your team on the same page with what is what in the business at that moment.  One great feature is the ability to have one team member inspect a house, and another to follow up with access to the previous inspection, notes, pictures and plans that the previous inspector had taken.  Keeps everyone working, accountable and simply better at what they do.  The application includes customizable reporting, checklists, data entry, scheduling, signature handling, multimedia and collaboration tools that will enable your business to be more efficient and simply work smarter.

And that's a win-win for everyone, isn't it?

And industry seems to agree.  With big names like Coldwell Banker, Century 21 and LJ Hooker using this product to keep their home inspection and remediation flow working efficiently, it has to be pretty good.  Check it out for yourself today at http://www.inspectionio.com.


~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Today in American History: Easter Sunday 04/05/2015

Today in American History:  The History of Easter Sunday in America



Today is Easter Sunday in the United States, referred to as Eastrun in Old English or Pascha in Greek.  Easter Sunday is the culmination of the Christian celebration called Holy Week.  Holy Week begins on Monday and leads into Maundy Thursday as a part of the Easter Triduum.  The Easter Triduum includes Maundy Thursday, the Last Supper and Good Friday.  Maundy Thursday commemorates the Last Supper, while Good Friday marks the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.  Resurrection Sunday, what we celebrate as Easter Sunday, occurs on the third day after Jesus' burial on Good Friday.  Resurrection Sunday is the end of the Lenten Season, a 40 day period of fasting, prayer and penance, which is the culmination of the Passion of Christ.




Easter is a popular holiday and celebration in America today, but it was not always celebrated in the way secular way we do today.  The early American settlers did not celebrate Easter at all because the majority of them were of the Protestant faith.  The early Protestants did not believe that religious celebrations and festivals added any value in worshipping God.  The recognized some of the rites and rituals that we associate with Resurrection Sunday in church today, but they were not celebrated in the way that today's Protestant faith celebrates the death and resurrection of Christ.  In fact, the majority of the rites that were celebrated by early Americans truly had roots in pagan celebrations of the passage into the spring season.

It wasn't until around the time of the Civil War in America that the Presbyterian Church began to take on some of the celebration that the European churches believed in.  They began celebrating the scars and sacrifice of Christ on the cross in worship services in the late 1850's.  The Presbyterians took from the traditions of the church in Poland, the country that celebrated Easter in the most robust way at the time.  

As the celebration of the resurrection of Christ spread to other protestant denomination in America, it also began to take on a secular popularity as well.  The Easter Bunny began to gain popularity as a cultural symbol of Easter in America in the early twentieth century, and were very popular with children in combination with the Easter Egg.  The Easter Bunny was depicted as a colorful rabbit that would bring Easter eggs to all the children.  The Easter Bunny originated as the Easter Hare amongst German Lutherans, and originally played the tole of judging whether or not children had been good or misbehaved.  In the German legend, the bunny would bring colored eggs in his basket with candy and sometimes small toys.  In this way, he was similar to Christkind -- which is similar to the American Santa Claus.  The custom of the Easter Bunny bringing eggs to children was first mentions in the 1682 book "De Ovic Paschalibus" by Georg Franck von Francenau.  The pagan roots of the celebration of the passage into the spring, or rebirth, are rooted in the pagan goddess of spring.  The pagan ritual marked the celebration of the Spring Equinox (March 21st)  and the goddess who ushered in the fresh flowers, sunshine, fertility and cleansing rains was often depicted as a small hare, thus adding to our vision of the Easter season.

Many Americans do not understand the correlation between the bunny and the eggs -- making jokes about rabbits laying eggs, and of course there is the always popular Cadbury Easter Bunny commercials.  The tradition began in Eastern Europe in Poland for several reasons.  From a practical perspective, the Lenten season in the church commanded that Christians abstain from eating eggs.  And in order to make some use of the eggs, the church began boiling them in order to make them last longer and then eating them after breaking the fast.  There is some evidence that early Christians in Mesopotamia engaged in dying eggs red in memory of the Blood of Christ.  Some other countries have been known to use yellow and green to celebrate rebirth and springtime, lending to our celebration of Easter -- our celebration of springtime and rebirth -- through the coloring of hard boiled eggs.  In addition to these traditions, the Polish also saw eggs as a celebration of new life and root their use of eggs in their Easter celebrations as a celebration of being reborn in the resurrection of Christ, in addition to using it as a symbol of the empty tomb.  In addition, the pagan connection to Easter tells us that Egyptians and Persians saw the egg in a similar way, as a symbol of fertility and renewed life that was celebrated by coloring the eggs.


Today in America, even non-Christians celebrate the secular version of Easter with images of the Easter bunny and Easter egg hunts all over the country.  Americans have also embraced the symbology of using jelly beans as a sweet replacement for colorful dyed eggs in their Easter egg hunts.  The tradition of children waking up on Easter morning to a colorful basket filled with chocolate bunnies, colorful candies and small presents is ingrained in our culture that is rapidly approaching the popularity of Christmas in America.  As a holiday in America, Easter does not exist.  Because Easter is a moving holiday in the church (as dictated by the First Council of Nicea in 325 AD) the United States celebrates Easter on a Sunday which is traditionally a day of non-work.  Therefore, the United States government does not recognize Easter as an official holiday.  Many businesses and schools celebrate Easter Monday by having the day off, and even the White House holds its Annual Easter Egg Roll on the Monday following Easter on the lawn of the White House.


~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Stop!T - Stop CyberBullying in its Tracks at YOUR School!

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. 

Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior. This makes cyberbullying a far different experience than how you or I may have been bullied as kids.


  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night. Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent. What is on the Internet is often public and permanant for better or worse.
  • Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.

That's where a product like Stop!T comes in! STOPit is a simple, fast and powerful cyberbullying solution. When implemented at a school or in a school district it can help report, track and effectively deter cyberbullying. Stop!T works via an app that is easily installed on any mobile device. The students get an "intellicode" that identifies them in their school that gets put into the app. Once the app is installed and identified with the school, the student then has the power to anonymously report bullying activity to the school administration via the app. Once reported, the DOCUMENTit system keeps track of the reported bullying case until it is closed by the school, keeping track of every step taken to rectify the situation.

Stop!T is currently on version 1.0 and rolling out a new improved version 2.0 this spring, but 1.0 has been wildly successful. Some schools report a drop in reported cyberbullying of up to 83% after Stop!T is implemented. Take a look for yourself to see if Stop!T is right for your school, and help protect your students from being bullied 24 hours a day with no way to Stop!T!

~~~~
Bruce has worked in educational technology for over 18 years and has implemented several 1:1/BYOD programs.  He also has served as a classroom teacher in Computer Science, History and English classes.  Bruce is the author of five books: Sands of TimeTowering Pines Volume One:Room 509The Star of ChristmasPhiladelphia Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel and The Insider's Story: A Lance Carter Detective Novel.  Follow Bruce's Novel releases by subscribing to his FREE newsletter!

Be sure to check out Bruce's Allentown Education Examiner Page, his Twitter and his Facebook!