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Be a Know IT All: 6 Questions IT Leaders Need to Answer

As we return to life after ISTELive 24 in Denver, the Lightspeed team and I are filled with gratitude for the valuable connections we made with customers during the conference. From our recent Lightspeed customer survey, 70% of IT leaders cited “visibility of usage” as a top factor for integrating AI into teaching and learning so it’s no surprise, this year’s predominant theme revolved around AI and its application in the classroom. We were truly inspired by the real-world examples and authentic stories of schools successfully utilizing AI-enabled tools to solve their own challenges.

As AI is rapidly becoming an integral part of teaching and learning; I was delighted to showcase the AI Notify feature, a new addition to Lightspeed Classroom Management. This tool gives teachers real-time insights into student AI activities, thereby aiding in the introduction and management of AI in the classroom. Additionally, I was able to spend time, live on the air, with our friends at the SMILEFactor Podcast where we discussed extended AI-related features spanning across the entire Lightspeed portfolio, including our Lightspeed Alert product that leverages AI scanning to surface potential threats to student safety, alerting district personnel for rapid intervention.

However, aside from AI, the dialogues and questions we encountered emphasized a variety of challenges in the education field. These include student safety and engagement, understanding the ROI of edtech investments, concerns about data privacy, and complying with accessibility regulations (like Colorado’s HB21-110) by ensuring apps used have a public VPAT available. With these urgent issues at the heart of my Lightspeed colleagues’ and my discussions, a more glaring theme became clear. District leaders are actively seeking answers to these challenges and need them (dare I say?) “at the speed of light,” but are having to jump through hoops to answer them.

Lightspeed Systems: Be a know IT all

A district leader’s role is multifaceted and demanding, requiring them to oversee educational development, manage stakeholders’ expectations, and respond to constant inquiries from superintendents, teachers, parents, board members, and staff. They must navigate scattered information across different systems to provide accurate answers, which can be time-consuming and overwhelming. The stakes are high, as their decisions directly impact students’ education, parents’ satisfaction, and the district’s success.

That’s why Lightspeed launched our “Be a know IT all” campaign at ISTELive this year. As a trusted partner to districts, our suite of solutions has been specifically designed to streamline and simplify the process of accessing and analyzing data, enabling district leaders to provide prompt and well-informed responses to the questions and expectations that come.

Lightspeed can help transform the overwhelming task of gathering and analyzing data into a streamlined process, eliminating the need for manual research and data scrambling, freeing up valuable time for strategic decision-making and addressing the needs of the district. District leaders can be confident in their ability to effectively manage edtech usage, ensure compliance, and provide the necessary information and insights to all stakeholders.

The Top 6 Questions IT Leaders Need to Answer

During ISTELive 24, we had the opportunity to engage with district leaders and understand their most pressing questions. Here are the answers to the top six questions IT leaders need to know:

1. Where’s all our money going? In the world of education technology, budgets are a crucial consideration. As an IT leader, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of where your district’s financial resources are allocated. Lightspeed Digital Insight allows you to effectively track and analyze district spending, ensuring efficient utilization of every dollar. With Lightspeed Digital Insight, you can easily monitor spending, gather data on app engagement, identify challenges, and measure overall impact – all from a single pane of glass. This data-driven approach helps evaluate technology investments, set strategic priorities for the upcoming school year, and ensure a secure technology infrastructure. It also helps identify recommendations and funding sources for future edtech spending, empowering you to make informed decisions that maximize budget impact.

When we visited with Dr. Matthew X Joseph, Assistant Superintendent of Teaching and Learning at New Bedford Public Schools, here’s what he had to say:

2. Which students are in crisis? IT leaders can play a crucial role in prioritizing student well-being by identifying students who may be facing mental health challenges. Lightspeed Alert helps IT and Safety leaders to proactively identify potential indicators of mental health issues, allowing them to intervene and connect students with appropriate resources. This empowers districts to take timely action and provide necessary support to those students in need. By utilizing Lightspeed Alert capabilities, districts can prioritize student well-being and ensure that no student falls through the cracks.

Safety leader, Kristy shared how Lightspeed Alert saved her time helping students in her district:

3. Where are our data privacy risks? Protecting student data is paramount in this digital age. IT leaders must be vigilant in identifying potential data privacy risks within their district’s infrastructure. Lightspeed Digital Insight and Lightspeed Filter provide comprehensive solutions to address data privacy risks and enhance district cybersecurity. Lightspeed Digital Insight offers real-time privacy policy scanning and visibility into policy changes, expediting compliance to support the security of students’ personally identifiable information. Lightspeed Filter blocks inappropriate content and ensures compliance with internet safety regulations. Together, these solutions help districts protect student data and effectively manage data privacy risks.

4. What are our top apps? Understanding the apps and tools used by students and teachers is crucial for effective technology management. As an IT leader, it’s essential to have visibility into the most widely used applications within your district. With Lightspeed Digital Insight, you can gain valuable insights into app usage, allowing you to optimize resources, manage licenses, and ensure that your district is utilizing the most impactful tools for student success.

5. Who’s trying to bypass our filter? Maintaining a safe and secure online environment is a constant challenge for IT leaders. It’s crucial to identify and address any attempts to bypass your district’s web filtering systems. Lightspeed Systems has implemented The Bypass Prevention Initiative so that districts can address attempts to bypass web filtering systems, ensuring a safe online environment. This multi-layered enhancement strengthens Lightspeed Filter by introducing new defenses that keep up with the latest threats. Each specialized layer works together to provide comprehensive protection against accessing inappropriate content and circumventing security measures.

6. Who’s off-task during class? Student engagement is crucial for academic success, and IT leaders can support teachers in identifying off-task students during class with the help of Lightspeed Classroom Management. This powerful tool provides comprehensive monitoring capabilities that enable teachers to easily identify students who may be distracted or need more support. By using Lightspeed Classroom Management, teachers can foster a more focused and productive learning environment by addressing off-task behavior in a timely manner. This allows for targeted intervention and support, ultimately enhancing students’ learning outcomes.

Teacher, Olivia, met with us during ISTE to share how she uses Lightspeed Classroom Management to keep her students engaged:

Conclusion

Navigating the concerns and expectations of diverse stakeholders is a challenging task for any IT leader. However, with the comprehensive suite of solutions offered by Lightspeed Systems, district leaders can position themselves as the primary experts. From monitoring expenditure and identifying students at risk, to ensuring data privacy, optimizing app usage, and maintaining a secure online environment, the insights and experiences shared at ISTELive 24 have further reinforced our commitment to continue developing innovative solutions that address these challenges and cater to the evolving needs of the educational community.

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