3 Things I Learned During a Summer at Lightspeed Systems
Today, July 26, is the inaugural National Intern Day. I want to celebrate by talking about my amazing experience this summer: interning at Lightspeed Systems.
I got to spend eight weeks in Austin, Texas, working with great people for a company that is making an amazing impact in education. Lightspeed Systems is revolutionizing the way schools monitor and protect students, at school and at home.
Spending the summer here has given me the opportunity to reflect on how much digital learning has evolved. When I was a K-12 student, web filters blocked too much, and they were easy to bypass. Lightspeed’s filtering technology is leaps and bounds beyond the filters in my schools.
Also, the internet I knew then is not the same place today. Today’s web contains more educational opportunities as well as more dangers. Schools without competent filtering can expose students to disturbing and violent content.
Here are three other lessons I took from my internship at Lightspeed.
1. Some sites are difficult to filter with certain solutions. Not Lightspeed’s
The web has few rules. For example, YouTube is very popular in schools and contains a lot of valuable educational content for students. Unfortunately, YouTube lacks measures to make it safe for children, and some parents and teachers probably have no idea what students are accessing on a daily basis.
With our proprietary technology, Smart Play, we have made an under-regulated platform into an appropriate space for students. Teachers and parents can feel at ease knowing their students can use YouTube as an educational tool without accessing harmful material. Learn more about Smart Play here.
2. Cyberbullying is a real issue, but proper online monitoring can help
One project I worked on during my time at Lightspeed was researching statistics about cyberbullying. It became apparent to me how huge the cyberbullying problem is in schools. (See Lightspeed’s cyberbullying report here.) We can’t forget the fact that students who are bullied are more prone to self-harm, violence and suicide.
We can combat cyberbullying, violence and other risks to students by monitoring student activity, especially online. Relay is built to help schools monitor suspicious activity and search terms, allowing administration to intervene and connect with at-risk students who may be too shy to seek help on their own. Learn more about Relay here.
I read a quote from a recent Lightspeed customer case study that was extremely moving to me. Zach Miller, district tech at Manitou Springs School District 14, explained how Lightspeed’s filtering has helped him identify students in extreme distress. “On occasion, we’ll catch a student who is Googling something about suicide,” he said. “Being able to forward that data to a principal or counselor could be the difference between someone graduating high school or not graduating high school.”
To know that Lightspeed’s solutions may prevent students from taking their lives is truly powerful. In a society where teen suicides are at record rates, having a small part in addressing the problem is very rewarding.
3. Lightspeed Systems helps make school safer
For educators, greater access to technology is a double-edged sword. On one hand, educational content is more available than ever; on the other hand, harmful content can have a lasting negative effect on students.
If we want to see a positive change in school safety, properly filtering and monitoring internet access is a great start. Knowing that our work at Lightspeed will make schools safer is quite fulfilling to me.
The goal of any internship is to get hands-on experience and put skills learned in the internship ‘classroom’ to use in the real world. During my internship at Lightspeed, I got to do that — and also got to see how a company can make a real difference.
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