Iredell-Statesville School District (ISSD), situated in central North Carolina and serving more than 20,000 students, has been a 1:1 district for years, offering its students both Macs and iPads. However, before partnering with Lightspeed Systems, ISSD lacked the edtech Ethan Dancy, the district’s Technology Support Manager, and his community needed to make the most of their 1:1 initiative.
Dancy and his team relied on Zscaler™ for its filtering needs, but it’s hard to say whether administrators, teachers, or students found it more frustrating. Zscaler, he says was a blunt instrument that made it impossible to have the granular control he wanted over the community’s filtering. “We had to call someone to make changes to our filtering rules,” Mr. Dancy said, “but even after we called it was all or nothing with Zscaler.”
Further, the district didn’t just need to control what content students were accessing, but when. “We were using the Dyknow® classroom management software, but students were getting off task in class and cheating was out of control,” Mr. Dancy explained. “We had to find a way to manage kids in the classroom and make sure students were actually engaged and learning.”
The first step towards a more effective edtech environment came when Mr. Dancy signed up for a demo with Lightspeed Systems. “When we saw how granular we could be with Lightspeed Filter,” he said, “we knew it was the right fit for us.”
In addition to granular control over what the ISSD community can access, Lightspeed Filter empowers Mr. Dancy to protect his students from malicious content within sites, such as YouTube. Thanks to Lightspeed’s SmartPlay™ technology, he and his team can make available to students the educational and age-appropriate videos that help them learn while still denying them access to obscene or dangerous content.
Mr. Dancy also chose to deploy Lightspeed Classroom Management™ throughout the ISSD schools. This customizable solution gives teachers control over the digital classroom by giving them visibility into each student’s device, the ability to close student tabs and redirect students back on task, and the capacity to share their screens with students.
“A lot of teachers appreciate the ability to really monitor their students now,” Mr. Dancy said, “especially when students aren’t in the physical classroom. Teachers were really excited to get Lightspeed Classroom Management, and most of them picked it up really easily.”
Just a few months after deploying Lightspeed Filter and Lightspeed Classroom Management, the new tools have had a transformative impact on the community.
Mr. Dancy is particularly pleased that Lightspeed Filter has helped him empower his teachers to use the content and tools that work for them. “Before, if one school wanted something blocked but another school didn’t, we weren’t able to help them,” Mr. Dancy said. “Now, with Lightspeed Filter, we’re able to support different teachers with their different approaches to the material.”
Mr. Dancy says it came as quite a surprise to many in the community just how prevalent cheating had become. However, thanks to Lightspeed Classroom Management, teachers can easily identify instances of cheating—and document the evidence to show parents. “Teachers are catching students cheating left and right,” he said, “but they’re taking screen shots and recording students’ screens to show parents. That makes a big difference.”
The result, Mr. Dancy says, is an emerging change in the student culture. “Some of the bad behavior has slowed down,” he concluded. “Students know that we can tell if they’re trying to use their computers for stuff they shouldn’t do, so why try now? I think they’re starting to see their devices as educational tools.”
Fortunately, Lightspeed’s solutions give Mr. Dancy the data and reporting he needs in order to show administrators the difference the right edtech can make. “We can show the superintendent and the school board that we blocked this number of students from, for instance, pornographic material,” he explained. “That’s huge, and superintendents love getting this data.”
Lightspeed Systems, headquartered in Austin, Texas, is a leading online safety and effectiveness platform for K–12 schools. A proven partner for student safety and engagement, Lightspeed uses advanced AI to view and analyze student activity across the web. Lightspeed serves over 20 million students in 38 countries and 28,000 schools globally.
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