The Challenge: Meeting the Technology Needs of Remote Learning
When the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to operate remotely, Grapevine-Colleyville ISD was already ahead of the curve. With a 1:1 instructional technology program fully in place, and the success of running one of the top-performing virtual schools in the country, Kyle Berger, Chief Technology Officer, explains, “We were able to go virtual on day one of the pandemic.” 90% of Grapevine-Colleyville students utilized school-issued devices at home, and with the district’s initiative of decreasing the digital divide, 500 hotspots were deployed to students five years prior. “We only had a small gap to fill.”
While converting to 100% distance learning was not high on Grapevine-Colleyville ISD’s list of concerns, the district had four main goals:
2. Design learning environments that support social and emotional well-being.
3. Create a culture that fosters learning environments that reflect student voice and promote student engagement.
4. To support effective communication with targeted audiences.
In March 2020, the global pandemic challenged Berger to address these goals remotely, and success necessitated ensuring the online safety of all students and the ability to communicate with parents and guardians. “Knowing when our students were logging in, and even more importantly, when they weren’t, plus, having the ability to maintain direct communication with their parents were key,” said Berger.
The Solution: Comprehensive Web Filtering, Designed for K-12
Grapevine-Colleyville ISD subscribes to Lightspeed Filter™ (formerly known as Relay) for online safety and security. Lightspeed Filter is powered by K-12’s most comprehensive database of online content, created from two decades of web indexing, and leveraging patented agents and advanced AI to automatically block inappropriate or harmful web content regardless of where a district device is being used. Lightspeed’s cloud-based, device-level protections work across all devices, operating systems, and learning environments. Additionally, Lightspeed Filter provides Grapevine-Colleyville the ability to access accurate data regarding student-device and app usage via the Online Activity report and gives parents the ability to see their child’s online interactions and fully control their screen time during after-school hours with the Lightspeed Parent Portal™.
Berger describes Lightspeed’s Parent Portal as “a big game-changer for our community.” After introducing the Parent Portal and describing the insights that it would bring parents, Berger says the district saw “an influx of parents wanting access.” He explains that Parent Portal expanded the district’s partnership with the community to keep students safe.
The Results: Successfully Monitoring Online Student Activity On- and Off-Campus
“We operate all types of devices,” says Kyle Berger. “My K-2 kids operate iPads, 3-8 are Chromebooks, 8-12 are Windows, my teachers are about 75% Macs, the rest, Windows PCs. So, Lightspeed’s importance for us is tremendous because we’re able to branch out across all these platforms, which is usually a logistical nightmare for districts. Lightspeed has really been a lifesaver for us.” Berger continues, “The way Lightspeed does filtration opened a whole lens for us with what was happening with our devices at home during COVID—when are the devices being used? What sites are the kids trying to get to? And then also—with the massive influx of added online tools—the ability for us to go in and whitelist or make these tools available instantly so learning could continue was just tremendous.”
Regarding monitoring online student activity off-site and off-network, one tool Grapevine-Colleyville used during COVID-19 was the Lightspeed Filter Online Activity report. “We looked at our internet reporting to see when our kids were connecting with us, what time of day, and it really helped us to understand the new family dynamics and role shifts taking place in the homes of our students. Some kids didn’t connect with us until 10:00 at night because they had to help take care of their siblings while their parents worked, or mom and dad were now working from home and their internet couldn’t support the increased bandwidth from device utilization.” The report also allowed staff to identify and clear any blocks in student access to necessary resources. Berger explains, “It helped us to identify kids who, suddenly, didn’t have connectivity anymore. We actually got onto school buses with teams, and we went through the community knocking on people’s doors to say, ‘We have not seen you logging into school. What can we do to help get you back? Here’s a hotspot. Does your computer need fixing?’ It’s Lightspeed that helped us open that and put a lens on some of those areas to really help any of those kids and keep them from falling through the cracks.”
Near DFW Int’l Airport, serving students in Grapevine, Colleyville, and parts of Hurst and Euless, Texas, USA
iPad, Chromebooks, PC Laptops, and MacBooks
About Lightspeed Systems
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.