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Distance Learning: Data Insights and Best Practices

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0:06 (Eileen Shihadeh, CMO)

Hello to everyone who is on. We see there are several people in the process of joining. We’ll get started in just a couple of minutes. 


All right. Hello, everyone, and thank you for joining today’s webinar. I’m Eileen Shihadeh, CMO at Lightspeed Systems, and I have the pleasure of facilitating today’s panel, discussion, where we’ll talk about some of the unique challenges, creative solutions, and best practices with distance learning. 


Just a couple of notes before we get started. Later in the webinar, we will address questions from the audience. So, feel free to enter any questions into the chat box at any time. 


And also, we will send you a recording of this webinar out via e-mail later today. So, if you’d like to revisit this session, you will be able to do that. 


So, without further ado, I’m thrilled to introduce our esteemed panel today. joining us. We have Monica Davis, who is CIO at de cab School District in Georgia, which serves over 101,000 students in 132 schools. Rob Chambers, who is currently lightspeed, VP of Customer success, former director of technology at Rosedale USD, and who has served on the board of directors for several years. 


And doctor Chad Stevens K 12 educational leader at AWS. Former CTO at … ISD, and before, that, a former principal, so deep, deep K 12 expertise and roots there. 


Sort of framing the discussion, I wanted to share a couple of data points from a survey we conducted last month with over 260 K 12 district leaders. 


Marissa, if you can go to the next slide, thank you. So one of the questions was top challenges for back to school prep, and what tech teams were seeing. Digital literacy was the number one challenge that the respondents cited for their back to school prep. And then digital equity also ranked number one by over one fifth of the respondents and quantity of devices, which I think comes as no surprise to us, is, as device shortages continue to be a challenge. 


In terms of, you know, actions the teams are taking in their solutions, obviously, purchasing additional devices came in number one, but interestingly, professional development focused on teachers and, and learned teaching them about distance learning tools and strategies, was the number one action that districts were taking. In addition, things that you would expect shifted services to the cloud. Web to fill in installing, will filter, also cloud based and we heard things like adjusting their network and tools to support multiple operating systems as they were acquiring new devices. They might have implemented new OS this with those devices as well. 


So, Monica, I noticed in your LinkedIn posts, your collaborations with other Atlanta area district leaders, to strategize back to school solutions, and another post about your work in bridging and bridging the digital divide. So, I’m hoping you can kick us off by sharing a bit about the challenges you and your team faced, and how you approach them. 


Sure, Good afternoon, everyone. Well, as school district, you know, the digital divide is not new and covert just pretty much made it a rockstar sense of being irrelevant to all of us. But the digital divide has always been there. And add district has been focusing on equity, digital equity to tackle the digital divide. Wow, since 20 17, we started with that Digital Dreamless program, which is digital drain was our students, and it is our desire to enable our students to think, learn, evaluate, create you know in a world that they’ll have to live in, which will require digital citizenship. Literacy, You know, all those great things that we often talk about. So that is our program for our Students and Parks and the devices and providing those devices for our students. 


So we, we’ve had a, 1 to 1 for our grades 6 through 12, and we had a 2 to 1 for, for race, pre K through five, so we have a Head Start. We also had a partnership with Sprint one million. They provided the hotspots for our students. It was really a hallmark, because our network obviously accommodates the devices. So when you’re looking at all of that, we were already doing the work towards towards that anyway, so when we had to uncover it, and of course we need to re-adjust and spring. But in planning, during the summer, for the fall, our priorities, whether that same, so for us, it was really just about scaling as a district, more so, because we already had a lot of those foundations in place, We had about 60,000 devices, already, Sciences are any summer classes, students, someone in the schools. 


We knew we had to approach is about 30,000 more than we did because we wanted to become a systemic 1 to 1, which is when everybody was faced with, how do we get an Italian device? Then of course, connectivity. We had to go beyond homework. So when you’re looking at the devices, the hotspots, we had this thought the throttle after so long, because, you know, it wasn’t meant to be used all day. So the use of the device heck chains. So we had to work with our vendors than departments. and luckily asked, instead of Georgia, Department of Education was able to assist us with that. But basically, we purchased Hotspots for 3000 families. And so we’re providing them with internet connectivity as well. So that was also a priority for us. And then the next piece, of course, was a digital literacy piece because you can have the device. You have hotspots but if you don’t have anything to look at. 


So we got our virtual learning environment, but we also have to look at digital literacy. I saw that as one of the data points, and that is so true for us. Digital literacy was critical. Luckily, we have been working with our teachers to provide that. That, you know, that information, that support, as we move forward. But I’ve never been so many of our teachers will prepare. We just have to connect a couple of thoughts and say, OK, everybody calm, now, remember, when we, and they’re like, oh, yeah, so we had a lot of aha moments with our teachers, but also working with families, or whatever that’s called, The Villages does it wasn’t always Mom and Dad. It was the It could be anti, it could be Grandma, it should be the neighbor next door, who was keeping all the children, so that parents can work. So, we had to work with a lot of that in our, in our community. So those are our priorities as we prep school. And in the end, the digital literacy piece, I believe, was our biggest challenge. The second one was just getting the devices, the supply chain. 


Was a challenge for us, but I just wanted to end this, you know, my comments were just talking about our virtual learning environment, and which is a collection of district about the cloud based tools. So for us, we had already started moving all of our tools, and so a cloud, but it’s like to call device agnostic environment. And so that was extremely helpful, because even spinning up those tools, that was business as usual for us. 


Millimeter, mm hmm. Thank you, Monica. Yeah. Many districts had to quickly shift their programs to cloud based chad in your experience as a K 12 leader at AWS and former CTO. How do you think districts should build a cloud based program that can that can grow and scale? 


Things, like soil and Marga All sounds awesome. Awesome to see your bathroom. 


So, yeah, you know, I think the thing to think about are, the thing I think about when we think about schools is, clouds are very transformational opportunity still. But it’s a really well worn path, a lot A lot of companies are using Cloud a big way. Electrolytes be a lot of schools, a lot of our institutions and so the first thing I always like to think about is, people have gone before you, so you learn from them and let us help you. 


Dots and find people that have already already done this type of work. And then, you know, I really encourage leaders as I talk to them, is where did you see deficiencies while you’re transitioning to remote learning? 


I mean, there’s, there’s kind of two questions. 


Can you function as a, your school function and remote learning happens? You persevere with the principal and all those things in Kenya departments, function, promote learning. So, sometimes we think about the school piece, but, you know, as a former CTO and my team function, can I get to the tools that I need to get the job done in the curriculum instruction, team auction, or all those tools merit, if there were gaps in that. That’s really where your risk to learning continuity comes, and so then it becomes situation. 


How can I, then, how can I get to the point where I can flip that switch and I’m, and I know that when I say, OK, we have to go remote learning, It’s all going to work, and it can happen fast and secure. 


So, you know, I think having a cloud first strategy really help schools scale faster.  


But it also reduces disruption, but it’s also really good. normal operations, I think. As Monica search, you have these tools before, and so she was able to remind everybody, Hey, we’ve done, we’ve done this, it was happening at this physical space, and that has to happen at this physical space. But this is a new, and we have the. So thinking about your strategy. 


I really like to talk to leaders and encourage them to keep in mind that cloud is oftentimes more about people and culture, That is about the technology. The technology can be in a lot of different places, but, but, people, teachers, administrators, the department’s, instructional leaders, are really the ones that get behind it. And you kinda have to build that culture. 


So, you have to have a big commitment to training. You know, whether that’s training for teachers, as Monica mentioned, but training for your technology stuff, when you move into the cloud environment, don’t leave them behind. Even though there’s a lot of things that are very similar in the cloud environment. 


You want to make sure that your technologies are supporting, things have what they need. 


And then I just really encourage people to build kind of short, medium, and long term strategies, and let the smaller migrations to the cloud or form your law. Your longer larger ones. I think oftentimes, it’s really overwhelming. Everything’s coming at you early on. Schools were responding, our customers was really overwhelming. Thickness stepped back and said, OK, well, let’s just work on this one thing. 


We’ll get really good at this one thing, and this is going to inform the decisions that you might make later. That could be a big thing. 


But let’s just, let’s just work on this one. Problem that you have now. See how cloud can help there and then kind of help you build out the plan. 


So, that’s really some of the advice I get people to think about how to how to grow it. So, small, baby steps. You eat the elephant. one bite at a time. 


That’s a, that’s a great reminder, Chad. I think that, you know, this is a very stressful time for lots of folks. So, Brave, taking things one step at a time. 


Monica also talks about equity and I wanted to circle back on, you know, one of the biggest issues that we’re all aware of is the shortage of the needed devices, especially Chromebooks, which lotsa districts are using, Rob, you’re working with districts every single day across the country. What are some of the creative solutions you’ve seen around devices and connectivity? 


Yeah. We’re seeing all kinds of shortages and Monica addressed, you know, some of these concerns, but, you know, starting with devices and you know, I think you have schools that maybe had a preferred platform or you know, maybe 1 or 2 preferred platforms and they’ve had to shift that. you know, there it, because of the supply chain needs. There are basically buying any device they can which is forced, IT to move rapidly. And branch and areas that maybe they weren’t comfortable with. And, and, so, I’ve spent a lot of time kind of helping customers understand, you know, how to configure a new platform. 


Or, you know, they’re taking devices that are, know, maybe specialized use, or, you know, cart devices that were, were used for, again, a special purpose or a special classroom. And now we’re rolling those out to students. And so, they have to kind of shift from a device that was, maybe, you know, somewhat stationary is somewhat focused in a school environment to now, you know, being used remotely and what is the preparation for that? But then, you know, Monica mentioned, you know, the hotspots and the equity, but so much we work with schools for years with having a mobile program, Right. 


But it was, it was that afterschool focus that, you know, that homework focus and now it is primary. So what do you look, you know, what does that environment look like to to go online all the time? So yeah, we’re, you know, it’s, it’s hotspots go into the home. 


It’s hotspots on busses that are parked in neighborhoods or partnering with the community. I’ve worked with a school last week that we were helping them rollout of deployment, because they they had got a local hospital to give them space where kids could go and take their classes during the day. So, there’s all of these challenges, and all of this remote connectivity in these kids, need to have access to that content anytime, anywhere. And that’s, that really is where, you know, the power of the cloud can, can come through, because there’s just so many challenges that we have to rapidly ramp up, and help, whether it is connectivity, new devices or devices. 


Just physical space. You know, all of these challenges are really making it difficult. 


And I’m seeing just, just really great, creative solutions like this, the hospital one, or, you know, the busses in the neighborhoods and all of that. Just providing, providing that access and it’s, it’s exciting to see. You know, I guess unfortunate things to drive us here, but it really has transformed a lot of what we’re doing in schools. 


Millimeter, hmm. Yeah, absolutely. 


So, double clicking a bit on the digital literacy aspect. 


Monica, you talked about some of the things that, that was a challenge initially. Right, with, with the teachers. And, I’m curious if, if you can kinda walk us through a little bit more about how your district help teachers make that shift from in person, to remote learning, what was involved? What were some of the solutions that were employed? 


OK, great, yeah, I was glad to. So one of the things, Again, having processes, and I found this in place, one of the things that we did do is we have a professional learning community that’s been in place for the past four years. And his colleague, Matthew, and the purpose of that community is to assist with the integration of technology into the cab kind of school district, as we look at our digital transformation period. 


And that’s really what it is, everything underneath that umbrella of, of trainings and resources and opportunities. And everything we do, follows and is aligned to that. And we’ve got technology integration connections that we have to work with. You know, part of the things that we want teachers to be able to do with the technology. So, that framework, and all of that was already in place for us. We’ve actually, it’s actually measured in our strategic plan because we know what gets measured, gets done, so what? we were able to measure it. But, the teachers, you know, we’re learning is that we’re prepared. So, that’s the first thing that we did. So, when we moved and shifted, the first thing we did was, OK, now you commit, and we created in a Mac, you connect SharePoint site. So this is where you go, you know, to everyone’s going to all of the information that you need. And so as things will come up with teachers, were having concerns and instructional technology specialist or a science where region and they actually report, have a dotted lines are regional superintendents. So they give all the information from the principles. 


So that communication structure allows them to then come back and say, OK, this was going on in this region and this is an issue. So we were able to quickly comes, you have a crowdsource, talent, my teachers. We need to create and share it. So we did a lot of that. Have you live on a planet moving very quickly and providing teachers with what they needed to support the students? So, that was one of the we have already been prepping them. So, they are big conditioning and strengthen conditioning and are occurring with our teachers, but now it was time to really to look at to play the game. So, we were able to, that helped us tremendously as we work with our teachers. So, we’ll ask the preparation. That was key. I will add another key that I think so many school districts, when you look at preparation for teachers, it’s preparation for the administrators. 


We spent so much time preparing our teachers, and, you know, technology integration for teachers, and even showing principles, how technology integration for teachers looks, But we need to spend a lot more time, I think, on showing administrators how to lead in a digital environment. How do they, what do they have to do because they have to not only be a press, what, an instructional leader and understand that piece of it, but they have to have a little bit about me and them as well. In terms of managing the devices, you know, and that that was a big part of it. You know, understand what that looks like, that device management cycle, asset management cycle, and your, and your buildings, and what, you know, in terms of connectivity. You know what the needs are there. 


So, they, a little bit, not that much, that some of them are watching us, but it’s all about jobs, but yes, I’m teasing, but suppose, I think across the board, so we did invest some time and working with our principals, … and learning from our principal so that we can continue to support them. Because if they don’t understand, and they don’t know, there’s no way they’re going to be able to support the teachers through as we move through this and when Western. So first preparation, it look that way, than just providing as minimum resources. 


I remember, when we were speaking earlier, you talked about, and I think it’s really interesting, that you’re commenting on the, how the role of the administrator is, is changing, and needing to change. I remember, you also mentioning the role of teachers needing to change, because, you know, in essence there, their first line, you know, the tech support for the parents and the students. What are some of the things that you’ve had to do from, you know, supporting the actual technology and how you’ve thought about, you know, how you’ve thought about that support and how you deliver it. 


I know for us, just preparing triaging pass. So, we think about, Ask the District 100,000 students, roughly 9000 instructional staff, teachers, and administrators ask the students and their parents, We have all of this coming into one call center, and I’m here with my staff, as many with our IT staff, as many as we have on staff, there is no way we can, you know, Bill. That may. Cause I’m very, very transparent about what happened, And I mentioned, you know, we, we, we, yes, we answer 10000 calls, but we dropped five. No, because it was just literally on how it will rank as fast as we could, to get to the next person. And some of the calls Ranch Farm, I can’t login. So I forgot my password, so forth. And that really was really require some deep attention. So, triaging support for students is very, very important. 


Empowering students as a business in terms of digital literacy, how do I file my own problems? So, we have a virtual learning support site that we spun up for. It says, Share all the basics, of what they were doing, and all of the basic keys, the device, that we usually have a log into the environments, they need to login to, basic directions on how to utilize those tools. So, that’s the first thing we did. To empower our students, we even have a digital dream, of course, with them. So we wanted to make sure that they were strong enough to try that, was either on issues of that, the quickest person they want to get to the teacher. 


Empowering our teachers to, just, with basic, trouble students’ skills, to make sure that it’s not an instructional technology problem either. Because sometimes, it was, it was the way that was presented to the students, that we found with the problems, making sure that teachers understand that, and I think they are empowered to resolve the issue. So, when they do send them to IT, that teaches confident, OK, this is really a problem, a technical problem. And it comes to us, and then that way, it feels, it’s not all of these filters and we get it, and we can work with. And we know what they’ve done. With around with it. And it’s easier for us unable to resolve the issue. So, that is what we, We, We started to put in place. Because that, for us, that was a major challenge. It was very chaotic. Just trying to answer the calls, and we had a lot of different types of ways to submit for support, but that was a challenge for us and that’s how we resolved and fats approach. 


Yeah, this is a little off script, but I think it relevant to the audience here. 


You know, one of the things that we saw was a demand for, you know, cloud contact centers across the United States, in these large districts, like Monica. 


Where there was such a volume of calls to the ability to route the calls to people’s homes, where the tech support was. And even a lot of cases quickly get the metrics that we needed on. What were the main calls coming in for and then sparing no text hotlines that would answer password changes or even chatbots in the cloud super quickly to help schools deal with some of their most common problems allow. 


Allow people to get back to the focus they needed. Which is the classrooms with teachers and getting all it up. Because I think what was what was happening is, you know, at least in my world, your parent phone calls and helped us. We’re pretty far. And few between Russia and abroad politics. But all of a sudden, they were finding that number during the pandemic. And, you know, I mean, just yesterday, my son texts me. My mic’s not working. Right? So I ran upstairs to try to figure out what’s going on. But not everybody has a pair or in the home, or much less apparent that was the CTO. And with the Chromebook and figure out what was wrong with it. 


You know, that’s an area that we may see in the future. 


Grow in terms of the cloud topic, just because you can send that up and down. So you’re only in the Cloud and only pay for what you use. So if there’s a big demand on that call center, you can you can move into that direction. And when the demand goes down, you’re paying less. And I think that’s the direction that ethics schools ago. And we’ve seen big systems like LARC, no spin up multiple call centers for different groups, including things like mental health and then your feeds back into the metrics and who’s happy and who’s not happy and how we can do better. So just wanted to throw it in there. 


I think, you know, that’s the theme that I’m hearing a lot of this. 


Know, I’d say when this first hit us, we were a lot of it was, How do I get to the next two weeks, the next two months, or, you know, get to be in the school? But, now, we’re talking with so many schools that, you know, these aren’t short-term solutions anymore. This is, this is changing education forever. 


And so, and, you know, the Monikers point solutions that were in place served this need. And I think, you know, we’re talking a lot of schools that, you know, going forward this, this is the new reality, some sort of hybrid education is going to exist and, and being prepared for that. 


So, I think, you know, use, you know, starting, it’s not even too late to look at these solutions now, because this is going to affect schools and schools IT, you know, going forward, How do we, know, how do we manage those devices? How did we get that content? How do we make that, you know, access to the student and that connection, that we don’t have money to give a point of, you know, how do we train principals to manage a staff that they never see, and all of that. I mean, it’s such a different world than when I was in schools, and I know the theme I’m hearing now is, this is, this is not changing. We’re not, we’re not going back 100% to the way we were before. 


Yeah, I think, um, no, we talked about it before, you know, as a CTO, as a school leader, when you give somebody a tool, it’s really hard to get it back. With this, we’ve just. 


You know, the ability to do professional development at home. Well, because we had, we’ve given IT workers the ability to work from home, which was, probably, in many cases, not something that was happening a lot in schools. 


And so, you know, the other area that know that we’re seeing a lot of growth and is getting applications to select, there’s, to the point we made earlier. 


There’s a ton of connectivity, you know, there’s connectivity issues or device issues, but once you have those solved, is there things that are sitting in a computer lab that needs to be delivered to a student’s home over a Chromebook? We’re not going to ship our engineering lab out to that to you know, We can’t do that and so. 


Some of our outpatient streaming tools that we’re seeing use a lot like upstream two are really where pay as you go computer labs where you can stream project lead the way you can stream AutoCAD you can string these things out, kids on Chromebooks. 


So, not only are they connected and have a device, but they’re getting the same rigor that they had before and, and allowing the teachers to teach, you know, early on, You know, I saw things like, Well, we’re, we’re going to go to school, but we’re going to cancel engineering classes. 


Well, you know, it’s great to remember that we’re able to do remote learning, but, man, from an equity standpoint, we can’t take away stem classes from kids. 


And, you know, especially certain communities, of kids, know, parts of the communities that need it the most. So, I think that’s here to stay awake, that anytime, anywhere access of things is not going to go away, and it’s going to probably become something that’s expected of the school district to provide, because we provide watts. And I think real on that back end can be a big challenge for tools. 


And I’d say the opposite is true. Right. Starting to provide those is a real benefit to schools, you know? that you can now introduce these resources, and I think, Margaret, we’re talking about a bit yesterday, and in the areas that couldn’t have it before. 


So, I think that’s, that’s an exciting opportunity that’s coming out of this, for sure. 


Yeah, I wanna continue that, that line of thought about what education will look like in the future. 


But, first, I’m going to jump over to two, back to the survey, and looking at what schools want visibility into. So, obviously, when the kids are no longer in the building, you lose some visibility into their activity and their learning. So, what our survey respondents said they most wanted visibility into was student online activity, OK? There, when are they online, and what are they doing? 


And then, device location, as well as the two biggest, no desires for additional data. So, Monica, as as current CIO, the large school District, what’s something you wish you had more visibility into, and what’s something that you have visibility into now, that you feel like it is critical? Looking at this graph, I think that was me that probably when I took the survey like thousands of times, when you look at student online activity and the bias location, that is Exactly. Those are exactly the two items that, that we want, is we need visibility into. Where we had a couple of initial struggles not being able to see which devices were checked out. 


Because for us, you know, preparing you’ll be ready for school means that the devices have to be prepared and we, and every summer, we take out the biases that, what we call Power Square. And we check everything. I’m not sure. It’s updated repairs and it’d be may be went through all that every single year. Well, the devices that were locked in the school, when we left, you know, suddenly we could get to those and prepare those, and there was no problem. But the devices for grades 6 through 12, right, which is half of the school district. And the most of those students are the ones that have a 1 to 1 with a large, about 40,000 devices with students. And so we then collect on devices at the end of the year because of you know social distancing, so on and so forth, with only two chromosomes. 


And so, um, to him and too much of a risk. So, for us, we had to work with that student, is logging in and try to get them engaged and checking the device, Give them the director’s, Having that visibility to know that these devices were working, Being able to see some tools and let me say that, you know, we’re Google Chrome, you know, district in terms of our student devices in terms of R, So we were able to use Google Console and run reports from there. We were able to look into we really about service the federated I’m ADFS so we were able to go in and see, you know, students will login in there. But it would have been a lot better to have a different type of visibility, more consistent. 


As we know, most of the students, I’m, the national report that talked about, 20% of our students went to this black hole during the thoughtless Spring period. and they have no idea. I think it was a little bit more than that personally. For us, it was, well, on Monday, About 20% of the students that we were trying to figure out, where are these kids. And, you know, they get what they need so on and so forth. So when we slept to prepare for the summer, that was really big for us to try to figure out how we’re going to account for these devices, the device, health, as well as what the students are doing on the devices. Are they engaged? So the online activity is right on point for us. That’s why it’s such a perfect depiction of what our, what we needed visibility into. We use a myriad of tools, but it would have been great to use to have one tool, to be able to provide that. 


I will say, have all of this was happening. I was being brought in, as the chief information officer, has Chief Information Officer. So I was someone responsible responsibility for a lot of projects that were in progress. And one of them was the renewal of allies Food Services. We use like Speed as a district. And so my thing was to get this renewed. So with that of our problems, without filter, we move forward, but I did not have enough time to really dive into the analytics. And so now I’m looking at NASA this, then it would have been a different story. So we’re looking forward to working with light switch that can bring me up to speed and other things are slowing down and not for my team to really be able to see. 


So and so we’ve talked about what not being a need and that couldn’t live without. I think it would be a tool like that. We have to have that so that we know what they’re doing and ribbons devices are. We’ve got a phone call from Cleveland. 


Instead, we get advice and Cleveland oh, like advice location in the Air Force, like this, you know, just really being able to see what’s going on and that’s the biggest piece for us. So this is extremely accurate in terms of the top two. 


I, didn’t, I didn’t, I forgot the even joined during the annex, or you had to assume the role of CIO during unexpected school closures, talk about drinking from a fire hose, right. Like, what a crazy time, Monica. When we spoke before, you had mentioned, And I thought was a really interesting point, data that you wish you had had around the expectations of the community. Right. And of the parents, and of the village, can you talk a little bit about that? 


Expectations and times. I’m sorry. I missed the very first. 


Yeah, just, you know, in terms of the data, you know, when we had spoken prior, you had mentioned, some of the data that you wish you had is just kinda understanding people’s expectations as we shift to remote learning’s. So I was hoping you could chat a little bit more about that. 


Terms of expectations of our community, we were looking at that particular day and what applications they needed, what type of support was needed. And so, again, it goes back to what we’re saying here, Web site, so, they go on. So, when we talk about the … of learning, I believe, a little earlier, because I touched on that point seven, and the previous question, but, you know, you’re seeing a lot more parents, who, especially knowing, from March to May, who saw, and felt the need to purchase more learning tubes complex learning tools. 


And so, we, as a team, you want to know: what are they purchasing, and, and how are they utilizing those tools? Being able to see that type of data, and understanding, What are the expectations? Where do they feel? the district has fallen short so that we can show them, because we weren’t actually works heavily in collaboration with curriculum and instruction? Obviously, we lock step and all of this. And so, being able to pass, I don’t want to see. And I say, This is, what’s going on. But, you know, also, we have a large and very diverse ELL population. 


And so, our international population, and so a lot of our families and our international, international families, understanding their needs, because at the end of the day, we’ll be able to communicate with them and meet the needs. 


And so, know what’s going on with the? with the students who have those tools. What are they looking at to get assistance so that they can continue to last for those types of things that, you know, we will look at parents and just making sure our community’s understanding what they need, That’s the type of data that we need to. So when I look at this list here, I look at definitely, You know, with sites online activity and what’s applications? 


They were busy, so on and so forth leads students. Yep. 


Yep, makes a lot of sense. 


Chad, you had you had brought up the Kind of how you thought education would shift, right? Like, what, we’ve made a lot of changes, literally overnight, and what the future looks like. So, I want to revisit that, and, and kinda double click on that topic, question for the whole panel, and, you know, what, what do you see as the future of K 12? and, you know, what’s here to stay? How things will shifts going forward? 


Mmm hmm, yeah, Yeah, I think, to ROVs point, I think schools have always been good, taking something like this and make it into something really positive. 


And I think that’s really where we’re headed, know, for, for many years, probably people on this webinar was seen me present. I would always put the slide that schools can afford to be slow. 


And, what I meant by that was, when I was a CTO, especially coming from being a principal, out of a former colleague, say, I want this reading software. 


And I would say, Well, you know, I could probably do that, but, you know, I need some resources. I need somebody to implement it, or I need some money, or, Do I need this? Or, do that. 


And, it was always a delay, and, as a former teacher, I know that: like, that moment, when a teacher need something. 


For us, the CIO and the Tech Department, and the Curriculum department Beyond deliver, is a big deal. And, I think, I think what schools have learned and will take from this is, you can go fast. You can be very agile, and you can do that in a secure way. 


And, yeah, there’s a lot of ways to get that done. But, I think, at the end of the day, that’s going to be really positive for schools and saucy schools. 


Yeah, I do see a time when that shift of how fast and how quick and how secure can I switch to a person from in person to remote learning, will be really positive and will have impacts on other things. You know, I was CTO on the Texas Gulf Coast. We are schools get shut down for hurricanes. We just heard what happened in Louisiana. I now live in Illinois and soon snowstorms. And so, I think all of that is going to make the continuity of learning really better for all kids. Because we’ve, we’ve had to do this, Certainly, We would love to have done it in a different environment than us, but I think it’s gonna make many, many schools be more agile in the future, and that’s really exciting for kids. 


Yeah. I’d agree. 


We know, we see so much, as you know, we’re actually seeing schools, I talked with, significant increase in, in parent engagement. In a good way. They want to know what their kids are doing. How, how they’re being educated remotely. 


How that device is being used, You know, sometimes that was not even a thought, right In the past. I mean, the pencil out that’s the school’s device. They worry about it. Kids doing their homework, or whatever. But this from what I’ve seen in talking to schools and talking to the communities here, is just a significant increase on the parent engagement side of things, and that’s going to drive change, because now, now the parents are engaged. They’ve seen how fast schools are able to adjust for some of these things. 


And accommodate, you know, to your point, snowstorms, aren’t going away, you know, storms. And the goal for not going away, these, you know, these things are going to happen. 


That it’s going to, two, prevent, you know, provide opportunities for, for students to continue that engagement, and continue that learning. 


Or, you know, I was talking to parents last week, they’ve got students that are just, actually, they’re, they’re thriving in this environment they’re doing. You know, this is a way of educating for them that is, is giving them tools they didn’t have before. 


And I think that, you know, that’s where the real win out of this can be is, seeing that schools can have that, that flexibility in that approach, and give our students what they need to learn. You know, wherever they are, when, when they need it. 


Alan had no echo and hi-fi everything that the both of you just said. But I would also add that hybrid learning is here to stay. And I’m extremely excited. Mypath Avenue, things Nancy and pen. And the educational and the instructional piece, I spent quite a bit of time, and as well, as you pinch myself and say, this is managerial, Let’s go. Because we’ve been doing this for years in preparing for this, for years. 


So, um, you know, we have, soon as the parents who want the flexibility to control the child’s learning environment, you just have this. So this is not to provide parents. As you just mentioned, more parental engagement to give them more control and more more, You know? Almost like the trial, but more, say, in a child’s environment, but also having an ad. They should. We have our Flex academy, which is our Virtual Learning Academy, is a supplemental program right now. And so there’s really fill in the gaps where you know where it needs to fill in, but are ready. We’re looking towards moving towards becoming a full-blown school, graduate students, because parents are going to want the flexibility, they see that it can be done. And for some students, the traditional school setting is just not the optimal send them. And so, we’ve seen a lot of our way to getting feedback from parents and questions along those lines, so as a district and then we’re looking at that piece. 


And I will say tenure prediction. I think the virtual academy as a school will become obsolete. Because I think every high school is wanted to have that ability to meet the needs of our students. I’ve given, I’ll say 10 years. So, be no safe, but, that’s my prediction, you’re going to see the concept of a Virtual Academy kind of go away because it’s going to be assumed and absorbed within high school. That’s just what I see as I’m watching and looking at what’s the difference between hostile and what we did with remote learning? And the difference between what we’re doing with the virtual academy is not that much of a difference. So, it’s gonna be interesting to see what happens with that. 


But, I think no. 


For, for better and for better, not worse, teaching, and learning has made, and will continue to make a profound evolution. I’ve Been waiting for this, So, and as a result of cold, and I think we’re much better for unfortunate. I hate the circumstances, but definitely can appreciate the challenge, and I think that education, especially Edge technology, and education, is going to be much better for it. 


Job security, for sure it. All right, I’m gonna move into some questions from our audience, an audience, if you have additional questions, feel free to type them in. Alright, this question for Chad or Rob. We moved to the cloud this summer, but we need to scale. How do we do that? 


Well? I don’t know a reply to that. Both ways. I mean, I think. 


Rob, you know, I think I can speak to A customer, says lightspeed uses ABS, and probably can speak to the technical side. 


I would just say, I want to speak to the people side real quick, and I’ll let rather the tool, so, that’s cool. Yeah, absolutely. 


Yeah, people say to me, about 4.5 years, I’ve seen a lot of schools scale to large cloud, presents the key skill to me as professional development. 


If you really want to build a foundation, you’ve really got to think about, um, what you’re doing for your internal teams is the IT department, and then really thinking about your plan. So, again, I’ve already mentioned, leverage the experience with others. 


The other thing that I would say is, know, find the right strategy for your current department. 


So the reality is, everybody’s environment’s different. Everybody’s going to have some hybrid piece to everybody’s different collaboration software. So really, think about how your environment works. You know, when you start to train your team on those things, that can work within your environment. That’s really the foundation. 


The great thing about the cloud technology is it’s going to scale. It’s going to work. It’s going to be agile, Know Netflix is proof that. Right for everybody. So that we all are at home watching Sierra Leon, you know, that’s that’s powered by type of thing. 


So I think I’ll let Rob talked with the technology and kind of how to set that up, but you gotta have the people part, too. Yeah, and I know Chad wanted to talk about the technology, but I’m gonna, I’m going to talk about people here a bit, too, because, because, honestly, the tech is easy, right. I mean, we, we know, the tech, we know how to build servers and. And yes, there’s some nuances and some things we can learn and starting to take advantage of serverless technologies. And there’s cool stuff we can do in the cloud. 


But, really, I think, what I look at, and the strength of what has allowed us to scale is that partnership. 


Because, you know, I look, We’ve been, we’ve been doing this, and doing cloud services for several years now, and we learned, when we knew what our pattern look like, right, we know, OK, you know, school day, looks like this. A weekend looks like this, OK, we’re going to drop into summer, it’s gonna look like this and then ramped up a school. We don’t need to do for ramp up a school. 


And, to be honest, we were completely unprepared. I don’t wanna say that from an, you know, we’ve, we’ve scaled, and we handle that, but we weren’t, we weren’t prepared for what the results were. Because they were so different than the usage pattern that we have seen for years in our Cloud services. Because now this was not a supplemental Afterschool thing. This was online all the time. You know, Monica, your question or your comment about the hotspots. Well, we had the same thing, right? This, we had to rent ramp up, and that partnership is what allowed us to do that, so that the tech and the tools were in place. 


But the, the usage explosion and the usage patterns were just unlike anything we’ve seen before, and I think it’s key to have a partner that helps you, And we were having, you know, I think, daily discussions with our AWS contacts. You know, as we’re going into that going, OK, we’re seeing this, they’re seeing this, and making those adjustments. So that, in the end, even though the user’s pattern was not something we were prepared for, that did not impact our end users. Because we have that partnership. We had that scale. And really, I think that’s, that’s key. 


The tech tech comes along with it. I mean, the tech is there. It’s, you know, of course, guidance on how to implement those services, and that kind of thing. 


But it really is making sure you have that partnership, and being able to, all of a sudden, wake up one day and realize your usage pattern is 100% different than what it was before, and how do you accommodate for that? 


Hmm, Hmm, Hmm. 


Yep, absolutely, Thanks Chad and rab. 


OK, next question, How how do we manage devices after school hours? What are best practices for that? 


I’ll take a stab. I’m sorry. I should. Know, for us, because we standardize on Google, Google Chrome, it was easier for us to be able to sequence and managed remotely. So, we can see a lot of the patterns and what’s funnel with students, and what they’re doing. And, and even, you know, some of the problem area. So, also, with our tools are virtual learning environment. That piece, too. So, we were able to look at our devices and just trying to get an understanding of if there were any issues of patents there. So, I think making sure that you’re selecting an operating system that has that capability is important in the device that you select. That was a huge reason that was selected. 


The problem was that ability to have that type of remote access, then to control the devices, I mean, even with testing, we’re testing right now, and, and just being able to see those another. After school hours. I mean, again, you just talked about and you have the devices, You have the software, the tools to look into the devices, but you have to have to have staff and the scheduling. To ensure that someone’s, you know, onboard and actually, you know, reviewing and monitoring devices, after hours, but I know also, when, you’re looking at what, what, what, types of websites they are accessing and, and getting that information? 


I do know that, that, we provide that with our engagement with ISP, provides that, that data so that we can see what students actually go into after hours and kinda get a glimpse of that. I get a nice lifting report for my son. On a personal note, I love to see that it’s exactly, if he’s been on my chance, again, on sites, that he shouldn’t try to get out. And, so, that’s also important to have an assessment. 


I was gonna, that’s where I would have gone with it is, is, you know, I think, you know, right now, it’s hard to say what is after school? What is, is during school we’re, and we’re seeing many schools that have, you know, completely asynchronous implementations of their solution today. 


So, you know, after school, in, school, really doesn’t, doesn’t affect that, But what we’re seeing is, is a lot more drive for that data, and being able to analyze that data. and help people. to the right tools. You know, and Monica mentioned earlier, you have parents that are going out and buying things, and that’s great legacy, that they’re engaged with their students. But also seeing that, Hey, here are resources that the district has, and how do we guide the students to those, as well, to know, and make sure that the communities are getting the access that they need. And so we’re seeing, you know, you’ve mentioned it several times on this call, but we’ll just see so much more of a drive to have that data. And know how they’re being used, when they’re being used. Because it. 


The line between in school and out of school or after school hours is just completely blurred right now. 






I’d be remiss if I didn’t mentioned Monika. You talked about what students are doing online in the evening. 


And, one of the things, for those, you know, lightspeed, customers listening in, that is that’s included with the filtering software, is the safety check, right? Where it alerts you, if students are Googling, anything around self harm, or concerning behavior. So, I wanted to make sure that, for those customers who don’t have that turned on, call in, and we’ll be happy to do that for ya. 


All right, next question, Are there data privacy issues when devices aren’t on the school network that we should be worried about? 


From all the answer, from my standpoint, I think, yes, we all, we always have to be concerned with data privacy and student data. We’re dealing with some very sensitive, critical data, right? The, the, the information about our kids, so it should always be a concern. I think, you know, there’s, there’s all kinds of regulations we have to hold to whether it’s Copa, FERPA, you know all of those. 


And I think that’s key when, when you’re looking at those applications that are in use in your environment, because you want partners that, that take that very seriously, that have the proper, you know, protections in place, that have the proper compliance in place. Whether there’s, no, there’s international compliance requirements, there’s, there’s, you know, state level, national level, even your community may have specialized requirements for that. And so, you know, it is really key to make sure that your partners have that in place. Or they are the applications that your students using. 


one, are they, are they compliant? And then are they deployed properly to, to match that compliance, right? I mean, and so it is, it is one thing that I spent a lot of time talking to schools about, now. More than more than ever. Because, you know, when the kids are the classroom, that’s a lot easier to control. But, now that they’re out and distributed, you know, being able to have that visibility and make those decisions and, and be able to confidently go back to your community. 


So, yes, we do have the steps in place to keep that student data safe is, is extremely important. 


Yeah. Thank you, Rob, another question, I think this one would be best suited for you. How can you see student online activity? 


Well, lightspeed can certainly help you with that If your customer today, or if you are, you know. We have a number of reports, you know. We have, you know, one of the things that we do. And, again, being able to take advantage of the power of AWS is so, many more of these reports are, are now, you know, dashboard and actionable reports. As opposed to, like, along spreadsheet view of rows and columns, and trying to decipher that. You know, we’re able to provide provide you with that. Whether it is, you know, kind of in the traditional filter, but also getting into some of these other topics with, with the lightspeed analytics tool, and being able to know, you know, what apps are in use, where they’re being used, and how those are impacting your, your day-to-day. And, again, you know, because of where our software sits on the device, we have the advantage. 


We can see everything that is happening and how it’s being used in being able to, you know, pull those together in, in these dashboard actionable reports, gifts, you can give Monica or give you the tools that you need to make these decisions, make these informed decisions and take that action. 


Thank you, Rob. So, there are several questions that have come in around. You know, we talked about digital literacy for teachers and the professional development and approaches there. 


There’s a lot of questions around digital literacy, for students and parents, and how to tackle that. So I’m hoping Monica, you and or Chad can, can talk to that. At the top 10 hour days out, my confidence. Just kind of just kinda tap the screen out, and say, hey. I know for us, that was huge for us, because we approach digital literacy in the cab schools, of course, teachers and staff, but you’re also looking at the student, right? Actual digital Dreamer, as well as the community in which includes that parents. So, the teachers, we talked about ignite. You talked about the digital dream was orientation for our students, and for our past, we have what we call Tech Cafes. 


And so this is actually, we work with our family engagement department, and so their family engagement and parent support specialists throughout the district, and all of our schools, and working with all of our schools, And so they know, and they understand and have the pulse on what the needs are. The parents are wet, or they’re not understanding where, you know, so they have access to the information well, as well as us. But they get a firsthand. And so we work with them. 


And for example, this, we’ve always done the cafes to show them how to use our tools, wasn’t as much, you know, as much interest coming, coming into this urgency, almost an interest there wasn’t the urgency, but there was definitely the urgency this time. 


And with that being the case, we were able to, we conducted several webinars, I mean, yeah, with the, using your various web conferencing webinars, and live conversations like this. What? I mean, you can reach, pretty much, we would have these massive, we, at one time, 3000 parents. And they were all learning how to check for the Campus, Which is our SIS and gradebook, check the students’ grades, as well as how to look at that, Look at the progress report, grades, and so, which worked out beautifully for us. That’s, most of the kids were just making sure that they understood that. You know, how to use the tools. So, that’s the approach that we took, and we continue, will continue to take, providing those resources and collaborating with those sources closest to the parents, and I’m sure, we’ll meet their needs. So that that, to me, is where you have to go when you’re looking at the PL for parents. 


You have to first find out what they need to make it relevant to them, and once you grab ahold of that, then it’s easy to pull together, you have all the tools to pull together, all of the, you know, learning opportunities and experiences for our parents and communities. 


Yeah, absolutely. Monica, another question for you. I’m going to combine a couple of questions here. one, how has your districts back to school plan worked so far, and to: what would you do differently, in retrospect? 


Well, if you’re going to measure the best school plan, were back in school. And as students are engaged. So, we looked at our data, and, to me, I’m, I’m a data girl, and we’re looking at our data, We had 90%, we found a 90% of our students are logging in, and access and our systems, So that was step number one. But, we also went even further, as I teach, you started to work with that with our students, and the time of what the needs were, and continue to work with those students. So, and they were able to reach out and identify who knew the assistance and what we needed to do. So, you know, from that, from that Mark, I think we’re pretty successful, because, as soon as a worthy, and, you know, they’re learning and is not perfect, It’s not perfect anywhere in the United States, but, at times, as being able to shift and so remote environment. And, it’s easy to try to meet the needs of our students. I think it has been very successful. 


So, I would say that, and I’ve data shows that that engagement is definitely there, in terms of doing something differently. 


I think, I would, you know, we have, again, the devices in place, we also had no plan for connectivity, and we ship this to ensure that we could try to meet the needs of our families and our students. So I had to change anything. I think one of the things that will focused on would have been support A little bit more. We put, we placed a lot of strategies in place to address support, but some things you just can’t plan for. And then, with some areas that, I think, that we had known and really just has a perspective on, we would have done it a little differently. For example, the whole triaged and things I mentioned earlier. Make sure that that was in place, and then teach understood their role. And, you know, who are far as tools, I’ll second that piece of it. I think that that would have helped us early on, with the, with the support piece, is the challenge we received, we encountered with support, So that is what I would definitely go back and just kinda come actually, that’s causing us to really rethink what support looks like. 


And the busy, because I want to say this, as we move back even into a hybrid learning environment and not traditional, please understand that so that he will have to revisit the support models across the board. You’re going to happen. And so we’re no different. So that is the thing that I think I would have done differently. When some of the things that I attended a phenomenal job, most IT departments started, we started in March, and they’ve been running a full court press this. So I will say that. but I think that there are some things that we know definitely can improve more enhanced site. 


And I think the last piece was Was the SLS, because I think the last few addressed. But you actually touched on something that’s related to another question that has come in. And I know it’s a sentiment that, you know, IT teams across the nation are feeling if partially addressed it. But if you can expand on it, our IT team is swamped. Any tips on lightening their load? So some of those models that you talked about needing to shift right the support models, Can you can you double click on that a little bit, talk a little more? 


Many hands make the work life. So, you have got to find a way to, to empower others and in IT. And maybe on one, you know, you talked about, and I think that you understand this, and you have to fix it, and you have to know everything about it and is, and that’s just not true. You still have a very important role. But but making sure that we understand that we have to look at our teachers and empowering them. 


So, the rodents in an easy for them to pick up and learn, and they can see a problem, and slightly, if I can for a second, really quick, when I was working as a technologist specialists in the middle school, I had a teacher who … every morning and every morning and she couldn’t answer e-mail couldn’t print, and she couldn’t … and she couldn’t get to Netscape Communicator, so I’m telling my age. So, space and so, every every morning. And so we all know that that’s network services, on top of what’s happening. And every morning, those little, rascals, we’re going under the hood, heard this plugin, her Cat five cable …, at that time. So, with that being the case, she had no clue every day she had the same problem. If we can get teachers, now, we’re going to show what they would go in, and you say that up, and gave us some of the training, and we can do that for many of our teachers, just so they understand the basics. 


As many people are afraid of the technology, that’s gonna make a huge difference, in terms of making the low light, and again, empowering our students, so that they can use their powers for good. And so, that’s a big piece that, really, to me, that’s where the answer lies. Also, looking at some even more innovative, I know, Chad mentioned earlier. You talked about chatbots, Definitely looking at, no opportunities like that. We’re looking at the same problems over and, over again. That can easily be resolved by chatbot, you know, if someone were to type the type, the question and answer the answer, and move on. And that, you don’t have to wait for anyone. 


So, our team’s goal is to, shouldn’t teaching and learning kicked and continuing hates well. So you want to find opportunities to make sure that you’re providing that information as quickly as possible and efficiently as possible. 


Sorry, I’m unmuted. had to happen once during the webinar that somebody did. That wouldn’t be a code webinar webinar code or talk to the new button. 


So, Monica makes an awesome point, because one of the things that we see, and there was a question earlier about Cloud, was things like chatbots. I think sometimes we think that’s unattainable. For a school like that seems like so crazy that we would have a school, or that we would have the ability for a parent to text. It almost seems overwhelming to my point earlier. 


I think the beauty of the cloud, and I think there was another question here about, is cloud worth it is, No. 


It can go up and down when you need it. 


And there’s also a lot of, there’s also a lot of data that comes with being in the cloud, and there’s more granular information you can get. So, you know, even to things like sentiment analysis, you know, we can listen. You know, the calls coming in, and we can say, well, this person seems kinda frustrated, we should bring them into level two. Maybe, even on the recording before there’s keywords. And you’re like, Yeah. This one might be to start a little higher. 


The tier one support, there’s all these things that can happen, is all based on data that can help schools, You respond to this. 


And at the end of the day, again, the more of that you can get done in an automated way, the more focused on classroom, and that helps. Then, that’s the most important thing of Technology Department. That’s, that’s why I left PFS will become a CTO because I wanted to build the team that supported what the students need to know. Not, you, know, not not necessarily R T. So the. 


Arctic: to the question on, you know, it’s cloud worth that. I think we are liquids that came up. You know, we’re really thick. 


And the force of time Schools are, all schools would be and quality and meaningful way. About many, many are now, and you don’t know whether you’re using …. I think Monica mentioned Canvas, those are all cloud technologies. And so, we think, over time. 


We’ll build on that. 


The beauty of it is, throughout swipe, the technology works, it’s about the people and processes, and that allows us all to focus more on students, which is what we want to do, so. 




Thank you, Chad. And I’m scrolling through a lot of questions. Thank you, audience, for bringing these up. I think we’ve addressed a lot of them. 




Rod, this one’s for you. Are there tutorials of how to set up lightspeed rules, and is there a way to establish different roles for staff and students? 


Yeah, absolutely. We have. 


A lot of that as, you know, kind of documented in our, in our community health portal and, you know, give you some best practices around that. We absolutely have the capability of, you know, pulling in that data and whether it’s from your sys or from your Active Directory. Or wherever you might be getting that data. And being able to differentiate those policies. 


And that really, is, probably, That’s probably always been important. But even even more so now. Right. You, and it’s not just staff and students, right? You’ve got your high school students, your, your middle school students, elementary students, that have different access needs, and being able to tie all that together. We have, you know, we do have a number of those things in place. We can, we can help you through that, Kind of give you some best practices around, you know, how to handle staff. And students. Maybe high school versus elementary. And all of that. So, our community started as a site, is a great starting place for that, but let us know if you need more assistance. 


Thank you, Rob. Alright. I think we’re at our last question, Chad, this one’s for you from an AWS perspective, What did you do not anticipate through this, you know, these changes? 




Few times in one call. Sorry. 


Yeah, as Rob. Rob mentioned. 


So, Emma, let me call it through all these calls. 


So, you know, things were moving really, really fast, and so I do fix some of this, I’ve already talked about. I mean, we really did not individual schools much around Amazon connect our Carlson. Those were things that we were using it, large companies. 


Schools have in this immediate need for this kind of constant contact would be the case for their parents, with some, that we didn’t necessarily anticipate. 


And then, the other thing that I think I already spoke to on the positives is, know, the speed at which schools needed to move, right? So, we knew they needed to move fast, but, what I didn’t always know, and I’ll say this because I was one, I wasn’t known for my speed agility, CTO, right? So, I mean, I think, you know, there’s the school board approvals or strategic planning. There’s a lot of things that happen that several CTOs, and I sit on the Board of …, an apartment with a lot of CTOs and said, Hey, we’ve gone from things that used to take us six months that, those things in six days. And we’ve gone from things that is 56, those things we might do at six out. And that’s been very interesting, but, again, to my previous point, I think it’s really taught us that we can move fast, we can be agile, It’s OK, or occasionally, you’ll take that risk. 


Potentially, fill, if you’re leveraging you’re the cloud and you don’t like it, you just turn it off. Because you don’t have to pay for it anymore. And so, you can kinda jump out and go, OK, let’s try this. Oh, well, this is working, we can get more of that, it’s not working, Let’s turn it off. And so I think those are two things that really jumped out at me. 


Now, 66.5. Almost seven months. 


Thank you, yeah, thank you Chad. I appreciate that. All right, well, this concludes our webinar today, Marisa. If you don’t mind going to the next slide, I’d like to thank our panelists for sharing their valuable perspectives, and thank you to all of you for joining us. Contact Information for lightspeed is on the screen. There’s also a URL there lightspeed systems dot com slash AWS, which has the back to school survey report that I didn’t citing throughout the webinar, as well as recordings of prior webinars, and white papers, and other resources for you. So, if you’re interested, please check that out. And have a wonderful day, everyone. And we hope to see you on the next webinar. Thank you. Thank you. 

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