K-12 schools have to spend their budget very wisely, across multiple spaces, with very little room for negotiation. A small portion of that annual spend goes toward technology, making ROI and maximum adoption of purchased applications crucial.
With 21,000 students, 3,100 faculty, a full 1:1 program, and technology distributed between 31 buildings, the tech department at Osseo Public Schools needs to make sure that any technology they invest in gets used to its full potential. In order to ensure that the ROI and usage of tech investments get measured completely and accurately, Anthony Padrnos, the Director of Technology at Osseo Public Schools, relies on Lightspeed Analytics™.
With a comprehensive dashboard, granular reporting, and usage tracking charts, Lightspeed Analytics makes it easy to see what tech investments are being utilized to their maximum potential, and where unnecessary costs can be cut. These features make it an essential tool for large districts like Osseo. Padrnos adds, “It definitely is a tool that our team uses from an analyzing standpoint for budgeting processes; so we look at how tools are being used in our systems now to make decisions on whether we will purchase a tool or not.”
When asked about the value of a tool like Lightspeed Analytics, Padrnos feels it’s a must-have. “From an administrative side, the data and analytics that the tool provides has been invaluable whether it’s investigating a digital incident to showing overall usage to demonstrate our ROI,” says Padrnos.
Like every other district Nationwide, Osseo faced campus closures in March with the spread of COVID-19. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz officially shut down schools statewide on March 18th but had been hinting at closing campuses since March 1st, giving districts some much needed time to prepare for remote learning.
Having already deployed a successful 1:1 program two years prior with a cloud-based filter, Osseo found themselves at a slight advantage where they were familiar with remotely filtering and tracking school-owned devices. “The transition for us has actually gone fairly well,” says Padrnos. “We’ve definitely had an easier time, and we had the opportunity to explore e-learning days with our teachers.”
When it comes to preparation for the Fall, Osseo is taking a similar approach to other districts in the U.S. by moving to a hybrid, synchronous model where they offer in-person classes alongside digital classes taught live over webcam and with additional distance learning tools. Moving to this model makes remote reporting essential for distance learning visibility. Having already deployed and familiarized his team with Lightspeed Analytics, Padrnos feels prepared for Fall.
“Before COVID-19, we were doing a deep dive to understand what the technology needs are for different groups within our district,” says Padrnos. “Since then we’ve looked at the raw data of our LMS to determine what would work best for us in the Fall. Due to the data provided by Lightspeed Analytics, we were able to make the decision to move from Schoology at the K-12 levels to Seesaw for PreK-5 and keep Schoology for 6-12.”
Remote reporting from Lightspeed Analytics became necessary for distance learning visibility in order to improve professional development, drive engagement, protect student data from rogue apps, and measure the efficacy of new digital learning environments.”
“[Lightspeed] Analytics allows us to pull statistics and data on what our usage is on digital tools. Are students able to engage with the platforms we’ve laid out? Are teachers providing the rich learning resources in the digital learning environment?” asks Padrnos. “We don’t know for sure what Fall is going to look like, so we’re trying to prepare our systems to be nimble, so that a physical environment can transfer to a digital environment immediately and vice versa.”
In addition to helping Osseo make data-driven decisions toward budget allocation, the data collected by Lightspeed Analytics contributed to a second, more important goal: Maintaining student data privacy.
When campuses closed in the Spring, and districts were forced to scramble to come up with effective remote learning plans, K-12 tech departments noticed an upwards trend of third-party applications getting installed on their networks. Osseo, Padrnos notes, was not an exception. “The amount of unidentified third-party apps on our system has significantly increased since COVID,” says Padrnos.
At the beginning of the pandemic and stay at home orders, K-12 industry vendors began to search for ways to help the Nation’s schools by offering their services for free. Although intentions from both vendors and district faculty members were pure, installing third-party applications on a school’s network that haven’t been vetted and approved by the district Tech Department can lead to consequences. Violation of compliance of federal laws, loss of e-rate funding, and compromising student data privacy are among some of the more severe problems caused by rogue applications, all of which can devastate district operations for years.
Fortunately, Lightspeed Analytics tracks every application on every device, everywhere, and assigns a data privacy and security policy score for each application. For Padrnos, this piece of the software is as important as the usage reports. “As teachers explore the free tools that are out there and implement new things, [Lightspeed]Analytics gives us visibility into what’s being utilized without our knowledge,” he remarks. “We use it to identify any tools coming into our platform that we’re unaware of, or apps with poor privacy scores to protect our students’ data.”
Though there are other solutions available for remote reporting, none are able to meet the high standard Lightspeed Analytics has set. For any district who wants a Tech Director’s honest opinion of Lightspeed Analytics, Padrnos has this to say:
“Schools should consider using [Lightspeed] Analytics for three key reasons: First, to get a data point on the effectiveness of any tools you implement. It tracks adoption and utilization, and it allows you to start asking critical questions like: Why are we not seeing the adoption and implementation that we wanted? Do we need to cut the tool, or focus on professional development? How do we make sure we’re getting the most ROI for the tool purchased? Second, it allows you to evaluate those tools over time, so you can measure if this tool is still meeting the needs of your organization four to five years after purchase. Schools have a limited budget, so you want to maximize it where you can. Finally, it gives insights and awareness into what applications are being used in your system. [Lightspeed] Analytics provides an opportunity to understand all the myriad of tools being used in a digital classroom.”