There has been a significant shift in how technology is being used by educators and students, and it comes with some inherent challenges, right? So, what have we learned, and how do we continue to effectively bring ed-tech into our classrooms?
Join Richard Perkins at Clay County Public Schools and John Sedwick at Anderson Community School District to hear how their districts have successfully leveraged edtech to create learning communities, support student engagement, and build relationships with students and families.
Marissa Naab: Morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us, We still have a couple of folks hopping on, so we’re going to give them a minute. We will start the presentation shortly. All right. Looks like we have some more folks joining us, so let’s go ahead and get started. Good morning, My name is Marissa. I am the marketing manager here at Lightspeed Systems. Thank you so much for joining our panel discussion today, “How Districts Measure and Engage Digital Learning.” We’re joined today by two district co-presenters. We’ve got Richard Perkins, Communications & Delivery Coordinator at Clay County Schools in Florida. And then we have John Sedwick, the Technology Integration Specialist at Anderson County School District in Alabama. Also here today is Mike Durando the VP of Sales at Lightspeed Systems, and Jared Accardo, our sales engineering director here at Lightspeed. So, thank you so much for joining us. A couple of quick housekeeping items. Before we get started, we will be recording this session, so we’ll send you the recording of the presentation once we have finished. We also will have a Q&A session at the end of the discussion. So if you guys have any questions about whatever we’ve covered today, please feel free to enter them in the chat box. And we will do our best to get to them at the end of the discussion. Alright. So with that being said, let’s go ahead and get started. You know, these past few years, we’ve seen a lot of challenges and changes in how learning takes place, especially digital learning, brought on by the pandemic. So, we’ve brought Rich and John here today to kind of discuss some of the challenges they’ve personally faced in their districts and the solutions that they’ve come up with. Let’s get started with you. How has your district’s usage of products, like Classroom, evolved because of school closures?
Richard Perkins: When the pandemic happened, our school district, on the day that happened, Thursday—I think we sent our kids home just before Spring break and they did not come back. We said you got to work from home. And we’re a Google district, so we have Chromebooks. So my department went to work, worrying about how to get Chromebooks into kids’ hands so they can so they can go to school from home. And we went to offsite from home learning. So with that being said, Classroom became a big portion of our everyday use for our employees initially. You know, we have technology teachers that love it. And I’ve used it for a few years, But when that happened, we had teachers that had never even attempted to use a product, just login and learn how to use it very rapidly. And we had our teacher champions that would help them along the way and teach them little tricks. But that became a staple for them and for us. Because we already had it in place, transitioning from in the classroom to outside of the classroom really was pretty easy. As far as the technology department went, we were already there. Filtering was already there because we use Relay. So all we had to do was get the devices in their hands and, in some cases, hotspots to provide Internet. But for the most part it was a pretty easy transition for us, but we did see an exponential uptick in the use of the Classroom and of course Google Beats. But that’s a whole other story.
Marissa Naab: Yeah. So following up with learning. Coming back to a hybrid learning environment and in person learning, are you seeing the same level of utilization in classroom? Has that decreased or increased? What does that look like in terms of usage now that we’re back to in person learning?
Richard Perkins: I think we saw a little bit of a decrease in it, but not as much. When we went external and all the kids were working from home, pretty much everybody used it. They wanted to monitor their kids, see what they’re seeing and doing with it. You know, kind of keeping tabs on them. Make sure they’re not playing games because a lot of them are using personal PCs. But since we’ve come back, we still get a slew of people using this product because they literally sit behind their desks now instead of walking around. They would rather continue monitoring with what they are now comfortable with and used to. I think as the teachers get comfortable with the technology, it becomes second nature to utilize it more as opposed to, you know, being scared of trying it out in the first place. The pandemic pushed them to use it.
Marissa Naab: Yeah, absolutely. John, how about you? When the pandemic shut down your school district, how did Classroom kind of come into play with the initiation of remote learning?
John Sedwick: Well, we were really a little bit further ahead in that because many of our students had already taken their Chromebooks home every day. We already had both Relay and Classroom in place. Teachers were sort of using it when the students were face-to-face, and I think they just had a sense of, “I can learn this as I go.” But then when the kids went home, it was, “Oh, I really need to learn this.” And then, of course, we’ve got, and I’m sure Richard had the same issue: we got tons of requests. ”How do I use this feature, how does this happen, how do I block this, how do I limit this, how do I allow this?” And then everybody kind of jumped on board now that they’ve come back to school. I think this forced a lot of our teachers to sort of accept that technology was here. It wasn’t going to be something that was going to go away in a year. Now, like has already been said, it’s sort of second nature now. We still need to be more intentional about how we help our teachers learn to use it in their classrooms. So they’re using it as a using as a resource rather than a hammer. I wouldn’t say that it’s really increased, just sweeping them back because we were already using it pretty thoroughly.
Marissa Naab: Yeah. And Mike and Jared just kind of like following up on that. You know we’re working with districts during the pandemic. Was it a similar phenomenon that we saw where Classroom usage increased during the pandemic and then has kind of stayed level?
Mike Durando: I think that Richard and John, already being Lightspeed customers, they knew those devices as soon as they got their hands on them and in kids’ hands were going to be protected. The Classroom Management was there, and we’ll talk about the analytics on a later day: they have the visibility and protection in place today. But I know in Polk County is an example of a customer that came on board at the beginning of the pandemic. And it was, “Oh my God. We are like— Jared, what was it? 20,000 devices? Their current firewall didn’t meet their needs for a visibility, safeguarding perspective, and they called Lightspeed. And we will get you added and up and running in literally minutes. So, we got them the Protection and Visibility. That was kinda step one. And step two was, OK, now let’s look at, how can we enable the classroom teacher. I think it was twofold. One, we’re still seeing it with inbound activity. And I know there’s a lot of current Lightspeed customers on here and some of you aren’t yet. But I think people are still clamoring to know what’s happening on these devices no matter where they are. And so, that’s kind of sustained from just a visibility standpoint, and you could say that’s filtering Classroom Management. You need to have the baseline, and then you need to figure out, OK, what behaviors do I want to establish, right, so I don’t see that trend ever stopping. And I think we have a few customers, from the other side of the pond listening that I know are struggling. Jared, I know you have more experience from a technical standpoint. Many districts are like, oh, my god, where do I even start? It’s just like such a mountain to climb. But I think you’ve seen the ease of use and getting software like this deployed.
Jared Accardo: Yeah, yeah, no, that’s exactly right. I mean, we’ve, we’ve seen the districts that already had something in place. And like Rich said, working with Clay, it was a fairly easy transition because everything from the technical side was already in place. But we also worked with a lot of districts where they needed something last minute and needed to get that out, and we were able to help with that as well. So, now, most districts are in school. We’re seeing some shut down for a week or so at a time. Or now that we’re in winter. we’re seeing snow days and things like that. All of that stuff being in place, Classroom can still be used. Previously, districts would have had to shut down. So some of that stuff in place can also help that aspect.
Marissa Naab: Yeah. So John, you guys said that you are already kind of there. Richard you mentioned that when the pandemic started you had those Classroom super users who would really help with adoption and help their colleagues. Now that your teachers are really using Classroom Management a lot and more effectively, do you feel as if they’re more empowered to guide technology usage in the classroom. And does that really help you guys in your day-to-day as one less thing you have to be concerned about?
Richard Perkins: We developed a program where we actually have professional development trainers now that are embedded in IT because needing other products we actually switched to a new student information system. That kind of led the way. But we’ve utilized those people to also create what we call backpacks in our portal. They can go and they can watch videos and stuff. So we have backpacks for Lightspeed, Classroom, and stuff. Once they complete this, they get a little certificate, and all this stuff for the teachers. So, It’s become more of a need to, too, for learning for our teachers, because we have a constant influx of teachers, they’re coming and going. So, the new ones need to learn it, and some of the older ones need to brush up. But, I will say that our backpacks are pretty brief and small. And, with that, the Classroom product is pretty intuitive. It’s pretty easy to learn, so it’s not a big chunk that they’ve got to invest a lot of time in, and it tends to it tends to be one of the first things that they want to learn now.
Mike Durando: We were kinda joking about it—this panel before you joined us—but what is the definition of classroom management? Oh, I already have Google Classroom, because I’m a Google District, right? The goal was: how else can I empower teachers and, sure, the SIS is something that can do that, because you have to know where the students are in terms of grades and all those thing. But I think Classroom management, to us, is a tool to empower teachers, no matter what type of device the student is on, whether it’s a Chromebook, Windows device, or Mac. That landscape could change, right? We need to be agnostic as an OEM partner with our districts, and you, as our partners to say, like, if it becomes an M365 ecosystem that you’re moving towards or it’s Google Workspace—or it’s a combination of both. Whatever system you’re looking on products like Classroom and Analytics, you need to make sure it works across all these different types of browsers and productivity apps, right? And I think we’ve seen that a lot, too. And then the other thing, a silver lining of the pandemic besides this kind of proliferation of devices and districts moving closer to one-to-one faster than ever before: the pandemic has kind of forced a lot of these teachers and curriculum directors to embrace technology like this, because they had to for the last 24 months, right? So, I think that’s the first piece. It was: jump into the deep end. Here we go. And then, you know, Rich, to your point: Lightspeed Classroom is very intuitive. I think you need to be able as a company like Lightspeed to provide professional development and self-paced training to teach the teacher, right? And I think that’s another piece that you can’t really put a price tag on, that human capital that’s involved with maintaining these things and constantly training. I know many districts on here are short staffed. Probably Richard and John would say that they would both be in that bucket two. And so I think that’s something else. Whether it’s Lightspeed or someone else, you’ve got to demand that out of your third-party software. Partners need to be able to provide that kind of PD. And I think we do a really good job of it. Kudos to our product team at making the product very intuitive and so easy to teach and use it.
Marissa Naab: So kind of speaking on that a little bit. Mike, you said that a lot of districts are short-staffed. That’s something we’re seeing nationwide. Is a classroom management tool like Classroom something that really assists with some of those issues? If you are short staffed and teachers are needing to take on more students in their classes, is this something that really can assist with them?
Richard Perkins: I would say. I’m in Florida. We have class sizes, but, additionally, we also have classes that are virtual that literally don’t have a size, They could have a ton of people on them. And with that the Classroom product works for any size number of students across the board. So, it’s very flexible in that sense.
John Sedwick: We’ve had similar experiences. We have some virtual classes and online classes. So we’re able to kind of negotiate both of those. Going back to the PD a little bit, in the trainings that we we tried use when we reached out to our teachers to use this, we found that they really want to embrace this. Because this is the one thing that they realize makes all the other things possible. If a teacher can’t see, in one view, what’s happening in a classroom, they can’t be certain that all of their kids are. They can’t like herding cats, right? So, they can kind of keep them on track. But then we have to take the next step and offer PD once the pandemic is shifting what it is that they want to do. When the students were at home, it was more about kind of restricting them from being off of sites that they shouldn’t be on in class. It was more about kind of keeping them on task. You know, it’s still a lot of games, and that kind of thing that we don’t have filtered out, that teachers want to to monitor. But it comes down to how are the teachers going to use this in their classrooms? The best examples are if an elementary school teacher has stations and a teacher is doing direct instruction with one station but they want to make sure that the technology stations are still doing what they’re supposed to be doing, the teacher can do that. That is a perfect example of how it should be done.
John Sedwick: What we don’t want is teachers sitting at the front of the room with their face on that screen, doing nothing but saying Billy, why are you on this and not on that? We have to be intentional with that. And what we were talking about earlier: I look at this and this is the analogy I use. This is just another tool in the changing landscape of education because I liken it to like the NFL. If the NFL changes a rule and they find that that rule causes more problems, they need to have more rafts on the field. They do that: they will add a ref in this position or change the position to make sure that everything is being covered so we can watch everything appropriately. Well, that’s what Classroom is for us. It’s another ref on the field. That ref is still going to miss some things. They’re doing what they can to make sure all the rules are being followed, not necessarily looking for penalties, just making sure the game is being played within the rules, and that’s how I hope our teachers are using this. And we try to help them in that regard.
Rich Perkins: I’ve actually had teachers shift from using their PC to monitor everything to bringing up their Lightspeed login on a Chromebook, so they can walk around the classroom and carry it around with them. Teachers know when they’re on one side and can’t see other kids’ screens. We had one kid with a computer, a Chromebook, half opened on the bottom of a desk, trying to play the snake game during the class. She was like, block your security, you know? So it’s very intuitive, and it’s a quick reference, the console that has been developed. It’s quick and easy for them to look at, but then they can also pay attention to other things in the classroom, and we try to foster that environment. But by and large, teachers use it as a tool.
John Sedwick: We have teachers that have actually used the desktop that’s connected to their projectors and screens. They will project the dashboard on the screen, so everybody can see what everybody’s doing all the time. I’m sure that’s a situational approach, but I can say a second. We had a teacher that saw just that, and walked into the classroom the next day and put it up on the screen for every one of his classes. He taught fifth grade and said, I just want you guys to know what I can see. He kind of used it as more of a “I’m watching you.” So even if he didn’t have it open and utilized at the time, the kids assumed he was always watching them. Another way that we’ve had teachers utilize this is going back through the web browsing history during that classroom. They actually use that for parent teacher conferences. Your kid isn’t doing this and that because they’re not staying on task: I can show you in their web browsing. They’re doing this. They’re looking for that. We try to keep them on task, so that’s actually come into play. On occasion they’ll do the screenshots of what they actually have on their screen: this is what your kid was doing if they’re having issues with them, And we’ve also noticed that you mentioned earlier about saving us time: it really does, even if it’s just at the moment. If a teacher saw a student on a site that they shouldn’t be on or should be blocked or whatever, then they would e-mail me, and say, hey, this site needs to be blocked. Now, as more features come out, teachers can block it there themselves, and then if it’s something that they find a lot of kids are trying to access, then they can send the e-mail and say, Hey, I’m blocking this a lot, but you may need to look at this, or send that to the administration. So, that really has helped how much we are administering that program and how quickly that teachers can apply those settings themselves rather than waiting for someone from one of our roles to come and do it.
Marissa Naab: Do you think features like that allow the teachers to be more actively engaged with digital learning? Do you think that kind of empowers them to be more willing to adopt different classroom management software’s and digital learning solutions now that they can see that they can be really actively involved and a part of this digital learning environment?
Rich Perkins: Our teachers absolutely love the fact that they have the ability if they want to put a block list in. So, coming back to Classroom, yes, but I do think that this helps them go, wow, what else can I do? With our new student information system, they have apps and stuff and they have a little bit more control in the environment than they used to. And they really took it and ran with it. I’d like to think that with our use of Classroom prior to the pandemic or even during the pandemic, pushed them into bringing more technology in. Like I said previously, we are a Google District, so it also pushed a lot of our teachers into the collaboration piece: students working together online on projects and stuff. So we tried to try to foster that as well. And we had some teachers pushing back prior to the pandemic about using Google Classroom. And now every teacher we have has a Google Classroom. And once they figured it out, they love it. So I think we got uptake and a percentage of teachers that are willing to go, “Oh, there’s something new, yeah. Let me play with it. Let me use it.” That we wouldn’t have previously had had we not been pushed different new technologies.
Marissa Naab: Are you experiencing something similar in your district?
John Sedwick: I was just thinking, as Richard talked: I wouldn’t really know how much it encourages teachers to use stuff that they wouldn’t have used before, but I do think it gives them a little bit of comfort. And when they are going to incorporate something, they are comfortable knowing that Relay filters out stuff so they don’t have to worry about that. And they have Classroom so that they can keep an eye on it. I think it’s more about teacher personality if they’re going to embrace new things. But I think even with a reticent teacher, once they accept that they need to add something else, they have a higher comfort level with being able to do that, knowing that they have a little bit more control over what’s happening in their classroom.
Marissa Naab: Mike, you had mentioned something earlier about data analytics as something that has resulted from the pandemic. It’s being increasingly used by school districts and the districts you’re talking to. How are they using analytics tools to evaluate: just different components of their districts such as EdTech spending, finding rogue applications, and so on?
Mike Durando: I think it’s Rich’s point: a couple of years ago you had teachers resistant to something even like Google Classroom, right? They didn’t really know what it was. They’re used to doing things one way. And it’s one of the reasons that we acquired CatchOn because it’s a great product with a great team because this is the next big trend. I was reading through last night a study around connectivity, and you know, 85% of applications and online traffic is video-related, right? Kids are using these at home. And then the next piece of that is, OK, it’s kind of the inequity issue. Everyone has different types of devices. How am I supposed to manage someone with potentially a Chromebook or Windows device or Lord knows what they have. So how do I measure any of these things? You know, I’ve been at Lightspeed for 12.5 years and counting, and we’ve always done a good job of kind of recognizing that it’s one thing to provide HIPAA compliance. I did that, check the box next to, it, was like, OK. We need to empower classroom teachers, check that box. You’ve heard that from Rich and John today. But next, it’s OK, there’s all these disparate solutions, whether it’s third-party software or it’s silos within a district. How can we kind of help the convergence of all these things coming together and bring the IT administrators and curriculum instruction together? Well, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you don’t even know what applications your teachers, or students, or even using, right? And, so, how are you gonna decide. Like, OK, what are we going to do best for students? Whether it’s learning outcomes or just driving online behavior. You don’t know what you don’t know. You’re flying blind. And so I think with the analytics that Lightspeed has and how we’re bringing the CatchOn team into the fold there, you’re taking it to the next level. If I’m on the current instructional side, I need to know which app’s working best? Like Richard was in charge of deploying this new SIS. Is anyone using it? Luckily, with the Lightspeed platform, you can kind of ascertain these are the apps teachers and staff are using it, so I don’t need to focus on that, right? So, there’s the professional development aspect, which is one pillar of Analytics. I can see what apps we have, identify those and see how they’re being utilized. And then the next step is—and there’s a few of you with security backgrounds on this call—there’s probably third party applications that you don’t want anyone accessing for risk ransomware. Where’s that student data being shared? And so, by using Analytics to identify and then block that application, now you’re focusing behavior on the apps and education resources that you want. I think to me the biggest takeaway is: it’s more visibility for the districts to make better decisions. That’s something everyone wants, but it went from, oh, that’s a nice to have to a need to have at this point. John and Rich, I don’t know if you guys agree, but that’s what we’re hearing at least.
Rich Perkins: Yeah, I definitely agree. We’ve been a CatchOn customer for a few years, as well as Lightspeed for quite a while. And we use the MDM feature in Lightspeed as well, and we’re a multi-tier district. I have Windows machines. I have Apple machines. I have Chromebooks, lots of Chromebooks, and some of the Chromebook apps I can block or manage, or whatever, inside of Google. But, what it doesn’t tell me is privacy stuff. It doesn’t tell me usage. They do have a new usage tool in there. But it’s minimal. There’s many good options of CatchOn that I like. One is obviously what you’re talking about, which is I can see what they’re using. And we push that over to our instructional side. And we’re like, hey, they’re using 15 different math apps to teach the same thing. Which ones do you guys want to spend money on? And if they’re perfectly happy with the free thing and it covers all your curriculum requirements, why are you going to pay for it when you could use that money for something else? Or the opposite, Hey, we’re paying for this, and maybe you should have people using it? You know, you might as well get your money out at least this year. So, we, we do push that over to them, and they have made decisions on those for a few years. A piece I liked because I’m one of those security guys is the privacy updates that we get from CatchOn. I get an e-mail every time an app changed the privacy stuff or usage agreement, which is helpful for me because we go through and approve every app and every website. Any program that instructional wants to do, it comes through my office first. And we go, Yeah, they’re not just gonna give away all your student data, it’s in the agreement. We find it safe. Now it’s up to instructional to decide if they want to let them use it or not, or if, hey, we bought this, but it’s a one-time deal. We go through, look at everything, and then it’s gone. When we started using CatchOn, I started getting the updates. So, now I know when they change something, where previously I wouldn’t have done. They could have changed it a month after we said, yeah, we’ll buy it, and then we’re gonna give away everything to the dark web. And, you know, we wouldn’t have had a clue of that. They had changed it, and now we have to agree to it. So it’s nice to see those updates and be able to revisit all of those in real time as they change them. I get a log the next day that says to check these out. And it’s a quick link. I click on it, I go, and I can view just the changes for just the ones that changed. Doesn’t take me much time, and we can go, OK, everything’s still good. Or, hey, guys, we need to look at this.
John Sedwick: We’ve had two big chunks where Analytics came into play. We had Lightspeed Relay, and from the time that we rolled out Chromebooks 1:1. We are also a Google corporation, so, right away, as we were trying to onboard everybody, with those tools. We could keep an eye on looking at usage and see, oh, look, our Google usage is increasing, which is what we wanted, or our, our LMS usage is not where we want it to be so we needed to adjust our PD to say, hey, here’s some of the other features you can use in this LMS. That helped us adjust our PD. The second part of that is right now, we are looking at implementing a system of approving all apps and materials. We’ve got a two-tiered approach, where one is going to be from the instructional side, where they look at content and that sort of thing. And the other is going to be from a tech side. Similar to what Rich said about how his side approves those apps, we’re trying to blend that all into one thing. Then we want to review that and readopt every year. So analytics allow us to look at how much those apps are being used. We can say at the end of the first year, OK, you want to up this, you want to use this again the next year, but your usage doesn’t reflect the money that’s going to be spent on that. And hopefully that will help us, But that that’s been a big help to us to keep an eye on what we’re using.
Marissa Naab: And Jared, with all the districts that you work with on a daily basis, is that something that you’re seeing in a lot of them?
Jared Accardo: Yeah, absolutely. You know it really kind of depends on which side of the house you talk to. If it’s more of the security side or more of the instructional side, it depends on what they’re really looking to use the tool for, but all of those things align. It just depends on on what side of the house is looking at the analytics tool. It it for ROI? Or our PD? Or is it more from a security standpoint? A lot of states are putting no laws in place now around student data privacy. And so more and more people are really looking at that, and making sure they stay compliant.
Mike Durando: We’ve seen it not just with curriculum apps where there’s like a dozen math applications and wondering, OK, where does that data go in? And Richard said, like, someone’s selling the data on the dark web. And I would hope that most of these curriculum apps and companies in this space are making their best effort, right? They want to protect kids? They care about efficacy. They care about equity. The reality is in order to do that sometimes they may have to cut corners, and I think we’ve seen in the security filtering and safeguarded space that it’s just mandatory. You’re gonna have to ask your suppliers and your partners. Where’s the data in the cloud? Well, where’s the cloud? Is it on? AWS or your Google partner? I think that’s one of the things we’ve always done a great job of: hey, if Microsoft is your ecosystem, guess what? We’re a Microsoft for Education Partner, we’re a Google partner. We reached the highest level of AWS EdTech competency, and so what does that mean to you, as a district? Well, you can trust that everything’s super secure, very scalable, and we’re very transparent with how we process your data and help you with that. And so, even in the filtering space, you have to be asking that of your suppliers: where’s the data go and who’s reviewing it? In addition to the curriculum instructional apps. I think that’s where the addition of CatchOn, coupled with what Lightspeed’s been doing for 20 plus years, makes it a great platform for all.
Marissa Naab: Yeah, kind of piggybacking on that transparency: something else that kind of was a result of the pandemic was parents are involved in their students’ learning now more so than ever before. Is there any kind of desire to share this engagement, data, and insights with parents as it relates to their students’ performance?
Rich Perkins: We do upon request. Our actual student student conduct policies that the parent and the student sign states that, if you’re a student, your parent can have access to your e-mail and to any of your information whatsoever. All they’ve got to do is ask us. We don’t provide it in advance or any kind of report to them, but we do get requests from time to time. And no problem. Here it is. There’s your student: they can see everything. So we are transparent with our parents. We just don’t push out information weekly or anything like that. It is something that we’ve talked about, and the administration just feels it should be upon request. So we do upon request. Likewise principals have access to student data for every student at their campus. So we we built up that structure inside of Relay in order to give them access. If they have a student in their office and they need to discuss something with the parents, they have direct access to it, and we go out and train them on how to utilize it, and how to understand it.
John Sedwick: We have made available the weekly report through Lightspeed that gives a summary of the students’ online use, and then it also has option there. They can opt into the program that allows afterschool controls over their students’ accounts that can block the web between certain hours—not during the school day because that’s where we control. And we have found that to be a big benefit for our parents. When the parents call and say, Hey, I don’t know what Susie’s doing. I think she’s doing X. Well, you can start with this report and see what Susie’s doing. And, you know, we don’t necessarily make that information available directly to the parents. But they can get that because it’s part of their school information. So, they can actually get the login to their accounts and see what they’re doing as well. Now that we’re finally getting the ball rolling on those reports, parents seem to really kind of enjoy that a little bit. They feel like they have a little bit more control of the space. They don’t have control with the regular classroom because they can talk to the teacher. You can’t talk to the computer, but you can see what the students are doing on it, and, again, it gives us that opportunity to go back to a behavioral discussion, as opposed to a technology discussion. My daughter is texting people all the time. well, she’s not texting people, she’s e-mailing people, and you can go and see the amount of e-mail. And that’s a conversation to have. So, I don’t think they knew that. They wanted to before we pushed it out. And now that we’ve pushed it out, they like having that and the teachers like that they can push that out to the parents as well that they can make them.
Marissa Naab: Rich, did you guys see an uptick in requests for these data pulls post-pandemic?
Rich Perkins: Not really. We haven’t really seen too many. Most of them are usually tied to disciplinary issues. You know, they’ll come in and say my kid wouldn’t do that. So, it’s either the school requested it or the parent requested in it. We also utilize Alert. And on occasion we provide that information to parents as well upon request. Normally that just goes to the administration at the schools, but sometimes that causes parents to go, Well, I want to know everything my kid’s been doing. OK, give me at a time, you know, 90 days back, I can give you this information, whatever you’d like. But we haven’t really seen an uptick, I don’t think, and we have tested the parent reports. A couple of teachers have students in our classes and the Administration just don’t think they feel comfortable with it. We’re a pretty rural district even though we’re pretty large in size. We have a lot of people that, if they got there, they would opt into the reports, and then they’d probably end up putting them into spam. They cause a lot of them. They don’t really want the information.
Mike Durando: I think, Richard, you were with us in Miami, a couple of years ago. Lightspeed, has these district advisory councils that Marissa and the team put on. And, usually, there’s 20 or 30 school districts, Lightspeed customers, some of which are on this call. The goal of it is just too give you a venue to kind of have conversations. And I remember vividly, two years ago, maybe it’s three years ago now, and we’re talking about access to parents. And Polk was there, Miami Dade was there: some very large districts since we’re in Miami. And it was like, hey, room, who wants to share information with parents, and half the room is absolutely not, legal liability, can’t do it, won’t do it. You’re saying the other half was like, absolutely, let’s empower them, we can help them drive the behavior. And John pointed out, it was very polarizing, and I think now the other silver lining of the pandemic is these parents were kinda forced to say, and acknowledge, OK, my kid is going to be online. It’s not just going to be websites, you’re going to be in these applications. So I need to know that they’re safe. Or I need to know that the teacher can communicate with them and control them and drive that behavior. And so, I think, people, districts, and parents have been much more accepting now as a result of the pandemic and say, OK, this technology is here. I can’t just ignore it anymore. And so, I think that’s opened up the conversation to say, like, look, at least you have the option with Lightspeed as a parent to have access to these things. It can start as a weekly report. If you want to login to the parent portal we have real-time information and even some basic controls, to say, hey, that’s enough screen time for today. Or they’re supposed to be on education apps. Why are they watching YouTube videos, or another episode on Netflix? Like, you can turn off the camera or turn the device off as a parent, right? So empowering the parents is kinda the next frontier for us, because their persona is as a stakeholder in this child’s online journey. So we’re doing a lot of that today as a company and partnering with districts that are giving this sort of feedback to us. We’re gonna continue to see more of that in the coming years, or months, really.
Rich Perkins: I agree. In our situation, we took the parent reports when it first came online, and we took it to the administration and said, hey, here’s a tool, do you guys want to use this tool? How do you want to promote it, how do you want to do all this. And it was met with the same thing. 50% of the room was, oh, this is awesome, we need to give a tour to our parents. And then 50% of the room was like lawsuit issues. It’s gonna be crazy. So, they just made the ultimate determination.We’ll will test it, and we’ll will play with it a little bit and see, and then, we’ll decide. And, at this point, they just were not going to go forward with providing it to all of our parents. Can’t say that tomorrow that won’t change.
Marissa Naab: OK, well, in the interest of staying on time, we’ve talked a lot about Lightspeed Classroom Manager and CatchOn Analytics. So, I’m going to turn this over to Mike and Jared, and they’re just going to go over some of the product features of these two solutions. And then just a quick reminder, we are doing a Q and A at the end of this. So if you have any questions about anything we’ve discussed, please feel free to put that in the chat box, and we will answer them at the end of this presentation. So, Mike, I’ll turn it over to you.
Mike Durando: Thank you. And please throughout, if you think of something, don’t wait until the very end to ask it. Because it may be easier just to address it while we’re on the topic. And so some of this what we covered today. And I’m sure many of you are aware, but here’s the long and short of it. There’s more software out there on those devices being used than you kno, about and quite frankly most of it’s being used. And I think when you talk about driving behavior, Richard and John hit on it right. Through a filter you can accomplish a lot of that, right? Making sure you’re blocking the bad stuff and I’m opening up education websites and applications. I think we have the benefit as a company of being mature, being around 20 years, and now there’s 21 million kids buying the software and it’s on 13 million devices. But what does that mean? You hear these buzzwords: artificial intelligence, machine learning. Well, the fact of the matter is that, the more data you have and you feed the machine learning in these algorithms your system just gets smarter. And this platform gets smarter, whether that’s the classroom tool and the filtering tool. And now, with the robust capabilities that CatchOn has we literally can identify all the applications and the new ones coming up faster than other companies, just by the amount of students behind it. And so, I think that’s a big piece, right?
Mike Durando: This baseline, the visibility that you’re looking for, there’s more applications and websites being asked for than ever before, right? And so really, the goal of this platform is to say, what’s your persona? If you’re in the network security side, you’re in charge and keeping the lights on, and making sure that devices get provisioned, and making sure people don’t access bad websites, now there’s a tool for you to give you that visibility or your classroom teacher. That’s all of a sudden, you know, dozens and dozens of devices in the class. And you’re like, Oh my God, how can I do my normal instruction? I don’t know what these kids are doing. We can empower you there. If you’re one of the decision makers on curriculum, on the instructional side of the house, hey, what is the top app to use? I didn’t even know there were eight math apps, I can consolidate that. And well wait a minute: I just figured out there’s a correlation between these three apps, and these are the highest performing schools. Now we have the information that we can share. And so, I think, again, this theme of visibility, it’s necessary because of those stats that you see there. Because we talked about, you know, everyone showed up for Classroom and Analytics presentation, but you heard a few different products mentioned. Let’s go to the next one. We’ll talk through these platforms. You heard about Lightspeed Filter. That would be your traditional web filtering, federally mandated.
You heard about the benefits of Lightspeed in some of the differentiators, right? And we didn’t even have a chance to get into the YouTube, but that’s filtering Lightspeed can provide for you. That’s one product.
Mike Durando: We talked about Analytics via CatchOn that Rich is using today. And I think John’s had some experience with ours. I know there’s CatchOn customers on this call that are coming to learn more about the Lightspeed Classroom Management piece. And then you heard about Alerts. That’s provided safety. And so everyone on this call has a filter. We also have a firewall. Richard and John use these examples: the kids are spending 85% of their time in these online communication apps. They’re in Google Workspace and 365. And so you really have to ask yourself: with your filter today or with your safeguarding tool today, can you see not just what’s happening through a browser and not be limited to a certain type of browser? Can it tell me in real time what’s happening? And in M 365? Because these kids unfortunately are going into Google Sheets, or Google Docs, or even in Teams channels, and they are bullying each other, or there’s indications of self harm, And so we talked about disparate solutions. I don’t know how districts don’t have a unified platform for filtering, safeguarding classroom, and even analytics. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack, right? I think that’s really the value that we can bring to districts. And you heard from Richard and John today: this holistic approach gives every person that matters at a district the ability to have that visibility, and then make informed decisions, specifically on Classroom.
Mike Durando: So, a couple of things I wanted to call out. We heard about different devices, right? And even the COSN study talking about, hey, these are the issues we’re dealing with. How as a teacher can I manage someone that has the brand new Chromebook or the new Surface device or is fortunate to have a MacBook? How can I control that? Well, many of the systems today that districts are trying to use can’t even support all those systems, right? And so, that’s the first piece. As a teacher, I know I can login, and no matter what type of device that student is on, I can make sure I’m driving that behavior. I have that visibility. I don’t need to just sit at the front of the class because Lightspeed actually served me up insights, gave me notifications to say, wait, once again, Mike’s not paying attention to the panelists and he’s off texting someone else. That’s abnormal. So with our filtering and safeguarding tools, you’ve heard about being proactive with the insights that are given teachers, and they’re not stuck behind a desk monitoring 30 little screens at a time like they may have been accustomed to with other classroom management solutions. I think that’s the first piece .
Mike Durando: Let’s go to the next one. We talked about this today, too: driving behavior when we’re trying to keep students focused. You need a very intuitive interface to be able to say, with a click of a button, I can drill down and see the student’s screen and be able to lock that screen. I can send a link to that screen. Rich talked about that from a disciplinary standpoint. I see in our example here, she’s playing games again. I hope that’s Minecraft or something. So, we heard from educational or disciplinary standpoint, like, I, as a teacher, I want to be able to say, hey, look, Mike’s been messing around again in class, like, here’s the proof for the parent. Conversely, what if Angie is doing a phenomenal job in the class, and I’m like, oh, God, parent teacher conferences coming up: I want to share this great thing that she did. You can do that with Lightspeed. And being able to record at any time: essentially you have the visibility to see the URL reporting. So really, simple interface here. For any of you that are interested in a more live demo, we can do that with you and personalize that for your district in keeping a student focused.
Mike Durando: Right, driving that behavior. Just to give you a visual representation of what John and Richard were talking about why their teachers like serving up the insights I mentioned to you. I can see very quickly who’s working on the assignments that I gave them versus maybe a student who says, hey, I’m stuck on this, and has raised their hand for help. And so, what we’re finding is, we’re very good at about updating features. But so plenty of teachers, they’re sponges, they’re getting thrown so many different things, and it’s tough being able to absorb all these things at the end of the day. Lightspeed is just trying to give them the tools to drive those students into better online behavior and help them with the end goal of learning outcomes, right? So, that’s the idea of Classroom, and just some screenshots so you can gather that it’s very intuitive interface. You heard that from Richard and John, real-world examples and feedback from curriculum instruction. I’m going to pause there to remind everyone to please ask questions because we’re gonna transition to the CatchOn piece of it.
Mike Durando: Again, the theme of the day, right? And we’ve seen this word on a bunch of slides and heard it: visibility. You don’t know what you don’t know. The beautiful thing about the CatchOn software in this platform and the integrations that are coming, is I can basically see a 360 view of everything my child is doing doing online. This idea of the different stakeholders, right: the security team and the security specialists need to know, like, OK, our students go to certain sites? Malware sites? Is bullying happening? Is self-harm happening? And so, you need to have reports on that in real time and be able to get those out and then quickly share them with guidance counselors, principals, and teachers. Richard and John both gave examples: Hey, I got a call, and I had to go look. And it was either from Classroom, or Filter, or even CatchOn. And here’s the data presented to them, and now they can make those informed decisions, right?
Mike Durando: So, let’s keep going just so they can see a few more of the reports that we’re able to provide with CatchOn and Lightspeed. Again, we’ve talked about today about measuring engagement. Everyone is online, but everyone is struggling to measure not just engagement, but also trying to track all the applications they have and what they’re paying for them. And you’re probably doing it in a CSV file somewhere that’s owned by finance, but there’s no way to actually see. Like, every teacher will say, I always use this application, and I must have it. I need it forever and forever. And I believe that most of the time. But now you actually have the data to say, well, look, it turns out you aren’t, you’re actually using a ton of this application. Or maybe it looks like Khan Academy is being used more often than these free apps. Can we standardize that? Just giving you the ability to say from an entire district—and there are some large ones on this listening—what app is being used the most? You get the macro level data, and then you’re able to draw it down into a specific user. If I get a call from parents saying I’m concerned about Jason, with Lightspeed platforms, not only can Richard get the CatchOn data for you, but he can also get the web filtering data. And we’ll have the alerts. And the teacher has that, right. So, again, this holistic view of everything a child is doing online really betters the experience for them as well as the staff members. So, the ability to measure engagement down to even an individual student in a classroom at anytime with any lightspeed product is really, really key to the platform. Then engagement as, well, I think just, for the sake of time, we want to leave a few minutes for questions. I think we’ve covered most of this. Jared, anything from your experience with implementing this stuff, that you’ve heard from districts? I know you’ve seen some of them say, I thought it was 100 apps and it’s actually 600 applications. But what have you seen from day 1 to 90 days, And, like, the different trends, and just things that they’re able to accomplish? And what they come back to you with feedback on.
Jared Accardo: Yeah, like you said, it’s a lot of unknown things. You know, Rich talked about how you can manage your devices, whether that be through MDM or through Google. You can really lockdown and control devices there. But it’s, it’s the web applications that are out there, and things that you don’t know about, that you don’t manage. I’ve had a lot of districts where teachers or educators talking about things at conferences. And, you know, there’s this new website there, importing student names into this website, to do this game or this activity that’s completely harmless, but it is putting student data out there. And so for a lot of districts that’s really eye opening, finding and seeing some of that stuff out there. And then another thing that we’ve had a lot of districts do, maybe after 90 days or further down, once they’ve had data for a bit: we’ve got this one ninth grade math class versus another another ninth grade math class. And they’re using different resources, and so now we can look at the outcomes of online testing, and then grades and things like that and start comparing some of that data. You know, these two classes, they use different resources to teach the same course. So what are things looking like there from a testing perspective? So there’s a lot of data and there’s a lot of different ways you can use that data once you’ve got it and once you’ve got to know what’s going on.
Marissa Naab: Awesome! Well, we have about five minutes left. So I’m going to try to get as many of these questions answered as possible. Let us start with a question for you, Rich. What did the Classroom adoption look like with your teachers?
Rich Perkins: So, initially, we were early adopters of the Classroom Project. So we had a lot of support from Lightspeed, and it’s one of the first tools we used to teach. We started with a single school. We started with a classroom. Then we started with a single school, and then we branched out to all schools, but we used the PD that was provided through Lightspeed. You know, they had a teacher certification. I don’t know if it’s still out there. I just haven’t looked personally. They would go through that. Our team just kind of took what that was kind of custom tailored for Clay County Schools. But the adoption was really well received, the initial adoption. People were just overjoyed. “I’ve never had anything like this, and this is going to be amazing.” And once we rolled it out to everybody, of course not everybody was on board with it. And then the pandemic hit and then everybody was on board with it. Everybody wanted this. Everybody wanted all the tools that we’ve been pushing towards them. So, from a technology standpoint, the silver lining, like Mike said, this is one of the things that was good for us: we’ve had the product and we’ve been trying to get them to use it and now they know, it, they’re embedded. Now if we get little hiccups and they can’t do something, we hear about it immediately. So now it’s more troubleshooting on the other end then then asking people to use it.
Marissa Naab: All right, We’ve got a question here for Mike and Jared. Do you offer pilot opportunities to evaluate these solutions?
Mike Durando: We do. Rich is a good example. Many districts will say, I have an immediate need. Now, this teacher knows Classroom Management. They’ve heard from a neighboring district, they want Lightspeed, and we’re just gonna buy a pilot for this for 100 students. And so that’s typically how that relationship will begin, right, much like normal dating. The more you grow fond of each other, that relationship starts to expand, right? And so, that’s typically what we do. So, yes, to answer your question and, you know, we talked about a lot of different products and a lot of different features. You don’t have to partner with Lightspeed across everything all at once. My Polk County example earlier. They needed filter at first, right? That was the first piece. Then they start to look at the other Lightspeed modules. And so, that’s probably typical in a customer life cycle with us. The other piece, too, is, and I think I saw a question about this come through the chat, the pricing and how it works. It’s all subscription-based, based on the number of devices or number of students you have. but Richard talked about the professional development, and there are no hidden fees. I think we’re all accustomed to that somewhere. And so the professional development, the onboarding, you would typically get a statement of work, and as part of the implementation, we include training you and your staff. So that’s always included. And I’ve heard horror stories from districts I’ve sat down with where all of a sudden they’re having to pay tens of thousands of dollars for professional development on it. We didn’t, we don’t.
Marissa Naab: Well, we are just about out of time. If we did not get to your question, we will have someone follow up with you after this event. But thank you all so much for joining us today, and thank you to our panelists. Those are really great conversations. It’s always so amazing to hear how you guys are overcoming these challenges as they arise, and some of the solutions are really creative, and it’s always a real pleasure talking to you guys. So thank you all again. Enjoy the rest of your day. We will be sending this recording out to everyone who attended, so keep an eye out for that. Thanks again for joining us.