In the midst of world-wide shutdowns, many schools faced the challenge of quickly launching new distance learning programs, including purchasing devices, providing reliable access, and keeping at-home learning safe.
In this webinar, Dr. Tina Barrios, Assistant Superintendent at Polk County Schools, speaks with Lightspeed Systems® about their experience with distance learning and scalable solutions they leveraged for safe student learning.
0:06 (Brett Baldwin from Lightspeed Systems)
Good afternoon, everyone. This is Brett Baldwin Lightspeed Systems. We’re going to kick off here in about two minutes, We’re gonna give everybody a chance to get logged in.
Perfect. I think we’ll get kicked off. Tina, are you ready?
Yes, I am, fantastic. I think we’re good to go. Thank you everyone for joining. It’s always a pleasure to look at the attendee list and see a lot of familiar names. I’m very excited to have a distinguished guest with us today. This is Brett Baldwin with Lightspeed Systems. I’m the National Sales Director along with me Tina Barrios from Polk County schools in Florida, we’re really happy to have her, a very distinguished guest, to share what current Polk County schools are doing today.
What we’re going to talk about today, and I’m sure a lot of you have seen, is the educational environment is changing very rapidly solely, due to just the way that education is happening with students. But some of it also influenced by the circumstances with the covid outbreak, and, so, Tina, thank you so much for joining us today.
Glad to be here.
Is there a chance you could share a little bit of background on Polk County School with everyone?
Sure. Polk County schools is in Central Florida kind of squished between the Tampa, Hillsborough area, and Orlando, Florida. So right in the corridor. We have about 105,000 students, so we’re very large district. And we have a fairly large, rural community, which presents some of its some of the challenges that we have with distance learning and internet access.
Want to share a little bit with everyone on what the districts doing with remote learning environment, and how have you guys transitioned to that?
So, in the beginning, I think, like everybody being thrown into this very quickly presented a lot of challenges early on, and some of our biggest challenges early on was really understanding the true needs of the community, not only our students, but even our staff. And so, as we’ve gone through this process, we’ve gained some insight in terms of what that need is. We were prepared to send out, we had been planning for about two weeks before schools actually shut down.
So, we’d had a lot of conversations, and we’re looking at sending out a survey. And, we had decided a paper survey, because we felt like if we did it online, we may not capture everything. And, that was actually March 16th that we were sending that out. And schools closed on the 13th. So, we very quickly had to put the survey online, and at least capture some data. So that presented some of our challenges. We had about 46,000, a little over 46,000 responses, to that survey.
And it showed us that of those, about 90%, had internet access, and about 83% had devices.
And the one question that, that I think people assumed, but not necessarily knew the numbers, is, we asked how many had a smartphone with unlimited data. And only about 50–55% of those that actually responded had unlimited data. So right off the bat, we knew we were going to have some Internet access issues that we couldn’t just rely on. The fact that maybe a lot of our students might have headphones. So, we had to, we had to, very quickly, look at that. We had about 60,000 devices that we got prepared to hand out. We only handed out about 23,000 devices. One of our biggest hurdles was that we did not have a filtering mechanism in place for take–home. We have certainly had a filtering mechanism for in district devices, but we were not sending a lot of devices home.
So, we didn’t have a solution in place, and I will say, that’s where Lightspeed really stepped up and worked very closely with us on that. So, that was a huge hurdle that we needed to overcome. That, because of the work we did with lightspeed, we were actually able to resolve that problem fairly quickly.
I really appreciate that feedback for, you know, some of the feedback you guys had, some of the initiatives you’ve implemented, what strategies have been working best for the county? And are there any best practices you’d be willing to share with everyone on this call?
So, you know, one of the things I will say that’s critical was that we had to have a very cohesive team working on working together on the solution, and also to have the support of your Cabinet, or your upper level leadership, understanding what the challenges are to transition very quickly to this kind of learning environment. Having had quite a few years of experience over the past 18 years, with 1 to 1 deployments, I knew some of the challenges that we were going to face, and I knew in some ways, Polk wasn’t ready in some areas. And luckily, for us, we were ready and other areas, and, so, the first thing we had to do was identify what were those critical needs? What were the critical areas we had to address first? And then we had to develop a plan to implement, and make sure that we could support that learning. One of the things we made sure to focus on was our seniors and trying to get them to have the resources to continue their education, because graduation was right around the corner for them. So, we had to address some things there.
We were fortunate that we were using SCCM and Jamf. So, we had a mobile device management solution in place. And we’ve been working with several schools that had implemented a 1 to 1 device in the classrooms. We were not sending those devices home, but we did have some experience on what it would take to manage that. And we had some training mechanisms in place to support that part of it, and certainly managing those devices. Certainly, the filter solution was crucial to us. That was a huge hurdle. Again, Lightspeed worked very closely with us. And then, we also had a single sign on solution in place, which I think is critical.
And in addition, once we got things up and rolling, it took us several weeks. And then we put a call center together for students and parents. And that has been a huge support for them to have a direct line to call in and actually physically talk to somebody, to walk them through some of the technical challenges. So those were some of the things we put in place. And then we also outfitted 50 busses with cellular mobile devices. And we ordered 500. That was a challenge, getting enough of the devices, because I think everybody in the country was trying to look at what they were going to do to support remote learning. So those were the things that we did right away to try to put in place. But again, it was certainly a process. Getting the devices out was our first challenge, getting the help center on call and then and then addressing the internet, the lack of internet access in some of the areas.
Yeah, as far as overcoming those challenges, those was one of them. They say you move the needle the most when you overcame that challenge and was there a specific way that you guys approach that challenge.
I would have to say that.
The quick response of Lightspeed Systems, really partnering with us because we were not a client of Lightspeed at the time. We had actually been piloting a little bit. We have, like I said, an on–prem solution for district devices, but we didn’t have a solution for take home devices, and we had looked at extending licenses for our existing solution. And that was going to present a challenge just because it was just the technical challenges. And so, probably the easiest to overcome was having the filtering, getting that system in place and working through those challenges very quickly was probably the biggest hurdle to help us get the device is ready to go home.
Yeah. That’s something really interesting and I hope you’ll get with me in on a little bit. I’ve had several schools talk to me about how do I communicate with our superintendent and our cabinet in regards to some of the initiative that IT has any advice that you can give to the districts that are joining today.
That is a challenge. I’ve been in this business for quite some time. And I think I will say that while it’s a challenge this pandemic has thrown us into some challenges, I do believe it’s given us also some opportunities, because I think that if your cabinet level, your superintendent and your CEO, your CFO, and those folks aren’t, you know, heavily involved in, that, this certainly highlighted in promoting the IT area. Because they were totally dependent on IT coming through to make this work because they couldn’t do it, otherwise.
And so, I think, I think it certainly highlighted. Not only that, but I also think it highlighted the importance of what teachers do every day. I think you, you’ve seen a lot of means, and there’s a lot out there about the challenges of being a teacher at home and having to work from home. And so, I think, while it has been a challenge, I also think it’s highlighted some of the things that, in some ways, we take for granted. We just expect technology to work. And when you slip to this kind of environment, it presents a whole new set of challenges. And, again, opportunities for you to have conversations with your superintendent and the cabinet level on what are the real needs moving forward. And for us in particular and probably a lot of districts. It really presented it really shined a bigger light on what the true digital divide is because I think we have a sense of what that is.
But from a selfish standpoint, I think, looking at what we’ve had to do. It’s really clear that, in order to have equity for all students, we really need to give every student a standard device, to make sure every student has it, has that same opportunity, relying on things that they might have at home or might not. And, and that maybe they have a device, but it’s not really sufficient. I think this really shines a light on the need to standardize that and make sure we have adequate access for all students and don’t assume that they do.
Absolutely. Good for you. Yeah. I really like what you did with the polling of the parents and the family. That’s such a great idea to get data back, kind of taking that altogether given what you know today. Is there anything you would have done differently at the start and district closure?
You know, that’s an interesting question I’ve sort of pondered. I don’t know honestly what I would have done what we would have done differently, because I think we were very fortunate, early on that our cabinet level was engaged and pulled in a variety of people to help us really look at, what are the core immediate issues and putting, really, a triage plan together with areas of expertise and setting them out, and saying, OK, this is your challenge. Go work on this piece. Work on this piece and bringing it together. So, I don’t know that we would have done anything differently, given the quickness that we had to respond.
Sure, sure. That makes a lot of sense. Knowing a lot of districts didn’t necessarily have a 1 to 1 initiative available, what advice you would give to a district that’s looking to implement one.
The first thing I say is just take a deep breath. Because sometimes when you try to look at all of the what ifs and the technical challenges, it gets a bit overwhelming and so, I think you definitely have to methodically plan that out. I’ve always been one that says, it’s not the technology that really concerns me. It’s the human side of the challenge of moving to a 1 to 1. We’re really across it and I think today the question is, should we give every kid a device? The question is, when are we going to give every kid a device? And 10 years ago, I don’t know that that was the question, but certainly the technical pieces, you need to have a mobile device management. You need to have a strong filter in place that you can easily modify, and push updates out, and really manage with, with a good reporting system, and then certainly a single sign on piece.
I would say to really look at the digital resources that you have, and simplify those resources, so that it’s not overwhelming. I mean, we certainly had our challenge was not that we didn’t have a lot of digital resources. Our challenge was we really didn’t have a centralized learning management system specific to Polk. But I think the biggest piece is the professional development for teachers and also students.
I mean, that, you know, I think we assume that kids are digital and they can learn online. But it really is a completely different environment, and you can’t just take what you do in a traditional classroom, and slap it in an online environment. You really have to think through that, especially with your early learners. I think we’re learning kindergarten and first and second graders while number one, you can’t have them sit in front of a computer for 4 to 5 hours. And I think you really have to kind of blend and give them activities that engage them, but also connect them. I think, you know, especially for the younger kids, where we’re finding that they really want to be together. And so it’s really a challenge for them not to see their classmates. It’s a little easier for your middle and high schools. But then that really kind of sitting back and looking at what does this really mean if we have to continue this distance learning, and how do we address some of those things that we saw early on from the human capital side?
Sure. Please put that into consideration as this impacted your kind of long-term planning for the district.
Absolutely. So, one of the first things that we’ve done, is, where we will be implementing a learning management system this summer, that was our biggest gap, it wasn’t digital resources. Were heavy users of Google Classroom, and Microsoft Teams, Office 365. We had a lot of digital resources, but some of the feedback and challenges we had was, we gave flexibility to our staff, on what resources they were using. And some of the resources were not necessarily, you know, district resources that went through our single sign on. Things like Class Dojo, that are very popular Nearpod, and some of those things that were not necessarily district, supported application. So it was challenging for our parents and sometimes our students.
So we’re looking at really kind of streamlining that interface, so that it’s one consistent look and feel, which not only helps with the student navigation and parents supporting that, but also helps our teachers, a little bit and helps us streamline professional development. And we’re certainly having some conversations about really assessing the digital resources that we are using, because with our single sign on, we’re pulling reports every day of which of the resources are being accessed the most. How long are kids online using those resources, and then certainly looking down the road at what was the impact of that.
You could, you know, a lot of schools are starting to centralize a lot of their solutions. The educators have access to them from this covert situation is very interested to hear what the districts doing.
You know, I think a lot of us are watching the news, and we’re seeing articles where next week covid is, or three years from now, are we still battling covid. Do you, as you look into planning for next year, are there anything that you’re doing differently from previous years to prepare for next year school year? And do you anticipate that there may be remote learning expectations next year versus this year?
Certainly, I mean, I think right now, it’s still very much up in the air and unknown in terms of how are we going to manage students coming back on campus, and what does that look like? From a budgeting standpoint, if you’re at the CDC guidelines, which I think everybody is probably in agreement, that by August and September, it’s not going, it’s not going to be gone and so we’re still going to have a lot of these things in place where, you’ve gotta have hand sanitizer. You’ve got to separate your students, you’ve gotta look at just shared resources in the classroom. We’re having lots of conversations about, you know, do we do an A-B schedule? Is it a blended type of environment Where one day there, you know, half day here, and then half day at home or a full day?
And those kinds of things bussing, and feeding students is a big issue that we’re looking at right now on how to deal with, and oddly enough, and that not necessarily oddly enough, but being in Florida, we’re also in the midst of preparing for hurricane season. So, you know, throwing in on top of, trying to get school opened, we’re also looking at what happens if we have a hurricane and our schools have to become a shelter. But we’re certainly, again, looking at all of these different options on what’s going to be best and what can we actually support.
Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah. Just so impressed with the way that your district handled this situation. It didn’t really need to watch them a vendor’s side. I know a lot of people on the call. We’re interested in the product. So, if you don’t mind, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions on Lightspeed products, and kind of what made Relay your choice when it came to remote filtering.
So, Oh, Go ahead.
So, you know, what made Relay, our first choice was the ability for them to so quickly come to the table and within a couple of hours, set up the filtering pieces for multiple platforms and then the quick deployment process. I mean, it was amazing to me, how quickly within 1 to 2 days, of really having conversations that we were able to get this up and running, and, and set up on multiple platforms very, very quickly. And that, to me, was probably, one of the biggest ease of getting that set up, How quickly, and then, certainly the support from the folks on your team.
I appreciate that part of the team goes, walk us through. What does that look like working with Lightspeed?
So Lightspeed has been nothing short of amazing in terms of the support. They responded extremely quickly. They worked with us very closely, and within a few hours, were able to answer some questions. Their technical sport has been very quick to respond, and they usually resolve any of the issues we have within the hour. So, I would guess, I would really say the speed at which we were able to get this set up and running the, I would say, agility of the platform to adjust to changes that need to be changed on the fly. And then the, the phenomenal people support from the team at Lightspeed, both from the implementation side, and also the technical side.
A lot of that also goes back to your team. I can personally say that having worked with them early and prior to the covid situation was always extremely responsive. So, I think we also need to thank your team because that’s really been conducive to this partnership.
Are there specific features in Relay that you and the team found most useful and you kind of talk through those?
Um, one of the features that we’d like that you’ve introduced just recently is allowing us to see day-to-day how much time is spent on the Internet related to educational resources or non-educational resources. And our ability to get some insight into the websites that students are visiting and what we can lock and unblocked pretty quickly. So, some of the reporting ability has been extremely helpful. And we’ve been using that every single day, also. The ability to track the device, to see where the device is reporting, the IP address is also helpful if we need to recover, if there’s a lost or stolen device, the ability to be able to track that is a huge help when you’re very quickly to deploying lots of devices.
So, I would say, that, you know, the reporting features, that you put in place, the agility of the platform, has been really good, and then the, the ability to track the devices.
I really appreciate that insight. I think a lot of schools right now are similar in that either they’ve been forced to face covered in a very short period of time. We’re going into next year. The uncertainties kind of brought this. We have to have a plan going into it. Let me give you an opportunity to share anything else you think would be helpful to districts as they’re going through that process, and then after that, I’ll certainly walk through a couple of kind of features of the product. We really want to get a quick introspective all the product and then we’ll open up for questions.
I think the, you know, having done this for quite some time, some of your best resources are people that are walking in your same shoes. And so, really working with your leaders, within your community, your state leaders, you know, within the K12 or K20 environment, we actually work very closely with the K20 environment.
So, reaching out to those that have, kinda walk that walk.
And really sharing those kind of day-to-day operational things that people take for granted is probably the most helpful. I think there’s a lot of data out there. And so sometimes it’s really trying to sift through all that data and find something that really matches what meets your individual needs at the district level, and what also meets not only your budgetary challenges and opportunities, but also professional development. Because that’s a critical, critical component. And probably the most difficult question, one that I continue to ask is not that we can’t build it and put this infrastructure in place. But my kind of challenge has always been, what’s the sustainability? And so we really, in my mind, moving forward, both at a state and lead to any national federal level, really need to look at the sustainability moving forward, to be able to put devices in every kid’s hands. I think this is really brought to light the need for that.
And I think the devices are inexpensive enough these days, when you compare them to what we would pay for textbooks. And also, there are just many, many great resources out there today, including some things with built-in artificial intelligence, so it’s not for lack of resources, it’s really the sustain the funding sustainable part that I think we need to address moving forward.
Does that kind of circle back to your previous conversation about having open communication with board and superintendents? And some of the Cabinet?
Great, great feedback. I am always amazed, especially. And I think we’re all fortunate to be in the K 12 space because unlike enterprise where you don’t want to tell your competitors what you’re doing. It’s a really great opportunity for camaraderie and sharing ideas and challenges. And it’s really interesting. I had several conversations now with may school districts, and there’s a lot of challenges you all are facing. But I’m surprised how many of you are communicating and working with each other to get over those challenges. I think that’s been really great to watch from the outside.
Anything else you’d like to add, and then I’ll maybe do a quick five minute walkthrough on just a couple of slides of high levels for those of you that, some interest in what the product looks like. But then, we’ll open up to questions for both within your site. Yeah, absolutely.
So, I’ll talk a little bit about the Relay platform. And, a little background on Relay by Lightspeed Systems, much like many of the filters 5, 6 years, 7 years ago, wasn’t in my filter, that accommodated looking at traffic as it went in and outbound from your network on campus.
In, boy, things have changed, everything from the Snowden incidents to where everything went to being HTTPS. All the way up to the covid incident, we’re all now facing, where devices are going home, and very quickly, realized, as a company that we had to do a better job on supporting these devices, and supporting the fundamental changes in learning. And so, a couple things like these really taking into account as we’ve looked at the Relay solution: New devices are becoming more and more prevalent, especially those going home with students, internet access. You brought this up really well. It’s a great question of, do students have access at home, and if they don’t, where are they going to get access?
And how do we ensure that those students are safe when they’re utilizing other Internet resources? A cloud–based system, that can work anywhere, not just on-site. And Tina, thank you very much for sharing this. That could be easy to point.
We have to pivot very rapidly, the days of having to change lans and change routing just to accommodate a filter. And, even going back to, and I think this is the most important, especially, if you go into the next year you’re having these conversations, I was on the phone with a district yesterday. And the greatest thing I heard in a longtime was said. The district said, “it’s not a matter of, do, I want to have a remote learning plan next year, it’s mandatory. I have a Remote Learning plan next year.” I think a lot of us were taken very briefly into this covid scenario in some schools are more prepared than others, but being able to do that next year’s unacceptable.
But, even more important than that, is, the ability to digest data and take that data to make decisions where we successful with remote learning and where are we successful? So, I’ll walk through a couple of quick slides, we’re just going to keep this very high level. Those of you that want more detail, please reach out to us. We’d be more than happy to walk you through the product and all that. Kinda going back to the filtering, the big thing is everywhere whether that devices on campus, off campus, we want it to be safe. We want you to have actionable reporting.
I’ll use, this is a really great point and then you can bring this up is how many of our students are using these for educational purposes. How many of our students are using these devices for non-educational purposes? What educators are having the best success? Regular classes for kids actually showing up for classwork during their assigned times while they’re at a remote learning scenario and these are the kinds of questions that districts are demanding and having access to what’s happening with the data going inbound and outbound on that device with that clarity for you to really get a good idea of what’s happening. If you don’t mind going to the next slide, this is an online activity log, which was talking about, and I even had this question come up. And I don’t have an answer. But I’ll share the question.
Because, if somebody were to start thinking about school-based funding based on enrollment and full-time equivalency and, of course, who and who does not attend their classes at any given time? And how do we measure that? Now, the devices are going home?
And how do we ensure that we’re getting the state funding that we deserve as a district based on our attendance? And that was pushed back on us a little while ago to, hey, can you help us with that reporting to understand who’s using those devices? And then if we’re asked, who is using for educational purposes versus those who isn’t? And so those are some of the questions that we’ve had to address. So, we have a new online activity log that was actually built from some of that feedback from our customers this year that really provide that clarity into how our online resources being used as these devices are going home and giving IT managers, when administration come to them, you actually provide that data in a way that they can understand and digest and that they can make those decisions. Where do we double down and where do we not?
Another thing that came up recently was keeping parents in the loop. Because now that more and more students have devices, how do we ensure that the parents feel comfortable with these devices? And so we’ve definitely taken that head on to provide some reporting back to the parents so that they can understand what their students are doing, how they’re integrating with that device and how they’re using that device. And something that’s come up a lot in the media that I’m sure you all have seen is mental health. Under quarantine scenario, students are no longer with their friends in the school environment.
We no longer have the ability to engage with the students on a daily basis. And, heaven forbid, the worst that you have a scenario where the home life isn’t necessarily great for that student. Are there ways that we can get engaged early, since we have mental health professionals at the school that help with those types of scenarios?
And there’s a portion of the filter called Safety Check that allows student activity to be monitored, but actually takes a step further and uses AI to look at that student having a mental health crisis, where maybe they’re a threat for suicide, or maybe a concern that they may hurt somebody else, or even taking that a step further. We have some additional functionality coming out around inappropriate content, but just searching the term suicide is actually really looking at: what was the intent of that? What is the actual constructed that website that they’re going to, and how does that influence what? The outcome of what they’re researching, how do we determine the report versus is something that really needs some school involvement. And so, from that perspective, really taking student safety in hand and spending quite a bit of time on that.
Another thing that’s coming out recently is called Analytics, or Analyze the Relay product.
And since we’re doing such a good job on the filtering and providing data around what’s being consumed on the Internet, the question came back of how do I now take data from applications and actually put those two together.
And so we have a second product that’s becoming more and more popular, called Analytics, which actually allows you to see the utilization of applications, understand rogue applications, which are becoming such a big part of this conversation. Just on another call a couple of weeks ago with this district, and the entire conversation was around government. This particular district had implemented a video conferencing solution that was pre-approved for educators. It was known to pass all the student data privacy compliance with the school had. And when they actually put Analytics out in the environment, found out that their teachers are utilizing 11 different video conferencing solution the least used was the district’s.
And so that opened up a whole can of worms. Now, the conversation is, one: Are we not providing the right tools that are educators need that they want to, since these are real gaps and they’re just putting it on. Or is this a situation where teachers, because it was so abrupt but they’re just scrambling to try to figure out what they can use. And three, are we at risk now for student data? And those are questions that were really big in this environment. Analytics can help pull those two together, so, as you all are trying to make decisions going into next year, you can very quickly, smartly make this decision.
The other piece of Analyze, that’s really interesting is also ROI. So not only can you get compliance, you can also get ROI on your application. So if there’s any question of, are we overpaying on licenses, you can certainly get that. And that’s not just on the school’s centrally deployed applications. As one of the things that makes a solution very different is we also collect data on those applications that were installed on individual devices. So, just a couple of things that we’re really trying to promote in the environment to help districts handle the covid situation and coming back into school. So I don’t wanna spend too much time on product, because I really, since we have Tina on the line, I’d really like to spend some time engaging with her knowledge, but we’ll open it up for questions. Both of us will field those questions. Marissa is going to play moderator for us, but please ask any questions that you have, and we’ll be sure to answer those for you.
Yeah. OK, so here is a question for Tina. Short-term, 2020-2021 school year funding, having an anticipated downturn. What impact has this had on your procurement adoption and strategic plans particularly for EdTech?
That’s an interesting question, because we’re having conversations short-term about what we’re gonna get in terms of an infusion of money. This, we’re thinking, we’re gonna get an infusion of money this year in response to covid, but it’s the next year out that we’re concerned with.
Funding being cut. So, we’re certainly having conversations on, how do we maximize all of the resources, and really looking at what are we spending on instructional materials. Going back and looking at how much money we’re spending on certain digital resources that may not be giving us our return on investment. So, I’m really talking about that the data piece, I think is critical.
We have certainly spent funding. One of the things I didn’t mention that we did right away was we actually purchasing 10,000 devices right away. 5,000, we use the HP laptops and iPads heavily at the elementary level, and we bought 5,000 iPads and 5,000 HP devices because we assumed we were going to have a need. We ended up not deploying those, so the good news is we knew moving forward, we would use those devices. So, we invested very early in some additional devices in preparation for that need. I also mentioned that we’ve put hot spots on the busses were looking at expanding that program. And we also, one thing I didn’t mention is, we also are putting extended Wi-Fi access at all of our campuses. So, that it, it extends farther beyond into the neighborhood.
So, we’re trying to leverage multiple solutions as we move forward, that we can sustain with the budgeting piece.
All right. This one is for Brett on the Safety Check feature. Is that something that is included with Relay? And if it is, do you have to turn it on? Does an automatically start?
A really great question. So yes, that is included with our content filtering portion, but when we set it up is different schools have different policies. What we’re finding with acceptable use policy, some districts really want this data and really want to engage the students from a mental health perspective. Others are asking that, that data is not collected, because they’re AUP does not notify parents, but that’s going to be collected. So, the way that we set that up, as you can either have it on or off. And that’s entirely at your discretion.
This one’s for Tina again. How long did it take to implement Relay? And what were the phases? Do you use Safety Check and how do you handle afterschool issues?
When we implemented Relay, I’m gonna say within 2 to 3 days in terms because we had very, very short turnover and it took us a couple of hours to actually get the different policies in place.
And then, we were, again, because we had the mobile device management ability, we were able to push that out very, very quickly. So, you know, we had each of the schools that we’re working on, preparation of devices. We deployed some of the district staff to assist with getting them ready. Because we had to have a different policy application for them to log in and go home off of the network. But, it only took us a couple of days, really, to get Relay setup and to begin that deployment process. And, probably, the most time consuming part is getting the app pushed out to each of the devices. You know, with that number of devices. But it only took us a couple of days, which, again, I’m gonna go back and say, it was, it was pretty amazing.
For all of the features of Relay that, you talked about, is the fee structure tiered, or depending on options and solutions?
A great question, So, Lightspeed has four different products: The content filter, which covers everything, except for the application data that we covered today. The application data comes from a product called Analytics, which is a separate SKU. There’s also two additional products we didn’t cover today: one is classroom management, which allows for teachers to share links, manage screens in the devices and we also have a mobile device management product and those can be bundled in any way that you would like. So, you can buy one product or by multiple, there are some options for discounting if you are bundling.
What is the impact of how the Tech Department in your district functions? Going 1 to 1, what’s altering? How are you involving teachers, principals, and administrators?
We had a pretty good infrastructure in place in terms of the team. I would call it a tiered support. So, all of our schools have a network manager that work with the schools, and each of our network managers have a district, what we call, Local Area Network Coordinator, that’s assigned. So, we already had a structure in place in into the way that we support schools, so, we had a streamlined way for them to get assistance.
That existed, and the other thing that we did was set up that set up a call center. So, we had a helpdesk center that was already in place to support our daily activities and our staff. And they focused on supporting the school and the staff. And then, once we got the deployment piece done, we set up a separate call center for parents and students.
So, I think we already had an existing structure in place, but we also began to pull in additional resources. When we did the deployment, we actually pulled in some of our programmers that are former teachers or had background. So, we kind of looked at anybody that we could deploy when we first had to get devices out, that might have had any of that experience. So, we were kinda triaged and looked at the talent that we had and how we could deploy them quickly to get that first wave done. And, then, once we did that, then, we went on to the second phase of setting up. You know, now that they’re all out, how are we going to help support that distance learning both from a staff perspective and the parent student side.
Hi, this one’s for Brett. For bandwidth considerations, is there a hybrid option to filter with our existing rocket when the devices in district and Relay went out of district?
Good question. We would actually encourage you to run Relay on site and off site. We do have the ability to run a hybrid mode where you’re just being appliance can be really aware.
The reason I would suggest that, and this is from a technical perspective, the way to really handle SSL traffic is very different than your traditional way. You’re getting much more visibility and much more control, because we’re actually handling that session on the device or use the device. It also means less overhead for your IT team. So instead of having to push certificates and manage files and a man in the middle proxy, that all goes away with Relay. So, there is a hybrid component available, however, I would certainly suggest that you put Relay at your school and devices and then what the hybrid handle, the BYOD IOT type devices.
I think we have time for one final question for Tina with remote learning. As most district plans, how has this impact of policy for devices, social media and parental guidance slash oversight?
I don’t know that it’s changed much in the way of policy, because we already had policies in place.
I think that the biggest thing, the biggest change, honestly, as Brett mentioned, is really looking at the mental impact.
The mental impact that it has had on some of our students, because we’ve certainly had some instances that kinda came to the forefront with everybody doing remote learning. And so we do have a monitoring system that we use that has been in place. And we noticed an increase in some things in particular categories on the mental health side. So I think there’s been some, maybe an increase there, but it hasn’t really made much of our policy change. Because it we had actually already gone through. We’ve been heavily looking at all of our IT policies and updating them this year.
So it was part of something that was already existing for us in terms of a policy perspective.
All right, Well, I think that about wraps up our time for today. I don’t know if you want to say any parting words?
Only parting words are thank you, Tina. Your feedback is invaluable to districts, I love these types of discussions where thought leaders can share what they’re doing, and how they’re doing it, and the challenges they’re facing. So, more than anything, just thank you so much for your time with this. Those of you that have questions that we didn’t get to today, there’s quite a large number of questions. I’ll make sure that that gets out to the teams to get answered for you, But more than anything to this, thank you so much for joining us today. You’re welcome, and thanks for the opportunity.
Absolutely. Thank you, everyone. Have a wonderful evening. Please stay safe out there.
Looking for pricing information for our solutions? Let us know about your district’s requirements and we’ll be happy to build a quote based on your unique situation.
Help us serve you better.