Oct 01 2020

How Lightspeed Systems Helps Schools Make Remote Learning Safer

The company’s platform approach is helping school and IT leaders address the many complexities inherent in supporting at-home education.

Remote learning presents a new set of questions for IT teams, including where and how students and teachers connect and how those connections are secured.

When kids learned together in school, “the IT department had some visibility into all of it. You could see the devices, see who’s checked in,” says Brian Thomas, CEO of Lightspeed Systems. “Now, devices are at home. In some cases, it’s a student-owned device, in some cases a school-owned device. It all becomes much more complicated.”’

There are new tools that can help simplify the situation. A platform with classroom management features, data analytics and enhanced security can help schools manage a slew of devices and connections during remote learning.

DISCOVER: Find the right Lightspeed Systems solution for your IT needs.

The Remote Learning Challenges Schools Are Facing

School districts may encounter a number of tech-related hurdles as they shift to remote learning, including the following.

  • Visibility: Why hasn’t a particular teacher implemented Zoom meetings? Why haven’t certain students shown up for online learning? Administrators can’t address these questions until they have visibility into online activity. “Visibility into the data is the first step that we can take,” Thomas says. “You need to know where devices are physically located, whether they are they connected to the internet, how they are being used. That is the starting point for empowering remote learners.”
  • Equity: Not all students have equal access to devices or bandwidth. Visibility empowers administrators to see where these inequalities are having an adverse impact. “When you know what’s going on, then you can begin to effectively address the underlying issues of equity that may be driving the situation,” Thomas says.
  • Efficacy: Leadership also needs tools to determine whether online education is in fact driving educational outcomes, regardless of where or how students are learning. “Some students are on a student-owned device on their home network. Some students are on the Chromebooks that the school bought. Some students are on an iPad because somebody else had to use the Chromebook inside their family,” Thomas says. “You need the ability to track efficacy across all those varied platforms.”
  • Compliance: The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) aims to ensure students are safe from inappropriate online content and contact. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) safeguards student data. In the remote learning environment, there is renewed urgency among school administrators to ensure compliance with these key guidelines.

Districts also have an obligation to protect students’ physical safety. Without daily, in-person contact, however, it can be hard to know if a student is facing physical abuse or other dangerous conditions.

In the face of these myriad challenges, technology offers a way forward.

How a Single Dashboard Can Keep Students Safe Online

Lightspeed Systems offers a platform approach to help schools address the many complexities inherent in supporting at-home education.

Cloud-based filtering and an AI-based student safety monitor enable administrators and teachers to follow students’ daily activities and overall academic progress. Meanwhile, device management helps IT deliver an equitable academic experience. Data analytics support student achievement and empower school officials to more closely monitor and manage performance.

The Lightspeed approach leverages “decision intelligence” to support remote learning, giving actionable information to district leadership in a timely way in order to support data security, student safety and positive learning outcomes.

Watch how data analytics can improve remote learning.

For schools that don’t already offer web filtering, Lightspeed delivers content filtering as a service. That means the solution can run on any operating system, on every computer. Filtering is a key component driving a safe online experience.

READ MORE: Find out how content filtering helps prevent cyberbullying.

The platform’s data collection capability helps drive deeper levels of insight into student behaviors: Who is using a device, when and for what purpose? Lightspeed is able to benchmark this data across a customer base of around 15 million students to help schools make sense of the metrics and take appropriate remediations where necessary.

Data analytics drive student achievement and also support teacher performance. For example, consider the teachers who were trained on Zoom in March and have since migrated to Microsoft Teams or Google Meet for teaching. Data around this usage is critical to districts as they seek to deliver an equitable and safe online learning experience.

In addition, a classroom management component gives teachers enhanced visibility and control in the remote learning environment. “A classroom teacher can see every student screen — which tabs they had open, whether or not they were engaged in the lesson,” Thomas says. “They can chat with the student to get them back on track, take control of the student device or record what the student has done.”

Encryption on the platform helps schools to comply with privacy and safety regulations. Likewise, centralized management supports compliance by giving administrators ready control over students’ access to outside applications, websites or individuals.

MORE ON EDTECH: Here’s how to stay FERPA compliant while working remotely.

Why It’s Important to Use Tech Made for Education

For school districts looking to address the security challenges of remote learning, it’s important to team up with a partner that not only understands the cyber aspect but also has a deep grounding in the specific needs of K–12 institutions.

“You’re going to hear from a large number of software vendors. Some work across multiple verticals, while others focus on K–12,” Thomas says. “We’ve been around for 21 years and we have focused exclusively on education that entire time.”

As remote learning continues to unfold, many will find that having a trusted partner with deep K–12 domain expertise is key to moving forward successfully.

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