Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Technology Tools for 2018-2019

I am excited to share details on the 2018-2019 technology tools program which will be rolling out to schools this spring. Every other year, each school receives an allocation of “technology points” based on their enrollment. Schools are then able to spend their points to upgrade technology in their school.

This year’s model is simplified to better reflect current-day needs. With IT now covering maintenance costs, employee devices, and committing to reducing student equity challenges throughout the district by allocating funds to distance learning and the 1:Web program, school-based technology points can be specifically focused on student devices, labs, and classroom innovation needs. With the 2018-2019 technology tools update, schools will have more flexibility in how to spend their technology points.

At schools that are not in the 1:Web program, there will not be significant changes in the funding model. These schools will be able to spend their technology points on student devices, computer labs, and a new category called innovation tools.

The innovation category includes tools that are available at our newly-built schools, making sure this technology is open to everyone in the district. Some of these exciting items include: TV displays with casting capability, 3D Printers, Maker Kits, video production tools, and pen tablets.

Schools participating in the 1:Web program will also receive technology points, but without the need to buy as many student devices, they will be able to allocate more of those technology points to the innovation category.

If your school is on the cycle to update their technology tools this coming school year, the IT Ed Tech and Service Delivery teams will be coming by to talk with your principal this spring. We are excited to see how the use of these new innovative technologies will enhance the learning environment! 

One last thing - the technology point allocations at the schools will look larger this year, but the dollar amount will remain the same. We have moved away from 100 points being equal to the cost of a Windows device, to 100 points being equal to the cost of a Chromebook. This reflects the shift away from Windows devices to cloud-based Chromebooks. The increased point count should not be confused with more money being allocated.

Please chime in with any comments, thoughts, or suggestions. They are appreciated.

Andrew

Friday, December 22, 2017

Student Data Privacy v2.0

On December 12, 2017, the BVSD Board of Education adopted a Student Data Privacy Policy, as mandated by the state. In response to the rapid advance of technology, this is the first time our district has had a robust policy around data privacy. The wording was adapted from the Colorado Association of School Boards (CASB) model policy that was developed by district leaders from all around the state last year.


There were three placeholders put into the BVSD policy for us to continue to research: Chrome sync, data sharing for research purposes, & centralized vetting of apps. My team is currently working with the District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) and Tech Contacts to determine pros & cons for each item, which will be brought back to the board for further review. For more information on each topic, please see below:


1. Chrome Sync
When a user signs in using their Google account, Chrome will sync bookmarks, history, passwords, extensions, and other settings across devices. This allows the user to continue working in a consistent, personalized environment no matter what device they are using. This would affect all users, but specifically, BVSD students who use shared devices such as carts, computer labs, and library computers. For additional information, please see this video.


2. Data Sharing
BVSD has worked in collaboration with the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) and research organizations to participate in Data Sharing Agreements to gather anonymous student data for analysis for research purposes. For example, BVSD has shared anonymized student data with an organization studying the correlation between air quality and absences due to respiratory issues in our schools. Parties wishing to partner with BVSD for research must engage in the district’s Research Review Process. This process includes procedures that align with BVSD Board Policies regarding data privacy, requiring student anonymity, to ensure that research will benefit the district and/or education.


3. Centralized Vetting of Apps
Vetting applications means evaluating them for both their instructional use and student safety and data privacy. Vetting can be done by:
  • IT personnel
  • Curriculum specialists in Instructional Services & Equity
  • Teachers & Teacher Librarians
  • Students
Currently, we require a Data Privacy Addendum (DPA) from every vendor that we contract with to purchase software. Additionally, we soon will be asking teachers to watch this video, vet, and list free click-through applications that they are using in their classrooms. Centralized vetting would mean that this responsibility would shift to district personnel.


What's Next?
Teachers will soon get their biannual survey, required by law, to add any apps and/or websites, they use to this list. If you are a teacher, please be on the lookout for this required action early in 2018.


It is essential that we all stay compliant with the law and engage in transparent communication with our community around this important issue of keeping student data private!

Please chime in below with your comments.

Andrew

Friday, December 1, 2017

ConnectME (My Education) - Solving for the Digital Divide Gets Traction!

In 2015, BVSD joined 3,100 other school districts in signing the Future Ready District Pledge, a program through the U.S. Department of Education’s ConnectED initiative. This pledge commits district leaders to fostering and leading a culture of digital learning. A target outcome of this pledge is to help schools and families transition to anytime, anywhere learning.


One of the key barriers to helping all of our families transition to anytime, anywhere learning is the digital divide. The digital divide is a very real equity issue here in Boulder, Colorado, and the surrounding communities. Many of our students do not have consistent access to devices or an adequate internet connection at home. With more and more instructional materials utilizing online tools, this creates an equity issue and an opportunity gap for these students. Solving the digital divide is an essential component to leveling the playing field and giving every student an equal opportunity to learn.


Screenshot 2017-11-15 at 2.43.08 PM.pngBVSD’s 1:Web program has made great strides with getting a device in every student’s hands at our pilot schools that they can use both at school and at home. We are continuing to expand into a district-wide implementation, with seven new middle and high schools joining this year. As students get devices, teachers are receiving professional development on classroom management, web-based instructional materials, and teaching in the digital age. Through this comprehensive program, every middle and high school student will eventually have access to a device, addressing the first major challenge of the digital divide.


ConnectME Logo.jpgThe second piece of the puzzle consists of connecting all students to adequate and sustainable internet access at home. ConnectME, or Connect My Education, was developed to help address this civil rights issue of our day by systematically bringing internet into the homes of our students. We want to ensure that we are approaching this in a way that can expand throughout the district without additional cost and is sustainable over time.


Our efforts in this area began several years ago, in collaboration with Impact on Education and Boulder Housing Partners. This partnership brought internet to ~60 families.  We have since shifted to a more scalable and consistent method of connecting students in need for free through a public/private partnership with a company called LiveWireNet® who specializes in high speed internet over the air. Through the partnership, BVSD is granting Livewire access to schools where they can install their small antenna. In exchange, Livewire is providing free internet to the homes of our students who qualify for free and reduced lunch. This program went “live” at Sanchez elementary last spring, and we anticipate getting Angevine Middle up and running in mid-December. By the end of the school year, we hope to have 30 families connected through LiveWireNet’s free service. We are also exploring another partnership opportunity to make wireless connections available to BVSD families in Kestrel, a Boulder County affordable housing community.


Our ultimate vision is to provide long-term, affordable ways to connect all of our kids in BVSD. While there are many programs out there that offer small-scale solutions or discounted access, I am committed to working to solve the problem systematically in a way that can expand throughout the district without additional costs. Every student deserves an equal opportunity to learn!



Andrew