Sunday, August 30, 2020

What is REVAS? (Remote Education Video Audio System)

As school starts in Boulder Valley School District, our teachers are coming back to be greeted by REVAS. REVAS is the Remote Education Video Audio System created by IT over the summer with a simple goal in mind - To create a cost-effective way for teachers to better connect with their students who are learning remotely. Initially designed for hybrid learning where some students are local in the classroom and others are at home, it is being proven to be effective when all students are learning remotely as well. 

REVAS consists of a high definition 1080p wide-angle camera with dual high sensitivity microphones mounted on a 60” tripod powered by a Chromebook using Google Meet. There is a 27” monitor sitting at the base of the tripod to make it easier for teachers to see their remote students via grid view. Remote students see and hear the teacher more clearly due to the HD camera and dual omnidirectional microphones.  

In cases where a dedicated Chromebook is not available, the camera/microphones can be connected directly to a teacher Chromebook enhancing the audio/video student’s experience.   

REVAS is portable! Many teachers are now taking them home, allowing teaching to originate safely from their own homes. 

When being used to originate instruction from a BVSD classroom, REVAS can be connected directly into the Audio Enhancement system now in most classrooms, thanks to the support of our community for bond-funded classroom upgrades installed over the last three years. When REVAS is connected into Audio Enhancement, remote students are heard through speakers in the ceiling, further making it easier for those in the classroom to listen to their remote counterparts. And when teachers wear the lanyard microphone, it is easier for those local and remote to hear better. 

Although technology is not the only solution for remote learning, REVAS is a critical component of the overall learning experience our teachers are leading at Boulder Valley School District.  

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Students Win in ConnectME (My Education) Approval

On April 14, 2020, the Boulder Valley School District School (BVSD) Board took a giant leap forward to ensure the digital divide, otherwise known as the homework gap, is dramatically reduced for the students of our district. They did this by approving a long term contract with Live Wire Networks to provide over the air broadband to qualifying students for free. This public-private partnership is the culmination of 5+ years of work to close the digital divide in BVSD. It has taken a broad team to support the pilot as we slowly progressed to a scalable district-wide solution.

When the major internet providers did not provide free internet to those in need, and the FCC rules would not allow BVSD to run E-Rated internet into the Boulder Housing Partner facilities, a new way to connect students was needed. As a result, ConnectME launched and Live Wire Networks leaned-in as a partner, putting their FCC-approved equipment on three schools in Lafayette, CO, allowing them to connect over 50 qualified students to free internet.

My drive to close the digital divide has always been about ensuring our district provides every student an equitable opportunity to learn. Our current situation with the Coronavirus and remote learning has shed an intense light on the homework gap and how it is real, even in BVSD. This national blog put out by SHLB (Schools-Health-Libraries-Broadband) further explains the challenges students face without internet access.

Boulder Valley School District has set a local, state, and national precedent in solving the digital divide that we hope others will use as a model to build upon. In addition to Live Wire Networks providing free internet to eligible students, BVSD will also share in the revenue generated by providing an over the air alternative for internet access to the BVSD communities in Boulder, Nederland, Broomfield, Erie, Louisville, Lafayette, and Superior.

I appreciate this tremendous team effort, and I am pleased we will now move from pilot to full implementation. As always, please share your thoughts by chiming in below.

Andrew, CIO Boulder Valley School District


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Multi-Factor-Authentication: The Key to Stopping Ransomware, Malware, and Viruses

Digital safety, security, and data privacy are key topics that the Boulder Valley School District Information Technology team continues to focus on and invest resources to prevent attacks. Although we do apply numerous security measures to protect our networks and data, the human element is the most vulnerable to be exploited through phishing attacks or social engineering. 

It seems there is not a week that goes by without a new story of a business or government agency being exploited. K-12 education is now being targeted, and several school districts delayed the start of school this year because of ransomware attacks. The State of Louisiana even declared a state of emergency due to "severe, intentional security breaches" targeted at school districts. 

The focus of the last decade was implementing strong passwords at BVSD. We require staff and student passwords to conform to industry best practices and be changed every 90 days. This requirement helps ensure that if a password is compromised, access will expire within 3 months unless the hacker resets the password. So what can be done to increase password security? 

In recent years more companies have required Multi-Factor-Authentication (MFA), which protects accounts even if an account’s password has been compromised. This has been true with most financial institutions, businesses, and the State of Colorado who has shifted to require multiple forms of identification as proof when logging in. An example would be a password AND a code texted to you. Or a password AND a code from an “authentication” app such as Google Authenticator, LastPass Authenticator, or Microsoft Authenticator. 

A few years ago, BVSD began requiring MFA in IT and encouraged all other employees to use it voluntarily. Recently, district leadership turned on MFA. As an incentive for BVSD staff and students to transition to MFA, IT has changed the password requirements. Instead of requiring passwords to be changed every 90 days, if MFA is enabled, the user’s password will be valid for one year.

To enable MFA, staff and students may go to, scroll to the bottom of the page and click on the Multi-Factor Dashboard icon and follow the instructions. 

Understanding that humans put our data at risk more than any other breach, or system exploitation, we need your help to ensure BVSD student and staff data remains secure. Please support BVSD in keeping sensitive data secure by turning on MFA. 

Please chime in below with your questions, comments, and concerns. 

Andrew Moore, CIO Boulder Valley School District