Wednesday, December 7, 2016

District Technology Advisory Committee

BP2 8.jpg
As technology usage continues to expand in BVSD, the discussions and collaborations on how technology is implemented become more important. With that in mind, I’m excited to announce a new advisory committee opportunity for Teachers, Administrators, Students, Parents, Community Members, and Education Center Staff. The District Technology Advisory Committee (DTAC) will launch in January of 2017.

When I arrived at the district in 2010, the ITGC (IT Governance Committee) was up and running. It was largely a group of community members who were helping the district navigate IT communications and change in a period before cloud computing, Chromebooks, 1:Web, security (malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, etc), and student data privacy were common topics. ITGC disbanded in 2011 after the issues of the day were resolved.

In late 2011, the Boulder Valley School District (BVSD) created the Educational Technology Leadership Council (ETLC) to consider and recommend a vision for the future of educational technology within BVSD. Through the work of this council, initiatives such as the 21st Century Cohort, 1:Web and Innovative Learning Spaces began to take shape as this group determined the ideal learning environment while using technology in BVSD.

As IT & Ed Tech continue to improve on these initiatives, as well as explore the implementation of data privacy laws into existing structures, it is time to form a next generation District Technology Advisory Committee for the 2016-17 school year.

Blazey Math7 03.08.16.JPGThis ad-hoc committee will primarily provide guidance on current shifts in learning and the use of technology. This will include work in the following areas:
  • Data Security & Privacy
  • Digital Access & Equity
  • Resourcing/Budgeting
  • Digital Citizenship & Balance
  • Professional Development
  • Digital Communications Structure and Content

Meetings will be from 4:30-6:30 pm at the BVSD Information Technology offices at 6600 Arapahoe Rd. 2016-2017 meeting dates are:
  • Monday, January 23, 2016
  • Tuesday, March 7, 2017
  • Wednesday, May 10, 2017

We have developed a short application to help form a diverse team representative of district stakeholders:
  • Teachers
  • Administrators
  • Students
  • Parents
  • Community Members
  • Education Center Staff

If you are interested in participating on the District Technology Advisory Committee for the 2016-17 school year, please fill out the application no later than Dec 31st. Parents, please collaborate with your students to fill out the application if they are interested in participating. Thank you!


Monday, November 7, 2016

Software Approval Process

Are you purchasing software for your classroom or school? What are the steps you need to take to do so? What is involved in evaluating that software for whether or not it works in our environment? Is this software safe and secure for students?

These are the questions that the Software Approval Process seeks to clarify for educators.

Your first step? Determining what type of software it is that you are looking to use:

The next step for software purchases and downloads is to submit an IT Service Request with the title of the software, links to information and a request to begin the software approval process. Once this request is entered, your school’s IT support will contact you to help guide you through next steps.

These next steps include filling out a form with the information that will help IT and Ed Tech determine if this software will work in our environment and if this vendor needs to sign the Data Privacy Addendum (DPA). Once these decisions have been finalized, you will be notified through your service ticket if your software is approved and if it needs a DPA signed.

If a DPA is required, Ed Tech will notify Purchasing who will work directly with the vendor. Your office staff will still submit a PO for the software, there just might be a delay in purchasing due to negotiations with the DPA.

If a DPA is not required, your office staff can submit the PO and once your software arrives, you are ready for install. If you need assistance in installing the approved software, please submit an IT Service Request.

If you are using software found online and is free (“click through”), check this list of "click through" tools to determine if the tool has already been reported as in use by BVSD staff or students. If the tool does not appear on the list, fill out this form documenting the use of that tool with students. You can read more about this process on the Data Security and Privacy page.

Please let me know what you think by commenting below.


Student Data Security & Privacy Law in Colorado

Sanchez 34.jpgIn the last few months, I’ve heard from parents and community members regarding student data security and privacy in BVSD. With the passing of HB 16-1423 last summer, I wanted to take a moment to share how we’re implementing the requirements of this law and improving on measures we’ve already started in protecting our student data.

First, we have dedicated resources for the security of our network. These include a security engineer whose responsibility it is to keep our data secure. We’ve added a vendor manager to work directly with our negotiated contracts in making sure that they maintain their level of security and support. Also, we’ve moved our data into a more secure location.

IMG_6160.JPGIn addition, our legal department has created a Data Protection Addendum (DPA). This is a required document that must be signed and followed by every vendor that we contract with that uses and collects personally identifiable information of our students. The DPA provides guidelines and expectations for how the vendor is able to use, store and dispose of our student data. You can find the BVSD standard DPA here. If a vendor is unable or refuses to sign the DPA, then we do not purchase the software.

The new law also requires that school districts provide a list of “on-demand” or non-contracted resources that teachers use with students. These generally free online tools are available for our students to use, and it is up to the teacher to determine if the tool a student is using online meets appropriate requirements for age and privacy.

Finally, we’ve created a professional learning course that helps teachers learn how to find and understand the privacy policy and terms of use for the online tools that they are using in class. If a teacher determines that a tool meets these standards and plans on implementing the tool with students, he or she submits the name of that tool to an online form so that we can collect and maintain this list as a district. You can view the list on our website.

As our district continues to implement these measures, I invite you to follow our website as it will be kept up-to-date with the changes to help you and your family understand how data is secure in BVSD. And please let me know what you think by commenting below. Andrew

Friday, August 12, 2016

Welcome back to the 16-17 school year!

After a much needed break our teachers and staff will be coming back to systems that have been updated for security and ease of use. New student usernames and passwords will help us educate our younger students on keeping private information confidential, and older students on strong passwords and why they are important.

Teachers and staff can now turn on dual factor authentication within their Google accounts making their account inaccessible by an intruder if their password is ever compromised. This feature is currently mandatory for all IT and Ed Tech employees.

Another change implemented over the summer is the way in which schools will order new technology. This new way of ordering technology tools is just like how schools currently order paper and pencils. No more special process for ordering technology! And most of what you can order is in stock to ensure timely deliveries.

This year I personally plan to spend more time finding ways to eliminate the digital divide in our schools. From continuing our 1:Web programs at Centaurus and Broomfield high schools to providing direct internet to those in need, my focus on this civil rights issue is sure to grow.

Finally, watch for information on new networks, phones, technology funding, and expanding partnerships as the year plays out and IT continues to support the Success Effect in BVSD. I continue to believe IT must innovate and adapt to support our teachers and students with new teaching practices. I will continue help to ensure that the best future-ready learning environments are available for all of our students.

Please log in to chime in below. I appreciate your input - innovative and critical alike. Both make us better at what we do.

Happy 16-17 School Year!


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

ConnectMe! (Connect My Education)

The BVSD move to the digital world reflects the way our economy and society operate in general and allows for learning to happen any place and anytime for our students, who have a digital device and an internet connection. When students lack internet access, these learning experiences and opportunities are impacted. My team and I are working to bridge this digital divide to help ensure equitable access for all students.

Although BVSD IT has run internet into one Boulder Housing Partners community as a pilot program, that option is not viable for all of our students. With that in mind, we are starting a new pilot called ConnectME (Connect My Education).


DSC00477.JPGThe BVSD Success Effect speaks to the need for partnerships that help us to achieve our educational goals.

Recently, former Centaurus High School graduate and current CU student Balkarn Shahi approached me with an idea to address the learning gap in east county by partnering with city government, charitable organizations, and BVSD to get families connected who otherwise would not be connected. The key is that Balkarn will lead the effort to go door to door, with help from his CU friends to work through the issues with connecting through Comcast's Internet Essentials or Century Link's Internet Basics which are both $9.95 internet options.

Balkarn described his time at CHS where friends, would come to his house to complete homework, check social media and be connected to the world using his available internet connection. He understands the digital divide that exists for our students first hand and is passionate about working to bring access to all students.


My department will be working alongside Balkarn to support his efforts to find the funding to provide access to the Internet for families in need. BVSD IT will not be supplying funds for this portion, rather providing the support to build these relationships with the City of Lafayette, Sister Carmen, and others.

Balkarn has even started a GoFundMe campaign to provide startup funds for this project.


This work would not be able to happen without building the partnerships that the Success Effect highlights. The initial reach of this opportunity is for the Sanchez Elementary community to explore how family access can impact an elementary school and the learning of students and families.

Through this partnership between IT and Sanchez, teachers will receive professional development from BVSD’s Ed Tech team to encourage and support the shift in instruction to a balance of the traditional and digitally enriched classroom. With partnering from the school, the team will also lead learning opportunities for parents to experience and learn about the digital tools, much like what is already occurring within the parent community through the 1:Web pilot.

Next Steps

IMG_0082.JPGIT will collaborate with the pilot team to articulate details as well as begin working on the financial partnerships needed to make this happen. We should officially launch the ConnectME Pilot in the 2016-17 school year.

Please chime in with your thoughts below and help me support Balkarn and CU in their efforts to help close the digital divide in BVSD.


Monday, February 22, 2016

BVSD Technology Tools Program

IMG_0069.JPGIt is no surprise that changes in technology are happening all around us. My team now supports over 27,000 digital devices which is up almost 300% from just 5 years ago. Chromebooks, which entered the market only a few years ago, are now a classroom technology standard. This is evident by the 12,500+ Chromebooks already deployed in our schools.

In addition, new repair costs for aging projectors and wall-mounted touchpads are now covered in our existing budget. As technology and cost models change, the IT and Ed Tech programs must also adapt to be relevant in the learning environment.

The BVSD Technology Tools Program is the evolution of the long-running “Tech Refresh” program which allocated roughly $1.4M to refresh technology for schools, students, teachers and support staff.

IMG_4960.JPGThe new Technology Tools Program breaks up the funding into three distinct sub programs - Schools, Employees, and Purchases.

School/Student Technology Tools: Allows schools to get new technology on a recurring basis.

Employee Technology Tools: Allows employees to have a digital device not older than 5 years.

Purchase Technology Tools:  Allows schools and departments to purchase supported technology using their own funds.

What has changed?
  • Schools will no longer be allocated points to be used to purchase standard equipment for staff members. Instead employees will be able to replace their digital device every 5 years with the latest preferred technology.
  • Principals can select alternative technology for teachers depending on instructional needs using school/student point allocations.
  • IT will warrantee employee devices for 5 years.
  • Projector, bulb, and touchpad repairs will be maintained by IT at no additional cost to schools.

What has not changed?
Mrs. Litchy's Classroom 10.14.15#19.JPGSchools are still divided into two groups: Odd-Year Schools and Even-Year Schools. Click here to view your school’s group. The only exceptions to this schedule are the 1:Web pilot schools, which are receiving new technology every year for incoming freshman.

For more information, check out the newly redesigned Technology Tools  website here.

Do you have questions or comments about the new BVSD Technology Tools model?  Please sign in to chime in below.


Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How Technology is Embedded in the Success Effect

Success Effect-Color.pngBy now, most readers of my blog will know about the Success Effect, but if you do not, it is the strategic plan centered around learning, talent, and partnerships for BVSD. In July of this past year, our superintendent, Dr. Messinger, published a blog detailing the work of six Priority Action Teams for the implementation of the BVSD Success Effect.

The question has come up, where is the technology goal or initiative in the plan? That is a great question which I will explore in this blog.

9223386478_20cf5bb693_b.jpgI look at technology as a tool to enable components of learning, such as student engagement or collaboration, to be successful. Technology is a means to the end, not the end itself.   

With that in mind, the implementation of technology in the learning environment is an expectation embedded within each plan. BVSD also has technology standards and skills embedded in all BVSD curriculum and in Educator Effectiveness standards.

I encourage you to read the BVSD Ed Tech Blog posts detailing how BVSD students are using technology for unique digital learning experiences. This work, along with the ways technology will be utilized to develop the Success Effect, paints a picture of why bridging learning with digital tools is valuable and necessary.

IMG_2518.JPGTechnology appears in each strategic goal as a tool, outcome or both. For example, in Literacy & Early Learning, there is a task that will determine how to utilize technology to deliver high-leverage strategies in literacy, scaffolds for language development, and opportunities for differentiation. Once the tools are selected, teachers and students will then use these tools for literacy instruction and assessment.

IMG_1884.JPGAnother example of how technology is embedded into the BVSD Success Effect is through the priority action team of Educator Growth & Development. This team is evaluating how professional development for BVSD educators can be personalized, differentiated and on-demand.

This will require exploration of digital tools in order to provide personalized professional development. An example could include using video conferencing and online webinar software to provide distance and blended learning opportunities for professional development in order to reach all teachers when they are available. It may also include the use of Schoology for managing discussions and example student products shared by teachers. Technology will be an integral part of the learning experience for our educators.

I believe technology is a valuable tool to enable our students with differentiated experiences to prepare them for the digital world in which they live. Working with my peers and the Superintendent, my team will stay abreast of technology in education and select the tools that are most effective. Transformation is happening with tablets, Chromebooks and more advanced software to help our students and teachers thrive. 

What you have just read is in alignment with the vision of the Boulder Valley School District: We develop our children’s greatest abilities and make possible the discovery and pursuit of their dreams which, when fulfilled, will benefit us all. We provide a comprehensive and innovative approach to education and graduate successful, curious, lifelong learners who confidently confront the great challenges of their time. I believe technology is an essential element of the BVSD educational program to realize this vision and graduate successful, curious, lifelong learners who confront the great challenges of their time.

I’d like to know your view on technology and how it enhances the learning experience.  Please chime in below.