Getting There: Innovations in Education

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In this week's Getting There: Innovations in Education, Editor at Large Kevin Hogan explores how education leaders are identifying the best practices that emerged from their COVID learning plans. Best practices from pandemic pivots include: Six pillars of online PD New opportunities for special education students How one district is coming out ahead of COVID

Nov 23

18 min 38 sec

In this episode: Taking lessons from pandemic teaching, Instilling empathy takes center stage in getting students back to school, and how to improve parent communication.

Oct 12

16 min 37 sec

Wiley Education President Todd Zipper dives deep into their newest report. How Morehouse School of Medicine stays on the defensive against cyber attacks

Sep 30

12 min 33 sec

In Getting There: Innovation in Education, Editor at Large Kevin Hogan sits down with K-12 educators, thought leaders, and innovators to highlight the latest in an ever-changing school year. This latest episode, Back to School, but Not Back to Normal, includes: LearnPlatform CEO Karl Rectanus goes behind the numbers in the 2021 EdTech Top 40. Hero Award-winning Navaho Prep breaks down how to network the country's most remote district.

Sep 29

19 min 15 sec

For Mark Dean, Senior Systems Administrator at Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) in Atlanta, Georgia, the cybersecurity war is a never-ending tit for tat with what he calls the ransomware people. Think you have built-in redundancy? They are already after it. In this premiere episode of Innovations in Education—Higher Ed, Mark discusses his strategies for keeping the data, and more importantly, the people safe online at this prestigious institution. MSM is among the nation’s leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. An independent, private and historically Black medical school, MSM works to increase patient access to high-quality care and eliminate health disparity in underserved communities.

Sep 14

18 min 5 sec

As the second-largest district in California, San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) has more than 121,000 students enrolled across its 181 schools. The district’s student population is extremely diverse. Nearly 6,000 teachers are in classrooms at the district’s various educational facilities, which include 117 traditional elementary schools, nine, K-8 schools, 24 traditional middle schools, 22 high schools, 49 charter schools, 13 alternative schools, and five additional program sites.   With so many students from a variety of backgrounds, equity is a critical issue for SDUSD. That’s why the district is transitioning from a 1:1 device cart model to a 1:1 device take-home model. Every student from pre-K through 12th grade has access to a device--a decision that served the district well when the coronavirus pandemic forced it to close its schools in March 2020. SDUSD’s Instructional Technology Department was nicknamed the “First Responders” due to its proactive approach to COVID-19. From showing teachers how innovative technology could help improve learning outcomes to ramping up workshops geared toward preparing educators to teach online, this small but mighty team of six went above and beyond to make an impact during unprecedented times.

Sep 10

25 min 9 sec

Navajo Preparatory School (NPS) is the only Navajo-sanctioned college-preparatory school for Native American students providing opportunities to and shaping the futures.   When COVID-19 forced NPS to shut its doors in March 2020, the entire technology department quickly mobilized to ensure learning continuity in a completely virtual environment. This proved especially challenging as its student population spans the whole Navajo reservation, including some of the most rural areas of New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona.   The first step was to ensure every student had access to safe, reliable internet connectivity. For those without fixed broadband internet access at home, this meant immediately dispersing Wi-Fi hotspots. However, not every student knew which wireless network worked best for them. In these situations, the technology department faculty members would drive out to a student’s home to physically test different carriers.

Sep 8

24 min 26 sec

Everyone likes a good scare on Halloween, but for the Brevard Public Schools IT team, October of 2020 brought a scare they’d never before experienced. At 10 p.m. on Halloween night, Barrett Puschus, the Director of IT for Brevard Public Schools, received a call from an unknown number. Because he was outside listening to music with his family, he ignored the call, only to see a message appear in his inbox. When he listened to the message, the Microsoft DART team (Microsoft’s cybersecurity arm) let him know it had flagged the Brevard School system with metrics that indicated the district was experiencing the onset of a ransomware attack.

Sep 6

20 min 34 sec

Listening to Alena Zachery-Ross, Superintendent of Ypsilanti Community Schools in Michigan, managing her district through this pandemic almost sounds like a positive story. In this conversation with eSchool News, Alena recalls her strategies for success. From a new appreciation for student voice to closer interactions with the wider community, her ideas will help any district not only survive but thrive in these times.

Aug 24

25 min 30 sec

Scott Bailey, Superintendent for Desert Sands Unified School District (CA), didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of his team’s plans. Instead, he used the disruptions as an opportunity to accelerate. In this episode of Getting There: Innovations in Education, Scott breaks down his work to innovate within the confines of a public institution. The district primarily serves five communities in the central Coachella Valley: Bermuda Dunes, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, and Palm Desert. Students from other areas of the desert also take advantage of the quality education provided by our schools.

Aug 10

18 min 22 sec

Every district obviously had struggles during this past year. But for Chattahoochee County School District, a small, rural community in Southwest Georgia, it was also a time to automate and accelerate. In this episode of Innovations in Education, Superintendent Kristie Brooks, Ed.D., describes how they were able to grow their student body, provide improved personal and professional development, and change some pre-pandemic practices like attendance for the better.

Jul 6

25 min 34 sec

Vicksburg Warren School District (VWSD) Superintendent Chad Shealy is irrepressible. Whether you are talking about COVID response, CTE strategies, or curriculum content, Chad not only makes you feel happy you asked, but even happier with his answers. VWSD serves all of Warren County, Mississippi, and has an enrollment of approximately 7,200 students in grades Pre-K through 12. VWSD consists of three high schools (grades 9-12), three middle schools (grades 7-8), 10 elementary schools, and an alternative program.

Jun 15

34 min 9 sec

For Rick Cave, Director of Technology at West Windsor-Plainsboro Regional School District in New Jersey, the biggest challenge to pivoting during the pandemic weren’t the platforms but the people. In this conversation with eSchol News, Rick talks about how the changing behaviors of everyone—students, teachers, and parents—made remote and now hybrid learning work and what aspects should remain once the crisis has passed.

May 11

25 min 23 sec

For Dr. Matthew X. Joseph, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Leicester Public Schools (MA), this past year has meant fewer frequent flier miles but a huge increase in his network, albeit virtually. In this conversation with eSchool News, Matt talks about the importance of these sorts of connections for both students and faculty.

Apr 26

26 min 44 sec

For Diane Lauer, Assistant Superintendent of Priority Programs and Academic Support at St. Vrain Valley schools in Colorado, COVID couldn’t stop teacher training. In fact, her work became that much more important. In this conversation with eSchool News, Dianne breaks down her strategies for keeping faculty on point with technology and instruction.

Apr 6

34 min 17 sec

Data is an integral part of this district’s operations, from student engagement to staff vaccinations. For Matt Reynolds, Assessment and Data Officer for the 64,000+ students that attend Douglas County School District in Colorado, running the usual assessment numbers was obviously useless last year. That doesn’t mean that data collection was not an essential part of district operations. Quite the contrary in fact. In this conversation with eSchool News, Matts talks about how they are supporting student learning during this time, as well as helping educators engage students and drive instruction.

Mar 22

22 min 15 sec

When it comes to integrating technology into the day-to-day workings of special education, even during rolling lockdowns and remote instruction, there is no longer a question of either/or when it comes to using tech says Tarrence (Tarry) McGovern, Director of Special Education for Kershaw County School District in South Carolina. In this episode, Tarry talks about some of the innovations in special education and how they can be applied to education in general.

Mar 8

21 min 52 sec

According to Tony Spence, CIO at Muskego-Norway School District, for a district to be ready for everything, it has to constantly be preparing for something. And maybe be a little bit lucky. In this conversation with eSchool News, Tony details his district’s recent major AV implementation and how it dovetailed with his district’s decision to remain in-person during the COVID crisis.

Feb 11

30 min 30 sec

Virtual or hybrid education has been a blessing during the COVID-19 pandemic. When it’s a risk to gather and parents may not feel comfortable sending their children to a classroom, technology has allowed classrooms to take place virtually.

Feb 1

28 min 50 sec

Henry (Hank) Thiele, Superintendent for Community High School District 99 in Thorndale (IL) can’t stop looking forward. Despite the current, daily chaos of re-opening and lockdowns, hybrid and remote learning, and other disruptive undercurrents affecting schools, he believes that being prepared for what’s next is as important as dealing with the problems of right now. In this conversation with eSchool News, Hank offers his insights for education professionals that will have to deal with fractured communities in the future even after they are “back to normal.”

Jan 29

35 min 46 sec

Marianthe Williams, School Administrator and Director of Technology for the River Dell Regional School District in Oradell, New Jersey, took a journey back in time to March of 2020 to help break down her district’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Call it good fortune, or maybe just innovative planning, but the River Dell School District already created the environment and infrastructure to provide remote learning for students and teachers. So, when the pandemic hit, it was ahead of the curve. On March 11, it knew school closures were imminent, and Williams said the staff used a PD day to plan for online learning.   “We’re a Microsoft school,” Williams said. “So, we had all the 365 tools, years of PD with the HP device, and this was the game changer; everyone had a digital pen.”  With all of the digital tools in place, something the district was slowly rolling out, Microsoft Teams, kicked into high gear once things moved to remote learning.   Fast forward to the fall of 2020, and a new challenge emerged. Williams explained there was a combination of kids learning from home and kids learning in person. “Even though there’s a camera on your laptop, now there’s a barrier,” Williams said. “And everyone is six feet apart, and it’s much harder. You can’t just turn your laptop around.” It was essential to make sure every student had a webcam to communicate with every student, whether in class or online.   One of the benefits of online learning Williams found is having one-on-one interactions between teachers and students. The situation was more manageable when everyone was doing online learning in the spring. This fall proved more challenging when teachers met new students with masks on their faces. “Even though you’re there, and there is a bond, there is a barrier too,” Williams said. With her district's 'we got this' mentality, Williams believes there are no obstacles it cannot overcome.

Jan 11

28 min 50 sec

Most teachers and students now have figured out how to utilize the technology that suddenly become required in March. Student evaluation remains a challenge, especially with some state standards lagging behind technology growth. Resources utilized during the pandemic still can be important tools going forward. In March, most school districts were sent scrambling when the start coronavirus pandemic made it clear it was not wise to conduct school on campus – at least not in the traditional way. Some students are back in the physical building, while others are learning entirely remotely. But, with nine months of time to develop strategies and best practices, not only are districts now starting to get a clearer picture of how to best educate students, but teachers are, as well. Randy Rodgers, Judson ISD’s Director of Instructional Technology, said one teacher he works with struggled to get the hang of the learning management system but is now a campus leader. It’s hardly the only collaborative moment he’s seen among faculty members during the pandemic. “One of the things that has been really exciting is that, when I’m not sure of an answer, one of the teachers will chime in and say, ‘Oh, I already figured that out!’” Rodgers said. “I think their skill level is going to be dramatically [increased]. They’re not going to be out there writing code, necessarily, but, as far as just the basics and how to integrate technology into their instruction, I think that’s definitely going to be a plus.” That will require districts to remain committed to a different way of learning, even when it’s safe for classrooms to be full and everyone to be learning face-to-face once again. Rodgers said he hopes the gains made through hard work this year won’t be thrown away. “We’ve got to maintain that presence. We’ve got to get better at integrating it seamlessly into our face-to-face instruction,” Rodgers said. “We’ve got that opportunity now.” With more time to plan what to do post-pandemic than what to do at the start of it, Rodgers said districts should start thinking about how the technology they’ve invested in and trained their students and teachers on can continue to help improve the learning process for years to come. Brought to you by:

Dec 2020

35 min 55 sec

Even a pandemic won’t stop bad student behavior and in many cases inflames it. In this conversation with eSchool News, Laura Lockhart, director of student services of Keller Independent School District in Texas talks about how the district digitally updated their bullying reporting process to keep students safe and meet federal reporting regulations.

Nov 2020

24 min 20 sec

Like every educator, Frank Pileiro has had to pivot. As Supervisor of Technology at Linwood Board of Education in South Jersey, he has the added pressure of overseeing their robust maker space programs while managing the current hybrid teaching setup. In this conversation with eSchool News, Frank explains how to keep engaging students, even if it’s from a distance.

Oct 2020

25 min 22 sec

Everyone has a crazy COVID story. For Brigantine, NJ Superintendent Glenn Robbins, it goes something like this—lead a school district through a global pandemic having hardly met the students, parents, or faculty. In this conversation with eSchool News, Glenn details the never-ending variables of getting back to school in 2020 and how the priority should be well-being first. In some cases, technology can help not hinder.

Sep 2020

29 min 9 sec

James O’Hagan is not playing around. As Director of Digital and Virtual Learning for the Racine Unified School District in Wisconsin, his job entails not just managing the virtual learning program in response to the pandemic, but also supporting library services, as well as developing his passion project of Esports. In this conversation with eSchool News, James talks about the essential role Esports can play when it comes to student health, mental wellness, social-emotional learning, as well as connecting to collegiate and career pathways.

Sep 2020

25 min 39 sec

For Todd Dugan, Superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8, a small, remote district in Southern Illinois, issues surrounding back-to-school COVID-19 style are not abstract but all too real. In this conversation with eSchool News, Todd tries to keep the glass half full as he looks to take advantage of these incredible disruptions to education.

Aug 2020

30 min 9 sec

How one rural district is dealing with COVID-related connectivity and equality for fall. For Todd Dugan, superintendent of Bunker Hill CUSD #8, a small, remote district in southern Illinois, issues surrounding back-to-school COVID-19 style are not abstract but all too real. Some of the district’s biggest priorities include: Rural struggles–and successes–as COVID hit Address learning loss that comes with inequity As school resumes, freedom of choice In this conversation with eSchool News, Todd tries to keep the glass half full as he looks to take advantage of these incredible disruptions to education.

Aug 2020

35 min 20 sec

For Sandra Paul, Director of Director Of Information Technology at the Township of Union Public Schools in Northern New Jersey, the goal is simple—every one of the 7,200 kids in her district must have a device this fall. How to accomplish this? Not so simple. In this conversation with eSchoolnews, Sandra details her asset management tactics for whatever scenario her district winds up with—in person, hybrid, or remote.

Jul 2020

27 min 36 sec

As the newly installed Director of Student Information at Barrington School District in suburban Chicago (IL), a district with 9,000 students and 13 schools, Phil Hintz has an added challenge to an already impossible situation—discover unprecedented solutions in an entirely new environment. In this conversation with eSchool News, Phil details how the district is reinventing itself through data collection, making tough logistical decisions, and inspiring both faculty and parents to stretch their imaginations when it comes to instruction.

Jul 2020

18 min 3 sec

Jon Castelhano, Executive Director of Technology at Gilbert Public Schools in suburban Phoenix, Arizona, is making lemonade. Instead of stopgap measures to make it through the COVID-19 crisis, his district is crafting strategic changes with an eye toward the long term. These are ideas long talked about but never implemented in the 40 schools that serve 34,000 students. For it to work, faculty need to reinvent themselves too. In this conversation with eSchool News, Jon describes how they intend to do just that.

Jul 2020

20 min 23 sec

Forget about tech for a minute. For Adam Phyall, Director of Technology and Media Services for Newton County School System (GA), connectivity, communication, and emotional support are what is key for district success during the pandemic. In his discussion with eSchool News, Adam talks about the big picture challenges the next school year brings for his students, parents, faculty, and administration and how he plans to deal with them.

Jul 2020

23 min 7 sec

How one district runs the numbers through mapping software to find blended learning solutions for this fall. When Mark Finstrom, Chief Technology Officer for Highline Public Schools (WA) first integrated data analytic mapping software into his district’s digital toolbox a few years ago, it was to better visualize his district’s data to consider things like potential new school construction or bus routes for approximately 20,000 students. Little did he know he would end up using it for disaster logistics. In this conversation with eSchoolnews, Mark demos the GuideK12 Analytics Suite (watch the video below) and suggests ways districts can make better decisions faster.

Jun 2020

30 min 2 sec

When speaking with Andrew Wallace, Director of Technology, South Portland Maine Schools, two classic marketing slogans come to mind: “Think Different” and “Just Do It.” Whether it is getting Chromebooks and hotspots to students in need, supporting faculty in the move to remote learning, or just giving students a sense of comfort, he and his district, which includes a pre-k center, five elementary schools, two middle schools, and South Portland High School, are making up new rules as they go along in this pandemic era.

Jun 2020

22 min 15 sec

Jenith Mishne is a relentlessly positive person. Not even a global pandemic can dampen her enthusiasm when talking about her job as Director of Education Technology in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District (CA), where she serves 22,500 students at twenty-two elementary schools, two intermediate schools, four high schools, one alternative education center, and one adult education center. In this conversation with eSchool News, Mishne finds the silver linings in the world’s largest beta test for remote learning—from device management to compassionate teacher professional development and better community communication. She also shares some of her thoughts about how education can grow from this tragedy.

Jun 2020

20 min 35 sec

That COVID “where were you when” moment from last March is still fresh in Paul Sanfrancesco’s mind. Watching neighboring districts announce closures and realizing his own faculty would be stranded at home, contingency plans were hatched and devices were launched to prep students for remote learning. And while no one could have been completely prepared for what has since developed, schools in the Owen J. Roberts School District (OJRSD) were already using several learning management tools that eased the transition. They also continue to learn new techniques and strategies as all schools everywhere move into the unknown. Sanfrancesco is Director of Technology for OJRSD. The district, located in northern Chester County, Pennsylvania, comprises five elementary schools, one middle school, and the Owen J. Roberts High School. The student population for the entire district is around 4,800 students. Sanfrancesco teaches as a professor in the Graduate Education Department at Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, PA and Neumann University, Aston, PA. He was named CTO of the Year by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology and one of the “20 to Watch” educators by the National School Boards Association for his work in IT.

May 2020

23 min 42 sec