Has remote learning made snow days obsolete?

Has remote learning made snow days obsolete?

2020 was certainly a challenging year on so many levels for K12 school districts. But as the saying goes, ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. For K12 schools, a sudden shift last year from in-person to at-home teaching created a need to provide remote access to instructional resources. While the transition was difficult for some schools at first, many districts were quick to adapt to the new learning environment.

Now some school districts, such as New York City public schools, have decided to nix snow days all together, opting for remote learning instead. Gone are the days where school buildings in NYC will be closed due to bad weather. Starting the 2021/22 school year, “The DOE will shift all students to remote instruction in lieu of cancelling schools due to severe weather conditions,” the DOE wrote in a statement provided to CNN.

With so many districts now fully supporting at-home instruction, schools are more prepared to switch to remote instruction at a moments notice. Due to damage and power outages at several schools in Fort Smith, Texas, for example, teachers and students at Fort Smith Public Schools used their remote learning plan for the day.

Although switching back and forth based on the needs for that day are made easier by remote learning technologies, securing school owned devices while at home and protecting students while online is more important than ever. Web filtering solutions that can decrypt SSL traffic and accurately report on all student’s surfing activities are crucial; basic DNS filters are no longer enough.

Hybrid-cloud based solutions such as the Linewize Web Filter provide school districts with a web filtering system and classroom management tool equipped with selective SSL decryption, red flag safety alerts, teacher/student screen sharing, and cyber safety education for the community.

Other hybrid-cloud web filters like the ContentKeeper Web Filter not only provide selective SSL decryption, but application controls that allow schools to identify & block suspicious apps such as BitTorrent, Psiphon or Ultrsurf that students us to circumvent school web filters & anonymously access the Dark Web.

Whether students will be learning at home, in school, or a combination of both, technology stands at the ready, and security solutions are finally available to provide the digital safety net needed to help districts keep their students safe while online at home.

FilteredNet has been selling webfilters and I.T. security solutions to K12 schools since 1995.

We work with I.T. security vendors covering a range of internet security services, including webfilter solutions such as Linewize by FamilyZone and ContentKeeper.

To learn more about our services, or schedule a demo contact us today.

Linewize and Gaggle announce strategic partnership

Linewize and Gaggle announce strategic partnership

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (August 25, 2020)  Linewize, a growing education technology company, today announced its partnership with Gaggle as a part of its expanding cyber safety offering. Gaggle is the pioneer in helping K-12 districts manage student safety on school-provided technology.

“We’re thrilled to partner with the Gaggle team,” said Linewize VP, North America, Ross Young. “They dominate the ‘hands-on’ student safety market and have saved countless lives. Together, our technologies will work seamlessly to uncover more valuable data for school districts for an iron-clad cyber safety solution.”

The Linewize solution provides school districts with a web filtering system and classroom management tool equipped with red flag safety alerts, teacher/student screen sharing, and cyber safety education for the community. When Linewize flags a student internet search for terms that may signal potentially dangerous or harmful behavior, an alert will be sent to the Gaggle Safety Team, who will include Linewize alerts in their analysis to determine if the school or district needs to be notified.

The Gaggle safety solution combines artificial intelligence and trained safety experts to provide real-time analysis and review of students’ use of online collaboration platforms, such as Google’s G Suite for Education, Microsoft Office 365, and Canvas. Gaggle assists districts in proactively identifying and supporting students who are struggling as well as creating a safer school environment by building a culture for improved digital citizenship.

“This partnership adds a new layer to student safety during this critical time when many districts are grappling with what type of instruction models they will deploy,” said Jeff Patterson, Gaggle’s founder and CEO. “Whether students will be learning at home, in school, or a combination of both, Gaggle and Linewize stand ready to provide the digital safety net needed to help districts keep their students safe online wherever they are.”

About Linewize

The Linewize ecosystem is a unique response to the challenge of today’s connected learning environments. The ecosystem aligns a series of products to help districts stay in regulatory compliance, get the most out of their purchased technology, keep kids cyber-safe at school, and impact the parent community by assisting them in raising good digital citizens. For more information, please visit www.linewize.com

About Gaggle

Since 1999, Gaggle has been the leader in helping K-12 districts manage student safety on school-provided technology. Using a powerful combination of artificial intelligence and trained safety experts, the safety solution proactively assists districts 24/7/365 in the prevention of student suicide, bullying, inappropriate behaviors, school violence, and other harmful situations. Most importantly, Gaggle continues to help hundreds of districts avoid tragedies and save lives, while also protecting their liability. Thus far in the 2019-20 academic year, Gaggle has helped districts save the lives of more than 830 students who were planning or actually attempting suicide. For more information, visit www.gaggle.net and follow Gaggle on Twitter at @Gaggle_K12.

FilteredNet has been selling webfilters and I.T. security solutions to K12 schools since 1995.

We work with I.T. security vendors covering a range of internet security services, including webfilter solutions such as Linewize by FamilyZone and ContentKeeper.

To learn more about our services, or schedule a demo contact us today.

Linewize Cloud WebFilter w/ “Classwize”

Linewize Cloud WebFilter w/ “Classwize”

Available on Demand: Take an in depth tour of the Linewize HYBRID-CLOUD WebFilter and “Classwize” Teacher module… on your schedule.

Learn how the Linewize hybrid-cloud WebFilter is helping K12 schools overcome the limitations of an on-prem-only webfilter when it comes to protecting their distance learning devices.

Learn how the Linewize hybrid-cloud approach  provides a better way to protect all browsers, across ALL devices (Chrome, Windows, Mac and iOS) both on and off prem, through a single interface. If you have a cloud only web filter today, you are aware of it’s inherent limitations.

Learn how the Linewize “Classwize” for Teachers module allows your teachers to not only see what their students are doing on their school owned devices, but to control what internet content they can & cannot access during class… even while their students are working from home!

FilteredNet has been selling webfilters and I.T. security solutions to K12 schools since 1995. If you are not entirely satisfied with your current web filter or the support provided by the manufacturer, let us help you find a better way!

The CARES Act: Financial Support for Online Learning

The CARES Act: Financial Support for Online Learning

WHAT IS THE CARES Act?

The CARES Act, short for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act,  was signed into law by President Donald Trump on March 27, 2020. It provides funding for school districts facing the increased costs of shifting to online learning and managing the coronavirus-related health and safety issues. 

In short, the CARES Act provides funding that will allow states, and thus public school districts, to respond to challenges they find themselves facing due to the COVID-19 emergency.

WHAT DO THE SCHOOLS GET?

The economic aid package directs billions in federal funding to K-12 schools, and also provides states and schools the ability to request waivers of certaing federal mandates from U.S Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

Executive Director of the Council of Chief State School Officers, Moffat Miller said “this package provides historic levels of emergency funding” and the prospect of “much-needed resources.”

HOW MUCH MONEY IS BEING ALLOCATED?

The Act includes $13.5 billion for public schools in K-12 formula grants via an Education Stabilization Fund.

The funds are distributed to states based on their share of ESEA Title I-A funds. At least 90 percent of the funds will be distributed by the state education agencies to school districts based on their share of the Title 1-A funds.

An additional $3 billion would be for the Governor’s Education Relief Fund to use as they determine to help K-12 schools (and higher Ed.) as they deal with the negative ramifications of Covid-19.

WHAT CAN SCHOOLS USE THE FUNDS FOR?

Schools can use the money they receive to support a number of learning needs under the Every Student Succeeds Act, and other federal education laws, including remote learning if schools are closed.

The funds can also be used to purchase educational technology in the direct support of online/remote learning.

Schools can also seek waivers from a Title IV provision which caps the overall amount of money that can be spent on internet-connected devices.

SOME ADDITIONAL NOTES

The CARES Act grants authority to Betsy DeVos, Secretary of Education, to waive states and school’s assessment an accountability requirements. (DeVos has allowed states to seek waivers from standardized testing.)

States and schools can also ask for waivers from several funding requirements about the amount they spend year-over-year.

School districts can use a larger portion of Title-IV grants to purchase devices. Previously, only 15% of Title IV-A funds could be used to purchase technology infrastructure. This limit is lifted under the CARES Act.

RESOURCES FOR MORE INFORMATION

The above is a very brief summary the allocation of funding for K-12 schools under the new CARES Act. Below are additional resources you may find useful.

updated link: read inside to learn how much your state receives as part of an additional $3 billion in funding https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/secretary-devos-announces-3-billion-emergency-education-block-grants-governors

https://www.ncsl.org/blog/2020/04/01/-cares-act-gives-state-education-funding-flexibility-in-wake-of-covid-19.aspx

https://education.jhu.edu/2020/04/the-cares-act-take-aways-for-k-12-education/

https://www.cbpp.org/research/state-budget-and-tax/how-much-will-states-receive-through-the-education-stabilization-fund

https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/04/01/schools-get-135-billion-in-coronavirus-package.html

https://thehill.com/opinion/education/490978-educators-should-tap-the-cares-act-for-help-now-and-later

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jimcowen/2020/04/01/cares-act-k-12-funds-need-to-reach-states-but-not-without-some-transparency/#2574a5627c10

FilteredNet has been selling webfilters and I.T. security solutions to K12 schools since 1995.

We work with I.T. security vendors covering a range of internet security services, including webfilter solutions such as Linewize by FamilyZone and ContentKeeper.

To learn more about our services, or schedule a demo contact us today.

Benefits of Working with a WebFilter Reseller

Benefits of Working with a WebFilter Reseller

WHAT IS A VALUE ADDED RESELLER?

A value-added reseller, also known as a VAR, is a company that can add services and knowledge about a vendor’s products, then resell that product to an end user. A WebFilter reseller is one that typically sells several WebFilter solutions from multiple vendors. If you work in a K12 technology department, you are most likely overworked and understaffed. And when it comes time to shop for new technologies, especially WebFilters, navigating all the options from the many different vendors can be daunting. Resellers can help you sift through all the clutter and guide you in choosing the best solution from the vendors with which they work.

SO MANY OPTIONS. WHERE TO START?

Consider this; if you are a mid-size school of 2,500 – 5K students, you may have an IT staff of 8-12 people. A corporation of that size would have an IT staff of 10x that amount. You run the accounting systems, the student information systems, the firewalls, and so much more. On any given day, you are one step away from pulling your hair out. Researching new software and technology takes time you just don’t have. However, when a current technology solution no longer meets your needs, you have no choice but to shop around. The pressure is on to make sure you choose the best solution, from so many options, for your specific needs. When it comes to shopping for WebFilter software specifically, there are many solutions from which to choose. The stress of making sure you choose the best solution, at a price your district can afford, can be overwhelming.

RESELLERS OFFER MANY BENEFITS

While you may feel the manufacturer knows more about their solutions than anybody else, you may want to consider that the manufacturer’s theselves may not be excited to inform you about any possible shortcomings of their solutions. After all, telling you what their product CAN’T do may make it difficult to sell their solutions.

Working with a reseller does not limit your ability to gain deep insight into said solution. In most cases, the reseller introduces you to the manufacturer, then the three of you work together through the research process. 

Resellers that sell multiple solutions from several vendors are generally well versed in the pros AND CONS of the solutions they sell. A trustworthy reseller that puts their name and reputation on the line every time they recommend a solution to a school will be open and forthcoming about any potential shortcomings of any solution they recommend. If YOU decide the shortcoming will be a detriment, you can decide to work with that reseller to explore alternate options.

WILL I PAY MORE FROM A RESELLER?

When you work with a reseller who is an authorized representative of the solutions they sell, the price you receive from the reseller is often the same as if you purchased direct, and in some cases cheaper; well established resellers often get volume discounts and pass along those savings to you.

RESELLERS OFFER OPTIONS

No single WebFilter or I.T. security solution is a perfect fit for every school. Value Added Resellers are connected to a number of vendors which means they can offer a range of solutions to ensure you find the best solution for your specific needs. When working through a reseller, you get the choice to determine what’s the best solution. Resellers work with you to understand your needs and then suggest a solution that best fits your school’s requirements. They will give you valuable recommendations, whereas a manufacturer most likely offers just one solution that may not serve your needs.

Resellers eliminate the need for you to contact numerous manufacturers. When it comes to WebFilters, for example, there are many, many to choose from. Going through each solution, then comparing features and benefits, can be a time consuming and tedious task. Resellers with a dedicated team that keeps up on the latest information from the various manufacturers helps you shorten your research time.

THE VALUE OF A RESELLER

A good reseller will ensure the solutions you purchase meet your requirements. Resellers help to educate their customers about the products they sell. Resellers will setup and conduct demonstrations, and hold technical discussions, and even setup proof of concepts.

In summary, if you are shopping for a webfilter or any I.T. security solution, a quick meeting with a reseller can be time well spent. You will get valuable information and insight to help you as you search for the best solution for your school.

FilteredNet has been selling webfilters and I.T. sercurity solutions to K12 schols since 1995.

We work with I.T. security vendors covering a range of internet secuirty services, including webfilter solutions such as Linewize by FamilyZone and ContentKeeper.

Keeping your classroom technology up-to-date is critical

Keeping your classroom technology up-to-date is critical

From kindergartners to high school seniors, American students are growing up in a world defined by the internet. While Millennials (people born between 1980 and 1994) probably have distant memories of cassette tapes, VCRs, and the thrill of dial-up, the generation that followed—Generation Z—has no experience of life without the internet.

The internet has come with important advantages; unprecedented access to information, new ways of connecting and communicating, and creative opportunities when it comes to teaching and learning. However, it has also brought certain dangers, like cyberbullying, or access to inappropriate or pornographic content.

The risks can make it tempting to stay behind in the “good old days,” but like it or not, students will be swept up in the technological currents, and the best schools can do is help them navigate it safely.

To ensure your students succeed in the modern world, it’s critical to keep your classrooms up-to-date so their teachers can help them learn how to use technology, including the internet, with guidance and protection.

Here are a few ideas that you should consider equipping the classrooms in your district with, to ensure you’re staying up-to-date in this modern world.

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Laptops or tablets—implementing 1:1

A laptop for every student (1:1) might sound like a recipe for disaster, but it turns out schools that provide a laptop or tablet to every student actually see increased student achievement. In one of the first studies to look at the results of going 1:1, researchers saw improved test scores on everything from English to math to science. They even saw an improvement in relationships between students and teachers.

Most students are already using these devices at home. By investing in them for the classroom, you can engage students using tools they already know. Plus, they can be used for a wide range of lessons, adapt to individual students’ needs, and provide opportunities for collaborative work. They also offer ways to monitor and control what students are accessing and to track and monitor their usage, which can be useful for identifying trends and behaviors.

Smartboards

While chalkboards have their charms, Smart Boards are quickly becoming the tool of choice for many teachers. Smart Boards—interactive touch screens—allow teachers an easily navigable way to accommodate a range of different learning styles and engage their classes.

Some specific benefits of Smart Boards include:

  • They’re efficient—multiple students can use them at once
  • They’re low maintenance—no chalk and no pens means lower costs, and they’re easy to keep clean
  • They’re environmentally friendly—they reduce the need for paper
  • They support technology integration—computers, cameras, microphones, and more can all connect to Smart Boards

Screen visibility & monitoring

From doodling in their notebooks to playing solitaire, students are notorious for finding ways to distract themselves. So, with the increasing popularity of laptops and tablets in classrooms, it’s likely your teachers are wondering why they should integrate tech that might just lead to more distractions.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options out there to help combat classroom distractions. Screen visibility and classroom content control are two of the most important options. Screen visibility allows teachers to keep an eye on what each student is doing on their computer. Classroom control allows them to identify, interrupt, and redirect off-task behavior back to the lesson. Integrating these two technologies can go a long way towards helping teachers feel more comfortable with other new technologies.

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Virtual Reality

No longer a futuristic dream, virtual reality (VR) is a reality today. It’s not just for video games, either. Why fight something students are naturally drawn to if it can be harnessed to help teachers with their lessons?

A good example of VR in the classroom in action is the program ExpeditionsIt allows teachers to bring students on virtual field trips; a cost-effective, safe, and engaging way to enrich the student learning experience.

Modern Web Filters

There’s one common factor behind all of these other technologies—the internet. If your goal is an up-to-date classroom with modern tech, you’ll need an up-to-date web filter to support it all.

The web filters used by many districts are out of date. Not only do some have gaps allowing dangerous content to slip through, today’s filters often limit the control only at the district level. Their catch-all filters block websites or content that might actually be useful for teachers in the classroom. Modern web filters, like Linewize, allow more customization: IT admins maintain CIPA control at the district level, while passing the control of everyday curriculum decisions to teachers at the classroom level. This provides the potential to reduce the workload on both ends.

Whether you’re looking to ensure your students are learning in a modern way, reduce the workload of the IT department and teachers, or allow for more personalized lessons that accommodate diverse students, there is the technology that can help. Keeping your classrooms up-to-date can ensure your district is ahead of the curve in countless ways.