Tech Talk: Wade Barnes from DeKalb County School District

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00:04 (Amy Bennett)
This morning I’m talking to Wade Barnes from DeKalb. How are you Wade?
00:11 (Wade Barnes)
I’m well, how are you doing this morning, Amy?
00:13 (Amy)
I am good, thank you! Gosh we’re a couple of months into this already.
How did the transition go over there?
00:23 (Wade)
The transition is you know being experienced across you know the contrary in the world. It’s been different. You’ve had you know some challenges, you know. I
look at those as opportunities. But for the most part coming, I think we transitioned well. There are areas of improvement absolutely, that have been identified. But overall it went well.
Well you guys had just a strong technology infrastructure I feel like the the progress towards 1:1, all of the devices, all of those things in place must have helped.
Yeah, so you know we’re a 1:1 district. Of course you know that there there comes dealing with sustainability for the one to one, which is huge. We were able to you know pretty much seamlessly transition you know once the call came that you know students were not being in the building anymore.
Well and other schools I’m talking to having the devices a step one you guys were there: access at home. Step two: what kind of challenge was that for you?
Well, what comes to my mind with that is uh, you know some of our student populations are economically disadvantaged, and so that connectivity of course is on the forefront of our minds. And providing that connectivity for our students whether it be hot spots or, we partnered with you know some of you know different companies to try to provide that relief during this time. And provide that access, so they can get to their student management system. I look at that as a continuous challenge, you know, at the school district. And we’re continuously finding and trying to find ways to alleviate that disparity as well.
And I know from talking to you that you’re really focused on making sure the district has scalable, sustainable, data-driven solutions. What kind of data and reporting do you look at to figure out if this is working? And how can you
Yeah, so data is, you can never have too much data, all right. Which is amazing, you know. But but fine-tuning that data, so it’s actually usable, that’s most important. What you do with that data, and you know, leveraging your resources and leveraging third-party, and with you
know network security you know a also at the forefront because you have to secure it. So it’s just collecting that data and in a central repository, so to say that that’s easy to read.
So you mentioned: safety, security, making sure students are doing what they should be doing, all of those things. How is Relay (Lightspeed Filter) helping you out? And what’s the impact there for remote learning?
Yeah it’s been an awesome tool, right. So what I like about it (Lightspeed Filter) is it brings
the parent back into teaching and learning, right. It gives the ability for, you know, a parent to see what their child is doing, how effective their child has been, have an insight into what their students are doing. That’s an invaluable tool and we’ll continue to leverage Lightspeed. Of course, it comes with the ability to block content, things of that nature, and have metadata As a holistic view, you know, for our curriculum instruction partners to actually see: is this effective? It’s very
flexible, scalable, and it integrates very well into our infrastructure. So I think it’s (Lightspeed Filter) an awesome tool.
I also know you’re always really busy over the summer.You tend to walk in with a summer project list while the students and staff are off the campus. And I’m sure it’s no
different this year. What are you
guys focused on to try to be ready for whatever fall brings?
Yeah absolutely. So it’s flexibility right, and that’s the biggest thing I would say. It’s definitely flexibility, the ability to support again what we’re here for: students and
learning, no matter what it looks like. (There is) Safety, security, and flexibility to support teaching and learning is paramount. Do we stagger kids where we bring half in? Sometimes the main plan for the best, but prepare for the worst
no matter where that student is. They have an ability to pick up a device to have access, so they can connect to their content, they’re able to see their teacher. It you make that connection, a
teacher to a student, that’s the first
step. Then you have the essential
foundation for improving learning and improving instruction. But without that initial connection, like where do you go with professional development or anything you need?
Any final words of advice or lessons learned for other schools out there going through the same thing?
Um, I would just say get back to the basics. Get back to the fundamentals and providing a resilient, flexible environment, so that’s that’s it. Just get back to the
Great advice! Thank you very
much for your time, Wade. It was good to see you and talk to you.
Yeah, you also Amy.

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