Tech Talk: Bob Hilinski from Upper Darby School District

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00:04 (Amy Bennett from Lightspeed Systems)
This morning I’m talking to Bob Hilinski, Technology Director at Upper Darby School District. How are you, Bob?
00:10 (Bob Hilinski)
Good, Amy. How about yourself today?
I am doing good! So it’s been almost eight weeks or so since your schools have closed. If you can even remember back that long ago, how did that transition go for you guys?
Yeah back on March 13th when we closed everything, um we shut the district down on a Thursday, and that Friday we had planning sessions to get ready for the onslaught of this online learning.
And then the following Monday, the 16th of March, we had a new service day for our teachers, um so it’s like turning the switch on and off. To have our coaches and curriculum directors work with our teachers, to start having them do online learning. So having them all go to online learning
was definitely a challenge overnight like that.
It seems like two really smart things; one, pulling together all the stakeholders really early, getting a lot of voices. And then to that professional development, some people think it’s just the same as teaching in the classroom, only from home.
And it’s really not right.
Yeah that was totally a challenge for some of our people who weren’t used to doing that.
They had to get their lesson plans converting that from paper and pencil if they had that to more electronic resources.
So students are all learning from home. You’re doing all of this work to keep them safe. How is Relay  (Lightspeed Filter) helping them
stay safe while they’re online?
Yeah so we had to hand out Chromebooks to a number of people who didn’t have devices. So out of our 12,000 kids, we’ve handed out about 3,300 chromebooks within a short period of time.
And we have the Lightspeed Relay (Lightspeed Filter) on those Chromebooks, so the kids who got those devices can now go on and they’re being filtered just like they were in school for everything.
And that’s been helpful for us because us you know with this pandemic being done, and people can’t go out and do things, um
you know a lot of other issues are
coming up with social distancing and other things for depression and things like that.
So anytime there’s issues with
keywords, we get alarms (alerts), so we’re still getting those, which
is a good thing because these kids are working from home. But we’re getting those alerts and we’re reaching out to the parents right away, the social workers right away, so they can contact the kids and make sure everybody’s safe.
And so that monitoring of where they’re going on the internet was a big plus for us.
So important because, as you point out, kids are isolated, depressed, scared, so many things, and they’re not walking through your halls where teachers and counselors and administrators can see them and sense that. I know from many years working with school technology teams that you always go into the summer with a project list: a list of all the things you have to work on. Has that list shifted as you think about a kind of an uncertain fall?
Yeah so what we’re doing here, this going one to one, we had that on our game plan/on our radar to do that anyway.
We just weren’t there. But I think this is going to speed it up just because the need to work from home for the kids is now there, and there’s no turning back in my eyes.
So getting Chromebooks ready, making sure that the Google management’s on there making support, make sure the Lightspeed Relay’s (Lightspeed Filter) on there so that we can track things and be CIPA-compliant and making sure we’re in a good place for that.
And over the summer time, with the rethink how we’re doing this, so instead of buying devices, putting in the carts in the classrooms, we’re going to now have to figure out a way to get them into the hands of the students.
One, you point out some things that I think are important for people to recognize, which is that it’s a lot more than just buying devices and giving them to students. You have to think about management and deployment and tracking and filtering and safety, and
all of those systems that are on
and so critical. If you were to give any advice to other schools preparing for the summer, preparing for one-to-one, what would you tell them?
Well you got to make sure you got all these devices ready and you got to make sure your support side now, from the IT perspective, now they go home (and figure out) how do they log in? How do they log onto the online learning management system?
So we’ve had to switch our technicians from being in the break/fix type of thing, to, okay, now you’re on the help desk online answering these questions.
And making sure everybody can get online.
We set up deployment hours at our buildings at certain times, nine to twelve and one to
three in the afternoon,
so come in, get your device, sign it out, etc. We make sure that we have a photo ID from a (parent) guardian to come in to make sure that the student is in our district.
So we had those procedures in place. We had to do that quickly and you know we’re trying to make it work as best as we can.
Well I think everyone’s learning a lot as they go and prepare for summer plans, that get ready for a fall (term) – whatever fall ends up looking like.
I appreciate everything you and your team are doing to keep all of those students learning and all the many pieces you have to juggle to really make that work. I think that’s the key.
Yeah well thank you very much for your time and
we just appreciate it!
Alright, Amy. No problem.

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