The FCC has announced that the Emergency Broadband Benefit program, which will provide up to $50 per month to low-income households to support access to broadband internet, will be open for applications on May 12. I’ve written previously about this program, and am happy now to be able to share some additional details that may be relevant to families in the Iowa City area. You can apply here after May 12, and you can view the list of Iowa internet providers who will provide service through the program here. All households that include at least one child who is enrolled in the free or reduced lunch program are eligible for EBB benefits.Continue reading FCC to Open Emergency Broadband Benefit on May 12
Earlier this spring, I wrote about a recently-approved emergency broadband benefit from the FCC that will provide internet stipends for low-income families. Apologies for the short notice, but I just learned about a consumer-focused webinar the FCC will offer today at 2 PM Central. You can view the live webinar here, or click here to learn more.
We’ll share more information via the ICCSD Tech & Innovation Blog when information is available with regard to how to apply and get started with the program, but in the meantime, feel free to read the Consumer FAQ available here.
One of the most challenging aspects of educational technology management is walking the fine line between protecting students and ensuring access to academic, creative, and communications resources. As a department, we receive hundreds of requests per year to block – and to unblock – specific websites, online services, and sometimes whole categories of online content.
In order to address the very real concerns – on both sides, in most cases – related to internet content filtering, the Office of Technology & Innovation adopted a process several years ago that relies upon a basic set of rules and representative input as it relates to content filtering decisions within the district. You can read the full policy here, or read on for a summary.
How the Process Works
When a teacher or administrator submits an allow/block request, the district determines whether the site/service fits cleanly into an allow/block category per the content filtering policy, and if it does, immediately implements the request. If the request falls into a gray area, the request follows the process outlined in the policy – you can click the flowchart image to see details – which routs the request through a committee review process, with the potential for temporary action to be taken if the request has a potential student safety impact. Once the committee has considered the request and made a recommendation, Office of Technology & Innovation staff implement any necessary changes within our content filtering services.Continue reading Content Filtering Policy
We’re excited to announce that the Iowa City CSD School Board approved a transition from our current PowerSchool student information system to Infinite Campus. Infinite Campus is used widely across the state, including by many of the larger districts with which ICCSD collaborates most frequently, including Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Dubuque, Sioux City, Davenport, and others
Infinite Campus, like PowerSchool, will house grades, attendance information, students’ schedules, assessment information, and other demographic and academic information. In order to protect this data, Infinite Campus is compliant with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, and implements industry-standard practices related to student data privacy and security.
Parents and students will be able to access Infinite Campus through parent and student portals using a web browser on any device or a mobile app on a smartphone or tablet. ICCSD will be sharing more information, including instructions for parents and students to use the Infinite Campus portals, as we approach the 2021-2022 school year. Parents and students who want to get a jumpstart on learning about Infinite Campus can find videos and other support resources here.
The ICCSD student data team has been working with staff groups over the past few months to learn and implement Infinite Campus, including a successful experience with our first official use of Infinite Campus during Kindergarten registration. As with any large rollout, training is being targeted to groups such that staff who need to use Infinite Campus have received training prior to using the system. At this point, building secretaries, counselors, administrators, and other groups have received training related to student registration and scheduling tasks that are completed during the spring. Teachers and other groups will receive training as we move through summer and toward the start of the next school year.
We’ll have much more information to come about Infinite Campus and the transition in the coming months. In the meantime, please read on for answers to some common questions we’ve received about our move to Infinite Campus.Continue reading Infinite Campus will Replace PowerSchool in 2021-2022 School Year
Large-Scale Device Updates
The primary goal of the ICCSD Technology & Innovation department is to provide technology equipment and services that will allow our students to engage with their learning, and our teachers to provide innovative instruction, without presenting technological barriers. We took a big step in that direction this week as the school board approved our device refresh plan, which will:
- Replace student 1:1 Chromebooks, while formalizing the permanent extension of our 1:1 initiative to grades K-12
- Replace computer lab and other student-accessible computers in our schools and classrooms
- Replace staff-assigned and utility devices districtwide
This project represents a major undertaking for our department, but also has a number of benefits. The new Chromebooks will provide students with three oft-demanded features that we’ve never been able to provide before. Specifically, the devices offer:
- a convertible form-factor, meaning that they can be used as traditional laptops (like our current Chromebooks), or the screen can fold flat against the back so that the devices can be used as tablets. This provides flexibility of usage that will be of particular benefit to our younger students.
- touch screen capability with support for pen input will also be available on these devices. While we have had a small number of touch-capable devices in our fleet, it’s never been enough to provide to all younger students, and none of our existing devices support pen input. While we do not plan to initially provide pens with all devices, we have the ability to offer that in the future for targeted grade levels, programs, or for specific students, as needed to support students’ ability to work and interact with the device.
- a rear-facing camera will be available on devices when they are in tablet mode. While this likely sounds like a small feature, it has been our most requested feature for future Chromebooks, as it allows students to take pictures of written work and projects for submission via Seesaw or Canvas, and allows the devices to be used for activities like photo scavenger hunts.
We expect that devices will arrive in late April, and are currently working to firm up deployment plans and timelines. Please read below for more information about this project, including the answers to some of the most common questions we’ve received thus far.Continue reading 2021 Technology Refresh