Tuesday, April 2, 2019

New Analytics Tool From CDW, Lightspeed Systems Helps Schools Optimize Tech Use

New Analytics Tool From CDW, Lightspeed Systems Helps Schools Optimize Tech Use

Today at COSN 2019, CDW, in partnership with Lightspeed Systems, introduced Analytics Powered by Relay, a dashboard solution enabling K-12 schools to make informed decisions about their use of educational technology devices, applications and websites.

With mobile device use on the rise – 74 percent of K-12 schools say they have more than one device per student – schools are challenged to optimize their technology use, manage device data across numerous platforms, maintain policy compliance and ensure student safety online. With Analytics Powered by Relay, schools have access to an easy-to-use dashboard that helps them:
  • Determine if purchased tools and applications are being utilized as intended – and eliminate unused or redundant tools
  • Explore educational technology adoption rates and identify opportunities for professional development
  • Ensure technology tools align with relevant data privacy laws and frameworks
  • Monitor how often devices are used and what they are being used for
  • Ensure digital equity district-wide

“With Analytics Powered by Relay, schools can move from descriptive analytics to prescriptive advice that empowers them to take action,” said David Hutchins, vice president, education sales, CDW-G. “We’re pleased to partner with Lightspeed Systems to help schools harness their device data – rather than be burdened by it – so they can make better decisions about their technology investments, optimize technology use and protect their students’ safety.”

“Every school we talk to has challenges with data analytics. Until now, they have had to build complex processes and systems to piece together data from separate solutions. We’re excited to partner with CDW to bring schools a better student data portal that provides a holistic view of all activity and usage across every operating system, device, app and software license, everywhere the device goes,” said Brian Thomas, president and chief executive officer, Lightspeed Systems. “Analytics Powered by Relay will save schools time, maximize the return on technology and instructional investments, and drive smarter data-driven decisions that keep students safer and raise achievement.”

Lightspeed Systems has served K-12 schools since 1999. Its solution runs on Amazon Web Services, so schools do not need to invest in additional hardware or third-party tools to support it.

Analytics Powered by Relay customers will have access to CDW-G’s educational strategist team, which can provide an initial technology assessment, as well as ongoing coaching to drive innovation through data-based decision making. CDW-G educational strategists have advanced degrees in education and deep experience in classroom technology best practices.

Analytics Powered by Relay is scheduled to be generally available to CDW’s K-12 education customers in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, and to schools globally in May 2019. To schedule a demo, or to connect with a CDW-G educational strategist, email EduAnalytics@cdwg.com or visit www.cdwg.com/CDWanalytics.


Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Creating an Accessibility-Friendly Environment

Accessibility is an important topic in education and encompasses the classroom space, digital tools and resources and much more.

Creating an Accessibility-Friendly Classroom Environment
  • Is the classroom bursting with patterned borders on the bulletin boards and bright colorful posters/word walls/anchor charts? Many teachers follow this trend because they believe more is better (it is touted as best practice on Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers), but the research shows that this is detrimental for student focus and ability to retain information.
    • For all students, but consider those with ADD/ADHD
    • Bring this back to decluttering and focusing on the room being as open as possible – an empty canvas for the students to paint every day based on the lessons and activities that will be happening.
      • This then returns to the furniture needing to facilitate the day’s tasks by being flexible, and active learning environments.
  • How can seating support a student who learns best with movement?
    • i.e. MooreCo’s Grow stools and sit/stand workspaces
      • Making this an option for all students, not just those with an IEP or 504, otherwise they may feel “different” and not want to use the tools available to them
Creating an Accessibility-Friendly Digital Environment
  • Going back to decluttering the barrage of bright colors and patterns in the physical space, the same holds true for a digital classroom environment and assignments. If a teacher has created a presentation or assignment that is bursting with unnecessary Clip Art, distracting transitions between slides, and heavy text/unreadable “fancy” fonts, they have just made that information less accessible to their students.
    • Also, if they have a class website that is cluttered with images and hard-to-read fonts, they are making it challenging for students who already have difficulty concentrating or reading to access the information
    • Consider – if they are embedding links in assignments online, are they including alt-text for students who use a screen reader?
  • How is the physical and digital classroom layout supporting English Language Learners?
    • All of this is not to say to get rid of visuals on the walls of the classroom – make sure they are intentional
    • For a classroom with ELL students, labels that include a picture of an object along with the word in English and their native language can be helpful for language acquisition

  • Make use of accessibility tools to support personalized learning in the digital environment
    • Microsoft Accessibility Blog
    • Google Chrome Accessibility Tools Slide Deck (covers native accessibility Chromebook settings and extensions/apps)
    • Consider native accessibility settings that can assist students reading below-grade level access articles and text that are appropriate for their grade level, as so often they are given books written for younger grades and miss out on the rich content

Here is a resource document that has resoures on Assistive Technology and Accessibility:


More Accessibility Resources

Google Accessibility Features and Resources


Friday, March 15, 2019

Collaboration Tools in Education - new partnership Dropbox and Klaxoon

Just like businesses, educators and students use a lot of collaboration tools in their daily work. Google for Education and Microsoft for Education are two the most popular, with apps like Google Classroom and Microsoft Teams. There are others, like Schoology, Edmodo and more, that are also used.


Dropbox, originally a cloud file storage and sharing app, has added a number of collaboration features over the last couple of years.

Dropbox and Klaxoon recently announced a partnership which allows interoperability and sharing between the platforms.

Dropbox Education aims to bridge the gap between the classroom and workspace by developing student collaboration, a soft skill employers are in need of. The new app also sponsors instructor success by increasing the pulse of the classroom.

Dropbox Education has partnered with Klaxoon, an innovative suite of applications allows instructors to integrate polls, word clouds, and other interactive tools into their classroom to increase student participation.

These tools all help educators and students work more collaboratively, and prepare for higher education and the workplace.


Thursday, March 7, 2019

Fotor - online photo editor and design maker

Fotor is an online photo editor and design maker with some very impressive features. There is a free version and pro upgrade available.


Here are some of its key features:

*Powerful photo editing and portrait retouching tools make image editing a breeze
* Thousands of professionally-designed templates for social networks, blogs, ads, print materials and more
* Frequently updated icons, stickers, fonts and other graphic elements to choose from
* Free export with high-quality and no watermark
* HTML5 based

It's very easy to use and a great resource for student projects. Because it is HTML5 based, it works great on Chromebooks. 

Templates, clip art, photo editing, effects and retouching, collages, borders and frames, and much more. Web, Windows, Mac, iOS, Android.

It includes tutorials and guides, a blog with creative ideas, and support. 

Check it out: https://www.fotor.com/ 


Online editing picture 

Related Resources: 



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