The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, and that means educators across the globe are still finding inventive and innovative ways to support and teach students in classrooms, during hybrid instruction, and in virtual settings.
The eSchool Media K-12 Hero Awards program, sponsored by Trox, recognizes the determined and dedicated efforts of educators throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Never before have educators been challenged and tested as they were, beginning in March 2020 and up until today, and never before has their resilience been more apparent. Administrators, technology leaders, classroom teachers, and educators in all roles have persevered as they taught each and every one of their students during a global pandemic.
Here, eSchool News highlights the West Rusk Independent School District–one of its K-12 Hero Awards finalists. Keep reading to discover how this district keeps learning going in the middle of a global pandemic.
Nominee: West Rusk Independent School District
Nominated by: ManagedMethods
What makes this nominee a hero?
When COVID-19 forced schools into a completely remote learning environment in March of 2020, school district IT teams lost complete visibility and control of the school activity taking place online. This was largely due to the fact that students and staff were accessing school resources off of school networks—relying on cloud applications like Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 to stay connected to school.
Cody Walker, Director of Technology at West Rusk Independent School District, and his IT team knew that they had little visibility into what was happening within their Google Workspace environment. School documents were being created, shared, and stored in both shared drives and individual drives. These documents could contain sensitive information, such as personally identifiable information, credit card info, health information, and more. For students, these documents weren’t always created for school purposes, which also created a safety and privacy risk.
Teachers at West Rusk relied heavily on Google Classroom in order to keep their students connected and to continue teaching. However, the teachers aren’t as tech-savvy and had trouble with properly setting up their Google Classroom courses. Students weren’t enrolled in the correct courses, oftentimes they were in the wrong classroom, and teachers didn’t know how to fix the issue.
It was clear to Cody and West Rusk that the IT department needed a way to help support teachers in their virtual classes with Google Classroom. They also needed more visibility into what activity was taking place inside Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Meet, Chat, and to see what is stored in Drive—especially when all students and staff are off-network. That’s when Cody found ManagedMethods and brought in the platform to help monitor and control West Rusk’s Google Workspace environment.
With ManagedMethods, Cody and West Rusk now had visibility and control into the cybersecurity, student safety, and data privacy risks taking place inside Google Workspace–cybersecurity risks like phishing, malware, ransomware, data loss, and account takeovers. Cody and his team are also able to detect student safety signals such as cyberbullying, self-harm, discrimination, threats of violence, explicit content, and domestic abuse that may be hidden within text and image content inside Google Workspace apps.
Another added benefit of bringing in ManagedMethods for Cody and West Rusk was the platform’s ability to monitor, control, and report on the activity taking place inside Google Classroom, Meet, and Chat. The IT team at West Rusk is now able to identify Google Classroom access from unauthorized locations, scan Google Classroom announcements for student safety risks, help teachers monitor student attendance and enrollment, create easy-to-use reports of all Google Classroom instances, and can easily go in to transfer ownership of a Google Classroom to a new teacher or administrator. West Rusk was struggling to provide a safe and secure learning environment to all its students and staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. The work Cody and West Rusk’s technology team did with ManagedMethods to help make safer schools during trying times is what makes them deserving of a K-12 Hero Award from eSchool News.
by Laura Ascione, eSchool News