Podcast | AETC 2021 Recap & Alabama’s EdTech Landscape

July 7, 2021


Episode 14: AETC 2021 Recap & Alabama’s EdTech Landscape

In K-12 education, summer is here and that means events are coming back full-swing with in-person conferences. Recently, Alabama wrapped up its AETC 2021 event and ManagedMethods was there to connect with customers and other IT leaders getting their K-12 cybersecurity strategies fine-tuned for the upcoming school year.

Although the 2021 school year is expected to be back in-person for students and staff, K-12 education won’t be going back to the way it was before March 2020. Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 are used more frequently by students and staff. Both inside and outside the classroom. School districts are continuing to adopt more cloud applications. For IT teams, cloud monitoring and security is now at the forefront. Especially, when it comes to cybersecurity training and awareness.

For this episode of The K-12 Tech Experience podcast, we are joined by Michael Townsend, the Director of Technology at Tuscaloosa County School System in Alabama. Michael joined the show to recap the AETC 2021 event and share what he’s focused on, in regards to the future of K-12 cybersecurity in Alabama schools.

Continue reading to learn more about Michael and Tuscaloosa County School System (edited for brevity). Listen to the rest of the conversation by visiting the podcast player on this page. Don’t forget to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience podcast so you don’t miss the upcoming episodes.

JK: How about we start by having you share more with our listeners about yourself, your career so far, and some background on Tuscaloosa County School System.

MT: I’m almost 30 years-in at the Tuscaloosa County School System. I did work for the private industry for a while. I left the county schools, then came back. Back in those days, around 1998, there wasn’t a lot of network going on. The county school systems didn’t have any kind of computer system around and it was something that was needed then.

We started getting into computers and they needed someone to handle them. As time evolved I went from computer technician, to dealing with all the computers in the schools, to dealing with how we are going to get all this information to come together. Because email was coming around.

That’s when we started creating modem banks and I had our 24 schools back then check their emails at random times throughout the day. As the district grew, the network kept getting bigger. Now I’m up to 34 schools with 19,000 kids, and have a tech department with cloud systems in place.

JK: What was this past year like for Tuscaloosa County School System with the remote and blended learning?

MT: We made a decision that we were going to school unless we were absolutely shut down. Students had the option to go remote, but had to re-enroll into the school every nine weeks to let us know if they wanted to change. At the most, we had about 3,800 students choose to go remote. A majority of our schools were going to school in-person. We were lucky in that we were able to be in person this past year.

Listen to the rest of our conversation with Michael below and check out previous episodes on the ManagedMethods podcast page. Make sure to subscribe to The K-12 Tech Experience wherever you listen to your podcasts, so you never miss an episode!