How a cloud-based ERP helps schools innovate and be nimble

As school districts emerge from the worst of COVID-19, they’re bringing with them new priorities. Many of the changes that districts have made during the pandemic, such as giving employees the flexibility to work remotely, will be carried forward. Other processes are being reevaluated to serve the needs of students and other stakeholders more effectively.

In looking to update everything from teaching and learning processes to school district operations, one of the most basic steps that K-12 leaders can take to position their schools for success is updating their education resource planning (ERP) solution by moving to a cloud-based system.

We can’t really talk about modernizing and streamlining district operations without discussing ERPs. An ERP is the backbone of a district’s operations, helping administrators manage essential financial functions related to payroll, HR, accounting, and more.…Read More

McAlester Public Schools Select BenQ Boards

COSTA MESA, Calif. — BenQ, an internationally renowned provider of visual display solutions, continues to be the chosen smart board of choice for schools across the nation. McAlester Public Schools in Oklahoma installed BenQ’s Premium RP Series Education smart boards in every classroom in the district. The BenQ Board is packed with features including a germ-resistant screen and Tap & Teach technology delivering instant access to files, cloud storage, and personalized settings. Its license-free and intuitive EZ Write annotation and whiteboard software, and built-in InstaShare wireless screen sharing solution, make the RP Series the central hub for collaboration in the classroom. Plus, BenQ includes tools for IT and admin staff to easily configure, monitor, and update every smart board in the district from a centralized location.

“One of the main reasons for choosing BenQ was flexibility,” said Delilah Rodriguez, instructional technology and STEM at McAlester Public Schools. “My teachers didn’t need a computer if they didn’t want to use one. They could use the BenQ Board as their instructional tool.”

BenQ has been developing and perfecting its BenQ Boards for 10 years, leveraging its leadership in cinematic, esports, and healthcare display technology. The culmination of which is easy-to-use, healthful, and feature-rich smart boards designed for hybrid and remote classrooms. All interactive displays in BenQ’s education portfolio feature a 4K UHD screen with ClassroomCare, a proprietary line of health-centric technologies that includes the industry’s only antimicrobial-certified screens, air-quality sensors, and low-blue-light, flicker-free, and anti-glare technologies to reduce eye strain and create a comfortable viewing experience.…Read More

CoderZ Launches New Code Farm Coding and Robotics Course for Grades Four Through Six

DERRY, N.H. – When young students learn coding, they hone skills – such as computational thinking and collaboration – that enhance their success in school and future careers. CoderZ, an award-winning, cloud-based robotics and STEM platform, is helping educators introduce computer science in elementary and early middle school with its new Code Farm coding and robotics course for grades four through six.

Created for teachers and students with no prior experience in coding or robotics, Code Farm provides 45-60 hours of self-paced, gamified activities with real-time feedback and step-by-step instructions. The course offers a broad view of computer science education through a variety of lenses: engineering design, algorithms and coding, ethics and the social impact of technology, and more. The course is aligned with relevant standards frameworks, such as CSTA and NGSS, and includes extension opportunities for middle school classrooms.

Learners use the programming language Blockly to steer virtual robots through tasks such as collecting fruit, avoiding obstacles, and even planting a garden of their own design.…Read More

Rethinking your K-12 cloud strategy

The new school year is upon us, and IT teams are ramping up strategic tech investments and systems to help ensure a smooth year ahead. For many of these IT teams, challenges around cybersecurity are top of mind, with recent research revealing over half of lower education organizations were hit by ransomware in the past year. On top of this, concerns remain around cloud costs, including new limits on free cloud storage, leaving some wondering what they’re supposed to do and having to pay up.

In light of these shifts and growing risks, K-12 IT teams need to rethink their approach to cloud storage costs and security. We recently experienced challenges at Hotchkiss School with our past cloud providers in this regard. We could not obtain the amount of secure storage we needed due to not only data consumption and performance challenges, but also because of their egress fees. In order to modernize and innovate, education decision-makers will need to embrace hybrid or multi-cloud storage options that keep their data secure by moving away from mainstream, high-cost cloud providers.

Further, to meet growing demands on schools’ IT departments, IT leaders will need to adopt a flexible cloud mindset that enables them to effectively and securely store and leverage the growing deluge of data they are inundated with – everything from student health care data to device and research data. Let’s dive into how a high performance, multi-cloud approach can help K-12 schools check the following major pain points off their list.…Read More

BenQ Announces New Education Smart Board Models That Come Standard With State-of-the-Art Features

COSTA MESA, Calif. — Oct. 5, 2022 — BenQ, an internationally renowned provider of visual display solutions, is empowering K-12 and higher-ed educators and students with its new educational BenQ Board smart displays. Comprising the Premium RP Series, Mainstream RM Series, and Entry-Level RE Series, the interactive displays feature state-of-the-art yet intuitive tools to enhance learning comprehension, engagement, and collaboration for in-person, virtual, and hybrid classrooms. This includes germ-resistant screens with up to 40 touch points, license-free EZ Write interactive whiteboard and annotation software, InstaShare wireless screencasting, speakers, X-Sign Broadcast PA capabilities, and Cloud Classroom Management featuring single sign-on to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, and more.

“There’s no question about the benefits of interactive displays in the classroom, but not every display is created equal,” said Bob Wudeck, senior director of business development at BenQ America Corp. “Educators today need to be able to start their lessons from the classroom display as easily as they would any computer. Likewise, IT staff need to be able to configure and manage them seamlessly alongside other devices. That’s why we’re shaping the future of education with our broad lineup of BenQ Boards, which come standard with all the tools and resources schools need to jump-start their interactive experience at no extra charge. Nothing should stand in the way of learning.”

The 4K 20-point multi-touch BenQ Board Entry-Level RE Series opens the door to affordable smart whiteboard technology, boasting BenQ’s premium yet standard features — ClassroomCare, EyeCare, EZWrite, InstaShare, and more — and is available in 65”, 75”, 86”, and 98” sizes. The Master RM Series adds front-accessible USB Type C ports, a six-microphone array with noise cancellation and speech enhancement, remote with spotlight and digital pointer, germ-resistant stylus, and more. Unleashing the full potential of BenQ smart board technology, the next-generation Premium RP Series builds upon the innovation with an onboard subwoofer, Dolby Digital Plus surround sound for lesson clarity in class and online, an eight-microphone array with noise cancellation and speech enhancement, Tap and Teach NFC tag reader to instantly log into the network or cloud services and access personal settings, Duo Windows to run apps side by side, an air ionizer, and smart sensor technology for motion detection that enables BenQ’s advanced EyeSafe® screen settings to protect eyes and provide the best user experience and for BenQ’s ClassroomCare technology that monitors temperature, humidity, and air quality. The Master RM and Premium RP Series are available in 65”, 75”, and 86” sizes.…Read More

LINQ Announces New, Innovative Food Distribution Program

LINQ, the only 100% cloud and browser-based school nutrition and administration solutions available to the K-12 industry, today announced the launch of its Food Distribution Program (FDP). LINQ FDP enables K-12 districts to accurately forecast USDA Foods ordering to maximize their Planned Assistance Level (PAL) usage while maximizing inventory. For State Agencies, the solution facilitates efficient reimbursement and maintains program integrity. The innovative new solution maximizes the efficiency of child nutrition programs.

“The USDA Foods program is a complex, sequential process. Each stakeholder has a responsibility to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the program,” said Matthew Essner, Director of Sales at LINQ and former Director of USDA Food Distribution for Missouri schools. “With our new FDP solution, states can strengthen their program by ensuring every stakeholder is informed and has full transparency. “

USDA’s food distribution programs strengthen the nutrition safety net through the disbursement of USDA Foods and other nutrition assistance to children, low-income families, emergency feeding programs, Indian reservations, and the elderly. However, the programs are complex and difficult to manage, especially as child nutrition programs continue to see pandemic-induced challenges, including supply chain issues, labor shortages and inflation. LINQ FDP supports child nutrition directors by streamlining the management of the following programs:…Read More

Carousel Digital Signage and Indiana School District Get into the School Spirit

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA  Carousel Digital Signage has provided Elkhart Community Schools with a seamless way to communicate timely, up-to-date messages to its diverse network of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. The K-12 public school district now uses Carousel Cloud to distribute department-specific messaging throughout its high school. The school district is also working with Carousel partner Jamf to securely convert Apple TV devices into media players, and providing access to meeting room schedules on mobile devices.

Based in Elkhart, Ind., Elkhart Community Schools serves approximately 12,000 students. The public school district is comprised of 14 elementary schools, three middle schools, and one high school. Elkhart Community Schools also oversees the Elkhart Area Career Center, which offers programs for high school juniors and seniors seeking to make the transition into college or a career.   

Elkhart Community Schools has now successfully rolled out the new solution at Elkhart High School, explains Stephen DeCook, Technology Deployment Administrator at the district. The system is configured into separate zones to address the needs of different departments, such as arts, athletics, business, and food services. Each department can now contribute content and messages related to classes, special events, and programs, with food services updating menu options daily.   

DeCook’s technology department has also integrated Carousel Cloud with an RSS feed that displays internal-facing messaging about system status throughout the school, which helps to streamline troubleshooting and service calls for an IT and technology team with limited human resources. There is also a main zone for more generalized, school-wide announcements, which Carousel Cloud disseminates to all departments.  

“Contributors from different departments will display relevant themes depending on what day of the week it is, or if it’s a special day celebrating a certain event in history, to keep content fresh and engaging,” said DeCook. “We are using Carousel’s Education template, and right out of the box it was ready to go. We added a few pieces of our own content and were up and running.”  

One significant advantage of Carousel Digital Signage’s partnership with Jamf is Elkhart personnel can access conference room scheduling information using their iPads through the Jamf’s secure mobile device management (MDM) platform. DeCook says that the integration has streamlined the reservation process considerably.   

“It’s really helped folks who need to have impromptu meetings,” he explained. “They immediately know which rooms are in use and which are free without interrupting any meetings in progress.”   

Elkhart is also taking advantage of the system’s built-in weather and news feeds, and DeCook adds that his team is in the process of integrating Carousel Cloud with Singlewire’s InformaCast mass notification system for emergency messaging.   

DeCook notes that Carousel Cloud’s third-party integration capabilities help to optimize the school district’s return on investment. “We’re a Google shop, and it’s been easy to merge Carousel with Google. I don’t have to set up an additional account for the users that are         responsible for developing and distributing content,” he explained. “It’s easy to configure, and they offer a ton of information. And, whenever I’ve needed additional help and reached out to Carousel, their support has been excellent.”  

Five users are responsible for content development and delivery today, and this number will continue to expand as the district scales up its usage. DeCook, who estimates that the user count will grow to approximately 20 people, shares that Elkhart Community Schools will soon deploy Carousel Cloud at several of its elementary schools. “They’ve seen how the signage at the high school works and want to benefit from the same features,” he said.   

DeCook predicts that this continuing expansion will be relatively straightforward, thanks to Carousel’s intuitive user interface. “It’s a really robust system, but as soon as you understand the basics it’s really easy to navigate,” he said. “And through our Google integration we have full  control over who has access to which parts of the system, which enables us maintain our strict security standards.”  

Digital signage in general also helps to keep a diverse population of staff, students, and visitors engaged, DeCook adds. “We have a large community of English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) students, and the food services staff, for example, is excited about being able to display visuals alongside menu listings to help those individuals understand the content more easily,” he said. “We are also giving students up-to-date and sometimes real-time information on events and happenings, or opportunities to sign up for interesting programs. That helps us get everybody excited about what’s going on at our schools. It’s no secret that kids aren’t always thrilled about having to be at school, but when we can leverage this tool to show them some of the cool things that are going on, that helps to inspire more involvement.”  

About Carousel Digital Signage

Carousel is Digital Signage Content Management Software that is easy to use, scalable, and  reliable. With a deep feature set and strong technology partnerships Carousel gives you the most value in digital signage. Carousel Digital Signage is a division of Tightrope Media Systems. You can reach the Carousel team at (866) 866-4118, or visit www.carouselsignage.com.  

How to educate in the 4th Industrial Revolution

Just for a moment, think about your physical environment. Perhaps you’re taking your lunch break in your car that has satellite radio and reading this article on a mobile device. Maybe you’re at home on your computer where you’ve got another browser tab open, creating a meeting agenda in Google Drive to share with your colleagues. 

Evidence that we’re in the middle of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is all around us. From the mobile device that can connect you via FaceTime or Slack with co-workers worldwide to cloud computing, we operate in a time and space marked by its reliance on artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, the Internet of Things, and automation.

As individuals interested in empowering the next generation of young people to succeed, it is time to ensure that the field of education is appropriately responding to the 4IR, which has impacted nearly every industry in recent years. The question, then, is how can we ensure that we educate students to succeed in a world dominated by the 4IR?…Read More

Clearlake Capital-Backed Discovery Education Acquires Pivot Interactives

Charlotte, NC Discovery Education, a global edtech company backed by Clearlake Capital Group, L.P. (together with its affiliates, “Clearlake”), announced it has acquired Minneapolis, MN-based Pivot Interactives SBC. Led by a team of science teachers, practitioners, and students, Pivot Interactives develops dynamic cloud-based activities and labs that actively engage students in the authentic exploration of real scientific phenomena. Terms were not disclosed.  

The acquisition of Pivot Interactives supports Discovery Education’s mission to prepare learners for tomorrow by creating innovative classrooms connected to today’s world. Pivot Interactives will complement Discovery Education’s other successful digital services supporting science education, which include  Discovery Education’s K-12 platformMystery Science, the  Science Techbook series, and  STEM Connect

Pivot Interactives is Discovery Education’s second acquisition this month, having also acquired  DoodleLearning…Read More

How to ensure both security and accessibility in your district’s IT strategy

Keeping student and educator information safe and protected is a top priority, particularly now in the wake of skyrocketing cyberattacks. When it comes to fighting cyberattacks, schools need versatile solutions that update, adapt, and scale to support everyone, in and out of the classroom.

In an eSchool News webinar, cybersecurity and school district IT experts share tips on how to implement the Microsoft tools and systems to ensure your IT is safe, accessible, and easy to manage.

Experts dive into the following tips:…Read More