YouTube: To Block or Not to Block?

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YT

It’s funny, it seems like we’ve been having this debate for years: should YouTube be blocked in schools? The tides are beginning to shift, with more people advocating opening up access to YouTube to students. The argument makes sense: there are a lot of really powerful educational videos on YouTube–and we all want to give students access to powerful educational content. But the downsides are no less true now than they were years ago. The answer, it seems to us, lies somewhere in between Block and Allow.

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What’s so great about integrating your LMS with your content filter and MDM?

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Venn

Our Mobile Learning Essentials solution integrates our Web Filter with our Mobile Manager and My Big Campus (our LMS). When we first started talking about this vision, people asked why those tools would ever need to be integrated. But with the proliferation of mobile devices for instruction, the reason is increasingly clear:

Sure, devices are technology; but they’re used in the classroom for instruction. So teachers should be empowered to effectively manage their classroom tools

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Snow Days Become eLearning Days

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Mother Nature has shown her strength once again this week by blanketing parts of the country in snow. We are well into March and yet many schools are still experiencing snow days and other weather-related closures. With #snowday trending on Twitter more than a few times this year, we can all agree this winter has been one to remember.

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Student privacy with online educational solutions

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Recently PTAC (Privacy Technical Assistance Center, U.S. Department of Education) released a new publication, Protecting Student Privacy While Using Online Educational Services: Requirements and Best Practices. You can get the full publication here.

FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) protects personally identifiable information (PII) from student records from unauthorized disclosure. But with new technologies and services, those guidelines have a lot of exceptions and nuances; this new report aims to clear up confusion and provide updated guidelines in the face of new tools. The report shares advice and information to help schools protect student privacy while using software, apps, and web-based tools.

Lightspeed Systems solutions (including My Big Campus, Mobile Manager, and our Web Filter) are such technologies, classified by PTAC as Online Educational Services. We stay on top of these issues, and the new report doesn’t require any changes in our policies. We are, and always will be, committed to protecting student privacy and data and complying with all regulations when schools use our solutions.

Because of the variety of services and the wide range of district needs and circumstances, the report offers “It depends” as the answer to both “Is student information used in Online Educational Services protected by FERPA” and “What does FERPA require if PII from students’ education records is disclosed to a provider.” That answer, “it depends,” requires districts to have policies in place and overall knowledge of services being used in order to make an informed decision about which way the “it depends” goes.

Some good advice provided in the report includes:
Be aware of which online educational services are currently used in your district
Have policies and procedures to evaluate and approve online educational services

While it is necessary to collect some information to effectively provide our learning solutions, we go to great ends to protect students and to treat their data with care:

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