GG4L is thrilled to announce that although the 3-year grant is closed, we have launched a similar but shorter-term grant. On-Demand Safer Schools Grants enable a school or district to apply for and immediately be approved for an in-kind grant that lasts for one school year and can be used to place any EdTech solution from the Safer Schools Initiative into a school in that district. For details please go to https://gg4l.com/initiatives/
GG4L will be inviting schools to participate in grants that provide school safety EdTech solutions for a full school year. Each school grantee will be the recipient of an integrated suite of EdTech solutions that address school safety. These solutions will be deployed, and measured for efficacy where appropriate, over a 12-month project period at no cost to the schools, excluding wholesale hardware costs were required to implement the SaaS solution.
Data-driven, evidence-informed decision making is essential for those charged with school safety and student wellness. In line with ESSA requirements, the Safer Schools Impact Initiative will use proven and independent measures of efficacy under an institutional quality research framework to establish best practices toward successful outcomes that can be shared nationally.
GG4L’s platform will enable each school to track usage and outcomes data for each solution. The generated data will be aggregated, anonymized, and analyzed by both McREL and GG4L, who in turn provide quarterly reports to all stakeholders. This information can then be used to make decisions about the overall product impact and effectiveness.
ScholarChip, a GG4L Safer Schools Initiative EdTech partner, helps create a safe, secure school environment in an efficient and cost-effective way; it’s an automated, easily implemented solution.
Clayton Moore is the Security Surveillance Technician at Bay Shore High School in Long Island. He’s in charge of maintaining their security systems, technology, cameras, and ID card management for the 2,000 students in attendance.
“I’m the Key Master,” Moore joked. “No one can get past me!”
In spite of his quip, Moore takes student safety very seriously and has been
working with ScholarChip since 2008.
Tapping into Security
“All of our students hold a smart ID card badge from ScholarChip.
They tap in at one of five kiosks at our school entrances, and because it’s an
electronic process, I can tell who is in the building in real time, which is
vital information from a security standpoint,” said Moore. Moore added, “We use
the kiosks at the cafeteria entrances too, so only kids who belong there, for
that period, can get in.”
Bay Shore uses stand-alone kiosks for building attendance so
they can be moved and used for other things, too. Kids can tap in with their
ScholarChip smart ID cards at events that take place after school like a
sporting event, dance, concert, or any other school-sponsored program. These
cards strengthening accountability, safety and control, and provide event
administrators real-time attendee counts.
ScholarChip’s smart ID cards carry a chip that is encoded with
a unique ID number assigned to one individual. It is the back-end computer that
maintains detailed information on the student to whom the ID is issued, so
administering the program is simple and straightforward, and cards can be activated
and deactivated on demand.
“The ScholarChip system is very good,” added Moore. “It gives
us a lot of control over knowing where students are, when they come in, and
when they leave. That’s important in today’s school climate.”
Locking It Down
In the old days, schools used to practice fire drills. Now
they practice lock-down drills, too. And sometimes it isn’t a drill. “We’ve had
a few lock-downs where things happened in our community, close to the school.
Recently the Suffolk County Police Department had a wanted suspect about a mile
away from us, which triggered a lock down. Thankfully, nothing came of it, but
we knew who was in school that day, and who wasn’t.
An accurate attendance report is available on a tablet or computer
that shows which students used their card to get into the building, which can
help first responders react fast.
Expanding the System
Bay Shore High School recently implemented ScholarChip’s SALA
(Student Ad-hoc Location App) in the library. With SALA, students tap their ID
cards outside of the classrooms in locations like the nurse’s or a guidance
counselor’s once. Moore said, “Previously, we built a program that the
librarian used to register kids into the room. It wasn’t as good as SALA. Now
you can view a photo, match it to the student, see who belongs there, and you
know that’s where they’re supposed to be.”
In this day and age, schools are faced with the threat of active shooters, drug dealers lurking on the grounds, sex o‑enders trolling events, and parental abductors waiting for an opportunity to strike. Real threats are reported all the time. But dedicated security professionals like Clayton Moore are on the job, using advanced tools like ScholarChip, to make sure that his students are safe, every day.
The Alachua County Public Schools located in Gainesville, Florida serves about 29,000 students in 41 schools and centers. It is among the top performing school districts in Florida.
Alachua County was looking for an enterprise Single Sign On (SSO) solution to manage application deployment and access to their 41 locations district wide. They wanted a solution that would protect the privacy of their students and staff while verifying identity and reducing the costs to deploy new applications.
Alachua County Public Schools chose the Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) Enterprise Passport to manage access to K-12 educational applications for students and staff. GG4L School Passport provides users with Single Sign On (SSO) access to a wide variety of educational resources and content. These applications are accessed using a number of supported Internet browsers. Users are granted access to the Passport Launchpad by providing credentials that are authenticated outside Passport, by Active Directory, Google Classroom, and others. The Passport Launchpad then presents the user with icons that connect to the resources to which he or she is allowed access, based on role, group membership, and location.
“Connector” is an important term in this discussion, as the icons that provide
access to resources and content do more than just link to these
applications. They “connect” into the
application through an available number of industry standard interfaces and
pass user login credentials to the target application, thus eliminating a
secondary sign on.
22,000 active users during the 2018-19 school year, it is easy to see that the
acceptance of Passport has been widespread in Alachua County. Jeannie Fox, Alachua County’s IT system support
analyst said, “The broad use of educational technology in our classrooms would
not be possible without the help from School Passport.”
tracking and using digital content and resources is a must in order to insure
that the school system is getting value from its investment in educational
technology. Along with Passport comes an
analytics dashboard that allows key staff members to look into the “who, what, where
and when” of SSO access from browser based applications.
With the nearly 1.5 million times that these digital content and resources were used in the 2018-19 school year, having the ability to drill into this usage from a variety of perspectives becomes increasingly critical. This dashboard allows the user analyze a very broad or specific data report. It can be filtered by a variety of combinations of options including school(s), application(s), date range and time of day.
“The GG4L dashboard allows us to gauge the level of usage for each application by location over differing periods of time. This provides relevant data for decision making as we consider purchasing and renewal of online resources,” added Jeannie Fox.
The education technology publication T|H|E Journal reported on the Safer Schools in America Impact Grant to disburse $25 million worth of safety solutions to as many as 500 schools, and then study the effectiveness of the technologies deployed. The participating vendors focus on a wide variety of safety-related issues, from emotional well-being to managing sports injuries to keeping in touch with parents. “Parents, students, teachers and administrators expect schools to be safe, secure, and supportive for teaching and learning, but little research has been done to date to measure the effectiveness of the solutions that we purchase to address safety and well-being,” said Sandra Elliott, chief academic officer at Global Grid, in a statement.
Current legislation does not take into consideration the high-tech revolution that has occurred in EdTech. As beneficial as innovations like internet access, affordable devices, and e-learning tools can be for students, protecting the private information that schools possess can be challenging. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) does protect families and their children to some extent; however, student data is often required to effectively provision cloud-hosted EdTech solutions.
Parents as Advocates
While there are certain bits of student data, such as directory information, that do not require a consent form to be shared by third-party vendors, parents do have the right to know what information is being used and why. A child’s education record can hold everything from their date of birth and home address to physical descriptors and school activities. When schools are managing multiple EdTech vendors, parents must have the ability to play a key advocacy role in ensuring privacy and data protection.
Schools as Trustees
It’s not uncommon for schools to contract with 25 or more different EdTech vendors, many requiring access to student information. Schools must develop and enforce strict data protection policies with their EdTech vendors as well as require an option for parents to opt-out of providing identifying information. Many programs, despite being school-related, do not fall under FERPA and are not automatically guaranteed the same data protections, so schools are forced to provide the additional necessary data security.
EdTech Community Working Together
Protecting student data is everyone’s responsibility, from the schools who store the data to the EdTech vendors who access it, to the corporations who demand highly-qualified candidates and drive the need for EdTech, to the communities that benefit from a well-educated population. Proper oversight is pivotal in the protection of sensitive student data, which has become more important as technology advances. Mobile portals and other third-party EdTech services are convenient, but they can pose a considerable privacy risk. We can all do more to help protect data.
Global Grid for Learning (GG4L) is committed to promoting data security in schools, and protecting the data of every user is a top priority. GG4L’s Connect platform makes integrating and deploying education technology safe, easy, and inexpensive. It’s free for schools to use, less expensive for EdTech vendors, and safer for students. As a Public Benefit Corporation, GG4L welcomes collaboration and support from corporate social responsibility (CSR) and philanthropic foundations. Help us keep K-12 data interoperability costs low for schools, while maintaining the security and privacy of student data. Contact us today to learn more about becoming a GG4L Corporate Sponsor.
Data security in the school enterprise world is an enormous challenge. Typically, the basic data needed by any EdTech solution vendor will consist of what is referred to as the roster data, which consists of the names and course affiliations of students and teachers within every school building. Without these names and corresponding data, the application vendors could not create accounts for the end users of their systems. This process usually requires a bulk upload of the data using an extracted report from a Student Information System (SIS) that the school or the district office uses. The roster data changes frequently, so it is important for these files to be updated and uploaded daily through an automated data extraction and upload process, which is labor intensive to set up and maintain.
Managing Multiple EdTech Vendors Is Costly and Time-Consuming
If we assume that a typical school uses a minimum of 25 enterprise applications from 25 different vendors, then the data upload process needs to be set up in 25 discrete instances. That is a lot of work for any school with limited resources, and all schools have limited resources. Complicating the process further, many vendors require other forms of data that go beyond the roster data, which means that there may be more than one source of data that is needed by a vendor and needs to be extracted (e.g. food, transportation, and gradebooks, to name a few). Imagine the challenge! Some vendors bypass this process and take shortcuts that involve using the teachers in the classroom as a source of data, yet we all know that this is not a good utilization of teachers’ time and skills, and in many cases, schools create policies forbidding teachers from providing student or parent personal data to vendors, to minimize risks of data and privacy breach.
Protecting End Users Must Be a Priority
Most innovative consumer-oriented solutions today are accessed and used by end users through mobile applications that run on one of many forms of web-connected devices. This means that each user, regardless of age or the role they serve in the school, will most likely have to set up a personal account, agree to the vendor’s data privacy terms, and provide their profile data to the third-party vendor, to be able to use the product effectively. Some vendors, not all, do a great job taking data security and consumer privacy seriously, protecting the personal data of their end users and being transparent about what they do with the data. But you’re still asking students to interact with third-party platforms and provide personal information that may or may not be adequately protected.
GG4L Connect is designed to address the issue of data security so that schools can take advantage of multiple EdTech solutions without worrying about data security. GG4L Connect is consent-based, requiring the school data administrator to be 100% in control of inviting or approving a vendor to access a data subset or all the school’s stored SIS data. GG4L Connect is a global infrastructure with the ability to on-board any school’s data from any location in the world. We offer our EdTech vendors the option to invite an unlimited number of their school customers to join GG4L for free.
The members and sponsors of the Global Grid for Learning are democratizing access to K-12 data and applications. We’re making EdTech easier to deploy, more effective for teachers and students, and more affordable for districts and vendors. Connect to the Grid. Take part in an Impact Initiative. Be a sponsor. Let’s make EdTech better together! Learn more.
Schools are the heart of each community. One out of two families in any neighborhood has at least one child who attends school. We trust schools with our children’s safety and well-being, and count on our schools to assist us as parents in educating our children and preparing them for their lifelong journey. Accordingly, local schools are critical to all of us and can greatly influence the overall socio-economic well-being of our communities.
When Schools Flourish, the Whole Community Excels
A highly rated public-school district is an important factor in creating demand for people to live in nearby homes, thus creating an increased demand for real estate properties. The ensuing surge in the average selling price of homes can provide a nice economic gain to the home owners of such a fortunate community. Businesses also flourish around great schools. The better the economic security of the families in the community, the higher their spending power on consumer goods and services. So why should we all care about the health of our local schools? Because there is enough evidence that proves healthy schools lead to healthy surrounding communities.
Improving School Health through EdTech
Having great technology infrastructure in schools is no longer a nice-to-have – it is a must-have. Without technology, schools are unable to leverage the innovation that offers a positive impact not just inside the classroom but also in other critical components that affect our children’s safety. A well-architected, resourced, and executed technology roadmap is mission critical to embracing innovative solutions that will ultimately improve the prosperity of each school. But that technology must be not only accessible and affordable for schools but also protect the data of every user.
So how do we deliver the innovation, technology, and data security that schools need? It is the mission of Global Grid for Learning (GG4L), a Public Benefit Corporation, to accomplish exactly that! GG4L will create a sustainable impact in the world by helping schools solve the problem of secure and private data interoperability while reducing direct and indirect costs, by leveraging impact investments made by philanthropic foundations, CSRs, and local school communities.
This is a new era of giving where the money will be directly invested to affect the bottom line of every school, making hundreds of thousands of schools around the globe healthier, ultimately improving the lives of every citizen. GG4L is an ambitious global endeavor. It will take years to be able to benefit every school around the world, but we intend to stay focused on our mission of improving the life of every citizen by focusing on schools, and their well-being, one school at a time.
Whether you are a school district, an EdTech vendor, or a potential sponsor, joining GG4L’s collaborative is easy. For further details about GG4L, how to join GG4L, or how to participate in an upcoming Impact Initiative, simply visit: https://gg4l.com/ or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.