Achieving SOPPA Compliance with Reasonable Security Practices

The Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA) requires all Illinois public school districts to provide additional guarantees to protect student data privacy, effective July 1, 2021 (105 ILCS 85/15). Among the requirements, the act directs schools to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices that meet or exceed industry standards.

In preparation for SOPPA’s effective date, the Learning Technology Center selected 43 security best practices that all districts should implement to comply with this new legislation. The practices align with CIS Controls, a globally recognized cybersecurity standard, and are vetted by numerous Illinois school district technology leaders.

Although the Illinois State Board of Education will issue additional guidance throughout the coming year, these 43 security practices can form the foundation of a strong district-wide security program, starting today.

View Reasonable Security Practices

IETC Merges with LTC

IETC (Illinois Education and Technology Conference) has a long history dating back almost 30 years. Every year, hundreds of teachers, administrators, and IT staff join together in Springfield, Illinois, to share ideas, connect with colleagues, and learn for state and national experts. As the conference chair for several years, it’s been my pleasure to lead and grow the conference in partnership with a dedicated committee that consistently surprises me with their innovative ideas and willingness to take risks.

On behalf of the IETC Committee and myself, I am excited to share that the Learning Technology Center is now the umbrella organization for the conference. Previously a stand-alone conference without a single organizational lead, IETC will join the LTC as part of our diverse professional learning offerings. We facilitate several conferences throughout the year, as well as over 500 workshops, webinars, online courses, and other learning opportunities, and IETC will take a place as one of our most prominent events to positively impact digital-age teaching, learning, and leadership in Illinois.

This change is significant, yet its impact is minor. Much will stay the same — the IETC Committee will continue to create innovative learning opportunities to learn and cultivate community during the conference. With the fullness of the LTC’s support, IETC will have an even greater potential to impact our education and technology leaders, as well as our students.

We know that the conference is more than just a three-day event. It represents connections with life-long colleagues, opportunities to grow professionally and personally, pathways to promote homegrown talent, and meaningful ways to give back to our education community and support our students. I am confident that together, IETC and the LTC will grow the conference and help share its value with many more educators, leaders, and IT staff for years to come.

Here’s the bright future.

Week in Review

It’s been a week and our staff was busy! Here’s a brief recap of where we’ve been spending our time:

EdTech Office Hours
We held 12 EdTech Office Hours where over 1,000 educators, administrators, and IT staff joined our meetings to talk about resources, best practices, and strategies.

Based on the success of this week, we are hosting EdTech Office Hours again. From March 30 to April 3, we will hold 15 hours of online conversations on a variety of topics ranging from remote learning in the content areas, special education, and technology coordinator resources.

Online Learning Resources
The LTC created a searchable database of online learning resources. Our plan is to focus on Illinois-specific and distance learning best practices and strategies. 

Consulting with Districts
We spent hundreds of hours working closely with districts, admins, IT staff, and teachers on a variety of topics related to remote learning: best practices in creating distance learning lessons, privacy concerns, resource identification, home access issues, learning management systems, tools and apps, etc. Districts can contact us via or contact us directly.

Resource Development
LTC staff have created the following resources:



Blogs & Podcasts

LTC Updates – Coronavirus

We’re Open!

The Learning Technology Center is committed to remaining open as we support Illinois school districts, staff, and students. First and foremost, this decision is based on the understanding of what school system leaders and staff are facing in their own community, including preparation for remote learning.

Most of our employees are transitioning to remote work, and the best way to communicate will remain email. You can also contact us at

Event Impact

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, the Learning Technology Center will begin transforming all face-to-face events to virtual meetings when possible. In the event that this is not possible, we will do our best to reschedule the event for a later date. Please check the event listing on the LTC website for details.

Resources and Support

All resources and support related to remote learning, school closings, and LTC consulting are available on our E-Learning webpage.

Girls Who Code

Happy CS Ed week! In need of more computer science resources for your students? Start a FREE Girls Who Code Club Today! 

The Learning Technology Center of Illinois has partnered with Girls Who Code (GWC) to bring free computer science learning opportunities to our community. Girls Who Code Clubs are FREE after-school programs for 6th-12th grade girls to join a sisterhood of supportive peers and role models and use computer science to change the world. Participants not only learn hard coding skills and computational thinking, but they’ll also learn project management skills, collaboration, bravery, resilience, how to positively impact their community, and so much more.

When you start a GWC Club, you’ll gain access to free resources, flexible plug and play curriculum, funding opportunities, ongoing support, alumni opportunities for your young learners, and more! There’s no computer science experience needed to get started since GWC is there for you every step of the way. 

Apply now with the quick 15 min Clubs Application. As a Girls Who Code Community Partner, any Clubs in our network are eligible to receive additional partnership benefits by indicating the Learning Technology Center of Illinois on the Clubs Application! Learn more about how to get started by joining the next live 30 min webinar or email!

Dupo CUSD 196 Bridges the Homework Gap

For over twenty years, educators have been keenly aware of the “Digital Divide” — the gap between those with access to the Internet and those without.  It is a persistent issue in the world of EdTech and many would say that the divide is widening.  For as long as teachers have been utilizing digital learning and Internet-based assignments, technological inequity at home exists for so many students around the country.

Nationwide, more than five million K-12 students don’t have access to broadband Internet once they leave school. This technology breach puts them at a distinct disadvantage from their more digitally-connected peers. This disadvantage is known as the “homework gap.”  The homework gap often forces students in these households to head over to the public library to squeeze in an hour of homework after school instead of going home. Some students venture out of their homes to commercial locations or coffee shops with free Wi-Fi access in order to complete and submit classwork. Unfortunately, many others are simply unable to complete their work.

Dupo School District in Southern Illinois is addressing the homework gap head-on.  District leaders have decided to narrow the gap for their students by deploying a mobile hotspot lending program.  It has been a collaborative effort bringing together district administrators, technology staff, teachers, and library staff.

Being a 1:1 school district, Technology Director Leonard Aldridge and Educational Technology Director Mike Treece report that Dupo teachers had approached them with a desire to create and assign more technology-rich curricular material for students.  This would certainly present a problem for students who lack reliable broadband Internet access at home.  It was at this point that Dupo Superintendent Kelly Carpenter brought a promising grant opportunity to her team as a possible solution. Wireless Internet provider company, Kajeet, provides one-year grants to school districts to obtain their mobile wireless hotspots free of charge.  In the summer of 2018, they wrote and submitted a grant for ten “smartspot” mobile access points and got it!

Working with administrators and the library staff, Leonard and Mike developed a lending program for the mobile hotspots that they implemented during the 2018-2019 school year.  So far, it has been greatly beneficial for students and staff alike. Convenience is an important factor in the program as well.  Dupo students simply check-out and return a hotspot just like a book from the library.  The length of the check-out time is dependent on the demand for the devices.  Librarian Kellie Kloess states that no students have had difficulty acquiring a hotspot when needed.  She said that students have been consistently checking them out each week since the inception of the program.

When it comes to student access to the Internet, obviously digital safety and security are of the utmost importance. While using the Kajeet hotspots, even at home, students remain behind the robust content filter, so any potential safety, security, and content issues are greatly alleviated.  Both tech directors say with much relief that maintaining the security parameters on the devices is simple and fairly foolproof.

All-in-all, the program has been a great success for the students, staff, and community of Dupo and certainly represents proactive thinking regarding digital learning.  The program truly is the result of the unified vision of all involved.

When asked what will happen when the grant ends after one year, the Dupo team reports enthusiastically that the program will continue, as they have already included the Kajeet subscription fees into next year’s technology budget.  They all agree that it is money very well-spent!

To learn more about Dupo School District or their Kajeet Smartspot lending program, visit or contact Educational Technology Director Mike Treece at

Tools and Resources Used:

  •  G Suite for Education
  •  Chromebooks
  •  Promethean boards in every classroom
  •  Desktop labs in all buildings
  •  HMH digital curriculum
  •  TeacherEase
  •  Read 180
  •  Fast Math
  •  STEM Scopes
  • 3D Printer
  • Photoshop and Adobe Suite
  • CAD software for Robotics

District Information
Dupo CUSD 196
600 Louisa Avenue, Dupo, IL 62239

Mike Treece
Educational Technology Director

County: St. Clair
Community Type: Rural
Enrollment: 1,001-3,500 Students
Grades Served: P-12
See All Details at

Oak Grove School focuses on Digital Learning

When families are asked why they chose Oak Grove School for their children’s education, Superintendent, Dr. Lonny Lemon, reports that a pattern emerges. “They like the fact that students in grades K–8 are all housed in the same building, and they like the fine arts program that begins in kindergarten. They are thrilled with all the access to technology including a video production room available to students.”

Dr. Jason Meltzer, 6th–8th media production teacher and district technology coach, has played a major role in supporting the teachers at Oak Grove and teaching digital arts to students. In his role as a technology coach, he helps teachers integrate a wide variety of technology tools into their programs.  They often ask Dr. Meltzer to help with graphic, audio, and video production. Many times teachers will create the footage and reach out to him to put it all together for publication or online viewing. Other times, Dr. Meltzer helps integrate technology with students in his 6th–8th-grade digital arts classes. Topics for these classes are Introduction to Digital Arts, Programming, Multimedia, Digital Video Production, and Filmmaking.

Based on their grade level, students are exposed to different ways in which technology can be used to enhance their learning. For example, in 2nd grade the art teacher, Erin Vance, has students create their own version of Edvard Munch’s  The Scream. Dr. Meltzer then assists with the students coming into the production room where a picture is taken with them “screaming” in front of a green screen. The students then combine the two images on their iPads. The result is a slideshow that loops on a hallway monitor for students and visitors to enjoy. You can see the project here:

There are in fact two large-screen monitors mounted in the building that play a variety of student-made video projects from Dr. Meltzer’s classes as well as videos from other curricular areas and school-wide events. Also playing on the monitor are short videos using the same green screen, supporting the school’s annual Multicultural Day. Students at Oak Grove come from diverse backgrounds. This project, supported by the SEL department, gave the students a chance to share a bit about their language, culture, and to share facts about their native countries. See the project here:

Students in drama classes also use technology in a variety of ways to reflect and critique performances. Melanie Ludington, the drama teacher, records videos of rehearsals so students can improve and then later share their performances such as these 7th grade short plays written by the students:, or these 2nd graders flying like Peter Pan,  “The Day the Crayons Quit” book came to life as well:  Video is also incorporated into the annual 8th-grade musical, such as this scene from Singing in the Rain

Students in music and band take advantage of their 1:1 devices. Younger students use their iPads to compose music and play online ukulele accompaniments with their music teacher, Logan Farris. Dave Jones, the band director, has his students video their playing tests on their laptops while at home. They upload these videos to his Google Classroom site for assessment. This strategy saves valuable rehearsal time and allows Mr. Jones to write back private comments about their performances.

In Dr. Meltzer’s 6th–8th-grade classes, students are exposed to more sophisticated programs and multimedia topics. Students use a variety of high-end software, professional microphones, and cameras to create high-quality projects. In these classes, Dr. Meltzer structures these classes so that students can help teach each other. For example, some students are better shooting video while others are better at graphic design, music composition, or web programming. A small sample of recently created student projects can be seen here:

All of these opportunities build student skills, allowing them to not only become comfortable with advanced software but to assist in creation that benefits the school. In November, Oak Grove had a Veteran’s Day ceremony where students ran the various video cameras and digital mixers that collected footage to be edited into a celebratory video to be shared with those that could not attend live. View it here:

The learning does not stop when school is over. Dr. Meltzer has started a stop-motion after-school club and offers a summer camp for music video production with Logan Farris:

Not only does Oak Grove offer many opportunities to explore the arts at a very early age, but the teachers also have coaches on board to help technology fit in with ease.

To learn more about the history of the new computer lab and production studio, check out this video:

Tools and Resources Used:

  • Google Apps for Education (G Suite for Education)
  • Final Cut Pro
  • Motion 5
  • GarageBand
  • Photoshop Elements
  • Dragonframe Stop Motion
  • iPad
  • MacBook
  • Sony Cameras
  • Shure Microphones

District Information
Oak Grove SD 68
1700 O’Plaine Rd Green Oaks, IL 60048

Jason Meltzer
Media Production Teacher / Technology Coach

County: Lake
Community Type: Suburban
Enrollment: 301-1000 Students
Grades Served: P-8
See All Details at

Data and Security Summit

Doug Levin, the CEO and Founder of EdTech Strategies, kicked off the event by sharing his work tracking publicly school cybersecurity incidents as part of the K-12 Cyber Incident Map, driving home the point that schools across the county, including Illinois, are dealing with cybersecurity incidents.

Breakout sessions and whole group conversations throughout the day were facilitated by Ross Lemke, the Director of the U.S. Department of Education’s Privacy and Technical Assistance Center; Chris Hill, the Chief Information Security Officer for the Illinois Department of Innovation and Technology; and Chris Wherley, the Learning Technology Center’s Network and Technology Services Coordinator.

As the day progressed, common themes surfaced in many sessions: school districts are vulnerable, communication and planning is essential, and security is a shared responsibility between all district leaders and not just the technology staff.

In case you missed the events, here are the presentations and resources:

Among our favorite tools referenced are:

Illinois Student Privacy Alliance

link to access Illinois Student Privacy Alliance pageLink to request a district account for Illinois Student Privacy Alliance

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) formed the Illinois Student Privacy Alliance (ISPA) in partnership with the Access 4 Learning Community’s Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC). SDPC is a national collaborative of schools, districts, and state agencies that are working together to address growing student data privacy concerns by developing real-world, adaptable, and implementable solutions. The goal of the ISPA is to set standards of both practice and expectations around student privacy such that all parties involved have a common understanding of expectations. The LTC’s creation of ISPA also means that all PK-12 districts in Illinois are now able to use the resources provided by the SPDC without additional cost to the district.

The free membership to ISPA includes:

  • A statewide agreement that districts can use to ensure that the vendor is aware of and complies with Illinois’ student data privacy laws;
  • A searchable database of applications and vendors who have signed the statewide agreement with at least one school or district;
  • Full access to a clearinghouse of research and privacy effective practices; use cases and technical assistance guides; audit processes, checklists, and tools support;
  • Data governance and management modeling, and communities of practice between and among consortium members; and
  • Access to a community of schools, districts, states and marketplace providers dealing with the same issues you are.

More information on ISPA and SDPC is available at To join, visit Questions can be directed to Chris Wherley at

State Board to host Q&A events on new flexibility for school districts to define instructional days

The following press release originally appeared on the Illinois State Board of Education website on November 20, 2018.

SPRINGFIELD – School districts in Illinois now have maximum flexibility to define instructional days based on what will improve outcomes for students. The Illinois State Board of Education will host a series of public Q&A events for educators, parents, families, and school and district leaders to ask questions and share successes and challenges in using this flexibility afforded in state law.

Public Act 100-0465, also known as the Evidence-Based Funding for Student Success Act, made sweeping changes to education funding in Illinois when it became law on Aug. 31, 2017. The law changed the basis of state funding to student enrollment, rather than attendance. The act resulted in the sunsetting of Section 18-8.05 of the School Code, which had defined a day of attendance as a minimum of five instructional hours. Funding schools based on enrollment provides school districts the resources and flexibility to support all students, especially those most in need of support to access educational opportunities.

Students learn in a variety of ways and settings. ISBE encourages districts, school boards, and collective bargaining units to work together to innovate new ways of teaching and learning that center on competencies and mastery of subject matter – anywhere and anytime.

ISBE released guidance, available at, on Nov. 9 to assist school districts in using this flexibility.

WHAT: Opportunity for educators, parents, families, and school and district leaders to ask questions of ISBE and share successes and challenges in locally defining an instructional day, based on what will improve student outcomes
WHO: Hosted by ISBE Acting Chief Education Officer Ralph Grimm, other ISBE executive staff, and local regional superintendents


All events 4-6 p.m.

  • Dec. 3 at Rooney Elementary School, 4900 Columbus Road, Quincy
  • Dec. 4 at Carbondale High School, 1301 E. Walnut Street, Carbondale
  • Dec. 5 at Silas Willard Elementary School, 460 Fifer Street, Galesburg
  • Dec. 6 at DuPage County Regional Office of Education, 421 N. County Farm Road, Wheaton
  • Dec. 10 at Williams Elementary, 1901 S. Ninth Street, Mattoon