Prioritizing your Mental Health with Summer Self-Care

Pause for a moment. Take a breath. You’ve made it to the end of a school year unlike any before. You’ve dealt with new developments, mastered new technologies, and likely found your students to be more resilient than you’ve ever imagined. You deserve this summer to rest, recover, and find new ways to further your craft as a valued educator.

As you start down that path, take some time for a mental health check-in. Ask yourself: how am I doing? What do I need right now? Am I feeling more anxious, stressed, or depressed after this whirlwind school year?

No matter how you are feeling, as an educator and as a person, this summer is a perfect opportunity to establish new self-care routines that can help bolster your mental health. That way, as you move into the next school year, you can practice a variety of productive habits that can keep you feeling mentally balanced, both in the classroom and at home.

Self-Care Essentials

Self-care is often touted as the first step toward a healthier mental benchmark. But for all the press about “self-care” in general, many educators still struggle to find a form of self-care that helps them navigate their personal and professional life with confidence. Some may not even know what qualifies as “self-care” in the first place, especially on a busy educator’s schedule.

In essence, “self-care” is any habit or activity that allows you to take time for yourself and feel present in your own feelings. Self-care allows you to step aside from the cares and concerns of your busy life and turn inward, where you can reflect on the joys and hardships in your life.

As a result, self-care can take on many forms, depending on what you find relaxing and rejuvenating.  For some folks, that means exercising regularly. For others, that means meditating while listening to relaxing music. As long as you can point to it and say “this time is just for me,” then it qualifies as self-care.

Going Solo

That leads to another important aspect of certifiable self-care – it should ideally be done solo. That’s not to say that you can’t speak with or do activities with other people to help you rest and recharge; communal activities and therapy can be beneficial for mental health in their own way. But when it comes to effective self-care, practicing solo can help free you from distractions that might otherwise cloud your capacity to feel truly grateful or self-reflective.

The Benefits of Self-Care

Self-care comes with numerous benefits as well, especially if it is practiced routinely. Many folks report being able to manage anxiety, stress, and depression through self-care while also finding space to process their previously unrecognized positive emotions. The American Psychological Association has also noted the increased focus, stress reduction, and increased mental flexibility that can derive from mindfulness practices like self-care.

Though results may vary from person to person, self-care can play an important and reliable role in living a balanced, productive life – both personally and professionally.

Self-Care – Myth vs. Reality

When it comes to practicing self-care, there are some prevalent misconceptions that can prevent educators in particular from fully embracing this beneficial mental health exercise. Consider the following as you begin down your self-care journey:

Myth: I don’t have time for self-care! I’m too busy!

There’s no question that today’s educators are overburdened with responsibilities. But no matter how much you have on your plate, there’s always time for self-care. Even if it means waking up a little earlier to meditate or giving yourself a quick breather during your planning period, self-care can become accessible to everyone. In fact, if you feel that you are too busy from sun up to sun down, that might be a sign that you need some self-care time all the more.

Also, it’s important to remember that self-care cannot simply be added to an already full plate. You need to make space for self-care and value it like it is a priority in order to make it a muscle memory. That may mean re-prioritizing some other tasks or cutting out activities that don’t benefit your mental health. However you accomplish it, be sure to be intentional so that these new self-care activities can become active habits as soon as possible.

Myth: Self-care time is lazy. I need to be productive all day!

Many educators are well-trained towards persistent productivity. Some even think about breaks and rest as something that needs to be “earned” through continuous work.

But the truth is, we cannot be truly productive and happy if we do not make time to rest and recuperate. Self-care can provide that break in the day, even if it is only for a few minutes. In that way, rest and self-care can be catalysts for your productivity, rather than the other way around. 

Myth: I’ve tried self-care time before, but I don’t think it’s for me

Self-care is for everyone because everyone needs to value their mental health. Chances are, you’ve tried one form of self-care or another and found that it didn’t meet your needs or your schedule. That’s perfectly okay because you get to decide what “self-care” means in the context of your life. So, if meditation or daily journaling aren’t for you, then maybe meal preparation or writing thank-you notes will be. Always be willing to try new things as you chart out the self-care habits and routines that are right for you. 

A Summer to Recover

For many educators, summer is a time to relax and catch up on things missed in the hustle and bustle of the school year. Without question, that break is well-earned. But the summer is also an excellent opportunity for educators to take a step forward towards more positive mental health, starting with the creation of a new self-care routine.

A self-care routine, at its most basic level, is a collection of self-care habits or practices that can help maximize your ability to rest, recover, and reflect on your present emotions. For many people, a self-care routine can be an effective way to set aside time for themselves in a convenient manner, whether that’s in the morning, evening, or somewhere in between.

To that end, summer can be a great time to form a self-care routine because most educators have more unstructured time while school is not in session. This allows you to be more intentional with your habit-forming practices and less rushed when it comes to reflecting on your emotions. This, in turn, can help solidify that routine in your day-to-day schedule and ensure that your self-care foundation is solid going forward.

Here are a few self-care practices you can use to build a routine that works for you:

  • Daily journaling
  • Yoga or other purposeful exercise regimen
  • Meditation (on your own or with an app)
  • Drinking a healthy amount of water over the course of the day
  • Establish a skin care regime
  • Turn off or avoid electronics for X amount of time
  • Avoid checking work email or other work communication for X amount of time
  • Recite personal positive affirmations
  • Go for a walk or hike in a park or out in nature
  • Hand-write a few thank you notes
  • Participate in a round of Roses, Thorns, and Buds on your own
  • Buy and read a book that is NOT about teaching
  • Cook your favorite meal
  • Listen to your favorite music and dance
  • Declutter a space in your home
  • Stretch in the morning and before bed
  • Pick up a new hobby
  • Sleep in
  • Meal prep

Don’t forget – self-care looks different for everyone. When it comes to creating your own self-care routine, start out simple and build in components that help you feel nourished mentally while also feeling more self-aware. So long as you are setting aside time just for yourself, you are on the right path toward practicing effective self-care.

A New Habit for a New School Year

Over the course of the summer, you may find that your new self-care routine can really go a long way towards supporting and balancing your mental health. But once the new school year begins to creep up in August, you may be concerned that your self-care routine will fall by the wayside between lesson planning, grading, and other teacherly duties.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to carve out time for self-care, even on a structured teacher’s schedule. As before, you’ll need to evaluate your schedule and set aside time each day (or as often as possible) to enjoy at least one of your preferred self-care habits. That way, you’re still enjoying the benefits of self-care without needing to worry about daily time management. But remember – time spent on self-care is always worth it because you are worth it.

Along the way, you may find yourself hitting a few bumps in the road when it comes to making time for self-care. That’s okay, as long as you are committed to getting back on the path toward making self-care part of your every day. Always treat yourself with grace and know that your efforts toward caring for your own mental health are intrinsically beneficial to your overall well-being.

Also, it’s important to know that self-care is one great way to deal with and manage burnout. Each school year is long and can take a lot out of an educator, so it’s important to practice self-care to prevent your work life from becoming too overwhelming and impacting your mental health in turn. Even a bit of self-care can go a long way on this front, so consider making it a habit once the fall semester rolls around. 

Be Aware and Be Intentional

At the end of the day, self-care is all about you and making time for yourself to breath, reflect, and experience joy in your day-to-day life. For educators, self-care is critical because of the unique stresses surrounding the profession. As a result, self-care can be one way to keep an eye on your mental health as the months roll on, making it easier to identify both positive and negative emotions along the way.

Whether you’re starting this summer or looking to add new self-care habits for the next school year, always remember to be intentional and aware while you practice self-care. That way, you can always keep a close eye on one of your most valuable assets – your mental health – while striving to add even more purpose into your daily life. 

Mental Health Resources and Further Readings

As you begin to think more about the role self-care can play in your personal and professional life, consider checking out some of these resources for more valuable tips and tricks for making this practice a part of your daily routine:

Why It’s So Hard for Teachers to Take Care of Themsealves (and 4 Ways to Start)

5 Strategies for Teacher Self-Care

9 Self-Care Tips for Teachers

Mindfulness for Educators

Educating Mindfully

6 Ways to Easily Bring Mindfulness into the Classroom

NOW OPEN – IETC 2021 Early Bird Registration!

The future of edtech is here. Now’s your chance to harness technology’s renewed classroom potential by learning from and networking with your peers at IETC 2021!

Registration for the 28th annual Illinois Education and Technology Conference (IETC) is now open, offering educators across the Midwest an opportunity to gather together and share their insights about the latest digital tools, trends, and integration practices. With a fresh, hybrid experience, this year’s conference promises to be among the most memorable and impactful yet.

As our community returns to in-person opportunities to learn and fellowship together, this is one edtech conference you won’t want to miss. Register for IETC 2021 today and get ready to learn, explore, and connect like never before!

Building the New Normal of EdTech

For nearly three decades, IETC has been at the center of conversations surrounding technology integration strategies, engaging instructional practices, digital tools and resources, and other emerging edtech trends. This year’s conference promises to maintain that tradition while also helping educators chart a course for the new normal of edtech integration.

IETC is also a rich environment for sharing diverse perspectives from across the education spectrum. As such, all educators – including teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and more – are encouraged to attend and join with their peers as they expand their professional horizons. 

A Hybrid Model to Serve All Educators

For the first time ever, this year’s IETC will be a hybrid experience, with both in-person and virtual components. Educators from around the state will be able to attend this acclaimed conference on site in Springfield or from home while still participating in the insightful sessions and workshops IETC is known for.

New Attendance Options

To coincide with this year’s hybrid model, IETC 2021 will also offer two different attendance options geared toward the needs of our expansive edtech community.

First, as in previous years, Midwest educators will have the option of attending IETC in-person at our conference home in Springfield, Illinois. There, attendees will have an opportunity to converse with peers, attend an assortment of special topic workshops, and take in the live conference atmosphere that many educators have missed.

At the same time, prospective IETC attendees can also choose to take part in this conference virtually. That means you’ll be able to tune into a wide assortment of sessions and panels on your own schedule – including this year’s exciting and enlightening key note sessions! Virtual attendees will also gain access to all of the presentations and slide decks from this year’s conference, making it easier than ever to maximize your professional learning potential at an affordable price.

Experience #IETC2021!

Without question, IETC is the best place in the Midwest to learn about both the present and future of educational technology. We want you to be a part of this formative edtech experience, too, so register for IETC 2021 today! Whether you attend virtually or in person, you’re sure to walk away with a new perspective on what edtech can do to enhance your educational capabilities.

Questions? Visit our conference website for more information on what it means to attend a hybrid conference. You can also email your questions to events@ltcillinois.org.

Keep Up with the Latest from IETC 2021

Stay up to date on everything IETC – both leading up to and during the conference. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram or sign up for our newsletter. That way, you can be the first to hear every IETC 2021 updates – including our upcoming schedule announcement!

What Teachers Need to Know about SOPPA

Author’s Note: The content for this post was adapted from “SOPPA for Teachers: How to Be a Partner in Protecting Student Data,” a webinar presented by the LTC’s Brian Bates on March 3, 2021. You can view the entire webinar for free on-demand here.

Even as the 20-21 school year comes to a close, data privacy and cybersecurity are on the minds of district administrators and IT leaders around Illinois. That’s because this summer, new amendments to the Student Online Privacy and Protection Act (SOPPA) will come into force. At that time, districts will be required to maintain a standards-based system for protecting student data when it is shared with or collected by outside service providers.

This effort has left some educators asking: what role do teachers play in supporting a district’s SOPPA compliance? As it turns out, teachers play an important role in identifying when and to what extent an app or piece of software collects student data.

This guide will help familiarize teachers of all grade levels and content areas with SOPPA, as well as a few actionable steps they can take to help their district attain SOPPA compliance.

What is SOPPA?

In short, the Student Online Privacy and Protection Act (SOPPA) is a set of legislative requirements instituted by the State of Illinois for the purpose of creating and maintaining statewide standards for the maintenance and collection of student data. To that end, SOPPA requires schools to only collect data for demonstrably educational purposes, and to disclose publicly when data breaches occur.

Recently, new amendments have been made to SOPPA, which go into effect on July 1, 2021. These amendments, among other things, require districts to create records whenever personally identifiable information (PII) is collected by an app or other piece of software – regardless of if that app is free, paid, or even intended for educational use.

Several examples of common PII collected by digital service providers include:

·  First and last name

·  Email address

·  Home Address

·  Phone number

·  Grades

·  Socioeconomic status

·  Test results

·  Photos

·  Medical records

Agreements and Service Providers

To ensure that all digital service providers are abiding by Illinois’ new standards, districts must enter into written, signed agreements attesting to the ways providers collect and maintain these types of data. In particular, these agreements must forbid service providers from utilizing student data for the following purposes:

·  Serving targeted ads

·  Profiling students (except for certifiable educational uses)

·  Selling or renting data

·  Disclosing data publicly (except in limited circumstances, including when complying with law enforcement)

These SOPPA-compliant student data privacy agreements must also compel service providers to do the following:

·  Utilize reasonable security practices in the maintenance of student PII

·  Delete data when requested

·  Publicly publish and display their terms of service and privacy policy

Finally, SOPPA requires districts to perform due diligence practices when it comes to their signed data privacy agreements and data breaches. To that end, all Illinois districts will be required by SOPPA to publicly list and display all data privacy agreements that they have entered into. They will also be required to publicly disclose any data breaches to parents and caregivers within 30 days of the breach’s detection. 

How does this affect me as a teacher?

As you can already tell, SOPPA primarily concerns school districts and the digital service providers they utilize. However, teachers are also impacted by SOPPA, most noticeably when it comes to the digital tools, apps, and platforms they utilize in the classroom on a daily basis. As a result, you may be asked to take part in your district’s SOPPA compliance procedures

For example, you may be asked to compile a list of digital tools, apps, and platforms you currently use to teach lessons and engage students. Moreover, you may be required to submit a similar list on a regular basis going forward to ensure that your district has a written agreement with that software’s publishers.

Along the same lines, you may be asked to participate in a new app and software vetting process set up by your district. These will vary from district to district, but such a process usually provides the district an opportunity to pre-clear certain apps and software in an expedient and efficient manner.

If an app does not clear that vetting process, however, you may not be able to use it in your classroom. Your district may, in turn, ask you to find an alternative that is willing to meet the state’s student data privacy requirements.

What can I do now?

When it comes to fulfilling your role in your district’s SOPPA compliance plan, your first action step should be to speak with your building or district administrators. They can provide you insights as to what you, as a teacher, need to do in the near-term. They can also point you to your district’s SOPPA compliance officer, who may help you further organize your personal plans for SOPPA compliance.

If you haven’t already, it is recommended that you create a list of all of the digital apps, software, and platforms you utilize in your classroom. That way, when you are asked to provide such a list to your administrators, your list is ready to go.

You may also consider familiarizing yourself with your specific district’s SOPPA plans. You may have other obligations or duties under your district’s plans, so it is best to defer to it when in doubt about what you can do to support SOPPA compliance.

SOPPA Resources for All Educators

If you’re looking to learn more about SOPPA and its requirements, the LTC has you covered. Check out these following resources for an in-depth look at what Illinois schools will be required to do come July 1, 2021:

·  Legislative Brief on SOPPA

·  SOPPA Introduction Video

·  Implementing SOPPA Frequently Asked Questions

·  Recommended Reasonable Security Practices

·  SOPPA Support through the Illinois Student Privacy Consortium (ISPA)

You can also check out the LTC’s Data Privacy hub for new and updated resources relating to SOPPA.

E-Rate Emergency Connectivity Fund – What You Need to Know

In March 2021, Congress passed the American Rescue Plan, which included a $7.1 billion appropriation geared toward closing the digital divide and helping school districts and libraries across the US upgrade their internet access capabilities. This initiative, termed the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), can be utilized by eligible institutions to obtain (among other options) laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband internet for students and staff that are unable to participate in remote learning.

In a May 11, 2021, press release, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a finalized rule set for the administration of the ECF. Within the next few months an application process and timeline will be released from USAC, the managing partner for this program. As such, districts may now begin planning how they will apply for these funds during the upcoming application window.

If your school or district is interested in taking advantage of the ECF’s available funds, then read on to learn about which institutions are eligible as well as how ECF funds may be spent. With this information in mind, you’ll be better prepared to apply for ECF funding in the near-term.

Note: All information and interpretations disseminated in this article are current as of mid-May 2021. ECF rules and limitations are subject to change at the FCC’s discretion. For the latest, always refer to the FCC website.

What is the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic starting in early 2020, the US federal government already identified a growing digital divide in schools and districts across the country. However, the pandemic greatly exasperated these issues, especially in districts with poor internet connectivity infrastructure and aging digital learning hardware.

In an effort to close that gap and help districts digitally prepare for the 21-22 school year and beyond, Congress appropriated $7.1 billion within the larger $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan stimulus package to the FCC for distribution to eligible schools and libraries across the US. The FCC, in turn, has decided to distribute these funds – termed the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) – through a process similar to their  E-Rate application system, and to place the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) in charge of administering this special round of funding.

Who is Eligible?

In general, entities that are eligible to apply for and receive E-Rate funding are also eligible to apply for and receive ECF funds. That being said, eligible schools and libraries do not need to be presently participating in the E-Rate program to apply for ECF funding.

Also, unique to this round of funding, ECF funds can be directed to some non-traditional institutions where education is being presently facilitated. This includes churches and community centers. Along the same lines, wireless services for school buses and “bookmobiles” may also be purchased through this program, particularly for communities that lack adequate access to wireless internet in homes and other community center institutions. These non-traditional entities and requests will need to work with school districts in order to request services.

Finally, students, staff, and library patrons who lack sufficient internet access or access to an internet-connected device are eligible under the ECF. In all cases, internet access obtained through this program must be used primarily for facilitating learning activities, such as through a school’s remote or hybrid learning plan.

How Do I Apply?

To lower the barrier for obtaining ECF funds, the FCC has opted to utilize a revised E-Rate application process for this special round of funding. As such, eligible institutions will be able to apply online using the E-Rate EPC Portal. These institutions will also utilize familiar E-Rate forms in the application process. 

The program will likely consist of at least two rounds of funding, with the first round covering forthcoming expenses covering July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The second round of funding will cover reimbursement of expenses that districts made since the beginning of the pandemic, March 2020 through June of 2021.

A precise date for this application process will be announced by the FCC soon. The traditional E-Rate process requires a specific procurement process. However, no extra or supplemental competitive bidding requirements will be imposed on ECF applications, though state and local bidding requirements may still apply. Therefore districts can move forward with requesting bids through their own district process at this time.

Additional rules and regulations relating to applying for ECF funds have also been set forth by the FCC. The full details of those rules can be found in the full ECF order documentation

What Can These Funds be Applied to?

Under the FCC’s newly-released rules, ECF funds can only be applied to several different categories of hardware and services. These items must support home or community partner access to support remote learning. For example, ECF funds may be used to pay for or reimburse purchases of:

  • Laptops
  • Tablets
  • Wi-Fi hotspots
  • Internet modems
  • Internet routers
  • Any additional equipment (including cords and chargers) needed to operate and maintain the above hardware

ECF funds may also be applied toward obtaining and maintaining any of the following services (in most cases):

  • DSL internet
  • Cable internet
  • Leased lit fiber internet
  • Wireless internet (including mobile, satellite, microwave, and fixed wireless)

Additionally, any fees associated with the installation, activation, or configuration of the above devices and services (as well as taxes, shipping costs, and other reasonable fees) may be reimbursed through the ECF. As such, participants are encouraged to keep documentation of all costs associated with their digital hardware and service purchases during the eligibility period and maximize their utilization of available funds wherever possible.

Also, as it applies to the above hardware and services, anything purchased or reimbursed through the ECF must be used primarily for educational purchases. Moreover, schools and libraries looking to purchase new devices or services through the ECF are required to restrict access to those new devices and services to only students, school staff, and library patrons with a demonstrated educational need.

Limitations on the number of devices per student and the number of new internet hook-ups per location have also been set forth by the FCC. More details on these limitations – including relevant price caps – can be found in the FCC order documentation.

Supporting your Ongoing E-Rate Needs

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) is ready and willing to help your school district take advantage of all new and annual federal funding geared toward supporting home connectivity, digital learning, and more. Our annual E-Rate application tour, for example, can help schools obtain funds for supporting their digital education infrastructure – including both hardware and internet services.

Also, over the next several weeks, I’ll be hosting several webinars focused on both the ECF and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program (EBB). Tune into these live sessions on May 20, May 26, and June 3 to learn more about how these programs can serve your district’s emergent remote learning needs.

Miss these webinars? No problem! Full recordings of each session can be found over on our ECF & EBB hub (coming soon). 

As the LTC’s Digital Access Coordinator, I can also answer your questions about the Emergency Connectivity Fund and any other state or federal funding program. Contact me, Mindy Fiscus, at mfiscus@ltcillinois.org to learn more about what the LTC can do to support your institution’s short- and long-term funding acquisition goals. 

Stay Connected to the Latest Federal Funding and Connectivity Updates

As more details about the ECF are released, the LTC will endeavor to share updates with Illinois schools and districts. To keep up with the latest, check out the LTC’s Connectivity and E-Rate hub or follow the LTC on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find detailed federal and state funding updates from me on the LTC Community.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – What You Need to Know

In an April 29, 2021 press release, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the start of a new program geared toward boosting at-home internet connectivity for thousands of households nationwide. This program – the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – will accomplish this by providing funds to offset the monthly cost of obtaining broadband access through any of several approved providers.

Although this program is not dedicated specifically to educational purposes, it could dramatically assist districts with their efforts to increase student home connectivity. District leaders should take note of this program’s opportunity and make plans to take advantage of its available funds once it opens on May 12, 2021.

Emergency Broadband Benefit Program – What is It?

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, the US already faced a significant divide when it came to at-home internet connectivity. This divide became even more apparent as workplaces and schools became fully reliant on at-home internet connections to facilitate learning and labor alike.

Now a full year on, the FCC is taking steps to close that divide by opening the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program. This program will offer qualifying participants $50 off their monthly broadband internet bill. Participants will also have an opportunity to apply for other special benefits, including a one-time discount of up to $100 on a computer or tablet for household use.

As a general FCC program, these opportunities are not open exclusively to educational institutions or homes with students. However, educational institutions and their families may still choose to seek out support through this program in order to improve at-home remote and digital learning activities.

Who is Eligible?

Presently, the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program is open to households that qualify for benefits under other low-income and pandemic relief programs offered by the FCC and the federal government at large. This includes households with:

  • Lifeline participants
  • Medicaid beneficiaries
  • SNAP beneficiaries
  • Kids receiving or who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunch or school breakfast
  • Pell grant recipients
  • Individuals who have lost a job or experienced reduced income over the past year 

How do I Sign Up? When Can I Sign Up?

The FCC is opening registration for the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program on May 12, 2021. At that time, those interested in participating in the program should contact an internet service provider in their state and ask if they can directly enroll through the provider. A list of qualifying broadband service providers in Illinois can be found here.

Alternatively, those wishing to participate in this program can learn more about the application process at https://getemergencybroadband.org. There, you can find an online and paper application for submission without going through a service provider.

Ready to Support Your Funding Acquisition Goals 

The Learning Technology Center (LTC) is ready and willing to help your school district take advantage of any new federal funding geared toward supporting home connectivity, digital learning, and more. Our annual E-Rate application tour, for example, can help schools obtain funds for supporting their digital education infrastructure – including both hardware and internet services.

As the LTC’s Digital Access Coordinator, I can also answer your questions about the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program and any other state or federal funding program. Contact me, Mindy Fiscus, at (618) 544-2719 or mfiscus@ltcillinois.org to learn more about what the LTC can do to support your institution’s short- and long-term funding acquisition goals. 

Stay Connected to the Latest Federal Funding and Connectivity Updates

In the coming weeks, the FCC is also expected to announce application procedures for acquiring a new round of E-Rate funding that was included in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (CARES 3). To keep up with the latest, check for regular updates on the LTC’s Connectivity and E-Rate hub or follow the LTC on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find detailed federal and state funding updates from me on the LTC Community.

Request for Proposals – Share your Voice at IETC 2021!

The 28th annual Illinois Education and Technology Conference (IETC) is on its way, bringing with it an immersive hybrid experience geared toward the professional learning needs of all educators, IT staff, and administrators.

Powered by the Learning Technology Center (LTC), this year’s conference will focus on supporting and inspiring educators as they build the new normal of classroom technology integration. To do that, IETC needs your help – and more importantly, IETC needs your unique perspectives on what works in educational technology.

Starting today, you are formally invited to submit a proposal and be a part of IETC 2021! Now is an outstanding opportunity to share what you’ve learned through research and practice – especially as your fellow educators work to shape a new generation of future-ready students.

Educators around Illinois and throughout the Midwest are excited to hear from you. Make 2021 the year you share your voice by submitting a proposal for IETC!

Building the New Normal in EdTech

For nearly three decades, IETC has been at the center of conversations surrounding technology integration strategies, engaging instructional practices, digital tools and resources, and other emerging edtech trends. Prospective presenters are encouraged to share their views on any of these relevant topics, as well as any insights about how edtech’s present can inform its ever-evolving future.

IETC is also a rich environment for sharing diverse perspective from across the education spectrum. As such, educators of all stripes – including teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and more – are encouraged to submit a proposal and support their peers as they expand their professional horizons. 

Presenter Benefits

Without question, IETC’s attendees benefit richly from your choice to present during the conference. But you’ll also benefit when you choose to share your voice at IETC. In fact, this year’s presenters will enjoy the following benefits when it comes time to step out on the IETC stage:

  • Waived attendance fees for lead presenters
  • Professional stipend (only for Workshops)
  • Continental breakfast and lunch
  • The opportunity take part in one of the Midwest’s premier edtech conferences

Presentation Types

For the first time ever, this year’s IETC will be a hybrid experience, with both in-person and virtual components. Educators around the state will be able to attend this acclaimed conference on site in Springfield or from home while still fully participating in a full slate of insightful sessions and workshops.

To bring this hybrid experience to life, this year’s presenters have several options when it comes to sharing their knowledge and insights, including:

  • Panels
  • 3-Hour Workshops
  • 6-Hour Workshops
  • Concurrent Sessions

Submission Deadlines

Currently, IETC plans to release its full agenda this coming summer. As such, prospective presenters like you should keep the following deadlines in mind as you plan your proposal submission:

  • May 21 – Workshops
  • June 11 – General Sessions 

Share your Voice at IETC 2021

IETC 2021 is shaping up to be one of the most engaging and accessible edtech gatherings in the Midwest. With your contributions, this year’s IETC can provide breakthrough opportunities for your fellow educators – starting with your presentation or workshop.

But don’t wait! Submit your IETC 2021 proposal today and lend your voice to the ever-growing body of knowledge surrounding edtech’s future.

Choosing the Right Chromebook for Schools and Districts

Across Illinois, schools and districts are starting to make plans for Fall 2021 – including how they intend to spend funds on acquiring new and upgraded edtech. For many of these institutions, Chromebooks are at the top of that list, given their versatility and relatively affordable price when purchased in bulk.

Illinois schools aren’t the only ones with an eye on Chromebooks. Since Spring 2020, Chromebook demand has been at record highs, with many manufacturers still working to fill their backlog of orders. As such, some districts have begun changing course and looking at other Chromebook models to fill their school’s ongoing remote and digital learning needs.

But which Chromebook model is best? Which model offers the best value? In the long run, these answers depend mainly on your school’s intended use cases. Fortunately, Google has put together a reliable 4-step process that can help you decide which Chromebook models are right for your school or district.

Why Choose a Chromebook?

Before going too far, take a moment to answer one major question – “why should I choose a Chromebook?” All things considered, these compact laptops are popular for a variety of reasons. For many educational institutions, they can meet both their functional and technical needs effectively while still providing an affordable option that encourages buying in volume.

Here are just a few of the benefits Chromebooks possess compared to other education-centered device solutions:

Functional Benefits

Even before schools transitioned to remote and hybrid learning, Google’s suite of education-centered programs has been a standard for digital learning across all grade levels and subject areas. Chromebooks are built with that entire collection at its core, meaning that Google Drive, Docs, Slides, Forms, and more all work effortlessly out of the box. In addition, students can also use these devices to browse the internet and check email through built-in Google Chrome and Gmail support, respectively.

Going forward, many schools may also need the capacity to facilitate hybrid and remote learning on a regular basis. Chromebooks make that possible by offering access to Google Meet, Google Classroom, and Zoom (through Zoom’s Chrome Extension). With processor upgrades, many of the newest models even support calls of 15+ participants, making it easy to bring a full class together for activities and discussions.

Technical Benefits

From a technical perspective, Google Chromebooks are fully capable of meeting a school or district’s desired use cases. To that end, many current Chromebooks offer zero touch enrollment, making it easy to manage and update every device in the fleet with the latest software and security patches.

Speaking of updates, Chromebooks offer schools an opportunity to keep their primary learning devices productive and functional for many years post-purchase without needing to shell out extra upkeep funds. That’s because ChromeOS can always be updated for no added cost within a certain multi-year timeframe. These support periods tend to last around 5 years, with some current models even allowing for a 6.5 year support lifespan.

Also, Google has recently announced several new models that provide built in LTE or 5G wireless internet access. Given that most Chromebooks currently require wi-fi for many of their primary functions, this latest upgrade option may help rural districts or students without adequate at-home internet access participate more fully in the digital learning process. 

4 Steps for Choosing a Chromebook for your School or District

There are a wide variety of Chromebook models on the market today, including options from manufacturers Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Samsung. All of these models are not built precisely alike, though, meaning that you’ll need to do a little extra work to determine precisely which model or models best serve your school or district’s needs.

However, if you utilize this 4-step process outlined by Google itself, you’ll find this selection process more efficient and satisfying than simply going at it alone. Be sure to keep these steps in mind as you begin down the path toward purchasing or upgrading your district’s new fleet of Chromebooks:

Step 1 – Identify Your Primary Use Cases

Before you even crack up your Chromebook catalogue, you’ll want to start the purchasing process by identifying your school or district’s intended use cases for its new Chromebooks. In other words, your school or district’s various edtech stakeholders need to work together to determine who will use these new devices, when they will be used, and what they will be used for.

The LTC’s Lead Regional Educational Technology Coordinator Ben Sondgeroth recommends starting this step by considering grade-level integration. To that end, schools should determine if the new devices will be used primarily by K-2, 3-8, or 9-12 students. This can inform how long those devices should be expected to last, as well as what kind of display they utilize.

Along the same lines, schools should use this step to appraise how their new Chromebooks will be utilized in the learning environment. In other words, stakeholders should determine if the new Chromebooks will remain at school at all times (either in a single classroom or as part of a ‘fleet’ offered through the school library) or if students will take their new device home on a daily basis. This can inform if the chosen Chromebooks need to provide certain apps or functionalities – particularly for districts that may use their Chromebooks for remote learning.

  • Here are just a few more questions you can consider while outlining your intended Chromebook use cases:
  • What grade level students will use these devices the majority of the time?
  • Will these devices be used daily or only on as-needed basis?
  • Will the students using these devices need certain interaction support, such as a touch screen?
  • Will these devices be part of a school-wide or single classroom fleet?
  • Will these devices be taken home with students on a regular basis?
  • Will these devices be used to facilitate remote or hybrid learning, even on an occasional basis?
  • Will students using these devices need at-home internet access support, either through a hot spot or built-in LTE? Do those students live in an area with reliable LTE connectivity?

Step 2 – Research Device Specifications that Meet Your Use Cases

Once you’ve worked with your key stakeholders to outline your primary Chromebook use cases, you can begin to research what kinds of specifications you’ll need to meet those use cases.

This can start at a basic level, and should take into account that all Chromebooks come installed with ChromeOS, as well as the Google Workspace for Education suite of apps. For example, to carry out basic Chromebook functions, Google recommends a model with 4GB of on-board RAM.

Meanwhile, schools and districts looking to use their Chromebooks as distance or remote learning devices will need slightly beefier specifications to make the most of today’s digital learning apps and tools. In addition to the 4GB RAM requirement, for example, Google recommends that institutions invest in a Chromebook model with one of the following GPUs:

  • Intel – N4020, N4100, N4120, N4500, N500, N5100, N6000
  • AMB – Athlon
  • MTK – 8183, 8192
  • QC – 7c

Also, districts should plan their Chromebook specifications based upon the internet access needs of their students. Several models now on the market feature built-in LTE connectivity in addition to their wi-fi access capabilities. These models offer more options to students living in rural areas and students whose at-home internet access is not reliable enough to facilitate consistent digital learning.

Finally, when it comes to charting out Chromebook specifications, you should try to differentiate between minimum and ideal specifications. In other words, you should identify two different sets of specifications that are designed to meet your use cases at a basic and at an optimized level, respectively. This can help when it comes to comparing model options in later steps of this process.

Step 3 – Determine Which Models Meet or Exceed Your Desired Specifications

With your desired specifications in hand, you’re now ready to crack open a Chromebook catalog and determine which models are a fit for your school or district’s needs. This can be done simply and easily using this resource from ILTPP vendor partner CDW-G, which outlines each of the current models and their specifications (arranged by common use cases).

During this step, it is recommended that you again identify models that meet your use case needs at both a basic and advanced level. This can make it easier to consider your options during the purchasing phase, particularly in light of ongoing delays in Chromebook ordering and delivery.

Also, during this step, many administrators and tech directors choose to loop in the teachers who will end up utilizing these devices once they arrive. Communicating with an in-district technology committee can similarly help establish expectations and identify feedback that may influence final model choices.

Step 4 – Compare Models Across the Device Ecosystem

Once you’ve narrowed down your list of prospective Chromebook models, all schools and districts are encouraged to take some time and compare those models wherever possible. This can include comparing certain specifications and how well they will serve the institution’s identified use cases. Prices can also be compared at this juncture and balanced against functional demands, especially if your school or district is working from a set purchasing budget.

CDW-G has produced a helpful resource for making this comparison step more straight-forward. In it, you’ll find each Chromebook manufacturers’ current offerings side-by-side, allowing you to quickly pair their specifications and determine if one is better suited to your needs or budget.

Be aware that the specifications and models outlined in the CDW-G resource above are current as of April 2021. Google regularly refreshes its lineup of Chromebook models and may be introducing new offerings in the near future to meet ongoing demand. For the most current Chromebook lineup, check out Google’s current online hub.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions about Chromebook Purchasing

If you have questions about purchasing Chromebooks, you’re not alone. Here are some of the most common questions asked by educational institutions today when it comes time to select new Chromebook devices:

When will my Chromebooks arrive?

Since Spring 2020, demand for Chromebooks has risen to exceptional levels due to the ongoing remote and hybrid learning needs of many school districts nationwide. As such, institutions looking to purchase new Chromebooks should expect delays when it comes to delivery.

However, different manufacturers are experiencing differing levels of backlog at this time. For the most up-to-date status on your recent or upcoming Chromebook purchase, consider speaking with your institution’s chosen technology vendor.

How long do Chromebooks last?

In general, most Chromebooks are rated to last 4 to 5 years in total. This takes into account both their physical durability and their software support life. This range can differ, however, based upon the amount of physical wear placed on a particular device as well as how late into its product lifecycle it is purchased.

Currently, Google maintains an auto update policy that allows institutions to update their Chromebook’s operating system at no cost for a certain period of time. All Chromebooks are subject to an Auto Update Expiration date, after which point that particular model’s hardware will no longer be supported by new software updates. 

Current models (as of Spring 2021) are subject to remain viable through 2026, based on current estimates of longevity and support.

What type of system specifications do I need for X?

To perform certain functions reliably on a Chromebook, certain technical specifications must be met or exceeded. However, these specification thresholds can differ from app to app. For more information, refer to this side-by-side comparison resource or check Google’s latest documentation

Ready to Meet your Tech Purchasing Needs

Whether you’re just starting to research new Chromebooks or you’re ready to upgrade your school’s entire fleet of devices, the Learning Technology Center of Illinois is here to support your ongoing edtech purchasing needs.

Through Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP), for example, schools and districts can obtain access to more affordable edtech prices through pre-negotiated statewide contacts. As an LTC imitative program, ILTPP’s team can also help you compare your edtech purchasing options among its broad collection of certified vendor partners.

Still have questions about Chromebook selection or purchasing? Consider joining the LTC’s online Community. There, you can ask questions and share insights with your peers on a variety of edtech topics – including in our Marketplace community, where you can learn about the latest special buys and get your purchasing questions answered by an ILTPP team member.

Resources and Reminders for 2021 License Renewal

With April now in full swing, many educators around Illinois are making plans to round out the school year on a high note. At the same time, Illinois’ teachers shouldn’t forget about another important professional process that they may need to take part in before the next school year begins – state license renewal.

The Illinois State Board of Education opened the window for this year’s license renewal cycle on April 1, 2021. While Illinois teachers are not required to renew every year, many will need to go through the process this year, depending on when they first earned or previously renewed their license. Educators looking to start the process can visit ISBE’s renewal portal for information on how to login and upload relevant credential materials.

As always, the Learning Technology Center is here to support Illinois educators as they work to maintain their certified status. Throughout the year, we offer a variety of in-person, virtual, and self-guided professional development options – many of which can be counted as licensure PD credit. Read on to learn about some of our current PD resources that can help you round out your license renewal application in no time.

Deadlines & Need-to-Knows

Here are a few of the deadlines and need-to-know details that you should keep in mind heading into this year’s teacher license renewal process:

  • Illinois educators may begin applying for licensure renewal on April 1, 2021
  • All Illinois Professional Educator Licenses (PEL) must be renewed by August 31, 2021
  • No license cycle extensions due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic will be offered this year (as was offered in 2020)
  • PEL with teaching endorsement renewal still requires 120 hours of documented PD, as well a fee ($10 for one year or $50 for a five-year cycle)
  • PEL with administration endorsement renewal still requires 100 hours of documented PD, 1 Admin Academy (AA) credit per fiscal year, and a fee ($10 for one year or $50 for a five-year cycle)

Has Anything Changed for 2021?

In 2020, some one-time changes were made to the ISBE educator license renewal process (including license extensions) to account for education system disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. While that pandemic is still ongoing, ISBE is now transitioning back to its regular licensure renewal process for 2021.

As such, current educators should follow ISBE’s standard renewal process if they wish to remain certified by the state. Answers to specific questions pertaining to the 2021 renewal process can be found here.

Professional Development Resources for Educators

Professional development is a key part of Illinois’ educator license renewal process. Those seeking renewal can satisfy their licenses’ professional development requirements through a few different channels, including in-service learning, mentoring, online courses, webinars, and more.

In particular, many educators today are opting to make edtech part of their personal professional development plans. If you’re looking to learn more about the latest education-centered digital learning tools and earn some PD credit along the way, consider checking out some of these free LTC resources:

LTC Online Courses

Fitting PD into your busy schedule can be challenging, especially if you are balancing a remote or hybrid teaching schedule. Fortunately, the LTC offers a variety of free online courses that can easily slot into your schedule. With courses covering topics ranging from Google Forms and Google Drive to Microsoft Teams and Keynote for Mac, you’re sure to learn something new from these carefully curated, self-guided lessons.

All of the LTC’s online courses can be started at any time. However, current class offerings will close on May 31, 2021. Learn more about some of our most popular courses here.

LTC Webinar Series

Throughout the year, the LTC hosts webinars on some of the most popular and pertinent edtech topics. That includes sessions on everything from Jamboard and flipped classroom basics to 3D printing and Makerspaces. Live attendees at these webinars are often awarded PD credit, so don’t miss these chances to learn something new from the LTC’s team of edtech experts.

Customized In-District Professional Development

As a statewide leader in educational technology professional development, the LTC offers educational institutions across Illinois an opportunity to host workshops, courses, and more with the support of our team of regional coordinators. Schools and districts can choose from an existing catalogue of offered courses or work with our team to create a new training geared specifically toward your faculty’s needs.

The LTC’s in-district PD comes at a great bargain, too. As a program of the Illinois State Board of Education, many of our in-district PD opportunities are offered at little to no cost.

Interested in learning more? Visit our “In-District Workshops” page or contact your local Regional Educational Technology Coordinator.

Professional Development Resources for Administrators

In addition to professional development credit, those seeking to renew their Illinois educator license as an administrator will need to also obtain 1 Administrator Academy (AA) credit. AA courses are offered by a variety of organizations in Illinois and can help administrators learn new skills and knowledge relevant to their leadership position.

The LTC’s team of Regional Educational Technology Coordinators (RETCs) can help bring an Admin Academy course to your institution or local Regional Office of Education office. Contact your local RETC to learn more.

Admin Academies are also offered by several other prominent Illinois educational organizations, including the Illinois Principals Association (IPA) and the Illinois Association of Regional Superintendents of Schools (IARSS). Check out their websites to learn more about their upcoming offerings.

More Resources for Illinois Educator License Renewal

The Illinois State Board of Education has also put together a collection of useful resources geared towards educators seeking license renewal support. You can also find many of these over on ISBE’s license renewal hub:

ISBE has also created several video guides to help educators navigate the renewal process and associated online platform:

Your local Regional Office of Education (ROE) or Intermediate Service Center (ISC) can also be a great resource while working through your educator license renewal. To learn more about your local ROE or ISC’s services or to find your closest ROE or ISC, check out ISBE’s interactive ROE and ISC map.

JUST RELEASED – DigLitCon Agenda is Now Live!

Big News! The Digital Literacy Conference agenda has just been released! In it, you’ll find an assortment of engaging sessions on many of the most important aspects of digital literacy. Each session is also being led by one of your peers, offering you an unmatched opportunity to learn from their experiences and harness their insights as you strive to teach visual literacy, media literacy, digital citizenship, and so much more.

Regardless of what grade level or subject you teach, the Digital Literacy Conference has a session or two geared toward your professional growth. Check out of these session previews below for a taste of everything you have to look forward to at #DigLitCon!

Learning from the Best and Brightest

During this one-day virtual event, you’re sure to see and hear from some familiar names in the national and statewide edtech community. Here are just a couple of those presenters, each of which will offer #DigLitCon attendees new and interesting perspectives on several key facets of teaching digital literacy:

Dr. Kristen Mattson

Author of both Ethics in a Digital World and Digital Citizenship in Action, Dr. Kristen Mattson has become a nationally-recognized voice on all topics relating to digital citizenship and digital ethics. Dr. Mattson has previously presented at ISTE and will offer #DigLitCon attendees the chance to learn from her in three engaging sessions:

  • Get the Picture! Using Images for Digital Citizenship Conversations
  • Cut the CRAAP and Embrace Lateral Reading
  • Information Literacy in the Age of Fake News 

David Jakes

David Jakes of David Jakes Designs LLC has made it his mission to help educational institutions large and small strive toward creating lasting, impactful change in their teaching mindsets and learning environments. Through his work with schools across the nation, Jakes has become a driving force in understanding what works – both at a structural and practical level – when it comes to engaging today’s learners.

At #DigLitCon, attendees will have a chance to tune into “Transliteracy: Exploring New Dimensions in Digital Literacy.” In this session, Jakes will guide participants through the modern meaning of “literacy” and the many ways today’s students will need more than traditional reading and writing skills to remain “literate.” Jakes will also outline several ways schools can plan for and implement transliteracy to reshape students’ day-to-day learning experiences.

Focusing on the Big Questions

Digital literacy is gaining prominence in many schools as educators shift their focus toward the skills students need to be successful beyond the classroom. #DigLitCon will continue many of those important conversations and start a few new ones by focusing on some of these big-picture questions:

Should Teachers Disclose Their Opinions? 

Presented by Mary Ellen Daneels from DuPage ROE 19, this session will highlight the enduring reality that all educators today are civics teachers with the capacity to influence young people’s thoughts on justice, power, and equity. Participants will learn more about the process of sharing one’s opinion with middle and high school students, as well as some best practices for engaging those students in civic, purpose-driven debates about the issues that matter to them.

Where to Start with Teaching Digital Literacy?

Many educators today are wondering just that – “what are the first steps to teaching digital literacy in the classroom?” The LTC’s Nicole Zumpano will walk you through this initial phase and highlight a variety of useful resources that can make this imposing task more manageable. Participants will also learn to create their own digital literacy resources designed specifically with their students, subjects, and grade levels in mind.

Digital Safety for Littles

By age eight, some 90% of children will have experience using the internet. With that in mind, educators need to start instilling practical internet safety skills in their students at a young age. This session, led by Lesley Grady from Central School District 104, will help today’s educators identify the most important habits of safe internet navigator, with a focus on helping K-4 students engage with social media, password protection, oversharing, cyberbullying, and more.

Strands Across Digital Literacy 

The Digital Literacy Conference will also feature sessions spread across nine distinct strands, each of which will dive deep into a different aspect of fully-fledged digital literacy. Feel free to tune into every session in a particular strand or plan out your full day of digital attendance to take advantage of the conference’s post-event video recording library (which will include every session from every strand):

  • Information & News Literacy
  • Computer Literacy
  • Visual Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • Digital Communication
  • Ethical Uses of Digital Resources
  • Digital Tattoos
  • Digital Citizenship
  • General

You can read more about all of these strands and their respective sessions over on the #DigLitCon homepage.

Register Today for #DigLitCon!

The Digital Literacy Conference is coming up on June 4, 2021, and we hope you’ll join this unique opportunity to dig deep into one of education’s most relevant topics. Register today over on the #DigLitCon homepage and take your first step toward harnessing digital literacy’s full potential.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Digital Literacy Conference, you can also do so in another recent blog post.

Stay Tuned for More Updates from #DigLitCon

To keep up with the latest on the Digital Literacy Conference, follow the LTC on social media (@ltcillinois on Twitter and Facebook) or subscribe to our monthly newsletter. More information on the conference can also be found on the #DigLitCon homepage.

ISPA Resource Update – March 30, 2021

Each week, the Illinois Student Privacy Alliance (ISPA) produces a variety of new resources that may be useful to schools across the state. Here are a few of our newest SOPPA-related resources, as well as complete listings of all of the new originating data privacy agreements added to the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC) database over the course of this past week.

Announcements

The April 6 session of “All Things SOPPA” has been canceled. The next webinar in this series will be held the following Tuesday, April 13.

Resources

Resources for your SOPPA Workflow

All of these resources and a calendar of upcoming SOPPA-related events can also be found on the LTC’s ISPA homepage.

All Things SOPPA – March 30, 2021

A recording of the March 23, 2021, All Things SOPPA webinar can be found on the LTC’s YouTube channel.

Select How-To’s by Subject

  • 28:55​ View All State DPAs to Find Agreements
  • 31:20​ Reviewing an Originating Agreement
  • 35:06​ Using Automatic Exhibit E Creator
  • 38:00​ Prepare Exhibit E for someone else to sign
  • 43:33​ Using Resource Listing on your District Website

Full Webinar by Chapter

  • 0:00​​​ Introduction
  • 3:52​ What is SOPPA?
  • 7:01​ Statistics
  • 8:16​ New Originating Agreements
  • 8:42​ Tips and Suggestions – IL-NDPA v1.0a
  • 12:00​ Tips and Suggestions – Compression and Naming of Agreements before upload
  • 14:02​ Tips and Suggestions – Feature Enhancement – http://bit.ly/MakeISPABetter​​
  • 15:10​ ISBE Update for IASB Press Policies and Procedures
  • 15:56​ SOPPA for Teachers Resources Slide Deck and On-Demand Webinar Information
  • 16:37​ Resources – https://ltcillinois.org/services/ispa​​​ 
  • 17:53​ Resources – New Videos – Using the ISPA/SDPC Database by Sean Mullins
  • 21:47​ Questions, Experiences, Comments
  • 28:55​ How To – View All State DPAs to Find Agreements
  • 31:20​ How To – Reviewing an Originating Agreement
  • 35:06​ How To – Using Automatic Exhibit E Creator
  • 38:00​ How To – Prepare Exhibit E for someone else to sign – View Prepared Exhibit Es
  • 41:15​ More Questions
  • 43:33​ How To – Using Resource Listing on your District Website
  • 46:19​ More Questions

Stay Up-to-Date with SOPPA

One of the keys to SOPPA compliance is staying on top of the latest recommendations and suggestions from seasoned experts. The LTC makes that easy through our weekly “All Things SOPPA” webinar series.

Each Tuesday, join the LTC’s Chris Wherley for a focused discussion on the process and procedures of achieving SOPPA compliance. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions and share their experiences with peers around Illinois, as well as receive the latest SOPPA updates as July 1 approaches.

The next edition of “All Thing SOPPA” will take place on Tuesday, April 13 at 2:00 pm. Recordings of previous sessions can be found on the LTC YouTube channel.

Be sure to bookmark the LTC’s Data Privacy hub, as well. There, you’ll find regular updates about the latest best practices for protecting student data – including new resources for achieving SOPPA compliance.

Join ISPA

Many of the resources and updates above are provided regularly to Illinois Student Privacy Alliance (ISPA) members. ISPA is a free consortium that allows school districts to access tools and resources for managing data privacy agreements. When used in conjunction with clear policies and procedures, ISPA allows districts to comply with Illinois’ new Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA).

All Illinois school districts are invited to join ISPA. Membership is free and can offer districts access to resources through the Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC), a collection of 31 states working collaboratively to address similar data privacy concerns and legislation.

To learn more about ISPA and its benefits to all Illinois school districts, visit the group’s homepage on the LTC website. Questions about joining ISPA can be directed to Angela Veatch at aveatch@ltcillinois.org.