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.

How to Become a Google Certified Coach

This year, Google is premiering a brand-new certification that is geared toward helping schools and districts build and sustain their edtech integration over the long-term. Known as the Certified Coach program, this latest certification can help existing instructional technology coaches grow their understanding of Google’s services and apply their knowledge while supporting their institution’s teaching goals.

But how do you become a Google Certified Coach? Is there a special curriculum or test you need to take? Do you need Educator certifications to become a Certified Coach? We’ll answer those questions and more in this step-by-step guide to becoming a Google Certified Coach.

What is a Google Certified Coach?

At their core, a Google Certified Coach is an individual who has, through participation in a tailored education program, grown their coaching toolkit and gained a deeper understanding of Google’s educational offerings. Google Certified Coaches are able to more effectively support educators in their school or district in turn, whether they use just a couple Google apps or have fully integrated with Google Workspace for Education.

Who should become a Google Certified Coach?

Google has shaped the curriculum and content of their Certified Coach program with current technology coaches in mind. In other words, individuals who spend the majority of their time supporting edtech integration and working 1:1 with educators will be best suited for this certification program. Those looking to learn research-backed strategies for improving their coaching practices will also be well-served by the Google Certified Coach Program.

How Does a Google Certified Coach Differ from Google’s Other Education Certification?

Currently, Google offers a wide variety of education- and professional development-oriented certification opportunities. Most notable among these are the Google Educator certifications, which focus on classroom implementation of Google’s apps and services. The Google Certified Coach Program differs from these because it focuses on practical coaching strategies, rather than teaching strategies alone.

Along the same lines, the Google Certified Coach Program differs from both the Google Trainer and Google Innovator certification programs. In particular, the Google Certified Coach Program focuses on teaching participants 1:1 coaching strategies, while the Trainer Program teaches experts how to deliver 1:many professional development experiences. Meanwhile, the Google Innovator program does not focus on professional learning at all, and instead centers on teaching participants to lead innovative education projects in their school or district.

Why Become a Google Certified Coach?

Becoming a Google Certified Coach comes with a variety of benefits, both for the individual and the institution they serve.

For example, instructional coaches who participate in this program walk away with a great deal of up-to-date knowledge on Google service utilization best practices. New Google Certified Coaches will also learn about an innovative 5-step coaching system that can help them enhance their 1:1 work with teachers in the near term. Taken together, these new skills and knowledge can help new and veteran coaches alike become more robust in their support role.

Also, current instructional coaches have an opportunity to gain distinction through the Google Certified Coach Program. In particular, this program provides successful candidates with a credential that allows them to communicate specialization within their team or demonstrate their commitment to continuously growing their coaching competency.

Larger institutions, including schools and districts, have a lot to gain through the Google Certified Coach Program as well. With an in-district Google Certified Coach, for example, teachers and administrators gain access to the latest insights from a member of a nationwide coaching community. Through their Certified Coach, districts also gain access to special professional development opportunities and timely updates on all Google for Education topics.

How to Become a Google Certified Coach

Becoming a Google Certified Coach does require some investment of your time. However, the payoff at the end is well worth it if you are looking to take your skills as an instructional coach to the next level.

Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself a newly-minted Google Certified Coach in no time!

Note: These steps are accurate as of March 2021. This certification process, its requirements, and its cost are subject to change in the future.

Step 1 – Complete the Curriculum

First, certification candidates will need to participate in and complete Google’s Coach Certification curriculum. This curriculum is tailor-made with current coaches in mind, providing them with a research-backed 5-step coaching model and other effective coaching strategies that they can actively implement while working through the certification process.

In terms of structure, the Coach Certification curriculum is made up of several modules, each tackling several competencies required for successful implementation of new coaching strategies in the field. Each of these modules is followed by a series of knowledge check questions as well as opportunities to reflect on the personal progress.

In total, Google estimates that this curriculum takes about 20 hours to complete. However, each module is designed to be completed at a different time of year (IE before the start of the fall semester, during spring break, etc.) So, the total number of hours should not be viewed as contiguous.

In any case, this curriculum is entirely self-guided. As a result, candidates may read through and review curricular content at any time, including while they are preparing for their certification assessment.

Step 2 – Earn Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 Certifications

If you have not already, Coach certification candidates will next need to obtain Google Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certification. These certifications cover the fundamentals of utilizing Google services and apps in the classroom, making them must-know content for folks looking to coach current educators on implementation best practices.

Many Certified Coach candidates already possess these certifications. It is recommended that you double-check these credentials while working through the Certified Coach curriculum so that a current proof of completion can be added to your Coaching portfolio in a later step.

Also, obtaining Educator Level 1 and Level 2 certifications is neither a prerequisite for starting the Certified Coach program, nor a prerequisite for taking the Coach Skills assessment. However, they are highly recommended because they offer a solid foundation of knowledge that the Coach curriculum focuses on and the Coach Skills test assesses. In any case, you will need proof of both certifications when it comes time to submit your final Coaching portfolio.

Step 3 – Pass the Coach Skills Assessment

After completing the Certified Coach curriculum, certification candidates must successfully pass the Coach Skills assessment. This exam is designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and understanding of the Certified Coach curriculum, including its 5-step coaching cycle.

As with most Google certification exams, the precise content of this test can change from instance to instance. However, it is always made up of around 45 questions, which candidates have 45 minutes to complete. Candidates will need to score an 80% or better to pass, with results provided instantly.

At this time, there is no cost to take this exam. As such, candidates are encouraged to retake the exam if they do not successfully pass it on their first attempt.

Step 4 – Submit a Coaching Portfolio

After passing the Coach Skills assessment, certification candidates will be required to submit a Coaching portfolio that provides evidence to implementation of curricular content in the field.

In particular, this portfolio must include a short video and three artifacts that demonstrate the candidate’s implementation of the 5-step coaching cycle and other curricular elements in a real-life coaching scenario. These items must also be accompanied by a letter of reference supplied by an administrator or other advisor that is familiar with the candidate’s coaching work.

After these elements are all compiled, they must be submitted to Google for final approval. Upon review and acceptance, Google will issue all relevant certification credentials, as well as information about maintaining Certified status on an annual basis.

Supporting your Google Certification Journey

Throughout your professional learning journey, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to support you as you strive to make high-quality technology coaching available to more educators. Currently, we offer a variety of webinars and networking meetings that can help you build the knowledge and connections you need to thrive in the field.

As a Google Cloud Partner, we also routinely offer training opportunities centered on Google’s latest products and services. We can even help you or the teachers you work with earn a Google Educator certification.

Schools and districts interested in adding an instructional technology coach to their team can also find support through the LTC. Through a unique cost-sharing model, we are currently offering institutions an opportunity to hire their own embedded instructional technology support through our Instruction Technology Coaching Program.

Looking to Learn More about Becoming a Google Certified Coach?

Several members of the LTC team – myself included – have recently completed the Google Certified Coach Program. If you have questions about the program or you’re interested in learning more about my experience, you can contact me, Elizabeth Byam, at

Google Announces Updates for Classroom, Meet, and More

Recently, Google announced a variety of updates for its suite of education-centered apps and services, including new features for Google Classroom, Google Meet, and more. Many of these updates have been designed with educators and admins in mind, making it easier for them to create a robust and accessible digital learning environment in the near-term.

In total, Google has promised that over 50 new features will go live in the coming months. That includes a major rebrand of G Suite for Education and its current pricing structure. With many of these updates arriving as soon as early April, now’s the time to read up on these impending changes and make plans to fully utilize their productive potential.

G Suite for Education is Now Google Workspace for Education

First and foremost, Google’s suite of education-centered apps – including Classroom, Meet, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and more – is being rebranded with immediate effect. Going forward, G Suite for Education will be known as Google Workspace for Education, bringing this product’s naming convention in line with changes made to Google’s enterprise suite last fall.

In terms of its content, Google Workspace for Education will be just like G Suite for Education. Specifically, all of the apps and tools that millions of educators and students worldwide rely on will remain a part of the package.

However, going forward, Google Workspace for Education will be made available in four distinct editions. Each of these editions build upon one another and offer institutional leaders more robust options for facilitating a safe, productive digital learning environment.

Education Fundamentals

G Suite for Education’s free edition is getting a new coat of paint along with a new moniker – Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals. This package remains mostly unchanged from its previous iteration, with qualifying institutions still receiving access to Classroom, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and more at no cost.

Many of Google’s most popular communication tools are also included in this suite, including Google Meet, Chat, and Gmail. Google has also re-emphasized safety and base-level security in the Education Fundamentals package, with all included apps and tools presently complying with federal COPPA and FERPA regulations.

Education Standard

Previously, G Suite for Education included a single paid edition. However, Google Workspace for Education’s paid edition will be broken into three tiers, offering educational institutions the opportunity to control their per-user and per-license costs based upon the types of apps, tools, and security features they need most.

The first of these paid editions is known as “Google Workspace for Education Standard.” This edition includes all of the apps featured in the Education Fundamentals package as well as a renewed emphasis on security and accountability. This can be seen in this package’s Security Center, which can be customized to offer administrators real-time updates for identifying, preventing, and remediating digital threats to their network.

Education Standard also makes device management much more streamlined from an institutional level. Through this package’s tools, administrators and IT staff will be able to perform audits and enforce system-wide rules – often remotely and without the need to interact physically with a networked device.

Teaching and Learning Upgrade

As its name implies, the “Teaching and Learning Upgrade” is designed for institutions who are looking to take their digital teaching capabilities to the next level. This can be seen in the upgrade’s enhanced video communication capabilities, which include the capacity for 250 participants in a Google Meet call and built-in allowances for call recording, attendance tracking, and break out rooms.

The Teaching and Learning Upgrade also places a useful emphasis on academic integrity within the digital learning environment. For example, teachers with this Upgrade are able to run originality reports within Google Classroom, which check for plagiarism and proper citation against a private repository of previous student submissions.

Education Plus

Google’s top-level offering for education-centered apps and tools is also getting a face lift. Going forward, the package previously known as “G Suite Enterprise for Education” will be known as “Google Workspace for Education Plus.”

In addition to all of the features included in both the Education Standard and Teaching and Learning editions, Education Plus will offer institutions top level access to Google’s best digital teaching and learning tools. This includes the ability to sync classroom rosters directly from many student information systems (SIS) as well as the ability to customize cloud searching within an institution’s private domain network.

Management and support are also at their best in the Education Plus package. To that end, Education Plus users receive advanced mobile device management capabilities and priority treatment when seeking support from Google’s team of product specialists.

Pricing Changes for Google Workspace for Education

Along with its change in structure, Google Workspace for Education will also premier a new pricing system for its paid editions. Through it, educational institutions will be better able to manage their licensing costs without overpaying for apps, tools, or services they don’t plan on utilizing.

The LTC’s edtech purchasing cooperative, the Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP), will offer discounted rates on all of the new Google Workspace for Education paid tiers. You can learn more about each edition’s pricing differences over on the ILTPP blog.

More Robust Features for Google Classroom and Google Meet

Over the past year of remote and hybrid learning, many educators worldwide embraced Google Classroom as a primary channel for engaging students in safe day-to-day learning. Google Classroom wasn’t originally designed to act as a learning management system (LMS), however, which has led Google to announce several upgrades to bring Classroom in line with educators’ functionality expectations.

Some of these new features are small changes with outsized potential impacts, such as the introduction of rich text formatting options. Other improvements will make it easier for educators to monitor student progress, such as through Google Classroom’s new student tracking dashboard.

At the same time, Google Meet is receiving several upgrades to bring it more in line with other virtual conferencing tools on the market today. For example, any Meet that is not started from Google Classroom will soon allow for multiple concurrent hosts. New integration between Google Classroom and Google Meet will also allow teachers to limit who can enter a call based upon a pre-synced roster of students and support personnel.

New Storage Standards

Along with its upgrades to Google Workspace for Education and a few of its most popular apps, Google has also announced a change to its storage standards. In particular, Google is no longer offering educational institutions unlimited storage space by default.

Instead, districts will be offered a baseline storage solution of 100TB, which will be pooled and shared across the district’s entire domain. This pool can be increased through several means, with per-diem increases provided for each new Teaching and Learning Upgrade and Fundamentals Plus license, respectively.

Generally speaking, these new limits will not impact the vast majority of school districts. Those that will need to adjust their storage management limits will receive notice accordingly. In any case, these new storage standards will not go into effect until July 2022. So, districts still have plenty of time to run audits on their current cloud storage regimen and make changes to in-district policy as necessary.

Enhanced Accessibility Features

As part of its upcoming collection of upgrades, Google has again increased its efforts to make digital learning structurally accessible to all learners. With that in mind, they’ll soon roll out a full slate of accessibility upgrades designed to help learners with individualized learning needs participate fully and confidently in their digital learning environment.

Several such upgrades relate to Google Meet’s live captioning feature, which will now be available in Spanish, French, German, and Portuguese (in addition to English). These captions will also be more customizable in terms of placement and size, making them more adaptable to different video conferencing set-ups.

Google Workspace’s text-to-speech capabilities are also getting a boost. In particular, improvements are being implemented that allow students with reading or verbal impairments (such as dyslexia) to highlight any section of text and hear it read back to them verbally. Google’s ChromeVox system will also become more adaptable for visually impaired students, with the inclusion of smooth voice switching, Smart Sticky Mode, and more.

Finally, students using Chromebooks will soon be able to select customized cursor colors from up to seven options (in addition to the original black). When paired with other size customization options, these new settings can help improve interface usability by increasing visibility in low vision or low contrast situations.

Keep Up with the Latest from Google

All in all, these are just a few of Google’s planned upgrades to Workspace for Education. The Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to help you understand all of these updates and plan for immediate implementation into your current digital learning environments. As a Google Cloud Partner, we can also help you find the resources you need to make full utilization of Google’s latest updates a reality in your district.

If you have questions about any of Google’s newly announced changes, contact the Regional Educational Technology Coordinator (RETC) for your area. You can also learn more about using Google’s current education apps over in our free online courses collection or even about the process of becoming a Google Certified Educator in a recent blog post.

Further Reading on Google Workspace for Education Updates

To help educators and their districts understand the full scope of their impending updates, Google has produced a variety of publicly accessible resources ranging from one-pagers to product-by-product change logs. Check them out below if you want to learn more about everything Google has in store for educators this spring:

February 2021 Google Workspace for Education Announcements

Google Workspace for Education Tier Comparisons

What’s New with Google for Education (All App and Tool Updates)

Google Workspace for Education One-Pager

Charting a New Frontier in Literacy at #DigLitCon

Digital literacy has been on the tip of the tongue for many educators over the past several years. More and more schools are now placing a renewed emphasis on their students’ ability to find, evaluate, and compose information through digital mediums.

As such, there’s a growing need in Illinois’ education community for reliable, up-to-date digital literacy pedagogy. This summer, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) will take an important step forward toward filling that need by hosting the Digital Literacy Conference.

This one-day virtual event will bring together educators, administrators, and library media specialists from around the state to discuss the best ways to integrate digital literacy content into all classrooms. Sessions at the Digital Literacy Conference will center around several key competencies within digital literacy, ranging from visual and media literacy to digital resource ethics.

There are even more great reasons to attend the Digital Literacy Conference on June 4, 2021. Here are just a few of those reasons, as highlighted by #DigLitCon’s hard-working planning team.

A Focus on a Timely Topic

Even before the majority of instruction shifted online last year, many educators were already discussing how their students were learning to take in and interpret digital content. The Digital Literacy Conference will continue many of those discussions and elevate them to the next level, according to the LTC’s Director of Professional Learning, Brian Bates.

Bates says, “The Digital Literacy Conference will be an opportunity for educators to sit down with their peers and discuss what’s working in digital literacy education. That way, more educators can begin to see not only the importance of teaching digital literacy, but reliable methods for making it a part of their instructional practices as well.”

Bates also says that the Digital Literacy Conference will be a refreshing opportunity to look at how students interact with and utilize their digital resources, now that digital learning has become a norm in many classrooms.

“In many ways, digital literacy has to be a counterpart to other pushes to get tech into students’ hands. The Digital Literacy Conference will hopefully open the door to look at that other side and give educators a chance to see the soft skills students need to succeed in a digital learning environment.”

Literacy for School and Beyond

With its unique combination of content analysis and digital stewardship, digital literacy can be a major asset for students as they strive toward self-guided learning.

But as Bates points out, teaching digital literacy is about more than preparing students for future academic pursuits. Fully-fledged digital literacy can also help students thrive in their digital interactions outside the classroom.

“Every kid growing up today lives in a world of technology,” Bates explained, “in their free time, they’ll be asked to make decisions about what to believe on social media. Their future jobs will require them to not just use technology, but harness it to its full potential. Those reasons point to a need to raise digitally literate students who are ready to take on the digital world they live in.”

Bates also emphasized that digital literacy skills can help students navigate choppy digital waters on their own, outside the comfortable confines of a school-based learning environment.

“Young people today will eventually make decisions about their health, where to live, and what to believe based upon what they read and see online. Nurturing those critical skills now can help them rise to those challenges once they’ve left our classrooms.”

A Place in Every Classroom

When many teachers hear “digital literacy,” they might assume that it falls under the purview of library media specialists or English language arts teachers, along with other more traditional forms of literacy. But as the Digital Literacy Conference will strive to demonstrate, digital literacy can be learned – and applied – in nearly every classroom and at numerous grade levels.

“Interpreting graphs, analyzing imagery, and comparing news sources – these are all digital literacy skills in waiting,” says the LTC’s Nicole Zumpano, a nationally-recognized voice on digital citizenship, “once we recognize that students have a chance to hone their digital learning skills in various learning environments, we can begin to think more broadly about how those skills give students the tools to navigate a problem – regardless of its content.”

Zumpano also says that today’s educational standards point to the need for wide-ranging digital literacy learning, just as those standards call for traditional literacy learning across all subject areas.

“It’s not a coincidence that Common Core standards emphasize reading and writing proficiency in a variety of content areas. That same need to foster broadly-applicable communication skills apply to digital domains as well. Well-rounded students need to be able to interpret and talk about what they are learning online, and digital literacy skills give them the power to do that.”

Exciting Sessions Across 9 Strands

In order to bring this timely and widely-applicable subject to life, the Digital Literacy Conference will offer participants the chance to attend a full slate of insightful sessions. These sessions will be grouped into nine distinct strands, each focused on different digital literacy competencies.

One session many educators will find interesting is “Can Your Students Spot Falsehoods? Practical Lessons on Web Analysis?” Presented by Mia Gutsell, an Instructional Design Coach and Social Science Teacher with Bensenville School District 2, this session will demonstrate practical ways students can differentiate fact from fiction when reading online sources. Free lesson templates will also be provided so that teachers can put what they’ve learned into immediate action.

Another session worth bookmarking is “Not as Boring as it Sounds: G Suite Tools & Copyright Compliance”. In this session, presenter Renee Bogacz, an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher in Channahon School District 17, will dig into the best ways teachers and students can ethically utilize content they find online. Along the way, participants will learn about copyright, fair use, and Creative Commons licensing, as well as how all three can be properly managed using an assortment of readily-available Google Workplace for Education tools.

These are just a couple of the exciting sessions the Digital Literacy Conference has in store for you. Be sure to keep an eye on the #DigLitCon homepage for further announcements about the full conference schedule in early April.

Reserve your Spot Today!

The Digital Literacy Conference is on its way, 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.

Stay Tuned for More Updates from #DigLitCon

To keep up with the latest on the Digital Literacy Conference, including the upcoming conference schedule announcement in early April, 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.

3 Keys to Remember While Finalizing your E-Rate Application

The 21-22 E-Rate Form 471 filing deadline is just around the corner on March 25, 2021. As always, all schools and districts filing for E-Rate funds must complete and submit this form in order to take part in the associated bidding process.

Institutions that are still finalizing their Form 471 submission should not wait until the last moment to get the application support they need. At the same time, all schools and districts should keep these three changes and updates in mind as they put the finishing touches on their 21-22 Form 471 submission:

Updating Student Counts

Under regular circumstances, the FCC determines levels of E-Rate eligibility based upon the number of students in a district that qualify for free or reduced lunches through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). However, due to the number of schools nationwide presently operating in a remote or hybrid format, all students over the current school year have been made eligible for free or reduced lunches.

As a result, some districts have faced challenges creating an accurate count of NSLP eligible students in their schools. With this in mind, the Universal Service Administration Company (USAC) announced in a news brief dated November 13, 2020 that districts applying for E-Rate do not need to update their eligible student count for their 21-22 application. Instead, districts may use their eligible student count from last year’s application.

Checking your C2 Budget

Starting this year, the E-Rate program will enter a new Category 2 (C2) cycle for FY 21-25. C2 budgets are capped in value (unlike their Category 1 counterparts), so schools need to be fully aware of their allotted funds prior to finalizing their 21-22 Form 471 paperwork.

A new online tool from the USAC can make that budgeting process a lot easier. Using this tool, districts can input their district or school-specific information to view how much C2 funding their institution has been allotted for this new cycle.

To utilize this tool, start by navigating to the filter panel and inputting the relevant information into the drop-down menus (including state, application type, city, and more). Be sure to click “apply” after inputting your information in each menu so that your inputs are actively applied to the results.

Once you’ve input all of the requested info, this tool will provide you with an overview of key C2 data, including your district or schools’ total C2 budget amount and their per-student fund multiplier.

Home Internet Access Funding

In light of the ongoing need for remote and hybrid instruction in many districts, the FCC is currently working on plans to supply money for home internet access through the E-Rate program.

As of March 11, 2021, that funding has been approved and signed into law as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. This legislation has allotted $7.1 billion to the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which will be administered by the FCC. This fund will be used to help eligible schools and libraries purchase wi-fi hotspots, modems, routers, and other internet connectivity hardware needed to support remote and hybrid learning.

Currently, the FCC is finalizing an application process for obtaining these funds, which will be distributed through the E-Rate program. According to legislative requirements, the FCC has 60 days from the act’s passage to implement fund acquisition rules. As such, further updates about applying for these new funds are expected in the near-term.

As this special E-Rate opportunity continues to take shape, prospective applicants are encouraged to keep an eye on official FCC news sources for the latest updates on how and when these funds will be distributed.

The LTC is also keeping a close eye on new E-Rate developments, both at a state and federal level. To keep up with new E-Rate updates, consider joining the LTC Community, where you will find an entire group devoted to discussing E-Rate funds, applications, and insights.

Learn the Latest and Get the E-Rate Support You Need

Regardless of whether you’re an E-Rate veteran or a first-time submitter, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is here to support your district’s efforts to obtain affordable networking services and hardware. We offer a variety of webinars and workshops each year to help schools and districts across Illinois keep their E-Rate submissions on track for success.

Also, if you missed out on this year’s E-Rate Form 470 or Form 471 Workshop Tours, you can now view recordings from several sessions on each tour. These videos are now available over on the LTC’s E-Rate Series homepage.

Finally, if you have any questions about E-Rate – including any of the updates or changes outlined above – feel free to contact me, Mindy Fiscus, at I serve as the Illinois State E-Rate Coordinator and can help you find the answers you need before the upcoming March 25th deadline.

ISPA Resource Update – February 2021

Over the course of February, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) team has been hard at work helping districts across Illinois prepare for the new Student Online Personal Protection Act (SOPPA), which goes into effect on July 1. This has included creating and publishing a variety of resources designed to make understanding compliance stream-lined and intuitive.

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 month.

February 9 Updates


  • Videos related to SOPPA and ISPA. Current videos include walkthroughs of the IL-NDPA and the ISPA/SDPC Database Tools

Recent Originating Data Privacy Agreements

  • Big Ideas Math
  • Calvert
  • Carnegie Learning
  • CPM (College Preparatory Mathematics) ebook
  • CrisisGo
  • E-Hall Pass
  • EduNovela
  • Follett
  • Gaggle
  • Gizmos
  • Holt McDougal Curriculum Resources
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Ed Your Friend in Learning
  • HUDL
  • Imagine Learning
  • Kahoot!
  • Kami
  • Learning A-Z
  • MeisterLabs, Inc.
  • Mote
  • My Playhome
  • Nearpod
  • Noteflight
  • Pearson EasyBridge
  • Pictello
  • PLATO Courseware | EdOptions Academy
  • Proloquo2go
  • QuaverEd
  • Reading Plus
  • Reflex Math
  • Remind
  • Securly
  • Seesaw
  • Waterford

February 16 Updates


Recent Originating Data Privacy Agreements

  • Book Creator
  • Breakout Edu
  • Buncee
  • Canvas
  • Desmos
  • Doodle Lab Paint Draw for iPad
  • ESGI
  • Lexia Reading Core5
  • QuiverVision Apps
  • Teachers’ Curriculum Institute (TCI)
  • TypeWell

February 23 Updates


Tips and Suggestions

How to

Recent Originating Data Privacy Agreements

  • Coach’s Eye
  • Dolphin Easy Reader
  • EDPuzzle
  • Explain Everything
  • HearBuilder Auditory Memory
  • Hopscotch
  • Imagine Learning
  • Math Slide: add & subtract
  • News-O-Matic for School
  • Osmo Apps
  • Socrative
  • Sphero
  • TeachTown
  • Wakelet
  • WeVideo for Schools

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.

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.


Resources and updates like those listed 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

Digital Literacy Conference Registration Now Open!

Exciting news! The Digital Literacy Conference is now open for registration. This one-day gathering of educators from around Illinois will offer teachers, administrators, library media specialists, and more an opportunity to engage with one of education’s most relevant topics – digital literacy – in all of its forms.

Interested in attending? Taking part in the Digital Literacy Conference’s numerous informative sessions couldn’t be easier. This fully virtual conference will allow attendees to tune in from anywhere on their own schedule. Participants will even be able to watch recordings of every session after the conference so that they don’t miss a single insight.

At only $25, the Digital Literacy Conference also represents an affordable option for growing your knowledge on this big-picture topic. Register now over on the #DigLitCon homepage!

What is the Digital Literacy Conference?

This summer, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) is leading a brand-new conference which strives to make digital literacy front of mind for educators of all domains and grade levels. Today’s students need these new literacy skills in order to successfully locate, evaluate, interpret, and create information – both in and out of the classroom. In response to this need, we’ve created the Digital Literacy Conference to serve as the spark for innovative digital literacy education in Illinois.

Over the course of this one-day virtual event, the Digital Literacy Conference will offer an assortment of presentations focused on practical digital literacy pedagogy. These presentations will be separated into nine strands, ranging from computer literacy to digital resource ethics. Together, these strands will offer educators an opportunity to engage with the most important aspects of digital literacy in a single, content-rich gathering.

At its core, the Digital Literacy Conference is focused on reaching individuals with a stake in teaching digital literacy or guiding curricular decisions relating to digital literacy. With that in mind, we are inviting teachers, administrators, technology coaches, and library media specialists to take part in this conference, both as speakers and as attendees.

A Focus on Digital Literacy’s Many Strands

The Digital Literacy Conference will center around nine distinct strands, each focusing on a different component of fully-fledged digital literacy. Educators across all grade levels and subject areas will find relevant content within these strands, so don’t miss this chance to expand your digital literacy horizons.

Information & News Literacy

Civics and journalism have never been more important in an era where the truth is under persistent attack. Presentations in this strand will help isolate the skills students need to separate fact from fiction, including the ability to find reliable sources, check credibility, and recognize false or misleading narratives.

Visual Literacy

Young people today interact with a lot of visual media, often without the skills to fully appreciate or contextualize what they are seeing. This strand will focus on several key competencies that can help build critical visual literacy, including the ability to interpret infographics, analyze images, design practical websites, and utilize popular graphics (such as GIFs or memes) for educational purposes. 

Media Literacy

Media messages can subtly impact how today’s students think, act, and feel, both in and out of the classroom. This strand will highlight several of the most important elements of media messaging – including persuasion tactics, data integration, branding, and advertising – and demonstrate how this messaging impacts both history and society’s views on gender roles.

Computer Literacy

In order to fully appreciate a computer’s function, students and teachers alike must begin to understand how their digital devices function at a technical level. This strand will center around a few broadly-applicable computer functions that impact education, including cybersecurity and the ways data collection can impact student privacy.

Digital Communication

Presentations in this strand will consider the impact of digital communication by discussing different modern communication channels, including texts, emails, social media, online communities, personal learning networks, blogs, and podcasts. Inquiries in this strand will also expand to societal-level discussions about digital norms and the rights of consumers online.

Digital Citizenship

Today’s students will be tomorrow’s stewards of the world’s online communities. This strand will focus on helping build the skill sets and mindsets students will need to be successful in this significant undertaking, including the ability to foster a healthy relationship with technology and the ability to make age-appropriate internet safety decisions.

Digital Tattoos

Unlike a “digital footprint,” a “digital tattoo” is both personal and permanent. This strand will focus on helping students understand how their words, pictures, and actions online can follow them – for better and for worse – well into adulthood.

Ethical Uses of Digital Resources

Everything online is not free, and students must learn the importance of providing proper credit whenever they utilize a digital resource. This strand will center on building those skills while also digging into copyright, Creative Commons licensing, fair use, and plagiarism.


There are lots of outstanding digital literacy resources out there today. This strand will highlight several of the most popular and demonstrate how those resources can be applied in a variety of grade level and domain-specific learning environments.

Register Today!

There’s so much to learn about digital literacy, and we cannot wait to see what you take away from the Digital Literacy Conference. Mark June 4th in your calendar and register today to reserve your digital seat at this remarkable professional learning opportunity!

Stay Tuned for More Updates from #DigLitCon

In the coming weeks, we’ll have more exciting updates about the Digital Literacy Conference, including an announcement about the full conference schedule.

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.

Interested in Presenting at #DigLitCon?

The Digital Literacy Conference is still accepting presentation proposals, now through March 26th. If you have experience teaching digital literacy, consider submitting a proposal and joining our excellent team of experienced, knowledgeable speakers.

Reflecting on a Year of Digital Learning on Digital Learning Day 2021

Around this time last year, the education landscape across the US and around the world was on the precipice of a major change. For the first time ever, the majority of education instruction was provided online to keep students and teachers safe during an unprecedented health crisis.

Since then, educators, administrators, IT professionals, and technology coaches have worked hard, day in and day out, to make remote and hybrid learning accessible and productive for all students. This has led to numerous successes that may foreshadow new opportunities for digital learning once the current pandemic has passed.

To put it simply, the nature of digital learning has changed markedly over the past year. However, those changes have looked different for every stakeholder in the education equation. Now, as schools begin the shift back toward in-person instruction, there’s a real chance to reflect on those changes and see if they can inform digital learning planning and implementation in the future.

In celebration of Digital Learning Day 2021, the Learning Technology Center (LTC) team has spoken with education stakeholders from across Illinois to learn about their current views on digital learning. Their insights are a thoughtful peak into the lived experience of working in education over the past year, and the many ways digital learning continues to adapt to evolving student needs.

The Many Sides of Digital Learning

As folks in the education field have learned over the past year, “digital learning” isn’t any one app, piece of hardware, or lesson type. Instead, digital learning can take on numerous forms, each geared toward making educational content more accessible, engaging, and relevant to students of all ages.

To learn more about these many interpretations of digital learning, we asked educational stakeholders around Illinois what digital learning meant to them personally. Their responses were diverse and varied, giving further credence to the idea that digital learning, as a concept, is more than just using electronic devices to carry out instruction.

“Digital learning…is about promoting creation, collaboration, and critical thinking,” said Mia Gutsell, an Instructional Technology Specialist at Bensenville School District #2, “not simply the consumption of ideas.”

Carol L. Kilver, Superintendent for Pikeland CUSD #10, agreed with this perspective and emphasized the kinds of soft skills students can learn while engaging with digital learning resources.

“For me, it is about creating ‘self-directed’ learners,” Kilver explained, “Learners who can determine which tools help them gain what they need to understand.”

“Adaptability would also be key to my definition,” Kilver added, echoing the belief that digital learning must always be flexible, both in terms of how it is implemented and how it fulfils individual student’s learning needs.

Renee Bogacz, an Instructional Technology Resource Teacher with Channahon School District #17, also points out that educators cannot always count on traditional teaching methods when it comes time for digital instruction.

“It is not possible to create an engaging learning experience if you just ‘transfer’ school from the classroom to an online meeting,” Bogacz emphasized while discussing remote learning environments, “Teachers need to discover new ways to engage students, and students need to be shown how to take charge of their own learning.”

Digital Learning in Flux

Since spring 2020, students and parents have become accustomed to change. For many, a temporary shift to remote instruction became more permanent over time, while other schools moved between in-person and hybrid instruction as local health and safety standards changed.

Educators and support staff have similarly felt this flux over the past year, with many emphasizing the challenges of rolling with each week’s new punches. But even so, several Illinois administrators were quick to point out that these swift changes made it possible to unlock new avenues for engaging students.

“As difficult as the last year has been, one of the positives is that we have used technology in ways that we only dreamed about before,” Steve Wilder, Superintendent of Sycamore CUSD #427, praised, “’necessity is the mother of invention’ and the pandemic has given us the opportunity to try things we’ve never done before. Educators have always been creative problem-solvers, but the last year has accelerated the process [of integrating edtech] exponentially.”

Meanwhile, edtech professionals across Illinois have seen their roles grow and adapt to the changing needs of their faculty and students. For example, Sean Mullins, Instructional Technology Director for Olympia CUSD #16, noticed his responsibilities shift from maintaining backend systems to creating professional training materials as remote learning became the overnight norm. Mullins also noted that the changing learning environment required him to dig deeper into the internet connectivity needs of his district’s families – many of whom live in rural areas of central Illinois.

Social Justice and Digital Learning

Not only has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the ways students learn, but also, this moment in history has been shaped by a renewed emphasis on social justice. Digital Learning Day 2021 has recognized this shift in discourse and placed the need to close inequities and personalize instructional opportunities at the center of this year’s annual awareness campaign.

In turn, we asked numerous educators and administrators how they planned to incorporate social justice into their digital learning plans going forward. Responses were more varied on this front, with several administrators recognizing the present need to redouble their efforts toward achieving more equitable learning access.

“I feel like the inequities of socio-economically different students have probably widened as opposed to narrowed,” explained Jeff Whitsitt, Superintendent for United CUSD #304. He went on to point out that some of the traditional differentiating factors for student success – including support from parents at home – were brought into more stark contrast once the majority of learning shifted to the home front.

On the other hand, some schools and districts have had a chance to take a step forward when it comes to closing educational gaps during remote learning. Natalie Almasi, a principal in Oak Grove School District #68, was emphatic in highlighting how school-issued personal learning devices helped keep her school’s students on track during remote learning.

“We were able to ensure that all students had a personal device to engage with and because of that, our staff were able to not only provide instruction, but personalize it for students as the year progressed. The device was the portal, and software, websites, and apps allowed us to share and individualize learning opportunities for students.”

Planning for a Digital Future

Even as educators around Illinois profess different views on how digital learning has performed over the past year, there’s one point that nearly everyone can agree on – digital learning is here to stay, in one form or another. That means that students and educators can expect some components of digital learning to remain in place, even as safe, in-person instruction returns to the forefront.

For example, several administrators, including Jeff Whitsitt, foresee a future in which students that would have traditionally missed long stretches of instruction due to illness or injury will be able to keep pace via digital learning tools. Meanwhile, several Illinois tech coaches and directors agree that this year’s experience with long-term remote learning will make one-off remote learning days in lieu of snow days more feasible.

At the same time, this past year’s emphasis on technological integration has reignited some district’s efforts to bring more computer science curriculum into their classrooms. Natalie Almasi’s school is among those with plans to implement age-appropriate technology skills material into grades all the way down through kindergarten.

There’s also enough hope for the future of digital learning to go around. In fact, many folks in Illinois’ education community sound genuinely excited for what the future holds when it comes to digital learning.

“My hope is that we can take everything we learned about creating asynchronous learning, student centered activities, and differentiated instruction and continue to build on it,” Julie Powell, an Instructional Technology Coach with Park Ridge-Niles School District #64, affirmed, “I hope we will also continue to learn from instruction setup in student-paced and student-directed paths.”

David Lerch, a Distance Learning Teacher with Marissa Community Unity School District #40, echoed a similar sentiment with a notable air of optimism toward future student outcomes.

“My hope is that we take something that has had such a negative impact and learn something positive.  From a teacher’s perspective, digital learning allows us to connect across the globe.  We can use this to broaden our horizons and teach our students to become better global citizens and be more aware of their place in this amazing world!” 

Digital Learning Support for All Illinois Schools

On Digital Learning Day and beyond, the LTC is committed to supporting all educational stakeholders as they strive to increase technology access. This includes through the Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP), which is free to join and can help districts obtain affordable prices on edtech hardware and software through pre-negotiated contracts.

The LTC can also help your school or district find an edtech integration solution that meets your long-term digital learning needs. We offer a variety of professional learning opportunities, including through online courses, webinars, and more. We also facilitate an Instructional Technology Coaching Program that can help districts obtain embedded instructional technology support at an affordable price.

Thank You to Our Contributors

We want to thank the 15+ educators, administrators, technology coaches, and technology support staff who contributed their views to this piece. While we couldn’t include everyone’s thoughtful responses, your insights make it possible to reflect on this past year and chart a course for digital learning’s bright future.

New Updates for Microsoft for Education and Google Chrome Management Licensing

As we all look forward to warmer days ahead, the Illinois Learning Technology Purchasing Program (ILTPP) has announced several updates to two of their most popular contracts. These updates will help your school or district blossom into new learning opportunities this spring and budget more effectively for the 21-22 school year.

Imagine Academy Included in Microsoft for Education Contract

First, ILTPP is excited to announce an upgrade to their current Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) Microsoft contract. Specifically, participants in these contracts can now look forward to accessing top-quality technology teaching and professional learning materials through Microsoft’s Imagine Academy program.

That’s because, going forward, all ILTPP ESS contract participants will receive access to Imagine Academy for FREE.

Through Imagine Academy, teachers can find lesson plans and other curricular materials that cover a wide range of subjects, from computer and data science to IT infrastructure and productivity. These materials are all aligned to current, in-demand tech industry certifications, ensuring that students walk away with career-ready skills.

Imagine Academy also provides educators access to Microsoft-specific certifications and other professional development resources that can help them stay at the top of their game. This includes the ability to add certification exam vouchers to an existing licensing agreement, thus reducing the cost of certification for both individuals and teams.

Interested in learning more about how you can utilize Imagine Academy through a new or existing ESS Microsoft contract? Check out ILTPP’s new blog post for more information.

Upcoming Price Increase for Google Chrome Management Licenses

Last year, Google announced that it would be increasing the price of its Chrome Management license. Though this price hike has been delayed until March 9, 2021, ILTPP wants to remind districts to plan ahead when it comes to edtech budgeting for the 21-22 school year.

As before, ILTPP members will continue to receive a discount on these licenses. However, this price increase will result in a noticeable change in per license costs, even with the discount.

New licenses may be purchased prior to this increase, but they must be invoiced before March 9. To learn more about this fee increase, visit ILTPP’s website.

Always Prepared to Meet Your EdTech Purchasing Needs

Whether you’re looking for great pricing on edtech hardware or software, ILTPP has you covered with its vast catalogue of pre-negotiated contracts. Schools and districts across Illinois can save time and money by utilizing ILTPP’s competitive pricing options on everything from Chromebooks and wi-fi hotspots to cybersecurity and LMS software.

Most importantly, ILTPP is FREE to join. To learn more about ILTPP and the benefits of membership, visit their website or contact the ILTPP team at


The Illinois Learning Technology Purchase Program (ILTPP) is a statewide cooperative of Illinois educational entities that aggregate buying power and expertise to procure technology products and services from quality vendor partners while providing valued communication and collaboration.

ILTPP is an initiative of the Learning Technology Center (LTC) and contributes to the LTC’s mission of building statewide capacity for educational change through technology-related professional learning, programs, initiatives, and support.