A Message from Lumen Touch

To Our Valued Partners:

There is a Chinese curse that says “May he live in interesting times.” Well, while we are being bombarded with recommendations and advice, it is also a good time to take stock of where we are and where we want to go. There is no doubt we are in interesting times, and the great news is that this too will pass. Now, without appearing brash at first blush, we can be comforted by the outreach of our family, partners, and friends – and not only express all our gratitudes but also share them. Gratitudes are forms of daily reparation that help us move to higher levels of commitment, fortitude, and leadership. Leadership is being exhibited at all levels, and each one of us should reflect on how we are leading in our little ecospheres to move to a level of higher order.

There are 3 major traits of great leadership, especially in times of disruption that we should embrace:

  • Take care of your people
  • Be transparent, trusting and forthcoming
  • Bring the future into the now

At Lumen Touch, we embrace these tenets and embrace our partners as our people in several state departments of education, our Kansas City community and in your communities. We reflect on our vision and mission and determine if these survive the stress test we are facing.

It is in times of duress and challenge that coming together builds greatness and pulls us through the tribulations. Many of our “clients” have been consulting with us on various matters that gives us the feeling of a true partnership, where their concerns become our concerns. In many cases, we are able to assist them in finding solutions that were not apparent – it was the communal think that brought about the solution and in many cases was mutually beneficial. To encourage and catalyze these learning opportunities, we will be distributing a series of informational emails and conducting webinars to create a new norm. Let’s face it, life will not be the same now or hereafter.

Lumen Touch has always been proud of disseminating good leadership practices and creating leading edge technology to address this and many other situations. We do this in tandem with you through the cooperative that has been fostered that we believe will make us an influential player in the world of education. Many of you have been our partners in excess of 10 years for which we are extremely grateful and your confidence in us allows us to create a better future that is symbiotic. Rather than wallow in the directives that are coming from all directions, we are being highly responsive and are choosing the high road to a new paradigm for education. We believe that we are perfectly poised to take on the changes of a redesigned education system that is not only accelerated by the current time but also through the technology in our world of learning and education. We are stooped in The Age of Agility which demands of us to be flexible in every corner of society to meet the demands of the future. We are being pushed to redesign education and move to a new model and unfortunately, we sometimes require a nudge from a crisis to create the urgency for change and a new future. For many of you that were visionary in your design thinking and planning, the situation you are in will have less impact on your students than those that have been a little less proactive. Our purpose is to rise up to the occasion and move up in the interests of all our students and their support teams.

To keep with our purpose, we are providing you with opportunities to stay abreast and move ahead. We would love this to be interactive and would like to hear your suggestions on what else we can do to assist you in moving beyond the challenges in our midst.

First up, “How Bright STUDENT enhances our capabilities for remote and project-based learning.” We will be alerting you through these Lumen Touch Points on your new journey.

Bright STUDENT has the same capabilities when used remotely as it does at the school.   This empowers the school staff, students and parents the ability to interact with each other in a new learning environment that accommodates this emergency situation and perhaps creates a confidence that respects a different model for our future.

Bright STUDENT was designed to be a flexible system that allows for many ways to accomplish different tasks and better outcomes.  An example of this would be the various AMI (Alternative Methods of Instruction) rules the States have or are in the process of implementing.  When Missouri implements their AMI rules, our teachers should be able to track their AMI attendance by the school adjusting a few settings in the existing attendance setup.  We expect the other States to have a similar experience.

TOUCH POINT 1 – CHAT SESSIONS WITH STUDENTS AND PARENTS

Teachers in our system have the ability to see if a student or parent is on-line and initiate a chat session with them.  This gives the teacher the ability to interact with and quickly check the status of the student.  Teachers also are also able to create assignments that have their content delivered electronically through our system.  This electronic delivery can take a variety of forms.  It can be as simple as resources such as a PDF or Word document attached to the assignment or all the way to interactive on-line assessments graded by the system.

Click here for detailed examples and instructions.

TOUCH POINT 2 – MAINTAINING STAFF CONTACT 

Principals, secretaries, and other staff have the ability to interact with the system just as they would at the school or in the district.

As long as the users have access to the internet, they should have access to their Lumen Touch platform.  For users that do not currently have an internet connection at home, there are a number of programs available from the major internet providers.  Below are a few example:

Comcast: https://www.internetessentials.com/

Spectrum: https://www.spectrum.com/browse/content/spectrum-internet-assist

AT&T: https://www.att.com/shop/internet/access/

As we continue to learn more about State and Federal expectations, we will be updating and adjusting our processes.

In the meantime, click here to see what webinars are currently scheduled.

Together, we will continue to connect all students to opportunities!

-Your Lumen Touch Team

The Future of Education

For the past few weeks, our team has been busy attending some of the largest education conferences in our area, including the 2020 KASEA Winter Conference and Kansans Can 2020. While there are some challenges facing the education industry that are being complicated by the coronavirus, these conferences left us inspired about what the future of education will look like.

Why These Conferences Matter

Gathering with fellow educators, solutions providers, and decision makers gives us all a chance to share ideas and learn from each other. This year’s conferences were focused on student success, the evolution of education, and developing a world-class education standard in Kansas that can serve as a template to districts throughout the country.

The Kansans Can and Do! Symposium, co-sponsored by the Kansas State Department of Education and the Kansas Association of Education Service Agencies was, “designed to assist administrators, administrative teams, and school leaders with the process of implementing the Kansans Can initiative. All symposium presentations, guided discussions, and collaboration time [focused] on facilitating high levels of conversation.”

The Kansas Association of Special Education Administrators (KASEA) Winter Conference theme was “Fostering Success.” KASEA realizes that leaders in education “strive to create an environment that leads toward the success of all students, teachers, and leaders in our organization.”

Educators Are All In

Every educator we saw, spoke to, or listened to had one thing in common: They are committed to providing the best possible education to students and are willing to embrace the solutions and technologies that will benefit their students, free teachers to engage more concretely with students, and stretch their budgets so that they can do more for their students. Everywhere we turned, there was a focus on the importance of STEM – and more importantly, STEAM education

It Takes a Village

Giving our students in this country the education they need and deserve really does take all of us – from parents and teachers to administrators and legislators. Everyone must work together to create a generation of engaged learners. Lumen Touch is committed to being a part of the evolution of education in Kansas and throughout the country.

At Lumen Touch, we know that there are no simple answers to solving the big challenges that face schools. But there are changes that can make a difference. To learn more about how Lumen Touch can help your school with our all-in-one solution, get in touch.

2020 Is Going to Be BRIGHT

“For students whose networking and guidance alternatives are limited or altogether nonexistent, EdTech that connects students to online experts, mentors, and peers is revolutionary.”

– Julia Freeland Fisher, author of Who You Know: Unlocking Innovations That Expand Students’ Network

As we continue to progress into this new decade, there is so much to be hopeful for. We have seen examples around the world of what happens when we let our students believe in their own capabilities, when we encourage innovation. From Greta Thunberg and Luisa Neubauer to Bruno Rodriguez and Autumn Peltier, we are seeing innovation in action from young people around the world. Will your students be next? In order to foster innovation in your students, you must first foster connection.

Fostering Connection

Students are inspired by example, but they are strengthened by connection. The Christensen Institute has spent the past decade studying the impact of EdTech on schools and learning and have demonstrated that a child’s network – the people they have in their lives – is incredibly important to their overall ability to achieve, so much so that students who don’t have adequate resources in their families and communities are left behind.

EdTech Provides Connection

Where there is a lack of network in communities and families, and to complement what network there is, a growing body of research is revealing that EdTech holds the key. More than just the school itself – which is burdened with budget and staffing issues all the time – EdTech within the school can provide a connection for students to the outside world that is deep, formative, and powerful.

In The next decade of disruption in education? Unlocking networks, Julia Freeland Fisher writes:

We are ushering in a new decade of innovation that is still powered by technology but offers a different value proposition. This new wave has less to do with just transforming how students learn, and instead has the potential to revolutionize how they connect—to experts, mentors, and peers. That’s a crucial distinction. These innovations are offering connections in circumstances where students lack access to relationships. They are opening up new channels to help students accrue what sociologists and economists call social capital—that is, the value contained in our networks. And over time, they stand to disrupt the boundaries that time and geography have long held on students’ networks.

The Lumen Touch Difference

One of the most valuable components of Lumen Touch is Bright Success™. Bright Success is a state-of-the-art, web-based software solution that allows students, counselors, administrators, and mentors to collaborate on an integrated platform and guide students towards career and or college success. This powerful solution manages the interactions, goals, projects, communications, and accomplishments of students as they are safely and systematically guided by their mentors toward long-term achievement. Through it, students can:

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  • Connect with colleges and career resources
  • Track progress toward established goals
  • Connect students and mentors

The system provides students, faculty, mentors, and parents a safe, monitored, and secure communication platform. Connecting is crucial to learning and to innovation. Bright Success provides a safe way for students to strengthen their networks. We invite you to learn more about Bright Success™ and Lumen Touch’s all-in-one solution.

Decreasing Teacher Attrition with Bright Learning

Admittedly, the path for teachers has never been an easy one. And with tight budgets and larger class sizes, teacher attrition is at an all-time high. Losing talented teachers places an enormous burden on those school districts that are forced to cobble together enough staff to meet the needs of the students. At Lumen Touch, we believe that the right technology can help districts retain talented teachers by giving them tools that allow them to meet instructional mandates without losing touch with what got them into teaching in the first place: having a positive impact in the lives of children.

The Problem

Over the last decade, as budgets have tightened, teacher pay in many schools has stagnated. At the same time, new mandates are now in place that require teachers to spend more time working. This has resulted in the highest number of teachers quitting since the Department of Labor started measuring the sector in 2001.

The Solution

A multi-pronged approach to solving the teacher shortage is required. Clearly, states must prioritize education in their budgets, but that has been and will continue to be an ongoing fight. In the interim, districts must do what they can to minimize the impact on teachers. One way to do this is by finding ways to stretch their school budgets – through grants and strong community volunteer programs, for example. Another way to help is by integrating technology that reduces the workload for teachers. For most teachers, stress and long hours are as much the cause for them leaving the profession as is the pay lag.

Bright Learning™ Empowers Teachers

Bright Learning is a powerful resource that puts teachers back in control of meeting standards, by aligning student achievement and standards-based grading. The system gives teachers a “command center” from which they can map standards to curriculum, assess students, and evaluate progress easily and simply. With an integrated gradebook and lesson planner, teachers save time, aggravation, and stress while better meeting mandates – and having more class time to truly engage with students on a more personal level.

At Lumen Touch, we know that there are no simple answers to solving the big challenges that face educators. But there are changes that can make a difference. Bright Learning is one such change. To learn more, get in touch.

EdTech and Security Risks

Vulnerabilities and risks are inherent in all technologies. And while the increasing use of tech in the education sphere is a huge benefit for all, it isn’t without its share of issues.

Apps and IT

Many of the apps that are used by students and teachers to access their school information may not be properly vetted or controlled by district IT departments. That may leave doors open for criminal activity. A student or staff member may log into an account from multiple devices, or login at a coffee shop or on an unsecure network. Those instances in themselves are risks to data, but they also force us to pose the question of what to do about so-called shadow apps that are accessing the networks. 

The answer is Lumen Touch.

Lumen Touch software runs on a Linux operating system that is remotely managed by Lumen Touch. We maintain the updates and configurations of all services. We follow industry best practices for the services provided. Isolation of risk and standardization are core principals we use when determining the design and configurations of our services. We work under the assumption that all networks are potentially hostile. This includes other servers in the local network and clients’ servers across the web. 

Criminal Activity and EdTech

Schools have become the second-most sought-after organizations for cyberattacks. The demand on school IT departments to manage school technology has nearly doubled from five years ago. Networks, devices, and apps all require extensive management and monitoring, and the complexities in doing so are growing. Ransomware is an emergent and easy way for criminals to gain access to schools, especially when many people are using many different network devices. In addition, there have been state and federal responses to cyberattacks in schools, due to the nature of the information they collect – information that could have a large negative impact on students and their families. Phishing schemes are a common vulnerability in schools. When students or staff members click on suspicious links, they are opening their system to risks.

Lumen Touch hosting employs full-disk encryption and a server image created from scratch by Lumen Touch. This allows us to have full end-to-end encryption of client data, both in transit and at rest. Lumen Touch also manages backups and disaster recovery for you. Whether we host your site, or even if you have a server on-site, we perform daily encrypted backups that are stored off-site in another region of the United States. This gives us the flexibility to handle data restores for your site in the event of user error or catastrophic hardware failure. These restores can occur on your existing site, if applicable, or placed into a Lumen Touch hosted site.

Managing the risks associated with EdTech is a must for school districts. Lumen Touch is committed to ensuring student data security by providing remote monitoring of your site 24/7/365. On average, we track 160 data points per site that help us identify potential issues before they affect clients.

EdTech is the future of education, but technology without responsibility is dangerous. Lumen Touch considers student safety and data security with everything we do. At Lumen Touch, we are proud of our team that is driving excellence in education. We’d love to talk to you about how we can help support your school! Get in touch.

Students + Tech = Better Communities

Schools today have an amazing opportunity to shape learning through technology. And it’s a well-cited fact that a large percentage of future jobs have yet to be created – meaning teachers have both an easier and a harder job than ever preparing students for this obscure future. But how does technology help students?

Access

Technology in schools can help level the playing field among students. We know that students who have early access to literacy building blocks come to school better prepared to learn. So, the kids who do not have access to those building blocks are already experiencing a gap in knowledge. Technology can help bridge that gap for students who do not have access to those sources of early learning. Using evidenced-based programs in the classroom and providing access to technology that parents can use at home are just a few ways that benefit students.

The Lumen Touch solution: Bright Learning™ is a comprehensive, integrated district curriculum and learning management system, which allows districts to map objectives and skills to student learning activities and assess student mastery on a continual basis. Bright Learning is an all-in-one solution, which manages curriculum, instruction, assessment, and grading. Our system allows teachers to create and share learning activities with other instructors and districts from across the country.

Differentiated Learning and Accessibility

We all know that there are kids who are below grade level and need more support, kids who are at  grade level and need to just keep on chugging, and kids who are above grade level and need a challenge. Each of these students, using EdTech that helps individualize education, can find the support, structure, and challenge they need in school. Technology also has the power to help the kids in SPED programs who need additional educational support. EdTech can make it easier for differently abled students to learn, by delivering lessons with enlarged text, providing text-to-speech abilities, and using other technical tools to help students overcome physical barriers in order to achieve educational outcomes. Technology empowers students across levels to be owners of their education, and to love the challenge because they know they can realize a sense of accomplishment.

The Lumen Touch solution: Bright SPED™ provides schools with a comprehensive, timesaving, web-based tool for special education programs. It is designed to address the complexities and changing dynamics of special education reporting. Bright SPED provides functionality through a data-driven infrastructure which does not rely on forms processing. This significant difference is one of the aspects that allows Bright SPED to meet federal and state compliance modifications in a timely way.

Key Skills

There are some key skills that students must develop if they are going to face a market of newly created jobs: problem solving, critical thinking, the ability to see a challenge from multiple perspectives, data synthesis, and more. The use of technology in the classroom can aid students in learning these skills in a variety of ways in all grade levels. EdTech prepares students to be great community builders.

The Lumen Touch solution: Bright Success™ is a state-of-the-art, web-based software solution that allows students, counselors, administrators, and mentors to collaborate using an integrated platform to guide students towards career and college success. This powerful solution manages the interactions, goals, projects, communications, and accomplishments of students as they are safely and systematically guided by their mentors toward long-term achievement.

Teacher Development

EdTech is only as good as the teachers who provide the human element so necessary in teaching our children. As administrators, one of the biggest jobs you have is supporting and caring for the teachers in your classrooms. From providing them with the tools that give them more time and energy to spend with their students to helping them fulfill their own career goals, technology is there to help teachers, too.

The Lumen Touch solution: Bright Path™ connects all educators to dynamic learning opportunities with highly effective learning programs that help streamline professional development for all members of your team. Bright Path offers customizable courses and units of study to fit the needs of leaders, teachers, support staff, and communities. Professional development has never been so easy to differentiate! Save time and energy by letting Bright Path do the monitoring of learning and sharing of the content.

Kids today are hardwired to understand and use technology. From educational fundamentals through literacy apps, to high school students using the latest software to solve a community problem, technology can be used to give students the tools that help them take ownership of their education and thrive in their educational settings. And for whatever they need, Lumen Touch has the solution.

Your Teachers Have EdTech – Now What?

With so many schools moving to incorporate technology into the classroom, whether by desire or state mandate, districts are searching for ways to support their teachers as they learn to utilize the technology. Supporting teachers requires a comprehensive approach – you can’t just buy software, install it on a teacher’s computer, and say go. Using a model can help teachers gain insight into how they can successfully incorporate the technology into their instruction. One widely used model is SAMR, which stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition. While this model helps teachers integrate technology, it also allows for a student-first thought process. Another model that is commonly used is called technological pedagogical content knowledge or TPACK

Supporting Teachers

Beyond providing a framework through which teachers can learn to incorporate technology, school administrators must also address the time and resources needed to fully understand and engage with the technology. Technology should be a tool and not another to-do for teachers. Teachers should not merely be a part of the team choosing those EdTech resources that will be beneficial. Administrators should support teachers with professional development, an IT support team, and in-school support, such as a designated mentor or onsite IT coach.

Benefits of EdTech for Teachers

The benefits of EdTech for teachers in the classroom are numerous. One of the benefits is the ability to use technology to help differentiate instruction for students. The ability to collect and analyze data about student performance also helps teachers more readily support individual students. Engaging students is often easier with technology, especially in this age of digital natives. The rise of students who need a classroom that is flexible and more engaging means that students are better able to use their learning capabilities to accomplish new things. 

Students today are surrounded by technology almost from the day they are born. Utilizing it in the classroom is essential. School administrators can support teachers by choosing technology that provides the support, training, and tools that make technology lift the burden on teachers, not add to it.

The Lumen Touch Difference

We like to position ourselves as members of a school district’s team rather than purveyors of technology. We offer an all-in-one EdTech solution that saves time and money while improving efficiency and collaboration. We provide comprehensive training and train-the-trainer training to ensure every school has onsite support. We are committed to our schools and districts and can work with schools to assist with planning, grant writing, organization improvement, instruction design, leadership development, technology planning, and more. We provide ongoing support to teachers and schools using any or all of our modules, and we are very strongly focused on customer loyalty.

At Lumen Touch, we are proud of our team that is driving excellence in education. Please get in touch if you are interested in learning more.