Distance Learning May Be Less of a Sprint and More of an Endurance Run

California just announced that all California state universities would be delivering classes online for the fall semester. It is expected that the University of California system may follow suit and that other states, in turn, may follow their lead. As this verdict trickles down, we may find that more K-12 schools (especially middle schools and high schools) will also be put in a position where distance learning becomes the only safe way forward – at least for a while longer.

Another semester of distance learning isn’t necessarily great news for anyone: Teachers have missed engaging with their students; students have missed being with their friends and learning in an environment that supports them; moms and dads were ready for the kids to return to the classroom a few weeks ago.

In This Together

For more than two months, we’ve been sharing our thoughts about surviving the pandemic, providing you with tools and resources that make it easier to engage with your students from a distance. We even shared an inspiring  glimpse inside the world of one teacher who is rocking distance learning like she was born for it. But when we say we’re in this together, it’s not just lip service. We are here – whether it’s for a month or for six – to help support teachers, students, and parents through this longer-than-expected effort.

What You Can Expect from Lumen™ Touch

We have been working diligently to make sure the teachers and districts who use our Bright Learning™ solution have everything they need – including tech support – so that they can effectively use this powerful edtech to deliver instruction, manage grading and assessment, and engage with their students. Whether you’re working from home or heading back to school, we will continue to roll out updates based on the feedback we’ve received, to give you the functionality you need.

Video Software Integration that Meets Compliance Requirements

In the next few weeks, you’ll learn more about our latest effort to support teachers, students, and families. We are in the process of rolling out a video software platform for more interactive and dynamic communication between teachers and students. This integrated platform will also allow school administrators to better communicate with families, nurses to arrange a school telemedicine system, and special ed teachers to support their students remotely, as well as a variety of other applications. Unlike the risks with Zoom and Skype, this platform offers the necessary security required to maintain compliance with FERPA and HIPPA laws.

Visionary Look at the Future of Education

We are focusing on the new future of schools. In the coming weeks, we’ll begin sharing insight, from a national perspective, on what schools can look like in the future. It’s hard right now, but there is a great deal of opportunity for meaningful and significant change. And Lumen Touch is here to help ensure that schools are supported. Our team will be available to help you navigate any technology challenge you have, whether it’s using the software or experiencing issues with infrastructure.

Let us help you keep smiling and find hope and joy in every day. Here are some favorite stories from this week:

  • Students from the Class of 2020, most of whom are not having typical graduation ceremonies,were given a very special graduation celebration.
  • An Australian design company has created a maze for parks so that people can exercise, maintain social distance, and still get out of the house.
  • As farmers struggle, Kroger stepped in and bought 50,000 gallons of milk and donated it to local food banks.

Stay home, stay safe, stay strong. We’re here for you – even if you don’t know where your here will be yet.

Virtual Learning in a Time of Crisis with Bright Student

Ollie Puls is a geometry teacher and technology specialist at South Harrison School District in Bethany, MO. She has many years of experience providing instruction in a virtual setting and has benefitted from her forward-thinking school district that has encouraged their teachers to leverage online instruction tools for the past seven years. Ollie uses Bright Student to teach her geometry classes. So, when the pandemic sent everyone home for the year, not only was she able to continue supporting her students fully, but she was able to do so while suddenly being home with her 6-year-old twins. We spoke to Ollie about her experience using Lumen™ Touch; you can watch the video here.

Benefits of Using Lumen Touch for Distance Learning

Bright Learning™ is a comprehensive, integrated district curriculum and learning management system, which allows school 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.

Work-Life Balance

Before Lumen Touch, Ollie was spending about eight hours every Sunday grading papers. She would stay at work until 8 pm every night. She knows that, had she not discovered Lumen Touch and had the opportunity to revolutionize her instruction, she would not have been able to keep teaching once she had her twins.

Lesson Delivery

Ollie took the PowerPoint slides she was using in class, recorded video lectures to go with them and loaded them into Lumen Touch. Now her students get more time with their teacher. They can watch the lectures and have lessons delivered right to their laptops at their convenience, and then, when they come to class, they have time to ask questions, get clarification on confusing points, and have time to work on lessons. Teachers have control of how far ahead students are allowed to work.

Testing that Works for Teachers and Students

Ollie can load a test into Lumen Touch faster than she can go to the copy room and make copies of tests. Bright Student offers wide-ranging functionality, even with a course as complex as geometry, which requires the use of symbols and equations. Teachers can:

  • Set up a test or quiz so that students can check their answers and try again until they get them right (this option can also be toggled off for exams)
  • Allow more than one right answer
  • Have open-ended questions that require a written answer or essay response
  • Grade a test, then allow students to make corrections by toggling on the check-your-answer feature
  • Adjust grades with a quick review to allow for partial credit or corrections
  • Reuse tests and shuffle questions so that no two students are looking at the same questions at the same time

More Time to Support Students

Because the Lumen system does the heavy lifting on the grading and lesson delivery, the time teachers and students spend together (whether in the classroom or on Zoom or similar video conferencing platform) can be better spent working to improve the students’ understanding and capabilities. Teachers get more one-on-one time with students and can better individualize instruction to support each student.

Less Stress, Even During a Crisis

For teachers using Bright Student, who already have tests and lessons loaded, shifting to distance learning does not require anything more than setting up one-on-one meetings with students, to check on their progress. The stress level is lower; the students can continue their work without experiencing a major disruption, and the teachers have time to provide needed support. Parents aren’t having to step in and do the teaching.

Lumen Touch 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 distance learning. Bright Learning was designed to be a flexible system that allows for many ways of accomplishing different tasks and achieving better outcomes – even when school is canceled, and everyone is learning from home.

At Lumen Touch, our goal is to support schools, teachers, and students. We focus on improving the learning opportunities for children, demonstrating measurable outcomes. Learn more.

Supporting Students and Teachers through Challenging Times

Look at any teacher’s social media posts and you’ll encounter an emotional journey:

  • Sadness from having to temporarily say goodbye to students
  • Frustration over having to quickly adapt lessons to an online environment
  • Fear for the safety and health of their students and colleagues
  • Desperation to get technology to function properly
  • Melancholy at the realization that students may not be returning to the classroom this year

Not every school district has cancelled classes for the year; some are reassessing every two weeks, but the likelihood of most students finishing the school year from home is high. But as Dr. Brad Johnson recently tweeted, “Schools, remember this is not the new normal. This is just surviving a crisis. You don’t build a new home in a storm, you weather the storm and then regroup once it’s over.”

When the Going Gets Tough, We’re Stronger Together

As difficult as this has been for educators and students alike, we’ve been heartened at seeing the incredible strength demonstrated by members of our education community as they come together and support each other. From sharing lesson ideas and supporting each other online to making sure school children are still fed a nutritious breakfast and lunch to sharing moments of humor to help us all get through, the education community has never been more committed to each other and to their students and parents. We’re hearing stories about school districts handing out laptops and hotspots to ensure every student has access to online learning, EdTech companies offering their services for free, and so many resources being provided to help families and schools cope.

Surviving the Stay-at-Home Order

Whether you’re a parent learning core curriculum for the first time so you can help your child with their studies or you’re a teacher who is repurposing assignments to adapt them for distance learning, you are not in this alone. We’ve rounded up some great resources to help.

Screen time. Parents, relax. As with everything, moderation is key, but according to a review of the research,  the evidence linking screens to harm is, in reality, paper thin.

Adapting lessons. This guide can help teachers stay engaged with students and adjust lessons.

More resources. WeAreTeachers has put together an exhaustive list of resources for teachers and students.

Lumen Touch Is Here to Support You

The Bright SPED™ system will continue to support communication among staff and student teams, as well as the development of progress reports, IEP forms, and associated documentation. Bright SPED is a multi-user system, allowing your team to work together on an individual record at the same time. We are also adding a parent portal.

Bright Student™ has the same capabilities when used remotely as it does in the school.  This empowers the school staff, students, and parents, providing them with 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.

We are holding a variety of webinars to help. You can schedule here.

We will get through this. We are stronger together. Stay home, stay safe, and let us know how we can be of service to you.

Bright SPED: Addressing ALL Student Needs During Uncertain Times

We know that many of you are busy making plans to support all students during these uncertain times in our community and want you to know that we are here for you! We have been diligently following both federal and state updates as they are being released and will be making any adjustments to reporting requirements if necessary.

Special Students Still Need Support

Your Bright SPED system will continue to support communication with staff and student teams, progress reports, and IEP forms and documentation. Bright SPED is a multi-user system, allowing your team to work together on an individual record at the same time (but not on the same field).  Lumen Messenger and Case Notes create a space to have constant communication between team members. Since Bright SPED is a true, data driven system, all information is updated in real time. Electronic signatures within the system can be very helpful for the signing of your forms and for your participants meeting virtually.  Access to your site is available on any device, anywhere.

If you would like to know more on how your system can help you during these ‘virtual’ times, please feel free to register for an overview here.

We are also busy making updates to include a Bright SPED Parent Portal for districts to share with their parents.  This will allow for documentation to be shared and signed virtually, to ease virtual meetings and document processing.  Be on the lookout for these features in the next week.

We will be closely monitoring all updates and notifications from both federal and state officials.  If you have any questions or need any assistance, please never hesitate to reach out to us at help@lumentouch.com.

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.

Putting Teachers on the Bright Path to Success

In any industry, employee retention is both a challenge and a necessity. When we’re talking about the professionals who mold the minds of the future doctors, lawyers, and leaders of this country, retention becomes a mandate. And as with every industry, one way to improve teacher retention is to give them the tools they need – to teach more effectively, to be more impactful with special populations, and to grow professionally. Bright Path™ by Lumen Touch is a professional development program specifically designed for personalized teacher professional development.

What Is Bright Path?

Bright Path connects educators to dynamic learning opportunities with highly effective learning programs that help streamline professional development. By offering customizable courses and units of study to fit the learning needs of leaders, teachers, and support staff, professional development has never been so easy. As educator professional training and advancement through micro-credentialing gains momentum, Bright Path provides the sophisticated solution school administrators need to improve retention rates. Bright Path provides:

  • Just-in-time learning, anywhere, anytime
  • Proven best practices for instructors
  • One-stop shop for all members of the education community
  • Easily monitor learning progress of content
  • Streamline all professional development
  • Résumé builder, providing micro-credentialing through Master Teacher
  • Free, innovative global content

Teacher Retention and Attraction

Offering professional development opportunities not only helps you retain the teachers you hire but it also can be used to attract higher quality teachers to your district. Teaching is a difficult job, and most people who go into the profession do so because of their passion for education. Providing professional development opportunities makes teachers feel valued and supported in their desired vocation.

Improved Outcomes for Students

Teaching is not a static profession. There are always new things to learn, both in the subject matter being taught and in educational approaches. Providing professional development to teachers that deepens their subject knowledge and empowers them with the tools they need to better engage and instruct students has a measurable impact on student achievement.

The Benefits of Teacher Professional Development

When school leaders invest in teacher professional development, they end up with better teachers who stay longer and are more satisfied with their jobs. This, in turn, translates to a more well-educated student body, increased satisfaction with the school from the entire community, and many other positive outcomes. Bright Path is the place to start to improve teacher professional development opportunities. For more information, email us at sales@lumentouch.com, call us at 816.880.0066, or visit www.lumentouch.com.

Bright Care: Empowering Schools to Manage Student Health More Effectively

Lumen Touch CEO, Dr. John Vandewalle, was recently a panel speaker for a GG4L-hosted webinar about the role EdTech plays in physical health and wellness with regard to making schools safer. Among the topics discussed during the webinar was the struggle schools face in managing absenteeism and chronic health issues, such as asthma and allergies. You can listen to the webinar here.

Effective Student Health Center Management Is the Cornerstone of Success in Every School

Student Health Centers (SHCs) play a significant role in the management of physical health and wellness for students. Whether you’re communicating with parents and community members, school board members, teachers, or the students themselves, having the ability to manage students’ health can reduce chronic absenteeism and missed class times. Lumen Touch provides support for SHCs with the Bright Care™ student medical health management system.

What Is Bright Care™?

Bright Care is a comprehensive student medical record management system that provides immediate and historical information. It can be implemented as a standalone process or as part of Bright Student™. Some system features include:

  • Medication inventory
  • Daily medications schedule
  • Student medication chart (dosage and expiration dates)
  • Customizable school screenings, which include mass screenings
  • BMI and physicals that can be linked to extracurricular activity groups

One of the ways in which Bright Care comes into play is when a student is getting lunch in the cafeteria. The system can be set up to monitor what the student chooses to eat, trigger an alert if they choose something that they are allergic to, and prevent them from checking out that item. It can also communicate to teachers, alerting them about peanut allergies in the classroom so that they can plan accordingly for school parties and classroom snacks. Our solutions go beyond just communication, however.

Using Student Data to Reduce Absenteeism

One of the large school districts with whom Lumen Touch works had a significant absenteeism rate. By analyzing student data for absences, we discovered that a large percentage of absences were due to the school not having a comprehensive treatment protocol for students who had asthma. By working with the school and local medical providers, we were able to significantly reduce that absenteeism rate.

At the End of the Day, It’s About Efficiency

Schools are charged with the most daunting of tasks: to provide for the education, safety, and wellness of the students in their communities. This can be overwhelming, and while there is a lot of data available, the power comes from being able to leverage that data effectively to save time, save money, and make better, more well-informed decisions that benefit teachers, students, and the community at large.

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. Bright Care is part of our Bright Student package and a powerful tool for schools. To learn more, 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.