3 Modern Challenges Facing District IT Leaders

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With the rise of innovations such as generative AI, IT leaders face increasingly complex challenges in the effort to protect student safety and digital wellbeing.

During a recent webinar presentation sponsored by Linewize, Logan Joiner, Network Analyst for Richland School District in Washington, and Terrisa Reeves, Territory Directory for Linewize, discussed exploring practical solutions and empowering IT teams for success in the evolving world of edtech.

The discussion delved into how IT leaders can address challenges including the need for granularity in filtering, parental concerns and support, and the impact of generative AI tools to student safety.

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Key Takeaways

Currently, K-12 IT leaders everywhere are being asked to meet a host of increasingly complex challenges in the effort to protect student safety and digital wellbeing.

“One challenge we all face today is the capacity of our technology to address these growing needs,” said Reeves.

In particular, Reeves said that three challenges IT leaders are facing include:

1. Granularity and flexibility in filtering - In this area of challenge, Reeves cited new sites popping up everyday, VPNs and proxies, legacy URL filtering, and filtering distractors as a few key pain points.

“It’s like Whack-a-mole to keep up with students who are using VPNs and proxies to get around filters,” said Reeves.

Joiner discussed how much of his day is spent monitoring Linewize for these situations, and then using the tools at his disposal to handle any issues.

“We’re allowing parents to be involved, but we’re enabling districts to manage the process,” said Reeves.

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2. Parental engagement & partnership - “Our parents are seeking to be more active and have more control over what their children are accessing online,” said Reeves. “We want to put safeguards in place.”

Reeves noted that within this area, the focus is on involving parents/guardians in keeping students safe online, parents actively wanting support from schools, and how schools are seeking better ways to communicate with parents.

“It’s as simple as parents want to know,” said Joiner, who added that he and his team worked with Linewize to build a great communication plan for connecting with families.

3. The rise of generative AI - “Districts across the country are taking different stances on how they’re managing generative AI,” said Reeves, noting that the main challenges are striking a balance with AI, understanding that not all AI tools are the same, and exploring the need for AI strategy.

Logan discussed how his district only allows AI at the high school level, noting that teachers can use Linewize tools to block AI as they see fit. “Our district goal is to build good digital citizenship with students and teach them how to use tools the right way,” he said.

Reeves and Joiner then discussed the full Linewize ecosystem of digital school safety tools.

The Linewize ecosystem

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For more information, visit Linewize.

Ray Bendici is the Managing Editor of Tech & Learning and Tech & Learning University. He is an award-winning journalist/editor, with more than 20 years of experience, including a specific focus on education.