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During the COVID-19 pandemic, Elizabethton City Schools purchased Chromebooks with their ESSER funds so that all learners could be 1:1. With that new technology, students could continue learning at home — but staff quickly realized they had an online learning distraction issue.
Phil Ledford, Instructional Technology Coordinator for Elizabethton High School, explained, “Students were able to access just about anything they wanted during instruction time. This created a huge distraction problem.”
Exactly the right tool their school system needed
Elizabethton City Schools in Tennessee includes over 2,500 learners at one high school, one junior high, three elementary schools and an early learning center. According to the school district, they are named an Exemplary District, they have a 99.5% graduation rate and 62% of seniors earn a 3.0 or higher grade-point average.
The Elizabethton City Schools team wanted learning to continue without further disruptions and worked quickly to find an answer. Phil Ledford consulted with other school systems about what Elizabethton could do to resolve the distraction issue.
The school systems recommended the same platform. “Are you using Hāpara?”
Phil began looking into Hāpara and realized it would allow their school system to create seamless learning experiences. “Sure enough it was exactly the right tool that we needed in our school system for our students.”
Hāpara offers classroom management software that organizes teaching and learning in Google Workspace. The suite of Hāpara tools helps your school district motivate and focus learners, teach digital citizenship skills and keep learners safe — remotely or in person.
Giving teachers the ability to easily manage learners’ focus
The Hāpara tool that solved Elizabethton City Schools’ online learning distraction problem is Highlights. It is an ethical Chromebook monitoring tool that empowers teachers to develop learners’ digital citizenship skills.
Phil explained that Highlights “was able to not only let us monitor what our students were doing while they were using our devices during instructional time, but it also gave teachers the ability to focus and redirect students to keep them on task.”
“Before Hāpara things were just so difficult in terms of managing student focus.”
While Phil and his team looked to Hāpara to ensure that learners were engaged and focused during remote learning, the tools help during in-person instruction as well.
He explained that when a school gives a learner a Chromebook or other device, access to the internet makes it challenging for them to stay on task and complete assignments.
“It was very difficult for our teachers to make sure that our students were staying on task without literally having to go around and look over their shoulder all the time and redirect them that way,” said Phil.
Instead, with Highlights, teachers can quickly see whether or not students are engaged with learning activities. They can also send students instant messages with encouragement or digital citizenship reminders and set up guided browsing sessions to help learners focus.
Using technology to support mental wellness
Aside from using Highlights to teach learners how to avoid online learning distractions, Hāpara solved a number of other problems their school system faced.
Phil disclosed, “One, in particular, was the ability to tell when students are looking at things that could be, say, an alarm, maybe a warning sign. Students who might be doing a Google search for things like self-harm or depression or anxiety.”
Deledao ActiveScan, presented by Hāpara is the tool that helps their school team provide children and teens with the personalized mental wellness support they need. It is a K-12 web filter that uses AI to understand the context. It intelligently analyzes images, video and text in real-time and blurs or mutes inappropriate content.
On top of that, a mental wellness module can also be added so your team can be alerted and provide interventions.
“This gives our guidance counselors the ability to intervene and pull those students in and have those critical conversations with them so that, you know, they’re not just oblivious to those challenges that our students here are facing,” Phil explained.
Tools that make teaching and learning more meaningful
Elizabethton City Schools teachers also take advantage of Teacher Dashboard. Its “Share files” feature gives them the ability to push out information directly to learners, Phil pointed out. For example, if a learner can’t find a Google file assignment, their teacher can instantly share it directly with the learner, a group or the class.
Teacher Dashboard also makes it easy for teachers to view and open learners’ Google files and leave feedback — all from the same hub.
How do students use Hāpara? Student Dashboard organizes all of their learning and communications in one spot. It helps them develop executive functioning skills and stay on track.
Hāpara also offers Workspace, which allows educators to create engaging lessons, units or projects with differentiation and personalization. Additionally, your school district can take advantage of Digital Backpack, which helps you equitably distribute open educational resources and digital textbooks across schools.
Customer service that is second to none
Aside from the tools themselves, Phil has been impressed with the support from Hāpara. “The customer service that Hāpara offers is second to none. It’s unlike any other company that we’ve worked with.”
Phil also appreciates that the team is always quick to respond to any question that he has.
“I’ve told my teachers that I can email our representative at Hāpara, and we will get a response before lunch. It’s very, very, very fast.”
The setup was easy for Phil and the Elizabethton City Schools team as well. Through a video meeting, the Hāpara Support Team helped them quickly onboard their students and their devices.
Phil said that the setup “just took a few minutes.”
Overall, Phil would recommend Hāpara to any of his colleagues or anyone outside of the school system who is looking for an edtech product that can effectively monitor learners’ work and online behavior.
“This is definitely something that every school system has to have, especially if you are a 1:1 school. If your students are using Chromebooks or laptops for instructional purposes, and especially during instructional time, it is important to have something like this in place,” Phil emphasized.
“This is definitely one that you have to have to [create] a productive work environment for your students.”