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It's working: BPS successfully transforms to online learning

April 3, 2020

By Matt Reed

BPS Headlines

 

Remote instruction is working in Brevard County -- and growing, log-in by log-in.

 

With coronavirus spreading and fewer than three weeks to prepare, Brevard Public Schools relaunched itself Monday March 30 as a virtual school district.

 

Through laptop computers, the internet, and mobile phones, about 4,500 BPS teachers are working from home, posting lessons aligned with state standards, assigning homework, and communicating with students they had taught face-to-face in classrooms before spring break. 

 

Day one was full of challenges, including a rush of students who created a digital bottleneck in the district’s computer system for resetting forgotten passwords. But by Friday April 3, about 60,000 students per day were successfully logging into the online Focus platform and ClassLink student Launchpad, clicking the “I’m here” attendance button -- and learning. 

 

“People are doing amazing things with technology that may have been outside their comfort zones before,” said Russell Cheatham, BPS Chief Information Officer.

 

Data tracked by the district’s Educational Technology division revealed encouraging trends and new insights over the first week of remote instruction:

 

Strong ‘attendance’ online

By day two, Tuesday, BPS recorded about 59,000 unique student log-ins to the remote-learning system, up by about 1,000 from the day before.  To put that into perspective, BPS has about 66,000 students enrolled in its elementary and secondary schools.

 

By Friday, about 90 percent of BPS students were logging into the online system daily.

 

That percentage doesn’t reflect students who are working with paper packets as accommodations for special needs or for lack of any reliable way to connect online.

 

When students learn at home

One-third of all Brevard students who log-into the ClassLink student “launchpad” for remote instruction do so between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. -- hours after class would normally be in session. 

 

This data seems to reinforce BPS’ decision to not attempt “live” classes via teleconference at specific times.

 

The numbers of student log-ins per hour, as reported by Educational Technology Wednesday:

 

·         4-5 p.m. –  7,000

·         5-6 p.m. –  5,700

·         7-8 p.m. –  2,500

·         8-9 p.m. –  3,700

 

Borrowed devices

BPS expected to lend up to 15,000 school-owned laptops to students in need by Friday’s cutoff. 

 

With help from corporate donors, BPS also has purchased and issued about 2,200 internet “hotspots” to students who had no internet service at home. 

 

The BPS computers contain software that let the district track when they log into the remote-instruction system.

 

On the very first day of remote instruction, more than 11,500 student log-ins came from the BPS-issued devices.

 

Most-used software

 

BPS also can monitor what portals, platforms and software students are using.  The most used so far, ranked:

 

1. Microsoft tools such as Word

2. ClassLink (Launchpad)

3. Focus

4. Google tools such as Docs

 

"We anticipated bumps -- students needing passwords and that sort of thing -- but we worked through those," BPS Superintendent Mark Mullins said in an interview with News 6.  "We recognize that this is a new way of work. This is a new experience for all of us."