In the spring of 2020, leaders at Fulton County Schools in Georgia faced the massive feat of shifting 94,000 students and 7,500 teachers to remote learning amid a global pandemic. Determined to maintain their commitments to teaching and learning, Dr. Emily Bell, the district's Chief Information Officer, says they delivered devices, Wi-Fi, support, and, most importantly—access to learning.
"There was never an option to just do nothing. So, we began engaging right away, and we remain engaged," says Bell. As she explains, ClassLink's SSO and Analytics were critical in facilitating that engagement.
The district issued over 60,000 devices and 4,500 Wi-Fi hotspots to students and quickly shifted to digital learning. With ClassLink's Single Sign-On platform already in place, Bell says they didn't have to worry about access issues. Teachers, students, and parents could quickly and easily access lessons, content, apps, and programs in one place with just one username and password.
"Single sign-on is an important element in our success, whether we are in school or in a time of remote learning," says Bell. "A district our size just simply has to have a single sign-on platform to achieve great results and have efficiency. So, for us, ClassLink was the standard operating procedure, whether we're in school or out of school."
Ritu Ahuja Principal of Northwood Elementary School says making the transition to remote learning was seamless. Schools like Northwood provide technology training that includes ClassLink twice a year, so both students and parents were already familiar with ClassLink.
As remote learning forged ahead, the district rolled out learning expectations to keep students engaged and on-track. Bell says ClassLink helped track that engagement and learning.
"ClassLink became very important in terms of inspecting what we expected," she explains. "Teachers used ClassLink Analytics to monitor student engagement, how much time they were spending in an application, and how many times they logged into it."
In their feedback to the district, principals and teachers said they were delighted to have detailed, easy-to-understand engagement data at their fingertips. Bell reports teachers were particularly relieved to have data that gave them a clear view of which students were engaging with digital lessons, which weren't, and which tools they used most often.
"Teachers were thrown into remote learning and didn't really know what their students were doing," says Bell. "ClassLink Analytics gave them such an aha moment. They felt like, 'Okay, now I can really see what's going on!' That data helped inform their decisions and inform learning and teaching."
Many teachers also used that data to reach out to the families of students who hadn't logged in to ClassLink to ask if they needed support, access to the Internet, or a device.
While the unexpected shift to remote learning was challenging, Bell says it was an opportunity to grow and move forward with digital learning.
"My absolute hope, as a lifelong educator and education technologist, is that remote learning is never weird again. It's never an opportunity to wonder, "What do we do?" because we know what to do. I hope, going forward, we are motivated to have more digital learning days regardless of circumstances."
Whether students are in school or learning from home, Bell sees a future at Fulton County Schools, where digital and remote learning with tools like ClassLink is the norm. She believes a leap forward in digital learning will provide students with the skills they need for college, careers, or wherever else their learning paths lead them.