Webinar - June 2021

Coffee Talk with EdTech SolutionsTeam

 

Our Curriculum Specialists talk to school Admins daily who share some of the frustrations they encounter when implementing digital content or managing an online bookstore. Hear our in-house expert and Operations Director, Liz Pritchard, chat with our Curriculum Team about some of the biggest hurdles schools face and how we can help.

Discussion includes school challenges such as:

  • Publisher Platforms for ebooks and Resources are Confusing
  • Technical Set-up and Ongoing Management is a Pain
  • Student Access Challenges
  • Challenges with Digital Learning
  • Teacher Buy-In
  • Customer Service Issues
  • Help choosing new curriculum
  • Teacher materials

 

Read the transcript below:

Student Engagement Strategies for Blended Learning

Lacey:

All right. Thank you for joining us today for our special edition of Coffee Talk with the EdTech solutions team. My name is Lacey Wolfrey and I'm very excited to welcome my special guests today. We have Liz Pritchard, who is the director of operations, and Marc Blair, our sales team lead and curriculum specialists, along with Joe Montoya, another of our curriculum specialists. And we're so excited for today. We wanted it to be a little bit different of a format. Normally we do teacher training on these monthly webinars. Today is going to be more of a coffee, talk, a chat with our operations and our curriculum specialist teams. And so some of the discussion points that we're going to talk about today come directly from interactions that our team has had with school administrators just voicing some of the frustrations that they have when dealing with implementing eBooks, managing a school book store, all that goes into that.

Lacey:

And so for today, some of the things we're going to talk about is platforms for eBooks and resources. Just some of the difficulties there, the technical setup and ongoing management can be a pain. Oftentimes there are student access challenges, other challenges, just dealing with digital learning in general, and then teacher buy-in is a big one. And then some of the customer service issues that come with just dealing with some of the publishing on the platforms and everything there. So to kick it off, I am going to turn it over to Marc and Joe, who we're really going to pick our in-house expert Liz's brain, but please feel free to chime in with any additional questions that you have. We have the Q and A chat box open. So please chime in with any questions that you have, and we will do our best to get to those during this 30 minutes that you're spending with us. So we'll kick it over to Marc and Joe.

Marc:

Cool. Thank you, Liz or that's Lacey. Sorry, I'm talking to Liz. Hey, Liz.

Liz:

Hi.

Marc:

So one of the things that keeps coming up when I'm talking to schools who are having issues with publisher platforms and eBooks is just getting help from them, we've run into certain platforms that have literally hundreds of videos and blog posts, and sometimes thousands, even more, to dive through and just kind of help, but it seems like a lot of resources and it can get confusing, wanting to just understand like how we help with that. What do we do or what do you do?

Liz:

Yeah. All right. No great question, so one of the things about the publisher platforms is it's so massive and each publisher is different and special. Unfortunately, not every platform is the same. So every single platform has its own special little features inside of it. And that teacher is expected to learn all of those and learn them all on their own. And so that's really where EdTech comes in to help. And one of the biggest things that we offer is being able to have everything at the teacher's fingertips that they need.

Liz:

So our dear Lacey has gone through those video libraries for hours and hours and hours and pinpointed exactly what a teacher needs to be successful with those publisher platforms and those resources. So in other words, we've done all the homework. We've done all the work for the teachers, and now we have a comprehensive guide that will really direct the teachers where they need to start. So it's not so big and scary, but we will also hold their hand and guide them through the process. We take the guesswork out of the whole thing.

Marc:

Sweet cool.

Joe:

Hey, Liz, it's Joe.

Liz:

Hey Joe.

Joe:

Hey, so a lot of schools in the past and told us that the technical setup and ongoing management of digital platforms is very tedious and time-consuming. And quite frankly, it can be very painful at times. How does EdTech help schools save time and really remedy these pain points?

Liz:

Well, really what we want to do and what most of our clients actually have us do is we want to come in and do it all for them. We know the ins and outs of the technology for the different publishers and the different platforms. And the thing is, is that every year they change, they shift something changes in the UI or the way that the classes need to be set up. So because of that, we want to be there. We want to do it all for the clients and for the school. Now that's not mitigating the IT department of the schools. We still need the IT department there. But what we want to do is we want to do all of the homework, all of the setup, all of the hard stuff, and then get to bring it to the IT department or the administration at the school all nicely packaged really, really pretty and ready for them to use.

Liz:

So really that is a great question for EdTech, because that's what we're really awesome at is being able to, to really go in and set up all of the technical end of it, and then turn around and explain that to the administration, to the IT, to the teachers in a way that they can actually understand, they can comprehend. We do it a little bits and pieces. So it's not all at once and we're not flooding them with information that they're going to have to remember for a whole year. So really it depends on how hands on the client wants us to be, but in the end, we want to do it all for them, for that exact reason because it changes every year, every year we have to learn something new.

Joe:

Awesome. Thank you.

Marc:

So Liz, to piggyback on that is after with technical setup and management and all that is student access challenges. I'll give you an example. I was talking to a school that had a crazy way of doing things. I'm not sure, I think their vendor actually would set everything up, but it was interesting because students were literally logging in and logging out in between classes, sometimes in the same platform. So they would be literally logging out of Savvas Realize, and then having to log back into the same platform, just to get a different book. One is that necessary? I know that's kind of an extreme example, but just with general access for students to get the books, to get the platforms, what do we do?

Liz:

So that is one of the biggest hurdles for a student from the students' end of it. And the reason for it, again, it comes back to the fact that all of the publishers are different. They all have the students access in a different way. They have different websites that they go to now when it comes to the same publisher and the same platform, the problem is, is that most other companies out there, when it comes to the implementation process, hasn't figured out kind of the key of keeping everything consistent. And that's actually something that we specialize in. So we really start actually by going in and trying to partner with publishers that eliminate the need for a username and password for the students to remember. And in fact, we try to partner more and more with SSOs and auto rostering. So we can eliminate some of the challenges that the students have.

Liz:

In other words, we like to make it so that if a student logs on to Shelfit, that they can click on the book and the can launch directly into the online classroom environment. And one day we'll have all the publishers under that umbrella. But if we don't have an SSO partnership currently with them, what we do is that we make it consistent for the students. And we can work with the school in either determine if there is a set username and password that the student uses on campus across the board. We can actually adopt that and we'll use that for the online classroom environments. So what we do is we make sure that if we don't have the SSO, we have a consistent username and password for the student on their shelf. They don't have to have something different for every single book and we purposely set the publishers.

Liz:

If they have several books in the same platform, we make it all in their one view. So when the students are dealing with EdTech, what they're doing is that log on to their, let's use an example of a Sabbath's online classroom environment. And they're going to see all of their books that they're enrolled in because that's how we do the setup. We're trying to make it as easy as possible, eliminate as many click paths as we can. And we're really even looking into integrating more and more with schools LMS is to eliminate as many clicks as we can for the students so that we can get them in the system. And the other part, the bigger part, and this is our little secret is that we cut the parents out of the process. We don't allow them to have usernames and passwords. Everything is set up on the student's account and so we've eliminated one of the big hurdles and that's getting those parents out of that process.

Joe:

Awesome. So Marc actually brought up a great question. As far as the digital platforms on the other side of it, we've heard from a lot of schools that they don't want to explore digital products because they've either had a horrible experience in the past with either eye books being pulled away without any notice, or maybe the Pearson platform going down for several days. We've also heard from schools that they just don't have time to deal with rostering changes and schedule changes. How does EdTech help the schools with rostering schedule changes and any constant changes with curriculum and digital platforms.

Liz:

And again, that really goes into how hands-on does the school want us to be. We want to be as hands-on as we possibly can. So a lot of the times when it comes to roster connection and making sure that the students are in the class and implemented properly, we have the role of 24 hours, allow us 24 hours from the time that they're in the roster to get them into the online classroom environment. Now, from the school's perspective, literally the only thing they have to do in that scenario is say, Hey, we have a new student and then we handle everything. So we've really eliminated the need of the school having to jump through the hoops, to get the students set up in the online classroom environment. One of the other things is we're not trying to take digital and replace the amazing and awesomeness of a print book.

Liz:

What we're trying to do is we're trying to help teachers create a dynamic classroom using digital components. And so really one of the biggest challenges is changing that thought process within education, that digital is coming into replace something, it's not. It's coming into to make it better, to allow the teachers to have a more dynamic class and really pull all of the kids in. So yeah, digital learning is multifaceted, EdTech can definitely help in a number of ways, but really what we're trying to do is not replace print, we're trying to help the teachers create a really awesome classroom.

Marc:

Awesome. So Liz, you kind of touched about with the teachers and I had a question because I've run into administrators who have a hard time, like administrators want to go digital, but teachers don't. And so teacher buy-in seems to be a huge hurdle for administrators and definitely the tech people getting them to use it. And sometimes you have schools purchasing literally thousands of dollars on these digital platforms, but nobody uses it. And so what is a huge waste of money? I mean, have you ran into that with teachers and what do you do?

Liz:

Yeah, so teacher buy-in is the make or break of a digital program. Every single time we have been doing this for so many years that we've seen it time and time again, a school or an administration at a school will be very gung ho wanting the teachers to adopt a digital platform. And in the administration eyes, they think they have provided all of the resources that the teacher would need in order to integrate digital in the classroom now from the teachers end though, they don't see that they're necessarily getting all of that support. Maybe in some instances, don't want to offend any of our hardworking administration staff, but generally speaking in the teacher's eyes, they feel like the technology is almost fostered on them and they have to figure it out. So because we know that teacher buy-in will make or break a program like ours in a school that's really where we started honing in and becoming for lack of a better word, teacher obsessed.

Liz:

We are obsessed with teachers. And the reason for it is that if we are able to support the teachers, if we are able to get them trained, offer them that resource, be their friend in this crazy, crazy digital world. We're finding that more and more schools are having better success with the digital program because now they get hands-on support. They get hands-on training. Our dear Lacey is always there on the other end of the phone, willing to jump into a phone call, to teach the teachers or show the teachers how to best use the platform where all the tools are, where are all the bells and whistles and are they using it to the fullest of their own ability? So we really honed in on becoming teacher obsessed because of that exact reason, because at the end of the day, we want the teachers to realize that they are, they're really the important ones in this scenario. They have to create that dynamic classroom for those kids. And we just want to help in any chance that we can get.

Joe:

So we definitely are teacher obsessed. What about the parents and the students, what happens when a student needs to return a book or is having trouble accessing that eBook that they've purchased? Can you speak to that?

Liz:

Totally. So a part of that teacher obsession then in part comes our customer service. So here at EdTech, we actually have three levels of services as we like to coin it. Our first level is with the administration. We have an amazing team of operations people, or as we like to call them for relationship general managers, and they're in charge of taking care of the administration on campus, really making sure that they have one point of contact here at EdTech. And they have somebody to go to for bigger issues and problems. Then we have Lacey and her wonderful team who mans and handles all of the teacher support and training, and really is there for the teachers. And if a teacher calls in, because Johnny can't get access to his book, we're going to direct Johnny to customer service because we want to keep that teacher line clear for the teacher and they're there supporting their needs.

Liz:

And then last, but definitely not least in that chain of customer service is our customer service line for parents and students. We're really, really proud of our call-in numbers, our first response times, but really a lot of the time what the customer needs really it's what the parents need is just a handheld through the process, purchasing the books and making sure that they have the correct digital items. And so we're able to do that with a couple of different pieces, A by connecting to the student information system so that the student only sees the books that they're enrolled in, and for, so they don't have to pick and choose. To making sure we have really clear step-by-step instructions, how to use videos. There are times we even help the parents, maybe we don't have something in stock on our website or the parents need resources.

Liz:

We'll be happy to direct them to Amazon, who we partner with for a print distribution. So we're really, really, really about problem-solving, I don't know what better way to put that is we solve problems sometimes they're not even problems that deal with us, but we'll solve the problems and customer services is that last level that we get to do that from the parent's perspective and really helping them through. And just to put it into perspective during this last summer, our first call, our first response time from the time that a student had called in was actually only three hours. Industry standards is 24, but we are super excited that we got it to three hours and every year we've gotten that time down and I'll let you know what our new numbers are this year when the season's over.

Marc:

Two.

Liz:

Two. Exactly we're going to get it under two. So we'll definitely brag about that one once we have it.

Joe:

Okay. Thank you.

Lacey:

Awesome. So it looks like we've got some questions coming in from chat and let the three of you decide who wants to answer this. We've got a great question in asking about a list of features or jobs that we can do for a school. If they choose to work with EdTech solutions and the example that they're giving, they've got some teacher experts who will fill some of the EdTech roles and just looking to see what types of tasks that may be on their list could be enhanced or taken over by the EdTech solutions team. So which one of our panelists wants to take this one on, but it's a great question.

Liz:

Yeah.

Marc:

I would like to say it's really A to Z. So if you have multiple people taking care of multiple things, and so this person over here is purchasing and then another person is setting it up and then another person is teaching it. And then if there's any questions or any kind of customer support, maybe you take care of it or maybe somebody else takes care of it. We bring that, we take care of all of that. So from the moment you purchase it to setting it up, to making sure there's any kind of connectivity with an LMS or a SIS, and then making sure they can all log in and then we go a little bit further and making sure your teachers understand how to use it with training. And then we go to support for all those questions. So if a parent has a question, the teacher has a question. If a student has a question, we have support for all of them. So it's really taking that entire timeline of management and doing all these different things and just condensing it and saying, you guys take care of it.

Liz:

Well, like Marc said, it really is just dependent on how hands-on the school wants us to be. We have some schools who they come to us and they want us to do everything from start to finish, from helping them set up their student information system with our programs, to really just being that point of contact for all of their publishers. And then we have some clients who have dealt in the industry for so long, they've developed their own relationships with their reps and they want to be very hands-on and in certain areas and then have EdTech deal with the rest. So we do have a proven process that we know that if we take a client through every single time they're going to be successful, but really the list of features on the question that was asked is what do you want us to do?

Liz:

And then we can really get into what those features could look like. So we can be as hands-on as you want us, we can be your admin assistance, or we can just direct you on where you need to go, just depends. Now the really cool thing, sorry, Lacey. But the really cool thing is that our sales team is really happy to jump onto a call. We actually have a client success checklist it's called the EdTech checklist. And when you sign with EdTech, it's one of the very first things that you get from us is an exact list of everything that you're going to need to do with EdTech, for EdTech and the timelines that needs to be done in, so we make sure that we try to keep you organized.

Marc:

I'm going to give an example on what we just said is last year, or I think it was two years ago, we had a school start with us and during the whole exploratory time, Liz and I, and pretty much everybody in the office had met with this particular school, multiple times answering different questions. There were technology people, there were department heads, they were principals, they were CFOs. There was a, I think a bookstore manager and a curriculum manager, all of them were involved asking questions and we're involved with the first year. And a lot of them really weren't sure how we would quote unquote fit in. And then the following year, it was really just the one person calling Liz and saying, look, I sent you the book list, take care of it. I'll talked to you in a month. And it just freed up so much time for this particular school. And it didn't just free up time for that one person. It freed up time for what seemed like half the school at the time when we were initially talking to them. So again, I mean, from A to Z, we take care of it. We don't do the teaching, that's up to you, but we make sure that they have their books.

Lacey:

Great answers and awesome examples. Thank you for that. There is an add on to this question, Liz, I'm going to hand this over to you because I know I've sat in on sessions where you do this and do it amazingly. So the add on to this question is, do you also help identify products and tools that might fill a need that the teachers and students have identified to us.

Liz:

Oh, a hundred percent. This is probably one of our most unused features here at EdTech. We like to coin ourselves as curriculum experts. And the reason for it is because we work with all the publishers equally. We work with schools from the west coast to the east coast, from Washington to Florida. And we understand that depending on where you're at, depends on the popularity of the particular books that you're looking at. There are different curriculum choices that need to be made for California schools versus schools in Maine or in Massachusetts. So we understand that because we get to here and we get to deal with our clients all year round. And so, because of that, we are able to give you a really brutally honest opinion on the different books that are out there, the different publishers that are out there, we're going to give you the pros, the cons. We're going to let you know who allows you to have Gratis materials still.

Liz:

And so we'll really work with you in those choices. And it's actually something we love, love, love doing because a lot of the times we can either direct you, once we know what your teachers are looking for. We can actually direct you potentially to a publisher you never even knew about, a series or editions of books that you guys just didn't have a clue on. And so we really, really, really loved doing that. To the point that we've actually developed a meeting that we will sit down with your department heads, we can sit down and we can talk about best practices. What are the resources that are currently using versus, what are some of the resources out there? And when I say resources, I'm not talking about paid resources all the way around. There's a lot of times that we ended up helping teachers go from a paid book to free online resources, because that was a better fit for the teacher and AKA the students. So really we love that part of what we do. We want to do that as much as possible. We want to be your curriculum advisors.

Lacey:

Excellent response and to piggyback on that, the monthly teacher training webinars that we do typically the last Tuesday of every month, they're usually always focused on some aspect of blended learning or teaching online digital resources, how to make the most out of these dynamic platforms that these publishers provide and that schools pay a lot for. And so we'll focus on a different topic for that each month. And that's just something that we put out there as a service to teachers everywhere where their schools of ours are not something that we really enjoy doing. So we do have a few minutes left. If there is anyone else that has any questions, please feel free to put it in the chat box. We've gotten great questions so far, and we appreciate it and we're waiting for that. If the panelists have any other comments, suggestions.

Liz:

Well, one thing that I don't think that we really had a moment to talk about was our train the trainer. We have this amazing feature on our teacher training website and Lacey you're the expert on that. So I can't even pretend to walk people through that part of it. But one of the things is that we know that there are curriculum directors on campus that are in charge of professional development for the teachers all year round. And we understand that, and we actually have a resource available on our website to help train the trainers and really give those people who are in charge, on campus, of professional development, all those tools that they need to do that throughout the year. So that was one thing that we didn't get to chat about. But that's one thing that I think schools should know about because there's not a lot of resources like that out there. So, and I know Lacey built those and they're pretty awesome.

Lacey:

Yeah. Thank you, Liz, that is a great point and we've got over 20 different lessons that whoever is in charge of that with the school can either have access to it. We train them on how to use it, it's our own LMS that they can access and have those available on. And that's just included with doing business with EdTech Solutions. So thank you for pointing that one out.

Joe:

I just want to add, we take a lot of pride in, EdTech takes a lot of pride in doing the work for the schools and making the lives of the schools easy. So the guarantee that we make and the promise that we make is that we'll always do the work for your school. And we will always try to deliver world-class customer service. I'm proud to work for a company and for people alongside me that really do care and we go above and beyond every day with passion in what we do. So when you do sideline with us, that's the guarantee that we make is we're going to do all the work for you, make it easy. And, we guarantee day one readiness.

Lacey:

I think that's the biggest thing is we, as a team talk about these challenges that we see schools face every day and how passionate about education and really one of our driving factors, our main driving factor is to inspire greatness. Then what that means to us is let us do all of the leg work, the groundwork. So the teachers who show up every day to inspire greatness in their students and to teach, have the ability to do that because the students and teachers have access to their books. So that's what it comes down to for us. So thanks so much everyone for joining us. Thank you for the panelists, we know you all as teachers have busy days. And so if you'd like to learn more, please visit us. Our website is edtechsolutions.com. It lists everything that we do. There is a, if you want to request a demo or have one of us reach out to you, there is a form to request contact. So we'd be happy to answer any additional questions and we hope you enjoy the rest of your day.

Liz:

Have a great day guys.

 

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EdTech Solutions leverages education technology to improve learning by making it easy and simple for schools and students to manage and access individualized digital content on any device.  EdTech’s cutting-edge approach to schoolwide ebook implementation and our innovative online platform and tools give school administrators and teachers the controls they need while providing students and parents with access to all their content on one easy-to-use platform with a single login, in most cases.

When you work with us, we create a personalized bookstore for your school where students can access and purchase their ebooks and textbooks on Shelfit.com. We also help publishers make their content available digitally to students on our robust multi-publisher ebook reader platform. We strongly believe that knowledge and good education should be available to all, and we are committed to developing and providing the online learning tools and modern services that make it possible.