Efficiently Managing 1:1 Model with Gopher Tools: A Customer Spotlight

As technology advances in the sphere of education, more school districts have leaned on services that optimize their domains, and products that give them the ability to manage the devices they give out to administrators, teachers, and students. Amplified IT makes Google Workspace even more efficient for users, and provides innovations that customers, even new ones, can immediately benefit from.

Amplifying operations with Amplified IT

Eden Valley-Watkins (EVW) is a small, independent school district that serves Pre-K through 12th-grade students in Eden Valley-Watkins, Minnesota. “We have a pretty high number of free and reduced students,” described Denise DeJuliannie, the district’s Director of Technology. She is a new Amplified IT customer who has so much to share about how our products and services have brought her department closer to reaching its goals.

The district has been a Google Workspace campus for 9-10 years, only using the features included in the free version. They have been designated as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and had a few laptop carts throughout their buildings. “When the pandemic hit, it became essential to have the advanced features of Google Meet and Classroom,” Denise explained.

In previous years, Denise had minimal interactions with Amplified IT. She recalls, “I’ve been to a lot of different Edtech trainings, and you were there. I also have some colleagues who are in my position at other districts who know about you or work with you.” When COVID-19 forced students and teachers to a virtual learning environment, that’s when she signed up with us. “I did a call to see what everything entailed, and, from that, I knew I was going to work with you. I’m glad I did,” she said.

BYOD to 1:1

In the beginning, EVW had a passive view of technology. “It was always ‘oh, it’s there’ and ‘it’s nice to have,’” Denise elaborated. When the pandemic hit, her staff quickly realized that it was going to be the key factor that guaranteed the continuity of learning for their students.

The district’s BYOD initiative was to allow students to bring in any device with any operating system. The only requirement was that they had to use Chrome. The district also had a partnership with Best Buy through which families could purchase a device, whatever their need was personally, at a discounted price. Denise said, “I wasn’t involved in those early discussions. I wanted to be 1:1 all together and had already purchased Chromebooks for our 9th graders to begin the process.” Because students had various devices and operating systems, she found it difficult to regulate the relationship between the network’s firewalls and content filter. All students having Chromebooks and operating on Google Workspace solved that problem. Looking on the brighter side of the situation, she added, “The silver lining of the pandemic is that the Care dollars paid for our 1:1.”

Introducing new solutions

EVW is currently using Google Workspace, and Denise is a part of the North American Google Technical Collaborative (NAGTC). When asked how the Collaborative has benefited her work, she responded, “Oh my gosh, just the deep dives we get into on the updates, because there are so many of them, have been great. It’s not just ‘this is what Google says,’ but ‘this is what we see and the best way to implement it.’” The plethora of information that is available in the group has been valuable to EVW’s growth in enhancing their use of technology.

Recently, EVW has added Gopher tools to its belt of resources. Denise shared, “I haven’t dug into it yet, but it’s going to be a time saver.” Gopher for Chrome will provide a quality Chromebook management system with the ability to bulk update. Previously, it took the district a long time to push tech out to students because the Google Admin console only allows for Chromebooks to be updated one at a time. “I was using a free 3rd party tool to manage it, but it wasn’t as open,” she explained. “This is going to give me the opportunity to do a clean-up of my operating system, and sync our current information to see it all in one place.”

As health and safety regulations lift, the district has moved to a hybrid learning model, but still has families who have opted to continue distance learning. Going forward, Denise foresees fewer students in the school buildings at a given time, meaning 1:1 is here to stay. “We are always going to have students learning from home now, even if it’s just 2 to 3 days out of the week,” she said. “These tools help me manage all of the hardware and software that our teachers and students need.”

Now, Denise is organizing how they are going to do the refresh of their Chromebooks. “We’re making sure the ones in the hands of our students are going to last 4 years,” she elaborated. The district’s most pressing goal is ensuring that every teacher and student has a device and that they have the support they need to have a positive experience in instruction and learning.

Since 2008, we have seen thousands of districts transform their use of technology, and implement best practices for effectiveness and efficiency with our products and services. Our customers have gained so many benefits from working with us, and we at Amplified IT want you to see the same.

Becoming a 1:1 district can present its challenges. To learn more about how Amplified IT’s Gopher tools can ease the transition, and simplify Chromebook management, contact our team of experts.