Amplified IT provides a host of products and services that enable school districts to get the most out of Google Workspace for Education. It is also a reseller of third-party vendors that enhance the management of their digital infrastructure, instruction, and learning. With so many school districts adopting a permanent 1:1 environment, IT departments need to find a way to monitor user activity while students are in the building and after they’ve returned home for the day. Securly, an education-based content filtering system and Amplified IT partner, allows administrators to track what students are doing on their devices to keep them safe from others and even themselves.
Enabled and empowered
Ashburnham Westminster Regional School District (AWRSD) serves over 2,400 K-12 students in North Worcester County, Ashburnham and Westminster, Massachusetts. “We became a Google district about 12 years ago. Microsoft is meant for the corporate world. Google seems much more education-friendly and they listen to the feedback teachers give them. For such a huge company…it’s kind of amazing,” shared Eric DeHays, the district’s Director of Technology and Communications.
AWRSD’s relationship with Amplified IT began after they had purchased a fleet of Chromebooks. “Google pointed us in your direction,” Eric explained. “They offered us the opportunity to work with their partners to do PD (professional development) or receive add-ons.” Currently, Eric’s team are members of the North American Google Technical Collaborative and use Gopher Tools for their Google Workspace. He had spent a few years looking at different vendors that offered content filtering ability, but wasn’t satisfied with what he found. It was around the same time AWRSD began working with Amplified IT that he discovered Securly. “I didn’t know that Amplified IT was a reseller, and their partnership made the experience even better,” said Eric.
Keeping students safe
Originally, AWRSD schools were 2:1. However, during the pandemic, they became 1:1. “This was a huge jump for us,” Eric stated. “K-12 have devices, teachers have devices, even some paraeducators have devices. We’re even pulling computer labs.” Like many other districts who found themselves acquiring Chromebooks to send home with their students, Eric’s team ran into challenges remotely monitoring usage. “We didn’t have a way to filter content while they were at home. We were flying by the seat of our pants handing out devices, and needed to filter them,” he explained.
AWRSD’s IT department doesn’t have access to its existing content filter. It is built into their firewall which is managed by another company. They wanted something more flexible and education-centered. Securly proved to be the solution they needed to protect students with a feature that scans user activity for keywords that directly state or imply self-harm, bullying, etc. Because the district does not welcome students into the building every day, the content filter allows staff to navigate past the “happy face” students may put on and identify red flags to provide support for those that really need help. “Our therapist and school resource officers are involved in this and everything is working extremely well,” Eric added.
Securly also has a classroom management function that lets teachers push out websites to student browsers or shut off web browsing during class time.
In this together
Securly’s capacity to filter content has been a game-changer for AWRSD, but Amplified IT’s North American Google Technical Collaborative anchors them in a sea of never-ending Google Workspace for Education changes and updates. For Eric and his team, the most valuable aspects are hearing experiences from people across the U.S. and being able to bounce ideas off of like-minded professionals. “We’re all in the same boat. During the pandemic, the Collaborative grounded us,” Eric said. “I sign up for every webinar they offer because I learn so much every time.”
When asked to quantify how the Collaborative was saving him time and resources, Eric detailed, “It warns me about the things I need to know. Down the road, it probably does save me time since we don’t have to deal with challenges created because we set something wrong. It’s preventative in that way because we’re implementing the best practices and suggestions.” He went on to say this about Securly, “Without Securly, I’d be paying twice as much for everything offered in the package. We’d have to hire therapists to read over everything students are doing on their devices, then we’d need a class management system, and a content filter.”
As AWRSD transitions back to in-person learning, Eric and his team are trying to figure out how to maintain their fleet of devices so students can continue working securely. Their summer goal is to be IT custodians and do a cleanup. “We’re putting a lot of things in place, Securly being one of them. Working with Amplified IT has given us a roadmap to ensure we’re doing things right and identifying the things we need to watch out for,” Eric shared. In hopes that other districts considering Amplified IT and their third-party products and services will take that next step, he encouraged, “If you see anything that Amplified IT has, it’s going to be rock solid. Everything I’ve gotten has been more than I expected. A lot of vendors drop the ball when it comes to education. Amplified IT knows what education is and knows what it needs.”
If you are interested in purchasing Securly through Amplified IT to receive deployment and support at no additional cost, or want to become a member of the North American Google Technical Collaborative (NAGTC) contact a regional account manager to get started.
Partner Sales Manager
About the Author:
Tanya has spent the past 3 years ensuring that educational institutions are supported and serviced by the right partnership. She a product evangelist who focuses on holistic technology solutions within the EDU space while being a strong advocate for the unique needs of each institution in which she supports. On a personal level, she is a voracious reader, VT Hokies fan, and, most importantly, a mother. She is passionate about causes that support children’s health and our veterans and service members including veteran/retired military working dogs.