Edtech webinar march 2021
Have you ever wondered what goes into creating an Online Bookstore or managing Digital Implementation for your k12 school? Join us for a behind-the-scenes peek of what an EdTech client experience looks like.
Special Guest Presenter and EdTech Solutions Director of Operations, Liz Pritchard, will share her expertise and process around:
- Booklist recommendations
- Available FREE digital resources for teachers
- Teacher Support and Training Tools
Read the transcript below:
Ebooks and Eresources Q & A
Speaker: Lacey Woolfrey
Guest Presenter: Liz Pritchard
Thank you, everyone for joining. I appreciate you being here today. As always, we are really excited that you’ve chosen to spend some time with us to learn more about ebooks and eresources and whether you’re a client of ours already and just want to make sure you’re taking advantage of all of the support and resources we have to offer, or if you are just wanting to get kind of that inside look on what goes into creating an online bookstore, managing digital implementation for your K-12 school, we’re really aiming to make the next 30 minutes worth your while. Thanks again for being here.
All right. Just got to let a few more people in from the waiting room. Thanks for bearing with me.
All right. I am very excited to have a guest presenter here today, Liz Prichard. She is the EdTech Director of Operations and she is here to kind of give you that peek behind the curtain, inside look at what being an EdTech client looks like, what that experience entails. She’s going to share some of her expertise and process around ebook implementation, kind of that process that she goes through with the schools on book list recommendations. And she’s going to share some exciting free resources that schools that she works with have had great success with. And then she’s also going to talk about some of the teacher support and training tools that we offer at EdTech. Extremely happy that she is joining us today and we’ll just jump right in.
Really appreciate it. We’re already here in mid March and schools are well underway in getting the books finalized and approved for the fall. Just if you could kind of walk us through what is your team’s process for reviewing book lists and making recommendations to the clients that have been working with us for a while or a perspective client that you maybe are kind of going through and doing some recommendations for.
Reviewing Booklists and Making Recommendations
Awesome. Well, thank you Lacey for that introduction, I feel so important now so I appreciate it. Thank you. Really, I can’t believe that it’s already March and we’re already starting another school year book list selection process. It just has definitely flown by. Now we have a couple of different options that we do at this time of the year for our clients. And it really just depends on how hands on they want to be or how much work they want us to do. And usually it’s a lot of work that they want us to do.
One of the very first things that we actually do with all of our clients, whether they’re new or existing, is that we take their current book list of what they are using currently right now and we start doing what we call an analysis. We’ll take each of their ISBNs, we’ll search all sorts of databases to find out is this still available? Has the price increased? Is there potentially a new series out for this particular edition that you’re using? And so we try to gather all of that information and really educate the schools in the best possible way that we can with giving them all of the new, latest and greatest information that all of the wonderful publishers come out with. That’s where we usually start.
Now, while we’re doing the book list analysis for a client, one of the things that our account managers on our end or our relationship general managers like to do is actually start meeting with your teachers on campus to figure out and really pick their brain, what are they using currently? What do they like about it? What do they not like about it? And what are some additional suggestions that we might have heard over the year from other schools? What’s really awesome is that we don’t have a favorite publisher because we work with them all equally. But what we do know, here at EdTech, is the trends, according to what coast you’re on. What they use on the East Coast is not the same as what they use on the West Coast. And luckily we know what is popular and what’s not because of our relationship with our clients.
That’s really what we’re doing currently right now, my team is very, very busy, just really communicating back and forth, not only with the school administration, but also with the publisher sales reps, getting the schools and the teachers set up with samples, really helping them walk through those samples and navigate what they need and what they don’t need and just being as hands on as we possibly can and as much as the school wants us to be.
Awesome. Now, when you’re working with the schools, how involved and at what level is the school involved with it as far as the teachers, department heads? Walk me through how those meetings go and kind of what that looks like.
Department Head Meetings
A couple of years ago we started doing something with the client and it really just depends on the administration and what we started doing, what we call a Department Head Meeting. And really what we do is we like to get all of the department heads together in one conversation in one Zoom meeting and really, we just talk about best practices. Not necessarily the content, but what are the platforms? What are some of the resources? How are they using the book in the classroom? What we found during these very organic conversations is that the teachers are using the content or the online classroom environment or the resources or even the print books, in a different manner in which the administration had always thought. This has garnered a lot of really interesting conversations.
And what it really shows is that there are so many ways to use the different content that is out there. And the teachers are pretty awesome when it comes to figuring out new resources to keep those students engaged. That’s one of the things that we offer. Meeting with the department hands, really kind of taking that burden off of the administration because we’re able to have a very genuine conversation about best practices.
One on One Teacher Communications
The other part is that we can have one on one communications with a particular teacher, really get in depth of really what they’re looking for. But at the end of the day, we want the teachers to walk away knowing that they’re adopting a product in their class that they’re going to be fully supported and fully trained on. And that’s the bigger part of it. When teachers realize they have that resource of a webinar training whenever they want to have that, it allows them to be really daring and become very innovative in the classroom because now they have that support system.
Awesome. Thanks for sharing. I’ve been fortunate to witness some of these calls that you do with the schools and the department heads and it’s amazing when you see it all come together like that because so many publishers have these great online platforms. There’s so much that you can do with them, but then when the teachers actually get into it and have to do all of the other things that they have to do, actually teaching the subject and connecting with the students. And a lot of times those online platforms, you’ll have your publisher platform, you’ll have your SIS, your student information system, you’ll have your LMS, you’ll have all of these things that are designed to be incredible tools to really help reach the students, yet I know you’ve watched through many, many schools who feel extremely lost.
And so I know a lot of that comes to light in these department head meetings that you hold and the schools really appreciate it. What are some of the things that you have found as far as how EdTech can work with not only the publishers and the online platforms, but also the SIS or the LMS?
Integrations with LMS and SIS
Oh, well, it’s pretty interesting. And every year it’s even more integrations that we really launch into. And really what we’re looking for is how can we make it easy? Easy for the students and the teachers to access the content in which they need to have the best school year in which they need. Really we have a lot of hands on services and again, it just depends on how much work that the schools would like us to do for them.
LMS (learning management system) is normally the first jump into the digital world that a school will actually adopt. And as we’ve gone through this last year, we all know the importance of a good and solid LMS and having that all set up. And we are actually in the works currently right now of being able to go in and start helping connect directly with those LMSs.
The SIS integration is actually something very, very proud of here at EdTech, because you’re eliminating a lot of customer service issues if we’re able to connect directly with the Student Information System. And the reason for that is if we can have live roster data coming into our system, what that means is that your student is going to have that better experience if they have a schedule change or if they need to purchase any of their books.
I do apologize. Oh, sorry, my phone was ringing. Look at that. So sorry about that.
Teacher’s support and student support coming through.
I am telling you, as soon as it rings, I stop everything and I want to jump to customer service. I do apologize.
Anyway, so by having those integrations with the student information system, we’re able to really connect with your roster and have that better experience for the student. The other side of it is that as helpful as the parents want to be in this particular situation, we’re kind of eliminating their need to really be in that situation. Now it’s EdTech working directly with the student, directly with the teacher and directly with the school to really get access into those online classroom environments.
But one of those extra additional steps that you get with EdTech is if we do end up partnering with you and we require that SIS integration, we’re going to walk you through that step by step. In fact, we get on the phone, we do screen shares, if you want to do screen shares and we really make sure that you’re fully supported in getting that connected within your first month here at EdTech. But we love those integrations with Blackbaud and with some of the other SISs that we connect directly with.
And what that allows us to do is actually open the door to all of these single sign on options within some of the different publishers, within the SIS and within our own system. It’s kind of the sky is the limit with when it comes to some of those connections.
Yeah, it’s so exciting and really to see all of those come together, especially for a school that is new to using some of that technology and to really have you as their guide to walk them through, find out what is the best fit for their school, how can they maximize now this investment that they’ve made, because they’re not inexpensive typically. But to really have them work in the way that they are designed to and the whole reason that the school decided to adopt that technology to begin with. That’s awesome. Very good.
There is so much that goes into all of that process. You have a school with 3,000 students, that’s a lot of books, that’s a lot of students to make sure that every book is in the right class and every student has access and the teachers have the resources and everything.
What is a typical timeline? Once a school’s book list is finalized, they know what they want to offer, to actually making it available in an online bookstore and then to get those books onto the shelves for the students. Kind of walk me through the timeline in that process.
Booklist is finished, what’s next? Setting up a Bookstore
All right. Well, if you’re with us for a whole year, most of our clients are actually in that cycle currently right now. We’re in the process of making the recommendations, doing the analysis on their book list, seeing what’s still available, what potentially has a price increase, what new systems are out there. And as soon as we’re done and completed with that around the April timeline, is when we start finalizing the book list.
Now, with that being said, as long as we have all of the correct data and everything is talking to each other, it will simply take EdTech two weeks to get a bookstore launched and ready to go as long as the data’s there. Everything in the SIS is working, your booklist is finalized. You know exactly what you want and there’s no special book problems on your list. It’s just two weeks to get a bookstore up and launched as long as that data is correct.
Now, our goal here at EdTech is always day one readiness. What we’re always achieving or what we’re working for day in and day out all through summer is making sure that the first day that the students log onto their account and they go to access their book, they’re launched into the system. Really what we’re trying to do is help mitigate some of that setup process, the troubleshooting process a teacher would have to have in that first day of school.
Teacher “obsessed” Support and Training
Now, with that being said, we have watched the program or a digital program in this fashion will only be as successful as we can make it as long as we have that teacher buy in. Years ago, that’s when EdTech decided to become very teacher obsessed. And I don’t another way to describe it. We realize that no matter how organized the administration at the school is and how they roll out all of these amazing digital tools to the teachers, a lot of the times the teachers don’t feel supported after the fact.
That’s really where we developed our teacher support and training hotline and the training tools. That really comes in heavy during the summer. The data part of getting the book list set up and getting the store launched is a very small part of what we really do. What we’re really obsessing over during the summer is getting the teachers trained, getting them set up in the online classroom environments, if it requires that and really getting them positive on the tools that they need to use in the class so that first day when the students are in their books and launching into their online classroom environments, the teachers can really start the year off right and know that they’re starting the class with all the tools at their fingertips.
Whereas the book list is very important and we work all year of getting that finalized, our summer months we’re really obsessed over teachers and making sure that they’re supported and they’re getting taken care of during that off time for the new year.
Yep. So huge. And definitely not something that teachers want to have to worry about on the first day of school. That’s such a critical day of connecting with the students and get all that technology all set beforehand.
Yeah. Yeah. The book selection should be the easiest. And at the end of the day, EdTech’s here just to try to mitigate the pain points from a school. We’re not trying to fix something that’s broken because it’s not. We’re just trying to help and be that resource. We’ve got your back. We want to take care of you in that capacity.
Yeah, fantastic. Now I know on this webinar today, we have a mix of current clients and then also people that are either doing it on their own or they’re working with another company to do the same thing. I want to make sure that I open up the chat for any questions that any of you have that are participating in the webinar today. If you do have some questions about anything specific, go ahead and drop that in the chat. We want to make sure that this is interactive for you, that you get out of today what you came here for. Please don’t be shy, feel free to drop anything in the chat there.
And then, Liz, your knowledge on ebooks and eresources, you’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got some great relationships with the schools that you work with. And I know you have accumulated a pretty awesome just kind of inventory of what is working for schools to be able to recommend and finding out what’s working for schools. And a lot of these resources are free resources that schools are finding success with.
I know they get very excited when you find something from one school and you share it with another school and you’re an incredible resource and really go the extra mile for your clients to share those tools. I wanted to give you a few minutes now to share some of those with us today. If there is anyone on the call with us today also uses, would love to have those shared in the chat as well, but I’ll give you some time to go through and show some of those that schools are having success with.
Resources for Schools
Awesome. Thank you so much for that. In those department head meetings I was mentioning that we have now with our clients, one of the things became very apparent and we’ve been seeing the trend of it over, I would say probably the last three years, but especially now with our last year working remote. And really what it is is that the classroom is leaning less and less on necessarily a textbook as being their prime resource of information and content and is actually turning towards the textbook being a component, one component within the class and actually online resources filling in the rest of the teaching curriculum.
In communicating and talking with our clients, we hear all of it. We hear what works, what doesn’t work, what new teachers are using. And so what we decided to start doing, because of our core belief system, being transparent and ethical with our clients, is that we started creating a library of these free resources that we were hearing rumblings from the school worked really well within their class.
There’s three specific programs that I actually want to just show you guys just really, really quickly that they have me jazzed. And these are the ones that I absolutely love sharing the most with our clients.
Now again, I’m going to show you these and a lot of these are free. There’s no charge to them or they have a free component and they also have a paid component if the school would like to adopt a paid component of it. But we’ve just seen some really awesome doors being opened by again, teachers leaning less and less on that textbook and realizing more that resources are the way of the future and having that as a key within the classroom.
Really quick, and please share if you have a program or a resource that you’re using, please, please, please, because this is how we’ve created the library that we have is hearing what you all use, what’s best practices for you all in the school, in your classroom specifically. I am going to click over here. All right. Hopefully you can see my screen correctly.
What the first program that I would like to talk about is a program called NoRedInk. Again, one of our clients had brought this to our radar to the table and said, “Hey, my teachers have actually been using the free version of NoRedInk for a while now.” And we actually wanted to look into the purchased version of it. And then that’s when we started going through and we realized, oh wait, this is a awesome tool for vocabulary, for grammar pieces. What we’re seeing a lot in the classroom, especially in English is that the English teachers will lean very heavily on novels, printed novel books, digital novel books and then use a program called NoRedInk to kind of fill in some of the grammar pieces, the vocabulary pieces for it.
Absolutely love the program. Really what we love about NoRedInk is their customer service experience. They really do take care of the school and they’re really just trying to get into the classroom and make it accessible to the students. That’s really, really big for us. We want to make sure that if we are going to suggest a company or a resource that they match our customer service standards.
Awesome. Yeah, I know school love that one. It’s amazing.
Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Here’s another free resource or an online resource that you can sign up for it and that’s the Zaner-Bloser. And this is really, really, really amazing for handwriting. The grade levels in which this fully covers is pretty awesome. From the kindergarten area up until your 12th graders really can be helped within the handwriting components of Zaner-Bloser. The other really cool thing about it is that they also have a full on Spanish version of their content.
Next up is another English resource called CommonLit. And again, one of those pieces that have a free component, but they also have a more in-depth paid component. Even the paid portion of it is very, very low cost. Again, this is for Lit, this is for Grammar, this is for the other side of your literacy and your English classes. A resource that you as a teacher can share with your student within that LMS classroom environment and have your students either use the free component of it or if you wanted to invest in the paid version you can. What’s really awesome is that these again, offer a Spanish library from grades three to 12. It really covers your demographics in your classroom.
Again, all of these companies have a very, very good customer service aspect and that’s what’s really important to us is that they match that obsession with their customers as we do.
Absolutely. Thanks for sharing those. Those are incredible. Now I know we talked a little bit before about kind of that teacher obsession, the focus on it and really a big part of what I feel sets EdTech apart is we provide that peace of mind for the schools and the way that we do that is through really kind of top to bottom complete support for the admins, for the teachers, for the students. What are some of those ways that our existing clients take advantage of all of that support that we offer for teachers?
EdTech Customer Service based on Relationship
Well, each of my account managers are instructed and trained every day of their career here at EdTech that it’s their job to build and maintain a relationship with our clients. And that’s really what’s important to us, not necessarily the account, but the relationship. We want to become as silly as it might sound, your best friend. And the reason for that is we want our schools to use us to the top of its ability. I want to go and do all of the hard hitting customer service calls for you. We want to do any sort of impromptu training for your teachers that we can.
What some of those features might be is that some of my clients will reach out to us and ask us for customized flyers to exactly what they’re trying to communicate to their students. And we’ll customize it 50 times if we need to, to give them exactly what they require.
We help schools again, if we don’t provide a particular resource and it requires the students to go outside to a particular vendor to purchase, we’ll provide that information on their store. We go the extra mile in pre-building, all of the students’ schedules for them in the store so they don’t have to go and pick and choose any of their classes and potentially pick the wrong class and the wrong book.
We love just reaching out. We love knowing stuff about our schools. If your basketball team is in the State Championship, we want to celebrate with you guys. We want to have really any reason for EdTech to have a potluck, we’re all for. We really want to be involved as much as we possibly can, because we want you as administration, you as teachers and your students to realize that EdTech is here. We have your back in this crazy digital world and we’re just here to help you navigate and learn the ins and outs and become that tech expert that we all know that you can be.
EdTech is again, just that resource. We want to be that friend. We want to be the person that you go to if there’s a problem. We’re very, very proud here at EdTech that we’re problem solvers. And even if it has nothing to do with us, we want you to bring it to us anyway, because hey, maybe we might have a solution for you on that one.
But, and I don’t think our teacher trainer gets enough credit for this one, but our dear Lacey knows how to talk to teachers on their level. I am not a teacher and I never went to school to be a teacher, but Lacey, Lacey did. And so she’s actually able to talk about best practices in the classroom from her own personal experience. And that’s valuable. That value is something that I am very proud of and brag about quite a bit. We definitely try to have you covered either with a teacher training your teacher or with a problem solver with your account manager or even somebody to celebrate those championships with. EdTech will be here for you.
Absolutely. We love our teachers and love our schools and we have a lot of fun helping the teachers too. Now Liz, I’ve got some questions that are coming through.
And we’ve left the last few minutes open for questions.
If anyone else has some, or if these prompt any. The question came through, if you’re a new plan, what would be the timeline if you need to start from scratch? Meeting with teachers, department heads, gathering student information, all of that, what does that timeline look like?
From the very beginning to the very end, and it really just depends on how organized your school is, how organized and well set up your SIS is, it can take a month. We have onboarded a brand new client and got them launched within a month and a half of them signing with us and their bookstore launching. Really it’s, I wish I could give you an exact timeline, but if we have a solid few weeks with you and you’re very responsive and responding back to emails and phone calls from my team, we can have you launched and successful pretty quickly.
But generally speaking, brand new the way our cycle works is we start communicating with our clients in November about looking at potential new adoptions and then we walk them through a very low pressure cycle throughout the year.
Excellent. Yeah. One month top to finish is certainly not ideal.
But it can be done.
It’s a lot of stress for the schools, but it certainly can be done. And we’re here and open to answer any questions if you are brand new to adopting digital, we are your experts. I know last year really caused a lot of schools to look at it more seriously than they had before or adopt additional digital resources that they didn’t previously have and it was really amazing to see everyone come together to make it work and really be able to put these solutions in front of the teachers, in front of the students, to achieve the ultimate goal, which is learning and to inspire the teachers to inspire the students. And that’s really what we shoot for here every day.
I’ve shared my screen. That’s our website, edtechsolutions.com. If you are already with us, we have a whole teacher resource area with links to digital training on all the platforms that our schools use and that’s accessible, whether you’re a client of ours or not. We try to make everything easily achievable in one place so you don’t have to go digging around trying to find the resources available for the publishers. If there is something specific that you would like more training on, we have a request page, you can fill that out on the platform you’d like training on and just let us know. You can reach out to us, we’re very receptive, very eager to help make these easier for our teachers to use.
Yeah, as I always love telling all of our clients, use us, please use us. We want that. And in fact, it fulfills something in all of us here at EdTech. Me, my team, Lacey, being able to provide that opportunity and to inspire that greatness in the classroom, you’re giving us what we need to survive. Thanks guys.
Absolutely. And on that note again, thank you for joining us. Thank you for doing what you do. You make a difference in these students’ lives every single day. And we are just excited and happy to be here to support that. Again, reach out to us if you have any questions. We do these webinars every month. If there is a topic that you would like to see, please let us know that and we will add it to our list of topics.
Thank you. I hope you got something out of today and enjoy the rest of your day.
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 onShelfit.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.