ATLIS Virtual Tow Hall Salutes Tech Team Rock Stars, January 13, 2021

iconThe first ATLIS Virtual Town Hall of 2021 gave special recognition to the many tech team rock stars who keep the technology humming along smoothly at our independent schools -- help desk staffers, data managers, IT and systems administrators, edtech implementation coaches, and, yes, those who serve as all of the above. Our conversation ranged from helpdesk implementation to considering the school’s value proposition to the community to favorite hacks and solutions for the challenges faced by tech teams in recent months.

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Meet FACTS President Scott Spethman


  
March seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it?
It was a month filled with fear, doubt, and (in case you haven’t heard this word often enough) uncertainty. But I remember feeling one thing in particular: Confidence. I felt confident that the world of education would rise to the challenge and adapt – and that my team would do the same.
I’m incredibly happy to report that my confidence wasn’t unfounded.

Maintaining Communication no Matter What
This was a year of change for education and educators alike. FACTS associates have been working from home since March. Like many others, we’re constantly on video calls and working remotely to support our schools. Our communication channels may have changed, but I’m proud of our associates for stepping up to maintain our level of service for our partner schools. Even though we miss visiting campuses and chatting with clients at conferences and events, we’ve made do. It was our goal to be there for our clients – a constant, comforting presence whenever they needed us.

Addressing Trends and Concerns from the Independent School Community
The education industry shifted drastically in early 2020. FACTS shifted as well. We put an emphasis on helping schools prepare to offer more personalized education. We focused on 1:1 learning, more flexible school models, parent communication – we even built out a COVID-19 resource center that our independent school partners could use throughout the year. Another big focus for us has been addressing the social-emotional needs of students. We’ve reevaluated the ways we (and schools) can communicate with students and families. And we’re doing everything we can to make the process smoother for everyone – like improving our Family App.

FACTS' COVID-19 Resource Center
The Future of FACTS
We’re well-positioned to support the 11,500 schools and three million families we work with, regardless of the status of COVID-19. I’m particularly excited about the enhancements we have planned for our SIS. It’s already very sophisticated, but we’re planning to build it out even more over the next year. On top of that, we’ll be enhancing our Application & Enrollment product, and introducing our new open API to continue supporting the goals of our partner schools. The confidence I had back in March hasn’t wavered – it’s actually gotten stronger. We’ll be ready to help our partners move forward in 2021.

Looking Forward to the Post-COVID Era
Selfishly, I can’t wait to travel back to Chicago for a Portillo’s Italian Beef. (If you haven’t been there, I highly recommend it.) But on a more serious note, I miss having contact with the team and our customers on a regular basis. Human connection is something we all crave – and I’m no exception. Over the past 33 years, much of my career has been spent on the road. For the first time in a long while, I’ve been at home for eight straight months. When it’s safe to do so, I look forward to spending time relaxing with friends, sharing meals with clients, and making new connections.

Hello 2021/Goodbye 2020 Pop-Up PULSE Survey

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9 Tips To Develop A School Software RFP

Evaluating software solutions for your school can be a daunting task. What are requirements versus nice-to-haves? Who should be involved? Where should I begin? Developing an RFP (Request for Proposal) can help provide structure for the process. Below are 9 suggestions based on our experience responding to customer RFPs.

1. You may not need an RFP

Some schools submit 100-page RFPs but don’t have a process established for vetting proposals once they are received. Other schools do not use an RFP but have a process that is organized, efficient, and managed well. The most important thing is to know what your school needs and ensure that vendors meet those needs. If you do decide to use an RFP, the format doesn’t matter—just clearly articulate your needs, timeline, and requirements for the vendor. Speaking of which...

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ATLIS December Summit-- Leading Together (Video Archive)

ATLIS Summit: Leading Together -- Why Administrative Partnerships Matter
December 16, 2020

As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to leave its mark on our schools, technology leaders have risen to prominence as key figures to rely upon for determining how to manage in the crisis and meet the missions of the schools they serve. The success of their partnerships with colleagues across the administrative team has depended upon openness, transparency, and collaboration to serve the mission of the schools they serve. Guests panelists from AISAP and MISBO join ATLIS Executive Director Christina Lewellen to share important ways for technology leaders to team up with Admissions and Finance officers to help their schools thrive amidst the pandemic and beyond.


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ATLIS Executive Director Shares 2020 Holiday Message

In this post at the end of a challenging year, Christina Lewellen, Executive Director of ATLIS, shares a holiday message for the independent school technology leaders in our community. -- SD [10-minute read] 

I usually look forward to decking out the house in holiday lights, and I’ve been known to spend days shuffling ladders and adorning surfaces high and low with my LED color palette of the year. 

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ATLIS READS: Race After Technology by Ruha Benjamin

Our year-long book seminar for technology thought leaders continues with this guest post from Theresa Jay, who previews Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha BenjaminYou can learn more and register for ATLIS Reads here. Our final selection for our ATLIS Readsyear-long book seminar is Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. -- SD [10-minute read]

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall: Olympic-Class Technology Teams, December 9, 2020

photo of equestrianThis last Virtual Town Hall of 2020 provides numerous resources shared by our participants. Our conversation focused on assessments, content areas that may have been lost in the transition to online and hybrid learning (along with ways to recapture them), and a general accounting of the participants' well-being after this very challenging year. -- SD [10-minute read; 1-hour video]

Photo Credit: Ronjamin (Ronald C. Yochum Jr.), CC BY 2.5 

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Asking Vendors the Right Questions About Data Protection

At a recent ATLIS webinar, industry experts were invited stock share a "Cybersecurity Update" for our community. As the webinar came to a close, a vital question remained unanswered in the chat, so we followed up with our panelists for an answer. In this post, you will find responses from Buddy Pitt, Director of Technical Development for the Network Support Company, and Alex Inman, Founder and Senior Collaborator for Educational Collaborators, on asking vendors the right questions about data protection.  [10-minute read; video archive included in resources]

What are the best questions to be asking our vendors to ensure that we are getting the information about security or prevention measures they have in place, their data retention policies, etc.?

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ATLIS 2021: Undaunted Annual Conference Announced

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PRESS RELEASE

Contact: [email protected]

This is not your ordinary conference. And we’re not just saying that. 

It’s a virtual event, AND we’re offering an in-person add-on retreat for those who are willing and able to gather with us in Seattle. 

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5 Reasons Why Now Is the Time to Evaluate Your Information Systems

In Yann Martel’s novel Life of Pi, Piscine Molitor, or “Pi” survives for months in a lifeboat with a hyena, zebra, orangutan, and Bengal tiger. When Pi drifts ashore and tells his story, he’s confronted by doubters. How could a boy survive out at sea with wild animals? Pi’s response is simple – just because you’ve never seen a boy survive in a raft with a Bengal tiger doesn’t mean it’s not possible.

Although Life of Pi is a work of fiction, many schools are currently operating in this paradigm – just because we’ve never done something before, doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall 11 November 2020: Like No Other School Year

Late in the fall season, technology leaders have hit a stride, adjusting to the ever-changing circumstances around school during a pandemic. In this reflective town hall, leaders discussed what has worked well and needs to continue beyond this school year, along with what needs to be adjusted. Special guest Pamela Livingston Gaudet, author of 'Like No Other School Year' joined us to share her insights.  

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Protect Your School From Cyberattacks During Remote Learning

Whether your school is in person and planning for potential remote/hybrid scenarios, or if your students are currently virtual, learning from home introduces new cybersecurity risks to your community. We’ve listed 6 low-cost, high-impact things you can do today to improve the security at your school.

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DEI Advisory Committee: Call for Volunteers

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ATLIS Seeks Volunteers for DEI Advisory Committee

Association's newly created Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee launched to support strategic goals

 The Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS), the only professional association for independent school technology directors, announces the open call for volunteers to serve on its newly established Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee. 

The DEI Advisory Committee's charter states: "The mission of the DEI Advisory Committee is to support ATLIS as it strives to be an organization where all individuals and independent school communities join together to support one another and work together to deliver the best educational environment possible for today’s learners."

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ATLIS October Summit: New Systems & Processes (Video Archive)

ATLIS Summits on special topics invite members of the community to share insights and innovations in an informal panel format. The October Summit was dedicated to Reinventing the Wheel -- New Systems & Process Under COVID-19. 

summit bannerReinventing the Wheel -- New Systems & Processes Under COVID-19  
October 28, 2020

Technology leaders thrive in a world of systems and processes. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to rethink, reinvent, or totally create new ways to address how technologies are integrated into the way a school works. 
Topics/Panelists include: 
Tracking Attendance Revisited -- Vinnie Vrotny, Director of Technology, The Kinkaid School, TX
Google Solutions for Dismissal and Calendar Integrations -- Richard Anderson, Director of of Academic Technology, Washington International School, DC; Eileen Ford, Educational Technology Specialist, Trinity Valley School, TX; Nicholas Marchese, Director of Academic Technology, Emma Willard School, NY
Policies and Procedures for Teaching from Home -- Anne Sena, Director of Technology, St. David’s School, NC
This Summit  is available FREE to ATLIS members; $59 for non-members.
Access the October Summit Archive

ATLIS Reads SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Our year-long book seminar for technology thought leaders continues with this guest post from Jason Kern, Assistant Head of School for Innovation and Learning, All Saints Episcopal School, Tyler, TX, who previews SCRUM: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time by Jeff Sutherland. You can learn more and register for ATLIS Reads here. Upcoming books for our ATLIS Reads conversations include Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code by Ruha Benjamin, and Radical Candor: Fully Revised & Updated Edition Be a Kick-Ass Boss Without Losing Your Humanity by Kim Scott. -- SD [10-minute read]

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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall 14 October 2020: Where We Are Now

As schools across our community begin to settle in to new learning and working environments, technology leaders from the ATLIS community continue to find value in sharing and reflecting on their experiences with their peers. In this Virtual Town Hall, we looked back on the journey of the past few months, shared what school looks like now in the many varieties of hybrid learning that have sprung up, and began to think about what has evolved in the larger perspective of education as well as what lies ahead. -- SD [15-minute read, 1-hour video]

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14+ Ways Technology & Admissions Teams Can Partner for Success

Recently, Larry Kahn, Chief Technology Officer, and Alice Pritchett, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, from Trinity Valley School, TX, shared the secrets of their successful partnership with Susan Davis, Professional Development Director, ATLIS. The following post is a recap of their conversation. [10-minute read; 1-hour video]

blog banner campus with fall foliageFall is a time for pumpkin-strewn campuses, eager questions from potential parents, and gaggles of wide-eyed students wandering the halls to see what a new independent school can offer. Admissions events are essential to the growth and sustainability of any independent school, yet the COVID-19 pandemic has turned school admissions events for Fall 2020 upside-down.

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ATLIS Contributes Cybersecurity Chapter to New Book About Emergency Remote Learning

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ATLIS Contributes Cybersecurity Chapter to New Book
About Emergency Remote Learning

Press Release

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Contact: Susan Davis, [email protected]


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ATLIS Virtual Town Hall: School Opening Update (9 September 2020)

Our September Virtual Town Hall gave a glimpse into the realities of what school reopening has looked like for technology leaders across the country. We asked participants to share what school looks like for them -- whether it is fully online, hybrid/hi-flex, or face-to-face. Much of our conversation focused on providing the right kind of devices to teachers who are delivering content to both in-person and online learners. We ended with a number of nagging questions that still keep tech leaders up at night and some practical advice about how to deal with help desk overload fueled by pandemic anxieties and the new technologies schools are adding into the mix. -- SD [10-minute read; 1-hour video] 

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