October 16, 2023
Tech Tips for a Successful School Year
Get tips on how you can use technology to expand extracurricular programs, improve digital literacy, better manage safety and security, and ultimately create a more supportive school environment.
It’s vital that students feel like they belong. Interscholastic esports leagues can be a great way to not only create peer connections, but learn valuable technical skills and guide students toward greater social and academic success.
Students come to school with a variety of different learning needs, interests and experiences. There are many kids who might not be comfortable with traditional sports, or be able to participate, but still crave a team experience. Esports as an extracurricular can give them an outlet that speaks to their skill set, while allowing them to connect with other kids who share similar interests. That quiet student in the back of the classroom might never try out for soccer — but maybe he’ll become a team star at Rocket League, a popular esports game that combines soccer with car racing.
Esports can supplement student learning as well, by combining the competitive benefits of regular team activities with collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will translate beyond the games and even the classroom. Creating an esports program for your school also helps students feel like their particular interests are seen, accepted and valued within their learning environment and by their peers.
The rapid expansion of esports programs across the United States has also opened up new scholarship opportunities. Hundreds of colleges and universities support formal esports programs. 2022 alone saw esports scholarships totaling over $20 million, with these opportunities only expected to grow. Students who previously wouldn’t have been able to attend college now have avenues to success available to them outside of traditional sports and grants.
With a wide variety of games available, and student interest only surging, an esports program can be a great way for your school to round out your extracurricular options and better engage your student body.
- Survey your student body to gauge interest level.
- Make sure you have a regular dedicated space available for an esports team to meet.
- Establish parameters with teachers and staff, like how to whitelist video games on school computers during specific times of the day.
- Research the budget required for esports products and services to start building out a program.
Promoting Digital Literacy
Back in ye olden days (AKA the early 2000s), the extent of technology in the classroom revolved around basic computer lessons: learning how to type, becoming familiar with different search engines and generally getting comfortable with using technology for homework and class assignments.
Today, however, many kids have grown up with technology — whether accessible to them from an early age, or with the expectation that they be proficient in using devices and the internet. Technology has become essential to their lives, and also to their future success. Schools to reconsider what steps they’re taking to promote and incorporate digital literacy into their programs, so that students have the necessary skills to research, validate and share information across different devices and platforms.
Did you know that up to 90% of teens admit to using social media at least daily? Or that, in 2022, nearly 40% of Gen Z preferred using TikTok as a search engine over traditional sources like Google? Emerging trends like these are already having a massive impact on the way that kids think about, search for and engage with information.
TikTok, for example, features a custom “For You” page so that its users are delivered customized information by an algorithm. While convenient and fun, it also means that kids are receiving information tailored to their existing preferences. A strong digital literacy program could mean challenging students by helping them learn to navigate confirmation bias.
More recently, social media platforms like X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook have seen a huge spike in misinformation being spread via its users. Promoting better digital literacy means not just educating students on world events, but teaching them how to research, verify sources and be able to determine for themselves whether information they encounter online is true or not.
Any good teacher can tell you that learning doesn’t stop and start at the classroom door. Students need to be able to take practical skills with them as they move through the world, and it's crucial that their schools give them the tools to be more informed, thoughtful citizens.
- Survey students and teachers about technology use to determine trends and potential concerns.
- Work with CDW’s Educational impact team for free advice on how to implement programs that promote better digital literacy. Reach out to your education ambassador today, or contact us to get a conversation started: email@example.com
Safety and Security
Anyone who works in education today knows that student safety and security are one of the highest priorities. CDW's Education Impact team has identified four key pillars of school safety, based off decades of personal experience spent in education and in dealing with tragedy. Examining and adjusting your current security measures can make all the difference in being prepared to better protect your students, teachers and community.
The first and most obvious of the pillars is physical security. Most schools already have invested in considerable physical security programs, including locks, cameras, sensors and panic buttons. Investing in an integrated security system can let you combine those controls, cameras and environmental sensors all in a single location. This means that your security system can easily track activity across your campus and send immediate alerts to school administrators in order to take action. A healthy AI program can use predictive analytics to detect potentially threatening circumstances or interactions.
The next stage of physical security goes beyond defense. The goal is for your school's security to become proactive instead of reactive, so you can take action and intervene before anything goes wrong.
Most schools think that keeping school information safe against ransomware and hackers is where cybersecurity stops. But the future of cybersecurity relies on a healthy cyber education. Staying safe when it comes to technology will be a core life skill for every single student, for the rest of their lives, in the same way that digital literacy is.
Make sure you’re integrating explanations and lessons to both teachers and students about building their cybersecurity skills. They not only need to understand what MFA or dual-factor authentication is, but also why it's important and how it keeps them safe both in the classroom and at home. A healthy cyber education is the future of cybersecurity.
Like with physical security, the next step in student safety isn't reactive but proactive. A solid prevention strategy means bringing together a wide range of important information — threat assessment, suicide risk review, mental health resources and collaboration with law enforcement — into a single, shareable location. For example: a student makes a threat to their school, or to a classmate, or to a staff member. What prevention strategies are in place to handle this?
Having a shareable information system in place means that your school's staff is able to form a complete picture of a student’s issues, needs and potential concerns. It also enables teachers and administrators to work together on creating intervention strategies, suggesting coping mechanisms and building a library of mental health resources. It’s critical that your school have a means of communicating and sharing information so that everyone is able to step in and help as soon as possible.
Mental Health and Life Skills:
School isn’t just a place where students learn from textbooks. It should also be a space for students to grow emotionally and learn healthy ways to interact with and handle the world outside of the classroom. Kids need tools to deal with life when it becomes difficult and technology can play a valuable role in this.
The growing use of interactive flat panels has made it possible for schools to introduce regular reminders and check-ins about how students are feeling. Some schools have even started using flat panels for scheduling activities, like letting students all get up from their desks and move around for thirty seconds at the exact same time each day. This gives kids a chance to release physical tension or stress and also creates a community activity that the entire school can participate in.
There are also a growing number of organizations available to help with improving student socialization and emotional well-being. These partners offer free, online resources, webinars and games that can help reinforce emotional skills for your students and help guide you toward a healthier classroom environment.
- Connect with the CDW Education Impact team for more information on each of the four security pillars. We offer free assessments and can make recommendations on the best partners and programs to meet your school's specific needs. Let us help: firstname.lastname@example.org