In today’s guest educator panel, we feature Dr. Nicole DeVries, Director of K-12 and Gifted Programs at Virginia Beach City Public Schools, going one on one with LeiLani Cauthen, CEO at the Learning Counsel. As is typical in our guest educator panels, we take off the gloves and attack the issues, and we “calls ‘em like we sees ‘em.” Of course, it’s all in good fun, and we’re more than careful to bring you plenty of solutions you can use at home.

When asked about the burgeoning complexity of her district’s tech stack, DeVries said, “We're kind of toddling between two different LMS right now. Which is difficult when we first started going remote. It was kind of a, I wouldn't say a free for all, but we gave teachers the option of, you want to use Google Meet, you want to use Zoom, you know, whichever one you'd like to use, go ahead and use, which caused some confusion. We were trying to be flexible and open minded about it. And yet what it caused was just some concern and feeling of being overwhelmed, not just on the part of the teacher, but on the part of the parents. What we learned very quickly was that we were overwhelming our community with all these different platforms and ways to get on meetings and ways to access things.

“I think as our systems mature and how our packaging of those systems mature to try to ease the burden of use and access, we have to think about more than ever, what's come to light is we have to think about the community, not just our students, but our parents, once they're at home as the end user. And how do we make sure that things are easily accessible, because even when you have Internet access and we've given them hotspots, we still have, for example, a large, ever-growing English learner population who are struggling to begin with accessing language. So when you now tell them, you have to go to four different systems, they disappear, and then we have to work very, very hard to get them back.”

Cauthen asks the tough questions, and DeVries doesn’t shrink from any of them. You won’t want to miss a moment of this fun, fast moving and hard-hitting discussion. The topics roll quickly, the challenges are laid bare, and the solutions are intelligent and useable for districts nationwide. So many lessons learned, and so much that you can use.


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