More than a third of Lincoln Public Schools students stayed home Monday morning to Zoom into classes remotely, the first day of one of the biggest pandemic-induced experiments in education.
Given that reality, Chief Technology Officer Kirk Langer was not expecting perfection.
He didn’t get it.
His office fielded calls Monday morning from students having trouble Zooming into their classes, a problem with how the district’s grading and attendance system called Synergy was connecting students, Langer said.
Students connect to Zoom through Synergy without the teacher having to post a meeting address that could be shared and thereby opened up to unscrupulous hackers, Langer said.
Some students weren’t seeing the “join” button, or those who did couldn’t connect. The problem wasn’t with Zoom or the district’s network capabilities, he said.
Top-level engineers from LPS and Edupoint, the company that runs Synergy, were on a Zoom call Monday morning, working through the issues. Langer said he hoped most of those had been solved by late morning, though they were continuing to work through problems as they arose and planned to make some more changes overnight.
Mindy Wright, who has two sixth graders at Irving Middle School and a third grader at Sheridan Elementary, said the first day was a mixed bag. One of her sixth graders had a good experience. He was able to Zoom into all classes and he was engaging with his classes.
The other two had more problems: both had issues with the join button, which meant her sixth grade daughter spent a lot of time hitting the refresh button waiting to get into her classes.
The day was most confusing for her youngest son, whose schedule was unclear, who had problems Zooming in and couldn't get back on after lunch. He also couldn't see what was on the worksheet the teacher was using in class.
District officials also are working with families who still need hotspots, which LPS is providing to families who don’t have Wi-Fi access.
About 200 of the 500 families who signed up for hotspots have yet to pick them up and other families were calling Monday to say they hadn’t signed up but needed them.
LPS is arranging for those families to pick up their hotspots at the high schools, which act as technology support centers for both high school students and those at their feeder elementary and middle schools.
"We knew that would create calls," he said.
He also anticipated other issues cropping up, given that 14,167 of the district’s more than 42,000 students are learning remotely. Of those, 8,868 were students who opted for remote learning, the remainder were half of the high school students scheduled to work from home Monday and Tuesday.
The number of students on Zoom on Monday morning convinced Langer that overall, it’s working.
A total of 14,322 students Zoomed into classes Monday, a number that Langer said probably didn't include some of the remote learners but did include students in school who signed on in some classes to be partners with the remote students.
Those students participated in more than 17,000 class periods and collectively spent 3,267,454 minutes on Zoom.
“You start to see the scope of this,” Langer said. “What those numbers tell me is, generally, it absolutely works. That is not to say in every case it absolutely works. We knew we’d have to knock those things down as they come in and that’s what we’ve been doing.”
The remote-learning issues come on top of all the regular issues kids have with Chromebooks at the start of school, he said, now magnified because so many students aren’t in the buildings.
Langer said he’s a realist, hoping for the best and preparing for the worst, and after a half a day, he thinks the start of remote learning could have been much rockier.
“I’ve been very heartened to the degree we are getting kids on and it’s working,” he said, and his staff is determined to make sure all students can get into their classes virtually.
“People for years have talked about kids having access to the internet as a bridge to opportunity,” he said. “When it comes to our remote learners it’s not a bridge to opportunity, it’s a door to the classroom. ... We will continue to make sure everyone who comes to the classroom gets in.”
Photos: First day of school
Harlow's first day of preschool
Not the way they imagined walking to school
Jaxson's first day of middle school
Back to Back
5th 3rd and 1st grade
Kaleecia 1st grade at Hartley and Malaunie 4th grade at Hartley
First day of kindergarten
First Day 3
First day 4
4th grade and 2nd grade
4th grader at Randolph
First Day 11
First Day 9
First Day 5
First day 6
First day 7
First Day 3
First Day 4
First Day 2
Elle’s First Day of 2nd.
Tony 5th grade at Arnold
Stephen Pleasant age 5 first day of kindergarten
Sisters Cora (5th) and Maya (Kindergarten)
Senior year and 4th grade
Ramsey’s first day of kindergarten
Paisley's first day of first grade
Paige Peters first day of first grade at Kahoa elementary
Nevaeh. 4th grade
Mc 5th grade
Easton (right), and his best buddy, Austin, from across the street
Lijam’s first day of Kindergarten, Wysong Elementary
Kindergarten and fourth grade
Liam kindergarten Belmont
Kale 9th grade Lincoln Southwest and Emery 5th grade at Adams Elementary
Henry 4th grade
Ist day of 4th grade
Hattan’s 1st day of kindergarten
First day of Kindergarten
First day of middle school
First day of 4th grade for Miss Delia
First day of 5th grade
First Day 17
First Day 18
First Day 13
First Day 14
First Day 15
First Day 10
First day of kindergarten at Eastridge
Fifth grade at Arnold
2nd grade 2.jpg
1st grade & kindergarten.jpg
1st and 3rd Grade.jpeg
5th and 2nd grade
3rd & 5th
3rd and 1st grader.... Little brother is pretty excited about this
1st and 5th grades
Eden’s 1st Day of Kindergarten
Eli first grade
Deacon and Aubri 2nd and 3rd
Demetri and amahni
Dylan 2nd grade Roper Elementary
Alice started second grade
Brysens first day of 1st grade
6th grade and 4th grade
Alexis first day of Kindergarten
3rd grade at Kloefkorn - Graham
First day 3.jpg
Blake 5th grade.jpg
Arya and adalynn first day of second grade
5th grade, Belmont
6th grade Mickle
Alexander 1st day Kindergarten Belmont
2nd grade at Ruth Hill Elementary
Aubrey’s first day of kindergarten
Preston is starting 3rd grade
Savannahs 1st day of 4th grade
Senior in mask
Owen's first day of middle school at Lux
Payton 6th grade at Dawes
12th grade, 6th grade, 5th grade, 3rd grade and kindergarten
Kole 3rd grade
First day of 4th grade and first day of kindergarten
First day of 5th grade
First day of 6th grade at Goodrich Bailee and her puppy King
First day 9
First day 10
First day 11
First day 6
First day 7
First day 8.
First day 4
First day 5
Ellie, 1st grade at Kooser Elementary
Estella. First grade. Everett
Dawes Middle School and north wood elementary
Aydin 6th grade at Culler and Kai 4th grade at Meadow Lane
Besties starting middle school
Alxee (3rd grade) Avery (1st grade)
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