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Digital Tools

Digital tools are available to assist educators in communicating with students and families, facilitating distance or online learning, and creating engaging instructional and learning opportunities for students.  The lists below include options districts/schools may want to investigate or utilize in continuity of learning plans.

Education Law 2-d and Part 121 of the Commissioner’s Regulations outline requirements for school districts and BOCES related to the protection of the personally identifiable information of students, as well as some teacher and principal information.  As districts develop and refine continuity of education plans related to school closures they should be mindful of privacy and security laws and regulations. 

Decisions on continuity of learning, including instructional decisions, methods, tools, curriculum, and resources utilized, are a local decision. The resources listed here are provided as options and examples only, in an attempt to provide helpful information. NYSED does not require, recommend, endorse, or advise on any specific program or product. All instructional decisions are made at the local level.

Communication Tools
  1. Traditional communication tools, such as phone, e-mail, websites, and popular common social media channels
  2. Notification tools - Tools such as the below can help educators stay in contact with families and older students (through messaging, chat, photofeed) without sharing personal contact information, and will translate messages into 35+ languages. 
  3. Video/web conferencing tools - Depending on the available features or type of license, educators can use online conferencing tools to connect with each other or to professional development providers; record instruction for students to reference; or connect with students synchronously.  Teachers can also set up collaborative work sessions between older student groups. In all instances, educators using video/online conferencing tools should do so with the approval of their local school district to ensure all users' personally identifiable information is protected. 

This resource, created by the BOCES of New York, provides important information for using online conferencing tools with students, educators, families, and the public.

Technology Tools for Instruction

A large number of educational technology tools exist to assist educators in creating engaging and quality learning experiences for students.  Schools and districts are encouraged to consult with local curriculum, instruction, and educational technology experts for suggestions.  Technology tools can assist teachers with providing instruction and developing learning experiences that introduce, build on, and reinforce content knowledge skills and foster the 21st Century Skills, which include Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Problem Solving. 

The tools provided below each instructional strategy are examples only. 

Tools for Instruction can be used to...

  • Deliver instruction synchronously
  • Record instruction for students to view asynchronously
  • Curate resource collections and/or "playlists" (menus of learning experiences)
  • Create interactive lessons
  • Build assessments, polls, checks for understanding, and learning games
  • Facilitate small group discussions or think-pair-shares
    • Consider discussion board threads assigned to groups of students or chat functions found in your LMS
    • Flipgrid
    • Videoconferencing software, such as WebEx/Zoom/Google Meet
  • Teaching Strategies and tools for helping students to communicate with others to build cultural awareness
  • Create personalized learning experiences to meet students' needs
    • Most learning management systems allow teachers to assign work to specific students or groups of students. Teachers can also offer students a choice in content or presentation type in the LMS/CMS.
      • For example, teachers can offer students the choice or multiple modalities of learning such as offering an article, video, and/or podcast on a specific topic.  Students can also be given choice in assignments - for example, they can choose to upload an essay, voice recording, or link an infographic to display their understanding on a topic.
Technology Tools for Learning

A large number of educational technology tools exist to assist educators in creating engaging and quality learning experiences for students.  Schools and districts are encouraged to consult with local curriculum, instruction, and educational technology experts for suggestions.  Technology tools can assist teachers with providing instruction and developing learning experiences that introduce, build on, and reinforce content knowledge skills and foster the 21st Century Skills, which include Communication, Collaboration, Creativity and Problem Solving. 

The tools provided below each learning strategy/activity are examples only. 

Tools for learning can facilitate students' ability to...

Learning and Content Management Systems
  1. Learning Management System (LMS) - LMSs are software applications that allow educators to administer, document, deliver, and track online learning.  Depending on the system, educators can upload content, create activities and assessments, and communicate with students all within a closed system.  Districts should reach out to their local RIC to find out which LMSs are supported regionally.  Common LMSs include
  2. Other Systems
    • Google Classroom / GSuite for Education - Google offers free productivity and management tools specifically for education.  Google Classroom is one product in G Suite for Education, which also includes Google Drive, Docs, Sheets (spreadsheet), Slides (presentation tool), and more. Classroom works with GSuite for Education so that instructors and students can communicate easily, create classes, distribute work, and stay organized
    • Microsoft Office 365 / Teams - Schools can build collaborative classrooms, connect in professional learning communities, and connect with colleagues with Office 365, which includes Microsoft Teams.
 

Synchronous Instruction

Asynchronous Instruction

Curate resource collections

Assessments, polls, quizzes, check for understanding

Small group discussions or think-pair-shares

Create personalized learning experiences

Buzz Agilix (add-on in Zoom)

Canvas (add-on Big Blue Button)

Moodle (add-ons)

Schoology (add-on Big Blue Button)

 

Other Systems

 

Synchronous Instruction

Asynchronous Instruction

Curate resource collections

Assessments, polls, quizzes, check for understanding

Small group discussions or think-pair-shares

Create personalized learning experiences

Google Classroom

(with Forms)

Microsoft Teams

(with Forms)

Important note: In compliance with state law and regulation, educational agencies must take measures to protect students’ personally identifiable information from unauthorized access when considering utilizing digital (distance) learning platforms. Examples of such measures include minimizing the amount of data shared to only that necessary, deidentifying data to prevent the public disclosure of students personally identifiable information, and the use of encryption or an equivalent technical control that renders personally identifiable information unusable, unreadable or indecipherable to unauthorized persons when transmitted electronically.  For more information, please refer to NYSED's Data Privacy and Security website.