Supporting Staff Wellbeing in Your School

January 20th, 2023 by

Wellbeing isn’t just an issue for students, but for teachers and technicians too. High workload, lack of work-life balance, lack of resources and feeling unsupported by leaders can all combine to negatively impact the wellbeing of staff. With so much technology now on board in schools, it’s time to think about how this can not only benefit teaching and learning, but staff wellbeing too. Our classroom management solution, SoftLINK, and IT management solution, DNA, can provide schools with a combination of tools to deliver shortcuts to make technicians’ lives easier, save teachers’ time and alleviate anxieties around technology use…

Making classroom technology accessible

Many teachers struggle to use classroom technology effectively; sticking to a few tried and tested tools. Others simply fear using it much at all and the thought of it causes anxiety and stress. SoftLINK offers three graded ‘user modes’ (Easy, Intermediate and Advanced) to make it more accessible and help them to gain confidence as they progress – or, if the investment has already been made, can enable student digital leaders to assist in supporting others in the class.

Tech takes the strain

Spotting areas where costs or time can be saved is important for schools. Using DNA’s Efficiency view, IT teams can see at a glance if technology is being used effectively and have the opportunity to reduce any wastage. Plus, having to solve problems under pressure isn’t ideal for anyone, so by proactively monitoring hundreds of scenarios for changes, DNA can alert technicians to issues before they become problematic, giving them the opportunity to solve them before they take hold.

To read more about staff wellbeing, access our full PDF here.

Five ways to start the new year with SoftLINK Class Monitoring & Management Software

January 5th, 2023 by

One of our most popular products in our portfolio, SoftLINK is our easy-to-use classroom management tool that gives you the right tools to make sure that learning and teaching in your classroom with technology has impact you want. 

Whether you’re new to the product or could do with a refresher for the start of the academic year, in this blog post, we’ll share 5 of our customer’s favorite features to help you hit the ground running. 

#1 Start at the beginning 

If you’re new to SoftLINK, we strongly recommend you start with the ‘Easy Mode’.

Complete with some of our most regularly used features to support instruction in the classroom via a simple-to-use interface, ‘easy mode’ gets you up and running with tools to support behavior for learning such as the ‘lock all’, ‘blank all’ and ‘block all internet’ options along with the ‘feedback and wellbeing’ option to help you take the temperature of learning in the classroom.  

SoftLINK Feedback and Wellness Mode

#2 Share your screen  

While presenting, the teacher’s device can show its desktop to connected student devices which is the perfect way to help demonstrate a particular point or show students how to complete a particular task.  

This is great for live teaching using technology, so whether you’re demonstrating a Maths technique using OneNote, running through a presentation in PowerPoint or utilizing a visualizer on your desk to live mark a piece of work – SoftLINK is a great tool to support your teaching and their learning.  

#3 Share their screen 

 Just as the ability to share your screen with learners provides opportunities for you to teach, so sharing a student’s screen to other students in the classroom provides lots of opportunities for learning. Whether you’re peer assessing, unpicking misconceptions, or simply discussing a particular response to a question you’ve asked the class, the ability to share the screens of students to other students is great functionality to explore with your classes.  

#4 Keep students on task 

SoftLINK provides you a monitor view which enables you to see whatever is on any of your student’s screens on your teacher device. You can monitor your entire class in a single view, adjust thumbnail size and even overlay helpful information such as the name of the tool they’re using or the URL of the website they’re viewing. If you spot a student off task, it’s a simple task to then intervene, lock their screen, or even send them a message to direct them back on task, without interrupting the flow of learning with your other students.  

#5 Improve efficiency 

Using the application and internet metering feature in SoftLINK you can use single action opening of websites or applications from your teacher console, thus saving you and your learners plenty of time taken in finding the right URL or correct application.  

For more hints and tips like this, be sure to visit Applied Computer Systems, Inc. website.

New whitepaper: Building learner engagement

January 4th, 2023 by

Building learner engagement…

The training and onboarding landscape has changed drastically in the past five years. With a shift towards hybrid and remote working environments, professionals in the Learning and Development field have had to evaluate their approaches to onboarding new employees and conducting continuing training.

Find out how using classroom management and instruction tools, like SoftLINK can help trainers leverage technology to build learner engagement and boost learning outcomes. This new whitepaper discusses just that and highlights the true benefits of implementing the right tools to support your objectives and create a positive learning environment.

Choosing the right tools to boost engagement… 

Using solutions like SoftLINK can help organizations enhance training by bridging the gap video conferencing solutions lack and offer a solution that aligns with the needs of their learners. SoftLINK provides a wide range of possibilities for collaborative instruction, assessment and group working – as well as allowing trainers to guide and present directly to staff devices.

Plus, to increase engagement, SoftLINK also offers tools to allow trainees to interact, question and assess any information presented. It also provides each person with a journal of content from the training session for them to refer to afterwards – for maximum retention.

Find out more about SoftLINK below to see the full benefits. Plus, you can try it for free for 30 days to see how it works in your training environment.

SoftLINK helps to support social distancing!

October 22nd, 2021 by

It is crucial teachers are provided the proper tools to lead lessons safely with vulnerable children still attending school across the country. 

SoftLINK, ACS’s classroom management and instruction solution, incorporates a variety of features well suited for supporting social distancing. With teaching aids like SoftLINK, school districts can create safer learning environments and help to reduce the spread of Covid-19.

SoftLINK’s award winning features include:

  • Sharing the teacher’s screen – students can see explanations without needing to crowd around a single desk/screen
  • Sending out and collecting work automatically – minimize the need to handle books and collect papers
  • Using a virtual whiteboard – students can collaborate and share ideas without being in close proximity
  • Remote control – teachers can remotely assist students without the need to use the students’ keyboards

To find out more ways that SoftLINK can help support social distancing in your classroom, read the PDF below.

ESSER II Funding and SoftLINK: Support for Classroom and Long-Term Remote Learning

March 12th, 2021 by

COVID-19 has had a major impact on everyone’s life since the pandemic’s onset in the spring of 2020.  No aspect of our day-to-day life has been left unaffected, including our educational infrastructure.  Schools have had to abruptly switch from in-person teaching to hybrid or remote learning, or a combination of each.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education has provided more than $13 billion in assistance funding to elementary and secondary schools across the United States under the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund is a small part of the CARES Act.  ESEER funding is available to help states and their local school districts address the learning loss and impact of the national school closures.  It is also intended to assist with the implementation of measures to safely reopen schools.

An additional $54.3 billion was allocated in December 2020 for the ESSER II Fund.  This additional financial support is meant to continue to support schools and students as the pandemic continues.  This equates to roughly $1,000 per student in the public school system.  Currently, these funds will be available for school districts through September 2023.

What technology can your school purchase*?
ESSER and ESSER II lists three major stipulations for the potential purchase and use of learning technology solutions, which are summarized below:

  • Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

*Reference section (d) USES OF FUNDS, subsections (8), (9), and (11) of  Certification and Agreement for Funding under the Education Stabilization Fund Program Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund

Does SoftLINK qualify for ESSER funding?
SoftLINK, along with Applied Computer Systems’ other EdTech solutions, qualify for ESSER funding.  SoftLINK’s unique feature-set “provides classroom instruction” capabilities to teachers, regardless of the student’s electronic device, be it Surface Pro, Chromebook or another device.  ACS also offers a remote learning solution that can provide school districts with “online learning during the summer months” or “during long-term closures.”

How does my school apply for funding**?
State Education Agencies (SEAs) must apply directly to the U.S. Department for Education for ESSER funding.  Local school districts must apply to their appropriate SEA for their ESSER funding.
** Reference Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund)

Additional resources from the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education:

Using SoftLINK in a Remote Desktop (RDP) Environment

October 30th, 2020 by

Does your school currently have a virtual environment? Were you aware you could use SoftLINK to provide remote learning to your students while they are working from home?

Many school districts have already implemented virtual environments for remote access and administration of their technology. Many teachers are surprised to learn that SoftLINK can be ran in these environments and can be used just as it would be in a conventional classroom.

During this unprecedented time, teachers and students can experience some semblance of a normal teaching regiment. Using SoftLINK, teachers can continue to interact with students as if they were sitting together in a classroom. The teacher can discretely observe students’ progress and ensure they stay on task. Teachers are also able to share their own desktop space and limit access to applications and websites to prevent access to inappropriate content. SoftLINK also encourages class participation via its Question and Answer mode, surveys, and student feedback mode.

Can SoftLINK be configured to be invisible on the student computers?

October 29th, 2020 by

Yes, SoftLINK can be configured to conceal its presence from the students. By default, several visual indicators are present on on the student’s PC when connected to a teacher.  The Student Toolbar appears across the top of the student’s screen and a SoftLINK icon appears in the student’s system tray.

In many cases, teachers may not want their students to know they are able to view their screens. To learn how to make SoftLINK invisible on the student workstations, please view the knowledge base article Configure SoftLINK Client to be Transparent.

SoftLINK Instructional Monitoring and Management Software Introduction

February 11th, 2020 by

SoftLINK is the market-leading classroom software solution that provides instructors with an array of dedicated assessment, monitoring, collaboration and control features to help maximize the benefit of technology-led instruction.

SoftLINK is an essential part of the digital classroom. SoftLINK provides the ability to organize and deliver lesson content, work collaboratively, and monitor trainee workstations. With its many tools, an instructor can ensure trainees stay focused at all times. All of SoftLINK’s features are included with a license purchase, including the dedicated instructor interface, SoftLINK Assistant, and Technician module.

  • Trainee feedback visuals to gauge well being and topic confidence
  • ‘Easy’ user mode to support technology-shy instructors
  • Versions for all leading PC and tablet platforms
  • Real-time instruction tools
  • Show or broadcast instructor screen to trainees
  • Show or broadcast trainee screen to remainder of class
  • Live view of trainee thumbnails
  • View and control trainees’ screens
  • Testing, quiz, and survey components
  • Audio monitoring and language lab tools
  • Internet metering, filtering, and control
  • Application metering, filtering, and control
  • Digital student revision aids
  • Printer management
  • Electronically distribute and collect work
  • Dedicated Technicians’ Console

How do I monitor student Chromebooks?

October 10th, 2019 by

Many school districts are being lured to Chromebooks because of their relatively low cost, dependability and access.  However, the new distractions that the Chromebooks offer to students is rarely considered.  Let’s face it, students have and always will goof off during class, and knowing what students are doing is even more important when technology is involved. In addition to fun and games, the Internet opens up a wide range of unsavory information to youth, and it is the teacher’s job to prevent students from accessing these websites during school.

With our SoftLINK classroom management software you can prohibit access to any website, allow access to only an approved list of websites, or block internet access completely.  Just imagine how much stress this will alleviate from your classroom management, knowing the students cannot get to websites that are not approved.  SoftLINK’s intuitive Tutor Console provides a thumbnail view of each student’s desktop, allowing you to monitor and see at a glance what each student is currently doing on their Chromebook. In addition to limiting students’ internet access, SoftLINK gives you full control over each student’s Chromebook.  While giving a lecture, teachers have the ability to lock each student’s keyboard and mouse and they will no longer have any control over their device.

SoftLINK classroom monitoring software is an invaluable tool for any electronic classroom.  SoftLINK supports not only Chromebooks, but Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, and iOS as well.  If your classroom has a mixture of devices, do not worry.  SoftLINK allows you to interact with each operating system and device from a single interface!  No matter what your training environment may be, SoftLINK will enhance the learning experience for the students and will provide teachers with the tools to effectively keep them on task.

SIS Integration with Google Classroom – AVAILABLE NOW in v12.65!

October 3rd, 2019 by

SIS Integration with Google Classroom – AVAILABLE NOW in v12.65!

SoftLINK has extended its Student Information System (SIS) integration and now provides support for Google Classroom.  Teachers are now able to connect to students’ devices using Google Classroom’s “ready to connect” class lists.  This provides seamless connection to the students’ devices, whether they are using Windows devices or even Chromebooks.  The Google Classroom integration allows more flexibility when connecting to student devices while also helping teachers save time by simplifying the classroom setup.

SoftLINK also continues to support SIS integration via ClassLink OneRoster. Once synchronized with OneRoster, the SoftLINK Tutor can identify the SIS data (teacher, lesson, and student roster) relevant to the teacher’s current lesson. Not only does this feature help teachers save time when setting up their technology-led lessons, but also offers more flexibility when connecting to student devices!

Please refer to our SoftLINK SIS Integration guide for more information.