MRHS Prepares for Hybrid Learning


MRHS is preparing itself for the new hybrid schedule by updating its WIFI and making a few changes to keep students focused while in virtual learning. The Howard County Technology Office will be providing the school with adequate WIFI speeds to ensure that all students and teachers have fast, proper, and reliable internet to use during their time at school.
The WIFI that the school will be using is the same one that is provided county-wide.
“[The WIFI] is actually determined at the county level, we don’t actually have any access to the WIFI settings,” media specialist Lynn Rashid said. She explained that the school does not get to choose their WIFI networks; the county technology office has that power.
Marriotts Ridge will be given 2 networks. One of the networks is the main “HCPSS” wifi which Howard County students and staff will be automatically connected to. The other network will be used for guests only. Every device that is from outside of Howard County or not in the school system will be routed to the guest WIFI.
Since there will be a lot of students in the building, the Technology Office will have to ensure that the whole county minimizes problems with the WIFI by giving staff and students something reliable to use. In an attempt to save bandwidth issues, HCPSS has announced restrictions on many entertainment sites.
“At the county level, they took some additional steps to restrict non-instructional streaming services…eliminating or preventing non-instructional streaming services from being played within the building. Things like Netflix and other entertainment sites that teachers or students might be accessing in their downtime which could potentially occupy precious bandwidth,” Ms. Rashid said.
Another new change that schools will be initiating is the addition of Lightspeed. Lightspeed is a website whose main purpose is to track what tabs students access on their computers. It is already installed on all HCPSS-issued Chromebooks.
“Lightspeed is providing a service that many schools already had,” Ms. Rashid said. She explained that computers in the media center and computer lab already had the function that Lightspeed is providing. Now, Lightspeed will make computer monitoring possible during regular class time, making it easier for teachers to keep their students on task. However, this does not mean that teachers can use Lightspeed whenever they want.
“That’s [use of Lightspeed] going to be at the teacher’s discretion. Obviously if they’re giving an assessment, it is an opportunity where they might use it to ensure that the student is accessing only the [proper] materials… The teachers have all taken training,” Ms. Rashid said. “[Training] helps give them some ideas for ways in which Lightspeed might be useful.”
Teachers will not need to use Lightspeed unless they have the doubt that a student in their class is using a computer inappropriately. The program was carefully selected by the county to make sure that the WIFI would not be affected.
As more students begin returning to the building, the school has been taking many steps to ensure that the Marriotts Ridge students will have proper, fast, and reliable WIFI networks, and safe workplaces during the new hybrid schedule.