Winter 2023

Winter 2023 Issue

Welcome to the inaugural edition of LevelEDup, the LTC’s new quarterly journal on educational technology!

As educators, we find ourselves surrounded by the promises of technology to enhance and transform teaching, learning, and leadership. LevelEDup is one of our efforts to highlight these opportunities, providing resources and insights as we examine programs and innovative uses of technology throughout Illinois. We hope to invite questions about what might be possible if we welcome new technologies into our schools, adopt technology-rich instructional strategies, support educators with ongoing and embedded professional learning, and build infrastructures to support innovation.

In this issue, we explore topics like drones, maker spaces, artificial intelligence, and computer science. Technology abounds in our schools, and it is our goal that this magazine helps today’s educators encounter many of the opportunities it holds.

Tim McIlvain, Executive Director


5 Tips for Growing your PLN 

Now that we’re a full step into the new year, it’s time to start making good on our New Year’s resolutions. For many educators, that includes forging new connections and implementing new strategies for making professional learning sustainable all year long.

One way you can do both at once is through a professional learning network or PLN. A robust PLN is your ticket to ongoing professional development that’s tailored to your individualized learning goals. 

Here are five strategies for growing your PLN that I recommend to all K-12 teachers and administrators.

More on Page 8

Insights from Illinois’ Newest FAA Certified Drone Pilots 

Drones are becoming increasingly popular – so much so that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has begun issuing licenses for commercial and recreational drone operation. In turn, some K-12 school districts have begun implementing drone programs with the goal of fostering more hands-on STEM learning.

Two of the LTC’s Regional Educational Technology Coordinators, Eric Santos and Ben Sondgeroth, recently completed this licensing process. Learn from their experiences in this exclusive interview and Q & A on starting a drone program in your district.

More on Page 12

Makerspace Tour | Oak Park and River Forest High School

Makerspaces are all about space, opportunity, and collaborative learning – three components clearly embodies at Oak Park and River Forest High School in Oak Park, Illinois. Their space, which fully launched at the start of the 2022-23 school year, is a dedicated area where students can explore and experiment with modern design and production technology alongside traditional arts and crafts.

See pictures, including spaces for 3D printing, video recording, podcasting, and collaboration, in this exclusive tour!

More on Page 19

State & Local Cybersecurity Grant Program: What it Means for K-12 Schools

Cybercrime is on the rise, and year after year, K-12 education has become an increasingly large target. Fortunately, this threat hasn’t gone unnoticed. As part of a recent spending
package, the US federal government has recently appropriated over $1 billion for states to spend on improving cybersecurity in the public sector.

K-12 school districts stand to benefit from this program. Here’s what K-12 district leaders need to know about this funding opportunity, including steps you can take now to better protect mission-critical networks and data.

More on Page 24

FREE LevelEDup Resources

Coding for Littles

Coding for Littles is a great resource for helping identify fun, hands-on ways to introduce basic computer science concepts to K-2 students. Each poster in this collection includes a summary of key CS vocabulary in kid-friendly language, as well as example activities teachers can use to bring those concepts to life through play.

Professional Sharing Tricks | Simple URL Swaps in Google Docs

Did you know the link for a Google Doc determines how it appears to someone when it’s shared? You can even create automatic copies of your documents without needing to give other users access to the original.

Try these quick link hacks to make your shares more professional and easy to use!


6 Tips to Improve Your Workflow in Gmail

In this month’s tech tip, RETC Lisa Schwartz demonstrates how to tap into some of Gmail’s lesser-known features:

  • How to Create Confidential Emails
  • How to Create Templates
  • How to Archive Emails
  • How to Create Labels
  • How to Recall Any Email