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Friday, December 14, 2018

Back to school tech. (Credit: techdump.com)

In addition to our educational and industrial clients, this summer we at Garb I.T. Consulting Group (GCG) received contracts to manage three new schools, which necessitated the expansion of our  staff in the summer to prep for the fall. We  did this by hiring interns; each summer at GCG we get around fifty internship applications. It is really humbling to get students from schools like TABC, Ramaz, YU Honors, University of Chicago and post-Israel-year abroad students.

In my back to school column, I figured I would display both the skills of our wonderful interns and some of the new education tech products the world has to offer, and explain how our interns helped us prep for fall 2018.

I highly recommend that companies open their doors to internships for students who want to spend a summer learning business ethics, engineering, working in a team and talking to clients. Of course, there are tax issues and insurances that need to be worked out, but the interns we have welcomed are well worth it, and they truly become members of our team.

We give all of the interns a company email, security badge and company shirt. It gives them a vote of confidence, but as far as we are concerned, they truly are full-time engineers. Most of our interns come back to us for more than one summer, so we must be doing something right. Our clients even look forward to meeting our new interns every year.

I tell my colleagues that there is no way we could roll out these aggressive summer projects without our interns. At GCG, the summer is spent building and hashing out state-of-the-art education technologies for schools. My team prepares the rollout and we include the interns who have a fresh young perspective.

This summer we rolled out Clever SSO (single sign-on), Radix MDM and Smartclass and Blocksi filtering. Some of our interns were part of the lead implementation team. We took it up a notch with our in-house imaging and Chromebook rollout. One of our interns perfected the tool in his first week.

If you are a parent of K-12 students or you just want to hear where Ed-Tech is going, here is a brief summary of what the products do.

Clever SSO: Most students from kindergarten and up are now tasked to log in to Chromebooks or even PCs. If your name is [email protected], think of how long this would take a kindergartener to type this in. Then he or she will have to remember their password. Too much time is dedicated from teachers helping these students log in. Clever SSO has a badge with a QR code. The student waves the badge in front of the Chromebook camera and they are logged in. The students then see all of their applications and links on one single portal. A teacher can customize their class with links, apps, videos and more. With middle school students, they are using Gmail, STmath, MAP testing, Lexia and more. There are over twenty products the students would have to remember and a unique login and password. Clever SSO, by waving the badge, signs the student into all the apps at the same moment. The portal saves time on having to push apps to the Chromebooks. (Clever SSO is free for all schools.)

Blocksi is a very unique web filter which is all web-based. There are no onsite firewalls to tweak. Blocksi follows the device or student this is really a managed Chromebook product, at school or at home. The filter allows for YouTube channel filtering, and creates a block and allow list, application blocker and can even create time restrictions. There is a parent portal where a parent can restrict the school-owned Chromebooks by time as well at home, though we have not rolled the parent feature out yet. Blocksi is really a G-Suite for education product. Blocksi imports all of the student’s G-suite accounts. One can track the Chromebooks and run reports. Our school admins find the GUI very simple. A student with an IEP can get extra time built right into Blocksi.

Radix is an Israel-based company and GCG is one of their exclusive resellers (level one and even sales presentations). Radix is focused on the interactive board’s boom. Interactive boards are a touch screen with an operating system on board. There are no bulbs, projectors or a PC to fiddle with. Radix MDM has an application installed on the board. The IT directors can view, update and maintain the board. Windows, Apple products and, most importantly, Chromebooks can all be managed with one web-based central location.

Radix Smartclass allows a teacher to be at the interactive board and broadcast the screen to all of the student’s devices, including Chromebooks. The teacher can chat, take questions, administer tests and more. The teacher can also see the browser  over the devices. The teacher can walk around and type on the board or use a Chromebook and not be tethered to the screen. All of this is done with WiFi. There is no complicated hardware to install. The prices vary based on what type of subscription the user needs.

Please reach out to  [email protected] if you would like more details on our intern program or any of the products.

My sincere gratitude and thanks to all of our interns this summer, including Moshe Golubchik, Yosef Reich, Ari Davidovsky, Shai Gutfriend, and extended thanks to Shalom Gottesman. All of you are amazing and GCG was honored to have you with us.

By Shneur Garb


Shneur Garb is the CEO of The Garb I.T. Consulting Group in New Jersey. Questions and comments can be sent to [email protected]