Category: In the News

Creative Minds Smart Hands

Create Future-Ready, Life-Long Learners with Pitsco

Preparing Students For Their Future

Complex challenges don’t have to have complex solutions.

  • It’s estimated that by 2030, 38% of jobs will be automated. By that time, there will be 500 billion connected devices in the world.
  • Plus, Houston…we have and engagement problem. Only 49% of U.S. public school students are engaged in school.

Coding and robotics represent an opportunity to engage students while preparing them to face the complications of the real world.

Pitsco Education is on a mission to make it easy for schools to bring these materials through their K-12 Coding and Robotics Continuum.

Pitsco’s goal is to make it easy for schools to bring these materials to the classroom to create lifelong learners, successful professionals, and engaged citizens.

The company promises to remove barriers, to bring cutting-edge education technology into the classroom, and to help teachers find new, relevant ways to do what they do best.

Pitsco meets students where they are by delivering age-appropriate, hands-on solutions that enable all K-12 learners to thrive. Explore Pitsco’s robust Coding and Robotics solutions today!

Plus, AEPA members get 2% off their purchase of Pitsco products along with free shipping on orders of $100 or more! Remember to enter promo code AEPA22 during checkout!

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Preston Frazier
Illinois Sales
800-835-0686 Ext. 4559

Learn More About Pitsco Education
Pitsco Education Blog

Google Extends AUE Support on Several CTL Models

ILTPP has recently renewed its direct contract with Computer Technology Link (CTL). A US based company, CTL is a technology solutions provider, that has been supplying technology solutions, including CTL Laptops, PCs, LCD Monitors, Servers and Chromebooks to education customers throughout the United States for over 28 years.

CTL’s comprehensive chrome solutions include industry-recognized education-specific Chromebooks, value-added software titles, deployment assistance, and professional development offerings.

Since 2013, CTL has assisted with education partners of all sizes on their chrome deployments. Ranging from total 1:1 deployments to smaller, more intimate classroom deployments, CTL has helped schools across the United States implement chrome solutions that best fit the unique needs of each district.

Google has extended AUE support on the below several CTL models.

CTL Chromebook NL6September 2021 + 15 months additional
CTL Chromebook NL61/TJune 2022 + 1 year additional
CTL Chromebook J5June 2022 + 1 year additional
CTL Chromebook NL7/NL7T/NL7TW/J41June 2024 + 7 months additional
CTL Chromebox CBx1-X/CTL CBx1-7 and CBx1 for Hangouts MeetJune 2025 + 1 year additional

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Aaron Pearson
Senior National Account Manager

Learn More About CTL

How to Use the Vaping and Juuling Trend to Teach Media Literacy

Help students recognize and analyze age-old advertising tricks.

It’s estimated that 3 million students vape, a shocking stat to many but not to teachers, who have seen it take over school campuses firsthand. Many of these young people use one e-cigarette or vaping product in particular: Juul. These devices, which mimic the design of USB flash drives, have secured 75% of a rapidly growing market. Juul, like other vaping products, has been marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco, lacking smoke and tar. And while vaping is less harmful, we don’t yet know all of its impacts. We do know, however, that many vaping products are jam-packed with nicotine and are highly addictive

So how did Juul and other e-cig products get to the point where 20.9% of high school seniors and 10.9% of eighth-graders report they’ve vaped in the last year? Some point to the clever, social media-friendly ad campaigns and marketing efforts of Juul in the early 2010s. These ads made Juul seem like a hip, innovative wellness and lifestyle brand. As Robert Jackler points out, these ads reworked and updated versions of tried-and-true — and since banned — techniques used by old-school cigarette companies.

While Juul has since abandoned these campaigns, the Juul ads, along with the cigarette ads before them, provide a great case study of the persuasive tricks and deeper meaning of advertisements and commercials. The following video, discussion guide, and activity are designed to help students build these key media-literacy skills.

Juul ads, along with the cigarette ads before them, provide a great case study on the persuasive tricks and deeper meaning of advertisements and commercials.

Recommended for:

Grades: 6-12
Subjects: ELA, social studies, digital citizenship, advertising/marketing, business

Prep for teachers

In the classroom

Hook (seven minutes):

  • Before screening the video, ask students to take notes while they watch.
  • Provide them with an essential question to focus their viewing — e.g., “What contributed to the rise of e-cigarettes and vaping?” 
  • Show the Vox video “How Juul made nicotine go viral.”

Whole-class discussion activity (10 minutes):

Use these questions, as needed, to guide discussion. Help students tease out the various ways products get sold to us and the specific strategies that get used.

  • Juul has stopped using the ads featured in this video. So why do you think vaping and Juul remain so popular?
  • What other ways does interest in vaping, Juul, or other e-cigarette products spread now? 
  • (If students mention memes): Do you think of memes people create and share as advertisements? Do you think Juul’s ad campaigns had any influence on these memes? What else influences the content of memes?
  • (If students mention YouTube videos and Twitch streams, etc.): Are some of these things ads themselves? How can you tell? Does it even matter whether something is paid for by an e-cigarette or vaping company or not? 
  • What do you think is the appeal of vaping products like Juul versus cigarettes? How do ads or other forms of marketing lean into that appeal or not?
  • Many of these advertising and marketing techniques can’t be used by cigarette companies. Why do you think that is? Do you think the same government crackdown and regulation will happen to e-cigarettes?

Student handout (can be done in class or at home depending on time and resources): 

Note: There are two implementation options below specific to Juul and cigarette ads, but the handout can also be used to analyze any kind of advertisement on any topic.

Low-tech or more scaffolding option:

High-tech option or more challenging option

  • Share a link to the Smithsonian’s Marilyn E. Jackler Memorial Collection of Tobacco Advertisements with students, along with the handout and this Juul ad
  • Demonstrate to students how to browse the Smithsonian’s library of ads on the left. Show them how to look for the blue box to locate digitized materials and then how to open a PDF of an ad.
  • Instruct students to find an ad in the Smithsonian collection that has a theme and/or uses an advertising technique similar to the provided Juul ad.
  • Instruct students to analyze the two ads and complete the questions on the handout.

Possible follow-ups

Top photo credit: Georgia Geen for VCU Capital News Service and licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0.

Editor’s note: This resource is part of a monthly series that helps teachers facilitate classroom discussions about trending and timely issues in the news and media. For more, browse our library of news and media literacy articles.

International Education Week 2019

International Education Week (IEW), November 18-22, 2019, is an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide. This joint initiative of the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education is to promote programs that prepare Americans for a global environment and attract future leaders from abroad to study, learn, and exchange experiences.

The U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education both encourage the participation of all individuals and institutions interested in international education and exchange activities, including schools, colleges and universities, embassies, international organizations, businesses, associations, and community organizations. Individuals and institutions tend to hold IEW events as it is convenient for them in their local communities. Celebrate as much and as often as you like! To that end, promotional materials are provided that allow you the flexibility to promote events whenever they may be planned!

To connect with and host international exchange participants living in your own community, contact the Global Ties office near you.


Interested in sharing with your followers? Use one of these images when sharing with the hashtag, #IEW2019!

Global Maker Day – October 29, 2019

The Global Maker Day Committee is made up of volunteer educators that are passionate about all students having the opportunity to create and collaborate with a global audience. Their hope is to start a global flame to build innovative students who solve problems, push boundaries, and MAKE! Explore the maker in you and share your inner genius with the world. Coming to classrooms October 29, 2019. #GlobalMakerDay

This committee also features LTC’s independent author, speaker, and consultant, Jaime Donally!

Global Maker Day Opportunities


Connect virtually and watch makers discuss live (YouTube Live) about different projects, learning spaces, creations, coding, 3D designs, art lessons, etc. There will be a session each half hour and they each will have a connected challenge.  When you arrive to the landing page, you can view the schedule, challenges and watch the live presentations.  


We will spotlight those that have amazing things to share.  Don’t forget to post your pictures and videos of student creations using #GlobalMakerDay on Twitter during and after the event! 


One part of the event is participating in challenges with opportunity for your class to solve problems, be creative and PLAY. Challenges will be posted on the landing page and given in the sessions during the day of the event.

Pitsco Education Global Maker Day Giveaway

Charged with knowledge. Wired for fun. Engineered for experiences. It’s an electric combination!

Let’s MAKE Arduino Education a part of your classroom. In recognition of Global Maker Day, enter to win one of FIVE Arduino Starter Kit Classroom Packs! Winner announced on October 30, 2019.

Make it, then make it yours. Looking for inspiration?
Check out what these Pitsco Education staffers made using Arduino Education kits, supplies, or technology.

#DigCitWeek: Be Internet Awesome Curriculum by Google

Digital Citizenship Week runs from October 14-18, 2019. This week is an annual event that teachers, schools, and districts can leverage to increase awareness of digital citizenship education. Some schools use the week to celebrate the digital citizenship program they already have in place. Others, use it as a time to kick-off an initiative.

Be Internet Awesome Curriculum has been created jointly by Google, The Net Safety Collaborative, and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition.

This program is designed solely to educate today’s students on the skills they need to ensure digital safety. The curriculum of the program allows educators to access the latest tools and lessons necessary to keep students updated on digital safety and citizenship fundamentals in the classroom.

As of this year, the curriculum contains six new media literacy activities that bring the most critical teachings to the surface. The curriculum is separated into five fundamental topics of digital citizenship and safety to form the Internet Code of Awesome.

  • Share with Care (Be Internet Smart)
  • Don’t Fall for Fake (Be Internet Alert)
  • Secure Your Secrets (Be Internet Strong)
  • It’s Cool to Be Kind (Be Internet Kind)
  • When in Doubt, Talk It Out (Be Internet Brave)

Make learning fun for your 2nd through 6th grade students with key vocabulary, class discussions, and gameplay. Experimenting with your learners is encouraged!

The International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) completed an independent audit of Be Internet Awesome. The curriculum has been recognized as a resource that prepares young learners to meet the 2019 ISTE Standards for Students. Additionally, ISTE has awarded Be Internet Awesome with the Seal of Alignment for Readiness!

Digital Citizenship Week: October 14-18

Digital Citizenship Week runs from October 14-18, 2019. This week is an annual event that teachers, schools, and districts can leverage to increase awareness of digital citizenship education. Some schools use the week to celebrate the digital citizenship program they already have in place. Others, use it as a time to kick-off an initiative.

This year, Common Sense Education has put together three sets of video discussion activities that can be used by teachers to get students thinking and talking about their media use.

Amplify your students’ voices and give them ownership of their digital lives.

Digital citizens think critically about what they see online, understand the benefits and risks of sharing information, and balance screen time with other activities. But digital citizens aren’t born—they’re taught by teachers like you!

Kick off this Digital Citizenship Week by giving your students the space to voice their perspectives on topics important to them with digital citizenship video discussion activities for all ages (details below).

Video Discussion Activities for Digital Citizenship Week

Digital Citizenship Week Elementary Activities Image

Activities for Elementary School (Ages 5–11)

Add a daily dose of digital citizenship to your week with the Digital Citizens (they’re a band!). These fun characters help young students learn about healthy media habits. And the videos for older elementary students will get them talking about how to recognize cyberbullying, how to find credible news and information, and more.

Digital Citizenship Week Middle School Activities Image

Activities for Middle School (Ages 11–14)

Our Teen Voices video series will help middle school students reflect on their tech use and make thoughtful, informed choices. They’ll also discuss the benefits and drawbacks of social media, how to deal with digital drama, and ways to keep online friendships safe.

Digital Citizenship Week High School Activities Image

Activities for High School (Ages 14–18)

With these videos and discussion questions, high schoolers can reflect on their social media use and think about how their actions online might affect others. Discussions include understanding online hate speech, how much screen time is too much, and ways to communicate with people who disagree with you.

Common Sense Education helps educators find the best edtech tools, learn best practices for teaching with tech, and equip students with the skills they need to think critically and use technology responsibly to learn, create, and participate. Go to Common Sense Education for FREE resources including full reviews of digital tools, ready-made lesson plans, videos, webinars, and more.

Troxell Communications and CDI Technologies Announce Merger

Merged company to be named Troxell-CDI, will provide expanded product and service offerings, enhanced sales coverage and support across the US & Canada, and a broader portfolio of leading vendors and partners. Troxell-CDI provides an unmatched local market presence that understands evolving technology needs and delivers the right solutions to Education customers.

CDI Technologies, the leading provider of recertified technology, white glove services and device lifecycle management to the North American Education vertical, and Troxell Communications, the leading end-to-end solution provider of technology solutions for Education in the US, announced that the companies merged today. Troxell-CDI will become the premier Education Technology Solutions Provider servicing North America.

The merged company will leverage scale, synergies and a broader portfolio of product offerings and classroom technologies from over 500 vendors to better service students and educators. It will bring together over 175 experienced sales professionals to service over 70 million students in 50 states, Puerto Rico, DC and Canada, and aims to bring its customer-led, best of breed education solutions to every educational institution across North America.

The combined Troxell-CDI technology products and services portfolio comprises over 15 high-interest categories. This together with plans for increased investment in developing and introducing exciting new Education technology solutions will greatly expand the number of solutions available to customers.

Troxell-CDI Technolog Products and Services Portfolio:

  • STEM/Makerspace Technologies
  • Audio-Visual (Projectors, Large Format Displays)
  • New Devices
  • Recerrtified Devices
  • Wireless Connectivity/Software Applications
  • Peripherals/Accessories
  • Collaborative Furniture
  • Professional Development
  • Installation and Integration Services
  • Warranty and Protection Services
  • White Glove Services
  • Finance and Leasing Programs
  • EDTech-as-a-Service
  • Buy-back and end of life Programs
  • Asset Management Software
  • Security Campus Safety Solutions

“CDI and Troxell are extremely complementary and together create a powerhouse in the Education Technology space,” said CDI CEO, Erez Pikar. “This merger expands the depth and breadth of our offering, doubles our sales reach and support into the Education space, and establishes a scalable platform for future growth.”

“Both companies share a commitment to inspiring and forming long-term relationships with educators at the local level, which in some cases span over 50 years. We believe that Troxell-CDI will enable us to offer a broader portfolio of leading brands and end-to-end technology solutions, and deliver an even higher level of personalized service and value to our customers.” said Mike Ruprich, Troxell CEO.

Troxell-CDI will be headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona. The merged organization will be led by Erez Pikar as CEO. Mike Ruprich will continue to play an important role in the integration of the two companies and will shift to a governance role serving on the Board of Directors.

The merger is supported by several positive trends in the education market including: 1) Technology becoming a more meaningful partner to educators in the classroom, 2) Continued deployment of mobile devices in education with the goal of one device per student, and 3) the preference of educators to work with a trusted 3rd party technology provider who can deliver an end-to-end experience supported at the local level.

Both companies have a long history of helping educators use technology to engage students and achieve better learning outcomes. As trusted partners, they have made it easier for educators to choose, purchase, finance, deploy, maintain and refresh classroom technologies. This merger will enable Troxell-CDI to combine forces and further this mission.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Bill Walter
Account Executive

Learn More About Troxell-CDI

SMART Learning Suite Online Now Integrates with G Suite

SMART Learning Suite Online (SLS Online) now integrates with G Suite! Teachers and schools can now access SLS Online from within G Suite to create, deliver, organize and share lessons, leveraging the existing Google tools and workflows already used in the classroom (An admin currently needs to install it — here’s how).

This new integration means there’s no need for teachers to waste time by switching to a new platform during a lesson. Even better, teachers can easily share their SLS Online lessons directly from Google Drive or Google Classroom.

Open, create and store SLS Online lessons directly from G Suite.

To create a lesson in Google Drive, select New > More > SMART Learning Suite. When SLS Online opens, select import from Google Drive to import a file, such as a PDF, to start creating a lesson. The lesson will automatically open in Creation Mode. You can then add activities and assessments, and further tailor your lesson to meet your needs.  

Your SLS Online lessons are automatically stored in Google Drive alongside your other files, meaning you don’t have to go hunting for lessons or content in different platforms and places. Create specific folders for subjects, such as Math or Geography, and store your SLS Online lessons in there along with other relevant files in your Google Drive.

Deliver lessons to students and share with colleagues.

To deliver the lesson, simply right click on it from inside Google Drive, choose Open With and then choose SMART Learning Suite. If you’d like to send your lesson to students for homework, simply create a link as you would for any other Google Doc and share it. You can also assign it to students directly from Google Classroom, meaning you don’t have to change anything about your existing workflow.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

COTG is a certified reseller and ILTPP contract holder of SMART Technologies.

Joe Castelluccio
Director of Sales – Education & Government

Securly Announces TechPilot Labs Acquisition

Bringing the Online Student Experience Full Circle

Securly released the K-12 market’s first cloud-based web filter product back in 2013. Now, the company supports over 7 million students in more than 2,000 school districts around the world. Securly’s latest announcement of the acquisition of TechPilot Labs ensures its continued growth within classrooms across the globe.

Designed specifically and exclusively for schools, TechPilot Labs began in 2012 with a unique concept: managing mobile devices in schools should be simple, teachers should have control over those devices in the classroom, and technology departments should be able to easily deploy, secure, and manage those devices.

Because founder Jarrett Volzer could not find a solution that met those needs, the spark for TechPilot Labs was ignited. Since then, the company has built its reputation on engaging both educators and technology departments in the device management process, starting with mobile device management, then adding classroom management in 2018.

As of this year, TechPilot Labs has been acquired by Securly. This alliance enabled schools to finally be able to manage and improve the use of digital devices, from start to finish.

The need is clear for a comprehensive solution that addresses not only the districts’ requirements to manage devices, filter websites and information, and monitor usage for safety, but also engages parents with a view into their child’s learning in the classroom and at home and empowers teachers to effectively manage technology in their classrooms. Securly has grown from a focus on web filtering to a more comprehensive solution for online student safety. Now, the company’s mission is expanding to focus more holistically on the overall success of the student, encompassing online protection, emotional safety, and educational empowerment.

Contact your dedicated Account Manager:

Joe Meldrich
Regional Sales Executive

Marissa Angel
Account Executive

Learn More About Securly