Shadik Technologies Delivers Remote Learning Solutions to Private Schools in the Midst of a Global Pandemic

Shadik Technologies is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and has been providing affordable Business Technology Services solutions to clients since 2001.

Shadik helps clients streamline technology solutions and reduce costs by delivering robust and dependable hosted or in-house Business Technology Services. Shadik is the Business Technology Services provider of choice for organizations across the United States. The company was founded on the principle of delivering high quality, personalized and friendly service for all of their clients. Four years ago Shadik expanded their offering to include VoIP services.

They researched partners and made the decision to become a reseller of Flowroute, now part of BCM One, to deliver VoIP services. Shadik was looking for a partner who would be responsive, flexible and have deep VoIP knowledge. They have been very pleased with how the partnership with Flowroute has evolved. The VoIP part of their business has grown by over 20% in just a few short years.

“The Flowroute team has been extremely responsive and reliable”, said Joseph Weisfish, owner of Shadik Technologies. “We have been blown away by their deep knowledge of VoIP and SIP trunking. Flowroute has been a great addition to the breadth of IT services we provide our clients.”

Global crisis disrupts education at schools across the country

One client, a private K-8 school in the Los Angeles area, reached out to Shadik to inquire about creating a non-internet-based type of remote learning for their students.

The school also has a smaller Boys High School Division and there is a preschool too. Altogether there are about 400 students between the schools. Shadik was already providing voice services to the K-8 school.

The schools found themselves having to pivot quickly to remote learning due to the restrictions for on-site learning brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic. The schools didn’t want to use screens as a solution for remote learning for a variety of reasons. Some of the children are very young and also many of the parents want to limit the kids screen time. These schools, especially in the grade school, don’t allow the children to have their own mobile phones. And in the high school, mobile phone use is highly filtered. They are trying to minimize the use of mobile phones as much as possible.

The school was looking for a phone-based solution to deliver remote learning to their students. They needed a simple solution that could be delivered quickly and at a minimal cost since this was an unplanned but urgent need for the schools. Many of the users are non-technical or very young children so the solution needed to be very simple to use.

Schools were looking for a phone-only solution for remote learning

Shadik worked with the schools to devise a simple remote learning program that would quickly meet their needs. The solution involves the teachers calling in and recording messages for their classes via the phone. Students and parents pick up a paper packet of lessons each week at the school and students then call in and listen to the recorded message from their teachers. Most of the classes did not start out with any live instruction or interactive instruction with the audio. That’s what the schools wanted to do as their initial plan.

Subsequently, some grades have incorporated conference calls and hold a live conference call every day. The length of the recordings varies by grade. For example, a preschool teacher may record for 20 or 30 minutes and tell a story, read a book, or teach a lesson about the tongue and taste buds and how different parts of the tongue taste different things. Older grades may have a phone tree where they press one for science and press two for math. The high school has configured their phone tree for special events where they may press one for a school wide message from the principal or a special lecture.

The schools are also having fun with the system. High schoolers need social interaction, so the student body has come up with fun things like playing games and leaving messages for their friends using the system. The secretary of the high school listens to all the messages and every day she leaves a new recording of the daily announcements.

The program has been evolving over time. In the beginning it was just one pre-recorded message, then they added many more pre-recorded messages, and then added the ability to divide it up so students could press numbers for messages on different subjects. It’s gotten more interactive over time. For example, one week they may be focusing on friendship. Students can call in to separate lines and leave a message about what they did for a friend that day. They’ve devised contests and school-wide raffles and then they announce on the live conference calls who won the raffle for the week.

All in the family

Shadik Technologies owners, Joseph and Sharon Weisfish, got their whole family involved in helping the schools move to remote learning. “My son took a Python programming course in college and decided to create a program for the school to track attendance for distance learning,” said Joseph. “All of the teachers and principals get the daily attendance emailed to them based on matching up the phone numbers.”

Joseph provided his son with the call detail record (CDR) log files from their PBX that are gleaned from Flowroute. Using the CDR report, his son created an application that parses the data by class and then automatically emails each attendance to the relevant teacher. The teachers and the principals now have the student attendance record and can see who’s participating each day. The teachers can use this information to call students and ask them why they haven’t been participating in class. If a particular student is finding it hard to learn this way the teacher can schedule one-on-one calls to address their learning needs in a more personalized way.

Without the attendance app it would be way too time consuming to filter through rows and rows of Excel spreadsheets and send them out individually to teachers. The attendance app does it in literally 30 seconds.

Their daughter, who is in her master’s program for marriage and family therapy and Licensed Professional Counseling, works at one of the schools Shadik is helping. She set up a phone line to give kids a chance to talk about what it’s like to be learning at home. They set up times to call in and she moderates live conferences where the kids can speak about how they’re feeling. She also did a live conference call on peer pressure.

The feedback has been positive from the sessions and it shows how the system is being used for the academic needs of the students as well as their mental health needs. These conferences have been great for teenagers who so desperately need social interaction and are able to talk with their classmates to normalize some of their feelings of boredom and the frustration of not being able to see their friends.

Other schools heard about Shadik through word of mouth

Once Shadik set up the initial schools, word started to get around. Shadik was contacted by another girl’s High School with 400 students in the Los Angeles area. The administrator was panicking about how to do remote learning. They have a school-wide conference each day at noon that averages about 300 people.

Throughout the day and the weekend they are utilizing pre-recorded messages and lessons. The kids and parents can call in and listen at their own convenience. So it can be any time of the day or night that they listen in on the recorded classes. It really works out for parents who are working from home during the shutdown. They can do the classes with their kids in the evening and on weekends.

Lately the word about how Shadik set up ‘phone only’ remote learning for schools in Los Angeles has traveled across the country. They started getting calls from similar type schools across the country that were also looking for a very simple phone call-only solution without internet-based video or SMS.

Staying prepared for the next crisis

Once the crisis of the global pandemic is over Joesph thinks the system will still be used for some things. “Maybe for school wide announcements and things like that,” he said. “I believe they’ll want to use the services going forward though. I think they’re all going to have to look into having an emergency contingency plan in place ready to go.” The schools obviously don’t want to continue this way forever. Their primary choice is to hold school in their brick and mortar institutions.

Everybody, including the public-school system was completely unprepared for this. All organizations and businesses are going to need a contingency remote work or remote learning plan. One way all businesses and schools can start now to prepare for future disruptions is to move to a VoIP phone solution if they currently are using landlines and legacy hardware. VoIP solutions are hosted in the cloud and bring more flexibility and agility so you can implement features you may need to have very quickly.

Flowroute resellers, like Shadik Technologies, can work with organizations to migrate to VoIP solutions and then develop tailored solutions and workflows that help organizations grow faster and run more efficiently.

Stepping up in a global crisis

Shadik Technologies has modeled what it means to step-up and respond to a global crisis. Joseph Weisfish had clients calling him that needed to be set up remotely from their homes because they couldn’t work in their offices during the crisis. He really dedicated himself to getting the schools up and running so that the kids could continue learning and have a normal schedule with their classes. Flowroute was able to discount some of the cost and Shadik passed this savings onto their clients and also sponsored some of the cost for the schools to implement the remote learning solutions.


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