Google Apps vs Office 365 : The Simplest Answer You Will Eventually Read

decide

I have traveled to many places on the planet Earth. I have been in deserts, jungles, various oceans, in the frigid cold of Eastern Europe, and the unbearable summers of the Arabian Gulf.

I have found that sometimes I encounter a new place that seems like a place I would want to live. Something about it truly stands-out. I am not one to move on quickly. I tend to linger and explore. I want to find the underlying reason for the charm. I want to be as objective as possible. After all, I have learned that if I decide to move and live somewhere, I can move and live anywhere.

Visits always end, and returning back to home is inevitable. It is only after a person returns home, and they are completely unable to ‘be’ where they were, that they understand what not being there means.

This inability to connect truly helps shape the final and most objective opinion we can form, always a little bias, but honest about the reality of where we are and where we could go.

Only in this state of objective absenteeism can a person say, “Yes. I do want to change and do something different in a different place.”  Or, “No. I think what I have is all I need, and change would be less gain and more loss in the long run.”

I am telling you, without any hesitation, that being disconnect and unable to fluidly use Google Apps, the Google Api, and the millions of websites that are Google powered has limited my ability to reach students, families, and staff. It has forced me to create small pieces of infrastructure, at significant cost, just to get beyond word processing and email.

I am in a place where it is impossible to guarantee universal access to anything powered or owned by Google solutions. Most people are not aware that over a million websites use the Google Api, store their videos on Youtube, or use Jquery hosted by Google. Most of the free sites used by people sporting Web 2.0 interfaces for schools use these services.

Google Apps is not about mail and making documents, it is about being part of a massive ecosystem. If all you do is bicker and worry over the best way to make a presentation or send an email, then as a technology leader you are doing a disservice to your community.

Everyday I manage and implement features for my campuses with Office 365 and Sharepoint. My team and have just been recognised by Microsoft as leaders in our region for our implementation. I use everything they have. I design solutions in Sharepoint, move people into OneDrive for Business against their will, and create training materials full of hints and tricks like a boss.

Doubt not! I am an Office 365 ninja.

But if I had a choice, I would simply use Office 365 for office staff only. Anything and anyone connected to teaching and learning would be on Google Apps.  I would run multiple email domains, which I do anyway, and share data via the Active Directory.

I have seen a few very good international schools recently tell all staff, and new hires, “If you want Office make sure you buy your own copy.” I think this is smart, and cost effective. I also think everyone who needs Office can afford the educational price once every five years. I, in fact, have done this in the past. The world did not end. Some people were angry. But when I rolled out four new software packages for math and science with the savings from the Office license, tempers faded.

The simple answer to the debate, Google Apps or Office 365 is:

Teaching and Learning = Google Apps

Office Staff = Office 365

Everyone = Can use solutions developed in both environments.

Until you have known both, and then can only have one, you may not understand.

Tony DePrato

http://www.tonydeprato.com

 

Posted in Chuck Norris, Instructional Technology, Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Stopping Entitlement Part II : The Gaming Matrix for Earning Technology at School

flowchart

Not long ago I wrote a post concerning a new plan for managing when and how students access technology. This plan is based-on a boarding school model, where year 6-10 go home on the weekends, while the older students stay for the duration, or until a school holiday. The original article is posted here. The basic premise is that students do not get to use the school network or BYOD until they complete certain tasks. They must earn enough points to gain technology independence outside of ICT class. Without wasting time, here is the scoring plan.

Years 6-9 Scoring Plan

I have made this list compact. There are details for the faculty and staff to explain how the verify something has been done. We have created a “passport” that goes inside each student’s homework diary. I personally think we should track this on a game type platform that shows scores every hour on the TVs around the campus. That is my next mission.

Mandatory for all Students

Points Available 20

  • Review Acceptable Use Policy
  • Activate Email
  • BYOD Device is Labeled
  • BYOD Device Registration Complete
  • No Windows OS on BYOD Device
  • Library Clearance
  • Positive Effort Grade Report with Housemaster Approval (End of Week 2)

Please Note: Students can only get 0 or 20, they cannot simply do a percentage. This is all or nothing.

Community Activities – Three out of Four are Required.

Points Available: 20

  • Join a club.
  • Join a sport.
  • Clean Up the Cafeteria – Team of 4 or more required.
  • Learn the names of All the teachers in your house.

Please Note: Students can only get 0 or 20, they cannot simply do percentage. They actually only have two choices because joining a sport and club are required. However, this incentivises them getting involved and choosing their sports and clubs within the first or second week of school instead of procrastinating.

TechPointMatrix – Students may choose a combination of activities in order to reach the required point total. 

Points Required: 60

Green = 5 Points

Blue = 10 Points

Orange = 20 Points

Red = 40 Points

  • Help a student in class learn something new.
  • Help a student in the dorm.
  • Help a teacher with a lesson.
  • Help a teacher learn a new tech skill with iMovie, Excel, or PowerPoint.
  • Help a teacher with their duty.
  • Submit a new website students can use without VPN.
  • Recommend an App for Year 6 iPad students.
  • Use your Discovery United Streaming account.
  • Recommend free software for students.
  • Teach a teacher a useful Apple laptop shortcut.
  • Write a school song (lyrics only).
  • Be on-time for first period for 10 consecutive school days.
  • Fix something that is broken, for someone else.
  • Show a math teacher how to use the protractor in the Promethean software.
  • Share your iPad screen to your teacher’s laptop using AirServer.
  • Write a poem/haiku and have it placed on the TV system.
  • From the free throw line, hit 5 shots in a row.
  • From the three point line, hit 3 shots in a row.
  • Draw one of your teachers, and convince them to hang it in their classroom.
  • Create a hashtable of comic book information or movie data. All code will be checked for originality.
  • With your Parents, update your emergency contact information on PowerSchool.
  • Help the IT Team do Inventory.
  • Help the PE Department do Inventory.
  • Volunteer in the library for 2 periods.
  • Make a presentation or video on cyber bullying – 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
  • Make a presentation or video on MLA formatting- 2 minutes or longer.
  • Learn the full name of every person (Student and Teacher) on your floor.
  • Receive a clean dorm room report for 3 consecutive weeks.
  • Draw and decorate the glass outside the fourth floor IT Office.
  • Create a tech support team to help other students.
  • Write a school song (music and lyric). Teams of 2-4 are allowed.
  • Learn the full name of every person (Student and Teacher) in your House. Then demonstrate it to the whole house.
  • Without spending any money, find a better way to recycle PET bottles, and implement it.
  • Without spending any money, start a new sport and get approval from PE to do it during season 2 or 3.
  • Choose an international charity, approved in China, and gain approval for a partnership.

Please keep in mind all of these points need to be completed by a certain time for each grade level. Grade 9 only has about 3-4 weeks. After that, their teachers will actually assign work that requires their BYOD device. I was going to make this a 20 point game, however, I know that students will be clever and find loopholes. I am hoping some year 6 student is able to get all 100 points by the beginning of week 2. It would be great to have some students with their BYOD privileges weeks ahead of their curriculum schedule.

Curriculum Schedule

A timeline has been created based-on various curriculum requirements. Year 6-8 use the Shanghai+ curriculum. The only technology required is delivered in their ICT courses. Everything else is outside of their curriculum. These students will be expected to do additional technology work after week 4.

Year 9 will be expected to be online between weeks 4-5 with their BYOD devices.

The year 10-11 students also have mandatory tasks they must complete. However, they do not have the TechPointMatrix. Their requirements will be achieved during the first 2 weeks of school. Because they are doing IGCSE and IB, we cannot delay access to resources.

The older students have a check list that makes sure their BYOD devices are compliant, their required software is setup, and they have reviewed the acceptable use policy and academic honestly policy with a teacher.

Final Thoughts

This could be a huge waste of time. I can see the end of it though, and I believe it will be a good experience for everyone. I like that it involves the teachers and students in something connected to technology, but the process itself, does not require technology.

The matrix is differentiated enough, and students can get all their points doing the easy 5 point items. Students who have been working on big projects in the past (such as recycling) can start with those and get big points up front.

Game On. 

Tony DePrato

www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What Education Technology People Know About Curriculum and Why You Should Listen

Businessmans hand drawing an empty flow chart

I often find myself in meetings about curriculum projects. I am usually invited to either share my thoughts on the technology components or explain the technology options for tracking the curriculum. Sometimes the topic is sharing resources and making sure core documents can be managed and properly versioned. In all cases, I am required to have a broad overview of the K-12 curriculum. I am also required to have an understanding of the end-users and how they will apply the curriculum content to their various specialities.

Aside from two or three other people, I generally find I have the most objective overview of how things are connected and the areas that need the most support. In fact when I speak with anyone who is a technology coordinator or manager, I tend to have better curriculum discussions than when I speak to people working in more traditional roles.

The problem is because I am working within the department of technology, my opinions of curriculum topics are often politely disregarded.

All opinions aside concerning who may have the most objective outlook on curriculum, there is one fact that is nearly impossible to argue. As a technology coordinator or director I spend many hours working with data. I spend many hours managing the school’s data systems and creating reports. I spend countless time tweaking and adjusting information so it becomes useful to people who need to see one page summaries of thousands of data points.

Running algorithms and spreadsheet formulas to determine modal frequencies and trends in open responses is also a common practice in the life of an educational technology professional. Survey designs and survey data flow through my department and that data too is studied and reported. My department is the nerve center for  managing data and processing data.

Curriculum mapping is also a core aspect of educational technology. Curriculum mapping technology is not just something most educational technology professionals use, we are also often certified to train others how to use this type of technology to make accurate reports. Being trained to use technology to make reports, means that a person must understand the data and how to organise the data so that it is useful.

Those educational technology professionals who run integration or tech-coaching models are usually completely read in on the curriculum in their division (year groups and subject groups). They have actually read all the documents and plans. These people know who is doing what and when, and they have identified weaknesses that technology can help to strengthen. Clearly, they are more well versed on the curriculum compared to most other teachers.

But who is listening? Who is allowing educational technology professionals to help truly drive the curriculum with data analysis? Who is promoting the idea that the people who understand the end-game should be designing the game?

Here is a test. One of the most popular curriculum mapping tools is Atlas Rubicon. If your school uses this and you still have teachers make daily lesson plans in some form of text document or online web-form, then you are using Atlas Rubicon inappropriately. In Atlas Rubicon, on a single webpage, you can see what everyone is doing every week. Administrators using Atlas can have a weekly standards and alignment report, so that strange anomalies can be part of a weekly agenda. Weekly, so that students are not going through a bad process that is only discovered at the end of the semester.

And one more test. If a school’s analytics suggest more than 85% of the standards are being met, then those are probably wrong as well. The goal is not to hit the highest number, but to find the divergence where planning did not reflect the actual outcome. Posting high numbers usually means adjusting the plan but ignoring what the actual outcomes were.

If that last paragraph did not make sense, go find your educational technology people, because they can explain it and probably graph it.

Tony DePrato

tonydeprato.com 

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Opinion | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Are You Planning a Maker Space?

makerspace

I was having a conversation with a tech director from another school , and we were discussing budgets and resources.

The amounts were fairly staggering for bandwidth, subscriptions, and network support for content management and VPN. Shortly after the conversation, I started to question my priorities. What was driving my budget? Where was the demand coming from?

I started to realize the main force behind the budget was access to online subscriptions. Subscriptions that allow students to consume and use, but not to create. At this point I decided to make some changes. I decided to focus on rapidly developing the spaces required for students to build and create.

On each of the campuses I have the pleasure of working at, I identified an area which would suit robotics, 3D printing, working with computer hardware, and generally support a huge mess.

I considered the long view of robotics, which is not Lego. The next generation will be robots made of strong flexible material. The robot will be large and powerful compared to their Mindstorm’s counterparts. Research VEX for more on this topic.

This means the maker spaces need to be rugged areas where metal can be manipulated, 3D printers can run all night, and occasional chaos will be the norm. What is often referred to as “hard fun” will be the culture of these environments.

I firmly believe with the adoption of more and more BYOD programs,  schools need to stop filling curriculum gaps with subscriptions, Apps designed for consumption and expensive network management tools. BYOD allows students to use, damage, and alter their gear. Therefore budget planning should focus on allowing students to connect to technology designed for teaching and rewarding creation over consumption.

Maker spaces can also be for art, music, and media. Ideally they are simple and practical spaces with some flexibility mixed with organization. In 2015, with the cost of 3D printing falling and the availability of Arduino, money needs to shift, and infrastructure should he designed or redesigned to accommodate maker spaces.

If you haven’t already done so, start these conversations, and start empowering and enabling creation. Move away from staring at pointless Apps running on over priced watches, and move toward real ideas that teach students how to shape their world instead of just participating in it.

Tony Deprato

www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Tech Integration, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Google Drive – Someone trashed my file! – UPDATE

Here’s the scenario. You are working on a project with other colleagues. You have a shared folder and several Google Docs inside – also shared to the team. Things are going great. Ideas are being shared, the project is taking shape and best of all everyone is on the same page. Sounds like a dream come true doesn’t it? Most times it is but let me throw you a curve ball. One team member accidentally decides to trash one of the documents. Uh oh! But they weren’t even the owner-how in the hell can this happen? Well folks, it can … kind of. Read on to see it in action and how to fix it.

Here I have a folder on my Google Drive and it is shared to a test account. It is only View Only right now.

Now I switch over to the test account and “trash” the Test Presentation #1. So just to be clear, the test account is not the owner of the document – I am, yet the test account was able to trash it

Just as you saw – the test account seems to be able to delete the file. When I go back my account (again, I own all the documents in this account) – it is gone like Keyser Söze.

Oh man – that is very scary. Imagine sharing a document with your entire school and someone can trash it at will! It sounds nightmarish but all is not lost.

You see, the file is not deleted. It is … somewhere else, but here is where it gets a little weird. If I go through my Google Drive, I cannot find it. It doesn’t seem to show up, not even in the trash, but if I search for it, I can find it. So far this is the only way I can locate the file – no matter how I sort my files or search them manually I cannot find the file, but the search does the trick.

Whew – there it is, but the real question is where exactly is it? I honestly have no idea. When you select the file there are two interesting things that happen. One is in the information that you can get from Google Drive. You can see that it does not show you where the location is in Google Drive.

Also there is a new option on the toolbar when the file is selected. It gives you the option to add it back to your Drive. This is weird, because it is not in the trash. It’s just somewhere hidden in your drive. Strange huh?

So I click that and add it back to my Testing Folder.

Now it has a location again.

The best explanation I can come up with for this weird behavior is that the folder system in Google Drive is a sham. The folders are just a fancy way of tagging files as opposed to actually organizing the files. The folders are really just filters. Kind of interesting but if you’re lost then don’t worry about it.

Just know that if someone trashes a file you own, you can find it, restore and keep on working.

UPDATE* THANKS TO URKO MASSE (@urkomasse) FOR THIS TIP!

There is another way to find the trashed file and this seems a bit easier. Find the folder on your Google Drive but don’t open it, just select like I did here.

Then select the “I” to bring up the information for that folder. Click on “Activity” and you will see who removed the file and when. It also gives you a way to find it by clicking on the magnifying glass I’ve pointed to in the image below.

When you click the magnifying glass it performs a search like I did before and voilà! You’ve found your trashed file. Thanks again to Urko Masse for this very helpful tip!

Posted in Google Apps, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Not the Best, Not the Worst, and Getting the Job Done

http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--rF4VZ1fp--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_636/18l7vwlkkqp45jpg.jpg

I was reading an article on Slashdot, by far my favorite website. The Slashdot posting linked to this original article, The programming talent myth. The article discusses this perception that programmers are either rock-star-ninjas or barely able to string to strings together (that was a programming joke by the way).

However, the author, who is very accomplished as a programmer and technology professional says something very compelling, and something very applicable to the whole of education,

If the only options are to be amazing or terrible, it leads people to believe they must be passionate about their career, that they must think about programming every waking moment of their life. If they take their eye off the ball even for a minute, they will slide right from amazing to terrible again leading people to be working crazy hours at work, to be constantly studying programming topics on their own time, and so on.

The truth is that programming isn’t a passion or a talent, says Edge, it is just a bunch of skills that can be learned. Programming isn’t even one thing, though people talk about it as if it were; it requires all sorts of skills and coding is just a small part of that.

 

I felt like I was a bad math student until I was almost 24 years old. I was so convinced I was bad at math, that I assumed I would be awful at programming. I would always work with technology that was based in or around some environment that aided me in development.

Then one day, as these stories go, I saw an interesting book, and randomly bought it. I literally judged the book by the cover. The book was titled Fermat’s Enigma: The Epic Quest to Solve the World’s Greatest Mathematical Problem.

I began reading it, prepared to skip the math and get to the story. However, this was impossible, as the math was the story. I learned many interesting things. First off, all these “good at math guys” were normal people with mostly boring jobs who did math as a hobby. Second, I was able to actually understand and do the math. How was that possible? How could I, someone who had always struggled with math textbooks, read and understand this book about mathematics?

The reason I could understand it, was because I could read, and this book was written for normal people, unlike a textbook which is written to help teachers plan and meet standards. All I needed was to read the information in a different way, and then have the resources required to look-up things I was confused about.

Once this small break through happened, I started programming for real, and from scratch. Whenever I would go to online forums, I would feel like a fool because everyone seemed to be a rock-star-ninja. I did not let this bother me though, I persisted. I realized I would often only have time to program a few hours a week or sometimes only a few hours a month. I was not a programmer, I was a teacher with a full-time job. These forum ninjas were probably living the life of a programmer, and working on their skills full-time.

As time went on I wrote programs for operating systems, websites, DVDs, etc. I eventually started teaching programming, and often would question if I was doing the right thing being a teacher, while not being a rock-star-ninja. I found that when I have very talented students, they could easily learn programming faster than I could, so I would help them learn things like project management, documentation processes, and how to speak to people normally. I reminded them that in the real-world they would have clients, and those people would not want to deal with someone wearing all black and missing three days worth of showers.

For the majority of students, who were simply average at programming, I told them my story. I showed them things I had done in the past, and made it clear that they were in fact able to do more than I had done because they were starting younger. I expressed to them that having a good idea would drive their work and help them find people to assit them when needed.

This journey continues.  Programming turned into competitive robotics, and now in 2015, drones and 3D printing are the new challenges.

The key theme with the article that inspired me to write this, and my personal experience, is alienation. I was alienated, or isolated, from mathematics. I was separated at an early age by perception, from groups of people who were considered competent. This happened to me before high school. I believed firmly by year 7 that I was a bad math student. By all local measurements, I was a bad math student.

As I witness schools pushing to increase programming competency and standardized test scores in math, I begin to worry. I do not think any broad curricula, such as AP and IB, are as holistic as my programming curriculum. I think their learning objectives are driven by quantifiable outcomes, just like standardised math testing.

How can we measure all the pieces required to actually make something useful with measurement tools designed to evaluate a single answer? When do we start teaching students all the other skills they need to create, regardless of whether or not that creation is in code or in some other medium? Those skills being and not limited to, project management, planning, design,team work, testing, budgeting, etc.

If you did not know, the guy at the top is MacGyver. MacGyver’s character was always presented as a logical jack-of-all-trades who could find solutions to unpredictable scenarios. I would rather have more MacGyvers than rock-star-ninja’s, because MacGyver can adapt and learn and find new solutions to a larger variety of problems. MacGyver can be a programmer when needed, logistician, a statistician, a salesperson, an entrepreneur,etc.  I have a feeling MacGyver was a B-C student, who cared more about the why than the how. MacGyvers are going to understand the core and not just follow the common core.

Tony DePrato

http://www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Learning 2.011 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Office 365 for Education, What You Need to Know and Don’t Want to Hear

sharepoint-developer-houston

I have been using various versions of Microsoft education solutions since 2007. I am also quiet adept at developing online Sharepoint solutions for business processes, writing custom scripts to make accessing Microsoft resources easier, and by-passing much of the fake resources and security Microsoft has to offer. In addition, I have been using Google Apps since they were first introduced, mostly because I needed to work and the Microsoft made it difficult to do anything aside from typing a memo 1990’s style. My Google experience extends to setting-up Google Apps for education on three occasions, writing custom app functions, working with multiple domain configurations, and even developing a bulk upload/download process to Google Drive.

I am working in China now, and the school does not have a campus wide VPN. Therefore our only affordable cloud solution is Office 365. Our current implementation has gained praise from the corporate giant itself, and soon I can share an article by Microsoft about what we have been doing and how we have been doing it.

However, the fact is Office 365 still has a very long way to go. If I had the option, I would still choose Google, and I would push hard for Chrome books for the younger students. Microsoft still is lacking in developing mature products that are truly online. They have new licensing, which is a huge step forward, but they are limiting the options to certain regions. This can be seen in the USA where students can easily get desktop software for free, but in China we have to make special arrangements to get these same features.

For those schools or districts who feel that you have some magic plan with Microsoft, believe me you do not. Anyone can access deals with enough users, and desktop software in 2015 should not be a motivating force for increasing student resources.

OneDrive for Business is better than it was last year, but still years behind Google Drive. It is very fast, and my tests have shown it to be faster than Dropbox or Google Drive. However, the desktop clients which are needed to do bulk work are rough around the edges. They do work, and on Mac OS X now as well, but if you are a Google Drive user you always feel like you are in someone’s beta test instead of a finished product.

The mobile Office 365 clients are pretty good. One shining example is OneNote. I really like OneNote, and I am starting to prefer it to Evernote. This is going to be a new key application we use with students in the next semester. It works great, and on iPad has some nice features for handwriting. What is funny is that OneNote is more flexible than Word and has features you would expect in a truly collaborative environment, yet, many decision makers are obsessed with giving everyone Word. I guess they love the useful WordArt and ClipArt.

The most powerful product in Office 365 for Education is Sharepoint. I find most schools barely or rarely use it. The fact is that it is more powerful than any Google Apps for Education resource. I would wager that you would need to buy many additional Google Apps features to match even 50% of the Sharepoint features. Unfortunately, non-developers and those who see the bare-bones implementation of Sharepoint, hate it.

People hate Sharepoint for a variety of reasons. Here are a few I often here:

  1. It looks bad and has an old design.
  2. The mobile compatibility is bad.
  3. The logic for linking things around is weird and does not seem to work well.
  4. The menus don’t make sense.
  5. The terminology of what a “thing” is does not make sense.
  6. It only works well in Windows.
  7. There seem to be features I cannot access.
  8. There is no public page for people who are not part of the organisation.
  9. Speed.
  10. It is seems like a pure business product.

Out of the box, all of these things are true, yet, they are also not true. Sharepoint is designed to be developed, not started and driven around like a golf cart. It is a set of tools that require a development environment and an implementation plan. Sharepoint is not something you use by random clicking, which is how many people seem to do things. It requires intent and purpose to be useful. From it’s core it is based-on your organisational needs, and not the needs of the outside world. The apps you can add to Sharepoint are not for entertainment. They are for getting work done and creating levels of accountability.

I have a love hate relationship with Sharepoint. When I finally deploy something, I find it works well and requires very little maintenance. While creating solutions in Sharepoint Developer, I find myself constantly frustrated at some of the features that a normal development kit would have sorted out properly.

People who end-up being Sharepoint power-users tend to like it. They learn to access and use data in different ways, and automate processes that are quiet difficult to manage on paper or even with sophisticated online forms.

If integrated properly into a normal content management system (Drupal, WordPress, etc.), Sharepoint solutions work well for normal end-users, and the security is handled without any additional work. But, it needs to be integrated, you do not want the average person to ever navigate Sharepoint.

Sharepoint has an up-sell for storage space which is annoying. OneDrive has a terabyte of space per user, but it is missing many features (unless you can find the secret menus). If Sharepoint had 100GB of space allotted per organisational user license, then it would actually be a better solution than OneDrive for most people, especially if the storage was flexible and assignable.

If you are using Office 365 for Education, and you are not using Sharepoint at all, then you are missing out on many powerful tools. To get started you need to setup a development environment and then do a few courses. Here are my recommendations for the development environment and what courses should be the initial focus:

Development Environment

  • iMac or large screen Apple Laptop with Virtualbox/VMware Fusion and a licensed 64 Bit version of Windows 7. A minimum 8 GB of RAM with 4 GB assigned to the virtual machine.
  • Office installed from the Office 365 online store. This allows all users to install Office on 5 devices.
  • IE 11 or higher in the Windows 7 Environment.
  • Notepad ++ for the Windows 7 Environment.
  • Turn off all Windows security, and firewalls.
  • Install Sharepoint Designer from the Office 365 online store.
  • Update Windows 7.
  • Backup the virtual machine to a secure area on the Mac or on an external drive. If Windows gets infected or too slow, trash the virtual machine and use the copy you have made.
  • MAMP for OS X to work on things like HTML,CSS, and Javascript. It is easier to experiment this way, before working in Sharepoint Designer or the online Sharepoint design interfaces.

Training Modules and Courses

  • Introduction to Sharepoint
  • Editing Pages
  • Sharepoint Lists and Columns
  • Web-parts and App-parts.
  • Security and Permissions with Groups
  • Introduction to Sharepoint Designer
  • Introduction to Infopath
  • Making Item Workflows in Sharepoint Designer
  • Importing data into Sharepoint
  • Using Excel spreadsheets in Sharepoint Lists
  • Understanding Calculated Columns

Tony DePrato

www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology, programming | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2015 – Bad IT Planning is Still Going Strong

Variable

Consider this question: If you want to run an event, start a new curriculum, communicate better with organisational stakeholders, audit for efficiency, train a group of people economically, or simply show a movie to a large group of people, would you do those things with technology? Would you require support from specialists or tech support?

The answers are simple. Yes, technology is required. Yes, most people need help doing anything outside of their normal routine. I would estimate that 90% of the events and activities within organisations require technology and technology support. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of those people planning events or core organisational changes take the time to plan for technology, and with specialists, before finalising plans.

It seems to be assumed that anyone working in the Technology Department can support any type of project, without time for planning and preparation. There needs to be a fundamental shift in the way planning looks at technology. Technology and those that can manage an implementation are not trivial accessories. They are a necessity.

I often find that people in tech support are juggling problems that are occurring in realtime due to organisers being unprepared. The expectation that “things should work”, is unrealistic when those “things” go from unknown to known minute-by-minute.

The scale of this problem is not limited to trivial activities such as presentations and one-off media projects. As anecdotal evidence I would like to offer this gem: A building project to construct a new performance space, not consulting the Technology Department before designing and building the facility.

The space was not built to physically accommodate the required systems needed to make the space functional. By the time anyone from the department was involved, it was too late
to change the dimensions of the space. The space will never be what it could have been, nor will ever be as cost effective and efficient as it should be.

The worst part is this anecdotal evidence is not from a single situation. This has happened to me on at least four occasions I can remember, in the last 5 years. Technology is seen as a requirement and an afterthought at the same time. This is paradoxical logic.

Working in education and education technology, I see many people wearing many different hats. Most are happy to be a teacher, a network specialist, and a live music mixing specialist, all in the course of a single day. That is not an exaggeration, that is literally how my day, and those who do my job at other schools around the world, flows.

Very few jobs require a skill set that is as diverse and flexible as those working in educational technology. Often due to budget limitations, committed educators have to create opportunities for children by creating the infrastructure and resources. Thus, Technology Departments within schools are often staffed with people who have diverse skills are varying degrees of proficiency. In other words, often they can do the impossible, but they need to study and practice. They need time. They need to prepare.

All organisations need take a step back and look at their organisational charts. They need to start shuffling the pieces to eliminate the paradox. If technology is a requirement, then it must be a requirement, a driving force, and a regulator from the beginning of any project or event. Instead of forcing the entire technology department to react and play defence, organisations need to allow technology to implement strategy and coordinate outcome.

George: I think I understand this. Jay Peterman is real. His biography is not. Now, you Kramer are real.

Kramer: Talk to me.

George: But your life is Peterman’s. Now the bus tour, which is real, takes to places that, while they are real, they are not real in sense that they did not *really* happen to the *real* Peterman which is you.

Kramer: Understand?

Jerry: Yeah. $37.50 for a Three Musketeers. ~Seinfeld , The Muffin Tops

Tony DePrato

www.tonydeprato.com

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

YouTube Safety Mode with Google Apps for Education

Yep, this is a thing. If your school is Google Apps for Education and you guys leverage the huge power of YouTube in your teaching then maybe you have fallen victim to the YouTube Safety Mode automatically being turned on. Basically what happens is that this feature seems to suddenly be turned on and certain YouTube videos are blocked (even though they are educational in nature). It’s frustrating because teachers don’t have the ability to toggle it off or on – it’s just on and a nuisance.

OK – here’s the trick – when my school ran into this I reached out to Google for assistance – here was their reply.

So basically what this very polite email says is that YouTube is not a core feature and therefore not covered in their support. The images this rep refers to are directions on how an individual can turn it on or off on their personal account. With our people, it was not an option and kept pointing them back to the Google Apps administrator – me.

After an exhaustive search through the Google forums I came across a plausible answer to this problem. For our school we had Safe Search (through the Chrome app settings) turned on for all users. What I did was switch it off and this fixed it. I was also able to verify this on a support page from Google – check it out below.

A bit of a risk I agree but well worth it since a lot of our teachers use YouTube, but why Google bundles Google search and YouTube search together is a bit of a mystery – especially since this was not always the case.

So check out the video above which shows how easy it is to change this setting. Remember though, only your Google Apps administrator can do this so please talk to her/him to make the change.

Posted in Google Apps, Helpful Tips, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Stopping Entitlement & The Arbitrary Security

fist-pump-baby-lets

This is one of those posts that I may regret writing in a few months. It is more of a plan than a post, and a plan I intend to sell with significant confidence.

Starting in the fall, when students roll out of the bus and into the boarding school I work for, they are going to find that technology is simply not available (unless they are in the IB program which will be less than 80 students).

Students in years 6-10 are going to have to wait and to earn their technology. For some, for a few weeks, they will be taken back to into the past, where “always on” was only in science fiction movies, and only Michael Knight could use a smart watch.

Here is the plan to stop the initial entitlement of technology and access to the internet:

Years 9-10, and the IGCSE Program

These students are in a BYOD program. They will not have their devices activated on the network for at least two full weeks. During this time they have to settle into the board school routine. Their network activation and device privileges will be based on reports from their house masters, their joining of at least one sport and one club, and their completing of a one hour seminar on digital citizenship. During the seminar the AUP will be fully reviewed and signed by all of them.

Once all these steps are completed, they will have a weekend to activate their email, join the school LMS, post a reply confirming they are connected, use their cloud and share a file, and finally access a flipped classroom lesson set.

Unless all these steps are completed, week three will be technology free for them; but teachers will be allowed to start requiring technology. Weeks one and two are designated as technology free in all lessons, however, once week three begins some work will require the use of a laptop.

Years 6-7-8, Custom Bilingual Curriculum

Year 6-7 use school own devices. Year 8 is on BYOD, but their laptops are not allowed to be stored in their rooms. This is the introductory point to the BYOD program.

These students will not have their one-to-one devices for 4 weeks. I know, how can they live? How can they be people? How can they traverse the world without mindless games and WeChat?

These students will have to achieve points to get their devices. The campus will turn into one massive game board. Points can be earned by helping people, earning effort grades by the end of week 4, and completing a series tasks. This group also has to join a sport and club, have good dorm behaviour, attend a workshop to review the AUP, and eventually activate their email, cloud storage, etc.

Because the Year 6 students do use iPads, an additional task will face them during their first week of having the device. They will need to demonstrate competence in the APP CYCLE. That is what I call the insane series of apps needed to complete mundane tasks.

I am not pro-iPad, but I am working with a pro-iPad group so I have to make sure the devices are as effective as possible, yet, I like mocking them whenever possible :).

That summarises the removal of the device entitlement, the next part of this plan is eliminating arbitrary security. In a school tightly managing devices and internet access normally results in students waiting to get home to work on their own equipment.

In a boarding school there is no home to run to for technology freedom. Since the students need to feel at home, locking them down like a Denver Boot is not fair and does not help them develop responsible technology habits.

The plan is fairly straight forward. Students in years 8-11, who come out of week two with shining reviews from their house masters, will only be restricted via out network policies. Students who have poor reviews will have their BYOD machines bound to our hardware management system (this includes a firmware lock and removal of all boot options). This binding will be review at the beginning of semester 2, and if the student is doing well, the binding will be removed.

By all current estimates, this will be about 30-40 students by the end of the second month of school. That leaves around 320-330 students free to work and manage their own technology. This will not increase our staffing requirements, nor will it affect our budget.

This plan only impacts students who are negatively impacting their whole community. Students who are working in class, staying within normal teenage boundaries in the residences, and who are participating in the community will have freedom to be on their devices and use all the other technology resources the school offers.

As the new year approaches, the IT department is acquiring new devices which connect to laptops. These devices, all of them, require administrative rights to use. Without a BYOD program in place, we would not be able to effectively connect all the students to these resources without adding more people to the staff headcount. I prefer to spend money on resources, than security, whenever possible.

If anyone is interested in running a program like this, please comment. I need ideas for the year 6-8 group. I really want to build a game like atmosphere that has multiple paths to success. I would love it if a student could earn their device in a week instead of four weeks by beating the system.

Tony DePrato
www.tonydeprato.com

 

Posted in Educational Technology, Instructional Technology, Tech Integration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment