Google Drive – Get 2GB of free storage!

Today is #SaferInternetDay (yes that is a thing). Google is encouraging people to check their security settings which isn’t a bad thing. It only takes two minutes and Google will reward you with two free GB of extra storage on your drive account! That’s pretty fantastic.

Once you’ve gone through the whole security checklist – head over to Google Drive and then check out your Drive storage info.

If it doesn’t show up right away don’t freak out. It may take a few hours to reflect. If you really want to know click on the Upgrade Storage button.

There you have it! It’s always good to check your security settings on all your websites once in a while and try to change your passwords annually.

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Episode 108 – Trademark Tim goes to Graceland

108

Tim, Tony and Patrick are discussing Trademark and intellectual property issues in schools and the WriteLab service that helps improve student writing. Check out the talking points below.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic or subscribe to us on your favorite podcasting app.

Intellectual Property and Schools
a. Link: http://hackeducation.com/2015/01/14/openness-and-ownership/ by Audrey Waters of Hackeducation
b. Link: http://www.theverge.com/2016/2/1/10883856/fine-bros-entertainment-react-world-licensing by Vlad Savov of The Verge
c. The Fine Brothers trademarked “React” and YouTubers lost their minds
d. Update: They abandoned their attempts
e. Should schools go about trademarking units/lesson plans?
f. Should teachers/students be worried of this trend?
g. Teachers Pay Teachers: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/
h. TES: https://www.tes.com/us/

Write Lab – AI and the path to better writing a. Link:http://hechingerreport.org/robo-reader-redux-can-a-curious-computer-improve-student-writing/
b. Is this a threat to teachers? Are we becoming obsolete?
c. How long until something like this is widespread and accurate? Acquisition opportunity for Google/Apple/Microsoft
d. $5 Per Semester, Per student – Current Promotion e. Hemingway App:http://www.hemingwayapp.com/

You can download the episode HERE!

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Episode 107- Groundhog Day

107

Tony, Tim and Patrick get together and babble about some great ed tech issues. Check out the talking points below and happy Groundhog day.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic or subscribe to us with your favorite podcasting app.

The Future of Big Data Analytics in K-12 Education by Benjamin Herold of Education Week
a. Link: http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2016/01/13/the-future-of-big-data-and-analytics.html?qs=ALTSCHOOL
b. This is a LOT more data that is being “captured”
c. altschool – https://www.altschool.com/
d. A lot more going on there than just gathering data
e. Year long projects – each project is different from child to child based on data collected
f. How much of this will be adopted by mainstream education?
g. Apple acquires LearnSprout –http://www.macrumors.com/2016/01/28/apple-acquires-education-company-learnsprout/ by Juli Clover of MacRumors
h. Link: http://www.learnsprout.com/
i. Newsela – https://newsela.com/

Microsoft says it’s not the Surface’s fault your team lost
a. Link: http://www.theverge.com/2016/1/26/10835238/microsoft-surface-nfl-network-issues-response
b. Is the NFL a good place to road-test tech for schools?
c. As an IT director, how do you budget in damages to school devices?
d. Should students, teachers or parents be responsible?
e. Microsoft said the network was the issue here, not the Surface itself. How many learning hours do we loose each week thanks to inconsistent networks? Is it always worth it?

You can always download the episode HERE!

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Start At the Wall

Ethernet

Holidays are a very interesting time if you work in technology leadership or support. Ideally, people want to have some time-off. Therefore, making a list of essential projects to finish starts months before the holiday plans. Then a list of “what to do if” scenarios needs to be created and shared with whomever is going to be covering the campus/organization/service/website etc.

If you are like me, you are always prepared to remotely assist, even during times of rest and relaxation. The fact is critical processes can fail, and when they fail, a team effort is required to bring the world back online and settle the chaos.

My expectations for having to spend time-off supporting my campus connect directly to events that are unplanned, or mistakes in planning I have made. I do not expect to be contacted with an urgent request, have to leave my plans and find a laptop, and then fix something that is a problem inside of the local infrastructure. In other words, I do not want to get a phone call because someones chair is broken or printer is out of ink.

The Basic Problem 

Many years ago I realized that for some reason people who do IT Support seem to follow patterns (almost blindly). They repeat the same steps all the time, without actually diagnosing cause. They treat the symptoms and not the disease.

In addition, IT Support people make assumptions about users as well. The assumptions often lead to inaction or the repeating of useless actions, without any consideration of the actual situations.

In 2009, I instituted a simple rule on my campus. When anyone, myself included, walks into a classroom or office, go straight to the connection point in the room and Start At The Wall.

If a classroom or office uses Ethernet (pictured above), always check the cable first and walk socket. If the user is on Wifi, inspect the work area and power, and also if possible, visually inspect with Wifi Access Point.

The rule states that even if the problem is simply a question, take 30 seconds to inspect the source of communication and power in any and every space and look at the workspace.

Why This is Not a Huge Waste of Time

IT support people very infrequently connect to an individual user in the user’s space. In a given semester, support might enter a given teacher’s classroom or other user’s space just a few times. Therefore, every time IT support enters a room they should be observant and looking for any issues, which include simple maintenance problems, that a user may not notice.

Starting at the wall also has the benefit of focusing the mind. When a person goes into a space, their assumptions take a backseat to the job and process they are following.

What Happens When this Process is Ignored

Panic. Irrational judgement. Defeat. Only bad things can happen. In fact, in a recent case during my time-off,  IT Support made an assumption that the problem was not only unsolvable by local means, it was completely external. Meaning, there was nothing they could do to solve it. They tested the issue in 3 laptops, with the same exact results, and never once considered the issue could be something on the local network.

This assumption should have been avoided, as they had an email from 24 hours before explaining that the system in question had been successfully tested by a third party (off-campus), and the performance was normal.

They were so convinced, that even after the problem was tested off-campus and visual confirmation was provided that the services in question were working fine, e-mails flew reconfirming the problem still existed. I inferred from the emails that they believed I was using the system by some mystical means, which would prevent me from seeing the same results they were seeing.

The fact is, once people believe in a cause, justified or not, getting them to let go of that belief is extremely difficult. Not following some initial simple steps, can lead to conclusions that make bad problems worse.

All school administrators should be aware of their campus IT support processes and procedures. People tend to disconnect from IT support and see it as a black-hole of mystery, and they just hope that it will work.

Tony DePrato

http://www.tonydeprato.com

http://www.intslead.com

 

Posted in Educational Technology, Helpful Tips, Opinion, Tony DePrato, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Episode 106 – Save Tony

106

Today we discuss why Tony is missing, is Sesame Street on its way out and should schools even consider purchasing iPads now that Google Chromebooks make up more than 50% of devices in US schools. Check out the show notes below.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic or subscribe to us using your favorite podcasting app.

What Will HBO’s Sesame Street Look Like? by Jessica Pressler of Vulture

a. Link: http://www.vulture.com/2016/01/what-does-hbo-mean-for-sesame-street.html
b. Is this the beginning of the end?
c. Thoughts? Do schools still use it much anymore? d. Reading Rainbow –https://www.readingrainbow.com/ e. Malcolm Gladwell The Tipping Point –http://gladwell.com/the-tipping-point/

Apple loses more ground to Google’s Chromebook in education market

a. Link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/news/2016/01/11/apple-loses-more-ground-googles-chromebook-education-market/78323158/
b. iPad Mini 2 – http://www.apple.com/shop/buy-ipad/ipad-mini-2
c. If you’re looking for devices do you even consider iPads anymore?

Download this episode HERE!

 

 

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Episode 105 – Passwords!

105

Tim, Dave and Patrick discuss ergonomics in classrooms, passwords and Amazon within schools. Check out the talking points below!

As always, subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic or subscribe to us using your favorite podcasting app.

Ergonomics – Students and Teachers
a. Link: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/124981/20160117/stand-up-desks-in-school-may-improve-students-brain-function-study.htm
b. Link: http://www.mdpi.com/1660-4601/13/1/59
c. Link: http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/california-school-children-step-standing-desks-n449496
d. Link: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/standing-desk-sitting-danger-study_us_561e87aee4b050c6c4a3bb7f

The 25 Most Popular Passwords of 2015 by Jamie Condliffe of Gizmodo
a. Link: http://gizmodo.com/the-25-most-popular-passwords-of-2015-were-all-such-id-1753591514
b. Should we teach students about good password practices?
c. How much time and when?

Amazon exec: Our drones will deliver in 30 minutes or less by Katie Collins of CNET

a. Shouldn’t schools buy everything the can through here!
b. Amazon Prime: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DBYBNEE?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=42852692325&hvpos=1t1&hvexid=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=3428621605230220944&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=e&hvdev=c&ref=pd_sl_cp4b2ukra_e

You can always download the episode HERE!

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Episode 104 – Tablet teacher

104

Tim, Dave, Tony and Patrick will talk about putting screens on teacher’s heads, iOS 9.3 and the big updates it has for schools and some more announcements concerning VR in schools. Check out the talking points below.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic or subscribe to us using your favorite podcasting app.

The other CES trend: Put a screen on it by Mat Smith at Engadget
a. Link: https://apple.news/AEuj7OQvCPky992XyWAlf7g
b. What can we put screens on in schools?

iOS 9.3
a. Link: http://www.cnet.com/news/ios-9-3-update-iphone-ipad/ b. Classroom app from Apple: http://www.apple.com/education/preview/

Google getting serious with VR
a. Link: http://recode.net/2016/01/12/google-now-has-an-official-virtual-reality-boss-to-take-on-facebooks-oculus/
b. Is a topic on VR every week too much? c. HTC Vive –http://www.htcvive.com/us/ d. PlayStation VR –https://www.playstation.com/en-au/explore/ps4/features/playstation-vr/ e. Occulus Rift – https://www.oculus.com/en-us/ f. Google Cardboard –https://www.google.com/get/cardboard/

You can listen to the show below or download it HERE!

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Freedom VS Structure

freedom

I left it alone. Everyone was using it. Everyone had the permissions needed to customize their space. So I left it alone.

I set some guidelines. I spoke to everyone about best practice. I even made exemplars and samples so people could have a visual representation of what best practice means.

Ultimately, I made a mistake. Too much freedom and not enough structure. Concepts of Freedom vs Structure needs to be designed and adhered to within any online learning environment or environment that provides shared resources. Without structure, there will be chaos, and this will often require a complete reboot of the design.

The questions are simple: which pieces do people have to live with, and which ones can they fully customize?

I thought about this, and created some guidelines to make certain when planning a design not to accidentally get carried away with flexibility and customization

Resources used by students across year groups, or across the curriculum, should be centralized and universally linked from all pages or courses

This means if I have a list of “things” that students use, and those students are
not all in the same course or cohort, then that list should be easily found regardless of where those students are in the online environment.

Build boxes or menus that follow users and never change position

Making hyperlinks is very easy, but they can be overwhelming in an online
environment to users who are in multiple courses, using multiple menus, etc.

In most content management and course management systems, boxes and menus can be created that follow all users from page to page. These resources are always on the same part of every page.

Teacher groups and subgroups need to follow a group plan for resources

Schools group teachers together in a variety of ways. Some by entire division, for example The Primary School Division. Others use departments, for example The Math Department. There are many that plan by grade level as well. In addition to these core groups, schools make sub-group combinations such as All Primary Math Teachers or All Secondary Year 9 English Teachers.

We often forget how complex these groupings can be.  The online environment is supposed to be designed for students, teachers, and possibly parents to find resources easily. If these groups and subgroups do not agree on a standard for how they will design their content, then jumping from one course to the next could be very confusing.

Someone with oversight of the online environment must ensure that the groups are planned properly and  follow a standard. One example of a group standard would be stating that every group agree required subscriptions for students be linked at the very top of every online course or page. Fairly, simple, but very useful and easy to communicate to students and parents.

Have a review cycle for subscriptions 

Subscriptions in a big school are difficult. I will write a post on ways to manage subscriptions, but let’s assume for the sake of argument that a school (or your school) has the planning of subscription acquisition and renewal down to a science.

Now you need to ask yourself, how often are you checking on the actual usage statistics of these subscriptions? Who is using them? How often? In what subjects? Who is using them at home or off-plan just for additional self-guided learning?

These questions need to be asked and answered at least every other renewal cycle.
This is also a good time to see if new competition exists. Most new subscriptions require some trial period before adoption. I would advocate communicating the cycle to faculty, so that they have a time frame in which to introduce new subscription ideas.

Flexibility and Freedom to choose are important, but so are structure and standards. Like a neighborhood, without some zoning and agreements, one person’s choice could negatively impact another person’s property. Those involved in technology leadership are well suited to set standards that balance the environment for all user groups. This is not a popular job, and one that is never appreciated, but doing it well will result in a daily positive impact for the entire community.

Tony DePrato

http://tonydeprato.com

http://www.intslead.com/

https://itbabble.com

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Our favorite Chrome Extensions/Add-ons

At IT Babble Chrome is our browser of choice for its speed, its auto updates and the myriad of fantastic add-ons you can … well add on. These add-ons give Chrome various different functionalities and we thought it would be nice to share our favorites with you! We discussed these extensions and add-ons quickly on Episode 103 of our podcast but here is a more detailed list in case you were wondering. If you have some favorites of your own please add them in the comments below.

Remember you need to be using Chrome in order for these to work (there is one exception on Tony’s list).

To find these enhancements just look in the Google Chrome store.

In general

The first one I think we all recommend is Ad Block or Ad Block Plus. You can probably guess that it blocks annoying ads that may pop up or flash while you are on the site. It works most of the time and really does improve your time on the Interwebs.

David

Stayfoucsed – This extension blocks you from going to time wasting websites. You pick the websites, pick how much time a day you want to allow yourself on those websites and it keeps you from going there after your time is up. Great for procrastinators!

Patrick

CheckerPlus for Gmail – This puts a little gmail icon right next to your browser address bar (or omnibar as I think it is actually called). This shows you how many unread email messages you have in Gmail and you can click on it, read, reply or compose emails right from this extension. Hell, it’ll even read them to you if you’d like!

Eye Dropper – Have you ever been to a website and wondered what color a font, banner, or design was? Eye dropper will find out exactly what that color is. It’s simple and easy to use and I use it surprisingly a lot.

 

Pocket – This is a great service. There are times when I find an article or web page that I want to keep for myself, the podcast or my students. Using this extension, I just click the pocket button and it is saved (even offline) in a beautiful, ad free reformatted so its very easy to read view.

Tim

Grammarly – Ever sent an email with a glaringly misspelled word or some poor grammar? This will help to correct that. Tim even says that it sends reports to you to show how you are progressing. Pretty sweet!

Momentum – When you open a new tab in Chrome, it shows the Google omnibar and the eight most popular websites you’ve visited. This replaces that with an inspirational quotes, a to-do list of your own creation and a beautiful images. Not a bad way to open a new tab huh?

Reddit Enhancement Suite – Do you read Reddit? Of course you do. Now download this extension to better improve your experience. Tim loves it and so should you.

Tony

Evernote Web Clipper – If you use Evernote, you need this. It will clip images, articles, web pages, etc. and put it right into whatever notebook you want. I had it on my list too, but not to be redundant I left it off.


Firebug OK this one cheats a little bit because it isn’t a Google Chrome extension. It is a Firefox extension, but it is awesome. Have you ever wondered what the code is of a certain part of a webpage? Firebug will tell you. If you deal with any sort of website management at all this is a very helpful tool.

Pixlr Editor – Need to edit a photo but need to do more than just resize it or crop it? Don’t have Photoshop or another powerful image editor on your computer. Pixlr to the rescue. It’s free, web based and pretty powerful considering that you can do layers and have a variety to a large amount of tools.

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Episode 103 – Star Wars the Force Awakens

103

Yep, we give a quick, quick review about the latest Star Wars film. We also lament on the passing of David Bowie, talk about our favorite Google Chrome add-ons, a quick and dirty how to on podcasting and a quick PSA. All in all, it’s a packed show. Check out the links and talking points below.

As always subscribe to us on iTunes, follow us on Podomatic and subscribe to us using your favorite podcasting app.

You can listen to it the episode below or download the MP3 HERE!

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