Episode 180 – Empty shelves empty seats

Tony and Patrick are talking the school closures and what schools are doing, video conferences, and so much more. As always be sure to subscribe our podcast on Apple Music or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. No school!
  2. Distance Learning Plan
    1. So much to talk about here
    2. Be asynchronous 
      1. Front load the content
      2. Elementary and Early Childhood – Choice boards
    3. How is Microsoft Teams?
    4. What do we think doesn’t work?
    5. Attendance?
  3. Great resource from Mark Stone and Elvin Aliyev in Azerbaijan 
    1. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-mRNFvwZ17xLmWRTkCoO7lPQakAW6SzBy7tZEm1cgdQ/edit
    2. Distance Learning Resource
  4. Video Conference Options
    1. Zoom
    2. Teams
    3. Google Hangouts Meet

Download it HERE

 

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Distance Learning ? – Check out these resources

I am sure many of you are teaching from somewhere other than your classrooms. If that is the case, then flexibility and leveraging other websites for services and content is something you are keenly aware of and possibly in search of. This list of resources has been bouncing around social media and thought I would share it here!

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

Covid -19 – We’re closed :(

Like many other schools around the world we have closed due to the Coronavirus. In light of these circumstances I thought I would share our school’s Distance Learning Plan. I’ve embeded it below, but if you would like a link to the Google Doc please click here. From there you can make a copy.

Hopefully this plan can help you in this unusual time or even in the future. I’ve gone ahead and changed our schools name in the plan and have removed all names as well so there may be some parts that sound a little odd. Here is what you need to know about our school.

  • We are pre-school to grade 8
  • We are 1:1 devices from grades 5-8
  • We have an LMS and school portal for parents and students
  • We utilize G-Suite for Education
Posted in Helpful Tips, Patrick Cauley | Tagged , , | 5 Comments

Microsoft Teams Doing Attendance with Automatic Data

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

Posted in Educational Technology, Helpful Tips, Instructional Technology, Learning 2.011, management, Tech Integration, Tony DePrato, tutorial, VideoTipTrick | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Creating a Smart Tech Support Dashboard with O365

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

Posted in Educational Technology, Google Apps, Helpful Tips, management, Tony DePrato, tutorial, Video | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode 179 – Student Fail

Tony and Patrick are at it again. We’re still talking about the Coronavirus about a somewhat dubious story out of China some hardware and how some students were pretty sneaky. Be sure to subscribe to us on Apple Music or your favorite podcasting app.

  1. Online learning, biggest issue I am seeing: controlling students vs lesson prep
    1. Behavior problems online are not tech problems
    2. Be realistic – it cannot be business as usual
    3. Daily touchpoints for teachers and administration
    4. How often do students need to be online with the teacher?
  2. Chinese students try but fail…
    https://technode.com/2020/03/02/dingtalk-begs-for-stars-on-chinas-app-stores/

    1. Funny story, but again Social Media thinks it is real.
  3. ViewSonic Viewboard – Awesome, but don’t get sucked in. 
    1. https://www.viewsonic.com/us/products/shop/viewboard.html
  4.  Sneaky, sneaky kids and electronic tests by Patrick Cauley
    1. https://itbabble.com/2020/02/13/sneaky-sneaky-kids-and-electronic-tests/

Download here!

Posted in Podcast | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Smithsonian for the win!

The Smithsonian has released nearly 3 million images, 3D models, videos and more into the public domain! What this means is that anyone can search, find, download, use adapt and publish any of these artifacts without asking. So get searching and share this with your kids. Chances are if they are working on a research project, they may find media that can safely be used.

https://www.si.edu/openaccess 

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

How to use Pear Deck

The Pear Deck add-on is very popular amongst teachers. It allows them to bring interactive elements into their Google Slides presentation. Check out the video above to get a better sense of what Pear Deck offers and whether or not it is right for you.

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

Cybersecurity Part 4: Surviving Ransomware

ransomware-3998798_1280

By Tony DePrato | Follow Me on LinkedIn

The scope of all the following arguments is for equipment owned by the school, or equipment approved to use at school. This post is not promoting policies for personal devices used solely at home, nor is this post addressing devices that may be used for entertainment or non-academic purposes.

Ransomware, in its most basic form, is self-explanatory. Data is captured, encrypted, and held for ransom until a fee is paid. The two most common forms of ransomware delivery are through email and websites.~ https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/sei_blog/2017/05/ransomware-best-practices-for-prevention-and-response.html

Ransomware is scary. Ransomware, once it begins to propagate, becomes more about survival and mitigation and less about prevention.

I have thought about how to advise K12 schools around the world how to prepare for ransomware. I have concluded that there are only two approaches everyone can follow: Reduce or Completely Remove Windows and Create Very Inconvenient Backups of Data. 

Reduce or Completely Remove Windows

I decided to compile known types of ransomware. I stopped at 106 identified types. Here is a graph, and link to the sources, that demonstrate what operating systems are vulnerable:

Screen Shot 2020-02-19 at 8.58.44 AM

Data Link

If you want to do the math:

  • 106 Ransomware programs
  • 100 Target Windows Operating Systems
  • 93%-94% of Targets are Windows Operating Systems
  • Using Windows is Riskier than Using other Systems

“Riskier” is a little weak in this case. It is very likely that Windows users will be a target, it is very unlikely that Apple and Chromebook users will be a target.

If the goal is to live in a relatively peaceful ransomware free environment, then the majority of end-users need to be using Apple or Chrome-based devices (Linux varieties are also an option for a subset of users).

There are tools for Windows that help defend and protect against ransomware. However, nothing is better than not being attacked at all.

Create Very Inconvenient Backups of Data

Every time I ask an IT director or IT manager about backups, they claim they are 100% compliant and 100% able to deal with any problems. I have never believed my planning was close to 100%, nor have I ever believed I could restore 100% of all data. I would say, at my best, I am 60%-70% certain that I can restore 80%-90% of data.

Data. Not operating systems and settings. Data. Not the software that was installed. Just all the data consisting of but not limited to documents, databases, movies, music, pictures, special configuration files, scripts and code, and the inclusive content of all websites.

There is only one question a person needs to ask to confirm if backups are safe from ransomware: “Can the backup be accessed right now if we need it?”.

If the answer is ‘Yes’, then backups are going to be vulnerable.

There should be at least two layers of backups. Layer one can be data that is backed-up and accessible on the network, in the cloud, and/or from normal workstations. Meaning, someone can sit down and create or restore a laptop, database, etc by following a workflow at their desk.

Layer two backups are inconvenient. These backups are stored outside of the normal network. These backups are scheduled and not even accessible by network administrators without taking extra steps. These backups require some level of multifactor authentication or even a physical lock and key.

Backup

Layer two backups also need to be tested at least monthly (this is only recommended for K12 schools most businesses need to test more frequently; school districts would need to test very often and on a predetermined schedule).

Tests need to include:

  1. Data restoration
  2. Data access and use
  3. A scan for malware, ransomware, etc
  4. An iterative process to consistently reduce the size of backups
  5. An archival process to store data that will most likely never be needed, but is legally required to store
  6. Imagination. Because you never know where you will be and what the situation will be when you need to access these backups

A very low tech approach to a layer two back-up could include someone taking an external drive to the data source, moving the data manually, and then locking the drive in a safe. Do not overthink this, just start doing it and keep improving the process. If you can access these backups from your workstation, then those backups are vulnerable by definition.

If ransomware happens, and the data cannot be decrypted, this layer two data would be safe as it would be offline. Layer one backups may stay secure, but layer two backups will be secure unless you are victim of very bad timing.

The cybersecurity industry is rapidly developing better protocols for handling ransomware. Staying educated and studying cases is not only essential, but it should also be scheduled into the cycle of work at least once every 6-8 weeks.

The data above could change. An uptick in ransomware for Chrome or Apple of even 1% is enough to review internal processes and procedures. Until then though, get the number of Windows OS users down and make better backups.

businessman hand holding money banknote for paying the key from

Start Your Research Here

Ransomware: Best Practices for Prevention and Response

https://insights.sei.cmu.edu/sei_blog/2017/05/ransomware-best-practices-for-prevention-and-response.html

Posted in Educational Technology, management, TIEONLINE | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sneaky, sneaky kids and electronic tests

This week, is a good week. I learned a whole lot about something this week and I thought I’d share it with you my good reader.

So let me layout the scenario for you. It is the end of an grading period at my school and like many other school this is a time for tests and projects. One class giving quite a few tests is our Spanish class. The teacher there uses on an online assessment tool, Edulastic for this tests and the students use Chromebooks. Since it is a language test and it is offered online, there are some ways that kids can, shall we say, get some online assistance (AKA cheating).

We, the tech department, thought we had this locked down. With Edulastic we can make a “Scene” that only allows the Edulastic website to open and that is it. No new tabs or searches allowed. We also blocked Google Translate from the Google translate control panel so that site or the extension could not be used and we patted ourself on our backs.

So students took the test and when we looked at GoGuardian to make sure they weren’t able to open any webs we noticed something odd. Something didn’t make sense. Check out the image below of a timeline of two different students.

Problem #1

We are stupid, or at least I am. There are plenty of translation extensions that students can download and install.

Guess what, extensions don’t need a website, so they are invisible to GoGuardian, so at the beginning of the week we thought there were students who were installing the extension before the test and then uninstalling it afterwards.

So, we disabled students’ ability to install apps/extensions from Google control panel. Pretty easy and we set up a Google form for students to request apps/extensions to be allowed that we could vet.

OK – now we can really pat ourselves on the back . . . right?

Problem #2

Did I mention that I was stupid? During a test that we were monitoring on GoGuardian we saw this.

So the student on the bottom is what it should look like during a test. A solid green line showing a student consistently on the Edulastic test. The student above was odd. Why was it so fragmented? Those gray slivers are open and empty tabs. What was happening?

So we looked a little deeper and saw this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How could this be? I mean we plugged all the holes . . .didn’t we? Right?

The teacher spoke to this student and he was pretty forth coming. He said that if you type a question the Google Omnibar, it will give an answer without performing a search!

Of course he is absolutely correct.

What you are seeing here is what Google calls instant search and there is a way for us to turn that off in the Google. There was also a translate feature in Google that we turned off as well. I guess this is what offers a translation for sites in foreign language.

Now do I pat myself on the back? No because I am sure the students will find another way. Just like the Dutch Boy and the leaky dike. I am just plugging holes as students find new and inventive ways to . . . “gain assistance.”

What have I become

I always thought that being working in technology – I’d be the cool guy on campus. I’d be the person people would go to with problems and want to talk tech with. I am that person, but I have also become something else.

I’ve become . . . The Man.

I’m OK with that.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment