Update – Account Creation for Google Apps

With the new school year now underway, the Technology Department is receiving many requests to have Google Apps accounts created for students and staff. We thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to remind you of the process for making these requests.

Firstly, we have received some requests from teachers and office administrative staff on where to find the forms for students and parents to give their consent. There are two documents that must be sent home. They can be found at the following links:

The detailed process for staff to follow when requesting student accounts was previously posted to the blog and is still available. You can look at the original posting for more information. The relevant information is found under Part 2 of the posting. It’s also important to note that there are two important changes to the information that has been posted there. In the original posting, requests were to be emailed to Nicole Kowalko. This year, we ask that you email your requests to Jennifer Mullen. Secondly, in the original posting, we promised a turn-around of 24 hours between the moment the accounts were requested, and when they were created. Since Help Desk is now staffed differently this year, we’ve had to increase this time to two business days (between request and creation).

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10 Tips for Efficiently Using Google Apps

Recently, we received this infographic, forwarded to Nancy McAleer. Nancy is a teacher in our district. Information was posted to a blog and gives 10 helpful tips for using GAFE. The following topics are covered by the infographic:

1. Bookmark all tabs
2. Email this page: Download the extension at goo.gl/uix3wo
3. Calendar attachment
4. Gmail filters
5. Jump to a video spot
6. Force “Make a Copy”
7. Search by file type
8. Add someone to a doc
9. Voice typing: Download the add-on at goo.gl/jA1BYP
10. Add-on: Simply Send

Please visit the original blog posting to see the full information, including detailed steps for each of the topics listed above. Thanks very much to Nancy for this share!

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GAFE – Google Apps Privacy Briefings

In the late fall, our district started its implementation of Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Teachers and their students have embraced this suite of tools and are making use of it in schools cross the district. To date, there are over 1 100 accounts in the district’s GAFE system. We continue to receive requests for new accounts each week.

As part of our system for rolling GAFE out, our district requires that teachers using the tool with their students participate in a privacy briefing. A number of these briefings were offered earlier this year in both the Belmont and Milne’s Landing zones.

We are pleased to announce that three more briefings have been scheduled. They will be offered at the following locations, dates and times:

  • Tuesday, April 19th, 2016 at 4:00 PM in the Library/Learning Commons at Journey Middle School
  • Wednesday, May 11th, 2016 at 3:30 PM in the Meeting Room at Royal Bay Secondary School
  • Tuesday, June 14th, 2016 at 4:00 PM in the Library/Learning Commons at Journey Middle School

These briefings will take approximately 1 hour. During the first half, participants will be offered the Google Apps Privacy Briefing. In the next half, time will be given to reviewing the tools and getting a sense of what it can do in support of students, teachers, and classroom learning. Anyone who has already attended a privacy briefing, but would like an overview of the tools (only) are welcome to attend the second half of any of these sessions.

An RSVP by email, including the date and time you expect to attend, would be appreciated but is not a requirement. Last minute drop-ins are welcome and there is no cap on attendance. We’d rather get as many people as possible using and benefitting from these fantastic tools.

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Monthly Project Update – February 15, 2016

What is a Project?

In the world of IT, a ‘project’ is work that brings about something new, and that requires some sort of significant commitment on the part of the district, a school, or a department. Generally speaking that significant commitment will involve one or more of:

  • Technical resources
  • Budget
  • Time
  • Technician hours
  • Planning and scheduling

Over the course of the school year, the IT Department undertakes and completes a number of projects. Some of them are very large, and some are smaller in scale. Starting this month, and from now on, we will be regularly posting an update on projects. This will usually include a summary of the projects completed, the ones on which we are currently working, and those which should be starting soon. Our goal is to keep student, teachers, support staff and the wider community up-to-date on the work that we are doing on your behalf.

Recently Completed Projects

  • Facilities Building Construction – Installed network, servers, workstations, wireless access points and switches
  • Transportation Building Construction – Installed network, servers, workstations, wireless access points and switches
  • On-line Registration – Completed a major update to support the registration of students in Grades K through 12
  • On-line School Change Requests – Built and deployed a system to allow parents to request school changes on-line
  • On-line Academy Registration – Updated the system to take into account new academies starting up at different schools and the new registration timelines
  • Elementary/Middle School Labs – Completed a remote re-installation of software in the labs and had a technician visit each school to repair/replace as many computers as possible
  • Deploy Additional Computer Labs at Belmont and Royal Bay – One additional small computer lab was deployed in each building to support programs and make sure there were enough workstations for Provincial Exams

New and Current Projects

Here are the projects that are actively being worked upon by our technicians

Improve Wireless Coverage in Schools

Over the next four months, we are undertaking the following work to bring better coverage to all schools

  • Map the wireless strength in all areas of all schools and identify the areas of weakest coverage (to be completed within the next month)
  • Arrange for the installation of power and wiring for those access points (within the next one to three months)
  • Install the access points (within the next two to four months)

Improve Wireless Connectivity at Belmont and Royal Bay

The wireless networks at our two new schools will be fine-tuned in the coming weeks to improve connectivity for both district-owned and guest devices. We are hoping to reduce or eliminate dropped connections, and improve the speed at which district-owned devices can login to the network, especially for first-time users.

Support Staff Workstation Replacement

We are currently assessing the viability of some workstations used by our support staff. These are mostly clerical staff in schools and in the district office. This work is necessary because the district is updating its Finance and Human Resources software, and some of our workstations will need to be upgraded to run the new system. Our goal is to have all of the necessary workstations identified, and replaced, before May 1st, 2016.

Thanks very much for reading and keeping up-to-date on our department’s work.

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Service Improvement – Guest Wireless Accounts

We are pleased to announce that we are streamlining our processes for creating guest wireless accounts on our two guest networks (SD62 Login and SD62 Login(Fast)). These networks have been created to allow our SD62 users (students and staff) to bring personal devices to school or work, and then use those devices on our wireless network. Anyone with an SD62 username and password has been automatically able to use this network for a number of years already.

We also have had the ability to create temporary usernames and passwords for guests to our district so that they can have Internet access on these same wireless networks. Up to now, these accounts had to be requested through the IT Department’s Help Desk. Starting tomorrow (December 4th, 2015) guest accounts for the SD62 Login networks can be created by designated staff members at individual schools and workplaces. Accounts created at the local level will have network access for 72 hours (3 days). If a guest needs their access renewed, that can also be done at the local level.

In some cases, a guest user may need access for a longer period. If that is the case, these accounts need to be requested from Help Desk (by calling 250-474-9875, or emailing helpdesk@sd62.bc.ca).

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GAFE Briefing – Milne’s Landing Zone

We are pleased to announce that we’ve scheduled another GAFE Briefing for teachers. Receiving a briefing is required before a teacher request Google Apps accounts on behalf of their students, or make use of Google Apps in their teaching.

Thanks very much to Poirier Elementary for offering to host. Here are the details:

  • Tuesday, January 19th, 2015
  • Poirier Elementary – Music Room
  • Start time: 4:00
  • Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Because of the limited space in the room, we can only accommodate about 30 at this meeting. Therefore, please RSVP by emailing Graham Arts if you plan on attending.

For those of you who would like to get started earlier, there are still two briefings scheduled in December:

  • Monday December 7th, and Monday December 14th
  • Royal Bay Secondary – Main Meeting Room
  • Start time: 4:00 PM
  • Duration: Approximately 30 minutes
  • Because the meeting room at RBSS is much larger, an RSVP is appreciated but not required to attend a December briefing.
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Holiday Shopping for Electronics Suggestions

As we move into the holiday season, the IT Department is often asked about deals on technology for personal use. In anticipation of holiday shopping, we have put together a number of suggestions for you. If you are shopping for electronics for the holidays, give these a try. Please note that they aren’t presented in any particular order. Also, the IT Department cannot recommend any particular software or electronic equipment for personal use, nor can we provide support for any personal purchase made. We hope that you find these selections helpful for you as you shop for the holidays.

CDW Canada

The IT Department purchases much of its district equipment from CDW. As a school district, CDW gives us some of the best rates on electronics. But they also sell for personal use. Even better, as an employee of SD62, you can buy equipment from CDW online at the same rates paid by the district. Purchases are made online through their Employee Purchase Program. In order to access the EPP, you need to visit:

https://www.cdw.com/shop/epp/accounts/default.aspx

You will need to create an EPP account for yourself. You’ll need a combination of your school district email address (for verification that you are working for the school district) and the program number. For confidentiality reasons, the program number cannot be published to our blog. However, if you email Graham Arts from your School District account, it can be forwarded to you.

Once you’re signed up, you’ll be able to access the entire catalogue. One word of advice is to only order items that are in-stock, especially if you want to receive it by the holidays.

Microsoft Canada Online Store

Microsoft Canada has an online store that provides educational discounts to school district employees. The discounts offered to the education sector are usually at least 10%, but can be much deeper depending on the product. You will need to access the Microsoft Store online and create an account using your SD62 email address. In order to access the Microsoft Store online, please visit:

http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msca/en_CA/edu

There is a radio button that allows you to indicate whether you are K-12. Make sure you choose that for your selection. From the popup menu, choose BC, and then enter either ‘Victoria’, ’Sooke’ or ‘Port Renfrew’ as your city. Your school name should pop up from there. If you aren’t assigned to a particular school, you can choose any from the list. The most important thing is that you have an SD62 email account. You will then have to check the box confirming that you’re eligible for the pricing (which you are as an employee of the district). Once you’ve made your selections, you can begin shopping for education pricing on a wide variety of products from the Windows world.

Apple Canada Education Store Online

The Apple Store offers discounts similar to those for Microsoft, with one big difference. Apple’s discounts are almost always 10% (only) from what you’d expect to find in a retail store. In order to visit the Apple Education Store Online for Canada, visit:

http://www.apple.com/ca/shop/browse/home/findyourschool

Once you arrive on the page, click on the K-12 radio button. There is a search box that asks for a school or city name. Put in the name of your school, or enter ‘Sooke’. The only choice that comes up in the list is the Apple Educator Advantage. Click on that choice from the list and a button will appear allowing you to shop for yourself. When you’re ready to buy, you’ll have to use your SD62 email address in order to get the pricing you see. If you don’t have an account with Apple yet, please make sure that you use your school district mail when you create one. As with the other sellers, your district email address is their proof that you work in our district and are eligible for the discounts.

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GAFE Teacher Accounts and Briefings

As recently announced on our blog, SD62 teachers can start requesting GAFE accounts for their students. However, prior to making a request, a teacher must have:

  • An sd62learns.org GAFE account themselves
  • Previously attended a GAFE briefing focusing on security and privacy

Requests for teacher accounts can be emailed directly to Nicole at the Help Desk. Accounts will be created within 24 hours of being requested, and the account details will be emailed to the teacher.

We have also scheduled briefings for interested teachers. These will be held at Royal Bay Secondary on the following dates.

  • Monday, November 30th, 2015
  • Monday, December 7th, 2015
  • Monday, December 15th, 2015

All briefings are scheduled to start at 4:00 PM. Briefings can also be individually scheduled, by school. Groups of teachers are encouraged to pick a meeting time and then request a briefing through their school’s principal or vice-principal.

Questions regarding GAFE Teacher accounts and briefings can be sent to Graham Arts, District Principal for Information Technology.

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Google Apps for Education – Update

On Saturday, November 21st, the CommunicateIT blog was updated with information on the Google Apps for Education (GAFE) Summit, and we gave November 30th as a probable timeline for making GAFE available for students. Today we are pleased to announce that effective November 30th students with signed consent on file will be given access to the sd62learns.org GAFE system. We apologize, in advance, for the length of this post, but feel it is important to give complete information regarding the roll-out of this exciting tool for students and staff. To make for an easier read, we’ve broken this posted into a heading on timelines, and then detailed procedures. Teachers who are interested in using the GAFE tools with their students should read both parts of this posting.

Part 1 – Timelines

  • November 25th 2015 – Teachers may start sending home the SD62 GAFE Letter of Intent and the SD62 GAFE Consent Letter. Both forms must go home so that parents are fully informed, but only the consent form needs to be returned to the school.
  • November 26th, 2015 – Teachers can start requesting GAFE accounts for those students who have signed consent forms returned. It is most helpful for our IT Department staff if all the requests for a class can be received at once.
  • November 27th, 2015 – The first batch of student accounts will be created after 3:00 PM. Any requests received by noon for student accounts will be processed.
  • November 30th, 2015 – The first group of student accounts will be available.
  • Daily, from November 30th Onward – Teachers can request student accounts. Any requests received before noon will be processed overnight, and be available the next morning.
  • From December 1st Onward – Graham Arts will be available to brief groups of teachers upon request. Details on booking a staff briefing will be released in the near future.
  • On or before December 11th, 2015 – Additional details regarding printing from Chromebooks will be made available.

Part 2 – Detailed Procedures

  • Teachers can request a GAFE account by emailing Nicole Kowalko on Help Desk. Teachers do not need to receive a GAFE briefing before requesting and receiving a teacher GAFE account.
  • Teachers will need to keep track of the consent forms. Once the consent is confirmed, the forms will need to be kept in the student’s file in the main office.
  • Accounts need to be requested by a class’ teacher. Prior to making a request for an account, a teacher must receive a briefing on the acceptable uses of GAFE, and then complete an online form indicating that they have read the reference materials.
  • When a teacher makes a request for GAFE accounts on behalf of their students, they will need to give the IT Department the following information:
    • The teacher’s name
    • The name of the school
    • The name of the class and/or division as it is given in MyEdBC
    • The names of the students who DO NOT want a GAFE account.
    • The student numbers of students who DO NOT want a GAFE account.
    • We have decided upon this approach on the assumption that most students in the class will want an account, and will get the full consent signed. Therefore it’s easier for teachers to communicate to us this smaller amount of information, and it’s easier for IT to note the small number of students for whom accounts cannot be created.
  • Requests for student accounts can be made by email to Nicole Kowalko on Help Desk. Requests must be received by email so that we have a record of the request being made.
  • For each student account that is created, there will be some important changes (as follows):
    • Their SD62 computer login name will change:
      • Their current login is their MyEdBC student number
      • Once they receive a GAFE account, their SD62 computer login name will change to their first an last initial, and the last four numbers of their MyEdBC accounts. In rare cases, we may have to modify a student’s login information to prevent the duplication of SD62 login and GAFE accounts.
      • For example, a student account that used to be 987654 would now become ga7654 for both SD62 login and GAFE
    • Although their computer logins will change, they will continue to use their MyEdBC student number to sign out library books on either L4U or Follett.
    • When a GAFE account is first created for a student, their password will be their account name. Continuing from the above example, if the student’s new account is ga7654, that will also be their initial GAFE password.
    • Students will have to change their GAFE password the first time they login to the new system. Their new passwords must have a minimum of 8 characters.
    • The students’ SD62 login password (for logging onto a computer) will remain unchanged.
    • SD62 network passwords and students’ GAFE account passwords are managed separately. If a student changes their SD62 network password, their GAFE password remains unchanged until they initiate a change from within the GAFE system.
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Google Apps for Education

On Friday November 20th and Saturday November 21st, over 45 educators from the Sooke School District have been participating in a regional Google Apps for Education summit being hosted at Oak Bay Secondary School. The workshops and keynote addresses have generated a lot of excitement among the participants as our district moves forward with its plans to make Google Apps for Education (GAFE) to our students and our staff.

At the time of writing, GAFE is available to any SD62 staff member who is interested in exploring this tool and seeing what it has to offer. Our goal is to have GAFE available by November 30th, 2015 for students. The final availability date for students will be confirmed later this week as we put the finishing touches on our GAFE system.

In order to support staff and parents in the use of GAFE, we have prepared some important briefing materials. They include detailed information on how the tool will be made available to students, and the approved uses of GAFE. We have also prepared an FAQ that is mainly for the benefit of staff, but which is also available to parents and students.

We are looking forward to making GAFE available to students and staff, and seeing the the benefits that come along with these tools including Google Classroom.

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