May 2020 Technology Newsletter

By: MIchael Kealy

Staff Laptop Collection 6/18 & 6/19

I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy. I am writing to let you know the Technology Department will be collecting laptops from all staff members as we approach the end of this unusual school year. Collection of equipment will allow the Technology Department to perform updates on devices.

Staff Laptop Collection Will Be: 6/18 & 6/19 8am-12pm at BHS

We will be asking staff members to drop off district issued laptops at the entrance to the BHS Library. This will give us the ability to utilize the BHS Lobby to appropriately social distance. A reminder that a mask is required when it is not possible to social distance.

*Staff members that were issued a district Chromebook do not need to return the Chromebook, just the Windows Laptop.

Collection Process

It is preferred that each staff member returns his/her equipment, but given the circumstances we will accept the equipment if you send it with a colleague.

To better assist the Technology Department, staff will be required to complete a brief "Technology Collection Survey" which can be found HERE, prior to returning your laptop. This survey will help the Technology Department repair any issues with your machine and help set it up correctly when it is returned to you.

If you have an extenuating circumstance and cannot return your laptop on either 6/18 or 6/19 please submit a technology help ticket and we will work with you to schedule an alternative time.

Things To Consider

During the updates the content on your laptop will be deleted including, but not limited to, photo's, video's, documents, etc... In preparation for the collection process you are strongly advised to back up your content to Google Drive. If you need additional assistance please submit a Technology Help ticket prior to 6/17.

I know it has been awhile since most of you have been to your classrooms, but if you have unused, broken, or obsolete technology equipment in your classroom that needs to be removed please submit a technology help ticket ASAP. Please include a description of the equipment, whether it works or not, and the specific location in which the equipment can be found. During the summer a member of the Technology Department will remove the equipment. Please do not send technology equipment to the Technology Department, a ticket must be submitted.

When will laptops be ready?

We anticipate laptops will be available to be picked up beginning the week of 6/29. We will send an email communication when they are ready. If you have an extenuating circumstance in which you need your laptop sooner, please send a technology help ticket and we will work with you to accommodate your need.

Thanks again for your hard work, innovation, and adaptability during this unprecedented time.



Updates: Google Meet

Present high-quality video and audio in Google Meet

What’s changing

You can now share higher-quality video with audio content in a Meet video call. You can do this through a new present a Chrome tab feature. Now, when you use this feature with video content playing, everyone in the meeting will see and hear the video and audio being shared. This means you can confidently use videos, gifs, animations, and other media in your meetings.

Why it matters

Videos can be a critical part of meetings and presentations. As more meetings are taking place online, it’s important that presenters can share smooth videos with audio to all attendees, wherever they are. Situations where you may benefit from high-quality video and audio in presentations include:

  • A business meeting to review promotional videos.
  • An engineering meeting to share pre-recorded product or feature demonstrations.
  • Teachers sharing videos as part of a lesson plan to students.
  • Presenting slides with embedded videos or GIFs, or with animated transitions between slides.

Additionally, by adding the ability to present a tab rather than a window or your full screen, we’re providing more control to presenters to make sure they can minimize distractions while they’re presenting.

Additional details

Present a tab and easily switch between tabs
With this launch you can now present an individual Chrome tab. When you present a tab, it will be highlighted so you can clearly see which one you’re presenting. If you change your view to a new tab, a pop-up will ask if you want to switch to presenting the new tab or keep presenting the previous tab, making it easy to move between tabs and control what information you share with the meeting.

Use “present a tab” to share high-quality video and audio
The high-quality video and audio playback only works when you present an individual tab feature in Chrome (see above) on desktop devices. It does not work if you’re presenting a full window or your whole screen.

Upgrading previous Meet video presentation experience
Until now, users have been able to play video while presenting in Meet, but may have noticed choppy playback and no audio. Some users chose to use the Cast feature to present audio and video, but that had several limitations as well. This launch will mean users can avoid workarounds and limitations and easily include high-quality video in their meetings.

Users can already present high-quality audio and video to meetings using an HDMI cable with some Meet hardware kits. This will continue to work.

See up to 16 Google Meet participants at once with tiled layout

What’s changing

You can now see up to 16 people at the same time in the tile layout option in Google Meet.

Why you’d use it

Seeing more people at the same time can help improve the dynamics of larger group meetings and classes. Whether it's seeing everyone's reactions to what's being discussed, or more easily tracking multiple speakers, it can help remote meetings feel more like in-person meetings and encourage participation.

We hope that this helps individuals and teams feel more connected while apart.

Additional details

The layout will adjust to show active speakers. If you’re in a meeting with more than 16 other people, there’s an option to open the list of participants and see who else is in the meeting. As a reminder, all G Suite customers can host meetings with up to 250 participants.

This feature is currently only available in Meet on the web. More updates are coming for larger meetings, better presentation layouts, and support across more devices.

REMINDER: Public Wi-Fi Security Tip From November 2018 Newsletter

Being that everyone has been working from remote locations, and I recently read some cybersecurity tips that cautioned about using public-wifi to conduct work related business, I thought I would include a tip from the November 2018 Newsletter:

Public Wi-Fi

You may encounter public wifi or guest wifi at conferences or while traveling. Public wifi or guest wifi should be considered unsecured networks. Always verify that the name of the network you are connecting to is a legitimate network as hackers can spoof the name of legitimate wifi networks to steal your information.

Never enter usernames, passwords, and/or credit card or financial information

on public/guest wifi networks.

Never view confidential or sensitive information such as student information

from PowerSchool or other sources on public/guest wifi networks.

GSuite Updates

New quick settings help you optimize your Gmail layout

What’s changing

We’re adding a quick settings menu that helps you easily find and use different layouts, settings, and themes to make Gmail look and feel right for you.

When you click on Settings, you’ll now see different interfaces, inbox types, and display options alongside your real inbox. When an option is selected, the inbox will immediately update so you can compare choices and see how settings work in real time.

The full settings menu is still available by clicking the “See all settings” button at the top of the new quick settings menu.

Who’s impacted

End users

Why it matters

Gmail has many options to customize layout, look and feel, and other details to make sure the interface is personalized and optimized for how you like to work. These include:

  • Customizing the density of text and information displayed
  • Choosing a different inbox type to help intelligently prioritize and organize emails
  • Adding reading panes to quickly see email contents
  • Applying themes to personalize the look and feel of your inbox

We’re making these options easier to find, and letting you explore them in real time, so your actual inbox will update immediately to show you exactly what the setting will do. We hope this makes it easier to set up Gmail the way that works best for you.

Additional details

Note that this update just adds an easier way to access settings that already exist in the full Gmail settings menu. There are no new settings, and users’ existing settings won’t be changed with this update. You can still see the full settings menu by clicking the “See all settings” button at the top of the new quick settings menu.

New sharing dialog for Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms

What’s changing

We’re updating the interface you use to share files from Google Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, and Forms on the web. This will replace the previous interface used to share files and manage members of shared drives. These changes will make it easier to share files only with specific people without expanding access beyond what’s needed.

Who’s impacted

End users

Why it matters

Sharing files is critical to collaboration. This is especially true now, as more workforces are remote and collaborating on files from different locations. By making it easier to share files with specific people, we hope to improve collaboration while reducing the risk of access by unwanted users.

Additional details

We’ve made several changes to the sharing experience. These make it easier to perform common tasks, avoid accidental permission changes, and quickly see who has access to a file. Specifically you may notice:

  • Separated, task-focused interface: The new sharing dialog highlights essential user tasks like sharing a file, changing permissions, and viewing file access. The redesign also visually separates sharing with people and groups from link-sharing.
  • Quick “copy link” button: We’ve added a “copy link” button to make it easier to get the link without changing link permissions.
  • Easily see current access: The new interface more clearly shows who currently has access to the item, making it easier to quickly audit and change permissions.

Reminder: Use GMAIL Confidential Mode When Transmitting Student Data

A reminder from the June 2019 Newsletter:

What’s changed

Last year, Google announced the launch of Gmail confidential mode for G Suite . On June 25, 2019, this feature became generally available and users have the option to send emails with confidential mode.

Why you’d use it

Confidential mode provides built-in information rights management controls in your emails by allowing senders to create expiration dates and revoke previously sent messages. Because a sender can require additional authentication via text message to view an email, it’s also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active. Additionally, with confidential mode, recipients don’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download their content or attachments.
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Reminder: Adobe Flash Is Going Away in December 2020

A reminder from previous newsletters:

Check the websites you frequently use and in your instruction now to see if they use Adobe Flash as Adobe announced in 2017:

Adobe is planning to end-of-life Flash. Specifically, we will stop updating and distributing the Flash Player at the end of 2020 and encourage content creators to migrate any existing Flash content to these new open formats.

If the website(s) you use contain Adobe Flash please begin thinking about alternatives. Adobe has said they will end support for this product on 12/31/2020.