December 2018 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

Happy Holidays!

The Technology Department wishes everyone and their families a safe and Happy Holiday season.

Cybersecurity Meeting With FBI

I recently had the opportunity to attend a cyber-security meeting with a Special Agent of the FBI's New York Field Office along with several other Technology Director's in the region. At this meeting, the FBI emphasized that schools remain targets for cyber-criminal activity.


One might think: why would criminals want to target schools?

The answer is that schools contain troves of personally identifiable information for students, parents, and staff. Criminals are trying to steal this information to either sell it on the dark web or use it themselves to seize tax refunds and/or open fraudulent financial accounts.


At this meeting the FBI emphasized that each end user (anyone that uses a district computer and/or network) poses a security risk. The reason end users are a security risk is that they have access to both server connections and data.


Criminals are targeting these users either by spoofing emails of someone they know or trust to request information, or sending attached web links or files with malicious content to steal information from the user's computer and/or district network.


What can you do to protect yourself?


  • Always be vigilant and scrutinize an email that asks for personally identifiable information, financial information, and or data files.
  • Never respond to a suspicious email, instead report it to the Technology Department to verify its authenticity. You are not bothering us!
  • Create and use complex passwords. Some suggestions: a song lyric or three-word phrase is stronger than using capitals and special characters.
  • NEVER re-use old passwords, even when resetting a password.
  • Check out the slide below from the FBI security presentation.
Big picture
Big picture

Warning Message: "Be Careful With This Message"

You may have recently seen the message above appear in some of your emails. The Technology Department recently enabled a security feature that warns users when they receive an email that could be suspicious or malicious.


Some reasons why an email may contain this warning include but are not limited to: an email that appears to be trying to spoof a Beacon user, an email that requests personal information, and/or an attachment that could be malicious.


Users that receive an email with this message should "be careful with this message" and use extra scrutiny when reading, responding, or opening attachments. Not all emails with the message are suspicious or harmful.


For example, you may have received this message when reading Dr. Landahl's weekly blog post or other messages coming from the Blackboard Mass Notification System including this one. This is because the email did not originate from the senders Google account, it's being sent from the district's mass notification tool, which is why it has been flagged as a potential spoof.


If you receive this message and are unsure what to do feel free to always contact the Technology Help Desk.

You Asked! We Listened... TEQ Online Professional Development Has Returned

At the beginning of the school year several teachers asked me if the district would be renewing the TEQ Online Professional Development service. Working with Mr. Wright the district was able to renew this robust service. The TEQ platform offers lessons in the following areas:


Adobe Digital Storytelling Google Promethean

Apple Digital Citizenship Holiday Science

Assessment Early Childhood iPad SMART

Blended Learning Educational Frameworks Math Social Studies

Chromebooks ELA Microsoft Special Ed

Civics ENL/ELL NAO STEM

Computer Science General Interest Project Based Learning and more!


Teq is an approved NYS CTLE PD Provider, so any qualified courses that you complete can be used towards your state-mandated professional learning hours. Just be sure to take the quiz after completing a course to receive your certificate of completion!


Accessing the platform is easy! We have enabled Google Single Sign On so you don't have to remember any passwords. A welcome email was recently sent to all teachers. You can access the program by logging in (http://opd.teq.com/) and selecting “Login with your Google Account”.

Discovery Education Streaming Plus Single Sign On Has Arrived!

When the district unveiled Discovery Education Streaming Plus a couple of months ago we promised we would setup Google Single Sign on to make it easier for students and staff to access the program and sign on.


The good news is Single Sign On has been deployed!

Go to: google.discoveryeducation.com


A few reminders about Discovery Education Streaming Plus:

Did you know...

  • Discovery Ed has a built in professional development tool for teachers

  • Discovery Ed is more than just a video streaming service

  • Discovery Ed has a library of still images to use in lessons

  • Discovery Ed has lesson plans and activities

  • Teachers can search lesson plans, activites, and videos by topics or standards

To learn more contact you library media specialist or submit a Technology Help ticket.

Coming Soon! From Google:

Locked Mode in Quizzes in Google Forms
Locked mode for Quizzes in Google Forms is now available on managed Chromebooks! Locked mode allows teachers to lock students’ screens to prevent them from navigating away from the Quiz until they submit their answers. Teachers and administrators, sign up for the beta to get access.


Try Out the Google Classroom Gradebook
Sign up for the beta to access new Gradebook features in Classroom. This includes viewing submissions across classwork & students, adding grade categories, and choosing how overall grades are calculated. Any teacher or administrator can sign up.


Innovate & Transform with Chromebooks
Looking for inspiration on using Chromebooks with your students? Explore our new webpage to see how you can transform your classroom with Chromebook apps and tools.