Tech Notes

May 2019

Device roll-ins will be occurring mostly during the last week of the school year.


Here is the current schedule.


Tech will be in contact with each building and work with building admin and staff to coordinate the process. In addition to the schedule, we have posted various tutorials for backing up files and data that are applicable to both students and staff.

We are approaching the final phase of selecting a vendor and system to replace or upgrade our current phones. It is down to two options; it is expected that we will make a final determination and hope to have Board approval for the project as of May 20th.


Once we make that selection, we will start communicating what will be changing and when we may expect to have system outages or any other types of disruptions for this project. We do expect all of the major work to be completed over summer.

Another summer project will be a switch from the Securly filtering system to the Lightspeed Relay product.

Any significant change in a web filter like this will have some bumps along the way as we work to reconfigure things. One example of this is that we will need to clarify what current student filtering levels like "No Social Media" and "Agressive" will look like or how they will function in the new system. That being said, we do believe that we will have a more seamless and effective experience with this product, which is a major reason why we are making the switch.


On a related note, all Apple devices must meet certain standards for the system to work properly. For iPads, this means being on iOS 12 or above. For MacBooks, this means being on High Sierra or newer software. If you are wondering why we are pushing for software updates, that is part of the reason. (And for those wondering why we are not upgrading to Mojave yet, there are still some incompatibilities with other software commonly used here that are being worked out). High Sierra on MacBooks is our standard for the moment.

Just a heads up (which will likely skew the results, but that's okay) - we will be doing one more phishing campaign before the end of the school year.


It has been noted that this can be a stressful or confusing process. There are several reasons why we purposely send out these types of e-mails to staff:



  • It is a controlled environment in which clicking a suspicious link does not actually cause any harm.
  • Avoiding phishing or similar scam e-mails is not strictly a technical skill. It's a behavioral practice or routine. Anyone who has had to manage a classroom, lunchroom, gym, or any environment with behavioral expectations knows that practicing good habits helps things go more smoothly.
  • To not have this type of structured practice potentially creates a liability for the district.



It is no secret that district staff have been specifically targeted for phishing scams. As recently as last week, e-mails impersonating our superintendent (from a bogus gmail account) went out to a number of our staff. This has also happened with several principals. Staff have had their e-mail accounts hijacked. And that's just events within the district; plenty of people have run into phishing scams on personal accounts or have family or friends who have been affected.


So, while it may not be the most enjoyable skill to practice, it is essential that we do so.


As a reminder here are some red flags for phishing e-mails (as described at length in this article):


  • Requests for personal info
  • A sense of urgency or need for immediate action
  • Addresses that may look legitimate at first but upon closer inspection have misspellings or other issues.
  • Hyperlinks that do not go where they claim to go.
  • Unexpected attachments


Poor grammar or other obvious writing errors used to be a good indicator of phishing as well, but scammers who send these e-mails have gotten better at using grammar-checking tools or simply copying real messages from companies and hiding their own links in those messages.


Thanks for your cooperation in this type of activity and for being alert and aware of potential digital threats.

We are looking for pilot room volunteers!


We would like to identify one or two locations at each building where we can do audio-visual installations in order to get some authentic usage of equipment and substantive feedback.


A survey is available if you would like to offer up yourself and your space for this.


Requirements

  • We will need to evaluate the room and ensure that we can add a system without disrupting what is currently in place.
  • Selected staff will agree to provide feedback on the pilot system at regular intervals.
  • Selected staff will also agree to allow other staff to try out the pilot system (outside of regular class time).


If it seems like we are taking a lot of time to go through the process of upgrading our classroom audio-visual systems, well, that is by design. It is a potentially huge expense and we would like to get it right. We are also well aware of the potential for disruption as we explore other types of interactive displays, which is why we are committing to make every effort to maintain Smart Notebook licensing through the 2021-2022 school year, if not longer.


The goal right now is to do pilot room installations over summer, evaluate through fall into winter, and be prepared next spring to make decisions and start mapping out our replacement cycle for the district.

Additional information about the Virtual Student Library Card project has been posted to Tech Tools; this project is underway and we hope to see it be successful and have a meaningful impact for our students.