October 2020 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

Check Out The PowerSchool Performance Matters Data Dashboard

Administrators and Teachers, in PowerSchool check out the new Performance Matters Data Dashboard! The dashboard includes relevant information about each of your students along with early warning indicators to help you identify students that may be struggling.


To access the dashboard a teacher should login into PowerSchool and click the square icon (pictured below) in the upper right hand corner and select "Performance Matters".

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Google Meet New Features

You probably have already noticed some of the new features Google has rolled out in the last month, but thought it was worth mentioning them anyway.


Google Meet Attendance

Google rolled out Google Meet attendance which now sends a report to the meeting organizer of who attended the meeting along with the length of time they attended.


Google Meet Breakout Rooms

Create breakout rooms for small group discussion. With this highly-requested feature, educators can offer increased engagement in their classes by splitting students up for simultaneous small group discussions or working time. Moderators can also jump between breakout rooms to monitor and participate in discussions.

Additional details

You can create up to 100 breakout rooms in a call. Call participants will then be randomly and equally distributed across the rooms. You can also manually move people into different rooms. Check out the Help Center for more details.


While only event creators can create breakout rooms, anyone with a Google account that is joining from the web or through the Meet app can be a participant.


*Breakout rooms must be created during a video call on a computer.


Google Meet Polls

Create polls within Google Meet


Google Meet Q&A

People in the meet can ask questions without disturbing the meeting.


Google Meet Blur Background

Prevent distractions by using the blur background setting in Google Meet.


Jamboard Integration With Google Meet

With the new Google Jamboard and Google Meet integration, you can now create or open an existing jam while on a Meet video call. This digital whiteboarding integration means you can use the Jamboard virtually to host collaborative brainstorming sessions with your coworkers or students in real-time, even when you can’t be in the same room. You’ll also be able to save, share and continue the whiteboard at any time with Jamboard.


Note, you can only start or open a Jamboard during a Meet call if you joined the call on a computer. Video call participants on a mobile device or tablet will get a link to a Jamboard file and be directed to the Jamboard app.

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Did You Know? We Made Significant Upgrades To The BHS Large Group Instruction (LGI) Room

I am excited to share that the upgrades to the audio-video equipment in the BHS LGI room are complete. These upgrades were planned well before COVID-19, and much of the equipment was original to the construction of the building and either did not work correctly or at all.


The new equipment enhances the ways in which the LGI room will be able to be used in the future. The room is now fully equipped with a Crestron control panel, three 4K PTZ cameras, built in ceiling microphones, a new 4K projector and motorized screen, AV Bridge for streaming, and Dell Interactive Board for classroom instruction. Lavalier and wireless microphones are also available to be used during presentations.


So what does this all mean... In addition to everything the room could be used for before, the room can now be used to stream and receive virtual presentations with the press of a button that automates the components in the room so that a person with little to no technology skills can host a meeting. If you're interested in utilizing the room please contact the BHS Main office to check the schedule and let the Technology Department know when your event is taking place.


Check out some pictures of the upgrades below!

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Can I Import Grades From Google Classroom To PowerSchool?

Yes, there is a way to import scores into PowerTeacherPro. However, there is no direct link from the Google classroom to the PTP grade book.


It’s more of a correctly formatted template containing grades from google classroom to import into PTP. The procedure is explained in the Help section of the grade book. Click on the (?) Help Button and enter “Importing and Exporting Scores” to learn more.


During a test ES BOCES was able to create an assignment with no grades, export it out, enter grades and import it back in as a csv. file. For a teacher who is highly organized and a little tech savvy they can do it. Teachers should contact their buildings clean data trainers for assistance. Please see the screen shots below:

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Cybersecurity Alert!

During the week of 10/11 the district saw an increase in fraudulent emails spoofing/impersonating the names of administrators asking if faculty and staff were available to obtain gift cards. All of these emails were sent after normal working hours.


It is well known that cyber criminals tend to send these types of emails during off hours when it is less than likely the recipient would be able to verify the authenticity of the email. A reminder to please exercise extreme caution with suspicious emails that are unsolicited and/or ask you to do something.


Also, last week 2 Westchester County school districts faced cybersecurity attacks, with one confirmed case of ransomware, and another Superintendent quoted as saying "The impact of this attack on our systems is requiring an extraordinary amount of time to restore servers and devices" A link to the article can be found here.


Tips:


  • Check the sender field to ensure the email originated from @beaconk12.org. The most recent spoofs have not come from an official BCSD email account. (However, remember that some spoofs can look like they came from an official account.)
  • Email spoofs are often sent on weekends, holidays and off hours when the recipient would not ordinarily be able to contact the sender other than through email.
  • Watch out for generic or strange greetings. Recent spoofs have contained no greeting at all.
  • Watch for spelling and grammar syntax errors. It is well known that many criminals using spoofs reside outside of the United States and do not always possess the best grammatical skills.
  • Check out the senders closing signature, and if suspicious, compare it to other emails from that sender. Recent spoofed emails have used a closing signature that is not typically used by the sender.
  • 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!
  • DO NOT open attachments that you weren't expecting. Attached files are a typical method cyber criminals use to infiltrate and infect a computer.

Cybercriminals are impersonating parents for ransomware attacks on teachers

A new malicious campaign is taking advantage of schools moving to remote learning.

Teachers receive an email from an attacker pretending to be a “parent or guardian submitting an online assignment on behalf of student, claiming that the student encountered technical issues.” A malicious document is attached and when opened a “custom ransomware payload” is downloaded.


https://www.techradar.com/news/cybercriminals-are-impersonating-parents-for-ransomware-attacks-on-teachers?utm_source=SmartBrief&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CAD172D8-A062-47A3-9762-76106DCF6967

Important: Starting October 13, 2020, Google Drive files are automatically deleted forever after they've been in your trash for 30 consecutive days.

Starting October 13, 2020, Google is changing the retention policies for items in the Trash in Google Drive. With this new policy, any file that is put into a Google Drive trash will be automatically deleted after 30 days. Previously, trashed items would be retained indefinitely until the trash was emptied by the user.


Any files already in a user’s trash on October 13, 2020 will remain there for 30 days. After the 30-day period, files that have been in the trash for longer than 30 days will begin to be automatically deleted.


Learn more.

REMINDER: Technology Assistance By Appointment Only

Just a reminder that all stakeholders should submit a help ticket (help@beaconk12.org) to report technology issues. In person/on-site support is only available by appointment only due to COVID-19. Walk-in's are not permitted.

REMINDER: Improve Chromebook Performance

Manually check and install Chrome Updates by following the directions below.

  1. Click the bottom right corner of the Chrome OS desktop.
  2. Select the Settings icon.
  3. Click About Chrome.
  4. Click Check for updates.
  5. To apply the update, click the arrow icon and select Restart to Update.


Users should limit the number of open tabs to 1 or 2 tabs during a Google Meet to help improve performance.


Routinely shut down and restart your Chromebook. Do not just close the lid.

Reminder: KAMI

On 9/17 I sent an email notifying teachers that KAMI is available for use. Please use your BCSD email address when logging in to Kami. The vendor let me know that because they are experiencing a large volume of requests they have temporarily placed our district on a trial version until the end of October with all functionality to give their company more time to process the paperwork and official licensing. Please do not panic if you see the product expires in about a month.

REMINDER: Nearpod

On 9/25 I sent an email notifying teachers that Nearpod is available for use.


If teachers didn't have a Nearpod account an email was sent to them with steps to claim their account, including your new username & password.


If a teacher previously had an account. An email has been sent to teachers with a confirmation. Users will keep their old username & password.

REMINDER: Adobe Flash Is Going Away in December 2020

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.