January 2021 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

Happy New Year!

On behalf of the Technology Department I would like to wish everyone a Happy and Healthy New Year! May 2021 be better than 2020.

New Feature in Relay Classroom

Now in Public Beta, to be announced January 18th, 2021.


When enabled on the Classroom Rules page, this allows teachers to send one-way messages to students through Lightspeed Classroom Management™.


Details:

  • Messages are limited to 150 characters.
  • Students do not have the option to message back.
  • Message history is stored, but not currently viewable.

Screencastify Submit is now fully integrated with Google Classroom.

It's a new year but, Screencastify is doing what they do best: turning your requests into brand-new features. This time, they're excited to unveil Google Classroom assignments in Screencastify Submit.
đź‘‹ Introducing Google Classroom Assignments on Screencastify Submit

Recent Google Meet Issues in January

Beginning on 1/6/21 and continuing through this month district users have reported sporadic issues impacting Google Meet Video where teachers could not see students and another issue where Google would freeze up when trying to share/present a screen. These were two separate issues and both of these issues were experienced by other districts across 3 surrounding counties.


During this time my department and I were in contact with Google Support, Technology Directors in neighboring school districts, and the Technology Director at Dutchess County BOCES. Since this was a widespread issue the Technology Directors in each of the surrounding BOCES were able to bypass Google Support and open a direct channel of communication with Google Engineers. As a result some changes were made and it was reported and verified by our district users via the ticket system that the video issue was resolved by 1/15/20.


In regards to the issues with sharing/presenting a screen. It was conveyed to our district that Google is aware of the issue. We were told they would be pushing a fix 0n 1/19/21, but if that did not work users would need to update their Chrome OS version to Chrome OS 88 which is scheduled to be released on 1/26/21.


As always, thanks for your patience and continued support.

Google Meet Troubleshooting Tool


New tools to troubleshoot network and performance issues in Google Meet


What’s changing

We’ve added tools in Google Meet that make it easier for end users to understand how their local desktop and network environments affect meeting quality. During a call, you can now go to the three-dot menu and select “Troubleshooting and Help” to see:


  • CPU load and network stability over time
  • Time segments highlighted when the local environment likely affects the call quality
  • Suggested actions to help improve call performance
  • Real-time feedback on the effect of any action taken on network and processing load
  • Tips for performing common tasks, like presenting content and recording meetings



Who’s impacted

End users


Why it’s important

Meet shares processing power and network connections with all other applications and browser tabs running on a computer. When the system is overusing its processing power or suffering from a bad network connection, Meet will try to adjust and maintain performance while consuming less resources. Some of those adjustments are less visible, but if resource shortages are severe or persistent, users may notice blurry video, stuttering audio, or other issues.


With this launch, we’re providing more visibility into how the system is performing. We hope this will help diagnose and alleviate any noticeable performance issues if they occur.



Resources


Share Audio Using Google Meet

My team recently noticed a trend in our tickets with staff reporting they are unable to capture system audio when sharing screens in Google Meet.

Sharing a tab will capture system audio normally. But teachers/staff prefer to share a window or their entire screen so they can see the students/chat while playing a video. However, those two options will not capture system audio.


The current workaround is to go to Settings > Sound > Sound Control Panel > Recording > Stereo Mix > Properties, and at the bottom is a drop-down menu to enable it. This part only needs to be done once.

Once enabled, go back to Google Meet. Click "Present now" and choose either "A window" or "Your entire screen". Now that you're screen sharing, click the three dots on the bottom right > Settings. Under "Microphone" select "Stereo Mix" from the drop down menu. This will switch your input from your microphone and will start to capture any audio played through your computer.


Note: You will have to go back to the three dots > Settings and switch back to microphone when you want to use the microphone again.

Hopefully Google will fix this bug in a later version but for now this is the fix.

GSuite Updates


Better privacy when screen sharing with muted web notifications

Quick launch summary

Now when you’re sharing your screen, Chrome will automatically hide the content of web pop-up notifications. This includes notifications from Google Chat, email notifications, and other third party websites.

When you’re done sharing your screen, all muted notifications will be automatically displayed. Note that notifications are already muted when sharing a tab in Google Meet.




Quickly navigate to active cells and ranges with the new range name box in Google Sheets


Quick launch summary

We’re adding a range name box, located to the left of the formula bar, to improve navigation in Google Sheets. Previously, active cells were only indicated by a blue outline and could be located by scrolling or using the arrow keys. Now, you can use the range name box to jump directly to coordinates and named ranges in a sheet.


Additionally, this box provides a dropdown menu to easily access and manage to create new named ranges in the sheet.



Resize the Chat and Rooms sections in Gmail on the web


Quick launch summary

You can now resize the Chat and Rooms sections in the left-side navigation of Gmail on the web. This makes it easier to stay on top of your most important conversations and navigate to relevant chats faster.



Enable offline support for Google Calendar on web from your computer


Quick summary

You can now enable offline support for Google Calendar on Google Chrome from your computer. When enabled, you can view your calendar and events from four weeks prior or any time in the future by week, day, or month. This is particularly useful when you’re offline or have unreliable internet access.

Cybersecurity Criminals Use Stolen Personally Identifiable Information To Obtain Unemployment Benefits

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