June 2020 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

REMINDER: Software Programs Under Review For Compliance With Ed Law 2d

As we enter the summer a reminder that the district is in the process of reviewing all of the software used by teachers and students to ensure compliance with NYS Education Law 2d. and Part 121 which was adopted by NYSED in January 2020. Ed Law 2d seeks to prevent the unauthorized release of personally identifiable information (PII).


Ed Law 2d Part 121 requires that all software vendors that access personally identifiable information (PII) meet certain criteria to protect data, and that the vendor also signs the districts parent bill of rights.


There is no action required on your part, however I wanted to remind everyone that if a vendor does not meet the requirements you will not be able to use that piece of software in the upcoming school year. Most major software vendors are aware of the law and the changes. We do not expect a significant disruption to software use and encourage you to check the list of software approved by the district frequently especially when school resumes to make sure the software/website you want to use is on the list and has been approved.


If a piece of software you want to use is not on the list please submit a technology help ticket so it can be properly reviewed.

Changes Coming To Student Email Addresses and Usernames

In the spirit of NYS Ed Law 2d and an effort to eliminate personally identifiable information from student email addresses and usernames, the Technology Department will be creating an email address and username that only uses pieces of personally identifiable information when creating accounts for students.


We will begin this transition with incoming kindergarten and transfer students in the upcoming school year.

PowerSchool Summer Roll Over Planned For 7/13-7/16

While I hope most of you will be enjoying the summer vacation I wanted to let you know that the Technology Department is planning the annual roll over for PowerSchool from 7/13-7/16. During this time there will be no access to PowerSchool.

Don't Forget To Archive or Delete Your Google Classroom Classes


When you’re done teaching a class, you can archive it. When a class is archived, it’s archived for all students and teachers in the class. If you don’t archive a class, students and teachers in the class continue to see it on their Classes page.

You can restore an archived class if you want to use it again, or delete it if you’ll never use it again. To delete a class, you need to archive it first.

Teachers and co-teachers can archive a class, but only the primary teacher can delete a class. Students can’t archive or delete a class.

What happens to an archived class?


When you archive a class

  • It’s placed in a separate area to preserve the class materials, student work, and posts. You won’t see it with your active classes on the Classes page.
  • You and your students can view an archived class. To use the class again, you have to restore it.
  • You and your students can still access any class materials in Google Drive. That includes any attachments for assignments or other student work.
  • Students can’t unenroll from an archived class. This can limit how students can manage the classes they’re done taking.
  • The class calendar remains in your Google Calendar and in your students' calendars. If you no longer need the class, you can remove its calendar from view, or delete it permanently. For instructions, go to Delete or unsubscribe from a calendar.

    Note: An archived class stays in Classroom until you delete it. That’s why an archived class’s calendar still shows in your Google Calendar.


More information can be found here: https://support.google.com/edu/classroom/answer/6149813?co=GENIE.Platform%3DDesktop&hl=en

New PowerSchool User Experience and Look

PowerSchool recently upgraded the system which includes new features and a slightly new look.

New Experience At a Glance


Navigation Menu

Several important functions from Specials Functions now appear in the Navigation Menu:

  • Health Management
  • Importing & Exporting
  • Incident Management
  • Search Attachments
  • Special Programs


Quick Data

Quick Data includes charts for Attendance Taken, At Risk, and Incident Count. You can click a link to view detailed information about each chart. You can disable the charts you do not wish to see to minimize the Quick Data section.

Note: The Attendance Taken chart is not available in District Office.


HeaderThe new header appears with updated icons. In addition, the header displays the User Menu (your initials) icon that replaces the Personalize Settings page.


Navigation Toolbar

With the new school picker, you can view more school names at a given time and the new color scheme makes it easier to read. Additionally, the current school appears highlighted at the top of the menu.

With the new term picker, you can view more terms at a given time, the new color scheme makes it easier to read, and the current term appears highlighted at the top of the menu. Additionally, you can click the Calendar icon to view the number of days in term.


Student Search

Staff Search

Contact Search

User Settings


  • The new search makes it quicker and easier to find what you are looking for:
  • Search Menu: Using the first drop-down menu, you can search for Students, Staff, and Contacts. When performing a student search, you can search by names, fields, and stored searches. Staff and Contacts do not appear in the the drop-down menu for users who do not have security permissions.
  • Fields Menu: Using the second drop-down menu, you can easily search on any of the listed fields directly, without having to know or enter the field name.
  • Search Box: By default, Smart Search is enabled. As you begin to type, the search box immediately displays a drop-down of matching results. Users can disable Smart Search if they do not want to use it.
  • Search Matches: Within the drop-down of matching results, you can add or remove individually to current selection or press ENTER or RETURN to add all matches.
  • Quick Search Alphabet: By default, the Quick Search Alphabet (A-Z letters) are disabled, but can be enabled by users that want to use them.
  • Include Inactive Student/Staff Results: By default, inactive students and staff are not included in search results, but can be enabled by users that want to have them included alongside the active students or staff.
  • Build Search: As you build your search, you can see the components of each search, making it easy to remove components individually, or Clear All.
  • Advanced Search: Advanced Search appears in a slide-out drawer making it easier to see the impact of adding and removing items on the current selection.


Daily Bulletin

The Daily Bulletin appears on the Start Page by default. If you prefer the bulletin to appear as a link in the navigation menu, you can configure this setting at the district level per school.

Note: A banner appears across the top of the start page to help you learn more about this new feature. Click x to dismiss banner. Once dismissed, click the Help icon, then What's New to access the release notes.

GSuite Updates


Edit Calendar events directly from Gmail and Docs


Quick launch summary

You can now edit Google Calendar events in the quick-access side panel in Gmail and Docs, without having to go to the full Calendar page in your browser. You can even use “Find a Time” to see others’ calendar availability when scheduling events.



Improvements to layouts in Google Meet


Quick launch summary

We’re making some changes in Meet to ensure you can better see who, and what, you need to see in your meetings. We hope that these improvements help remote meetings feel more like in-person meetings.

Tiled view with presentations
We recently announced tiled layout in Meet, where you can see up to 16 other participants in your meeting. We’re now making improvements to that layout to allow you to see other attendees even when someone is presenting. Presentations appear in a large tile, with the most active participants to the side or bottom.


Saved layout preference
When you choose a new layout, this layout will be automatically saved as your preferred layout. This means it will be automatically applied for your future meetings, until you select a new one.

Additional UI improvements
We’ve made some minor improvements to the meeting User Interface to better utilize the space on your screen.



Google Docs assistive writing features coming to G Suite for Education and Nonprofits

Quick launch summary

We’re making two Google Docs assistive writing features—Smart Compose and Autocorrect—available to G Suite for Education, G Suite Enterprise for Education, and G Suite for Nonprofits users.

These features add to other intelligent assistive writing features, such as neural grammar correction in Gmail, which help G Suite for Education users write more quickly and efficiently. The new features were previously available to other G Suite editions, but not G Suite for Education customers. Users can choose to turn each feature on or off.

Autocorrect in Google Docs
Autocorrect helps you compose documents quickly and with confidence. Misspelled words will automatically be corrected while typing and denoted with a grey dashed underline. As you continue typing, this dashed line will disappear. It will be available for Google Docs on the web in English. See more information on autocorrect in Docs here.

Smart Compose in Google Docs
Smart Compose helps you compose high-quality content faster by cutting back on repetitive writing while reducing the chance of spelling and grammatical errors. It will be available for Google Docs on the web in English. See more information on Smart Compose in Docs here.

Student Chromebooks

Due to COVID-19 and the uncertainty that remains because of it, the Technology Department will not be collecting student Chromebooks this summer. We ask that students hold on to them and bring them back when school resumes. 5th graders should bring their Chromebooks with them to the middle school when they return to school, and 8th graders should bring their Chromebooks to the high school when they return.

We will only be collecting the Chromebooks from 12th grade graduating students on Monday, June 22 and Tuesday, June 23 9am-3pm at BHS.

Reminder: 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.


Regards,

Mike

Reminder: Adobe Flash Is Going Away in 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.

Have a Great Summer!

On behalf of the Technology Department, I would like to wish everyone a great summer! This school year has been an interesting year, to say the least. We started the year going 1:1 Chromebook district-wide and could have never envisioned the impact the timing this decision would have as we were forced into remote learning this spring. Despite the challenges, it has been exciting to see faculty and staff overcome the obstacles posed by remote learning, to design innovative lessons and experiences for our students. As we move into the summer please do not hesitate to submit a technology help ticket if you have questions or concerns regarding technology.


Best regards,

Mike