School Closure Tech

Technology COVID-19 edition March 2020

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Tech Support During Closure

Contact Process


Initial contact

Help Desk ticket is the preferred option.


Please note that if you e-mail a tech directly the issue may not be addressed as quickly and the entire department follows a process of turning those e-mails into a ticket, anyway.


Phone

  • Parent/Student Phone: (952) 697-8701 (Voicemail only)
  • Staff Help Desk: (952) 496-5100


As much as possible, we will handle support remotely via help tickets, remote access to devices, or phone calls. Physical visits would be a last resort.


Physical Locations

Starting April 6, Tech will be using Pearson for in-person tech support. Reasons for that:

  • No consistency in staffing at our buildings are staffed right now, and in general they are closed.
  • District office layout is problematic for drop-in support.
  • Can better control traffic of people at Pearson, reducing cleaning needs and better maintaining physical distance.


Some tech staff continue to be present at district office as part of their regular duties.


What Tech Support at Pearson would cover:

  • Mi-Fi Pick-up.
  • New enrollee device pick-up.
  • Exiting student device drop-off.
  • Broken device drop-off/swap.
  • Remote support not possible on device.

Google Hangouts Meet

It has become necessary to provide additional clarification around Google Hangouts Meet. I know everyone has been doing their best to adapt and the willingness to learn new technology has been amazing.


For student video conferencing, you must use Google Hangouts Meet or Canvas Conferences (Secondary). Not Zoom, Webex, FaceTime, or whatever else is being used or suggested.


Every student device can run Meet. We cannot guarantee that for any other program at this time. We do not have the resources to allocate to support a variety of options


Privacy: Privacy questions were covered in a previous e-mail (can also see attachment below). I’ll also note that we don’t have contracts with other companies to protect student privacy (like we do with Google) and therefore we should not be using other tools.


Closing a Meet Room: It's possible, but not as simple as it should be. See notes in next section.


But I really like Zoom!

Use it with your PLC if you would like. You cannot use it with students because students would be able to use it freely if given access to it.


The DLCs in both the Canvas courses and on Tech Tools have put out a wealth of resources on using Meet. Our goal is to support you as best as possible during this time of change. If Google Hangouts Meet doesn’t have a feature you need, doesn’t work in your situation, or you have any other concerns, please contact your building DLC or open a help desk ticket by emailing helpdesk@shakopee.k12.mn.us


Note that existing communication tools like Canvas, Seesaw, and others are still fine to use. This clarification is specifically about video conferencing.

Google Meet - Closing a Room

Here’s how Google describes it:


Participants will not be able to re-join a meeting after the final participant has left if:

  • The meeting was created at meet.google.com by entering a meeting nickname in the "Join or start a meeting” field
  • The meeting was created in the Meet app by entering a nickname in the “Meeting code” field

This means if the teacher is the last person to leave these types of meetings, students cannot join later without the teacher.


Here's a google support thread where the question is asked and answered; I am including this because I think it is representative of how many staff have asked the question to tech.


Setting up a meeting this way starts by going to https://meet.google.com/, clicking the "+Join or Start a Meeting" option, and then entering a meeting nickname in the pop-up (as shown below).

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So, yes, there is a way to create a meeting that can then be closed. For full disclosure, here is what we found while testing this out:

  • Students can’t start a meeting.
  • Students can join a meeting by nickname or meeting code (sdt-maba-aqt format)
  • Students can’t rejoin a meeting with no users by nickname.
  • Students can rejoin a meeting with no users by meeting code.


Students can rejoin old meetings if they happen to have the meeting code. The part that may still be considered problematic is that there are ways to find the meeting code (versus nickname) that are not terribly difficult. We have raised the issue with Google but cannot promise anything would change on their end.


Even with this potential issue, the aforementioned privacy or equity issues with other options outweigh the potential for unsupervised access to meeting rooms.

Google Hangouts Chat

Many of us have been getting a crash course in using Hangouts Meet, which has already been discussed at length in this newsletter and in Canvas courses to prep for distance learning.


Google Chat (also called Hangouts Chat) is currently turned on for all users in the district. This is important to note as this access to chat functionality is a change from past practice. Chat needs to be active for users for Meet to function properly.


One advantage of Hangouts Chat is that it collects records of the chat sessions, meaning we can audit and search those sessions if necessary. The previous version of Google Chat (referred to as Classic Chat) does not have records retention.


Some common questions that may come up in regards to Chat:


There is a confusing aspect to all of this. Google also has plain old Hangouts. That is a legacy product at this point that is being phased out, much like Classic Chat.


Don't use Hangouts. Here, we'll even illustrate it:

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Out of Office Reply

It is highly recommended that you use the "out of office" reply settings to help communicate office hours. This can be updated daily to reflect your availability.


We have a Tech Tools article for Mac and Microsoft's instructions for setting out of office replies on PC and webmail linked below.


Outlook on Mac

Outlook on PC

Outlook 365 (Webmail)

Mi-Fi Status and Options

As of today, still waiting for shipments of mi-fi wireless hotspots to arrive. We have 90 on order and 71 open tickets at the moment. Cell carriers were swamped with requests, and even though we were probably early to order there is still a backlog for shipping.


We are continuing to explore alternatives. Whatever additional options we find will be added to the Options for Reduced Rate/Free Internet Access article currently published on Tech Tools.

Seesaw Connections

In grades K-5, a key tool for distance learning will be Seesaw. We will be working on tracking how many parents have signed up and are connected to a student account. The data in the table below is about a week old, so the numbers are probably better at this point. Overall, what the data shows is more than 85% of students district-wide have at least one parent or guardian connected to them in Seesaw. (Meaning that an adult signed up for Seesaw and is connected to that student, which also means that they are able to receive notifications from Seesaw.)


These are very respectable numbers and we will be monitoring this and exploring options to get as close to 100% as possible.

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Infinite Campus Parent Accounts

The chart below shows our current data for parent accounts in Infinite Campus. The key columns are the last two, which show how many student households have an account and the percentage that represents. For what it's worth, we are up about 4% from September to now.


Access to IC is especially useful now as it allows parents to log in and view things like report cards. It also provides a means for parents to verify contact information and alert settings, which of course is vital to ensuring that information is getting out to parents.

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Infinite Campus Parent Portal Account

Notes on setting up a parent portal account in IC and how to request an activation key.

Next: Updated Tech Tools articles and brief notes and reminders

Distance Learning Hub

Every distance learning resource we create for students and parents will be made available here.

Audio-Visual Updates

Before COVID-19, an audio-visual updates newsletter was prepped to go out. We'll revisit this when things calm down.

Just a Reminder: The Mitel Software only connects when you are on site! Not from home.

Loom Installation Instructions

Loom: for screencasting. Not to be confused with Zoom, for video conferencing, or Doom, for hordes of demons.

Installing a Printer at Home

We have had this question come up a number of times; notes on home printer installation.

Closed Building Phones: We are in the process of updating phone menus at the buildings to better handle routing and locating staff for voicemail.

Credits

image: crowded room comic: https://xkcd.com/2285/

image: Out of Office: https://www.someecards.com/

image: Hangouts Meet: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/hangouts-meet-by-google/id1013231476

image: Seesaw Family: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/seesaw-parent-and-family/id930565469

image: Infinite Campus Parent: https://www.infinitecampus.com/info/new-campus-mobile-apps

Seesaw data: Ty and Natalie

Google Meet closing a room info: Nathaniel