Sept. 2020 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

Please Be Patient

The Technology Department is experiencing a higher than normal volume of tickets for this time of the school year. Please be patient as we work to respond to your tickets as quickly as we can. In order to social distance access to the technology offices at BHS are by appointment only. Once you submit a ticket a member of the team will reach out to schedule an appointment to either meet at one of the Technology offices or at a space in your building.

Please Welcome Nick Middlebrook To The Technology Department

Please join me in welcoming Nick Middlebrook to the Technology Department. Nick may be a familiar face to several BCSD employees as he previously worked in the BCSD Technology Department from 2012-2014. We are excited to welcome Nick back and hopeful he will hit the ground running during this exceptionally busy school year.

First Week Google Meet Issues

During the past couple of days (9/14-9/15) some users and other school districts have reported issues with Google Meet. Below is a statement from Google regarding these reported issues.


In their statement Google suggested district's eliminate the use of 3rd party extensions such as the Google Meet Grid View Extension. As a result our department stopped force installing the extension for users, which removed it from Google Meet, and it is now allowed to be installed by individuals (teachers and students) if they choose to continue using it.


Another recommendation is to make sure your Chromebook is updated to the latest version of Chrome. Chromebooks typically check in with Google to get updates automatically however, it often takes time for all devices to check in. You can manually check and install an update 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.


Lastly, our hardware configurations meet the expected use cases for Google, but users should limit the number of open tabs to 1 or 2 tabs during a Google Meet to help improve performance.


Statement From Google on Issues:

Meet is crashing or students/teachers can’t access meetings.

There are known issues about Meet's connectivity on certain devices. We have fixed some of the known issues and are investigating those that remain.


In certain cases, browser extensions can interfere with Meet. We recommend disabling extensions, especially those that add functionality to Meet.


If you do encounter these issues, we suggest attempting to reconnect to the Meet. If that doesn’t work, restart the device and then attempt to rejoin. If the issue persists, please file feedback.


Meet’s CPU usage is very high and users are running into performance problems.

  • What is going on and when will this be fixed?

    • We’ve noticed an increase in Meet’s use on lower end hardware. While Meet adapts to a computer’s capabilities, prolonged use, extensive multitasking, presenting, and large meetings may degrade performance and video quality.

    • We’re committed to improving the Meet experience to ensure that teachers and students can have a great learning environment while using Meet for distance learning. In the upcoming months various performance improvements are expected to become available for low-end laptops.

    • For Chrome OS devices, we’re continuing to make improvements to improve performance. Please make sure your device is on the latest Chrome OS version.

    • We recommend G Suite users evaluate their hardware configurations to ensure they meet the expected use cases and follow the troubleshooting guidelines as applicable.

Google Meet and Interactive Board Sound

We have discovered that by default audio does not go through an interactive board, and rather plays through the laptop. Google does this to help prevent feedback. Google is forcing the microphone and speakers to come from the same source, the laptop. Google alerts you with a little warning that pops up (see first screenshot below).


If you miss the warning, you can click the 3 dots and then in settings force audio through the interactive board that way (see second screenshot below). However, you will need to make sure your computer is muted to avoid causing/receiving feedback in the Google Meet.

Big picture
Big picture

PowerSchool Performance Matters Data Dashboard

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".

Big picture

Invite Parents To Your Google Classroom!

About guardian email summaries

A teacher can invite a guardian to receive email summaries about their student’s work in class. To get summaries, the student must use Classroom with a G Suite account (looks like student_name@school.edu). Email summaries do not include grades.


What’s included in an email summary?

  • Missing work—Work not turned in when the summary was sent.
  • Upcoming work—Work that’s due today and tomorrow (for daily emails) or that’s due in the upcoming week (for weekly emails).
  • Class activity—Announcements, assignments, and questions recently posted by teachers.

Guardians who sign up for email summaries can’t see the Stream, Classwork, People, or Grades pages in Classroom.

How do guardians get summaries?

  1. A teacher or admin sends an invitation to a guardian.
  2. After a guardian accepts the invitation, they choose when to get email summaries for each of their students.

By default, email summaries for classes are turned off. If you’re a teacher, you can get instructions to turn them on.


When do guardians get summaries?

Guardians can get emails daily or weekly and can unsubscribe at any time.

Guardians won’t get an email summary if:

  • There's no activity to report for the given time period.
  • All their student’s teachers turned off notifications for their classes.
  • They accepted the invitation but chose not to get any summaries.
  • They aren't connected to any student in Classroom.
Big picture

Screencastify

The Technology Department is excited to share that the district has purchased Screencastify Record and Edit for all teachers and students in the upcoming school year. If you already use Screencastify with your Beacon email address your account will automatically be converted into a district account with access to both Record and Edit. If you have never used Screencastify we will be pushing the extension to all teachers and students Google Chrome accounts. Open the extension while logged into your BCSD account and your license will automatically activate.

KAMI

The district is in the process of purchasing KAMI for all teachers and students. Once we receive the licensing information we will communicate it to you.

Nearpod

The district is in the process of purchasing Nearpod for all teachers and students. Once we receive the licensing information we will communicate it to you.

Kindergarten Usernames Are Changing

In an effort to mask personally identifiable information and in the spirit of NYS Ed Law 2d the district is changing the structure of usernames issued to students. The new structure will incorporate elements of a students graduation year and first and last name as part of the username. The username will no longer be last name and first initial. We are piloting this change with the incoming Kindergarten and transfer students and plan to continue these changes with other grades next school year. Passwords have also been changed so that there are no longer a unique identifying number that is connected to the student.

Please Use Student ID Numbers When Referring To Students In Electronic Communications

In an effort to mask Personally Identifiable Information (PII), and in the spirit of Ed Law 2d, please refer to students in electronic communications such as email or the ticket system using student ID numbers (which can be found in PowerSchool) instead of names.

Use Google Confidential Mode When Sending Emails Containing Personally Identifiable Information

Confidential mode provides built-in information rights management controls in your emails by allowing senders to create expiration dates and revoke previously sent messages. Because a sender can require additional authentication via text message to view an email, it’s also possible to protect data even if a recipient’s email account has been hijacked while the message is active. Additionally, with confidential mode, recipients don’t have the option to forward, copy, print, or download their content or attachments. (See picture below)
Big picture

REMINDER: Add Windows Ink To Your Laptop

Enable Windows Ink To Draw On Your Interactive Board


To enable Windows Ink on a computer take the following steps:

  1. Right click on the ^icon in the bottom of the Windows page near the date/clock.

  2. Select "Show Windows Ink Workspace Button"

  3. An icon that looks like a pen drawing should appear next to the date/time

  4. Click the pen icon

* As of 9/14/20 there appears to be a Microsoft update that was released which is preventing this program from installing correctly on some computers.

Don't Forget To Add Ricoh Printing To Your Computer

CLICK HERE for step by step instructions.

Cybersecurity Tip: Lock Your Screen! Did You Know Hackers/Criminals Are Lazy?

Locking you screen is one easy way to prevent unauthorized access to a computer and files. You can do this by clicking the buttons on your keyboard with the "windows icon' and the "L" key at the same time, or by going to the windows icon in the lower left hand corner of your screen, click the silhouette with your name, and click "lock."


Criminals are lazy! Criminals that infiltrate a machine typically wait for the user to stop working on the machine before executing malicious commands and code. Since you are not at your computer a user will not typically notice the unusual activity. Locking your screen can prevent this from happening. Once you lock your computer, even if a criminal has infiltrated your machine the lock will prevent them from executing commands. In many cases when a criminal encounters a locked screen they will just move onto find an unlocked machine that is easier to work with.

BEWARE: COVID-19 Email Scams

Cybercriminals are opportunistic and have used the COVID-19 pandemic to their advantage. That is why it is so important to remain alert and scrutinize any emails with COVID-19 related information.


KnowBe4 recently reported the ten most clicked on email subjects (globally). They include:

1. Password Check Required Immediately

2. Vacation Policy Update

3. Branch/Corporate Reopening Schedule

4. COVID-19 Awareness

5. Coronavirus Stimulus Checks

6. List of Rescheduled Meetings Due to COVID-19

7. Confidential Information on COVID-19

8. COVID-19 - Now airborne, Increased community

transmission

9. FedEx Tracking

10. Your meeting attendees are waiting


By following these basic recommendations you can avoid becoming the next victim.

• Scrutinize the sender email address and subject line. Do you know the sender?

• Was the email address or subject line misspelled?

• Were you expecting this email?

• Content: Look for bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Be wary of content that expresses urgency, requests documents, presents a promotional offer, or includes hyperlinks and/or attachments.


DO NOT OPEN ATTACHMENTS OR CLICK HYPERLINKS YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING.

When in doubt speak directly to the person who sent the email; do not reply directly to the sender until you are sure the attachments and links are safe.

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.