October 2019 Technology Newsletter

By: Michael Kealy

Cybersecurity Awareness Month

See how Hackers are using social engineering and phones, yes I said phones not computers, to steal information. "We are basically living in the dark ages when it comes to phones, until these companies learn to change their authentication protocols."

Companies that don't have the proper security procedures in place can often leave themselves and their stakeholders vulnerable to a social engineering attack.

Criminals and Hackers are using social engineering strategies to make you believe phishing emails and phone calls are authentic. Below, is a picture with some tips to avoid falling for their tricks.

Protecting Personally Identifiable Information From Phone Phishing

Due to the recent uptick in social engineering and phishing scams that are occurring via phone our district is directing staff to refrain from verifying/editing personally identifiable information (names, addresses, phone numbers, student numbers, place of birth, etc…) over the phone.

Requests to verify or update personally identifiable information should be done in two ways:

  1. Via the PowerSchool Parent Portal using the returning student registration tab
  2. Done in person at each building where the identification of the individual requesting the verification/change can be verified.

These changes are being implemented to protect the personally identifiable information of all stakeholders and to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of personally identifiable information by district personnel.

IMPORTANT: USB Use Is Being Restricted Soon

The Technology Department will be restricting the use of USB storage devices soon. While the department recognizes that USB's can be a useful and convenient tool for teachers and staff, USB’s can carry malicious software from one computer to another, especially USB’s that are used on an employees home computer and then used on district owned equipment. Also, restricting USB use helps prevent the unauthorized loss or release of personally identifiable information that an employee may have downloaded from a district computer system. Please begin moving any files you need to use off campus to Google Drive the districts cloud based storage platform.

IMPORTANT: Changes Coming To BCSD Public Wi-Fi

Due to the recent increase in cybersecurity attacks against K-12 schools we will be changing the way users authenticate to access the BCSD Public Wi-Fi network. On Friday, November 8th the Technology Department will be enabling "sponsored login" which will replace the use of a generic password to login. Anyone who has a BCSD email address can sponsor themselves or a guest to use the BCSD Public Wi-Fi Network. This will ensure that anyone connecting to our wireless network has an affiliation with the Beacon City School District.

Below are screenshots of what the process will look like:

When a user connects to the guest SSID, a splash page will be displayed automatically. If using an Apple device the Apple pop-up window will show the splash page. Users need to enter their own name and email address and click Continue.

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After entering their own credentials, the user will then be prompted to enter their sponsor’s email. Users need to enter a sponsor email that matches one of the previously configured email domains. Using an undefined domain will return an error asking users to confirm the email.
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After the user enters a sponsor email from the allowed domains, the next window notifies the user that their request is pending sponsor approval.
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The sponsor will receive an email notification requesting approval for guest access. The name specified by the user will be used in the email sent to the sponsor.
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After the sponsor clicks on the link in the email, a new page will open in the sponsor's web browser indicating that the request has been approved.
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Once approved by the sponsor, the user is then redirected to google.com and will be able to browse the internet.
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Drone Professional Development 11/5

Our very own Aaron Burke who is a member of the New York State Masters Teacher Program and won a grant from NYSCATE on coding drones will be providing a professional development to learn more about drones and their use in education on the upcoming professional development day. A reminder that a drone was placed in each school library this school year and can be loaned out to any teacher that would like to use it.

zSpace Professional Development 11/5

Keep an eye out, Gloria Rosati-Peterson will be providing professional development on the new zSpace Virtual Reality computers on the 11/5 PD day. zSpace is available for use by any teachers in the district. A Google calendar has been created so that staff can see when the zSpace computers are available. To reserve the zSpace computers for your class please submit a technology help ticket.Want to learn more about zSpace? Reach out to one of the teachers that attended the professional development in September:

  • Charles Barone
  • Susan Bloomer
  • Aaron Burke
  • Sarah Coleman
  • Jeanne Dottavio
  • Renee Ferrara
  • Carmen Finton
  • Michael Gersh
  • Lauren Gonyo
  • Ashly Hala
  • Mary Ann Hamilton
  • Sheryl Hawks
  • Zachary Joyce
  • Jeanette Lynch
  • Alexa Marinaccio
  • Monica Paredes
  • Sergio Perez
  • Gloria Rosati-Peterson
  • Ralph Sansone
  • Shannon Varekamp
  • Danielle Yeaple

Reminder: Castle Learning

A reminder that the district has subscribed to Castle Learning for several years. Now that the district is 1:1 Castle Learning is a great tool to introduce computer based testing to your students. The software has questions banks from both previous NYS Regents Exams and NYS Grade 3-8 tests. Teachers can also create their own questions. A representative from Castle Learning will be providing training on the Professional Development day 11/5.


Click Sign In With Google Button

Reminder: TEQ Online Professional Development

A reminder the district renewed a subscription to TEQ Online Professional Devleopment which has been rebranded by TEQ as "OTIS".

The TEQ platform offers lessons in the following areas:

Adobe Digital Storytelling Google Promethean

Apple Digital Citizenship Holiday Science

Assessment Early Childhood iPad SMART

Blended Learning Educational Frameworks Math Social Studies

Chromebooks ELA Microsoft Special Ed


Computer Science General Interest Project Based Learning and more!

Teq is an approved NYS CTLE PD Provider, so any qualified courses that you complete can be used towards your state-mandated professional learning hours. Just be sure to take the quiz after completing a course to receive your certificate of completion!

Accessing the platform is easy! We have enabled Google Single Sign On so you don't have to remember any passwords. A welcome email was recently sent to all teachers. You can access the program by logging in (http://opd.teq.com/) and selecting “Login with your Google Account”.

Reminder: Discovery Education Streaming Plus

A reminder that the district purchases a subscription to Discovery Education Streaming Plus

Go to: google.discoveryeducation.com

A few reminders about Discovery Education Streaming Plus:

Did you know...

  • Discovery Ed has a built in professional development tool for teachers

  • Discovery Ed is more than just a video streaming service

  • Discovery Ed has a library of still images to use in lessons

  • Discovery Ed has lesson plans and activities

  • Teachers can search lesson plans, activites, and videos by topics or standards

To learn more contact you library media specialist or submit a Technology Help ticket.

Driving the skills agenda: Preparing students for the future

Schools play a crucial role in preparing students for the jobs ahead of them, but what skills will the next workforce need? Google sponsored the Economist Intelligence Unit: Skills of the Future research to understand this important topic.

Skills of the Future

Employers agree that problem-solving, teamwork, and collaboration are the skills most in demand—both now and in the future.

Impactful Teaching Strategies

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s report, Fostering Exploration and Excellence in 21st Century Schools, finds that integrating different educational strategies and techniques is the most effective way to develop next-generation skills.

Support These Skills

Through detailed case studies, teachers all over the world share how they use educational technology and hands-on learning to help prepare their students for the future.

With a rapidly changing workplace, it’s more important than ever for students to develop 21st-century skills, and for teachers to drive them forward.

GSUITE Updates

Customize text size and position for captions in Google Slides

Quick launch summary

You can now personalize caption text size and position while presenting in Google Slides. These features can help make captions easier to read, like ensuring all audience members can view captions in a large room. Or, you could make your text smaller to maximize the number of words on screen at once.

While presenting, select the dropdown menu next to the Captions button on the toolbar. From there, you can then set the text size and position.

See our Help Center to learn more about presenting Slides with captions.

Better line spacing support for branding in Google Docs and Slides

Quick launch summary

You can now set custom line spacing to be less than one in Google Docs and Google Slides. This allows for more detailed control of line spacing so you can better control the appearance of your fonts. Our users have told us this is a critical need for meeting brand guidelines or creating documentation that requires visual polish. Additionally, this will help preserve formatting when importing and exporting files in legacy formats.

To customize your line spacing, go to Format > Line Spacing > Custom Spacing.

Set profile picture for Gmail and all Google apps

What’s changing

We’re combining the Gmail photo with the Google account profile photo for G Suite users. Now, when you go to change this setting in Gmail, you’ll be directed to the “About me” section of your Google profile settings to set your profile picture.

Who’s impacted

Admins and end users

Why you’d use it

Currently, profile pictures set in Gmail are only displayed in Gmail. This means your profile picture in Gmail may be different than your Google account profile photo, which can make it difficult to know which picture will be displayed where. This change simplifies things by allowing you to set a single profile picture in one place and then displaying that single photo across all Google apps.

How to get started

  • If your Gmail and profile photos are currently different, and you have permission to edit your photo, you’ll see a pop-up when you visit your About me settings which will prompt you to select one of the images or choose an entirely new photo.