Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tech Facilitator Meeting March 2012 at Walkertown High School

  • Overall, The e-mail conversion went well. ~9000 users was a big deal! 
  • Migration--for most it worked 
  • Some Known E-mail Issues:
    • Some users get kicked out 
      • There is an 8 hour time limit to be logged in and it will log you out. 
      • They can't change this :(
      • Trying to change the fact that when it logs out it goes to an MS outlook log-in screen vs the WS/FCS mail log-in screen 
      • Why does the ws/fcs user name and password not work on the MS LIVE log-in page?  There is a different cloud password at password is randomized not like AD
      • Kevin wants to know--When it does it happen?  just after 8 hours or when doing other things?
  • Daylight savings time issue--on computers, time zone was right, date was wrong--this has been causing some errors with mail
  • Sometimes resetting browser can clean up issues (tools, Internet options, advanced tab, reset)
  • otherwise try running this script: Time Zone patch File
Flag an e-mail will turn it into a task
  • Many people like this especially admins, but it will not synchronous to Galaxy phones --It is a known issue with galaxy phones and they are aware of the problem and trying to fix
Email hot links
  • People click on email "hot links" on websites, etc. and computers look for locally installed default email program to send a new email
  • This used to work lotus notes client users, it will not work with web mail
  • Speaking of Lotus Notes, there are a handful of databases and locally archived emails-- is why they still have lotus client
    • Can still see old mail on lotus
    • email hot links may in fact launch lotus client for those old lotus users, but of course it will no longer "do anything"--bottom line don't use email "hot links" (copy email address and create a new message in email instead)
Other Issues from the audience?
  • Attachments. Slow loading?  
    • Joan Will make a note of it
    • Marlo: Sometimes cleaning browser, remove tool bars, etc can improve this slowness
    • Dump profiles on those machines might help--Kevin suggested maybe more profile sweeps (but this does not help admin machines)
    • Speaking of which--Trend micro has had trouble with updates hitting older machines--Memory and age of machine are a problem
Checking for names
  • There are two address books, the global and local contacts
  • When you type a name,  it does "type ahead cache" so if you have written to them before it comes up
  • When someone clicks on the To button-- defaults to global address book
  • Most prudent to search by last name
    • if you put a comma after name it will search by last name only
  • It searches by first part of the hyphenated names
  • It searches in active directory
    • Had to make active directory names match email address
Email signature spacing
  • Low vision version:  signature spaces out strangely
  • Suggestion: Create the signature using "shift and enter" between the lines
Junk mail
  • people are seeing much more--mail rules are the answer
  • We are at mercy of ms live filters
  • At least Parent emails seem to be getting through better than i-notes
  • Kelly from EAST HS--MSN and AOL mails coming thru as HTML? Kevin had not heard that
Email resources
  • Giving access to someone else calendar or sharing 
  • To actually manage some one's primary calendar--you have to put in a kace ticket.
  • Needs to come from person wanting to give access
  • But users CAN give rights to any calendars they create that are additional to primary one 
  • Only personal calendars sync to Galaxy phones
  • There are lists of the available email groups on the Webportal
  • Some of the ones besides all staff at the schools include:  Secretaries, counselors, data managers, curriculum coordinators, principals, tech facilitators, mobile device users, sit chairs, Media coordinators, leadership team, assistants and many more.
  • Distribution lists/all the globally supported groups (are based on designation in HR)
  • If there is a question about whether a person should be in a  group or not, put in a KACE ticket
  • So there is a group for all schools but it includes all staff including cafeteria. so if people want other specialized groups, they will have to be manually created
  • Sharing groups is difficult so if one person creates it, it is tricky to share them (has to be in right format and proper separation)
  • Rights to different groups can be an issue--so some people might not have the right to send an email to certain groups
  • There was a problem for about two days with groups that were set up incorrectly
    • if people sent to those groups at that time they needed to clear their cache
    • how to clear cashe of a bad name or bad group?
      • go to a new message, Start to type the name of the bad name or group, Hit delete not back space, then find that group in global address book again
    • Groups will be updated daily as changes happen in HR
    • Problems happened when people tried adding group names from old contacts from lotus addresses -- if the format was in the old/WSFCS format, people had to pull those names out manually and re-add
Other Comments/Issues:
  • Thanks for putting the location in the search--helps distinguish when searching for common names like Debbie Brooks
  • Complaint about hard to see screen issue: There is the low vision view--options/all options/settings/accessibility
    • affect some other options --just keep that in mind
  • Add to the dictionary. Not an option
  • Check box issue:
    • Remind teachers not to place a check in the check box to open an email click on the words instead
    • The check box should be used as an ACTION--to move or delete an email--doing so as resulted in some people inadvertently deleting mail that had not intended to delete.
  • Overall, the trend seems to be that former "Lotus Notes Client users" are less happy with the change over than i-notes users (teachers)
  • With everything moving to the cloud, the trend is away from client use anyway, so this was a reality that was coming regardless
  • Browsers usability is another advantage of this new email
  • Speaking of which Google chrome may come out soon as a browser option for school computers
  • Another big advantage is the mail file size of 10 GB, tho Email should still not be used for file storage
  • Remind teachers again that email should be used only for WSFCS business, not for any personal business--it's school board policy
  • There is an individual attachment size limit of 10 MB and 25 total MB per email
  • There is a 1500 email limit per day--this could be an issue for people sending several emails to large groups like parent lists
  • People should probably use alert now if sending to those types of large group emails
    • Local created groups count as the number of members in terms of emails sent, while the school district created global groups count as 1
Betty Weycker:
  • So, what about Email on personal phone?
  • First of all, they are not preventing people from accessing email on their Smart phones--people can already open email through browsers on those phones
  • What teachers are looking to do is access school email  via an APP on those phones
  • There are a couple of issues:
    • Legality of it/Confidentiality issues/policy/gray area
      • They are Looking at updating policies
    • There is a fine line between promoting it/supporting it
      • verses the fact that they can do it
    • Teachers that have school blackberries--they have been provided the connection (the cloud password) 
    • On tablets currently can access email through browsers
    • The cloud password has to be provided -- the encrypted one to be able to be set up as app email
    • The password could be provided but it is a management issue right now
    • will be the server after the "may changeover", and people will be able to use their active directory user name and password at that time to figure it out
Other Issues:
  • Only school issued devices can access the "managed wireless"
  • Folks should not set up personal email accounts on those school issued devices
  • Working on strategy to BYOD. (Bring your own device)
    • They are digging into platforms--the best ones they can support and what's best  for students--we need guidelines
    • Start of next year should have something specific
Race to top progression/Carla Miller
  • They are updating the progress spreadsheet on the webportal
  • Green and check mark will not be totally complete until all trailers are done
  • ~ 30 schools on the new controllers
Spring Surplus Pickup:
  • Go thru surplus spreadsheet ( Under info for tech facilitators
    Request for information/Spring file)
  • Surplus anything electronic minus TV's
  • Can surplus:
    • remotes
    • laptop batteries
    • Bulbs from projectors
    • VCR's
    • Monitors
    • Overheads (non working) 
    • Keyboards and mice
    • Deskjet printers
    • Laser printers (they strip the parts)
      No personal equipment!!
    • Have to check out spreadsheet ( drop down arrow)
      • Has outward pointing arrow when checked out
      • It is only for non working equipment
      • Fill out and save
      • Please say yes to check it back in
      • They are due Friday April 13
    • Same company as we used in the fall
    • Only do it twice a year--fall and the spring, not "at your convenience"
    • When can we do TV's?
      • Trying to find someone to take tv's and not charge for them
    • How so we make sure everything gets picked up?
      • Separate working and non working
   Wake forest laptops
  • School district policy says they do not support batteries
  • Preferred vendor?
  • Power cords. They are trying to keep a stock. 
  • But damaged ones sent back to school/damaged screens and damaged keyboards
  • Students who damage laptops need to be told and Carla can't pay for those.
  • Submit ticket and Carla will get a quote that only lasts for 30 days
  • The LCD screen damage is different than cable damage 
  • Dropped ones they try to repair--accidents happen
 Time zone patch/filtering issue
  • They are trying to make the issue box in Kace a paragraph box
  • For now, say "see comment below" and then put the rest of what you want to say in the comment below
  • Can we Simplify the process especially for teachers?
    • can those requests go by default to tech facilitator?
    • Expand software install on Kace?
  • Kevin--next month we will have a deeper agenda item for Kace we are short on time today
  • Can we get Comments to show up in email?
Instructional updates: Marlo Gaddis / Steven Anderson
Steven's presentation:
  • Schoolwires. Winter release/update on March 30th
    • Table borders issues  will be fixed
    • Photo galleries. Used to not work with quotes --that is being fixed
    • How do I?  tab. Will now have a suggest location
    • Post events to "parent" calendars
        • Collections have not worked well
        • Teachers will now will be able to post to main school calendar without using collections
    • Wiki app is now available which is accessible to registered users
    • There will be a mobile app now available
Moodle/Spring Workshops
  • Short URL: 
  • Moodle courses are available for spring
  • Two ways people can login
    • Old user accounts, email my  password  doesn't work
    • Try Active directory user name and pw--if that doesn't work, just put in a ticket
    • All explained on moodle page and email you get when u registered
 Free event edcampnc:
  • Raleigh Saturday April 21. Anyone who teaches.
  • Opportunity to learn or to teach
  • Limited to 200 people, and you  need a "ticket" 
Summer training
  • Promethean July 17 and 18th
  • Send information to teachers
Instructional improvement system (iis)
  • Way to deliver content to teachers. 
  • Marlo will post this presentation later
  • Four main initiatives
  • Learning village is closest thing we have to this
  • (PDR) Project deployment road map/NC education cloud
  • RFP. Finally went out request for project
You Tube for education:
  • They continue to get request for Kace ticket requesting access
  • education version has tripled in resources since November
  • Khan academy became very popular request after a 60 minutes story
  • ***BIGNEWS***Unblocked for all teachers  Monday March 26
  • Not access to everything but will be a good start
  • You tube for education--How it works?
    •  School and agencies have to apply. Teachers have to apply to add content
  • Teacher finds a great video and embeds in their website and students at school will still not have access at this time
Jackie Pierson
  • Need a working tv?  Email Jackie with the size and room
  • They have some old fashioned tv's in stock
  • It is a slow process of redistribution
  • Overheads
  • Not physically moving them
  • Not the "big blues"
  • Email Jackie and she will coordinate people requesting or giving them up
  • Dead TV's just find a place to store until they find a vendor to take them
Destiny 10 is coming
  • Great new features
  • Not just cataloging
  • Will have a mobile app for android
  • Probably app will allow e-reading
  • Destiny maybe Down over spring break
  • Not expecting any database issues
  • Dpi is saying no big Changes
  • Media part--Jackie will send FAQ's out
  • E-books do count
  • Betty Weycker will get us names of contact people for help with AMTR
  • Subscriptions don't count in book counts
  • Panthers with wireless issues?  Jackie will follow up on that
    • Can still be used for inventory
Betty/Alert Now
  • Connect 5 is new version of alert now
  • Eva Palmer is here if we want more info
  • Alert now is many things:
    • Attendance calls
    • Has email capability
    • Highly recommended to any parent groups you can ask for email version. You can use HTML version
  • Blackboard bought alert now an connect 5
  • In order to make conversion, Betty needs to know users and additional numbers and Any replied to email accounts
  • Betty thinks we will like this so much better
Classroom solutions
  • $750,000 has been awarded for classroom solution. 
  • Board is still convinced and so our the county commissioners
  • There is sense of urgency/so every school gets them
  • Full solution includes:
    • Teaching station
    • Sound
    • LCDTV
    • Doc camera
    • Clickers
  • Some people say they don't need sound
    • Number one research item says sound is what makes the difference
  • Currently 1301 classrooms in the district are done
  • 1700 more to do
  • Last year they had $200,000 to spend for the matching funds grant/This year $700,000
  • Has not gone to commissioners yet
  • 16 schools last year applied
  • Interest survey for matching funds will be collected first of April
  • Then, assessments will happen in April and May
  • By end of June money must be in hand
  • Some PTA money has to be spent by June 1st, and this will be perfect for that
  • Could be a two to one or one to one
  • Title one as a match?
    • Worst case is one to one funding
  • Only for classroom solutions not wireless labs
  • Last year they required the matching funds at least be for some components of classroom solution/May do same this year
  • Betty believes and people concur--if tech tools are not in the hands of an individual  teacher, they will not be used--in other words sharing rarely works
  • More cost effective and efficient to do total solution
  • In May the decision to go forward with the bond will be decided
  • Has to be made sustainable by first getting all classrooms done now
  • So what do you say to the principal who says:  why not wait and see if the bond passes?  
    • Also good to get some in place now and get some teachers to start immediately and get on the bandwagon going
  • Dr Martin gets the point on sound
 2014 BYOD
  • Tools of classroom solution prepares teachers for that environment
  • Assessment through self paced response?
 Having a true tech facilitator at each school?
  • not even an option on the table this year for additional personnel :(
They are doing a "Smackdown" like Steven did at Ncties with Richard Byrne at Ncties/Sharing of best practices:

Thursday, March 15, 2012

backups, backups and backups

This past week a teacher at my school, Curby Griffin had a bad experience with a flash drive, so I decided to  send out this gentle reminder about making backups.  Curby gave me permission to be the example of "listen to your tech facilitator"  Ha!

What happened was...Curby had a flash drive with a large number of files that she mainly uses for athletics with templates, forms, etc. She uses this same flash drive from year to year and reports that the files on there have taken many, many hours to create.  This past weekend she got a message when she tried to access the flash drive that said:  "drive __ was not formatted, and did she want to format it now?"  Formatting would erase everything completely, so she obviously wanted to say no to that message. But it would not let her access any files :(

We did a little research and found this to be a fairly common problem with flash drives.  The following sites give more information on this issue (I recall this happening to a AP, Peggy Dickey not too long ago too)


We actually were able to recover SOME of the files using:  a free online program called photorec ( ) Much to my surprise it actually worked!! and we didn't have to pay some of the high prices out there on websites for data recovery (some as high as $70.00!!)  Don't be fooled by them :(

The moral of the story:  Make backups and make them often.  There are many options for saving--other flash drives, the K drive at school, external hard drives,  hard drives of other computers. 

I really recommend "cloud saving"  (    When you save in the cloud files are accessible anytime/anywhere you have internet access.  Cloud sources are all over the place these days:

to name just a few are great places to save those important files.

Bottom line, if it's important to you, make sure it's in at least two or more places!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


Recently, I made my annual trek to the North Carolina Technology in Education (NCTIES) conference in Raleigh.  While I did not plan the following strategy when I walked in the conference center, I ended up "immersing myself" in three main themes with three speakers presenting at the conference. Those three speakers were:  Ken Shelton, Richard Byrne and Jennifer LaGarde.  NCTIES never disappoints.  It stretches my mind and I leave feeling enriched not only by the new information, but also the collaboration with colleagues and friends. 

Ken Shelton

In reflecting on the experience, the person this year who changed my thinking the most is a man by the name of Ken Shelton.  I attended two of Shelton's sessions; one of Visual Storytelling and another on Presentation Design.   

What stood out?  The idea that we as humans gain most of our knowledge through our sense of vision, yet what do many presenters cover their presentations slides? -- Words.  I thought more about this concept and it occurred to me that during the long history of humans, the written word only makes up a small percent of our past.  Therefore, it truly makes logical sense that we are "built" to learn more from pictures and the stories they tell and inspire.

In the spirit of Mr. Shelton's idea of avoiding death by power point, I am going to try and limit my words.  I will aspire to live by  the motto of Leonardo Da Vince:  "simplicity is the ultimate sophistication"

Mr Shelton said In planning a presentation, not considering your audience is like a love letter addressed to "whom it may concern". This is especially important for teachers who are often over-whelmed and sometimes close to the tipping point.  A long message or wordy presentation from me is the last thing they want or need.  It's something I have to consciously think more on...

Here are some resources about presentation design that Ken's shared in his sessions:

The next person who I stalked attended sessions with at NCTIES was Richard Byrne.  I have been a fan of Richard for some time now on twitter.  Richard is a mild mannered 33 year old twitter celebrity and Ray Romano sound-a-like from a small town in the state of Maine.  His website, ( ) is one of the hottest education sites in the country.  I attended his sessions  Best of the Web 2011/2012 as well as favorite android apps for education.  I made a symbaloo of the apps/sites that I want to investigate more. There were so many in fact that I could not even fit all of them on my symbaloo: Here are two more:   gooru for math and science, and National Archive digital Vaults

Android apps on the left in blue, and web apps in pink on the right

Last, but certainly not least is a mover & shaker and librarian extraordinaire--none other than my dear friend and colleague, Jennifer Lagarde.  Jennifer always inspires me, and one of the many things I love about Jennifer is her fierce advovacy for the librarian profession as well as her self-deprecating and humble nature.   I adore how she pleads for that child who might ordinarily "slip under the radar" but has the potential to blossom into something special.  Where does this inner strength and strong advocacy come from you might ask?  A small remark LaGarde made in one of her sessions reminds us of her humble beginnings.  LaGarde said growing up she attended more than 20 different schools and WAS that child "flying under the radar".  A tear welled up in my eye, and it was a moment of clarity for me in realizing what might actually motivate her.

LaGarde led two sessions at NCTIES.  The first was a "smack-down" with Jennifer Northrup, of Flat Rock Middle School near Hendersonville, NC.  Both shared a variety of web resources via a symbaloo:  Some of the many resources I am anxious to share with my teachers include:  class dojo, timetoast, flipsnack and Q-wiki

Jennifer LaGarde

LaGarde's next session was geared toward Librarians, but begged participants to remember that Librarians ARE teachers who are embedded in a school's instructional program and not the stereotypical "controllers of the books".  Every interaction Librarians make is a "chance to spread the gospel of Library" LaGarde said.  Check out this presentation--it is full of ideas that have the potential to inspire any school:

Finally, what was best for me was sitting in the front row after the show and listening to librarian after librarian step up to speak to LaGarde sharing their stories of successes and inspiration.  This is why we come to NCTIES!  Now what?