Annotation Pilot

Annotation example

One of the skills that students need to learn is how to annotate. Not only do they need to learn how to annotate, but learning how to annotate in a digital age is important.

The Technology Department has joined an Annotation Pilot Project. This project brings the ability for all Dearborn teachers to empower students to learn annotation skills.

Teachers can now easily add the ability for students to annotate web pages or PDFs right through iLearn.

Teachers: if you’d like to try this with your students, please reach out to our Tech Coach or the Technology Department.

Black Friday Phishing

Ah, there’s nothing like phishing on Black Friday. The sun breaking over the horizon, the water gently lapping.

Oops. Phishing, not fishing. Phishing is bad.

This is an example of a Phishing email. The scammers have used the amazon logo. They have included “deals” that seem reasonable. However:

  • The sender’s email does not match with amazon
  • Hovering your cursor over the link will display a link to a site other than amazon
  • There is some odd wording

Please be aware of phishing attempts and scams.

A few things to remember:

  • Just because it has a logo, doesn’t mean it comes from the company. It is easy to copy and paste the Amazon logo, the Apple logo, etc.
  • Watch out for things that are “time-sensitive”
  • Do NOT use the link within an email to log in and fix an issue. Type the URL into the URL bar yourself
  • Watch out for “tracking numbers” that claim to come from UPS, FedEx, etc.
  • Be wary of promised Gift Cards for completing a survey (almost all of these are fraudulent).

Also:

  • Reputable companies won’t ask for your Social Security Number/Bank Account Number/Credit card to prove who you are
  • Remember that phishers are trying to get information (either log in information, credit card numbers, or personal information)

Choose iLearn

This is the login page of ilearn.
iLearn Sign in page

DESIGNED TO SAVE YOU TIME

Quit wasting time and get started using a tool that is designed for teaching and learning by people passionate about education!  iLearn is built for classroom activities. We now offer pdf and web page annotation, secured and shareable assessments, writing peer review workshops with rubrics, interactive H5P activities, and so much more!  

ONE CLICK LOGIN

Log in with your Google Account
Utilize Google Single Sign-on so that your students can access learning materials quickly.  

SECURE BROWSER APP

Stop cheating before it happens
The iLearn Secure Browser App prevents cheating by locking down Chromebooks. 

MISTAR GRADE EXPORT

Publish grades directly to MISTAR
Save time and be more efficient. Let iLearn grade your assessments and with the click of a button transfer grades to MISTAR.  

Standards in DEC

Good news! The Technology Department has now embedded more standards into DEC. These are all linked. This way, if you use the Standard Short Code in a lesson, explanation or reference, it will be linked automatically.

We now have the following standards linked:

Plus, all of the standards are searchable. You can click on a Standard Resource and search within it. In the example below, I searched for “upper case” (note that I did NOT use quotation marks in the search thoughusing quotation marks would not return any results since those words are not next to each other). This returns three standards that deal with “upper case” (even though there are words between “upper” and “case”) and gives me the standards.

iLearn Sign-On

We’ve been working for quite a while on a special project. We are now ready to unveil that project.

We understand the struggle with signing into different places. We want to make this as easy as possible, AND as secure as possible. Those things are generally two different ends of the teeter-totter. That is, the easier something is to access, the less secure it is.

Kindergarteners face a special challenge. Since they are frequently still learning their letters and numbers, signing in to a computer securely can be a conundrum. We’ve developed badges to help that process out. That can get them signed into a Chromebook easily, but not iLearn.

We now have an answer.

Students (and Staff) can now sign in using Google. This reduces the load for elementary students. As it turns out, this is good for everyone. We were able to accomplish this while still protecting the security of our data.

Now, IF you are signed into Google, signing into iLearn only requires a button click – no more entering a user name and password. (We have also implemented this on MyPD.)

That’s right. If students are on a Chromebook, they are already signed in. So, when they click the Google button at the bottom of the login page, they will be automatically (and quickly) signed into iLearn.

This reduces the time it takes students to log into iLearn. Thus, students can even more quickly and efficient start working on Peer Editing Assignments, Recording A Reading to track their fluency, Creating their very own digital glossary to create Vocabulary Connections, Self-monitoring their spelling proficiency, and much, much more.

Online Security

With the holidays fast approaching, a rise in phishing attacks is traditionally seen as well. Phishing attacks can be frustrating to deal with. The best defense is to not fall for them in the first place. Unfortunately, we are seeing phishing attacks because “better” (i.e. harder to detect) and more polished.

What Phishing Does

Phishing is an attempt to do one of two things

  1. Tricking users into revealing their credentials.
  2. Getting users to install malware.

Credentials

Quite frankly, your credentials are very valuable. For many of our users, district credentials lead to student information, lots of valuable district information and more. Plus, many users “reuse” passwords. So, learning a user name and password on one site can lead to the ability to log into other sites.

Protecting Against Phishing

We employ several strategies to prevent phishing attempts from ever reaching our users. However, even the best of all of these combined will not be perfect. Occasionally, phishing attempts will land in your inbox.

Tips to Identify Phishing Attempts

  • Be suspicious of “odd” grammar and punctuation
  • Be suspicious of “odd” wording
  • You probably didn’t “win” a gift card (especially if you never entered a contest)
  • Be wise about contests
  • Be aware of “urgent” deadlines
  • Watch out for shortened URL’s
  • Look at where the link is actually taking you
  • Carefully review the actual URL of the site that you are on

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is targeted at specific individuals. Unlike phishing (which usually blankets a wide variety of users), spear phishing aims to trick high profile targets into giving up their credentials.

Preventing Becoming a Victim

It is important to prevent becoming a victim.

  • Use the Tips to Identify above.
  • Turn on 2-Step or 2-Factor Authentication.
  • Use a Password Manager.
  • Be suspicious (especially when on a mobile device).
  • Instead of clicking on a link, enter the URL of a website that you want to visit (or use a known bookmark)

Chromebooks: Keeping Them Up To Date

Screen shot showing "About Chrome OS" and "Check for updates" locations.

It is important to keep Chromebooks up to date. Many of our Chromebooks will automatically update every time that they are shut down and restarted. However, sometimes that doesn’t happen.

Out-of-date Chromebooks can cause the following problems:

  • WIDA Test won’t run
  • NWEA test won’t run
  • Security issues
  • instability

Fortunately, anyone (including students) can update Chromebooks.

  1. Sign-in to the Chromebook
  2. At the bottom right, select the time.
    Screen shot showing location of time panel to click.
  3. Select Settings .
    Screen shot showing Setting icon
  4. Select Menu   About Chrome OS.
    Screen shot showing "About Chrome OS" and "Check for updates" locations.
  5. Select Check for Updates.
  6. The result will be a message that the Chromebook is up to date OR the update will download. In the event of an available update, the Chromebook will need to be restarted. 

*Under “Google Chrome OS,” you’ll see which version of the Chrome operating system your Chromebook is using. Currently, Chromebooks need to be on at least version 74.

Security

One of the things that we take very seriously is security. The safety and security of our users and data are important. This responsibility is not just for the Technology Department but is the responsibility of every user. Some times, people do what is expedient, instead of what is safe. One example that we had this year was a teacher signing into a computer and then letting a substitute use that computer. Unfortunately, the substitute made some poor decisions. (Just a reminder to NEVER share your credentials with someone else or sign into a computer and let someone else use it. This can lead to many uncomfortable situations. It’s also against federal law).

Because we take security seriously, we frequently have to ask questions and seek clarification about accounts and access. Recently, I had someone ask why I cared, and what were the possibilities of a compromise (frequently called a “hack”, but hacking is more specific than a compromise) of our data.

The K-12 Cybersecurity Resource Center posted a map of Cyber Incidents:

Pins on a map showing K-12 cybersecurity reported issues.
K-12 Cyber Incident Map

*Note that these are only the reported compromises.

Compromises occur due to a wide range of conditions that include, but are not limited to:

  • a misconfiguration on a server
  • an employee giving out their credentials
  • a contractor who copies information
  • malware installed by a user
  • ransomware installed by a user
  • email phishing that was successful

These compromises happen to all different sizes of districts and background. While the districts vary greatly in terms of size, socio-economic status, funding and more, the impact is similar for all.

…the impact of publicly-reported K-12 cyber incidents is significant. During 2018, such incidents resulted in the theft of millions of tax payer dollars, stolen identities, tax fraud, altered school records, website and social media defacement, and the loss of access to school technology and IT systems for weeks or longer.

Recently, several other governmental agencies have been successfully compromised. The cost of recovering from those compromises can be expensive in terms of actual dollars, time to recover and lost data.

These are only a few of the city governments that have been compromised. There are a great many more agencies and businesses that have been compromised.

We anticipate attempts to compromise networks to continue to increase. Importantly, one of the most important defenses against compromise is every user. There are important steps that you can take:

  • NEVER share your passphrase with anyone
  • Do not reuse passwords on multiple sites
  • Be wise about making sure that you are not entering your user name and password on a scam site (you should be going to the site, not using a link)
  • Turn on 2-step authentication everywhere that you can
  • Report suspicious sites

Please bear this in mind the next time security questions come up. The Technology Department is being “mean” or “rude”, the stakes for online security are high.

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