Subscribe by email CAPTCHA

Beginning today, we’ve implemented a captcha for our subscribe by email on blogs. First of all, we realize that no one really likes captchas. So, we’ve implemented the most elegant one that we could (more about that in a minute).

As a large school district, we are constantly targeted. It is crucial that we take steps to protect our users and our identity. Thus, we need to make sure that the subscribers are real.

The captcha that we’ve implemented won’t be seen by everyone. Any user within our district network won’t be presented with a captcha (thus, it may most effective to have parents sign up while within a building). Most people appropriately signed into a Google account will not be presented with a captcha either. However, if the user is off campus (not on our network) AND not signed into a trusted Google account, that user will need to complete a picture captcha in order to complete the enrollment process.

Implementing captcha this way will help reduce the number of spammers trying to use our information. This will assist with keeping our emails properly being delivered to parents.

Google Updates

As you may know, Google constantly updates Google Docs, Sheets, Presentations and Drive. A couple of updates have recently occured.

Search within a folder

It is now possible to search within a folder on Google Drive. There are two ways to achieve this:

  1. Right click on a folder in Google Drive and select “Search within…..” (the name of the folder will occur after Search within
    Search within menu shown
  2. Use the ninja button (advanced search).
    1. Click the Ninja button (Advanced search – the triangle at the end of the search box.
    2. Click on “ANYWHERE”.
    3. Click on “My Drive” (if searching My Drive)
    4. Navigate to the folder that you want to search.
    5. Add in some text that you are looking for in the box after “Has the words”
    6. Click Search
      Advanced search menu example

Inserting Breaks

*This one has not rolled out yet, but will be coming soon. 

In Google Docs, Page and Column breaks are currently separate lines under the Insert menu. Soon, they will be combined into a “Break” menu. Page and Column break will be a sub-menu.

  • Before: Insert > Page break or Column break
  • After: Insert > Break > Page break or Column break

Alt Text

*We are really NOT happy about this one. This has not rolled out yet either, but is coming. 

Alt Text will be moving from the Menu to a right click only.

  • Before: Select shape > Format > Alt text. This option will be removed from the menu.
  • After: Right click on shape > Alt text. This is the new way to add alt text to a shape.

Meltdown and Spectre

You may have heard of two security issues that will impact everyone in the news lately. These are referred to as Meltdown and Spectre. These will actually impact everyone, just how is yet to be determined.

The short version of meltdown and spectre is that we want our computers to be fast. In order to make computers faster, they “guess” what you may want next and make that available. One way to think of this is the Boss from The Devil Wears Prada. The Boss is going to want coffee or tea first thing. The assistant (the computer for our analogy), doesn’t know which one the Boss will want, so the assistant gets both ready. Whichever one the Boss wants is delivered, the other discarded. (This is predictive computing. The computer “predicts” what you will want next and takes those actions. That way, you don’t have to wait for the actions to occur.) However, when the computer does this, it opens up a security vulnerability.

Let’s take a look what they are and how it will impact you.

Meltdown

Meltdown is a security issue at the processor level. Nearly all processors are affected. Basically, meltdown loads things into memory before containing how much memory it will use. This means that other applications can read that same memory. This is especially important to note on shared computers. (Since nearly all web site run on shared computers, this has the potential to be devastating for all of us).

Spectre

There are actually three different aspects for Spectre. Specter is named, in part, for speculative processing. Again, this is the result of trying to “speed things up” for end users. The scary thing about Spectre is that it is theoretically possible to implement from just visiting a web site. This would require the user (i.e. you) to do nothing special, it would not be necessary to click “install”, click “OK”, nothing, to start the process.

Impact

Many companies have known about this issue for a few months. Many have issued patches. (Although this is at the processor level, it appears as though it will need to be fixed at the application level). Unfortunately, the fix can slow your computer experience down. Some estimates indicate that the fix could slow your computer down by 5-30%.

Most major suppliers (Apple and MicroSoft) have already issued patches which address some of the issues. Future patches will address more of them.

Our Team

Our team is making sure that the district computers are patched and up to date. You may notice your computer taking a bit longer upon start up (this should only be once). We also take several other steps to keep the district safe (including limiting the installation of software). We have a lot of hardware to update (fortunately, we do this regularly). Some of the patches are not yet available.

You should…

You should make sure that all of your home and personal devices are up to date with the latest patches. These are crucial. Naturally, you should always follow good digital hygiene.

Also, be very aware of “phishing” scams. This may be an opportunity for the bad guys to try to get you to click on a link. Always think at least twice before clicking “Install” or “Accept”. Be extremely cautious with emails or web sites that ask you to enter your credentials (user name and password).

Interested in more  information?

Here are some resources if you want to know more:

Students Leading the Way

What happens when students become the teachers?

We have a very powerful tool in iLearn (based on Moodle). We’ve trained teachers to take advantage of some of the powerful options available in iLearn. Our focus though, is always on student learning. iLearn provides teachers with tremendous possibilities for student engagement and empowerment.

One way to provide student empowerment is to let them become the “teacher” and create an iLearn course. They can then use this course to teach others. Those others can be in their class. Or, those others could be in a different grade. Or, those others could be in a different school.

Over at Fordson, one teacher is “elevating” the students to become the teacher. These students are responsible for creating an experience for their learners. They are creating some very interesting material. (*The students are even writing Language Objectives and Content Objectives).

iLearn opens so many doors, so many opportunities.

Contact a Tech Coach if you’d like some support as well.

Free PD (with SCECH’s)

The REMC Virtual Courses are free and open to Michigan school personnel. You can take courses “just to learn” or you can complete all assignments. SCECH credits are available for successful course completion.

There is a multi-month schedule of course offerings. You may register for these courses at any time but note that courses have different start/end dates.

Courses take place over three weeks.  Each consists of two one-hour webinars and four hours of resource review, assessment development and written reflection and six SCECH credits are available. Exception: the What, Why, and How of Open Educational Resources (OER) course takes nine hours and nine SCECH credits are available.

Check the REMC Virtual Course FAQ for answers to often asked questions.

These courses are available through an agreement between Presidio/Dell and the REMC Association through its REMC SAVE device purchasing program.

January 2018 Sessions:

  • The What, Why, and How of Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Applying Google Apps for Education in Chrome, Level 1
  • Literacy Instruction and Technology: Foundational Elements, Level 1
  • Professional Development through Social Media, Level 1

 

Instructor Led Sessions

(To Register, or for more information,click on a start date.)

Start Date  Time Days Location Session Title  Status
01/08/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Applying Google Apps for Education in Chrome, Level 1  
03/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Authentic Learning and Gamification  
02/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Deeper Practices in Literacy Instruction and Technology, Level 2  
02/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Google for Learning: Enhance Your Web Presence and ePortfolio, Level 2  
03/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Google for Learning: Using SAMR and DOK to Design Authentic Learning Opportunities, Level 3  
02/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Inquiry and Questioning: Igniting Student Curiosity with Technology, Level 1  
01/08/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Literacy Instruction and Technology: Foundational Elements, Level 1  
01/08/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Professional Development through Social Media, Level 1  
02/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Social Media: Improving Student Critical Thinking and Collaboration, Level 2  
03/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online Social Media: Innovation through Authenticity, Level 3  
03/05/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online The What, Why, and How of Open Educational Resources (OER)  
01/08/2018 12:00 AM-11:59 PM 1 Virtual / Online The What, Why, and How of Open Educational Resources (OER)  

Registration for PD

As you know, we have upgraded our PD registration system. Since we changed from one system to another, we had many decisions to make. One of those decisions was what to do with the registrations that were completed in the “old” system.

We could leave the previous registrations in the old system. This would mean that teachers would need to log into two different systems to track all of their registrations and PD attended.

Or, we could transfer all of the registrations to the new system. We have chosen to undertake the transferring all of the registrations.

Since we are transferring the data, you will receive an email notification that are registered for an event.

Please check the dates of the event. If the event has passed, you can safely archive or delete the email.

 

Flash, Games and some Videos

The web is a constantly changing landscape. It can be difficult to keep up with the latest in technology advances and changes. Even those of us who literally spend their whole day working on technology are hard pressed to keep up with everything. Some of the changes that happen can be very frustrating. We are currently seeing a change that has the potential to frustrate a lot of educators.

Flash is a web technology that is being deprecated. Flash was developed by Adobe. Flash brought video and some interactivity to the web. However, it is a poorly executed technology that is rife with security issues. The security issues are so bad at this point, that even Adobe is abandoning Flash. Adobe has announced that they will end support by 2020. However, most browsers are not waiting until then to stop supporting Flash.

Famously, Apple refused to support Flash on the iPhone. This was because of the security issues with Flash. This also led to the development of better web technologies.

The problem arises because there are lots of different educational games and websites that use Flash. These are sites that were probably created many years ago. Many of them were pet projects, personal projects or college projects. These are generally free. The authors have little incentive to update the sites. A high proportion of these sites are math related.

Currently, browsers are starting to stop running the Flash plug in. Google Chrome is switching to an “enable” structure. This means that instead of the Flash media playing, the user must click an “enable” button on the page. If the media is not embedded, the end user won’t see an “enable” button at all. Soon, Chrome will not play Flash at all. MicroSoft doesn’t support Flash in their latest browser on Windows 10 at all.

This can lead to frustration for teachers and students since sites that they may have used in the past suddenly stop working. There is very little that we can do. Flash is going away.

The good news is that the web is constantly evolving. There are lots of other sites and options available. We have a couple of Technology Coaches who can help teachers create their material (and share with the district).

DEC

We’ve been transitioning to a new experience in DEC. As such, we are moving some of the links around. If you visit the Staff Resources page of the Dearborn Public Schools web site, the DEC link will now go to the new an improved version of DEC. Since we haven’t yet redeveloped every curricular area, the curriculum committees are hard at work on that, we’ve also maintained the link to “old DEC”.

Graphic showing where to find DEC links on the Staff Resources page.

Copyright

In our new age of sharing, it can be easy to forget that copyright laws still apply.

This can be especially true in schools. After all, educators are trying to help students learn.

Copyright laws impact the use of images, videos and text. Frequently, schools use text, especially great stories, to help students learn. Many of these stories are still under copyright.

Even if our intent is good, we still must follow copyright laws. Unfortunately, copyright laws can be complex. Very complex.

General Copyright Dates

So, how do you know if the story that you want to use is under copyright? Here is a quick, general overview that may prove useful.

DATE OF WORK PROTECTED FROM TERM
Created 1-1-78 or after When work is fixed in tangible medium of expression Life + 70 years1(or if work of corporate authorship, the shorter of 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation2
Published before 1923 In public domain  None
Published from 1923 – 63 When published with notice3 28 years + could be renewed for 47 years, now extended by 20 years for a total renewal of 67 years. If not so renewed, now in public domain
Published from 1964 – 77 When published with notice 28 years for first term; now automatic extension of 67 years for second term
Created before 1-1-78 but not published 1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright Life + 70 years or 12-31-2002, whichever is greater
Created before
1-1-78 but published between then and 12-31-2002
1-1-78, the effective date of the 1976 Act which eliminated common law copyright Life + 70 years or 12-31-2047 whichever is greater

Special thanks to Lolly Gassway for creating and sharing the table above. 

*Please note that if you purchased a copy of an asset (picture, song, video, text, book, story, etc.), it does NOT mean that you can then share that with everyone. “Purchasing” something normally means purchasing the right for one individual to use that piece of material. “Buying” something does NOT mean that you can do anything that you want with it.

Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers

Anything that is purchased from Teachers Pay Teachers is purchased with a specific copyright. Normally, that purchase includes the right to use it in that classroom. Teachers may NOT post the resource on the web. Teachers may NOT share it with another teacher.

Pinterest is filled with a wide variety of copyright. There is no general guidance other than one needs to check copyright carefully.

Use

Generally, you can freely link to items on the web. Downloading, scanning, copying or otherwise having control of the item is where you need to know about copyright.

Terms

Copyright is generally in force once an item is created. Some publishers choose to copyright their material in a way that can be reused. The most popular way for authors to do so is through Creative Commons.  There are different license types that you should be aware of:

Creators choose a set of conditions they wish to apply to their work.

Attribution Attribution (by)

All CC licenses require that others who use your work in any way must give you credit the way you request, but not in a way that suggests you endorse them or their use. If they want to use your work without giving you credit or for endorsement purposes, they must get your permission first.

ShareAlike ShareAlike (sa)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and modify your work, as long as they distribute any modified work on the same terms. If they want to distribute modified works under other terms, they must get your permission first.

NonCommercial NonCommercial (nc)

You let others copy, distribute, display, perform, and (unless you have chosen NoDerivatives) modify and use your work for any purpose other than commercially unless they get your permission first.

NoDerivatives NoDerivatives (nd)

You let others copy, distribute, display and perform only original copies of your work. If they want to modify your work, they must get your permission first.

Previous Posts about Copyright

Music and Copyright

Copyright

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