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Chrome Slow?

If your Chromebook or Chrome browser seems to be running slow, there is a simple task you can do to speed it up.

Clearing the cached images can make a BIG difference in using Google Chrome.

To clear the cache:

  1. Click on “More” options (Customize and control Google Chrome) – This is the 3 vertical buttons the far right of the URL bar.
  2. Select “More tools”
  3. Select “Clear Browsing Data”
  4. Select “Cached images and files”
  5. Click on “Clear data”

Please note that there are other options to clear data out (like “Cookies and other site data”). These can also be cleared, but you will have to sign back into any sites that you visit.

You may want to do this daily if it helps improve your browsing experience.

Spotlight on Tech

Do you ever want to create a quick formative assessment? With E-Voting in iLearn, this is quick and easy. You don’t have to worry about creating accounts for students. You don’t have to worry about whether the site is FERPA compliant. You can post a QR code* or a link* for students to access the assessment (*Pro tip: QR codes and links can be reused).

E-Voting

Setting up e-Voting is simply a matter of going to your iLearn course and adding an activity called E-Voting.

On the next screen:

  • Add a “poll” name
  • Type your question
  • Type in possible answers (*optionally identify correct answers)
  • *Optionally: Add another question(s) and repeat the steps above
  • Save

Students can access the questions through a QR code or a web link. They do NOT need to sign in to iLearn. You “start” the poll when you are ready. Click on the QR code to expand it. If projected, the students can easily scan it. (Students can also log into iLearn and click on the link. Or, you can copy the URL and get it to the students – paste a link on a shared document, on your blog or email it).

*Note that student names are not associated with answers. iLearn has the ability to associate student names with assessments, but not with this module.

Pro tip: It is possible to create a “generic” question and answers. Then you can create questions “on the fly”. Just create a question that says, “Answer the question I just asked”. Then create answers of 1, 2, 3, 4. You will need to then tell the students what each answer stands for (1=”xxxx”, 2=”yyyyy, 3=”zzzzz”, 4=”I don’t know”).

Naturally, if you would like some assistance, please reach out to our Tech Coach or the Technology Department. We love to help with instruction.

Online Security

padlock through a paper contract

A couple of incidents remind us of why you should never reuse passwords.

MysteryScience

Users have been receiving notice from MysteryScience about a breach. They are asking users to change their password.

*Reminder, do NOT click on the link in the email to change your password. Rather, go to the web site (in this case MysterScience) and use the Change password feature within the web site. This is a simple protection against phishing.

Massive Password Breach

This one doesn’t have a “cool” name, but is significant. A write up from the Infosecurity Group explains why this is so dangerous.

Billions of email addresses and plain text passwords have been leaked online by an unnamed party, putting countless internet users at risk from credential stuffing and other attacks.

In total, the database contained 2.7 billion email addresses, and plain text passwords for more than one billion of them — providing a perfect starting point for a credential stuffing campaign.

“Since many employees share passwords between their work and personal accounts, this leak not only problematic for the individuals who own the accounts, but a big risk for enterprises globally as well,”…

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.

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.

Chrome Extensions

Chrome extensions can be wonderful. These can add great functionality to the Chrome browser. Unfortunately, Chrome extensions can also be used by those with ill intent. Recently, we have seen a rash of employees having trouble with their browsers due to installing a Chrome extension. Many of these users didn’t even realize that they installed the extensions. For instance, I received this email just the other day:

FYI

When I posted my blog today, three advertisement links popped up😱
The teacher who sent this had installed several extensions that “helpfully” added advertisements. (This was not helpful at all.)
I also received this one:
For some reason my browser has been acting up and will not let me go to google images.  Can I please get this fixed?  It says “web page blocked” when I try to open a new tab in chrome.
This employee had installed several extensions as well. One of those extensions redirected his searches to a site that purely provides advertisements.
Currently, we don’t restrict employees from the extensions that they can add. Students are restricted. Extensions must be approved by the district before a student can install an extension.

Installed extensions (Ads)

Here is a list of some extensions that employees have installed:

  • Ad Offers by GameDaddio
  • Ad Offers by GamesChill
  • Ad Offers by MapsScout
  • Advertising by Entrality
  • Advertising Offers by PlayZiz
  • ArcadeFiesta Advertising
  • ArcadeFrontier Ads
  • ArcadeStar Advertising
  • Ball Pin Pal Ad
  • Battle Terrain Advertising
  • BoredPlay Advertising
  • BrainyZanyGames ads

You can see a general trend here (and we didn’t even make it out of the B’s).

Why is this a problem?

Ad sites frequently send the user to a different place. As you can see from the emails above, this can lead to frustration. This is also a potential security risk. As the bad actors get more sophisticated, the potential for harm increases.

Approved Extensions – Students

Currently, extensions must be approved prior to students installing them. We publish a list of the approved extensions for students on the Technology Blog.

Checking for Extensions:

You can easily check to see which extensions you have installed.

  • Click on the three buttons in the top right-hand corner of the Chrome browser (to the right of your picture/avatar)
  • Select “More tools…”
  • Select “Extensions” from the pop out

Click pattern to open extensions

This will open a new page. This page will list all of the extensions that you have installed. The page of extensions will also allow you to remove any extensions that you don’t want (unless the extension is District installed).  The example below is an example of 1Password as an extension (note the “Remove” button).

1Password extension

*1Password is a “paid for” extension that I purchased. 

District Installed Extensions

The District can “force” install extensions. The only one that we are currently installing is Clever.

District Approved Extensions

In addition to the Student Approved Extensions, we are currently comfortable with the following:

  • Google Cast for Education – allows teachers to have students screen share to a projector (via desktop)
  • WAVE – review ADA compliance of a website
  • Hypothes.is – annotation for the web

We will be reviewing Extensions over the next few months.

Apps vs Extensions

Just to confuse things more, individuals can also install Chrome Apps. Although these will appear similar, extensions enhance the Chrome browser. Apps run within the browser. For your purposes, you can consider them the same.

Changes this Summer

Starting this summer, all extensions will need to be whitelisted in order to be installed. This will include staff as well as students. Starting this summer, any Chrome extension (or App) not approved will be removed. Currently, we are reviewing the extensions and Apps installed by all users.

Action for YOU to Take

  • Review the extensions that you have installed.
  • Remove extensions that you don’t need or want.

Quiz Default Review Options in iLearn

Due to feedback from teachers, we have made some adjustments to the default settings on Quizzes in iLearn.

 

Checklist of default settings for iLearn Quizzes.

We know that timely feedback is one of the most powerful instructional strategies. Moodle allows for teachers to provide timely, specific feedback. Providing that feedback while students are working through quiz can assist students in learning. However, also have listened carefully to how teachers are currently using Quizzes and what they expect. It is through working with teachers that we have made the changes to the defaults. Please remember that these are the defaults. These can be changed and adjusted by the needs and use of the teacher. If your situation calls for providing instant feedback (i.e. if you are using a Quiz for students to review/practice), you can easily turn on the Specific feedback.

Teachers have the option to enter Specific feedback, General feedback and Overall feedback. These are great opportunities to communicate with students in an efficient manner.

Feedback Times:

iLearn allows for that feedback to happen at four different times for a quiz:

  1. During the attempt – is only available when ‘ How questions behave  has been set to ‘ Immediate feedback , ‘ Immediate feedback with CBM ’ or ‘ Interactive with multiple tries ’. If set to one of these options then a ‘ Check ’ button will appear below the answer and when clicked the student will submit that response and then receive immediate feedback.
  2. Immediately after the attempt means within 2 minutes of the student clicking “submit all and finish”.
  3. Later, while the quiz is still open – means after 2 minutes, but before the close date (if the quiz does not have a close date, this phase never ends).
  4. After the quiz is closedmeans what it says (you never get here for quizzes without a close date).

Feedback Type

Additionally, iLearn allows for the following information to be conveyed:

  • The attempt – Will show how the student responded to each question.
  • Whether correct – Displays whether the students response to each question is correct or incorrect*.
  • PointsThe numerical points for each question and the overall attempt score.
  • Specific feedback – Will show the feedback for the response to the answer as set when adding the question to the quiz. Each response to a question can have feedback for both correct and incorrect answers. This is entered by the teacher in the appropriate section of each question. (*noted as one of the most powerful instructional strategies). 
  • General feedback – Displays the general feedback for the whole question as set when adding the question to the quiz. You can use the general feedback to give students some background to what knowledge the question was testing.
  • Right answer – Reveals the correct answer to each question, whether the student answered correctly or not
  • Overall feedback – Displays feedback for the entire quiz as set in the quiz settings

The new defaults will just show the student their answer while they are attempting the quiz. After they have attempted the quiz, it will students will see points and overall feedback, but nothing specific. After the Quiz is closed, students would receive feedback on why their answers are correct or not (if entered by the teacher).

Support

Please know that the Tech Coaches are available to assist you in utilizing iLearn for student achievement. You can reach out to them on their blog.

 

*Note: Currently, the Answers display is a bit inconsistent between different question types. For example, the matching question type shows students which of their responses are correct, but does not tell them the right answer for the ones they got wrong. The short answer and multiple choices question types do tell the student what the correct answer is.

One Google Document in Multiple Folders

One File, Two Folders

Sometimes, it can be beneficial to have one Google Document in two different folders. Maybe you are meticulous about organizing your files, but you have a file that could easily be in two different folders.

This can happen when you are collaborating with one group and need to give another group access to the document in a specific folder (for the sake of organization).

*Please note that files can’t be added to Team Drives; they must be moved.

Fortunately, this is easy to do.

  1. Click once on the file that you want to “add” to a different folder (the file should be highlighted in blue).
  2. On your keyboard, press the following keys: Shift + Z.
  3. The “Add” window will open.
    The Add Panel
  4. Navigate to the folder that you want to “Add” the document to. (Note that you will get an > symbol to navigate deeper into folders).
    Add panel selection showing steps above.
  5. Click “ADD” (this will say “ADD HERE” until you select a folder).

Note that this will mean that there will only be one document. Any changes to the document will be reflected in both folders. Also note that the privileges on that document will be the highest privileges of any document.

Let’s say that you create a Google Doc called “My Great Document” in a folder titled “My Team Work”. Then, you are asked to place this document in a “District Team Work” folder that is shared with lots of people with Editing privileges. Using the method above, you create a link to “My Great Document” and add that to the “District Team Work” folder. Anyone who has editing rights to the “District Team Work” folder will also have editing rights to “My Great Document”.

Removal

Need to remove the file from one folder but not the other?

  1. Simply locate the file (it doesn’t matter which folder).
  2. Click on once to select it.
  3. Click on the i in a circle to reveal the details of the file.
  4. Click the X to the right of the folder from which you want to remove.

Screen shot illustrating steps to remove a document from a folder.

Two Files, Two Folders

Please note if you want to share a document, but not have the original affected, you can use the File | Make a copy option. That will make a copy of the file at the moment in time. Any changes on one copy will NOT be reflected on the other.

 

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