Hangin’ Out at Bryant

Chris and Troy had the opportunity to spend the day at Bryant Middle School. Ms. Shannon Peterson took us up on our offer to come to the school and hang out all day. Teachers can come down and get answers to their questions on using technology. Specifically, we focus on iLearn, iBlog and Promethean.

Here are just a few answers, tips, tricks, and solutions where we were able to help:

Promethean:

  • Creating a draggable copy of an item on a Promethean flip chart
  • Calibrating a Promethean Board
  • Putting a Timer on a Promethean toolbar
  • Scanning an item and placing it on a FlipChart page
  • Toolbar basics
  • Importing SmartBoard resources into Promethean
  • Editing SmartBoard resources in Promethean

iBlog:

  • Setting up an additional page on iBlog
  • Setting up an iBlog page to post from an iPhone
  • Connecting an iPhone to iBlog
  • Reestablishing a blog
  • Posting to a blog
  • Setting up a new blog
  • Adding Links to a blog
  • Adding categories to links on a blog
  • Deleting default links on a blog

iLearn:

  • Enrolling in an iLearn course
  • The basics of using iLearn in a classroom
  • Kids voting for President online
  • Sorting Student responses by last name
  • Grading student responses
  • Book reviews through iLearn
  • Students using Personal Dropbox to save files

Other:

HelpDesk

We are always looking for ways to be more efficient and to provide the best possible service. To that end, we have developed a HelpDesk Ticket. This helps us be efficient by making sure that we get all of the information that we need to help you. Quite frequently, some will email us “my printer won’t print”. This doesn’t help us very much as we don’t know where the printer is or what won’t print (is there a paper jam, does the printer not turn on at all, etc). In order to help with this, we’ve added the HelpDesk Ticket under the Staff tab on the Dearborn Public Schools Web page. This will allow you to fill out a form to receive assistance. The form helps collect all of the information that we need to help. We hope that you’ll find this HelpDesk Ticket easy and effective. Please below for a visual representation of the links.   We will continue to strive to make sure that we provide the best possible service for you and the students. Thanks.

Deleting Email

Our email servers are filing up. You can help.

This is where you can help. Simply delete your “deleted items”. [That’s right, when you “delete” something, it doesn’t really “delete” it. This is analogous to throwing something away in your kitchen trash bin- eventually you have to take the kitchen trash bin out to the garbage can. ]

Please follow these simple steps:

  • On Outlook 2003 –
    • Open Outlook
    • Right Click on the “Deleted Items” folder
    • Select “Empty Deleted_Items Folder”
    • Click “Yes”
  • On Outlook 2010 –
    • Open Outlook
    • Right Click on the “Deleted Items” folder
    • Select “Empty Folder”
    • Click “Yes”
  • From the Web Site-

Please note that this should be done weekly. However, right now is a crucial time.

{This would also be a terrific time to clean out your inbox, delete those items that you don’t need, and then delete your deleted items again.}

Thanks.

Moodle as an LTI Provider – The New Way to Share

I have been experimenting a little bit more with Moodle and LTI.  I truly believe this is HUGE.  I mean this is incredible stuff.  LTI which stands for Learning Tools Interoperability is a new way for systems like Moodle, WordPress, Joomla, MediaWiki, and other websites to communicate and share activities with each other.

For instance, I can create a really great lesson in Moodle and then I can share it with other LTI compliant systems and it will automatically populate my gradebook with their results as well as return results to the other system.  This is going to usher in a whole new way of thinking and sharing in education.   I can share an entire course, section, activity, you name it and I can share it outside of my Moodle.

Last week I was able to connect to ChemVantage and bring in Chemistry resources into our Moodle using LTI.  This week I am exploring the ability to share moodle activities and resources outside of my Moodle install.  I also am trying to get WordPress and Moodle integrated.  So far, not looking promising.  I am stuck on something  Wordpress LTI settings.

Check out this growing catalog of LTI Tools:  http://developers.imsglobal.org/catalog.html

Setup your Moodle to be a provider: http://docs.moodle.org/22/en/LTI_Provider

 

Teacher Filtering

As you are aware, the district is required to provide a filtered Internet experience. By federal law, we must filter access. However, the law has different scopes. For example, the filtering that we must do for students is different than the filtering that must be done for staff.

To that end, we have been working on providing appropriate access to all of our personnel. This is a much larger task than it sounds, but something that we have been working diligently on. We had previously opened up access to teachers to YouTube. We have continued to work on our filters and settings so that teachers have much wider access to the internet. I’m happy to report that we have made some substantial changes that allow teachers access to appropriate sites.

One of the challenges that we face is to communicate to teachers sites that are available to them, but blocked for students. Essentially, we don’t want teachers to create lesson plans that revolve around students accessing particular sites only to discover that those sites are blocked for students (but not teachers). This is why you may have to authenticate to get to some sites. Then we face another issue. Teachers don’t want to authenticate constantly. So we need some balance. For this reason, once a teacher authenticates, that starts a clock whereas the teacher won’t have to authenticate for a bit.

We are working extremely hard to provide the very best experience for staff and students. We do block a wide variety of sites that are inappropriate for the educational process. We are required to do so by federal law. It is also just the right thing to do.

Please note that we rely on algorithms for web site filtering. Occasionally, I get asked

“How could you block….”?

or

“How did you let …. get through for …. grade”?

We really don’t spend all day just looking at web sites to see if they are appropriate or not. We rely on complex rules and algorithms to make determinations. We then intervene as necessary.

*By the way, the same issues revolve around SPAM. Yes, occasionally a piece of SPAM does make it through our filter. However, we don’t read each piece of email prior to you receiving it. We eliminate literally thousands of SPAM emails for every single one that does make it through. 

Moodle – ChemVantage LTI Setup and Usage

Here is a great way to give access to Chemvantage videos, quizzes, and homework via Moodle.  Using LTI your Moodle website connects to ChemVantage and allows the two sites to communicate back and forth.   This means that a quiz taken using the embedded ChemVantage will be added to your Moodle Gradebook.  Automatically.  There has never been an easier way to add content to your Moodle course.

While this works for chemistry teachers, there are plenty of other LTI resources available.  One such resource involves using WordPress to give blog access to Moodle Users.  I am working on this and hope to have a working example soon.

Here is a video of how we connected ChemVantage with Moodle.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X24tmYBKdNs

You will need to email ChemVantage to get LTI Credentials which allows your Moodle site to connect.

Music

One of the issues that comes up frequently is the issue of copyright (see the September 10th post). One of the areas that copyright has made the news is in music. Frequently, I get requests to open sites that are dedicated to music. Music can be powerful in education. It can help students focus. However, just because one has access to a music site, doesn’t mean that it is legal to play that everywhere. This quickly gets to be a grey area.

The sites that I’m most often asked to open, are sites that are designed to be listened to by an individual. These sites are not designed to be played for a group (that frequently includes schools). Reading through Terms of Service policies can be loads of fun (not really, usually it involves a bunch of “what?”, rereading and trying to figure out-1. what they meant to say, 2. what they really said and 3. what it means to schools legally).

That being said, there are some good resources on the web that can be used. One thing to look for is Creative Commons licensing. Creative Commons attempts to clarify what can be used and how (I use Creative Commons for everything that I publish). The idea behind Creative Commons is to make it easy to understand what can be used and how. For example, they have a license that says that you can use the material but must provide attribution as to who created it.

Please note that there is a difference between Royalty Free and Free. Royalty Free means that you don’t have on going charges to use the music. Frequently, Royalty Free music must be paid for in the beginning, and then you are “free” to use it. Royalty Free music is not usually what people (educators) are looking for.

So what’s this got to do with music? Well, since I’m receiving lots of requests, I thought that I’d find a couple of sites that teachers can freely use.

Kevin McLeod provides a wide range of music that you can download and use (with attribution). If you use any of the music in a presentation, add a slide with credit to Kevin for the music. [ There are ads on the page. Try clicking on any of the selections under Genre, Search, or Feel, then scroll down and pick a song. Click the arrow to listen, Click “download” to, well, download. ]

Musopen is another site that provides free music.

Musopen (www.musopen.org) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit focused on improving access and exposure to music by creating free resources and educational materials. We provide recordings, sheet music, and textbooks to the public for free, without copyright restrictions. Put simply, our mission is to set music free.

Again, please be wise about music usage. Just because it is technologically possible, doesn’t mean that it is the right thing (or legal) to do.

If you have questions, drop us a line.

 

HTML 5 BigBlueButton Web Conferencing

We just heard GREAT NEWS from the BigBlueButton Project – they are working on an HTML 5 client!  This is exciting news since many of our schools and teachers are purchasing iPads.  With the new HTML5 client these iPads will now benefit from BBB web conferencing.  Fred Dixon of BigBlueButton has worked tirelessly to make BBB one of the best open source projects.  During the few years I have known Fred, he has been incredibly active in promoting and solving problems with BBB users.  I have no doubt that his team will deliver the goods with a new HTML 5 user interface.  From installation to usage, BigBlueButton is top notch and fully integrated with many popular web apps like Sakia, Moodle, WordPress, Joomla, and more.

Dearborn Public Schools will be working with BigBlueButton to help test the HTML5 client.  We have several hundred iPads and utilize BigBlueButton with Moodle and WordPress.

Read more about the HTML 5 Project here:
https://mozillaignite.org/apps/374/

In Depth – A closer look at how one EFHS teacher is using Moodle

Introduction

Moodle is an incredible online learning tool.  In Dearborn Public Schools we have a very specialized installation of Moodle which we call iLearn.  Our Moodle install has the added features of web conferencing, real-time collaborative document editing, student portfolios, and several other features that are not part of the standard Moodle installation.  With iLearn teachers can create very interactive elearning opportunities for their classes.  Let’s take a look at a high school biology course setup by Mr. Robert Harrison of Edsel Ford High School.

Read moreIn Depth – A closer look at how one EFHS teacher is using Moodle

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