Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Technology Classes

The Instructional Technology staff from both Niles North and Niles West will be located at the Niles North Professional Development Center in Room 1405 for the summer.  As always, the PDC staff and resources are available from 7:30 A.M. - 4:00 P.M. daily.

Software Re-installs For 2011-2012 - ACT NOW!

In last month’s newsletter we told you to be on the look out for a “Request-for-Feedback”  form, informing us of  your software needs are for the 2011-2012 school year. The form is ready, but there are some caveats:

  • Request ONLY software that you already use in your classroom and/or office.
  • The software that you request MUST be owned and legally licensed to District 219.
  • If you need new software for next year, then you need to file a formal Tech Request.
  • All computers will have a base image which includes:  Adobe Acrobat Reader, Flash Player, Shockwave, and Air; Audacity, Quicktime, CA eTrust Anti-virus, Java Runtime Environment and JDK, Compatibility Packs for MS Works 6 and 2000, Microsoft Photostory 3 and Silverlight; Open Office 3.3.0, PDFCreator 1.2.0, PowerDVD, Real Player, Windows Media Codec Basic, Windows Live Movie Maker 2011, VideoLAN (VLC), Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.
The form can be used for up to 3 rooms, but if you need additional rooms fill out the form a second time. Please read the instructions on the form for up-to-date information and if you have any questions, call the Help Desk as we will be happy to assist you.

Upon submitting your request, you will receive a confirmation email. The Help Desk staff will verify the details (number of licenses available, version compatibility, install source, etc.) and get in touch with you, if needed.  Your software will be installed and ready for use at the start of the 2011-2012 school year.

Open Office Saves Money

Creating a more fiscally responsible technical infrastructure has brought a lot of change to how Distric 219 operates day-to-day. It started with moving our students off of GroupWise to GoogleApps, then the faculty and staff moved from GroupWise to Outlook, and now to GoogleApps. Each of these changes has brought substantial savings to the district, more than $180,000 over a three-year period by eliminating costly hardware and software licenses and maintenance contracts.

During our annual summer clean-up we will be migrating all workstations from Windows XP to Windows 7. We are also phasing out our dependency on “big box” products such as Microsoft Office, in favor of a free and open source products, like Open Office 3. Open Office has been on District 219 computers for a few years now and is very similar to the Microsoft products. Among the most appealing features is that Open Office is exactly the same program that is installed on the netbooks, so there is 100% compatibility with students and Open Office integrates well with GoogleDocs. Open Office also can open a variety of file types, including Microsoft files.

Being fiscally responsible is a priority when moving forward with any initiative - Microsoft’s pricing structure provides for either an annual (maintenance and upgrades, included) or perpetual license (out-right purchase, no future upgrades or maintenance). District 219 has 576 office workstations, these are areas solely for faculty/staff administrative use. If we were to purchase an annual license for each of these 576 workstations, it would cost more than $12,670. Purchasing a perpetual license for those same computers will cost $33,400. To install MS Office on all 2,214 computers District-wide, would cost $128,412 for a perpetual license and $48,708 for an annual or one-time license.

Moving to Open Office provides faculty and staff free and open source options and improves the cohesiveness of the AAL initiative. Training is always available in each building’s PDC and online through Use your network log-in and password to begin.

New Docs Site Replaces SharePoint

As you all know, on June 30th we will be shutting down the SharePoint server.  At the same time we will introduce our SharePoint replacement server: has a similar look and feel to our existing SharePoint presence and it uses your same log-in and password. When you first access you will only see items that are public or those that you have been granted access. You will no longer have to know the exact URL to navigate to your site.

PUBLIC DOCS is accessible without a log-in and broken down by department. These areas are a document repository and could best serve as a space for parents and students to visit when seeking general and course information. It is important to understand that anything placed in the PUBLIC DOCS area is not password protected and is searchable by the outside world.

A secure intranet area is also available to departments, please visit the PDC if you need assistance.

Your Chance to Name the New Employee Portal

We are upgrading the portal to a new server and are also changing the domain name to be easier to remember and type.  Currently the domain is  This survey will give you a chance to vote for your preferred domain.  enter here

K-12 Google Apps Training Opportunities

There are several regional workshops offered by the Google Apps for Education Illinois K-12 Chapter.  Check-out the offering, Google Apps in the Collaborative Classroom.

Google Apps Highlights for May

It was another busy month at Google with new updates and addition of services.   some of the highlights are; Room for 25,000 more contacts in Gmail (as if I needed that many) and Pivot tables in Google spreadsheets.  From now on, we will highlight new and interesting updates to Google apps for the month here in the news letter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Using Skype in the Classroom: Fine Arts Skype Call to Casablanca

Skype is a free video calling program that enables students to interact with individuals around the world. Hear from Pam Hendrix, Dan Gregerman, and guest Michael Miles about how the Niles North orchestra and choir took a virtual field trip to a school in Casablanca, Morocco and shared a cultural exchange of music and questions with Moroccan students. Check out the amazing cultural exchange  both groups of students experienced using a webcam and a microphone. Skype in the Classroom offers teachers a resource where they may locate other teachers interested in Skyping in their classroom.

If you are interested in using Skype in your classroom and would like some support, please contact the Professional Development Center. In addition to helping you become more familiar with Skype, you can check out a webcam to use for your Skype project.