Wednesday, May 30, 2012

One Last Note Before You Go

Just to remind you. Each summer, the computers are wiped clean, inside and out, so it is important to move any files you may have stored on your machine's hard drive to your J-drive, to a thumb drive or burn it to a CD.

Many thanks to those that submitted their software request for next year. Make sure that you complete the “Software Re-install Request for 2012-2013" form to notify us of your software needs for 2012 -2013.

Have a great summer!

PDC Summer Courses

The Professional Development Center Staff will be offering 11 classes covering almost two dozen different programs at Niles West this summer! From Flipping your classroom to using netbooks as clickers, there is something for everyone. Check out the list and sign up now to get these on your calendar early.

We will also be available all summer at Niles West in Room 2153 from 7:30 - 4:00 daily. 
Drop in or make an appointment to work on that project for next year.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

News from the AAL Help Desk

To Teachers of Students With Netbooks:

To assist you with the performance of netbooks in your classes, we are pleased to announce that you can now request a Maintenance Confirmation from your students with netbooks.If you have students who seem to have difficulty with wi-fi connectivity, printing, or accessing web sites, you can now assign them to provide you a Maintenance Confirmation from the Help Desk.    1. Tell the student to request a Maintenance Confirmation from the Help Desk (Room 2150 at West; Room 1500 at North). The student then brings his/her netbook to the Help Desk.2. We will inspect and/or reimage the netbook so that it works as intended.3. We will email you the Maintenance Confirmation immediately so that you know this netbook has been seen.The Tech Leaders are here to help. Please feel free to begin requesting Maintenance Confirmations from your students today.

Get Your Netbook Ready for Summer
Whether you are going to teach summer school, take a class, or just relax with the family, it is a good time to get your netbook cleaned up and tuned up .  Drop it by the Student Help Desk and let us re-image the system, clean it up, and run a diagnostic on it to make sure everything is working well.  We’ll kick the tires and assess the battery life.  Please backup all your files first.  It is also a good time to remind your students to do the same.  The Student Help Desk will be open throughout the summer.  During summer school, it will be located at West, room 2150.  Student are required to maintain a working netbook with a current ubuntu image for class.  Off warranty repairs take time, thus the summer is perfect opportunity to have their machine restored to life while they are enjoying their summer activities. 

New Google App Available - Lucidchart

Google has added another reason to choose Chrome over other web browsers - Lucidchart, an online flowchart program similar to and compatible with Microsoft Visio. Users can save their diagrams as PDF, PNG, and JPG or import Visio (.VDX) files for editing and collaboration.

A fully licensed educational version of Lucidchart is available with your D219 account by clicking on the “More” menu item near the top of your screen. You can also access it through the Chrome Web Store. If you haven’t visited the Chrome Web Store, it is definitely worth your while.

Lucidchart calls itself “collaborative diagramming” and works seamlessly with Google Apps. Groups can work on a chart together, in real-time, using the same collaborating methods employed with Google Apps.

Students also have access to Lucidchart through their account.

Follow this link for information on how to integrate Lucidchart with your Google Docs/Drive.

Find Facts and Do Research Inside Google Documents

Posted by Sarveshwar Duddu, Software Engineer

Originally Posted on the Google Docs blog and  Google Enterprise Blog 

Today we’re introducing the research pane—a new feature that brings the web’s wealth of information to you as you’re writing documents.

The research pane taps into Google Search directly from Google documents, so whether you want to add a cool destination to your itinerary for an upcoming trip to India or you're looking for the perfect presidential quote for a political science paper, you don’t even have to open a new tab.

You can access the research pane from the Tools menu by right clicking on a selected word that you want to learn more about, or by pressing Ctrl+Alt+R on Windows or Cmd+Alt+R on Mac. From the research pane, you can search for whatever info you need to help you write your document. With just a couple clicks you can look up maps, quotes, images, and much more.

If you find something you like, you can add it by clicking the insert button or, for images, by dragging them directly into your document. If appropriate we’ll automatically add a footnote citation so there’s a record of where you found the info.

Hopefully bringing knowledge from the web to Google documents will make your writing process just a little bit more efficient.

Bringing "Traditional" Essay Writing into the Digital World

Larissa Pahomov, Larissa teaches students English at a project-based school with a 1-1 laptop program in Philadelphia, PA.

The question of how to use technology in the classroom can often divide a school. Some teachers will embrace what's available to them, designing innovative multimedia projects which use all the gadgets at hand. Others, perhaps as a reaction to the first group, will resolve to do things the way they've always done, at best sending students to the computer lab to type up a final paper. Technology is present, but it's tokenized. The digital divide continues to thrive, not just across geographic and socio-economic boundaries, but from one classroom to the next. (rest of the article)

Safeguard Yourself from Malware

It is common knowledge that spam messages oftentimes contain malicious components designed to track your whereabouts online to collect financial information, harvest your address book to do the same to your contacts, and/or distribute a virus.  Although these messages are almost always intercepted by our security measures at District 219 and placed in your quarantine folder, their purpose can still be realized.

Opening suspicious messages in your quarantine folder is the number one way to spread the infection. Major corporations to educational institutions and all points in between have been hit with “spear-phishing” and “whaling” attacks which compromises their employees’, customers’, and clients’ security. These attacks are designed with one purpose - identity theft for financial gain. They are not random acts to “test the fence,” they are targeted attacks.

It is important to be skeptical when online:

  • Don’t open attachments from unknown sources;
  • Be wise when online using free hot spots;
    • Make sure that your device has a solid anti-virus suite installed.
    • Keyloggers and other malware are easily transmitted through unsecure wireless connections.
  • Don’t use the same passwords on multiple devices and change them often;
  • Don’t use real information for your security questions:
    • ie: Royal Wedding scam seemed like a cute social media quiz to come up with your royal name. In actuality it was gathering your mother’s maiden name, father’s middle name, place you were born, etc. All security questions for most banking websites.
  • Most “Scareware” emails are near flawless counterfeits. Be sure that the link you’re directed to matches the supposed sender; (hover over the link to get the full URL)
    • Visit the corporate website and navigate to the section the email referenced.
    • Most companies will not send you a security request via email.
    • Other scareware claims that your computer is filled with viruses - Don’t be fooled into clicking on the notice. It is another attempt to install malware onto your machine.
  • Be careful about oversharing on social networking sites.
    • Sharing your excitement over your last purchase could give hackers enough information to make you a prime target for spear-phishing or even a physical break-in at your home.

It seems that virus infections are on the decline while other online threats are on the rise. Although District 219 takes diligent efforts to protect its faculty, staff, and students from malicious online threats, there is still the possibility that something gets through. Please protect yourself and your District 219 family from spam, viruses, and malware.

New fonts galore and other fresh features

In the past month we’ve made updates both big and small to Google Docs, and today we’re announcing one more: web fonts in Google documents. Often the best way to get your point across is to present your idea in a creative, captivating way. Today, we added over 450 new fonts to Google documents to make it easier for you to add a little something extra to whatever you create.

To use these new fonts, click on the font menu and select “Add fonts” at the very bottom, which will take you to a menu of all the Google Web Fonts available.

Once you’ve selected new fonts, you’ll be able to select them from the font menu.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect font for your first comic book or fancy handwriting for your wedding invitations, we hope you try out the new fonts and create some eye-catching documents.

In addition to hundreds of new fonts, we have a lot of other exciting updates to report:
  • Google Drive launched as a place where you can create, share, collaborate, and keep all your stuff. 
  • There are now a few more options for inserting images in Docs, including inserting from Google Drive, searching for images from the LIFE Photo archive, or taking a snapshot with your webcam. 
  • Charts in spreadsheets now has support for minor gridlines and options to customize the formats of axis labels 
  • Accessibility in Docs got better with support for screenreaders in presentations and with the addition of NVDA to our list of supported screenreaders
  • From File > Page setup... you can now set the default page size for your new documents. 
  • It's now easier for speakers of right-to-left languages by automatically showing bidirectional controls when you type in a language that might use them. 
  • Apps Script had many improvements, including 
    • new ScriptService for programmatically publishing your scripts and controlling when they run. 
    • A new function to find the root folder of someone’s Drive. 
    • An increase in the allowed attachment size in emails from 5MB to 25MB. 
    • An increase in the size of docs files you can create from 2MB to 50MB. 
  • There are now over 60 new templates in our template gallery.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cable in the Classroom and Other Programming Resources

We would like to remind teachers that District 219 participates in CABLE IN THE CLASSROOM, a consortium of cable television networks and service providers which offers free, classroom-friendly programming with extended classroom use rights. While we still receive cable programming in the buildings, the need to request tapings of certain programs in order to make them available for classroom use has diminished.

The Cable in the Classroom website offers many links not only to hundreds of hours of programming available online, but also to traditional taping calendars for titles not yet available for free streaming. Here are some useful links teachers may wish to browse and bookmark:

Cable in the Classroom On-Air/Online Program Listings - Full, searchable list
If you’ve seen a program on cable-TV and wish you had recorded it to use in your classroom, check out the list to see if all or part of the show is available for free, on-demand streaming.

Cable in the Classroom Links - List of cable industry initiatives

High School Classroom Resources from Discovery Channel

List of History Channel online streaming videos

Spring Semester 2012 - taping calendar for History, Biography, and A&E networks (will download a .pdf to your computer - the programming on lists like this can be requested for off-air taping if you submit this form at least 24 hours in advance)

Programming recorded from Cable in the Classroom partner networks comes with extended classroom use rights, usually 1 - 3 years. So look over these resources and find some streaming videos or recordable broadcasts for use in your classroom today!

TED Ed: Lessons Worth Learning

Check out TED Ed's new Beta.

Take a tour of the amazing resources.

Flip This Video The "flip this video" button allows you to turn a video into a customized lesson that can be assigned to students or shared more widely. You can add context, questions and follow-up suggestions.

Get Involved: The most meaningful TED-Ed videos are collaborations between the TED-Ed team and at least one of the following: a curious learner, an exceptional educator, or a talented visualization artist. If you are one of these types of people, or if you know someone who is, please help guide our effort to create a library of lessons worth sharing by acting on one of the options below.

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.