AV System Checkups

As part of our summer work list, we’ve been checking on the AV systems in classrooms. We’ve identified a number of them in need of repair. We’ve ordered parts and hope to have them working by the start of school.

This includes the classroom microphones. We’ve found some at the middle school that weren’t working and they have all been checked out and tested. The high school doesn’t have microphones in most rooms, but we are hoping to get them yet.

Self-Service Password Reset

We are implementing the ability for staff to change and reset their passwords on your own. Changing your password is used when you know your password and want a different one. Resetting is used when you forget your password.

You can change your password by going to your account settings in the Office365 tools, or by using this link.

Before you can reset your password, you must register alternate contact information. This could be a cell phone number, non-school email, or app on your mobile device. Use this link to register your information.

If you forget your password after you register your alternate contact information, you can visit this link to reset it. You can also use the ‘can’t access your account’ link on the Office365 sign in page. It will ask you to confirm your identity through one of the methods you registered.

Tech Answers

We’ve been working on a new and improved tech knowledgebase, or KB. This is where we plan to post answers to common tech questions and provide documentation for various tasks.

There is information on everything from printing to wireless, and the collection will grow as we continue working on it.

You can access it here and it will be linked above.

Communicating With Your Class

Some staff have noticed the class email groups in Outlook, so I’d like to share more about them.

There is a live sync between PowerSchool and Office365. This results in groups being created for each section registered. These are automatically maintained with all students on your roster. The initial goal of these groups was to allow you to email all students in your class.

They can do that and more.

When you post to the group, all members can see it. This makes it a great tool for class discussions & announcements. Group members are ‘subscribed’ to the group by default, so they get emails when new posts are made. Each group has its own email address. Messages sent to it are visible in the group. There is also a shared calendar in each group. Outlook has a very good calendar feature that you should check out if you haven’t already.

Here’s an introduction to using these groups

These groups are also tied to Microsoft Teams. If you log in, you should see teams created for each of your classes already. Teams is notable right now for being a video meeting tool like Zoom (but with fewer privacy concerns). You can hold a virtual meeting with some (or all) of your class, share files, add websites, and collaboratively take notes with OneNote. We already subscribe to Teams, so it’s features wont go away after the closure like other services will. We are also using it more for staff meetings and such. There are good apps for all platforms as well.

Teams really excels at professional groups, like PLCs, departments, grade level teams, etc.

Teams quick start guide

OneNote is a great tool as well. A great use is taking notes on a touch screen device and sharing them live with your class. It can do much more if you dig into it.

Here’s a quick glimpse of OneNote in action 

As we are asking (hoping?) that students check their email more now, it should be noted that they can download the Outlook app on their phone as well as the full version of Office365, including Outlook, for free (staff can do this too).

Checking Your Voicemail Remotely

Here are the steps to access your voicemail from outside the school:

    1. Dial your number and wait for the greeting to play
    2. Press the * key during the greeting
    3. Enter your ID, which is your four-digit phone extension
    4. Enter your voicemail password

If you have trouble, or don’t remember your password, open a helpdesk ticket and we’ll reset it.

Adobe Changes

Adobe Warning MessageIf you use Adobe products other than Reader, you’ve likely seen notices about the license expiring at the end of February. Our subscription is still current, but changes in how Adobe licenses their products have necessitated a change on our end.

We have moved to ‘named user’ licensing. This means we have to provision an account for any person who will be using the programs. We have done this for all students and staff.

When first accessing an Adobe product (other than Reader), you will need to sign in to use it. It will remember you on that particular computer. You will need to sign in again for any new computers you use.

Emergency Paging System Status

Part of the recent phone system upgrade is the ability to page all the phones in the building from any phone in the building. The system will undergo final testing shortly, and will be ready to use after that.

To make a page, pick up a phone and dial the number for the paging system. It will answer and say “welcome…”. After that it will beep and you are talking to everyone through their phone. It will be like you are on a one-way speakerphone call. This was implemented for emergency situations, but will have use for regular communication as well.

This only works from district phones. Plans include connecting to the existing paging system so broadcasts will be heard more widely. Codes to access the system will be distributed once testing is complete.

Cloud-Based Home Folders

The network home folders of high school students were migrated to OneDrive over the break. This means that files on the desktop, or in the downloads and pictures folders, are now stored online and can be accessed from anywhere.

When logging into their computers, there will be a slight delay the first time as the connection is set up to the cloud storage. The process should complete without any user interaction. Further instructions should appear on the desktop of affected users.

This change brings several benefits:

  • Files can be accessed from any device. There are client apps for Windows, Mac, IOS, and Android. They can also be accessed from a browser.
  • Microsoft Office documents, such as Word and Excel files, can be edited from a web browser using the Office 365 apps.
  • The storage limit on the HCCS server is 2Gb. On OneDrive, it’s presently 1000Gb.
  • Files are stored on Microsoft’s servers, which have greater uptime and reliability.
  • Some of the high school student computers were having issues trying to access the district server when it was unavailable (from home). OneDrive is available anywhere.
  • For the student-issued devices, local files are kept in sync with the cloud version. This means students can continue to work even if they do not have internet.

While we started with high school students, the plan is to include all students and staff eventually.

Student Device Update

We’ve received and deployed all of the Chromebooks ordered for 2nd, 3rd, and 6th-grades. Kindergarten and MS STEM devices are in progress.

The high school devices are expected shortly, and we will expedite their deployment at that time. The bags should be here around the same time, though we have remaining stock from last year to use if not.

Many students have completed the required training modules and paperwork, and we expect to hand out the first batch of devices as soon as they are prepared.

It’s been a winding road to get this far. We are thrilled to get these devices in the hands of students as quickly as possible.