Tech Check: Get Your Digital Life Organized

May is a great time of year, isn’t it? The weather is changing, spring flowers appear, and many educators are excited about another school year coming to a close. There’s much to do, lots of spring cleaning, packing up, and getting things in order before summer break.

We focus on our physical environment when we think of organization, but how about digital organization? Have you done any “spring cleaning” or tidying up of your digital life? As our existence incorporates more technology it’s important to keep up with what is out there and how organized it is! I’ve developed a checklist detailing what I do each month to stay digitally organized. Below are a few of my favorites that I would recommend.

  1. Run Who has Access– This website scans your Google Drive and shows you who has access to your Drive contents.  If you see folks that no longer need access, they can be removed directly in the report. The service deletes its own access to your Drive along with your Drive data from its servers 24 hours after running your report. This tool is especially useful for school administrators who may have a change in personnel each school year. https://www.whohasaccess.com
  2. Check your Social Media Settings– we visit these sites daily, often popping in and out several times to catch glimpses into what is happening around our world. When was the last time you took the time to go through your privacy settings? How about your followers? Go a step further and do a self-audit of your social media posts. Look at the last 15 things you posted. Was your overall message positive? Do they represent the image you want others to have of you? Here are some resources to get you started on your self-social media audit.

https://identity.utexas.edu/everyone/how-to-manage-your-social-media-privacy-settings

https://sites.google.com/site/mydigitalrep/social-media

  1. Password Protection– Generate a list of passwords for the family. (This may sound morbid but social media and email platforms require extensive documentation to shut down accounts without passwords due to the death of a user). Have everyone in the family write down all known passwords. If some are reluctant to share, have them create the list and place it in a sealed envelope (don’t open it) and keep it someplace it can be easily accessed if something happens to you or a family member.  I keep it in our safe.  Get a list of passwords for everyone in the family but be sure to have clear conversations AND FOLLOW THEM if there is a privacy concern.  

These are just a few of the many ways I try to keep my digital-self organized. If you’d like to see the full list, it is available here: http://bit.ly/Tech-Check

What would you recommend?

Teachers Talking Tech Recap

On January 25th, thirty teachers from around Northern Illinois gathered at Highland Community College in Freeport, IL to attend the first Teachers Talking Tech Mini-Conference. Attendees braved the -30 wind chill temperatures in order to learn successful technology integration practices. The LTC partnered with Carroll, JoDaviess, and Stephenson Regional Office of Education 8 to host the event.

To kick off the mini-conference, Ben Sondgeroth (RETC, Learning Technology Center North), presented a session on Moving Past the Digital Worksheet, Evaluating Technology’s Impact on the Lesson. Ben discussed tools and strategies for teachers to think through how and why they are utilizing technology in the classroom. He presented on three of the most commonly used evaluation models: SAMR, TPACK, and The 4 Shifts Protocol. Each of these models offer teachers an opportunity to reflect on their lesson’s technology integration and evaluate how they might enhance their student’s learning. Ben then encouraged teachers to think about the new tools and strategies using the Monday to Someday mindset. This mindset asks teachers to categorize new ideas and tools in two ways: am I able to take this back and implement it with my students on Monday, or is this an idea or strategy I would like to learn more about and apply someday?

Nicole Zumpano (RETC, Learning Technology Center Chicagoland) followed, sharing Google workflow tips and tricks. Presenting from a hyperdoc, Nicole provided the attendees with 19 of her most useful Google strategies. Some highlights include:

  • Using multiple Chrome profiles to separate Google accounts
  • Leveraging the power of search in Google Drive
  • Leveraging public calendar view to share events with parents
  • Adding emojis to your Google Drive file names
  • Using the G Suite Training Extension

Nicole’s helpful strategies gave many in the audience new ideas on how to better streamline their digital workflow.

Elizabeth Byam (4th Grade Teacher, Riverbend Schools) then presented several tools and strategies she is using with her students. Elizabeth immediately got the attention of the audience by doing a demonstration of Quizlet Live. Acting as the “teacher,” Elizabeth randomly placed the attendees in groups and pushed a quiz on state capitals out to them all. The room was buzzing as teams raced to finish the quiz first. Elizabeth then moved on to discuss how she is leveraging Loom for screencasting in the classroom, Estimation 180, and Green Screen by DoInk. Her creative and interactive approach had all the teachers engaged and excited to bring new tools to their classrooms!

After lunch, Jody Pauly and Scott Woodly (Pear City School District) partnered to showcase strategies they are using in their school district. Scott, an IT Director, shared his favorite Google Hacks, before turning the podium over to Jody to discuss Flipgrid. Jody demonstrated how she leveraged Flipgrid to engage her 3rd graders in online discussion. She then created a demo grid and asked participants to respond and think about how they might leverage the tool with their students. To wrap the session Scott challenged teachers to not be afraid of failing with technology. He emphasized that technology integration isn’t easy but sticking to the old methods does not help prepare our students for the future. His motivational message was a perfect ending to an amazing day of learning.

To end the day, all attendees entered a raffle for iPad cases that were generously donated by Rug-Ed Cases. Three lucky teachers left with brand new iPad cases. We appreciate Rug-Ed’s contribution to the event!

It was inspiring to see so many teachers attend a professional learning event, even when many of their schools canceled for the day. The desire to learn and grow was evident in the room, and the LTC looks forward to hosting more events like this in the future!

Filed Under

Is it a Snow Day or an eLearning Day?

It’s no secret that eLearning is a hot topic in Illinois these days. Given the change in the legislative language in Public Act 100-465 —that removed the previous statutory 5-hour requirement to define a school day— mixed with the snow and sub-zero temperatures of January, eLearning has come front and center.  Do our students need to be in front of us in order to learn, or can learning take place “anywhere” and “anytime” students have an Internet-connected device? This can be debated by both sides.

Regardless, we need to consider what is being done around eLearning, both by districts in our state as well as those in other states. The following is a list of school districts that have implemented eLearning days recently. Thank you to those that responded to the prompt on our LTC Statewide Technology group sharing these resources. If you haven’t joined yet, please do! It’s free, and there are educators that generously share their knowledge!

Gurnee District 56 in Lake County in is part of the state pilot program for eLearning. Their website includes an FYI eLearning section, a demonstration video, and tech support. Recently, they were featured on the news as well! Check it out here: https://youtu.be/xXJIgi59LKc

Also in Lake County, Libertyville District 70 offers a choice board of online and offline activities its students can participate in on eLearning days. Check out their middle school page (which includes FAQs as well as a parent feedback form) and their elementary school initiative.

McLean County, home to Tri-Valley CUSD 3, offers resources related to eLearning on its website for the elementary, middle, and high school.
These three districts are prime examples of how learning can take place even when the building is closed. To view more resources, check out our eLearning doc. If you have content to add to it, please email Nicole at nmzumpano@ltcillinois.org. Let us continue to learn from each other!

What is the Illinois E-rate State Matching Grant?

The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) has released a notice of funding opportunity/request for proposals (NOFO/RFP) for pending state funds to expand internet connectivity in schools. The funds would reimburse school districts for the cost of upgrading their broadband infrastructure to fiber optic technology. Fiber optic technology delivers the most affordable and fastest network speeds to schools and allows districts to scale cost-effectively to meet growing bandwidth needs in the future.

Nearly 75 districts across the state have been identified as having one or more school building in their district without access to this scalable infrastructure. Priority of funding will be given to districts that can demonstrate one or more buildings in their district is in need of a fiber upgrade.

In order to apply interested districts must:

  • Leverage E-rate funding and apply for special construction on their E-rate 470 and 471 applications.
  • Create a detailed RFP and/or Project (guidance and sample templates from EducationSuperHighway, an Illinois Classroom Connectivity Initiative partner)
  • Compare bids and choose a winning provider, following E-rate timelines, rules and guidance from USAC.
  • Complete the IL E-rate State Matching Grant Form on the ISBE Broadband Information website

For more information or questions, please contact us!