News on Google Apps, Glow, Edubuzz, CPD courses, IT developments, new technology and E-safety.
Have a look at the East Lothian Schools ICT Newsletter to find out what is going on in the authority. As always, we are happy to hear from you if you have any questions, suggestions or concerns.
Rather than bombard you with a huge list of ICT information, we are going to post a series of short information snippits starting today with…
Using ELnet to access council employee information
ActivInspire software for your Interactive Whiteboard
If you have a particular ICT question you want to ask, email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any difficulty viewing this document on the blog, you can view it on a page on its own here.
Photo by D.Gilmour
Edubuzz Website – www.edubuzz.org
IT Technical Support
East Lothian's eduBuzz blogs are now getting over 1000 comments per week.
There are over 2600 registered users, contributing to over 1000 sites.
Over 3.5M page views are recorded each month, from all around the world.
Use of non-encrypted portable storage devices has now been disabled on computers in council offices.
Normal, unencrypted sticks can still be used in school with everyday learning materials and student work.
For anything else, especially if it might include personal or confidential information, you'll need an encrypted stick.
Edit Google Docs on the go!
A whole new set of possibilities has opened up with the announce- ment that Google Docs are now editable on mobile devices – up till now only spreadsheets could be edited this way.
It might take a day or two before you see the Edit button in your mobile browser, though.
Read more, and watch some videos, on the Education ICT News site.
A projector support contract has been successfully procured and will come into effect before the end of term.
School staff will have a Helpdesk number to call if there are any problems. If the fault can't be identified and fixed over the phone, an engineer will be on-site within 24 hours.
More details to follow shortly on the Education ICT blog.
Read and Write Gold is award winning software designed to assist individuals of all ages who require extra assistance when reading or composing text.
The software allows students to develop their literacy skills and enjoy greater independence.
All high schools have site licences, which means it can be installed on any PC or laptop and multiple pupils can take advantage of this additional support:
Please log a call with IT if you would like this installed. (Note: High schools only)
SNOW HITS EAST LOTHIAN
Using ICT to Support Learning
Despite the schools being closed for a week, pupils have been provided with a wide range of suggested activities, good weblinks, homework, revision advice and general contact from teachers via their school website. Edubuzz has had 1827 posts and 2477 comments added, which is an average of about 800 'contributions' per day – and 25,000 visits per day. It's proved to be an effective channel of communication for staff, pupils and parents.
Everyone who has a school email address is eligible for an Edubuzz account which will allow you to upload a post to your school site. You can sign up today on the main Edubuzz page at the top right.
My Computer: Where should I save to?
Some staff are still a bit unsure about the pros and cons of saving files in different places, so tend to stick to what they know. Sometimes, though, that can be the wrong choice.
So what are the choices, and why does it matter? The month we'll look at the main options.
"My Documents": a place on your computer's own disk
Anything stored here goes into a folder on the computer's internal storage disk. That's a great place to temporarily store a big file, like a downloaded video, which you need to access quickly. For most other files, though, it's a bad idea, so it's not recommended. Files stored here:
Network Drives: a secure, shareable space on a network server
These have weird names, like "<share name> on <server name>"1, and you don't usually see them on your home computer. So what are they? Network drives do the same basic job as the disk inside your personal PC, except that:
This makes them the right choice for information we need to rely on.
Which network drive should I choose?
As well as a network drive with a name like <username>$ on xx-server1, you'll see others with names including "staff" or "departments". The one with your username is for your personal files. The others are places to store files you want to share with others in your school.
Did you know? The new Outlook version isn't just a pretty face: it now lets you create simple rules to take some of the drudgery out of handling your email. For any rule, you can:
To get started, click Options (beside your name in the top right) and choose Create an Inbox Rule.
Have you got your Glow log in details?
Each school now has a nominated and trained Glow ASM (Accounts & Services Manager) contact who will be able to provide you with your details or reset your forgotten / lost password.
Please can schools inform staff who their Glow ASM contact is.
The Daily What News can be found within the External Resources on Glow. Click on the National Site tab on the left hand side of the front page (note: If your front page is Glow Light, click on News then National Site). In the box titled Most Popular you will see the Daily What icon.
Or use: http://shortlinks.www.edubuzz.org/dailywhat (Glow login required)
It offers a range of current, topical news items in a variety of formats. At the top of the item you have the choice of clicking on the What's More tab which gives readers a more in depth look at the same article. Both versions are linked to Curriculum for Excellence outcomes and experiences; both offer suggested lesson ideas and extended activities.
Again under the National Site, have a look at Glowing Thursday to see what events are scheduled o be aired through Glow Meet, the video conferencing tool within Glow.
Pupils can watch a national event from their own classroom and can ask or type in questions too. If you do plan to link up for an event, have a practice first to ensure that there are no technical hitches on the day.
The very popular Scotland's Got Christmas Talent is happening again this year so put the date in your diary – 15th December – and sign your class up at http://shortlinks.www.edubuzz.org/glowingthursdays
Would you like to help pilot the next phase of eduBuzz Google Apps? If you're fairly confident with the existing system, we could do with your help.
We're looking for a few interested staff to start exploring the new services. There might be some rough edges at this stage: but the point is to discover them.
Google's "Apps for Education" service is expanding to include additional useful services that up till now you had to register for with a personal Google Account. If you already use eduBuzz Google Apps, you'll have had an email to let you know this is happening.
These include, for example:
If you'd like to help with the pilot, please contact David Gilmour.
Your digital images: size does matter!
Do you recognise any of these symptoms?
If so, chances are you're working with image files that are much larger than they need to be. Read on to find out what do about it.
The more work you have to do, the longer it takes you. Computers are just the same; give them an easy job to do, and they'll handle it quickly. But if we're not careful, we can easily give them 20 times more work than we need to – and get those slow results. How can this happen?
It's often because new cameras default to high-resolution images, often thousands of pixels wide, and over 1MB ( 1,000,000 bytes) in size. That's great if you need to print large, glossy photos – but we usually don't.
We're often in too much of a hurry to change the settings – but, if we did, we'd save a lot of time.
Set your camera resolution down to a low-res setting, (e.g. 640 x 480 pixels) and the images will be fine for classroom use in web sites, slideshows and documents. Often you'll hardly notice the difference – except n speed. For web use, an image of about 50 Kilobytes (50,000 bytes) is fine – a twentieth the size of a 1 Megabyte (MB) file.
Benefits will include:
Photo credit: Edtechie99 on Flickr