Protect Your Institution’s Data with Google Workspace for Education Plus

Is Your Organization’s Data as Safe as it can be?

Cybersecurity incidents targeting schools and universities are on the rise again. Over 950 schools and colleges were hit with ransomware in 2021. These attacks impacted nearly a million students and cost schools over $3.5 billion in downtime alone. Ransoms demanded ranged from $100,000 to over $40 million and on average schools faced four days of downtime and almost a month of recovery time after attacks. A recent survey by Sophos found that nearly half of the K12 institutions surveyed had been targeted by ransomware, facing more than $1.5 million on average to recover. 

Lincoln College, a school of about 600 students in Illinois, was struggling financially after COVID when they were struck by a ransomware attack last spring. The attack locked them out of their enrollment, recruitment, and fundraising data. The university paid the $100,000 ransom but still was not able to recover all of its data. Unfortunately, the school was forced to permanently close its doors in April 2022 due to the impact of the ransomware attack and the pandemic.

So, how do you protect your institution’s data and keep your name and your superintendent’s name out of these types of headlines?

A Couple of Steps Could Make All the Difference

Two friends are hiking in the woods when they come across a bear. The bear charges the friends, and they turn and try to run away from it. The first friend asks, “How are we going to outrun the bear?” The other replies, “I don’t have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you.” The same is true when trying to prevent ransomware attacks. You don’t necessarily have to spend millions of dollars to keep your institution secure. Hackers and other cyber threats are looking for the easiest targets and the lowest hanging fruit. With that in mind, just doing a few small things can help keep your organization secure.

Setting up two-step verification (2FA) may be the single biggest step you can take to prevent cybersecurity attacks. Two-step verification is an added layer of security that will help keep your users safe. Your users would sign in with something they know (their password) and something they have (typically a verification code sent to one of their devices). Even if a user’s password is compromised, the account is still secure as the attacker would have to have both the password and the 2FA code to login. Super administrators can enforce 2FA in the Admin Console. Check out our upcoming webinar to learn more about deploying two-step verification within your organization.

Attackers are also looking for easy accounts to log into. It’s critical that your organization change default passwords in your network, firewall, and security tools. Additionally, it’s important to set up password policies in the Admin Console. You can set a minimum password length, password complexity, prevent users from reusing old passwords, and configure password expiration policies. Getting ready to create password policies? Check out these Password Tips from Google to share with your users.

Upgrade Your Security with Google Workspace for Education

Are you ready to upgrade the security of your organization? Google Workspace for Education Plus is the ultimate Google Workspace edition. Education Plus gives you additional storage for your domain, teaching and learning tools like originality reports, premium features in Google Meet, and advanced security features like the Security Investigation Tool, Context-Aware Access, and Target Audiences.

Investigation Tool

The Security Investigation Tool allows you to quickly and easily identify, triage, and take action on security and privacy issues in your Google Domain. With the Investigation Tool you can monitor file sharing, conduct organization-wide searches within multiple sources, investigate devices, and pivot your investigation across multiple sources and data sets.

Does your organization ever need to delete phishing emails or emails sent by mistake? If you don’t have the Investigation Tool, the only way to search and delete emails is with the command-line tool GAM. The GAM option requires you to be fluent in Linux and looks at emails one inbox at a time. So, if you have a large organization it may take five or six hours for GAM to delete your emails. During this time your users are still reading their emails, opening links, and forwarding the threat to other users. With the Investigation Tool, however, you can find and delete threats in moments.

Context-Aware Access

Context-Aware Access gives you the ability to control access to apps based on a user’s location, device, and IP address. Using Context-Aware Access, you can create granular access control policies for apps based on attributes such as user identity, location, device security status, and IP address.

With Context-Aware Access you have the ability to block logins from specific countries and IPs. You can also use Context-Aware Access to prevent users from outside of the country from signing into your domain’s Admin Console.

Target Audiences

Target Audiences are groups of people—such as departments or teams—that you can recommend for users to share their items with on a more controlled basis. You can add them to users’ sharing settings in a Google service, such as Google Drive or Chat, to encourage users to share items with a more specific or limited audience rather than your entire organization.

By default, when your users share documents in Google Drive they are prompted to share with everyone in the organization or everyone with a link. With Target Audiences you suggest the perfect audience for your users to share documents.  Using the example of a high school teacher, you are able to create target audiences for all staff at that building, all students at that building, teachers in the teacher’s department, and all staff at the district office. With target audiences, your users can quickly and easily find the perfect group of users for file sharing. In addition, your district is infinitely more secure as the documents are shared with the right audience rather than posted publicly on the internet.

Additional Security Features in Google Workspace for Education Plus

Security Center

Security Center provides advanced analytics and security dashboards so you can monitor security events in your organization. The dashboards display information related to file exposure, email security, logins, file sharing, suspicious activities and more. You can even use the Security Investigation Tool to create custom charts for the information causing you the most concern.

Security Health

Is your organization as secure as it can be? Have you configured all of the security features available in Google Workspace? The Security Health page gives you the ability to conduct your own security audit and compare your settings against Google’s best practices. Recommendations found on the Security Health page will explain why you should consider the recommendation and step-by-step guides that will walk you through how to implement the changes.

Security Sandbox

Your organization receives thousands of emails a day. Security Sandbox in Google Workspace for Education Plus allows you to automatically scan incoming email attachments for malware, ransomware, viruses, zero day threats, and other cybersecurity threats.

Dynamic Groups

Create Google Groups that automatically update so your groups are always accurate. Dynamic Groups creates groups based on job titles, departments, buildings, organizational units, 2-step verification status, and more.

Now’s The Time to Get More Secure

Google Workspace for Education Plus is the edition that gives you the security features, tools, and analytics you need to make your institution as secure as it can be.  Want to try out Google Workspace for Education Plus in your own environment? Sign up for a free 60 day trial!

Kincaid IT is here to help you get the most out of your investment in Google Workspace and we’d love to help you better secure your domain. We offer Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses, security audits, and a free security ebook. Looking for more help? Check out an upcoming webinar or sign up for an upcoming security summit.

Preparing for the End of Unlimited Storage

Have you read about the changes coming soon to Google Workspace? Unlimited Storage in Google Workspace for Education is ending July 1, 2022. School districts with less than 20,000 students will be capped at 100 TBS of pooled storage if they are on the Google Workspace for Education Fundamental edition.

What counts towards your pooled storage? All of your users (active and suspended) and all of their data (including but not necessarily limited to data from Google Drive, Google Photos, and Gmail). Schools will not be able to purchase additional storage. Schools needing more storage will have to delete files and users to reduce their storage footprint and get under their pooled storage limit or purchase Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses or the Teaching and Learning upgrade.

The changes are coming. Is your district ready?

Start Planning NOW

Find Out How Much Storage You’re Using

You can start to get a sense for how your district will be impacted by taking a look at how much storage you’re using right now. Begin by using reports in the Google Admin Console and the Google Workspace Storage Calculator to find out exactly how much storage you’re currently using. Once you determine your usage across your entire domain, you can also determine which users in your district are using the most storage. This report can be found in the Admin Console or in GAM.

These reports help you see how much storage you’re using, who’s using it, and how far away you are from the 100 TB pooled storage limit. In addition, you can even start to forecast how fast your storage is growing and when you may need to take action.

Do You Have Enough Storage for the 2022-2023 School Year?

Do you have enough storage for the upcoming school year? Use these reports to get a sense for how much data you’re using while also forecasting how your storage needs may grow in the next year. On first glance your district may appear to be well below the 100 TB limit, but beginning May 1 all newly created or modified files in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms, and Jamboard files will begin counting towards the storage limit. This will be roughly 100 MBs of new storage per user per month that was not counted in the past. So, if you have 18,000 users in your domain, this could be almost 22 TBs of new content created in the next year.

Consider Education Plus Licenses to Increase Storage

The only way your district can get additional storage is by purchasing either Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses or The Teaching and Learning upgrades. Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses include an additional 20 GBs of storage for each license, and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade comes with 100 GBs of additional storage for each upgrade.

Does your district currently pay for Zoom or Webex licenses? With Google Workspace for Education Plus you get the same advanced video conferencing features in Google Meet as well as additional storage, advanced security features, teaching and learning tools, and originality reports – all for roughly the same price you’re already paying for just video conferencing.

Consider Tools like Kincaid IT’s Storage+ to Help You Manage Your Storage

KIT Central Storage+ allows you to manage your organization’s storage needs with precision and flexibility. Simple dashboards provide a quick overview of storage usage for your entire domain and on a per-user basis. This allows you to quickly identify which files are taking up the most room in your domain and how to optimize for this usage. Additionally, KIT Central Storage+ helps you understand what unused files in your domain can be moved into Google Cloud Storage Buckets to free up space. These insights make a big difference in managing your organization’s storage needs.

Start Messages To Your Users

There are only a couple months before teachers and students leave for the summer. Start drafting and sending messages to your users now. Not sure where to start? Google has created templates that you can customize and send to your users.

Start Reducing Your Storage 

Review Retention Policies

How long do you have to hang on to files and emails in your district? These policies are often determined by your policy makers, pending legal situations, and other compliance reasons. Partner with the leadership in your district to review your data retention policies so you can determine when data is no longer being used and when it can be deleted.

Control Shared Drives

Do students in your district have the ability to create Shared Drives? Do teachers? Should they? Kincaid IT recommends turning off Shared Drive creation for students. We also encourage districts to consider turning off Shared Drive creation for Staff. These users could still use Shared Drives but they would be prevented from creating their own.

If students are creating Shared Drives on their own, odds are they will use the drives as a space to chat with their friends, they will do it without the supervision of educators, and these spaces will likely be forgotten about after they graduate. The likely result is that this storage just sits in your domain taking up space.

Control who can create Shared Drives by opening the Google Admin Console > Apps > Google Workspace > Docs and Drive > Sharing Settings. These settings can be configured based on OUs, so you can apply different settings for staff and students.

Evaluate Alumni Account and Exited Staff Account Practices

How long do you retain student accounts after they graduate? How long do you retain staff accounts after they leave the district? Maybe it makes sense to hold on to student accounts for 12 months to allow them to access their documents as they apply for college or create portfolios. At the same time, perhaps it makes sense to delete staff accounts 30 days after they’ve left the district. Again, partner with decision-makers to determine how long to retain these accounts. 

Kincaid IT Can Help

The End of Unlimited Storage

The End of Unlimited Storage

Well. This is it. Here we are. You and your school district have created hundreds of thousands of files and years of work in Google Drive and suddenly you’ve reached the end of unlimited storage in Google Drive. Over the last few years Google Drive has been one of your best tools as your district moved to the cloud, collaborated in real-time anywhere and on any device, endured cybersecurity threats, and supported remote learning through a pandemic. It includes everything from assignments and projects to employee evaluations and contracts. Now, after all of that work, unlimited storage in Google Workspace is going away.

Starting this summer, all Google Workspace for Education domains will have a finite amount of pooled storage for their entire domain. Pooled storage is storage used by all of your users (both active and suspended users) for everything in their accounts, including – but not limited to – files from Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Photos.

School districts with less than 20,000 enrolled students will be capped at 100 TBs of pooled storage. Districts get additional storage if they have premium Google Workspace licenses. Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses include an additional 20 GBs of storage for each license, and the Teaching and Learning Upgrade comes with 100 GBs of additional storage for each upgrade.

Base Storage Workspace for EDU Edition Additional Storage
Minimum 100 TB Pooled Storage Google Workspace for Education Fundamentals (FREE)

None

Minimum 100 TB Pooled Storage Google Workspace for Education Plus

+20 GB for each Education Plus License

Minimum 100 TB Pooled Storage The Teaching and Learning Upgrade for Google Workspace

+100 GB for each Teaching and Learning Upgrade

So, for example, if a district of 12,000 users purchased 300 licenses and Teaching and Learning Upgrades they would have 130 TBs of pooled storage (100 TBs of Base Storage and 300 Teaching and Learning Upgrades at 100 GBs each). If that same district with 12,000 users had Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses they would have 340 TBs of storage (100 TBs of Base Storage and 12,000 licenses with 20 GBs each).

Storage Changes Timeline

February 2021 – Google Announces Storage Changes in Google Workspace

Last year Google announced the upcoming storage changes in Google Workspace and encouraged districts to evaluate their storage needs and consider purchasing premium licenses to add to their limit.

June 1, 2021 – High-quality Photos Begin Counting Toward Storage Limit

Photos and videos backed up in High quality (now named Storage saver) or Express quality after June 1, 2021, begin counting in your storage limits Any photos or videos backed up in High quality or Express quality before June 1, 2021, will not count toward your Google Account storage.

May 1, 2022 – Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Jamboard now Count Toward Storage Limit

All Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms and Jamboard files created or modified after May 1 will now count toward the storage limit. This will be roughly 100 MB per user per month of additional storage.

If you’re looking at the storage your district currently uses, you may assume you’re in a good position. This could change after May 1. Imagine a district of 15,000  using 60 TBs of pooled storage and currently growing at 16 TBs each year. On first glance, it appears they will not have any issues managing storage. When Google begins counting new documents created in Google Docs, Slides, Sheets, Forms, and Jamboard in May this will result in 18 TBs of documents in the next year that were not previously counted toward their storage limit. With these changes, this district could forecast usage of 94 TBs a year from now, pushing the organization up against the 100 TB limit.

July 1, 2022 – The End of Unlimited Storage

The day everything changes. July 1 is the end of unlimited storage in Google Workspace, and all school districts will have a capped amount of pooled storage. If districts are over their pooled storage limit, the organization’s Super Administrators will receive emails and notifications from Google warning them that they are out of compliance. If the warnings are ignored, Google may prevent you from creating or uploading new content until your district is under the limit and back in compliance. 

How do I get more storage?

The only way to get additional storage is to purchase either Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses or the Teaching and Learning Upgrades for your district. 

How can Kincaid IT Help me with My Storage?

  • Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses and the Teaching and Learning Upgrades
    The Google Workspace for Education Plus licenses and the Teaching and Learning Upgrades offer additional storage as well as premium tools for security, teaching and learning, and video conferencing.
    Want to learn more about premium licenses or request a quote? Contact Us! We’d love to help.
  • Take Control of Your Storage with Kincaid IT’s KIT Central Storage+
    KIT Central Storage+ allows you to manage your organization’s storage needs with precision and flexibility. Simple dashboards give you a quick overview of storage usage for your entire domain and on a per-user basis. This allows you to quickly identify what files are taking up the most room in your domain and how to optimize for this usage. Additionally, KIT Central Storage+ helps you understand what unused files in your domain can be moved into Google Cloud Storage Buckets to free up space. These insights will make a significant difference in managing your organization’s storage needs.
  • Check out a free webinar
    Yikes! The End of Unlimited Storage!
    Learn about Google Workspace for Education domain storage changes and the impact it will have on your domain. Utilize tools for more insight into what is being stored in your Google environment to reduce overall storage.

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Kincaid IT highlights new cloud-based management suite toaddress Google’s upcoming storage changes at FETC conference

Kincaid IT highlights new cloud-based management suite to address Google’s upcoming storage changes at FETC conference

KIT Central Storage+ developed to help technology administrators better manage storage and save money

As organizations grapple with the impact of Google’s upcoming changes to storage limits, Kincaid Information Technology recently launched a cloud-based SaaS designed to help educational institutions meet this challenge while saving both money and staff time. 

Kincaid IT Storage+, which is featured at the Future of Education Technology conference during January 2022, is an all-in-one cloud management suite that supports Google Workspace. Tools available within KIT Central will help technology administrators manage their organizations’ storage with user-friendly dashboards, reporting and options to eliminate excess storage usage.

“We are currently the only company offering a web-based product that gives organizations the resources they need to efficiently monitor and manage their Google storage,” said Dr. Amy Bailey, Kincaid IT chief innovation officer. “As institutions  prepare for Google’s 2022 storage changes, Kincaid IT is ready to help organizations make informed decisions and thus effectively manage and take action on data within the domain before they face the new limits.”

While developing the management tools, Kincaid IT (KIT) piloted KIT Central in collaboration with several schools with a variety of enrollments and storage needs. KIT Central launched during spring 2021 and has received positive feedback from a number of organizations.

Google’s decision to change its storage limits, with enforcement beginning in July 2022, makes managing storage at the admin level increasingly important. 

Although Google offers a handful of tools to help administrators determine storage, KIT Central provides additional features and insights, all via a web-based dashboard. Examples include:

  • Allowing admins to see top storage users and the files they are storing
  • Searching an organization’s drive files with filters
  • Notifying individuals whose storage usage is not in line with policies and limits 
  • Scheduling files for deletion
  • Allowing the deletion of files instantly
  • Managing user memberships from a single pane
  • Resetting user passwords with granular delegations.

Based on Google’s 2022 storage changes, it is estimated that KIT Central’s Storage+ application could save a mid-sized school district thousands of dollars while universities — with their employee, student and alumni accounts — could see savings totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. These cost savings are based on an organization’s ability to reduce the need to purchase additional Google storage and licenses by better managing storage. KIT Central was also created with technology department staff members in mind, offering tools specifically designed to save time for an organization’s admins.

For more information about Kincaid IT Central, to schedule a demo and learn more about Google storage changes, visit this webpage. Pricing is based on the number of users within an organization. 

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Kincaid IT launches free KIT Merge Google Workspace Add-on to help users generate custom documents and enhance organization of files

Kincaid IT launches free KIT Merge Google Workspace Add-on to help users generate custom documents and enhance organization of files

KIT Merge makes it easy for teachers to customize feedback and help personalize instruction 

Kincaid Information Technology (Kincaid IT) is launching a free Google Workspace Add-on developed to help users easily generate custom files while enhancing organization. The new Add-on – known as KIT Merge – premieres within the Google Workplace Marketplace in January 2022 and is being featured at the Future of Education Technology Conference (FETC) conference this same month. 

This convenient utility provides any Google user with the tools needed to create unlimited personalized certificates, charts, reports and other documents based on data from a Google Form or Google Sheet. Since most educators already use Google Forms, Sheets, Doc and Slides, using KIT Merge is an added benefit to provide this instant feedback to individual students or parents. These personalized PDFs, Google Slides or Google Docs can be automatically or manually sent to specified email addresses based on information included in the Form or Sheet. 

“We believe KIT Merge provides instructors with a simple solution to better customize feedback from their students,” said Dr. Amy Bailey, Kincaid IT Chief Innovation Officer. “This new Google Workspace Add-on seeks to meet specific needs we’ve heard from numerous classroom teachers by helping them personalize learning and ultimately improve student engagement and achievement, all while helping them stay organized.” 

KIT Merge gives teachers the means to address tasks and engage students such as providing customized certificates for students meeting their goals or personalized story starters for writing a narrative. For example, a teacher can create a certificate on a Google Slides, and use KIT Merge to award it to students based on data submitted from a Google Form or personalize an assignment to enhance instruction by using one of the many templates in KIT Merge. 

The free Add-on includes embedded step-by-step instructions, making it easy for users to create and send their personalized certificates, charts, diagrams and other documents in just a few minutes. In addition, KIT Merge creates a folder within your Google Drive to store and manage all KIT Merge projects. 

This new Google Workspace Add-on officially launches at the FETC conference, scheduled for Jan. 25-28 in Orlando, Florida.  

KIT Merge, developed by the Kincaid IT team, is the latest Google Drive Add-on created by the company.  Kincaid IT also developed KIT Central, a comprehensive cloud-based management suite designed to address Google’s 2022 storage changes.

For more information about KIT Merge, visit this link. Google users will be able to participate in a product demo after Jan. 25. After the launch date, the new Add-on will also be found in Google Workplace Marketplace by searching for KIT Merge.

Kincaid Information Technology specializes in assisting schools, governments and businesses with their technological challenges through consulting, technical services and professional development. 

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Migrating Classic Google Sites to the new Google Sites

Migrating Classic Google Sites to the new Google Sites

Five years ago Google introduced an updated version of Google Sites which is a rebuilt version of what is now known as Classic Google Sites. The New Google Sites is now the default for website creation in Google Workspace. in 2020 as Google began to phase out the Classic Google Sites. Recently Google updated the timeline for migrating from the old Classic Google Sites to the new Google Sites.

The most recent timeline for migration is:

  • Starting June 1, 2022, users will no longer be able to edit any remaining classic Sites in your domain.
  • Starting July 1, 2022, users will no longer be able to view classic Sites unless they are converted to the new Google Sites. Furthermore, users will no longer be able to use the Classic Sites Manager, the bulk site conversion tool.

Kincaid IT recommends notifying your end-users as soon as possible  about migrating any Sites they still have using Classic Sites Manager. All users need to transition to new Sites by July 1, 2022. Learn more about converting classic Sites at Google’s Help Center.

It is also recommended that users adhere to the following best practices when migrating their sites: In preparing for this migration, the following best practices are recommended: 

  • Create an archive of the classic Google Sites using the Classic Sites Manager. This will allow users to refer to their site at a later date,  if needed.
  • After you’ve converted a classic Google Site into a new Google Site, double check the sharing settings to make sure the correct people still have access.
  • check your audience settings before you publish your new Site to make sure the appropriate audience has access.
  • Decide whether collaborators can share your site with other users or publish the site in sharing settings in your new Google Site.

Migrating from the classic Google Sites to the new Google Sites was a topic on this month’s edition of The Admin Briefing webinar. Google frequently releases new features and changes policies and settings inside of Google Workspace. The Admin Briefing is a monthly webinar that discusses how these changes may impact your school or organization. Watch this month’s webinar or subscribe to The Briefing on our events page.

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Create Meeting Notes in Google Calendar

Create Meeting Notes in Google Calendar

Collaborative Agendas and Meeting Notes are one of the most popular uses of Google Docs.  This month Google Workspace released a new Google Calendar feature that lets hosts quickly start and share meeting notes or agendas.  

Create Meeting Notes Before the Meeting

Want to create an agenda before your meeting and quickly and easily share it with everyone participating? When you use Meeting Notes, Google Calendar will automatically create Notes for you in Google Docs, populate the document with event information, share the document with everyone invited to the meeting, and create a shortcut in the event in Google Calendar.

To get started:

  1. Create or edit an event in Google Calendar.
  2. Click “Add description or attachments.”
  3. Select “Create meeting notes.”

The Meeting Notes document will be created when you save your calendar event.

Creating Meeting Notes During the Meeting

You can also use Meeting Notes to record meeting notes after the event has started.  If you organized the meeting, a pop-up menu will ask you to share and attach the document to your event.  Just click “Share & attach” when you’re ready to share it with everyone in the meeting.

More Information About Meeting Notes

  • Want to use an existing document for your meeting notes? You can use the meeting notes template in any Google Doc by typing “@“ in the doc and using the drop-down menu to select “Meeting notes” and then selecting the event.
  • If you use Meeting Notes you will still be able to add additional Google Docs and attachments to the meeting event.
  • Meeting Notes are automatically saved in “My Drive”.

Want to stay up to date with the latest changes and improvements in Google Workspace and how they might impact your school or organization?  Check out our monthly webinar, “The Admin Briefing,” on our events page.  

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green rollercoaster

Learn, Rejuvenate and Stay Focused with Summertime Professional Development

Julie Jensen

Learning and Innovation Manager

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Joining an asynchronous, online, self-paced course gives teachers the option to learn on their schedules in any location. Teaming with colleagues allows instructional teams to collaborate and plan together.

It’s June! Time to step off of the roller coaster ride of the 2020-21 school year. Educators have come a long way with many twists and turns, jerking from side-to-side while moving upside down then right side up, hanging on tight, screaming every so often, in the company of the other disoriented passengers. If you rode this coaster again, you would have experience to draw from as well as colleagues to debrief about this journey. However, the ride you take next is your call.

green rollercoaster

After you catch your breath, consider focusing on something you control — your own professional development journey. Do you plan to continue implementing technology into learning? What can you do to keep up the momentum of using technology? Would you like help with using technology when it makes sense rather than when technology is the only choice?

Joining an asynchronous, online, self-paced course gives teachers the option to learn on their schedules in any location. Teaming with colleagues allows instructional teams to collaborate and plan together. Summer time is precious time. Finding professional development topics that allow teachers to integrate their curriculum with the technology already in use in order to learn new ways to implement learning helps rejuvenate educators over the summer. 

Some topics of interest include: 

  • Moving beyond the traditional learning environment and into a digital, blended space that addresses the needs of all student learners
  • Offering feedback using Google Workspace and other free tools
  • Guiding students to ask relevant questions and then selecting the best resources in order to analyze, record and organize the findings.

Currently Kincaid IT has a catalog of 10 courses to choose from that provide opportunities at all skill levels. With 10 months of access to each course, you don’t even have to finish this summer! 

Wait, there’s more! Teachers can opt in to purchase Continuing Education Credit from the University of Central Missouri (UCM) for the completion of a course, whether you live in Missouri or another state. These valuable Continuing Education Credits can be used toward salary advancement or credential renewal at many school districts. At this time, this course credit is not eligible to be used toward a graduate degree at UCM, but it is a refreshing way to keep one foot learning while the rest of you relaxes. 

“Once you know where the roller coaster is going, are you in for the ride?”  – Robert Fulghum

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colored lockers

Survive to Thrive During the Last Month of School

Julie Jensen

Learning and Innovation Manager

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My plan became the cure for our fevers and gave me the confidence to create collaborative learning experiences using technology with my students. I challenged myself to pull out one new idea each day in that final month that involved students’ hands-on technology.

There are natural points in the school year when teachers reflect and determine What’s next? The blog posted February 10, 2021, provided a reflection after winter break as we began the second half of the school year, Survive to Thrive During the Pandemic: What Happens Next? The month of May is another good time to reflect, especially if you have the fever. 

By fever, I mean cabin fever, spring fever, so-ready-for-summer fever. If you have this fever, I might have a cure! As a former sixth-grade teacher for nine years, I could tell when the spring months hit without looking at a calendar. Focusing on new content was not in my students’ biological makeup at that age and time of year. As hard as I pulled them along, inevitably I caught the fever from my students. To counteract this seasonal fever, consider developing a new plan for that critical last month of school. 

assorted-color lockers

My plan became the cure for our fevers and gave me the confidence to create collaborative learning experiences using technology with my students. I challenged myself to pull out one new idea each day in that final month that involved students’ hands-on technology. I also gave myself permission to not be the expert on this technology. By letting students support and teach each other on the tech tools, I could become the coach on objectives secretly interwoven into the learning experiences. 

We started with stand-alone technology creations such as digital stories, comics, posters, drawings, polls and spreadsheets, concept mapping and more. With my new experiences, I began incorporating these tech creations into more learning opportunities for my students at the start of that next school year. By the end of that year, we completed several engaging and meaningful projects including the following examples: 

  • Created I Spy Simple Machine digital books combining science with writing.
  • Developed and presented business plans for a new mall with students conducting a poll and using the data to make decisions while also learning economic concepts.
  • Documented the life cycles of various animals using digital cameras to create a visual diagram. 

My point being, don’t lose your momentum for providing your students with experiences to strengthen their digital skills for our post-Covid world. Plan now to use the tools you may have been forced to learn, but have grown to love. If your students have Chromebooks, start collecting ideas using the tools they have with them. Then modify these ideas to match your students and tech tools. 

Below are some other blogs and video tutorials from 2020-21 to encourage this momentum. 

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woman on video call

Learn Three Google Meet Features To Make Student Virtual Meetings Safer and Easier

Julie Jensen

Learning and Innovation Manager

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“Knowing Google Meet is secure for students is only part of the planning. What will you and your students do once you are in a Google Meet?”

When it comes to a virtual meeting with students, Google Meet is simply a safe choice. It was designed for K-12 students while being useful for all other Google users. Knowing Google Meet is secure for students is only part of the planning. What will you and your students do once you are in a Google Meet? My recent blog, 10 Ideas for Engaging Students with Google Meet Polls, shares useful suggestions for engaging and gathering feedback from students via polling. 

Earlier In 2021, Google Workspace for Education Plus was announced, providing enhancements to help teachers manage virtual instruction with ease. Check out three features listed below — all game changers in virtual meetings with students!

Calendar Invite to a Google Meet = Host Controls

Starting with a calendar invite, teachers can begin setting up for a scheduled meeting by turning on Attendance Tracking and/or Create Breakout Rooms. 

  • Attendance Tracking: Just like turning on Attendance Tracking within a meeting, this sends the organizer a spreadsheet of participants and times in the meeting. Now this can also be turned on from a calendar invite. 
  • Breakout Rooms: Through a calendar invite only, a teacher is able to pre assign students to specific breakout rooms. Once the Google Meet begins, the teacher opens rooms for students to communicate with their group. Assigning students to rooms ahead of time is only a feature offered through Google Calendar at this time.

The Green Room

Virtual meetings will forever be a way we communicate in school, work and socially. Modeling and teaching students soft skills when you are on a Google Meet provide students with life-long skills that will benefit them years from now. Show students how to preview how they look and sound while also being aware of their background before joining a Google Meet. The green room allows a self-check on the camera of exactly how they will appear to others in the room. Rather than clicking past it quickly, make sure they are OK with the current scene. In addition, teach students about their choices such as mic and camera on/off, and how to change or blur their background.

Mute All and End All

We’ve all experienced reasons for needing to mute one person or everyone. Now you can!  Since teachers are the organizers of the meeting, teachers have the control to mute everyone. Click > People to view all in the meeting and select > Mute all. For privacy reasons, only the user can unmute his or herself, no one else. 

It’s also comforting to know your meeting has ended with no one left in the virtual room. The organizers of the meeting can leave the call and end for all, which will kick everyone out of the Google Meet. If the organizer clicks > Leave call, a window will appear > End meeting for all. 

When you are collaborating on Google Meet with colleagues, even though you are all adults, the organizer of the meeting is the one who started the meeting or added it as a calendar event. This is the person with the control to mute all or end meetings for all. If the organizer needs to leave the meeting, but all others want to continue collaborating, simple click > Leave meeting. This allows the others to continue without the organizer. 

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