Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Bonus Bite: LanSchool - Creating Custom Classes

If you are an Intervention Specialist, Teacher's Aid, or just need to create a custom class for any reason, this training is for you!

Begin by clicking on the Class List icon in the top menu, then select Manage Class Lists.

Once the Manage Class lists window opens, click on Browse for Students.

The next window will take a little longer to open since it is loading all the students. Click the check mark boxes to select which students you want in your class, then click Add at the bottom.

Student names will be listed under both Login Name and Student Name, you can also search for specific students using the Filter option at the bottom.

Once you add students, you will return to the Manage Class Lists window. You can now save this class list for later use. Make sure you save it in a location you know where it is and preferably where it will be backed up.

That's it!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Google Snacks Volume 9 - Slides: not just for presentations

Most people only use Google Slides for creating slide show presentations, but there is so much more it can do! We will go over how to use layout options for designing, using backgrounds for mark up and templates, creating booklets, and creating custom templates.

The first thing we will cover is changing your page size to make it more print friendly. Start by clicking on File then Page Setup at the bottom of the menu.

Then change the size from the default of Widescreen 16:9 to Custom.

Now you can change your measurements to 8.5"x11" for standard letter size paper.

Next we will go over creating guidelines. Guidelines will help you align elements of your layouts (such as shapes, text boxes, images, etc.) by snapping them to the lines. Click and drag the rulers on the top or left side of the slide to create a guideline.

Using the techniques we just discussed, we now create a booklet for printing on letter size paper. Instead of making your page size 8.5"x11", flip the measurements so the page is horizontal. You can use guides for the margins for both halves of the paper to help keep things nice and neat.

Make sure to print double sided to have the booklet come out correctly. Students are currently unable to do this since they do not have access to a printer that can print double sided.

Backgrounds can have a couple additional uses beyond the obvious. Add a background to a slide to give you an image you can free write or mark up on. Click on Background, then Choose Image on the next window that opens.

You can also use a background as a template for printing, if you are printing on paper that has an image already on it. The example below is just one way you can use backgrounds as a print template.

Custom slide templates have several uses and are easy to set up, but provide a lot of creativity. Start by either finding a basic theme you like that you want to modify, or begin with a blank slate. Click on Slide in the menu bar, then click on Edit Master.

You can now change the layout and style of all the different kinds of slides in a theme. The Master slide at the top of the list is primarily used for changing the text for all slides in the theme.

You can modify every slide in the theme by adding background images or use solid colors as the background. Adding shapes to the master theme makes them part of the background when you use this theme, so you don't accidentally move them when you are creating a presentation. You can also add text box placeholders to make future slides easier to create.

Below is an example of what you can do with this, using the theme I use for Google Snacks.

A few additional examples of what you can do in Slides is shown below. In the first example the page size is set to letter, the image of the ticket is inserted and duplicated, then the text boxes are created and rotated to fit in the image. And yes, our very own Learning in the Loo is created in Google Slides!

Bonus tip! You can double click inside any shape you create and turn it into a text box!

So, how does this apply to the classroom? Create custom Slides templates for different types of lessons, events, or special scenarios such as newsletters. Slide templates can also be used for creating a template for students to use for specific presentations. Use layouts for posters, custom stationary, or tons of other design projects. Show students how to use these methods to create pamphlets, booklets, and other design layouts. The possibilities are endless! (I know, very cliche.)

I hope this helped you get to know a Google feature you didn't already know before. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Google Snacks Volume 8 - Filter and Sort in Gmail

Having trouble getting through your Inbox because it is full of unsorted emails or junk you just don't need? This training will cover how to create filters for your emails to auto sort your Inbox and how to use Labels in conjunction with the filters.

Begin by opening an email you want to sort, you might have several from the same person in your Inbox you might want to group together. Once you have the email open, click on the three dots at the top of the email, then select "Filter messages like these".

This will bring up a menu with options on how you want to filter. The menu will look like the image below, with the From address filled in by default from the email you selected.

You can choose as many or as few options as you want to create a filter rule. In this example, we are filtering all messages sent by me with no other options.

After you select how you want to filter, click the Create Filter button and it will open this menu.

Here you will choose what the email does when it hits your Inbox. Again, you can choose as many or as few as you want. The options circled are probably the most important ones. Applying the desired label sends it to the corresponding "folder". While the apply filter to X matching conversations will auto sort all emails this filter applies to that are already in your Inbox.

This brings us right into Labels. As stated before, Labels are basically folders to help sort and organize your emails. You can create labels in two locations. The first location is actually shown in the last image by clicking "Choose label" next to the "Apply the Label". Clicking on this will show an option to create a new label and it will show a list of labels you have already created (if you already created any).

The other location to create labels is at the bottom of the menu list on the left side of Gmail.

You might have to scroll down on the list or click the More button to show more options.

You can view all of your filters you have created and edit them by going to Settings (the gear icon in the top right corner of Gmail), then choosing the option "Filters and Blocked Addresses". This is helpful in case you have emails getting filtered you don't want, you can see how emails are being auto sorted and make changes to the filter rule to correct this issues.

Lastly, if you are still having issues with junk emails such as unsolicited emails from businesses or even emails you signed up for but no longer want, we have a solution. At the bottom of all those emails is an Unsubscribe button, trust me, it is there, it is required by law (CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 to be exact). It only takes one minute or less to unsubscribe and they will be gone forever!

I hope this helped you get to know a Google feature you didn't already know before. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Friday, November 15, 2019

Google Snacks Volume 7 - Google Drive File Stream

If you have ever been in fear of your hard drive getting corrupted and losing all of your files, or if you ever forget your computer at home and need to borrow a loaner, then this training is for you! It's for everyone else too, but Drive File Stream (DFS) makes backing up your files and having them available to you all the time so easy.

DFS is a way to integrate Google Drive into Windows, just like you would your H: drive (home drive) on our servers. The advantage of using Google Drive over our servers is Google Drive has unlimited storage for education accounts and you can make files and folders in your Drive available offline. Our servers have limited storage (although it is a lot), and you can't access your files from our servers outside of our network at this time.

Begin using DFS by clicking on your Start menu (Windows icon in the lower left of your task bar), then select Drive File Stream under the D's in alphabetical order, or you can search for it.

Once you click on DFS to open it, a window will appear to have you sign into Google Drive.

After you sign in, a window will open explaining what DFS does and little on how to use it. Just click through using the right arrow and the last screen will ask you to Open Google Drive Folder, click on that button to open your Google Drive in Windows.

A folder window should open showing your Google Drive. You can access this any time from now on by clicking on the Google Drive Files Stream (or G: drive) on the left side of your folder, where other network drives are located (like your H: drive).

You can now explore your Google Drive from the comfort of your Windows folder. Any files you open within your DFS will open in their "native" or default program. So, that means if you have Word files in your Google Drive, and you open that file within DFS, it will open in Word and not try to convert to Google Docs. The same thing applies to all other files types, Google Docs will open in Chrome, and PDFs will open in Adobe.

You may notice your files in DFS have a little blue/white cloud on the file icon. The cloud icon shows the file is only available online and is not offline synced with your computer. In order to make files available offline, right click on the file or folder, select Drive File Stream, then choose Available Offline.

Files available offline have a green checkmark instead of a cloud on the file icon.

So, how does this all tie in and make my files back up to Google Drive? Start by dragging your files and folders into your G: drive, this will start the upload process. You can see DFS processing when the icon in the task bar is "spinning".

Once it is done spinning and it looks solid, like the image above, the files are synced with your Google Drive. Next is the scary part, you should now delete the files you backed up to your Google Drive off of your computer. Yes, you read that right, delete your files off of your computer. Why, you may ask? Well, DFS will sync files within Google Drive, but not files outside of it. You will need to work on files within your G: Drive to have them constantly back up.

If you are still wanting your desktop shortcuts, we can take care of that too. You can right click on folders and files in your G: Drive and choose Send To, then select Desktop (shortcut) to create a shortcut on your desktop.

Creating shortcuts and deleting your old files will make it so you are always working within your G: Drive and your files are always backed up.

I hope this wasn't too confusing, especially the ending, but you can always stop down to the Tech Office for additional assistance. I hope this helped you get to know a Google feature you didn't already know before. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Google Snacks Volume 6 - LanSchool Advanced

This training will cover advanced features in LanSchool (LS) including, pulling students into your class, setting web restrictions, and blanking screens.

Class lists are imported from Progressbook, so they should look similar to what you are used to. Since I am not a teacher, I used Todd for this example, thanks again Todd! Load your students into your class by choosing Class List at the top menu, then choose Load Dynamic Class List.

When you select the Dynamic Class List, you will see a window that looks like this.

Make sure you choose the option at the top called Login Name (your name will appear where Todd's is). Then you should see all of your classes listed. When you click on a class, you should also see all students listed on the right. Once you have selected your class, just click Load and the students will be pulled from the default channel to your channel, a.k.a. your class.

In order to restrict websites, click on the Limit Web option in the top row menu and select Configure Web Limiting at the bottom of the list.

This option is grayed out when you do not have students in your class/channel, but the settings can still be accessed from the Preference menu under Administer at any time.

You can setup multiple Block and Allow lists and save them for later. The Block All option can be selected without configuring anything.

Whichever list you have loaded last will be set as the default list until you change it. What that means is when you click on Allow List or Block List from the Limit Web menu (shown above), it will block or allow the last list you loaded for that option. Additionally, you should not need to use the "Restrict IP address" option at the bottom of this menu.

An example of when you might use an allow list would be if you wanted students to be able to get to specific websites for research or testing. There are several uses for a block list, one you might not have used before would be to have students do research on a topic, but restrict certain websites you know would be obvious for the answers, such as Wikipedia, to force them to dig deeper.

After configuring your Allow and Block lists, you can then implement them under the Limit Web menu. If you want to restrict web for certain students but not all of them, if you select which students you want to restrict, then choose the Limit Web option you want to apply, it will only effect the selected students.

The last thing we will cover is how to blank screens for students. Clicking on the Blank Screen button in the top menu bar will blank the students screens and display the default message, which looks like this.

You can also configure your own message by clicking on the arrow next to the Blank Screen button and choosing Configure Blank Screen Message.

The message that is set for the Blank Screen will be displayed at the top of this menu as well.

Once you click on Configure, you will have a menu that looks like this.

There are several options you can customize here, but the most important one is in the middle, where you can change the text or image when blanking screens. You can set several blank screen messages if you like, but the last one used will be the default under the Blank Screen menu, just like the Block and Allow lists.

I hope this helped you get to know the advanced features of the new LanSchool application. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Google Snacks Volume 5 - LanSchool Basics

What is this LanSchool app we have been talking about? LanSchool (LS) is an alternative to GoGuardian (GG). Unfortunately, GG is missing a key feature of being able to see the entire desktop. This is an issue when students are using apps or Parallels. LS has almost all the same features as GG as well.

LS was deployed out to all staff at the end of October 2019. The icon should be on the right side of your task bar and looks like a circle of dots.

If the LS icon is not in your task bar, open your Start menu (Windows icon in the left side of the task bar), and open LanSchool Teacher. It will be located under the L's in alphabetical order, or you can search for it.

If it is not listed in your Start menu, please come down to the Tech Office for us to take a look.

When you open up LS for the first time, it should like similar to this.

The first thing you should do when you get into LS for the first time is click on Administer, in the top row menu.

Then click Preferences, at the bottom of the list.

You will now see a menu that looks like this.

You will need to change your channel number here. Your channel number is basically your class. The number should be your building and room number, but it must be all numerical. So, if your room number is A210, then your class channel would be 1210. If you are a teacher or specialist that does not have a homeroom, we can help you with your room number.

The last thing we will go over in this training is how to view students full screen. When you have students in your class, it will look something like this.

The images in the screen shots are blurred by me, for protection, but your student images should be clear. To view a student full screen, click on the little arrow next to Control, then click View. You cannot Remote Control Chromebooks at this time.

The screen shot above also shows what a selected student looks like (1) verses a student who is not selected (2). The red box means they are selected to be viewed full screen.

In the LanSchool Advanced training, we will go over pulling students into your class, restricting web access, and a couple other options.

I hope this helped you get to know the basics of the new LanSchool application. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.