PD in your PJs Snow Day!

I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.
Albert Einstein 

Today is Digital Learning Day, a day to give every child the opportunity to learn in a robust digital environment everyday, with the goal of success in college and a career. 

Edutopia has a curated list of resources to get you started on what exactly digital learning is and why you would want to do it. Topics range from technology integration to games to working with digital learners. If you ever wanted to know what technology integration is, or how gamification can enhance your classroom, these are but a smart part of the posted resources at Edutopia!

Another topic of interest is building your personal learning network (PLN). A PLN is a list of peers or colleagues from around the world that you can learn from, collaborate with, ask for advice, etc. Kathy Schrock has a great list of resources for building your PLN. I also have a list of Ohio educators on Twitter that could be a great starting point.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to investigate the many resources available for Digital Learning Day and then share what you have learned with somebody. Sharing can be as simple as email, a comment to this post, a post on a website, or Twitter, etc. Let me know where you posted. I’ll be available over email and in the DLD chat room (you may have to give me a nudge in the chatroom, just type mr_rcollins: Hey!. Also check out the #dld hashtag on Twitter.

Keep track of hours spent on your journey so I can assign you CEUs when completed.

Google Talk and GMail tips

On my Tech Fair Day 2012 course in Moodle I had listed some resources for using Google Talk and GMail. You can still enroll yourself in the course, but I’m also going to list those resources here to help you use Google Talk and GMail tips.

Google Talk


Automatically filter student email out of your inbox

GMail has a somewhat powerful filtering mechanism that you can apply to incoming email. Unfortunately, I say somewhat since there really isn’t an easy way to select student email and take it out of your inbox. It won’t match on part of an address, so you can’t just search for an email address that starts with a number.

What I’ve done is configure Google Apps for Education to append a footer for all email from students with the tag:

To filter email from students, go to GMail and in the search field at the top of the screen enter #studentofkcs and hit the triangle to the left of the blue button with the magnifying class.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 6.23.43 PM

Then click Create filter with this search. It will have a list of things that can happen to the message when it matches the search. You will want to check Skip the inbox (Archive it), and Apply the label:.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 6.28.32 PM

Since you probably don’t already have a label (or folder, if you want to call it that) set up, you can click on the Choose label… and create a new label.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 6.29.27 PM

I like to put an exclamation point in front of the label so when the list of labels are sorted alphabetically, the ones I’ve created are at the top.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 6.29.50 PM

Click Create and then Create Filter. From now on, email from students will bypass your inbox and be in the your label created above.

Server upgrades for the web server

With the increased usage of Moodle, our web server has been taking a pretty good hit in the performance department. To alleviate the stress on the server, I’ve installed the Varnish caching software in front of the webserver. This server will take some of the load off of the main web server, increasing performance and reliability of the website.

Using Google Chrome on older machines

As you may have seen, we’ve started converting machines older than 2006 into Google Chrome Browsers. These machines (older Mac minis, eMacs, iBooks, colored iMacs, and Thinkpads) start up with a screen that looks like this:

Users only need to click the Login button to start Google Chrome. Google Chrome will then launch:

Students don’t need to log in to Chrome if they don’t want to, but I would recommend it for the older students so they have access to their files and email. The second tab is the KCS website. Tabs for other sites can be added for your particular building. Let me know in the Help Desk if you’d like like. Espy already has a third tab for the Espy File Depot, which holds files and other public information for the students and staff of Espy elementary.

When students are finished, they need to quit Google Chrome so settings are reset for the next user. Click on the Action (1.) button in the upper right and select Exit (2.) to quit the browser:

These machines running Google Chrome are as fast as the Google Chromebooks, run Flash with sound, and are a great way to repurpose and use these older machines. If you would like a demo or more machines for your use, please enter a Help Desk.