New features in google classroom. And more to come

Google has released updates for Google Classroom. The updates include

  • “question-driven discussions including debates and question-and-answer sessions. Teachers can now post a question, video, article or other content in Classroom, and ask students to answer the question or write a response. Teachers also have the option of allowing students to comment on each other’s responses.”
  • The ability to reuse assignments from previous classes.

You can read more about it here

In the next round of updates Google Classroom will integrate with Google Calendar. This will be nice for high school students because they will be able to have all there assignments in google calendar.



Google Drive updates

Google is going to transition everyone to the new Google Drive in the next couple of months. Afterwhich, you will lose the ability to go back to the old Google Drive.

Google Apps update alerts: An update on the new Google Drive UI:

For Scheduled release customers, the rollout of the new Google Drive UI as the default user experience will occur in early April (currently planned for April 7, as per the release calendar).

In the first half of May at the earliest, we’ll remove the option to return to the old Drive UI via the Settings drop down. At least two weeks before the removal of the option to return to the old Drive UI, we will show a notification in the Drive UI about the upcoming change.

Please note that the new Drive UI does not work with older unsupported browsers prior to and including Chrome 23, Firefox 23, IE9 and Safari 6, so it’s important to upgrade to a supported browser to ensure continued access to Drive.

New Google Drive looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.55.38 AM

Old Google Drive:

Screen Shot 2015-04-01 at 8.56.15 AM


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.

Create PDF forms for free, online. Go paperless with documents you already have

I had this extension installed in Chrome for awhile, PDFescape, but today was the first time I ‘ve really had a chance to look at it. It allows you to type on PDFs or create forms out of PDFs.

Once created, these PDFs can be filled out by students online through the PDFescape website, Apple Preview, or with the Adobe Acrobat Reader app on iOS devices (iPod touch/iPhone/iPad) or Android devices.


Latest updates

  • The Internet Firewall/Web Filtering/SPAM Filtering machine has been moved to a faster machine to increase reliability. Since the move (three weeks ago) there has only been approximately 10 minutes total of downtime.
  • I’ve written some software to keep track of downtime of the various servers in the district and Internet connectivity. You can see the status of the network in the district at You can also get this information by following kcstech on Twitter (
  • I’ve been working on backup and disaster recovery.
  • BuddyPress has been installed at This adds a social networking component to the software that powers,, and any other blogs and websites. You will not show up as a member (even though you have an account) until you add some information to your personal profile.
  • There will not be a Of Bits and Bytes published in January.

Help Desk Report for 8/1/08-01-6-09:

  • 1,703 requests (Approximately 21 per school day)
  • Average response time: 4 days (this includes weekends and breaks. For example, a Help Desk entered on Friday and completed on Monday would have taken 3 days to complete).
  • Fifty three percent of requests are completed in 2 days or less.

Too much time online?

In Parents Fret That Dialing Up Interferes With Growing Up – New York Times, parents are worried that their kids spend too much time on the computer:

In interviews and surveys many parents say that their children spend
too much time in front of computers and on cellphones. Some parents
worry that long, sedentary hours spent at a computer may lead to weight
gain, or that an excess of instant and text messaging comes at the
expense of learning face-to-face social skills. Some complain of having
to compete for their childrens’ attention more than ever.

Anything in excess is mostly bad for you, so parents should not be afraid to limit their children’s online activities. Internet addiction is real.

Children need to learn how to do things in moderation, hedonism is alive and well in today’s society. It reminds me of the 1980’s, where the motto was me, me, me, and if it feels good, you should do it.

iPods in education

According to an article in The Seattle Times, teachers are beginning to use the iPod in an educational setting:

…middle-schoolers podcast performances of student-composed musical works. From East Oakland, Calif., high-schoolers paint an audio portrait, in English and Spanish, of their troubled community: “It’s hard to see someone die in front of you.” Gunston Middle School, in Arlington, has a cheeky student-made podcast that includes poetic commentary on Virginia’s standardized testing: “SOLs are not your friends; they’ll bring your life to an end.”