• Phishing Exercises

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 5/15/2017 9:30:00 AM

    In the past four years, the ISC department has completely overhauled our district network. MCPS now has a completely rebuilt data center, more robust firewalls and filters for network security as well as new network equipment in every school. In keeping with our efforts to maintain network security, the MCPS ISC Department has begun the work to improve security on the most vulnerable element of our network – our end users.

     The ISC Department has started to run Phishing Exercises within the district. Each school will start to receive ISC-created phishing exercise emails. The purpose of these emails is to test and train the behavior of our end users to improve network security.

     Your only task is to know how to spot a suspicious email and choose NOT to click on the links embedded in the email. It is safe to open the email to inspect the sender’s address and the contents of the message. Your goal is to avoid opening any suspicious attachments or to avoid clicking on suspicious links.

     We all have to work together to improve network security. At this year’s state technology conference in Helena, MT, FBI Special Agent Shiloh Allen identified that one of a network’s main sources of vulnerability to ransomware attacks, viruses and DDoS attacks are users who unwittingly click on nefarious links and open virus containing attachments.

     What should you do when you receive an email that looks suspicious?

     Examine the sender’s address Does the address match the name of the sender? Does the address look questionable? If you receive an email that shows the sender’s name as Betty’s Devine but the email address is actually robot6574@gmail.com, there’s your first clue that something is wrong. Simply delete the email.

    • Examine the links and attachments. You can hover over a link in an email with your mouse to see the full URL that the link is pointing to on the Internet. You don’t need to click on the link to see that information. If that link doesn’t point to a webpage that common sense would indicate, it may be linking to a phishing site. DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK and delete the email. The same logic can be applied to attachments.
    • Consider why this person is contacting you. Are you getting an email from someone you haven’t talked to in years or whom you really wouldn’t expect to be sending you and email? Does their email include links or attachments that seem strange? If so, it is possible that your friend’s email account has been hacked and they unknowingly sending you a phishing email. Don’t click on links or open attachments, simply delete the email.
    • NEVER give out your username, password or personal information if you do click on a suspicious link. ISC will not ask for this information via a link in an email.

     We will be sharing the results of our tests more broadly in the 2017-18 school year. We can tell you that after our first two tests in the Administration building, we had 50% of users that opened the test phishing email “fall for” the exercise and click on the link. That shows us all that we are vulnerable and we need to improve the security behaviors of our end users.

     Thank you for your cooperation and consideration in this effort.

     

    Hatton Littman

    Russ Hendrickson

    MCPS ISC Department

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Welcome Back! Technology Updates Fall 2016

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 8/25/2016 11:20:00 AM

    Teachers,

    Welcome back to all MCPS educators. We all hope your summer was restful and inspiring. The following is an update on what the ISC department has been able to accomplish over the past 3 months. We have continued to work tirelessly at our goal of rebuilding the district infrastructure and technology. We made some outstanding progress, but still have a few more projects and challenges ahead. With the added workload of projects related to the bond, some of our other tasks have been delayed. This has been a challenge for everyone in the district, and we applaud the efforts of all the departments this summer as we worked together to complete swing spaces and the various construction projects.

    Here are the 2016 Summer Technology Projects Update:

    New website templates

    During the summer, we upgraded our look! MCPS purchased a new Schoolwires site wide template for our websites. It is a responsive design template that automatically adjusts to a variety of screen sizes and it will feature a more refined and less cluttered graphic look. We are all excited about this improvement. Check your staff pages, some of the content you have placed in certain Apps will need to be adjusted to fit the layout of the new template. Luckily, most of the content transferred to the new template without issue. Site Directors at each school are trained to assist you if you have any questions.

    Q trainings took place on August 17th

     The Q training included administrators, counselors, and key teacher leaders from each building. Those individuals will share their learning within each building throughout the 16-17 school year, look for opportunities to improve your use of Q to make your life easier and engage parents and students in the assessment process.

    Staff policies for network access and social media updated    

    The Board of Trustees approved adjustments to 5450 and the newly created 5455. Click on these links to view MCPS Social Media Procedures and Guidelines for Publishing on Websites and Social Media. You can also find these Procedures and Guidelines linked under Staff Links.

     GAFE Cadre

     We will host the last year of the GAFE Cadre in the 16-17 school year. This will be the finale on three years of focused GAFE training/PD for staff. We will continue to use GAFE into the future and look to roll out Office 365 as another cloud platform in the 17-18 school year.

    Consider creating a team for your school, teams must have 4 teachers + 1 administrator who complete the 30 hour course. In exchange for your time commitment, staff will earn a cart of 30 Chromebooks for use in your school. (details will be emailed out in September, The 1st Session will be held Tuesday, October 4th from 6-9pm)

    The MCPS GoogleFest will take place in April at Sentinel High School. Consider that as a great option to earn 6 hours of PIR and get high quality technology PD.

     Keyboarding boot camps in Elementary Schools

    All elementary schools will be implementing 2-week keyboarding boot camps in the fall and winter during the 16-17 school year. This is a pilot program that will be reassessed during the CTE curriculum review and by the District Technology Committee.

     MS - 6th grade usernames and passwords

    ISC updated 2nd-5th grade student usernames and passwords in the 14-15 School year.

     This change is aligned with the District Technology Plan and 21st Century Digital Citizenship best practices and helps to make life simpler for teachers and students using a more secure and complex username and password. The goal will be to use the same username and password for most software that students use during the school day.

     This will change will now impact how 6th grade students login to the network and to their GAFE accounts for the 16/17 school year.

    Keep in mind, it is best practice for you to allow all students to keep their passwords confidential and not share them with peers. If you must have a support option for students, please store all written passwords in a sealed envelope in locked location and let students know that even you won’t know their password.

    WAN Fiber Upgrade

    Hopefully many of you have noticed the equipment throughout Missoula trenching up and down the streets with our school logo on the side. MCPS is excited to be the first school in Montana to utilize the changes in the federal ERate technology funding program to build a new fiber network between all schools. Construction on this network began this summer and is actually scheduled to be complete as early as November. This will allow us to remove one of the biggest bottlenecks in our network and increase data speeds from 100 meg to over 10,000 meg (10 GB)!

    With the WAN fiber upgrade, completion of the network switch upgrade last spring, the bond related wiring projects, and the numerous architecture upgrades, our infrastructure is very close to being completed upgraded. We have one year left on our internet contracts, but are continuing to pursue options to improve our external internet speeds. Once these pieces are all complete, the computer network at MCPS will be robust enough to support the needs of all staff and students.

    New Device Deployment

    Over 650 new devices were ordered last May. We have completed deployment of nearly all student devices, and will finish up the remaining few in the next couple weeks. All staff devices are ready for deployment and we will begin working one-on-one with each of those staff members to ensure a smooth transition. If you have a new device coming, please email the help desk to begin the process.

    Summer Imaging

    In addition to deploying new devices, we have moved forward with our goal of re-imaging all student devices every summer. An annual re-imaging process will ensure less computer problems during the year. We are nearly complete with all labs and student devices and will finish up the remaining machines in the next few weeks.

    WIFI Connections

    We have completed the installation of access points in every classroom at all the high schools and middle schools. We have also completed installation for access points in two elementary schools (Chief Charlo and Mt. Jumbo/Lowell). We are finishing two more buildings in the next couple weeks (Rattlesnake and Jefferson/Franklin), and will start Paxson in October. The remaining four elementary schools (Cold Springs, Lewis and Clark, Hawthorne, and Russell) will have temporary solutions in place as we wait for bond remodels to begin. These four schools will still have an access point in each classroom for the start of school (Lewis and Clark will be slightly delayed but should receive the rest of theirs by September 15th).

    We are very excited to be this close to full wireless density district wide!

    Accessing the Internet on Mobile and Personal Devices

    In addition to WIFI connectivity, we have another goal of improving access to the Internet on both mobile and personal devices. We have completed the implementation of a network access control product called Clearpass. This will greatly improve the ability to connect mobile and personal devices without have to “authenticate” with the LightSpeed blue screen each time. The rollout of this new system will begin around October as we give schools time to adjust to the start of school. You will still be able to connect these types of devices using the same LightSpeed system as last year in the interim.

    Windows 10

    All new devices have been deployed with Windows 10. We have also upgraded many of the existing labs and libraries to Windows 10 as well. For those staff members that would like their device upgraded to windows 10 please submit a help desk ticket.

    For help using Windows 10, click here.

    Office 2016

    All devices throughout the district have been re-imaged with Office 2016. There are several great feature available in this version. If you do not have Office 2016 on your device and would like it, please submit a help desk ticket.

    For help using Office 2016, click here.

    SYSCloud

    We completed our implementation of SYSCloud which is a product designed to help protect staff and student data within the Google Apps for Education environment, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive. This “data loss prevention” platform will provide real time information in regards to threat analytics, identifying sensitive data and feedback on document sharing. We will begin rollout of this system in October and provide more information to users about its use at that time.

    Group Policy Redesign

    Group Policy is a major part of our network architecture and needed a complete overhaul. This was a monumental task that was completed this summer. We have begun to rollout the new Group Policy strategy which will allow us to better customize devices and user experience. One noticeable change for users will be the ability for the ISC department set default homepages in each school district wide.

    Improve Security on Network Storage and Shared Drives

    In order to improve a major security hole in our network, building servers were updated to eliminate the ability for students to store games, virus and other potentially harmful files. Students will no longer be able to store “executables” in their network storage or shared drives they have access to. We will make accommodations for programming type classes that need specific requirements. If you have a need for student to save specific file types to network storage, please submit a help desk ticket.

    Help Desk Updates and ISC Changes

    One major change in the ISC department is a move towards more proactive support by centralizing our services and increasing Help Desk support. We have moved one of our PC/Network Technicians (Terry Riebe) to the business building to increase the amount of direct support we have on the help desk and with directory services (student and staff accounts). This will provide increased response times to all of our users.

    In addition, we have centralized the remaining PC/Network Technicians by removing regional assignments and focusing on balanced support district wide. This will allow our department to specialize in more specific technologies and respond district wide to any school with those needs. This method of “specialization” will allow us to pool our individual talents together and improve overall support.

    We have also implemented a new Help Desk software platform called “School Dude” that will also allow user to submit their own Help Desk tickets via the district website. Information on how to use this system will be distributed in the next few weeks.

     

    In addition to the topics listed above, we have completed many other internal projects aimed at increasing stability and security, as well as improving the overall technology experience at MCPS. Here is a list of the other projects that have been completed.

    • Moodle upgrade (we will continue to stay up to date on Moodle updates by upgrading every summer)
    • Centralized printing – this system is setup and ready and we will begin implementation in several buildings right away. This includes “mailbox printing” which will allow print jobs to be held in a queue until the user enters a passcode on the printer.
    • Upgrade our district domain controller to Server 2012
    • Design and implement VLAN technology district wide.
    • Create a secured VPN access system for the district.
    • Upgrade our SAN storage device to better support our move towards server virtualization.
    • Upgrade Scholastic server
    • Successmaker will be upgraded as well. We are currently waiting on Pearson Education to begin the migration process.

    Thank you for your continued patience. The ISC department in committed to reaching our district’s technology goals and will keep moving forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

    ISC Department, Hatton Littman and Russ Hendrickson

    Comments (-1)
  • Summer 2016 Technology Updates

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 6/7/2016 12:30:00 AM

    Summer Technology Updates June 2016

    Good morning dedicated, inspiring and accomplished educators, we hope you have fantastic summer vacation plans in place.  While you are enjoying the time off, the ISC department will be hard at work all summer continuing to upgrade our network to make it stable, secure and robust enough to support the needs of teachers and students.  We’ve made some great progress, but still have some challenges ahead of us. 

    There are a few changes/updates we would like everyone to be aware of that will be in place when you come back to school in August.  They are as follows:

    WIFI Connections

    One of the wonderful things that the recently passed bonds help fund is a wireless access point (WAP) in every classroom – including gymnasiums. This summer, we are working to wire as many schools as possible to add wireless access points. This requires adding a network drop to the ceiling where we will install the WAP. In some of our elementary schools, we won’t be able to accomplish the wiring this summer, but we will be adding a switch to your classroom that allows us to plug in a WAP. If you come back to your elementary classroom with a larger piece of hardware than you are used to seeing, that is there to enable Wi-Fi access until we can accomplish the wiring in your school. As each school experiences renovation, we will also be adding more network drops to each classroom.

    Accessing the Internet on mobile devices and personal devices

    In our current environment, staff and students have to “authenticate” via a blue Lightspeed Systems splash screen. This helps us provide the right level of filtering based on the user and it helps to monitor access to the Internet. We are working to make upgrades to this process for you - our end users. Look for updates on how we have improved this process in August.

    New website templates

    We are upgrading our look! MCPS is purchasing a new Schoolwires site wide template for our websites. It will be a responsive design template that will automatically adjust to a variety of screen sizes and it will feature a more refined and less cluttered graphic look. We are all excited about this improvement. It will mean that some of the content you have placed in certain Apps will need to be adjusted to fit the layout of the new template. Site Directors at each school will be trained over the summer. They will be available to help you update your staff pages in the fall. Principals will also be providing time for staff to accomplish these adjustments early in the school year.

    ‚ÄčWindows 10 and Office 2016

     All student and staff devices replaced this summer will come back with Windows 10 and Office 2016 loaded. Look out for a website with helpful videos to support you navigating the new user interfaces. If your computer isn’t being upgraded, be aware that all labs will be upgraded. Be ready to work with upgraded operating systems in all computer labs.

     Q trainings scheduled for August 17th

     We have gotten out of date on our skills related to our Student Information System – Q. In order to provide more support to staff within each school, we will host a Q training for key building leaders and staff on August 17th. Those individuals will share their learning within each building throughout the 16-17 school year.

     Staff policies for network access and social media updated    

     The Board of Trustees will complete their second reading of the revision to Policy 5450 and the newly created 5455. See the board packet for these policies and look out for revised Social Media Procedures when you return in August.

     GAFE Cadre

     We will host the last year of the GAFE Cadre in the 16-17 school year. This will be the finale on 3 years of focused GAFE training/PD for staff. We will continue to use GAFE into the future and look to roll out Office 365 as another cloud platform in the 17-18 school year.

    Consider creating a team for your school, teams must have 4 teachers + 1 administrator who complete the 30 hour course. In exchange for your time commitment, staff will earn a cart of 30 Chromebooks for use in your school.

     The GoogleFest will take place in April at Sentinel High School. Consider that as a great option to earn 6 hours of PIR and get high quality technology PD.

     Keyboarding boot camps in Elementary Schools

    All elementary schools will be implementing 2-week keyboarding boot camps in the fall and winter during the 16-17 school year. This is a pilot program that will be reassessed during the CTE curriculum review and by the District Technology Committee.

     MS - 6th grade usernames and passwords

    At the beginning of this school year, ISC updated 2nd-5th grade student usernames and passwords.

     This change is aligned with the District Technology Plan and 21st Century Digital Citizenship best practices and helps to make life simpler for teachers and students using a more secure and complex username and password. The goal will be to use the same username and password for most software that students use during the school day.

     This will change will now impact how 6th grade students login to the network and to their GAFE accounts for the 16/17 school year.

    Keep in mind, it is best practice for you to allow all students to keep their passwords confidential and not share them with peers. If you must have a support option for students, please store all written passwords in a sealed envelope in locked location and let students know that even you won’t know their password.

     

    SysCloud implementation

    SysCloud is a product designed to help protect staff and student data within the Google Apps for Education environment, including Gmail, Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Google Drive.  This “data loss prevention” platform will provide real time information in regards to threat analytics, identifying sensitive data and feedback on document sharing.  This is especially important given that staff can control the sharing settings on content produced in GAFE. It also applies to concerns about content students create and share in GAFE. We will be initializing the system this summer.  We will provide email notifications and blog posts during implementation in regards to how it works and what our users will experience.  Be prepared to see emails that reference the term “SysCloud”.

     

    Updates to Help Desk ticketing system

    In our continued goal of improving response time to help desk tickets we will be implementing a new software platform called “SchoolDude”.  This will allow us to align our tickets with other departments within the district.  The SchoolDude ticketing system includes the ability for teachers to log into a website to submit a Help Desk Ticket, thus providing 3 forms of submittal; phone, email and/or website.  We will provide email notifications and blog posts during this installation to guide you in submitting Help Desk tickets.

     

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  • How to removed saved passwords from a web browser.

    Posted by Paul Kozlowitz at 6/6/2016 6:00:00 AM

     

     


    Internet Explorer  Internet Explorer 

     

    When you enter a username and password for Internet Explorer that it has not already stored for a website, it will ask if you want Internet Explorer to remember the password.

    • Click on Not for this site button on the pop-up menu.

     

    Windows 7 and 10 (Internet Explorer version 9-11)

    To remove all the saved passwords:

    1. Open the Tools menu.
    2. Select Internet Options.
    3. Click Content.
    4. Under AutoComplete, click Settings.
    5. Click Delete AutoComplete history…

    To prevent Auto-Complete in the future, make sure Auto-Complete is deselected for User names and passwords on forms, and then click on OK.

     

    Windows 8:  Internet explorer has a Manage Password or Web Credentials Manager.

    To access this please do the following:

    1. Open the Tools menu.
    2. Select Internet Options.
    3. Click Content.
    4. Under AutoComplete, click Settings.
    5. Click on Manage Passwords
    6. Click on the Web Credentials Manager
    7. Click on the drop down arrow by the web site you want to remove the password.
    8. Click on Remove.

     


     


     
    Edge Microsoft Edge (Windows 10) 

     

    1. Click More Options icon and then click Settings.
    2. Scroll-down, click View Advanced Settings
    3. Scroll-down a little and click Manage Saved Passwords
    4. Click on the URL for which you want to edit or change the password.

     sample

    For more information on how to do this visit the following link

    http://www.intowindows.com/how-to-delete-passwords-saved-in-edge-browser/

      



     

    Firefox Firefox (Mac OS X 10.6-10.9 and Windows 7,8, and 10) 

     

     

    When you enter a username and password for Firefox that it has not already stored for a website, it will ask if you want Firefox to remember the password.

    • Click on the drop down menu and select Never Remember Password for this Site.
    • This will set Firefox not to prompt you to save this password for this site.

    If you want to delete all stored passwords:

    1. Click the menu button and choose Options.
    2. Click the Security
    3. Click Saved Logins…and the Password Manager will open.

     Firefox sample

     

    • To see the passwords you have saved, click Show Passwords. When you close the window, your passwords will be automatically hidden.
    • Use the search box to find a particular website or username.Click the X in the search bar to clear your search and see the full list again.
    • To remove the username and password for a website, select the site's entry from the list and click Remove.
    • To remove all stored usernames and passwords, click Remove All. After confirming this choice, all of your stored usernames and passwords will be deleted.

    For more information on how to do this visit the following link:

    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/password-manager-remember-delete-change-and-import

     

     


     

    Chrome Chrome (Mac OS X 10.6-10.9 and Windows 7,8, and 10) 

     

     

    To remove an individual or multiple site passwords:

    1. Click on the Menu Icon in the upper right corner.

    Chrome sample

    1. Click on Settings.

    Chrome Sample

    1. Click on Show Advanced Settings link at the bottom.
    2. UN-check the box by Offer to save your web passwords button.
    3. Click the Managed Saved Passwords.
    4. Under the Saved Passwords box highlight the site you want to remove the password from, then click on the X button.

     

    For more information on how to do this visit: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95606?hl=en  

     


     

    Safari Safari (Mac OS X) 

     

     

    To remove an individual or multiple site passwords:

    1. Open the Safari menu.
    2. Select Preferences.
    3. Switch to the Autofill tab.
    4. Click the Edit button for Usernames and Passwords.
    5. Delete the entry that corresponds with the site you want to remove.

    To remove an individual or multiple site passwords:

    1. Click on the Menu Icon in the upper right corner.
    2. Click on Settings.
    3. Click on Show Advanced Settings link at the bottom.
    4. UN-check the box by Offer to save your web passwords button.
    5. Click the Managed Saved Passwords.
    6. Under the Saved Passwords box highlight the site you want to remove the password from, then click on the X button.

    For more information on how to do this visit: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH20117?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

    Comments (-1)
  • Network Maintenance

    Posted by Russ Hendrickson at 5/4/2016 3:00:00 PM

    As we improve our network infrastructure at MCPS we will also be implementing some preventative maintenance procedures.  These will be designed to be proactive in preventing problems that could cause unexpected network downtime.

    One of these procedures is to schedule a routine maintenance window to be used for server updates, security patches and other tasks that often require brief network interruptions due to the need to reboot servers.  This window will be from 3:30 – 5:30 on the first Friday of each month.  During this time, you might experience small outages with network services.  These will be brief and will not require you to log out of your system.  Any upgrades or updates that will have a larger impact on users will be identified on a case by case basis.

    Thank you for your patience and understanding. 

     

    Comments (-1)
  • Network Infrastructure and Architecture Upgrades

    Posted by Russ Hendrickson at 3/10/2016 7:45:00 AM

     

    During Spring Break the ISC department will be taking another huge step forward in regards to upgrading our network infrastructure.  Over the past year we have been replacing all the switches throughout the district to provide the ability to pass data traffic at speeds more suited for a district our size.  These new switches will pass traffic at the rate of 10,000 to 40,000 meg as opposed to our older switches that were limited to 1,000 meg and in many places only 100 meg speeds.  With the upgrades planned this summer to the connections between each building (WAN upgrades), our infrastructure will be able to support the data traffic necessary for our district.

     

    In addition to upgrading the infrastructure of the network, the architecture also needs to be overhauled.  Just like the foundation of a house, the design of the architecture can determine how well a network can grow and expand.  Unfortunately, our current architecture limits our ability to expand the network to implement newer technologies necessary to secure and stabilize the system.  One example is the ability to create virtual networks called VLAN’s.  These networks can allow us to isolate certain types of traffic like phone traffic, video traffic and data traffic on their own virtual networks, isolating them from each other.  This system is both more secure and more stable as independent systems will no longer be competing for the same traffic lanes on our network.  VLAN’s have several other benefits such as the ability to expand the number of security cameras in the district without effecting data traffic or internet speeds for teachers and students.  VLANs will also allow us to properly divide wireless traffic and give higher priority to specific devices at designated times.  VLAN’s will allow us to ensure that during testing, all school devices receive priority on the wireless system, providing a better testing experience for all staff and students.  Our new architecture design will allow MCPS to expand our network to fit the needs of staff and students well into the future.

     

    Upgrades to the district architecture include a complete re-addressing of the network IP address (Internet Protocol Address).  Every device on our network has a unique IP number such as 192.168.224.318.  That includes every desktop, every laptop, every device that connects wirelessly, every printer, etc. etc, etc.  This is similar to each house in Missoula having a unique physical address. In order to give someone directions to your house, you give them the address and supply them directions on how to get there.  Computer networks work the same way.  Every device has an IP address, and the switches provide the direction on how to get to that device.

     

    The upgrade during spring break is the completion of the re-addressing our entire network that we have spent nearly a year planning and implementing.  By this date, every school will be completed and we will finish by moving the core data center to this new system.  This is a large task which is why it requires several days of down-time.  We will have a team of network consultants working alongside our ISC department to make this change as smooth as possible.  By completing this task during spring break, it will allow us to focus on some other key projects later this spring, such as fixing our active directory structure and our group policy structure.  Our summer will be busy with device replacements, wiring for wireless access points, and many bond related projects.

     

    We will continue to work hard to provide a district network that becomes transparent and simply provides staff and students the technology resources they need. 

     

    We greatly appreciate your patience during these upgrades

     

    Comments (-1)
  • What should I do to ensure security of student data?

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 1/8/2016 8:30:00 AM

    As a District, we have all been impacted by the recent Hellgate High School data breach. The ISC Team and members of the Superintendent’s Cabinet confirmed through our investigation that the breach was the result of human error. The physical network was not compromised and our servers and confidential information remain behind firewalls and under the protection of a role-based password accessed system.

    In the wake of this event, many staff members have asked what they can do now to ensure that they are being responsible and following general best practices with regard to protecting student data. I will be issuing updates to formal procedures in the administrative procedures manual in the coming months. The adjustments to these procedures will be made with input from the ISC team, local technology advisors in the private and public sector and approval by the Superintendent’s Cabinet.

    In the meantime, here are a few tips you can put in place immediately:

    1. Avoid storing confidential data on your computer desktop, My Documents Folder or C Drive. Use an organized folder system and leave all confidential data on your H Drive or Google Drive (that leaves the files on protected servers on the network or in the cloud, not on your local device).

     

    1. Avoid storing confidential data on removable drives or writeable media sources (thumb/jump drives, external hard drives, CDs, DVDs). If you must move confidential records to a local hard drive, removable hard drive or writeable media source, you must password protect the drive or media and delete all confidential files immediately after completing work away from the secured network storage location.

     

    1. DO NOT under any circumstances leave your network password in a place where others can find it. This includes, posted on a stickie note on your monitor, written on a note on your desk, written on the whiteboard, etc.

     

    1. DO NOT give your password to a colleague or a student for the purposes of logging into the District network, Google Apps for Education or any software or web-based service.

     

    1. Avoid saving your password in any web browser or application on your computer.

      

    1. When you walk away from your computer, lock the computer by typing CRTL+ALT+DELETE and selecting “Lock This Computer “ or by pressing the Windows Key + L.

     

    1. When sharing information in Google Apps for Education, only share confidential information or FERPA protected information with staff members who have an educational right to know. If the staff member does not have access to detailed information about a student in Q, they should not see confidential information or educational records about a student.

     

    1. If you receive confidential information or educational records via email, GAFE, or other formats for a student to whom you do not have detailed record access to in Q, please inform the sender immediately and destroy your copy of the information.

     

    1. When sharing information via email, hard copy or fax with staff or family members, always make sure that you reread the content and open and proof any attachments. Address the email as the last step in the process to ensure you send to the correct addresses.

     

    1. Ensure that you are giving information to the parents or guardians who are allowed to receive information about the student – not all family members are granted access to the records they request.

     

    1. When sharing information about students with staff or other colleagues, refer to the student by initials ONLY. Avoid use of full names even if followed by an initial.

     

    1. Be exceedingly careful with hard copies. From the moment you hit the print key, your data is very insecure.  Think first before printing sensitive information. If you must print, pick up your print job right away.  If the printer is stalled, be sure to DELETE the print job from the queue, and power off the printer until you can get help. Lock up and/or shred sensitive printed documents.

     

     

     

     

     

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  • How can we access YouTube content in school?

    Posted by Russ Hendrickson at 10/7/2015

    How Teachers and Students can Access YouTube Videos

    WHY THE CHANGE?
    This past summer YouTube ended their support for YouTube for Education.  In addition, both YouTube and Google implemented HTTPS technology into their services.  These are significant changes to how data is transferred across the internet and have a major impact on how content filtering programs work.  As a result, schools have to adjust how staff and students access these sites.

    To meet federal CIPA (Children’s Internet Protection Act) regulations we must filter content for students.  To do this we have enabled YouTube SafeSearch at MCPS to replace YouTube for Education which previously provided the filtering we needed.  SafeSearch will only allow content through that has been approved by YouTube.  All other content will appear as “restricted”

    Unfortunately this setting cannot be made by individual groups and must be done for the whole organization.  As a result, teachers are also blocked from any content not approved by YouTube.  This will also block any content uploaded to YouTube by MCPS teachers and students.

    HOW WILL MCPS ADJUST TO THESE CHANGES?
    The current solution is to provide teachers unrestricted access to YouTube via their Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account.  We will also allow teachers the ability to “approve” videos that they want their students to be able to view, including videos they upload themselves.  Students will be able to access YouTube content that is either approved by YouTube within their SafeSearch system, or content that has been preapproved by teachers.

    HOW DO STAFF MEMBERS ACCESS YOUTUBE CONTENT THAT IS LISTED AS RESTRICTED?
    Staff members at MCPS can access restricted YouTube content by first logging into you Google Apps for Education (GAFE) account.  There are multiple ways to do this, below is one example:

    • Open YouTube.com and click on the “Sign In“ button on the upper right hand corner of the screen. Sign in to YouTube
    • Choose your GAFE account. This will end with a @mcpsmt.org address. Choose your GAFE account
    • If you do not see your GAFE account listed:
      1. click the add account button. Add account
      2. Enter your GAFE login account. If you forgot your account password, or do not know how to log in, contact the Help Desk.
    • You should now see your GAFE icon on the top right hand corner of the screen. (the examples shows the default icon).  You know have access to all YouTube content. Logged in

    HOW DO STAFF MEMBERS APPROVE YOUTUBE CONTENT FOR STUDENTS?
    If you come across a YouTube video that is restricted for students and is appropriate for all students grades K-12, do the following:

    • Make sure you are logged into your GAFE account before you access YouTube (see above).
    • Find the video you want to approve. You will see a blue bar underneath the video that indicates “Video not approved for mcpsmt.org.” 
    • Click the “approve” button on the right of the blue bar. The video has now been approved for students. Approve video
    • Your next step is to provide access to the link for students. Unfortunately YouTube did not create a way for students to search for these videos, so teachers will have to provide them a link.
    • Select the URL link on the top of the page, copy it, and provide it to your students. This can be done via email, or you can paste it to a shared google doc, or you can add it to your teacher webpage. Select link for students

    HOW DO STUDENTS ACCESS YOUTUBE CONTENT?
    Students will be able to access all content that YouTube categorizes as “unrestricted” within their SafeSearch guidelines by simply accessing YouTube as normal. 

    To access content pre-approved by teachers, students will need to be logged into their GAFE account, and access a YouTube link provided by the teacher. 

    We will be following YouTube’s updates to this new system closely an update everyone on any changes to how students can access pre-approved content.

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  • Google Apps for Education- Unlimited Storage in Google Drive - Oh My!

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 9/20/2015 9:00:00 AM

    Our staff are diving into Google Apps for Education at record rates this year and that is so exciting and affirming of our efforts to focus on GAFE PD last year. 

    There are a few things to keep in mind when you explore GAFE.

    The Google for Education newsletter is full of good ideas and hot tips for classroom use. Find the current issue here. There are tips for using Google Docs and list of enhancements for Google Classroom.

    Google Drive offers unlimited space for your content. This is a GREAT place to backup content that you might keep on your desktop, My Documents or your H Drive so that you can access it anywhere.

    If you do backup content to Google Drive, please complete your file transfer before or after the school day. With 10,000 student and staff users still sharing 400Mg of Internet bandwidth, one user tranferring files can really impact everyone else in the district. Your file transfer could result in reduced speeds for other district users, or the requirement that all district users enter a CAPTCHA code when trying to get to Google. We saw this happen on Friday when one user was backing up a significant amount of content to a Google Drive.

     

    Upcoming training - If you didn't get to participate in the GAFE Cadre last year, look out for a Universal Design for Learning ( UDL) Cadre coming up this school year. It will include GAFE and other integrated and augmentative technology solutions for use in your classroom with all learners!

    We also have upcoming online courses for GAFE. Find that schedule on our professional development webpage.

    If you want to start playing around on your own or exploring with your PLC, check out these playlists for exccellent GAFE resources.

    Google Photos

    Google Chrome

    GMail

    Google Calendar

    Google Classroom

    Google Drive/Docs

    Google Forms/Sheets

    GAFE Admin Console

    Google Slides

    YouTube

    Google Sites

    Have fun, innovate, and always move onwards and upwards!

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  • 2015-16 school year - Summer Technology Updates

    Posted by Hatton Littman at 8/27/2015 7:00:00 AM

    Welcome back, we hope you had a fantastic summer vacation.  The ISC department has been hard at work all summer continuing to rebuild our network to make it stable, secure and robust enough to support the needs of teachers and students.  We’ve made some great progress, but still have some challenges ahead of us.  We will continue to work diligently all year to reach our technology goals.

    There are a few changes/updates we would like everyone to be aware of as you start the year.  They are as follows:

    ·        2-5 Student account / password changes

    o   We have improved the student account / password system for students in grades 2-5.  This will allow the creation of accounts to be more efficient and easier for staff and students.  Your principals will have more information on this. Kindergarten and 1st grade accounts will remain the same and each school’s generic student login account will still be active for use in grade K-1 and in instances where a 2nd-5th grade student forgets their password and is waiting for a password reset.

    ·        2nd – 12th student password sync

    o   Student network login accounts will be synced with the Google Apps accounts.  This will allow students to manage both accounts with the same password.  On Tuesday night 8/25/15, this sync will be turned on.  When students log into the network for the first time this school year, they will be prompted to change their password. Once the student resets their network password, it will activate the sync and automatically reset their GAFE password.  Until they reset their network password, their previous GAFE password will be active.

    ·        SuccessMaker upgrade to version 8

    o   We are literally in the process of upgrading SuccessMaker.  It was just released by Pearson and we have been working all weekend to complete this upgrade.  This upgrade will allow the product to work on Chromebooks and other mobile devices.  We hope to have this completed and students loaded by the end of the week.

    ·        KACE upgrade

    o   Just an FYI. You might see a message on your computer that pops up that references a program called KACE.  This is our new inventory / computer imaging system.  It will periodically notify you of updates to your computer.  You can just ignore this message, but do not close the window before it is finished.

    ·        Moodle upgrade

    o   We have completed the upgrade of our Moodle servers.  The existing Moodle servers will remain active through the end of the year to provide time to migrate data to the new system.  Teachers will be provided information in the near future on how to accomplish the migration. If you are a current Moodle user, please contact John Murdock to ensure that we keep you on our communication list with information about the Moodle upgrade.

    ·        SPAM email system

    o   In June we switched to a stronger SPAM prevention system.  Instead of receiving daily SPAM summaries, you will now only get a summary if an email was flagged as “questionable”.  Obvious SPAM messages will be blocked before they reach our system. The reports that you receive will be called “spam quarantine summary” and the sender on the reports will appear as Spam Firewall. These are legitimate emails and you can click on the links to “whitelist” users identified as spam.

    ·        Mobile Device Management (MDM) system in place

    o   During the summer, we worked with four pilot schools that provided us with all of their student and staff Ipads so that we could enroll them in the district MDM. This will allow us to filter the Ipads in compliance with Federal regulations and provide an easier management tool to school staff who need to add apps and content to multiple devices at one time. Paxson, Russell, Lowell and Big Sky will pilot use of the MDM this fall and we will fine tune the process. Schools interested in discontinuing their use of Apple Configurator and wanting support from ISC with the management of their Ipads should contact ISC for details on transitioning your Ipads into the MDM during Winter, Spring and Summer break.

    Other items/upgrades that have been completed this summer (read on if you are interested in the technical issues in regards to summer projects).   

    • New email archive installed and configured (Barracuda Email Archive).
    • New SPAM filter installed and configured (Barracuda Spam Filter).
    • New central inventory system installed and configured (KACE 1000).
    • New computer imaging software installed and configured (KACE 2000).
    • New content filter appliances installed and configured (Dual Lightspeed Rockets).
    • New mobile device management system installed and configured (Lightspeed MDM Solution).
    • Centralized iPad management system developed and deployed.
    • New edge security devices installed and configured (Dual SonicWall appliances).
    • New district substitute request software configured (replaced SubFinder with Aesop).
    • New distribution layer switches installed at every building (Juniper Switches).
    • WAN fiber upgrade completed at Big Sky & Hellgate HS increase WAN speeds to 1GB.
    • WAN upgrade at all middle schools that triples WAN speed to 300 MB.
    • WAN upgrade at Seeley Swan that increases speeds to 150 MB.
    • Moodle Server Upgrade
    • Decommission and removal of old Cisco edge router.
    • Complete reconfiguration of core server room topology to remove bottlenecks and provide better network stability.

    Thank you for your continued patience.  The ISC department in committed to reaching our district’s technology goals and will keep moving forward as quickly and efficiently as possible.

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