Friday, November 21, 2014

Securing Your Passwords: Chromebook

In previous blog entries, I've shared how much I appreciate the wonderful work the free, open source password protection/tracking solution community has done for Keepass. I literally work on Android, GNU/Linux, iOS, and Mac every day (occasionally Windows), and being able to access my passwords across all those platforms is a fantastic!


Unfortunately, I was finding myself spending a lot of time on a Chromebook, so I needed a quick way to access my passwords via the Chromebook. Since you can't install Windows/Mac/Linux software on a Chromebook--I've installed GNU/Linux OS on Chromebook, but switched back to ChromeOS--I needed something to interface with Keepass.

The solution I ran across is "BrowsePass," which was developed in 2013 and is still under development. You can install it in any Chrome browser, but it also works fine on Chromebooks (get it as an add-on).
BrowsePass reads KeePass ( password database file (only version 2). It can open both remote and local files. You'd use BrowsePass when you cannot install or download KeePass locally. BrowsePass runs entirely in your browser, no additional software is needed. BrowsePass DOES NOT support files created with KeePass version 1 (KDB files)!
This solution works great, and I encourage you to give it a try.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

MyNotes: 5 Social Media Tips for School District Communications

"Social media gives us tremendous power, but not everyone chooses to use that power for good." 
Source: via @deannamascle
A few years ago, I wrote an article, Reaching for the Heart: 5 Tips for School District Communications, which focused on the use social media. At the end of this blog entry, I re-share the 5 Tips again for schools.

In that article, I share the following:
...time and again, school districts step back from encouraging their staff, students and parents from using social media. Failure to embrace these tools leaves school districts open to attacks, but times are changing--parents are fighting back using social media. "Activist parents now have," points out Dr. Scott McLeod, "a bevy of new tools and strategies to help facilitate their agendas and they are not afraid to use them. School organizations are going to have to get used to this new state of affairs in which parent activism and criticism are more public, permanent, and far-reaching."
Earlier today, I had the opportunity to listen to an engaging presentation by Suzanne Marchman, Director of Communications & Media Relations, on Media Relations: Tips & Techniques for Working with the Media. 

In this blog entry, you'll find some of my take-aways--and any errors are mine--from her presentation:

Understanding Today's Media Environment
  1. Pressure on today's reporter
  2. Slow death of traditional media
  3. On deadline, all the time
  4. Information Overload
  5. Impact of social media
  6. Rise of video, reader comments
  7. News is often adverse, negative, tense, dramatic
  8. Media are extremely competitive (it's about ratings & readership)
  9. When you know ratings is what is motivating a changes the way he can I get you to watch? What is their angle?
  10. Keep those things in the back of your mind. NOT all reporters are bad or out to get the dirt.
  11. What is "news?"
  12. What makes the news?
  13. How can you make the news?
    1. Leander ISD Bus Driver Video
    2. View Leander ISD bus driver video
    3. Avoid no-win interviews
    4. The District provided a written statement, as well as the relevant Penal Code. Provide the reporter with filler.
    5. In that particular situation, a letter was sent home with students.
  14. New Rules of Social Media
    1. Everything you say or do can be broadcast faster, wider, in shorter form, and without context:
    2. Twitter
    3. Facebook
    4. YouTube
    5. Blogs
    6. Any of those can become a firing squad.
  15. Reporters use social media:
    1. Find sources
    2. Search for story ideas
    3. Create buzz about a story they're covering
    4. Provide real-time coverage of events
    5. Consider social media fair game for quotes without permission
    6. Print reporters will find negative perspectives
  16. It's Not Just Reporters Using Social Media
    1. Kyron Birdine, a junior at Arlington High School, was suspended after tweeting a photo of his STAAR test.
    2. View news story
    3. Kneejerk reaction from TEA and school district. All of this hits the media
  17. It's Not Just Reporters Using Social Media
    1. Jonathan Stickland: "I am a bit extra heated tonight. I just wrote a $2600 check to the state of Texas for my property taxes that will go to pay for a educational system that sucks and my family will never use. It is bull***t and its unfair (August 25, 2011 at 11:05pm)
    2. Ginger Russell, Red Hot Conservative blogger (
  18. When You Get the Call
    1. ...and you don't know what to say, buy yourself some time.
    2. Ask the reporter if they would be willing to email you their questions.
    3. Find out the reporter's deadline. If you know you can't meet it, say so.
    4. Tell them you are working on a deadline. "If you gotta a minute, could you email me your questions?"
    5. For TV reporters, deadline is 5:00pm.
    6. Let the reporter know when you expect to have an answer. Don't let their be a big gap in the time from reporter's first contact to present. This will help build a relationship that will get them to have your back and they will avoid "throwing your district under the bus."
    7. Gather your facts.
    8. Brainstorm potential questions that may be asked and prepare your responses.
    9. Why should she care about your story?
    10. What questions might be asked?
    11. What follow-up questions might be prompted by your answers?
    12. WHat's the purpose of the interview? What's the story?
  19. The Interview
    1. Find out the nature of the interview.
    2. Ask for the reporter's deadline.
    3. Let the reporter know when you can be available.
    4. Give yourself time to prepare, even if it's just 5 minutes.
    5. Be in control of the interview.
  20. Your message
    1. Before you begin the interview, gather all your facts.
    2. Decide the 3 most important things you want to say and then write them down.
    3. Brainstorm potential questions that may be asked and prepare some type of response.
    4. Relax.
    5. Respond with confidence.
    6. Be aware of your body language.
      1. Be careful of perceptions
    7. Look at the reporter when answering questions.
    8. Avoid saying "No comment"
    9. Using stall tactics can also result in "No Comment"
      1. "Superintendent Jones was unavailable for comment yesterday, despite repeated attempts."
    10. Stick to the facts.
    11. Answer the questions as succinctly as possible. Stop talking when you have answered the question.
    12. Avoid the jargon...or at least be prepared to explain. (e.g. AYP, AEIS, PEIMS, ADA, ARD)
    13. If a reporter repeats a question, repeat your original answer.
    14. Avoid guessing, speculating or answering "what if" or hypothetical questions.
    15. Nothing is ever "off the record."
  21. Bridging Your Message - AVOID THIS TECHNIQUE
    1. "Bridging" is a technique to avoid answering a question and redirect the reporter back to your key message. Bridging is often a crutch for politicians.
      1. "What important to remember..."
      2. That's certainly a concern, but the real issue is..."
      3. "Let's not forget..."
      4. "Before I answer that..."
      5. Let me put that in perspective..."
      6. Let's start at the beginning..."
  22. Tips for TV & Radio Interviews - Questions to Ask Beforehand:
    1. Is it live or pre-recorded?
    2. How long is it going to be? When is it broadcast?
    3. What's the format? One on one interview, debate, questions from callers?
    4. What is the purpose?
    5. Who else is involved?
    6. Who is the interviewer/host?
  23. On-Camera Interview
    1. Before the camera begins to roll, ask what to expect.
    2. Relax. Use positive body language and a friendly greeting.
    3. Look at and talk to the reporter (not the camera) when answering questions.
    4. Keep an open face and smile when appropriate.
    5. State the most important information first.
    6. Keep your answers brief. Make only one point per sentence.
    7. Avoid distracting mannerisms (like jingling pocket change, tapping fingers, rocking in a chair).
    8. Answer the question, then stop talking. The reporter is not going to broadcast "dead air"
    9. Repeat, repeat, repeat your most important message.
    10. If it's taped, ask to start over if you stumble
    11. If you don't know something, say so.
    12. Not responding at all on camera to a question can hurt your credibility. Dead air is okay, but only if you have given some type of answer.
    13. "I don't have that information here, but I'm happy to get it for you and send it to you later today or when we're done."
    14. Nothing is ever "off the record." No matter how nice or friendly a reporter is, or how many times they say "this is off the record," everything you say has the potential to end up in the news--either in print or on air. Be aware of your comments after the interview.
So, as promised, please find my 5 tips below for schools:
Here are 5 tips for K-12 educators, communication professionals or not, inspired by Social Media Explorer similar blog entry:

  1. Craft A True Story Worth Sharing: Content that hasn't been prefabricated, is lifeless and written in third person, but is authentic, transparent, open about success as well as failure will be read by your constituents. Start with a story, including audio, video, avoiding being limited by one format or another (e.g. text, video, audio). What a great way for students, community members and staff to find out what is going on from others in their organization. 
  2. Make Content Sharing Easy: Press releases on a web site just do not work anymore. Traditional web sites that can't be subscribed to using RSS feeds or that allow email subscription are dead sites. Use social media workflows that allow you to post content once in a blog then it is autoshared via social media outlets like Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Instagram, etc. 
  3. Create a Content Calendar: In your District, there are many wonderful things happening that your community wants to know about. Create a content calendar that enables you to map out with a calendar what you will be sharing with others online.
  4. Define and Build Relationships: While it may not be popular to follow your local news reporters via Twitter, it is critical that you do so. It is critical because you can raise their awareness by the engaging content that you are sharing about your school district. While they may want to focus on the negative, you can mitigate the effect of their tweets by building a relationship of trust and integrity through the stories you share about your district, your campus, and your classroom.
  5. Make Offline Available Online: Every speaking engagement, each meeting is an opportunity to share your ideas. Avoid the mistake of creating content solely for online or offline audiences. When you create offline content--a conversation with parents at the morning coffee meet-n-mingle with the principal--take the time to write about it, maybe even debrief a parent in a one on one conversation. "What did you think about our morning coffee meeting? How did it impact you?" Take the time to share what you're doing online.
These 5 tips combined with Ms. Marchman's advice will serve you well.
Remember: With great power comes great responsibility. Social media gives us tremendous power, but not everyone chooses to use that power for good. Are you following, inquiring, engaging, and feeding others through your social media accounts? Being a connected educator means that you are making connections and help others do so as well. (Source: Connected=Community, by @deannamascle)

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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Going 1 to 1 with...Something

After reading this Gartner report summary...
"IT leaders can spend half a million dollars to buy and support 1,000 enterprise-owned tablets, while they can support 2,745 user-owned tablets with that same budget," said Federica Troni, research director at Gartner. "Without a stipend, direct costs of user-owned tablets are 64 per cent lower. When organizations have several users who want a tablet as a device of convenience, offering a BYOD option is the best alternative to limit cost and broaden access." Source: CBROnline
...a question popped into my mind. The question is, what's the cost of going 1 to 1 in a local district given these numbers:

  • Staff: 1,233
  • Students: 9,820, which breaks out in this way:
    • PreK-3: 3,038
    • Grades 4-5: 1,457
    • Grades 6-8: 2,293
    • Grades 9-12: 3,032
Some "givens" we can work from:

  • 100% wireless access everywhere in schools, so no infrastructure to go build up.
  • Staff and students can bring their own devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones, computers)

1) Dell Chromebook 11 inch with management -  $314.46 per unit
  • $387,729.18 worth of Chromebooks for 1,233 staff (this is everyone, including custodians, maintenance, paraprofessionals and auxiliary staff, not just teachers and admins).
  • $3,087,997.20 worth of Chromebooks for 9,820 students (this is PreK-12 students). That breaks down in this way:
    • $955,329.50 for 3,038 PreK-3 students
    • $458,168.20 for 1,457 grade 4-5 students
    • $721,056.80 for 2,293 grade 6-8 students
    • $953,442.70 for 3,032 grade 9-12 students
Main Benefits:
  • Keyboard and trackpad
  • Full support for GoogleApps for Education, including email, calendaring, unlimited online storage, productivity tools like word processing, spreadsheet, drawing, presentations, GoogleVault email archiving.
  • IStation support by January, 2015
  • Think Through Math support available
  • Minimal management, no antivirus/malware solutions needed
Suggestion(s): To off-set lack of quality image/video capture, buy an iPad Mini per classroom.

2) iPad Mini with Case with management via JAMF's CasperSuite - $307
  • $369,900 worth of iPad Minis for 1,233 staff (this is everyone, including custodians, maintenance, paraprofessionals and auxiliary staff, not just teachers and admins).
  • $2,946,000 worth of iPad Minis for 9,820 students (this is PreK-12 students). That breaks down in this way:
    • $911,400 for 3,038 PreK-3 students
    • $437,100 for 1,457 grade 4-5 students
    • $687,900 for 2,293 grade 6-8 students
    • $909,600 for 3,032 grade 9-12 students
Main Benefits:
  • There are several possibilities depending on your iPad app selections. Most of advantages include easy video/image capture, document camera, etc.
3) Hybrid Mix
Some combo of these two devices and desktops.

Ok, I ran out of gas on this blog entry.

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Sharing WebLinks with Pocket,, and GoogleDrive (Updated 11/19/14)

As I was reading about Google updating the Chrome browser on Mac to 64-bit, reading about other stuff that would be great for my team at work to have access to, I wondered how I could get the information to them. There are lots of ways to "tag" work or save it for others and I've played around with those (e.g. RSS).

For fun, though, I wondered what would happen if I had save anything tagged "2ecto" to a GoogleSheet saved in GoogleDrive. I went that route because I already had my personal Gmail set up as a channel; IFTTT only allows you to have one email per Gmail channel. I didn't want to have to change that since I use it for other recipes.

By creating an IFTTT channel based on GoogleDrive, I could use my GoogleApps account to save stuff then auto-share it on a web site.

What Success Looks Like
So, here's what success looks like: (scroll down to see the list of articles)

As you can see from the image, I have a spreadsheet embedded into my GoogleSites page. A brief excerpt from the page appears, as does a link in case folks want to click through to the main page.

A cleaned up version featuring a snapshot of embedded HTML version of the spreadsheet:

Here's the flow:

1) I happen to see a web site I want my team to see. So, I tag it in ReadItLater's Pocket with the tag, "2ecto"

What's neat is that I can tag items from anywhere--phone, tablet, computer--and they immediately show up in Pocket, and then get pushed out to my web page.

2) My recipe takes anything tagged with "2ecto" and saves it to a spreadsheet in my work GoogleApps/Drive account.
Get Recipe: Publish Pocket Tagged Items to Drive Spreadsheet 

3) In the GoogleSheet itself, I have played around with formatting a bit and set up two where the raw data comes in, and the other where the data is auto-sorted in descending order (Z to A). This is the equivalent of reverse chronological order.

This is accomplished using this formula (thanks to this web site for the solution!)...put TRUE for Ascending, FALSE for Descending order on the sort:
=sort(Shared!A:D, 1, FALSE)
This means that this sheet ("Shared"):

Gets auto-sorted and shows up like this:

Note: You may have noticed that my example has the first row with an incorrect date...sorry about that. I actually re-tagged that item and Nov 15th was the original tag date, but chronologically, it's the most recent to be put in the spreadsheet. :-)
4) The final step, I suppose, would be to get folks to actually visit the web page or email them anytime there is a change. This could be done several ways but I will leave those for another blog post.

What fun!

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Sunday, November 16, 2014

CTOsRole: District Technology Report Card

After reviewing this excellent post by Lisa Nielsen, Considerations for EdTech Purchases, I felt inspired to take a stab at a "technology report card." Unfortunately, it is but a quick stab that doesn't mention libraries, voice over IP (VOIP), etc. In fact, it is quite deficient.

Still, it does serve as a list to score technology efforts and identify areas that need to be included...have fun ripping it apart!

You can actually edit the GoogleDoc if you prefer.

District Technology Planning
Report Card


Key Element
(0=No, 1=Yes)
Electrical wiring
Ample electricity enables almost unlimited # of devices to be connected.

Wireless access
40-60 devices can connect per classroom and meeting area with WPA2 Enterprise or better for network+internet, while guests can connect with any device.

Wired access
6 network drops in every classroom

Easy WiFi Logon
Each user has an account and password;
Guests and parents have WiFi access as well.

Staff, students and community can bring their own technology to school.

GoogleApps for Education for email, calendaring, document storage (e.g. Drive), collaboration and more.

Virtualized Servers
Virtualized servers for easy backup with business continuity and off-site disaster recovery backup.

Account Management
Account management and systems integration is synchronized across multiple systems based on data from the Student Information System.

Multi-Year Upgrade Plan
A multi-year upgrade plan is in place for key areas of need such as 1) Computer labs (mobile or desktop), 2) Staff productivity; 3) Network Infrastructure; 4)

Total Score

Teaching and Learning

Key Element
(0=No, 1=Yes)
Clear vision
Clearly articulated vision of what appropriate technology looks like at every grade level and/or content area.

Digital Citizenship
Digital Citizenship lessons are available for both staff and students. Confirmation of lessons for students is included.

Technology Competency Plan
A technology competency certification plan (TCCP) with differentiated learning paths for all job classifications has been articulated and is in place.

Blended Learning
Students have access to blended learning opportunities via online learning/course management systems, flipped classroom approaches.

Problem/Project-based Learning (PBL)
School uses problem or project-based learning to engage students in real life use of technology that enhances learning in core content areas.

Replace, Not Integrate
Technology-enhanced learning strategies have replaced paper-n-pencil pedagogical strategies.

Student learning
Students help define the tasks, process, solution and collaboration extends beyond the classroom

Higher-Order Thinking
Students learn and question at synthesis/evaluation/creation levels.

Learning Experience
The learning experience is directly relevant to students and involves creating a product that has a purpose beyond the classroom that directly impacts the students

Technology use is directly connected and needed for task completion and students determine which app(s) would best address their needs

Total Score

Administrative, Instructional and Technical Support

Key Element
(0=No, 1=Yes)
Adequate Staffing
Adequate technical support proportional to District needs is in place.

Campus Technology History At-A-Glance
A history of all purchases, campus improvement plan strategies that include technology are easily accessible in one location.

Campus Network Maps
Maps of all campus locations with network drops and wireless access points are available centrally, along with MDF/IDF closet locations.

Curriculum Handbook
Curriculum handbook blends technology activities at a high level in all content areas, and is supported by curriculum specialists.

Data Warehouse
Data warehouse with support from a database programmer/analyst is available to generate reports from local copies of Student Information System (SIS) data.

Electronic Inventory
An electronic inventory system of all technologies is kept and is easily accessible online by stakeholders.

Video Streaming Solution
Enables sharing of instructional videos--district staff created--for use by staff, students and community.

Video Surveillance Server
Video surveillance servers are sufficient to house video surveillance camera recordings for 2 weeks to 1 month at a time.

Total Score

Dr. Chris Moersch’s HEAT

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure