Thursday, October 7, 2010

Board room remote control directions

The remote control in the board room controls two projectors and the sound system.  Here are some basic directions for its operation.

Connecting to a video source:
There are several VGA connections in control boxes in the floor of the board room.  Each box is labeled.  After connecting your computer to one of the boxes, click the button on the left under Choose A Source that corresponds to the correct box.  

Connecting to an audio source:
Inside each of the control boxes in the floor of the board room is a mini-stereo audio input.  You need to connect the headphone jack on your computer to the audio input inside the box.  Be sure that the volume on your computer is turned on, and make sure that the Mute button on the remote is not selected.  You can control the volume of your presentation on the computer and on the remote control.  If you do not hear the volume, you may need to turn up the volume on both the computer and the remote.

The microphones connect to a large XLR connector inside the control boxes in the floor of the board room.  You can control the volume of your microphones on the remote control.  The volume buttons control to volume of the microphones and the computer.  Use the volume on the computer to raise or lower its volume to match the volume level of people speaking into the microphones.

Turn the system on:
Click on either the Center Projector button or the Side Projector button.  This will turn on the specified projector and also activate the sound system.  The screens will lower automatically for each projector. 

Turn the system off:
Click on the Turn System Off button to turn off all equipment.  The screens will raise into the ceiling and the projectors will turn off after cooling down for approximately 1-2 minutes.  

Adjusting the image on the screen:
Different computers require a different screen resolution, which might affect the way it looks on the screen.  If the image on the screen is not centered on the screen or seems blurry, you can adjust the projector.  Click on the correct video source button, inside the Choose A Source section, and in the center of the remote control screen you will see Adjust Center Projector and Adjust Side Projector.  Click on those buttons to adjust the image.  

Help Desk:
Please call Carol at x6751 for assistance during the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  She will direct your call to the proper person.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Overview of Microsoft's new Office Web Apps

D211 students will have access to many useful tools as part of the student e-mail system that will be in place with the start of the 2010-2011 school year.  One set of tools that will be available is called Office Web Apps, which are the free online versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. 

For more information on Office Web Apps, please click the link below:

Monday, May 24, 2010

Solving a teaching problem

I found a website from Carnegie Mellon University's Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence that helps teachers (not just new teachers) through common problems they're facing with their class and then gives them suggestions to fix it.  Are your students late for class?  Here's some possible causes of that problem as well as some advice on how to curtail it.  It was an interesting approach.  I thought I'd share it with all of you. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Upcoming technology improvements

Dear Staff Member:

Next year District 211 will focus our efforts on improving your overall experience with technology.  In the coming summer months, we plan to implement six major improvements that will make your computer more reliable, your connection to the Internet faster and more stable, and your communication with students and parents more efficient. 

·    First, the wireless network is going to be completely overhauled.  Each school's wireless infrastructure will be expanded and improved to hold approximately 6,000 devices, which is four times more than the current system allows and enough capacity for every person to have two devices connected at all times.  Connections to the wireless network should be stronger and less likely to be lost and classrooms using laptop carts should expect faster boot times and far fewer issues connecting to network drives. 

·    Second, the Internet bandwidth will be quadrupled.  Streaming media will be expected to play smoothly, and large classes doing research will be able to maintain a more stable and faster connection. 

·    Third, as a result of a better wireless structure and greater Internet capacity, people will again have full access to the guest211 network as they have had in the past.  Students will be able to use any personal electronic device, including computers and cell phones, within the guidelines of District policy, to connect to the Internet inside our schools. 

·    Fourth, we will replace Windows XP with Windows 7.  This new operating system boots faster, has better wireless capabilities and is more stable than Windows XP.  Numerous staff members throughout the District have already been successful using Windows 7 and the transition has been smooth for them.

·    Fifth, we will replace Lotus Notes with Outlook as our e-mail, calendar, and messaging system.  Outlook offers a greater number of integrated communication features, is more compatible with your personal computers and is easily accessible on your cell phones.  We will make sure everyone has access to the training they need to use this convenient, easily accessible communication program.  Our ongoing discussions with Microsoft and our examination of similar transitions from other districts all indicate that all e-mail, data, files, folders and calendar entries accumulated in Lotus Notes have been successfully and completely migrated to Outlook.  More information about this will be provided in the near future.

·    Sixth, every student will be given a designated District e-mail account.  You will have the ability to e-mail your students, create student e-mail groups, and send out calendar reminders regarding tests, homework, practices, games and club meetings.

These six areas were chosen based on the extensive information collected from teachers, students, parents and administrators over the last few months, and they will have a positive impact on the way we use technology to advance student learning and achievement.

We will send regular updates over the next month to keep you informed of our progress and to explain opportunities for training.  In the meantime, please send us any comments or questions you might have.

Keith Sorensen  
Director of Educational Technology 

Charlie Peterson
Director of Technology Services

Friday, May 14, 2010

Protect yourself by using privacy settings on Facebook

Safety and privacy are big concerns for anyone who uses the Internet regardless of their age.  The more information you post on the Internet, the more likely it is someone will be able to piece that information together and figure out where you live, when you're going on vacation, or where your kids go to school.  Yet despite all we know about keeping our information private, many people break those rules when they are on a social site such as Facebook.

I've included two short articles on how to protect yourself when you're suing social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace. One is an article about overall things to avoid when using social sites, and then another article with tips on how to keep using Facebook but avoid getting into trouble at work for the things you post.  Both are worth reading.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Electronic textbooks

One significant barrier to adopting an all-electronic curriculum is the lack of support and resources provided by the textbook companies.  I know, why would a textbook company provide online resources when their money really comes from book sales?  The fact is, they need to find a way to provide their same textbooks in an electronic format as well as add new multimedia features while still earning enough money to stay in business.  They can do this.  We know this.  Newspapers, magazines, books, movies and music are all available online as well as in physical format, and those industries are finding a way to survive and in some cases even make more money than ever.  The textbook companies fell behind the times, but the companies that make the transition first will be in better shape long-term than the others.

As a member of a large school district, my interest is in our 13,000 students and not in the profit margin of the textbook companies.  I want the best resources for the lowest prices possible.  When the textbook companies are ready to produce high-quality electronic resources then we will be ready to evaluate them and consider them for implementation.  We're finally starting to see some companies ready to make the shift; McGraw-Hill, Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, Pearson, and Kaplan have all signed agreements to deliver their textbooks in the iPad tablet format.  We haven't seen price points, and we don't know if it will be a straight adaptation of if they will take advantage of the multimedia capabilities of a computer-like device.  There's a lot we don't know, but we do know that publishers are finally taking the digital age seriously.

To read more about the iPad story click the following link:
(This tip comes courtesy of Scott Weidig at SHS)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Copyright and the classroom: showing video tapes in class

Copyright laws are meant to protect people who create something and want to retain control over what they created.  Music and movies are often the center of many copyright lawsuits, especially when it comes to illegal file sharing.  Artists do not like it when people enjoy their work without paying for it, and I don't know anyone else who would feel differently.

Educators are allowed to use copyrighted materials for free, but only in very specific situations and within a short time frame. It's called "fair use," and according to Stanford University,

"someone other than the copyright owner may make limited use of a copyrighted work without permission for purposes such as teaching, research, scholarship, criticism, parody and news reporting."
Again, there are very strict guidelines for this. To learn more about the fair use rule, please visit Stanford University's webpage at <>

Friday, January 22, 2010

How are kids affected by the use of media devices?

There have been many studies about the effects of television on children, and those studies have expanded to include the use of cell phones, mp3 players, handheld video games, and other media devices.  A recent study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows, among other things, how much time kids spend using different media devices.  You can read more about media usage studies at <>

Here are two graphs from the study that I found interesting.

Daily amount of time, in hours and minutes, kids spend using media devices when parents set limitations on their use versus those whose parents do not set limits.

Correlation between amount of media use and grades: