Along with many other school districts in Iowa, the Iowa City Community School District is working through a challenging budget situation for the coming fiscal year. After years of identifying opportunities for increased fiscal efficiency, there are few ways to further reduce costs without impacting service delivery and – ultimately – the classroom environment available to our children.
While I won’t address the District’s comprehensive efforts to address these challenges in this post, I do want to highlight some of the efforts we’ve made in the Office of Technology & Innovation. The past several years have been marked by significant technology-focused initiatives, including those focused on device availability and infrastructure, as well as initiatives such as our IDS Innovation team’s focus on instructional technology integration.
We have once again partnered with the University of Iowa to offer discounts for faculty and staff members who wish to purchase Apple computers and other Apple devices.
Receive up to $575 off of the regular retail price on select MacBook®, MacBook Pro®, MacBook Air®, iPad Pro®, iMac® models during our Apple Faculty and Staff Apple Appreciation Event April 25-26! Preorder online now through April 8th to be sure we have the model you want in stock.
As we enter student registration and summer programming signup season, we’ve received inquiries from a number of District staff members regarding Gmail sending limits. While most users of the District’s email system would never run into these limits, it’s important that staff members who are regularly communicating with large numbers of individuals be aware of the following limits:
There seems to be no end to the crazy weather we’ve had thus far this year! Now, not only has the weather complicated school day schedules and our academic calendar, but it’s also having an impact on technology.
ICCSD extended its second trimester to provide more contact time for Tri 2 courses that have already lost so much. In doing so, the District updated its term definitions in PowerSchool, extending the Tri 2 end date by a few days. In doing so, we accidentally broke Canvas grade synchronization. The bug is not one that Canvas was aware of, as it’s not often that institutions adjust term start/end dates in the middle of the year.
The good thing is that we have a solution. Teachers who utilize grade synchronization between Canvas and PowerSchool will need to reimport grading categories within each course. Instructions for doing so can be found in step 4 here, and after doing so, grade sync should work properly.
A new major update for Windows 10 (version 1809) is available in the district and will start attempting to install on your machine in the next week or two. It includes many new security features and some improvements to the wireless projection devices already installed in many of our district classrooms.
One thing to be aware of is that if your machine prompts you to restart, it may take longer than normal to complete the process and get back up and running. The tech department would highly recommend doing these restarts before and after school to avoid missed instruction time. While these updates can sometimes be annoying, it is important that we do them to stay up-to-date on current security and quality of life features.
The Iowa City Community School District has experienced multiple, short-lived internet outages this afternoon, and we’ve worked with our internet service provider – the Iowa Communications Network – to identify the cause as a denial-of-service attack targeting our network.
Direct denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks are relatively common, and we have resources in place to mitigate the impact of this type of attack on our network. That said, we are working with the ICN to ensure that those mitigation strategies are fully and properly implemented, given the downtime we’ve experienced today.
We do not expect substantial additional disruption, and will be working with the ICN to avert future problems.
*UPDATE: 10:25 AM, 11/30/18* We have identified a fix for this issue, and are rolling it out district-wide at this point. It will take some time to apply the fix to all machines; if you have an urgent need to have the fix applied to your computer, please contact the Helpdesk.
Our Adobe software licensing transitioned last night ot a new model, and we’ve identified an unanticipated problem where users are being prompted to sign in with an Adobe ID (see below), and accounts that will work are currently not available to staff members and students.
We are working on this issue and will post a resolution as soon as that is available.
Portions of the district will experience a network outage beginning at approximately 6 PM today, November 19th, and lasting for 5-6 hours. This outage is due to work being done by the City of Iowa City on a fiber route along Dubuque Street that will allow for construction of a new building in the area.
Affected buildings will include schools in North Liberty and Coralville, schools in the western portion of Iowa City, and Longfellow Elementary School. For reference, users of portions of the City of Iowa City, Johnson County, City of Coralville, and University of Iowa networks may be affected by this work as well.
We don’t expect district-wide internet access to be impacted, and expect that the affected locations will come back up with no lingering effects when work is completed on Monday night.
*UPDATE: 8:36 AM, 11/15/18* We believe that phone and voicemail service has been restored and operating as usual throughout the district. We will continue to monitor this situation for further developments.
ORIGINAL POST: We are currently investigating an issue that is impacting phone and voicemail service within certain schools and facilities in the District. I will post an update as soon as we have information regarding causes and/or an estimated time of service restoration.
One of the challenges we’ve faced in terms of implementing Canvas over the past year has been trimester transitions. We are confident that we’ve now ironed out issues that have impacted students and teachers during previous transition periods, such that teachers should continue to have access to course materials and the Canvas grading system through the weekend following the trimester transition.
In order to ensure a smooth experience for teachers submitting their first trimester grades, we will be pausing the PowerSchool/Canvas sync for enrollment data from Thursday, November 15th until Sunday, November 18th. During this time, the most current enrollments for your second trimester courses will not change and new student enrollments will not appear in Canvas until Monday morning (when the sync has been resumed).
You will still be able to sync your grades from Canvas to Powerschool during that time, however, when the sync resumes at 11:00 PM on Sunday (November 18th), you will no longer be able to sync your first trimester grades from Canvas. You will still be able to enter the grades manually into PowerSchool. While this may seem unusual, this is made necessary by a technical limitation in Canvas that does not allow us to have two trimesters syncing with PowerSchool at the same time.
Course Cross-Listing Reminder
As a reminder, if you are planning on cross-listing your second trimester courses, you will want to make sure that is done before you start syncing your gradebook. Directions for cross-listing courses are available here.