Category Archives: Alerts

Zoom Video Conferencing Best Practices

As the use of opens in a new windowZoom has exploded in ICCSD and around the country, here are some best practices to implement in order to ensure that your Zoom meetings run effectively and securely.  

Alternatively, if you’re looking for a Zoom alternative, you should check out opens in a new windowCanvas Video Conferencing or opens in a new windowGoogle Meet.  

1. Do not post Zoom links publicly

Share Zoom meeting URLs by email, Canvas site, shared document, or another form of direct or secured communication.  

2. Create meeting-specific URLs, rather than using your personal meeting room

If you use your personal meeting room, you run a greater risk of the URL being exposed than when using a one-time or meeting-specific URL.  

3. Ensure that you (and your students) are using an ICCSD Zoom account

4. Consider using secure options for your meetings

These options include: 

 

Getting Tech Support During the COVID-19 Closure

Iowa City Schools students, families, and staff can reach us to obtain technical support using any of the methods listed below. Also, please check out our opens in a new windowFrequently Asked Questions page to support home use of technology during the COVID-19 school closure.

ICCSD Helpdesk

Hours: 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday

helpdesk@iowacityschools.org

Phone: (319) 688-1950

Chat: Use the chat option available in the bottom right corner of this page during business hours.

Spanish language support is available at the ICCSD helpdesk.

After-Hours Help

Hours: 4:30 PM to 10:00 PM, Monday – Friday

opens in a new windowClick here to reserve a time slot

opens in a new windowPearson Education has partnered with the Iowa City Schools at no charge to offer after-hours technology support through their customer service centers in Iowa City and San Antonio, TX.

The District has coordinated with  Pearson to help support District students, families, and staff, though please be aware that certain types of requests will need to be referred back to the District.

Spanish language support is available via the Pearson after-hours support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please opens in a new windowcheck this document for current answers to the most common questions we’ve received during the COVID-19 closure.  

ICCSD Providing Home Computer and Internet Access During COVID-19 Closure

It is important that students and families are able to gain access to educational, news, and communication resources during this challenging time.  To this end, Iowa City CSD’s Technology & Innovation staff are preparing to make Chromebooks available to elementary school students who do not have access to computers within the home.  Families of elementary students that do not have access to a laptop computer, desktop computer, or tablet in the home may complete this request form or call (319) 688-1950, after which you will be contacted with instructions for picking up the device.  We do ask that requests be made by families who lack computing resources at home, as we wish to ensure that devices are available to all families in need of service. 

While secondary students have been assigned a Chromebook from their school as part of the secondary one-to-one Chromebook program, we recognize that some students may have left their school-issued Chromebook at school prior to leaving for Spring Break.  If a secondary student’s Chromebook is still at school at this time, please contact the ICCSD Technology Helpdesk at helpdesk@iowacityschools.org, or by calling (319) 688-1950.  

We have also worked with telecommunications providers to identify opportunities to provide for internet access to District families with no existing internet service. If your family does not have internet service at home, please fill out this form or call (319) 688-1950 to arrange for district-provided internet access.  Once your form has been submitted, we will contact the telecommunications provider and assist in arranging for the establishment of service during the COVID-19 related school closure.  Again, we ask that requests only be submitted in cases where home internet is currently unavailable, as we want to ensure that resources are available for all families in need of service.  The ICCSD Technology Helpdesk is expected to remain open throughout the school closure, and will be available to support use of district-provided technology beginning Tuesday, March 24. You can contact the Helpdesk by emailing helpdesk@iowacityschools.org, using the chat option available in the bottom right corner of innovation.iowacityschools.org, or by calling (319) 688-1950. 

PowerSchool Performance Issues Ongoing

As was the case last week, we are seeing serious PowerSchool performance issues again this morning.  These issues have been reported to our service provider, Grant Wood AEA, to be resolved through PowerSchool’s hosting services.  

At this point, we do not have a resolution ETA, though we will update the blog with information as it becomes available.  

3:43 PM Update: PowerSchool hosting believes that they have identified the root cause of this issue, but the solution has not yet been fully implemented and tested.  I will post a follow-up to this post when we can verify a resolution and/or timeframe.  

PowerSchool Maintenance

Per opens in a new windowmy post yesterday, PowerSchool configured a new server to host ICCSD’s PowerSchool instance and transitioned to the new server yesterday afternoon.  The goal with this transition was to address performance concerns that have existed since August, but have been amplified in recent weeks. 

Please opens in a new windowreport performance issues that you notice to the Help Desk. We’ve already received some reports that performance problems have not been fully resolved, and continue to with with PowerSchool through Grant Wood AEA to resolve these issues.

PowerSchool Down This Afternoon

ICCSD has been struggling with intermittent PowerSchool performance issues since the beginning of the year, with consistent problems with access and performance throughout the past week.  As our site is hosted by PowerSchool itself, we’ve been working through Grant Wood AEA to address these issues on the hosting end.  

PowerSchool has built a new server instance that they believe will rectify the issues we’ve faced, and will be transitioning our site to the new server this afternoon (11/7/19) at 4:30 PM.  We do not have an ETA for an outage during this transition, but staff, parents, and students should expect that the outage will last into the evening of 11/7.  

Once the transition is completed, we expect that our PowerSchool performance will be restored to normal, and that problems with grading, attendance, portal access, and synchronizations will be resolved.  

PowerSchool and Google Issues

We are currently experiencing problems with access to PowerSchool, as well as issues with Google authentication.  These issues appear to be unrelated, and are both originating outside of our network.  

We have a support request in with Grant Wood AEA to restore our access to PowerSchool, and are monitoring opens in a new windowthe situation developing globally with Google authentication services.  

Email outage

UPDATE: Email services are working normally. If you’re experiencing issues this morning, please contact the help desk.

We are currently experiencing district-wide problems with email. Google is working on resolving this issue nationwide. We will post an update when we’ve received word that the issue has been resolved.

Canvas Grade Synchronization Issue (and fix)

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. opens in a new windowInstructions for doing so can be found in step 4 here, and after doing so, grade sync should work properly.

New Windows Updates

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.