Extending Gmail with Google Labs

Gmail offers a number of features that allow you to customize your experience, and I’ve blogged about some of those already – such as adding a preview pane (like Outlook) and creating rules to filter incoming messages – but I haven’t yet written about the wonder that is (are?) Gmail Labs.  

What are Gmail Labs? 

Have you ever wanted to be able to automate replies that you send on a regular basis?  Automatically filter out bulk emails?  Add your calendar to your Gmail interface?  These and many more features are available within Gmail Labs, and can be enabled for any ICCSD account.   Continue reading Extending Gmail with Google Labs

Canvas at the End of the Trimester

I previously posted regarding the dates at which courses will no longer be available to students and teachers; in a nutshell, Trimester 1 courses will be available until June 30th, 2018.  Here is a more comprehensive guide for teachers as the end of the first trimester approaches.   Continue reading Canvas at the End of the Trimester

Subscribe to Blog Updates via Text

Taking a cue from a number of teachers here in the Iowa City Schools, I’m now offering the ability to subscribe to receive text message updates when new blog entries are posted.  This is separate from the email subscription option that has long been available, and will hopefully be appealing to those of you who prefer to use your phone / texting as a primary means of getting information.  

In order to subscribe, just click this link: https://www.remind.com/join/h8bh9k 

This service is being provided via Remind.com, which many of our teachers, students, and parents are already using for messaging.  You have the option of unsubscribing at any time by replying with @LEAVE to any of the texts. 

I’ll be excited to see whether this service is useful to those of you who follow the blog!

Brief Internet Outage

There will be a brief – less than 5 minutes – internet outage district-wide on Wednesday, October 25th at 5:30 PM.  This outage is related to maintenance being performed by our ISP to resolve a problem we’ve identified.  

Connectivity should be restored for all devices immediately after the maintenance is completed, with no action required on the part of users.  

Network Services Restored

The power outage at the physical plant headquarters has been resolved, and internet/phone services should now be working as normal at the physical plant, West High School, Weber Elementary, Horn Elementary, and TREC.  

Most users shouldn’t have to do anything in order to get back on the network, but if you have problems getting network access on your computer after the outage, I’d recommend that you restart your computer in order to reset your network configuration.  

If you are unable to access network resources or if larger-scale problems return, please contact the Helpdesk at x4357 or helpdesk@iowacityschools.org

Thanks for your patience as we worked through this issue.  

Major Network/Phones Outage

A power outage at the physical plant facility on the south side of Iowa City is causing internet and phone outages at West High School, Weber Elementary, Horn Elementary, and TREC.  

Physical plant is working to resolve this power outage.  Once it is resolved, network operations should resume as normal.  

Q: What happens to Canvas courses at the end of the first trimester?

While I’m amazed that we’re already nearing the turn of the calendar to second trimester, I received a question today that reminded me that I needed to get some information to ICCSD teachers and students regarding what to expect.  Specifically, what happens to Canvas courses at the end of the first Trimester?

A: All teachers and students will continue to have access to Tri 1 courses – whether they are yearlong courses or single-trimester courses – until midnight on June 30th, 2018.  This will allow teachers to work on grading, students to reference previously-submitted work and materials, and so forth.  

Since the courses will no longer be current, their status will change to “Past Enrollment” and won’t appear – by default – on students’ and teachers’ dashboards.  Instead, users will need to click the “Courses” button on the left side of Canvas, and then “All Courses” to show both past and current enrollments.  This area will also show teachers their future courses.  

If you’ve read about Canvas, you may be aware that this is not the default behavior; we modified the access end dates to ensure that students and teachers can seamlessly use and reference previous course content until the end of the year.  

Technology Annual Report

Each year, I provide a report to the board that provides a high-level view of our technology program, through the lens of particular projects completed, underway, or planned.  This will certainly not be the most riveting content I’ve posted to the blog, but for those of you who are interested, I’m posting a summary of that report here.  

The 2016-17 school year was one of transition in the Iowa City Community School District’s Office of Technology & Innovation.  As we move into winter of 2017-18, we have completed a number of major projects and still have significant initiatives underway or in planning stages.  Our departmental performance metrics have generally improved slightly, though I’m excited to see how our work in terms of specific initiatives and in targeted locations will manifest itself in the coming year’s technology program evaluation.   Continue reading Technology Annual Report

ITEC Session Resources: Right-Sizing Technology Staffing (October, 2017)

Check out the resources below for my ITEC session on right-sizing technology staffing, presented jointly with Superintendent Greg Dufoe of the ADM Community School District.  

Presentation Slides


End-User Support Staffing Formula for Iowa Schools