How to lose your user’s trust

I had a staff member text me tonight asking for help regarding a suspicious email that she received. She also works for another company in the evenings so she called them first since the email came in on their system. Their helpdesk told her it was an email they intentionally sent out to see how many staff would click the suspicious link.

Wait… What, you phished your own users?
I can’t think of a better way to betray their trust. Staff and students need to be able to trust their IT department, and activities like this are wreckless if you ask me.

Educate them, don’t spear phish them.


UPDATE: I have done some research about this program, and have since decided to become a paying customer of KnowBe4. Once I was informed that it is an education program, followed up by testing of your users I felt better about it. I still stand by what I said, educate them, don’t spear phish them.


Virtual Field Trips with Google Street View

Some of you may have heard of using Google Maps for virtual field trips. Today I was listening to the monthly Schoology webinar, and they were showing how to put some of these resources into Schoology. You don’t have to use Schoology for this, but it’s easy enough to embed the maps if you want to.

When you are in Google Maps ( you can click a little yellow stick person at the bottom of the screen to switch on street view. Your map will then show up with blue lines on the map. These blue lines, like in the picture below, show you what you can see with Google Street View enabled. Below is The White House, and some of the public areas you can check out.
There are tens of thousands of places around the globe that have Street view enabled. Here are a few of my favorites.

The White House

The Great Barrier Reef in Australia

The Grand Canyon

There are also some really cool locations on this, and a little of something for everyone.

Google Suite – Emergency delete email

If you are a Google Suite school, you have no doubt had an instance where someone (staff or student) sent an email to everyone in the system and you’ve been asked to delete it from everyone’s mailbox. Back when we had Microsoft Exchange, it was a simple task to delete the offending message and yank it from everyone’s mailboxes even if they had read it. Working in Google’s ecosystem makes things slightly more difficult but it can still be done.

First, you need to have Vault enabled for your users.


Now, we will create a retention rule to filter out just the messages we want to delete. In the “Conditions” section, you can narrow your search by sent date, and terms. The terms search will allow you to search by message id, username, and various other fields.  (Check this link for more search operators.

In the graphic below, I have created a search that will pull e-mails with a sent date of November 3, 2016 with a subject of “yoursubjectgoeshere” and from


Change the duration for your retention rule to be 1 day from when the message was sent, and “Expunge all messages which includes messages that are in users’ inboxes and messages that have already been deleted” to match the graphic below.


Before you click Continue, make sure to preview your results. After you click continue you will get a warning about deleting messages from mailboxes and the fact that they will be gone forever.

Google Support advised me that it could take up to 48 hours to remove all messages, but will likely be much faster. They did mention that there is another way to do this task, but it involves third party solutions and using the API interface. By the time we got it up and running, the Vault retention rule likely would have removed the messages anyway.

Here is Google’s link to creating custom Vault retention rules.

Microsoft Surface Pro for math?

I’ve been looking to replace our math department’s aging convertible tablet computers with something new for next school year. I was really excited about the Microsoft Surface Book, but found the detachable screen to be somewhat cumbersome. I also felt that through the process of pressing the eject button, waiting anywhere from 2 to 20 seconds, and manually turning the screen around, the screen would get dropped. The shell was somewhat slippery, and made it difficult to hold securely. So I shipped the demo unit back and picked up the Surface Pro 4 tablet instead.


I like nearly everything about the tablet, as far as the hardware goes. The hardware really has a top-shelf look and feel to it. Windows 10 however, seems to be rather bipolar with this whole “tablet mode” thing.  It really wants you to believe it’s a tablet, but all of the traditional Windows features are still there, just more difficult to find now.

My biggest complaint has to be with the on-screen keyboard. When in tablet mode the on-screen keyboard seems to work as it should – most of the time. When not in tablet mode and external keyboard not connected, the on-screen keyboard doesn’t show up when it should. You can manually launch the keyboard, but that doesn’t seem to be a consistent experience. In fact, I couldn’t get through the out of the box setup wizard without attaching the $129 (optional) keyboard cover.

As for using this with our math teachers, I’m not sure I can explain to them why Windows behaves the way it does. I really had high hopes for this system, but I feel like I will have to train users twice on this system. For someone switching from Windows 7, you have to learn Windows 10 AND this whole tablet mode.

Perhaps I’m making a bigger deal of it than it really is but shouldn’t technology be easy? I guess I expected more for my $1300 than I got.



Let’s write a positive AUP

This school year we have been working on revising our Acceptable Use Policy (AUP) as it hasn’t had a serious update in several years. As I’ve been reading through the policy, I realized just how negative the policy sounds – and it’s quite depressing. Fortunately students don’t actually read the policy, otherwise none of them would ever take the laptop that we issue to them. So, I decided that we needed to have a 1 page version of the policy, but it MUST have a positive message.

I found this graphic to be very similar to what I wanted, but I disagree with several of the items in the list. Not because they are “wrong answers,” but we cause many of those items are taught in some classes and I didn’t want to convey the wrong message.


Enter a caption

To see the original image, you can find it here from Bill’s Flickr page.

So I created a shared Google Doc with my staff asking for input for what we wanted our students to do, and not do with technology. We got quite a few items that I hadn’t thought of, and several duplicates. I boiled down the list and came up with 15 items for what we wanted them to do, and 9 that we didn’t want them to do. I sent a Google Survey out to my PLN, and to my staff. I also decided to send a copy of the survey to our student body, to see what students felt was important.

It was interesting because a couple items that staff had were not in the student top 8, and a couple from students were not in the staff top 8 items.

Here is what we came up with:

How should you use your technology?

I will:

  • Think critically
  • Make informed decisions
  • Make a difference
  • Find answers to their questions
  • Express their creativity
  • Explore possibilities
  • Become more organized
  • Act as respectful, responsible global citizens

I won’t:

  • Use technology illegally
  • Plagiarize
  • Lose focus from being productive
  • Inflict harm of any kind on anyone
  • Bully others
Note: This is a student friendly version of technology use examples. Students are still required to read and agree to the Acceptable Use of Technology policy that is on all student laptops, and print copies available upon request from the Technology Department.


We’re still working on a graphical version of this list that we can use as a poster, hand-out, or display on our digital signage system. Feel free to use the list as-is, or as a starting point for your own list!

Evernote revisited

Since my post about abandoning Evernote, I’ve since had a change of heart. I’ve tried various replacements, but nothing else fits into my daily workflow the way that Evernote did. Furthermore, I’ve switched from Android to iPhone and find that I love the interface.

That being said, I may just use something else while on the Chromebook due to the repeated loss of data. Perhaps the web interface is the way to go, and abandon the installed version for now.

Does network redundancy have a place in education?

After months of waiting for our telco provider, we finally got our Internet connection speed upgraded from 100 Mbps to 200 Mbps. The next phase in upgrading our school’s network involves upgrading our 5 year-old firewall to a new unit. When speaking to different sales engineers, they all asked if we wanted redundant firewalls. I hadn’t really put much thought into it before, but it really makes sense for education.



In your typical classroom there are (almost) always spare pencils, paper, textbooks or other learning materials. This way if the student forgets to bring their materials, learning can continue. For our 1:1 laptop program we have spare laptops for students who have forgotten their devices. What if our firewall dies? What if our wireless network controller were to crash? What if our Internet connection goes down for several hours? The answer to all of these is – learning stops.

Is $3,000 too much to spend on a redundant firewall? What about $4,000 for an extra wireless controller? I guess it depends who you ask. District administrators may think so, after all we’ve gotten by without it all these years. Now that we are relying on the Internet for high-stakes testing, online curriculum, and online gradebooks I’d say it’s a small price to pay.

For years now, servers include built-in redundancy to prevent downtime. Most of them had spare power supplies, hot swap hard drives, and RAID controllers to prevent data loss and downtime. Is it fair that we aren’t offering redundancy to our children’s education?