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.

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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!

Digital Badges – Virtual Machine

This past week has been an awesome demonstration of the power of collaboration. My previous post Badges in Career Tech Education has seen quite a bit of traffic since it was posted. In working with Laura Fleming, it became clear that others wanted to replicate the site in their environment. Taking Laura’s hard work, I cleaned up the database, made some tweaks, cast my magic wand, and built a virtual machine that you can use for your own environment. Take a look at Laura’s post below. I can’t begin to write anything that better expresses our enthusiasm for this system. It couldn’t have been done without Laura’s hard work and dedication. Laura’s blog is located at http://worlds-of-learning.com/. She can also be reached on Twitter @NMHS_lms. Laura’s post is below:

Digital Badges: get your virtual machine here!

I am so pleased, and very humbled, by the attention my digital badge platform has received since I set it up just a few short weeks ago.  Although I created it for the staff of New Milford High School, I decided to open it out to see if anyone else would be interested in the concept. It has been wonderful – I have had people far and wide register on the site.

Screen Shot 2013-12-17 at 4.28.39 PM

This tells me that people are eager to push professional learning forward, and perhaps to an extent that is not fully recognized elsewhere. I believe that the amount of interest I have had in this platform shows what educators in the digital age really want out of their professional learning and gives us a big clue about where it’s going and what is possible!

The numbers taking an interest right from the start prompted me to offer a ‘clone’ of the platform to anyone who wanted to take it and use it in their own school or district. In response to my ‘Giving It All Away’ post, I have been astonished by the number of  inquiries I have gotten about replicating the platform. I have copied just a few of the great messages I have received in response to that offer.

And if you read past the lovely messages below, you will see that I am now able, because of a free offer of help from a great professional, to take the offer of a ‘clone’ of the platform a giant step further forward!


I would LOVE access to your badging system files.  You are a rockstar!!!  Thank you for paying it forward :)


I am an educator residing in Columbia, MO. Is it possible for me to access Worlds of Learning or must I be a New Milford faculty member?


I am completely in awe of what you have done at New Milford. I would love to implement a similar program at my school. Any information you are willing to share for how to set up a badge program of my own would be like an early Christmas gift.


I love your badges for professional learning site and would love to implement something similar in our school district.  I read in your blog that you are willing to share the files and database! What a tremendous offer- one we would love to take you up on!


Hi,

I was super excited to read the article about your Digital Badge system, in the latest School Library Journal.  I see that you offer to help others to create a district system, using your templates and documents.  I’d love to see that material and adapt it to my current situation.  I’ve been looking around to see the best way to create and maintain a system for both staff and students digital badge work.

Currently, I don’t have a WordPress, though I’m using Dreamweaver to maintain a library website.  I notice that BadgeOS is a wordpress plug-in; I’m not too familiar to know if that means the site has to be WordPress based to use.

You’ve created a wonderful system; I look forward to hearing from you.


I am very interested in learning more about your badges for school.  I just recently became the Technology specialist after being in the classroom for 10 years.  I have no true technical education —only what I have taught myself.


I am so excited that you would be willing to share all of your hard work with others.  I am currently working at a high school in NJ where we will be issuing digital badges to our students for their coursework in MOOCs and similar learning environments.  I am also interested in developing a system like your “Worlds of Learning” for our teachers.  It would be great not to have to reinvent the wheel, so if you could allow me to have access to your files/database/etc., I would appreciate it so much!


Trying to get a teacher PD system set up on WordPress – ran across yours and loved it – thanks for trail blazing.


Your platform is far superior to any that I have seen, and much better than anything I could have created on my own.


If you haven’t been inundated with requests since your site was featured in edtechdigest.com, I would love to request the files and databases for your website as offered on your blog.  I will, of course, send you a link to our iteration of the program and keep anything that I develop open for all to share as well.


Laura, you are my hero. I was just reading your blog post on the digital badge professional learning platform you developed, all the while thinking, “it is going to take me a while to figure all  this out.” Then I read your next blog post, and you are offering to give it all away for free! Please and thank you send me the files and database for your website!


I can’t believe my luck! I’ve been fan-girling over you for a couple of days now for doing what I wanted to do but never got to. I would be thrilled to receive copies of your files. Thanks so much for sharing your work and helping smooth the way!


Although the response to this platform has exceeded my greatest expectations, I also recognize that as much as people want to implement this system in their district, there is still very much a learning curve for many people in getting it up and running.  To get it working, you have to have a site in WordPress, be able to install my files and go into the database to manipulate them.  For many, this has understandably posed quite a challenge.

I am happy to say that I was recently contacted by one of santa’s elves, otherwise known as John Case.  John is the Technology Coordinator for the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center and was doing some research about how to get administrators interested in building a PLN using Twitter or some other sort of social media tools. While reading my principal Eric Sheninger’s blog, he came across the article about our digital badge system.  He expressed interest in implementing a digital badge system at the Ohio Hi-Point Career Center, and he blogged about it on his School Tech Tools blog.   John took it upon himself to clean up my database files that I have been offering but has taken it upon himself to turn my platform into a ‘virtual machine’ that will enable districts to more easily build their own badge infrastructure and get it working on their own school, college or district network.

The files can be downloaded here!

The instructions to take the virtual machines files and convert them to be used to create your own badges environment can be found here. The instructions will probably require the assistance of your network administrator, especially if you wish to use this on the school/corporate network.

Please get permission from your network administrator before beginning, as it may violate user and/or network agreements.

I can’t thank John enough for putting all of this together and for his willingness to share his tech skills.  John has been nominated for  the Technology Coordinator Innovator Award for Ohio’s eTech conference in January. Please consider voting for him here.  John can also be found on Twitter:
@johncase142

It is my hope that, with John’s help, more districts will easily be able to implement our digital badge professional learning platform.

BYOT for Adult Education?

We have started looking into BYOT (bring your own technology) for our Adult Education students. During the last orientation session, we asked for a show of hands who would prefer to use their own computer rather than one we provide and charge them for. About 3/4 of the students would prefer to use their own device. That was far more students than we had anticipated, and feel that we should start looking into BYOT for them.

It’s interesting hearing other schools planning for BYOT who don’t have a 1 to 1 program already, and all of the things they are needing to consider. It’s been 7 years since we were at that point, and I’ve forgotten how much there is to plan for. Simply adding a BYOT option to a 1 to 1 program feels like picking a paint color rather than building a house.

Good luck to all schools planning a BYOT project, there is a ton of planning to do!

Dont need to re-image MacBooks over the summer

Every summer since we started our laptop program, my department spends a week or two (or has summer help) re-imaging the returning student computers. We have done this because the Windows machines have been so junked up and needed to be cleaned up. We simply don’t have that problem with the MacBooks. We will need to run software updates, and maybe install a couple applications, but we can use ARF for that.

That being said, we still may re-image them simply because we are making some changes to our master image. The point is, we don’t NEED to re-image them.

Start of the 2009-2010 school year

Well we are 6 weeks into the 2009-2010 school year, and our first year of 1 to 1 with Apple MacBook laptops. That’s right, we switched our program to Apple this year. Last school year we surveyed the students, as well as potential students, and decided to conduct a trial year with Apple. So far, so good. We’ve had no virus issues on Mac, and Apple’s management tools are great! I think that Apple’s Remote Desktop program is quite possibly the greatest management program ever written, especially for the cost.

We have installed Windows XP on the MacBooks inside Sun’s VirtualBox software. Academic institutions qualify for their Personal Use and Evaluation License (PUEL). We considered using BootCamp, but by using virtualization the students don’t have to reboot their computer in order to change operating systems.

The hardware is not as great as we expected it to be. We had more out of the box problems than we had with HP or Toshiba laptops. Once the initial problems have been fixed, they have been very reliable — so far.

Students and staff have been asking what we are going to do for next year. It’s a little early to say with 100% certainty, but we aren’t ruling out anything. We have to look at the economy, our budget, and the fact that we can purchase netbooks for a fraction of the price we spent on previous notebooks. Ubuntu Linux on netbooks looks like a great solution. We’ll see what the future brings.

Script to create users in AD from Excel

Here is a script that I have been using for a couple of years now to create hundreds or thousands of users from an Excel spreadsheet.

SampleSpreadsheet

Everything below can be cut and pasted into a VBS file:

 

‘ CreateUsers.vbs
‘ VBScript program to create users according to the information in a
‘ Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

‘ ———————————————————————-

‘ You have a royalty-free right to use, modify, reproduce, and
‘ distribute this script file in any way you find useful, provided that
‘ you agree that the copyright owner above has no warranty, obligations,
‘ or liability for such use.

Option Explicit

Dim objExcel, strExcelPath, objSheet
Dim strLast, strFirst, strMiddle, strPW, strDESC, intRow, intCol
Dim strGroupDN, objUser, objGroup, objContainer
Dim strCN, strNTName, strContainerDN
Dim strHomeFolder, strHomeDrive, objFSO, objShell
Dim intRunError, strNetBIOSDomain, strDNSDomain
Dim objRootDSE, objTrans, strLogonScript, strUPN

‘ Constants for the NameTranslate object.
Const ADS_NAME_INITTYPE_GC = 3
Const ADS_NAME_TYPE_NT4 = 3
Const ADS_NAME_TYPE_1779 = 1

‘ Specify spreadsheet.
strExcelPath = “c:\PATH TO EXCEL SPREADSHEET GOES HERE.xlsx”

‘ Specify DN of container where users created.
strContainerDN = “ou=Import,dc=DOMAIN,dc=COM”

Set objFSO = CreateObject(“Scripting.FileSystemObject”)
Set objShell = CreateObject(“Wscript.Shell”)

‘ Determine DNS domain name from RootDSE object.
Set objRootDSE = GetObject(“LDAP://RootDSE”)
strDNSDomain = objRootDSE.Get(“DefaultNamingContext”)

‘ Use the NameTranslate object to find the NetBIOS domain name
‘ from the DNS domain name.
Set objTrans = CreateObject(“NameTranslate”)
objTrans.Init ADS_NAME_INITTYPE_GC, “”
objTrans.Set ADS_NAME_TYPE_1779, strDNSDomain
strNetBIOSDomain = objTrans.Get(ADS_NAME_TYPE_NT4)
‘ Remove trailing backslash.
strNetBIOSdomain = Left(strNetBIOSDomain, Len(strNetBIOSDomain) – 1)

‘ Open spreadsheet.
Set objExcel = CreateObject(“Excel.Application”)

On Error Resume Next
objExcel.Workbooks.Open strExcelPath
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to open spreadsheet ” & strExcelPath
Wscript.Quit
End If
On Error GoTo 0
Set objSheet = objExcel.ActiveWorkbook.Worksheets(1)

‘ Bind to container where users to be created.
On Error Resume Next
Set objContainer = GetObject(“LDAP://” & strContainerDN)
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to bind to container: ” & strContainerDN
Wscript.Quit
End If
On Error GoTo 0

‘ Start with row 2 of spreadsheet.
‘ Assume first row has column headings.
intRow = 2

‘ Read each row of spreadsheet until a blank value
‘ encountered in column 5 (the column for cn).
‘ For each row, create user and set attribute values.
Do While objSheet.Cells(intRow, 5).Value <> “”
‘ Read values from spreadsheet for this user.
strFirst = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 1).Value)
strMiddle = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 2).Value)
strLast = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 3).Value)
strDESC = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 4).Value)
strPW = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 5).Value)
strCN = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 6).Value)
strNTName = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 7).Value)
strUPN = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 8).Value)
strHomeFolder = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 9).Value)
strHomeDrive = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 10).Value)
strLogonScript = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, 11).Value)
‘ Create user object.
On Error Resume Next
Set objUser = objContainer.Create(“user”, “cn=” & strCN)
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to create user with cn: ” & strCN
Else
On Error GoTo 0
‘ Assign mandatory attributes and save user object.
If (strNTName = “”) Then
strNTName = strCN
End If
objUser.sAMAccountName = strNTName
On Error Resume Next
objUser.SetInfo
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to create user with NT name: ” & strNTName
Else
‘ Set password for user.
objUser.SetPassword strPW
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to set password for user ” & strNTName
End If
On Error GoTo 0
‘ Enable the user account.
objUser.AccountDisabled = False
If (strFirst <> “”) Then
objUser.givenName = strFirst
End If
‘ Assign values to remaining attributes.
If (strMiddle <> “”) Then
objUser.initials = strMiddle
End If
If (strLast <> “”) Then
objUser.sn = strLast
End If
If (strUPN <> “”) Then
objUser.userPrincipalName = strUPN
End If
If (strHomeDrive <> “”) Then
objUser.homeDrive = strHomeDrive
End If
If (strHomeFolder <> “”) Then
objUser.homeDirectory = strHomeFolder
End If
If (strLogonScript <> “”) Then
objUser.scriptPath = strLogonScript
End If
If (strDESC <> “”) Then
objUser.description = strDESC
End If
‘ Set password expired. Must be changed on next logon.
objUser.pwdLastSet = 0
‘ Save changes.
On Error Resume Next
objUser.SetInfo
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to set attributes for user with NT name: ” _
& strNTName
End If
On Error GoTo 0
‘ Create home folder.
If (strHomeFolder <> “”) Then
If (objFSO.FolderExists(strHomeFolder) = False) Then
On Error Resume Next
objFSO.CreateFolder strHomeFolder
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to create home folder: ” & strHomeFolder
End If
On Error GoTo 0
End If
If (objFSO.FolderExists(strHomeFolder) = True) Then
‘ Assign user permission to home folder.
intRunError = objShell.Run(“%COMSPEC% /c Echo Y| cacls ” _
& strHomeFolder & ” /T /E /C /G ” & strNetBIOSDomain _
& “\” & strNTName & “:F”, 2, True)
If (intRunError <> 0) Then
Wscript.Echo “Error assigning permissions for user ” _
& strNTName & ” to home folder ” & strHomeFolder
End If
End If
End If
‘ Group DN’s start in column 12.
intCol = 12
Do While objSheet.Cells(intRow, intCol).Value <> “”
strGroupDN = Trim(objSheet.Cells(intRow, intCol).Value)
On Error Resume Next
Set objGroup = GetObject(“LDAP://” & strGroupDN)
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to bind to group ” & strGroupDN
Else
objGroup.Add objUser.AdsPath
If (Err.Number <> 0) Then
On Error GoTo 0
Wscript.Echo “Unable to add user ” & strNTName _
& ” to group ” & strGroupDN
End If
End If
On Error GoTo 0
‘ Increment to next group DN.
intCol = intCol + 1
Loop
End If
End If
‘ Increment to next user.
intRow = intRow + 1
Loop

Wscript.Echo “Done”

‘ Clean up.
objExcel.ActiveWorkbook.Close
objExcel.Application.Quit
Set objUser = Nothing
Set objGroup = Nothing
Set objContainer = Nothing
Set objSheet = Nothing
Set objExcel = Nothing
Set objFSO = Nothing
Set objShell = Nothing
Set objTrans = Nothing
Set objRootDSE = Nothing

New infrastucture equipment

We have needed to make some long overdue upgrades to our infrastructure. We have 9 servers that are due to be retired/replaced at the end of this school year, and our wireless network needed an overhaul.

We recently purchased a Trapeze Networks MX-200 and MP-422A access points. So far they are working great! It’s nice to finally have a controller for the APs so that changes can be made centrally, and not on each AP. I’ll keep you up to date on it’s performance.

As for the servers, we selected the IBM BladeCenter, 4 blades, and VMWare. We should begin that installation in a couple of weeks once I get the correct power into the datacenter. I also have to make some room in the rack to handle the chassis. I can’t wait to dive head first into the world of virtualization!