5 tips for avoiding the blank stare when talking about data management.

We’ve all seen it, that moment when you start talking to people about a topic and you know they have no idea what you are talking about or don’t understand half of the words coming out of your mouth.

You get that blank stare…


While sometimes it can be confused as being deep in thought you need to be sure. You need to know you have people engaged and involved in the conversation.

When talking about data, in particular data management within your institution this can often be tricky. While people count on using data every day and rely on the accuracy of it, they often don’t see it as their problem to solve or something to concern themselves with.

This is often where the problem starts, talking about data practices and understanding how to deal with the issue around data management. You need a plan to get people engaged, invested and involved in the conversations without getting that blank stare.

Here are five suggestions for starting your conversations around data management:

Get the key players to the table

What do I mean my key players? These are the decision makers, the departments leaders, the administrator in each of the respective areas/domains: admissions, academics, development, alumni, commutations, business office, auxiliary programs, etc. You want the leaders in these areas, not those doing the work, but those using the work to guide the institution and are making the decisions that have the greatest impact.

While input from those doing the daily work will be important, that input can be used once the wants, needs and problems can be articulate and goals from these management conversation can be made.

Continue reading

Posted in Administration & Management, Data Management, Schools | Comments Off on 5 tips for avoiding the blank stare when talking about data management.

Gone in a FLASH – Dealing with FLASH and your browser.

eolFLASHAdobe’s FLASH is slowly going away and by the end of 2020 will officially be “end of life”.

You can’t run FLASH content on any iOS device and with each new browser update FLASH content is getting harder and harder to run… and with good reason. This year alone 6 out of 10 of the vulnerabilities incorporated by exploit kits affected Adobe Flash Player.

But what if you “need” FLASH? You have content that you need to view, display, share or use?

First, make sure that you have the most up-to-date version of your browser and the most current version of FLASH installed (https://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/). Then you will need to know where to go on your browser to activate (or deactivate) FLASH. You can explicitly allow of block FLASH from running for specific site and you should ONLY run flash from a trusted site.

To activate FLASH on a particular browser:

Continue reading

Posted in Cyber Security, Technical | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off on Gone in a FLASH – Dealing with FLASH and your browser.

Our experiences with the AppleTV in Education.

AppleTVSo ee have AppleTV 3 (2nd gen) deployed EVERYWHERE! This is actually our second refresh of the devices since putting them in about 2 or 3 years ago. We initially put them in as we wanted to allow teachers and students better access to presenting through AirPlay. This would allow any device in the classroom be the device people were looking at without the need for a cable or numerous adapters… it would simplify things.e

Our initial go at this proved difficult with our first deployment of AppleTVs as we had both technical issues and user training issues. The idea of projecting any video-based resource proved problematic and there were at time issue with the AppleTV showing up properly in the AirPlay menu. You needed to understand when to project wireless and when to still rely on the hard wire.

When we upgrade to the AppleTV 3s it was in hope that we would see better performance with the upgrades to AirPlay and what we being touted as a more robust version. While we did see some performance improvements it still remained somewhat of a problem, though not nearly as much as before.

We decided to run a hardwired, ethernet connection to all of the devices.

Continue reading

Posted in AppleTV, Schools, Technical | Tagged | Comments Off on Our experiences with the AppleTV in Education.

Uncovering iOS 9.3 for Education

iOS-9.3-logo-full-sizeWith the release of iOS 9.3 Apple will have finally taken steps bring true management to the iPad.

While information can be found on the Apple web site there are still many questions and answers needed. While attending the NEIT (NYSAIS Education & Information Technology) conference I had the opportunity to sit in on a session and get deeper insights and this is what I found.

iOS 9.3 will provide a shared model for iPads, not a multi-user experience. Students will be able to login to an account, though the manner in which they authenticate has yet to be determined. Your MDM, Apple ID or Active Directory may provide an answer. Students will have fast accost their materials which will be synced to each device via a mechanism possibly tied to Apple’s Caching Server. All of the apps the student will be using must be installed on the device and the amount of space needed per student account (possibly up to 6GB, though this is still a major question) will allow for fast access, but significantly limit the number of students that will be able to share the device along with the actual size of the device used as information will be stored on the local device.

If you are familiar with Casper Focus, Apple will be providing a similar tool in the Classroom app with iOS 9.3. The tool will allow teachers to distribute data, allow for the editing of that data and bring it back to the teacher. Again, the details of which as still unclear, but the it will again integrate with your existing MDM and LMS. This will offload a lot of the management and give teacher more flexibility with their iPads. They will be able to see all of the iPads at once, capture and share that device with all of the other devices.

All of this will be accomplished through the next two pieces: Apple School Manager and Managed Apple IDs.

Continue reading

Posted in 1to1, COPPA, iPad, Teaching & Learning, Technical | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Disabling “Find My Mac” on retired equipment.

Find_My_MacWhen hiring you always want to surround yourself with people smarter than you are and I have the pleasure of working with some incredibly talented people. We come up against problems everyday and even try to think of the things that might present problems in the future.

The subject of this post is one where we were thinking about all of the things we would need to do as we go in this summer where we will be retiring over 1000 devices. We have a checklist of things that we need to ask our user (faculty and students as young as 4th grade) to do before returning their equipment as well as a laundry list of things we have to do as well.

One of the issues surrounds that of how to handle the services associate with an AppleID. There are things you need to do with you iTunes account (deauthorizing the device) and you iCloud account amongst other things. It is the “Find My Mac” feature that presents an interesting problem.

Continue reading

Posted in 1to1, Technical | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Disabling “Find My Mac” on retired equipment.

Passwords, phishing and protecting yourself. Tips and lessons.


[Examples Gallery Update: 9/4/2014]

With the recent compromise of a number of celebrities iCloud Photo Streams there is, yet again, more focus on passwords, security and how to protect yourself.

In the case of this most recent attack the perpetrators simply attempted to use a number of common passwords along with figuring out the security questions to compromise the accounts in question.  Apple has denied that iCloud was hacked by exploiting a hole in the “Find My iPhone” feature and that any exposed issue has been patched.

OK… but now what?

We need to better educate ourselves, our faculty, our students on how to protect themselves and their information as we ask them to do more and more online.

A few tips:

  • To start, make sure you have a secure password. It should have a combination of upper and lowercase letters, include numbers and symbols and be greater than 8 characters long. Birth dates, anniversaries, family or pet names should be avoided as they can be easily guessed.
  • This may sound simple, but don’t share you password with anyone. In school this is something that we tell our students and faculty upfront. At our school we have ways to solve you technical problems without you having to give us your password and if you school or organization doesn’t have a way to do that be sure to change your password frequently.
  • Try using a password with a twist. If you don’t want to have a different password for every site and service you use try adding a prefix of suffix to your password for that particular service. You might use “MyS3cret_facebook” for Facebook and “MyS3cret_gmail” for your Google account.
  • Enable two-step or two-factor verification for your accounts. While this will only really protect you against people changing you account information or password it is an added level of security to take when trying to secure your information online.


“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to “phish” and you feed him all your passwords…”

Phishing, as defined by Wikipedia is “… is the attempt to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details (and sometimes, indirectly, money) by masquerading as a trustworthy entity.

Continue reading

Posted in Randomness, Teaching & Learning, Technical | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Passwords, phishing and protecting yourself. Tips and lessons.

Finally! An Apple ID for Students under 13.

COPPA_VPC_APPLEAfter much debate, discussion and begging by schools Apple has created a program that will allow student under the age of 13 to create Apple IDs.

This announcement was made along with a number of other improvements to the MDM platform in their “IT in the Classroom” series.

In short schools will need to enroll in an Apple program that will allow them to easily collect verifiable parental consent so that a parent can set-up the account. Once the student turns 13 the account is then transitioned to a full account with all rights and privileges.

This focus on 13 is a direct result of COPPA and the restrictions it places upon parents, students and schools when trying to use service that do not meet the guidelines set forth by the act.

The act has always had the provision that if schools were able to provide parental notification and consent they could use these services, however the enrollment process would often not allow students to use the correct information, such as their birth date, and would require them to lie. By creating this program Apple has moved a way from what Danah Boyd (@zephoira) referred to as a “culture of lying” between parents and their children when wanting to use non-COPPA compliant web sites and services.

For complete information on this new program see the following:

Posted in COPPA | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Finally! An Apple ID for Students under 13.

Big Data? We need to focus on Little Data!


It’s everywhere!  People are talking about it in all aspects of life. Business, research, education, economics, socialnomics… you can’t escape it!


Data is everywhere and in everything that we do. If you’ve bought anything, searched for anything or signed up for anything online you’re part of big data.

Our schools gather data all the time on students, parents, faculty, the assignments given, the tests taken, all of it contributes to data used to measure schools and those inside their walls.

Dashboards, info-graphics, charts, spreadsheets and reports are issued using all of the data at our disposal to paint the clearest picture of how “things” are going. But how do we know that the data is right and those “things” are being reported on correctly?

Data is fraught with errors, omissions, and mis-entered information. It’s because of this that we need to focus on Little Data.

Mark Bonchek (@MarkBonchek) in the Harvard Business Review defines Little Data as:

what we know about ourselves. What we buy. Who we know. Where we go. How we spend our time…”

But what I am talking about is smaller than that, what I am talking about it how we manage the discrete pieces of data that we capture and enter before we can make use of any of this information, spot trends or make predictions.

Why do we need to focus on Little Data you might ask? Because we are only as good as our data.

Continue reading

Posted in Administration & Management, Data Management, Schools | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Make the Bretford PowerSync Cart for iPods work with your iPads

Bretford_R2D2How many of you are still using the classic iPod or iPod Touch in the classroom?

Many of you, like us, have moved from iPods to iPads and with this transition may be left with devices and hardware to repurpose or dispose of.

As we transition to iPad we were able to find people interested in the iPods, but were left with some of the carts we used to store, sync and power these devices.

The model cart we used was the Bretford PowerSync carts – model TL357LL/A – we had purchased  (affectionately referred to as R2D2). The cart did a very good job at helping us manage our iPods, but wasn’t configured properly to deal with our iPads.

Our iPads were going to be used on an as needed basis as part of a pilot program we were starting at our Middle (4-8) and Upper Schools (9-12). We needed to ensure that the devices would be able to be charged on a regular basis and if needed securely stored overnight, weekends and during holidays/vacations.

We had a problem to solve and “necessity is the mother of invention”.  Enter R2D2  and que Star Wars theme song!

Continue reading

Posted in iPad, Technical | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Make the Bretford PowerSync Cart for iPods work with your iPads

Using Evernote to Manage your Personal Learning Network (PLN)

A teacher is a life-long learner, a student by nature, and their learning process continues to grow and develop in many ways.

Experiences in their classroom, conferences, people they meet, colleagues, listservs, blogs and people they follow on Twitter or other social contribute to their ongoing learning process of.

All of these various ways of continuing their professional development and learning are generally referred to as their Personal Learning Network (PLN) and Evernote can help you manage all of it.

Here’s how to Evernote, the web clipper, your Evernote email and by following @MyEN can help you manage your PLN.

PLN_StackBefore we start, the first thing you will want to do is to create notebooks to organize your PLN.  If you’re working on learning a new pedagogical process or exploring a new curricular idea you’ll want a notebook for that.  You can even create a stack of notebooks to keep your entire PLN in one place.

Once you have the organization elements in place it’s time to get started.

Continue reading

Posted in EdTech, Evernote, Teaching & Learning | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Using Evernote to Manage your Personal Learning Network (PLN)