Archive for the ‘Web Services’ Category
It has been nearly two years since LPS moved to Zimbra for our district communication suite. The folks who bring us this tool have been hard at work on some major upgrades – Computing Services updated the LPS Zimbra suite on March 29th, 2013. These upgrades have brought some great new features and have changed the way we do a few things.
- For those schools using Zimbra calendars to reserve laptops, carts, clickers, etc: The Resources link is now called the Equipment link (on the right side of the New Event window)
- The button used to create a link was previously an icon of a world. It is now an icon of a chain link (link – get it?)
- Many people use more than one signature. If you are one of those people, to select your secondary signature when composing a message, you must now click the Options button and select the signature that you wish to use from the drop-down list.
- The search bar has moved to the top right corner of the screen. Search results now appear in a separate search tab. The search tool has been completely redesigned, with quick filters that help you to find the content you need faster.
- Advanced search has changed quite a bit. To access the advanced search, click on the magnifying glass in the search field on the upper-right of the window. To search in multiple folders now requires more than just clicking the boxes next to the folder names. This video explains the new method.
- The sidebar (including mini-calendar) and mail folders no longer shows when composing a new message. On a message-by-message basis you can click the “pop-out” icon near the top right corner of any new message you are composing. This will open it in a stand-alone window and after a few seconds your Zimbra window (now behind the popped-out compose window) will update, and you can see the sidebar.
- This can become the default by going to Preferences / Mail / Composing Messages / Always compose in new window
- The Out-of-Office email auto-responder has moved inside of Preferences. Formerly buried in the Mail preferences, “out of office” messages now have their own section on the left hand side of the Preferences tab. For more information view this short tutorial
- Tasks – iOS (iPhone, iPad) has an app called Reminders that can sync with Zimbra Tasks. In the past, all tasks would appear in the Reminders App. Now, you must have a Due Date on the task for it to appear in the Reminders app. Note: Android phones can use an app called Notes for the same thing.
- When you right-click on a message, you can now select Redirect for times when a message needs to be re-routed to a more applicable recipient.
- You can now select a Preference (Preferences >> Mail) to Set color for messages and conversations according to tag color.
- Right-click on an email to select Show Conversation. This brings up a very nicely formatted window with all messages that pertain to topic.
- Zimbra now respects common keyboard shortcuts for many text formatting tasks.
- ⌘ + B = BOLD or Ctrl + B = BOLD
- ⌘ + I = Italics or Ctrl + I = Italics
- ⌘ + K = Insert Link or Ctrl + K = Insert Link
- To see all keyboard shortcuts visit Preferences / Shortcuts in Zimbra
- New default theme. (Serenity) Zimbra has been redesigned to eliminate clutter. Some of the changes are big while others are small and may go unnoticed. If you are looking for something and don’t see it, look around. Most of the improvements involved moving less frequently used buttons to menus.
- Natural Style Conversation View – There is now a great way to group and manage related emails. With the new natural style conversation view, Zimbra shows you all of the related messages (replies and forwards) in a single pane, hiding the duplicate content within each message. This makes it much faster and easier to track who said what in a conversation. To try the conversation view, choose “By Conversation” from the View menu (found below the search box.)
- Activity streams – For most of us, the inbox is a busy place. Some messages you need to respond to right away, and others you might want to save to read at a later time. This second category includes newsletters you subscribe to, announcements from your favorite store, and others. They’re not spam messages, but you may consider them less important than others.Zimbra 8 lets you create an Activity Stream to keep track of those less important messages while moving them out of your inbox.To try this feature, go to Preferences and click Filters on the left of the screen. At the top of the Filters pane you will see “Activity Stream.” Select it and click Save to activate this feature. Click Save again (top left) to exit Preferences. Now you will see an “Activity Stream” folder in your mailbox.Even using the default settings eliminates a lot of clutter from your inbox. But creating new rules is as easy as dragging and dropping a message from the inbox to the Activity Stream. You’ll be prompted to send future messages with the same sender or subject to the Activity stream.
You are welcome to submit an LPS Help Desk Ticket on any technical issue you may be facing.
If you’d rather ask a question or see what others have been asking, we encourage you to do so in our discussion forums.
Zimbra has a wealth of information in it’s built-in help section. You can access the help section by clicking on Help in the upper right corner when logged into Zimbra or follow the link below:
What is “Role Based Authentication?”
When you log into our filtering tool to access web pages that students do not have access to, you are using “role based authentication” to verify that you are who you say you are, and that you accept professional responsibility for the filtered content you desire to view. (More information about the filtering process in LPS.
What SHOULD Happen
When you visit a website that is behind the LPS content filter, you should be presented with a window stating “ACCESS DENIED” and offering username & password fields. When you enter your LPS username and password, a pop-up window will appear with the text “USER: jdoe” identifying you as the person who requested to bypass the filter. So long as this pop-up window is left open you will be able to browse ANY web page that LPS filters, with the exception of sites forbidden by Federal regulations. (Pornography websites, for example.) When the pop-up window closes, you are no longer authenticated to bypass the filter.
If this simple procedure does not work, experience has taught us that there are a couple of common points of failure. Let’s look at them. (Printable version of these tips.
1. Popups Are Disabled
Web browsers block pop-up windows, by default. This is typically a good thing, but in the case of our web filtering tool, you need a pop-up window to be present for it to work. You can enable pop-up windows to workfor the LPS filter in a few ways, here is an easy way:
- In the Firefox menu, choose Preferences…
- In Preferences, select the “Content” tab
- Leave the check in the box for “Block pop-up windows,” but click the “Exceptions…” button to the right.
- In the Address window add flapper.lps.org and click “Allow”
- Close your Preferences. Firefox should now allow pop-ups from our web filter.
2. Java is Disabled
If you can see a pop-up window, but either of the following is true, your Java plug-in has been disabled:
a. YouTube videos refuse to play for more than 60 seconds or so, or
b. Your pop-up window is blank (you should see your own username)
During a normal update process from Mozilla, Firefox may have disabled Java plugins on your computer in an attempt to protect you from certain insecurity issues. To re-enable Java:
- In the Tools menu of Firefox, choose “Add-Ons”
- On the left side of the Add-Ons screen, click “Plugins”
- Look for a plugin called “Java Applet Plug-in.” If you see “(disabled)” beside it, click the “Enable” button.
- Quit Firefox and restart it. You should now be able to properly authenticate.
Screenshots of the steps listed above
Firefox – Preferences
Firefox Preferences – Content Tab
Firefox – Adding a Pop-up Exception for flapper.lps.org
Firefox Add-On menu
Firefox Plugin Management
EXAMPLE: Authenticated Pop-Up
EXAMPLE: LPS Web Filter Role Based Authentication Screen
LPS uses WordPress for teacher websites, many school building websites and in a growing list of other situations. The folks at WordPress work hard to produce quality mobile applications for every mobile operating system (iOS, Android, etc.) so that you can easily add posts and pictures, or manage comments from your phone or tablet.
Learn more about the WordPress mobile applications available for your phone or tablet.
This video should help you get your LPS site ready for the remote application and walk you through the proper settings to make a good connection!
Setup the WordPress mobile application with LPS websites
STEP ONE: Setup your LPS site for remote access
To enable your LPS website(s) to be able to be remotely updated, you will need to login to each one of your sites and make a simple change.
- Go to the SETTINGS menu on the left side of the page and choose the WRITING sub-menu.
- On the WRITING settings, check the box labeled XML-RPC
- Click SAVE.
STEP TWO: Connect your WordPress mobile application
- Launch your mobile app and choose to “Add Self-Hosted Blog”
- Enter the URL as follows, using your own LPS username after the final slashURL: http://wp/lps/org/username
- Enter your LPS username and password in the following two fields
UPDATED AUGUST 2015
Over the past few years, LPS employees have begun to explore the powerful tools within the LPS Google Apps suite. Teachers and Administrators have observed many new opportunities to more efficiently collect, reference and analyze information in this suite, more so than in any tool previously available to all staff. With that in mind many have considered, or have even begun putting together Google forms, collaborative spreadsheets, Google Classrooms and other documents that are used in formative assessment or to aggregate and put form to many anecdotal records that have always existed. PLC work has also begun to adopt these ideas and many teams are collecting data that is explicitly tied to individual students, but analyzed in aggregate.
As Educators we all recognize the importance of protecting the students and families we serve by maintaining data security at every possible juncture. Realizing the “cloud” based nature of the LPS Google Docs is a point of concern for everyone. Since there is no local copy of these files on our computers, where does the data ultimately exist – and who has access to it? These questions have given us a justified pause.
The tools that we refer to generically as “Google Docs” exist in an environment that Google refers to as its “Google Apps for Education.” These tools are held separate from the tool set available to businesses or the general public. Only verified educational institutions can participate in the “Apps for Education” program. In LPS this is our CLASS.LPS.ORG environment.
Keeping the Education version of these apps separate from the publicly available versions allows Google to maintain different licensing, terms of service, and privacy standards than apply to the business or general public’s tools. To that end, Google provides some guidance and clarification on these topics.
Google works to be as transparent about security issues as possible. Some common questions and concerns are specifically addressed below, but the following resources will allow you to look deeper into these issues on your own if you are so inclined.
CAUTION: Be aware of your audience when sharing
The weakest part of any secure digital environment is the human beings using it. By default every Google Doc is private to the creator. LPS staff members can choose to share documents with other staff members, students, or with the public (outside of class.lps.org.) Teachers should be vigilant about NOT sharing any sensitive student information with students or the public.
Important Questions to Consider
Which Google Products does this apply to?
According to the Terms of Service, this applies to Google Apps for Education Core Services (Mail, Calendar, Talk/Hangouts, Drive, Sites, and Contacts), and Google Classroom.
Who owns the content produced in Google Apps for Education?
The Google Apps Terms of Service contractually ensures that your institution (students, faculty, and staff) are the sole owners of their data. Your Apps content belongs to your school, or individual users at your school. Not Google.
Who can see our content?
Google does not look at your content. Google employees will only access content that you store on Apps when an administrator from LPS grants Google employees explicit permission to do so for troubleshooting.
Who is our content shared with?
Google does not share your content. Google does not share personal information with advertisers or other 3rd parties without your consent.
Google complies with applicable US privacy law, and the Google Apps Terms of Service specifically details obligations and compliance with FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) regulations.
Are Google Apps for Education FERPA compliant?
The Terms of Service for Google Apps for Education specifically address this question as follows:
The parties acknowledge that (a) Customer Data may include personally identifiable information from education records that are subject to FERPA (“FERPA Records”); and (b) to the extent that Customer Data includes FERPA Records, Google will be considered a “School Official” (as that term is used in FERPA and its implementing regulations) and will comply with FERPA.
Where is content stored?
Your data is stored in Google’s network of data centers. Google maintains a number of geographically distributed data centers, the locations of which are kept discreet for security purposes. Access to data centers is very limited to only authorized select Google employees personnel.
Is content safe from others when it is running on the same servers?
Yes. All user accounts are protected via virtual lock and key that ensures that one user cannot see another user’s data. This is similar to how customer data is segmented in other shared infrastructures such as online banking applications.
Google Apps has received a satisfactory SSAE 16 Type II audit. This means that an independent auditor has examined the controls protecting the data in Google Apps (including logical security, privacy, Data Center security, etc) and provided reasonable assurance that these controls are in place and operating effectively.
In order for the district to receive ERate funding that reduces the cost of our Internet access by 62%, Federal regulations require compliance with guidelines provided in the ‘Children’s Internet Protection Act’ [47 U.S.C. § 254], also known as CIPA. CIPA guidelines require the restriction of access to specific types of web content.
Based upon CIPA guidelines, LPS employs a web content filter that blocks access to the following categories of web pages for all users:
- Anonymous Proxies (Sites that allow for circumventing of web filters)
Click to see a larger version of this diagram.
LPS Filtering Decisions
A district “web content committee” comprised of representatives from Curriculum, Library Media Services, Computing Services, and Student Services makes decisions regarding restrictions of additional web content. Sites containing content deemed inconsistent with the educational mission of the district are put in the “district block” list. Some examples of these district-wide blocks are Facebook and YouTube.
Building Filtering Decisions Building based web content committees can make additional decisions related to access, however, district CIPA restrictions are not subject to revision. The primary purpose of instructionally based decisions that: adjust the district (non-CIPA) block list, layer additional categories of blocked content above and beyond the categories listed above or remove sites from filtered categories on the basis of instructional merit, is to manage student access to web content in the best interest of meeting learning objectives. For example, many buildings have chosen to additionally restrict:
- Non-LPS communication tools
- Additional “Social Media” sites
Building web content committees should consist of, at minimum, the building Media Specialist, an Administrator, Tech Leader, and possibly other teachers.
Role Based Authentication
Example of the “block page.”
While you are on the LPS network if you attempt to load a web page that is restricted for students, you may notice a login & password field appear on the block page. LPS employees may enter their LPS credentials to access any web page not contained in the CIPA block list. This is known as “Role Based Authentication” and respects an educator’s right to make professional decisions about the content you access.
By logging in with your LPS username and password to access content that is blocked from student view, you are offering a digital “signature” that you accept responsibility for the content you are accessing and acknowledge the content is consistent with the educational mission of Lincoln Public Schools. This is neither a “bypass” nor “override” of the filter but, rather, it is access granted to adult educators and this access should not be used to provision access to students as that is the primary purpose of building web content committees.
When you login to the filter a small pop-up window will appear and as long as this window is present, you are able to access restricted content. All of the URLs (web addresses) accessed while this pop-up window is open are logged in the filter software. If you experience difficulty with this process, try these troubleshooting tips.
Example of the authorization window.
It is not appropriate, and would be a direct violation of LPS Regulation 3972.1, for teachers or other employees to either login in to the filter and allow students to gain access to content that would otherwise be restricted, or give students your user name and password for this purpose. LPS Instructional Policy 6441 specifically states that disciplinary action (including expulsion or dismissal) may result from inappropriate use of computer technology or networks.
If you have any questions about role based access or filtering policies in LPS please contact
Kirk Langer, Director of Technology [email@example.com].
If you have questions about the operation of the filtering software, please contact
Rob Smith, Application Administrator [firstname.lastname@example.org].
These resources act as support for the presentation “Social Media Tips for Parents”.
LPS Technology Curriculum
LPS is currently piloting the Common Sense Media “Digital Literacy and Citizenship” curriculum, and are looking at a wider implementation of that curriculum next year.
Resources for Parents wanting to talk to their children about online safety
You can Google many parent resources if you are interested in furthering this conversation with your children. Here are a couple of resources we recommend.
Students should understand…
Facebook and other social networking sites are public sources of information. The information may be seen by your school administrators, your parents, and law enforcement. It is also accessible to people who you don’t even know now, but may later want to impress—such as university admissions and scholarship officials and prospective employers. In fact, many large companies now search the internet as a means of conducting background checks on job applicants. What you say now on Facebook may affect you years later.
What you say now on Facebook may also affect you right now. Students may face school consequences if:
- Social Networking sites are accessed at the school during school hours
- Comments posted on sites are threatening or derogatory towards a staff member
- Comments posted lead or could reasonably lead to disruptions at school.
- Pictures or writings that show that you have violated student conduct rules may result in school discipline. For example a picture of a student drinking a beer may very well lead to a suspension from activities if someone tells the school about it.
Videos shown in this presentation
Articles Referenced in this Presentation
LPS Specific Information & Contacts
If you have questions about the way(s) in which we address social media in schools, we encourage you to contact your child’s teachers, building administration, or someone in LPS Computing Services who will be able to respond to your questions of concerns.
H. Kirk Langer
Director of Technology
Instructional Technology Coordinator
Many LPS teachers are unaware that our school district subscribes to a lengthy list of resources that puts rich digital content at your fingertips. To be clear, these are not your average web pages. These are web based databases of content produced by professional organizations geared towards K-12 classrooms.
To access the logins & passwords for the LPS Digital Content Resources, please reference these pages:
Please check with your building’s Media Specialist or Library Media Services web page for more information.
Per our legal agreement with these companies, please do not share the user names or passwords with anyone who is not enrolled in or employed by Lincoln Public Schools.
Sometimes, a video is the best way to communicate a thought or idea. Unfortunately, a video’s file size is often much, much larger than you would ever want to upload to WordPress. This leaves you with two options:
- Put the video in DocuShare and make a link to it from WordPress.
When visitors want to see the video, they click the link and their web browser will load the video then play it. If the video is short, this is a good/fast/solid option. This strategy lacks in two main areas though; if the video is long it can be difficult to load up and view from your web browser, and it lacks the visual appeal of seeing the video within the context of the page. You might want to use this method in situations where…
- You are not the copyright holder for the video
- Only LPS students or staff should be able to view the video
- You want the visitors to be able to download the video to their own computer
- Embed a web friendly version of the video into the web page itself.
In this situation the video still does not live in WordPress, but it appears to visitors that the video is part of the page content, and it is viewed in a video player without leaving the page. This is the expected behavior for a visitor who has ever used YouTube or other video sites. You might want to use this method in situations where…
- You video is long and visitors need to see that the content is loading, or need to be able to control playback
- You are the copyright holder for the video
- You desire a more engaging display of your content
Embedding a video requires three basic steps:
- Preparing the video to be web friendly
- Uploading the video to an appropriate LPS server
- Pasting some code into your WordPress page
1) Preparing Your Videos
First, consider the size (width x height) of your video. Will it play within the LPS web page you intend it for? Depending upon the template you are dealing with, you should aim to have the width of your video be less than 700 pixels if the page has no sidebar, or 450 pixels if the page does have a sidebar.
Altering the dimensions of a video is best done in the original video creation software like iMovie (Mac) or Adobe Premiere Elements (PC) or perhaps in a compressing software like Miro Video Converter.
Then, for your videos to play in all web browsers, you will need to convert it into two different file types. One type will play well in Safari (MP4/H.264), the other will play well on Firefox (WebM/Vp8). (More information on this topic.)
NOTE: Don’t worry – visitors will not see two videos, their computer will select the appropriate version for them to see when they click play.
You can accomplish resizing and format conversion in many tools. Use one you feel comfortable with, The easiest we have encountered is Miro Video Converter. It is FREE and available for Mac and Windows.
One you have launched Miro Video Converter there are really only three steps:
- Drag the video onto the Miro window
- Select an appropriate device or format from the drop down menu. (Use the two situations below to guide you in this step.) Click “Convert”.
- Repeat for the second video type.
If your video needs to be both resized and converted
- If your video is too wide for the web page and needs to be shrunk, begin by dragging the video onto the Miro window. From the Device/Format menu select either “iPod Touch 4” to make the video 640 pixels wide or “iPod Classic” to make it 320 pixels wide. Conveniently, this also converts it to MP4 which is one of the two formats you will need.
- Drag the newly shrunken MP4 version of your video right back onto Miro Video Converter again. This time select “WebM (vp8)” from the Other Formats at the bottom of the list. This will convert it to the second format you need.
If your video only needs to be converted
- Drag your video onto the Miro window. From the Device/Format menu select “MP4” from the formats at the bottom of the list. Press the “Convert” button.
- Drag the video right back onto Miro Video Converter again. This time select “WebM (vp8)” from the formats at the bottom of the list. Press “Convert” again. This will convert it to the second format you need.
2) Uploading the Videos
LPS has a server specifically for hosting & serving videos in your web pages. To use it, log in here:
NOTE: DO NOT embed videos to which you are not the copyright holder! If you did not create the video yourself, there is a very good chance that you cannot legally embed them in the public view. If you have an instructional need for students to access the video, consider placing the video in Student DocuShare and linking to it from your website. This makes it available only to authenticated LPS students & staff.
Follow the instructions on this page to upload the MP4 and WebM videos you created a moment ago.
If you want a “Poster Image” (an optional feature) feel free to download & use this “LPS-TV” poster available in various sizes. Otherwise, create your own.
When you have completed the upload of your videos, you will be provided a box full of code. This is HTML code that should be used to embed these newly uploaded videos into your LPS web page.
Select the code and COPY it.
3) Paste that Code
- Login to your WordPress site (or any other LPS web site tool).
- Open (edit) the appropriate Page or Post.
- In the top right corner of the editor, you should see a tab that lets you switch between editing in “Visual” or “HTML” modes. Select HTML.
- In the body of the web page, place your cursor where the video belongs. PASTE the code you copied from LPS Ember.
- “Publish” or “Update” your WordPress page and preview the video.
Remember that when you return to WordPress you will still be shown the HTML tab, which will probably not behave as you’d like. Simply return to the tabs and select “Visual” again to return to normal WordPress use.
Did something not work?
If you run into difficulty during this process, don’t be dismayed. Converting video formats and embedding them into web sites is tricky business at times. Feel free to submit a Help Desk ticket in the category Software / LPS Web Services / WordPress.
You can also post a question or read the ones posted by others in our discussion forum.
This page has been deprecated and redirected. Now located here: http://home.lps.org/training/wordpress-2
One of the most popular buzzwords of the past few years is the term “podcasting.” Because of that, we are frequently asked how a teacher or other staff member can start their own podcast. Our observation is that there is a lot of confusion about what a podcast really is. Let’s begin with a brief review of terminology. According to Wikipedia:
A podcast is a series of audio or video digital-media files which is distributed over the Internet by syndicated download, through Web feeds, to portable media players and personal computers. Though the same content may also be made available by direct download or streaming, a podcast is distinguished from other digital-media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically when new content is added.
In other words, think of a podcast as a periodical like a magazine or weekly television broadcast. If your content has an identifiable theme, is regularly scheduled, and you have a potential audience that will want to continue to absorb it, podcasting is exactly what you want to do. Please contact Brian Fitzgerald (458-3152) to discuss tools that will make this process as easy as possible for you! (WordPress will be the right tool in most situations.)
It is safe to say that very few teachers will be falling into the category described above. Most of the time what you will have is audio or video files that you would like to share with students or the community via a web page. If you created the content yourself or are certain of your rights to redistribute the content on a web page, you can certainly do that.
LPS offers three options for those seeking to publish a podcast. Here’s some details about them to help you find a solution that fits your needs.
Just about everybody at LPS uses Docushare right? Wouldn’t it be great if you could drop some files in a collection and yell, “Podcast!”. DS Cast makes it just about that easy.
- Create a collection for the podcast
- Upload MP3 and or MP4 files
- Ensure that the collection is viewable by “All Users and Guest”
- Note your collection number (found in the URL) and enter it at http://www.lps.org/dscast. Podcast done!
Who is this great for?
For 95% of podcasts, this will be the best solution. It does not require the time and commitment that other solutions do and it does not require that you use your WordPress site in a specific way. You can create as many as you want and make/destroy them on a whim.
WordPress, as a blogging engine, does a good job of creating podcasts. All you have to do is link to audio files in your post and you will have a podcast.
- Upload media file to Docushare, ensure that it is viewable by “All Users and Guest” then right-click it and copy the address to your clipboard.
- Create a new post on WordPress (must be blogging in order to do this) and use the “add audio” button to insert your audio file URL from Docushare.
- Post and repeat
Who is this great for?
If you are already blogging with WordPress and the content of your podcast will fit perfectly within your normal postings, it is a great way to do everything in one step.