Tech Tuesday

Finds and Thoughts about Tech Integration

Seesaw and Google Sign In – A Concern on Shared Devices

November6

I love that our students and teachers can use their Google accounts to sign into many different services. It’s fast and convenient. However, it does make you vulnerable to someone else easily getting into your accounts… on purpose or not.

At my school, several classrooms have started using Seesaw, an online student learning journal that allows for students to share and reflect on work with the teacher, classmates and families. We have many types of devices in our building, and Seesaw is accessible via the web on a computer or Chromebook as well as through its own app for mobile devices, like iPad.

We are not 1:1, so students share devices. Therefore, it’s important that they understand and follow responsible user expectations, such as signing out completely from accounts and staying out of other people’s files.

Recently, when I was assisting a fifth grade class in its first time using the Seesaw app on iPads, I demonstrated how to sign in using our Google log-ins within the app and then showed students where the log out was located in Seesaw. As usual, I took the opportunity to talk about our responsibilities and being good, respectful digital citizens at our school with our devices.

Interestingly, during the work session, I needed to log in again to the app and noticed that when I chose to use the Google sign-in, it took me to a window that already had my username. When I clicked on it, I was logged right in without having to enter a password. This action was very concerning to me and the teacher of that class. I even voiced my confusion to the students that the device was holding onto my log-in, not something that we want happening on shared devices. I told them we would log out of Seesaw today in the manner demonstrated, but stay tuned for a better solution to avoid this potential problem with Google.

Thus, my investigation began back in my office.

Remembering that a Safari window had popped up for me to log in when I was in Seesaw, I opened the Safari app on the iPad and went to google.com. On that home page, I could see that I was logged into my Google account. Previously, I knew that I had not been signed in here. I signed myself out of Google and even removed my account (the protocol I teach students in a shared device environment when we are using a web browser). I then opened the Seesaw app and chose to use my Google account to sign into that app once again. The window popped up, but this time it did not automatically log me in. It was blank, and I had to enter my username and password completely. Just what I wanted on a shared device!

Next, I took an iPad off our cart and opened Seesaw. I made sure it was an iPad that had been used by a student in class that day. I chose the Google sign in within the Seesaw app, and I was never prompted to enter my credentials. Instead, I went right into that student’s Seesaw account. During that class’ session to emphasize the importance of signing out of any app, I had each student check in with me during this stage. Therefore, I know that this student really had signed out of Seesaw, yet anyone now who came along to use the app after him was able to log right into his account via the Google sign-in.

When I opened Safari on that iPad and went to google.com, I was not surprised that he was logged in there like I had been on my iPad. Note the student’s first intial “K” in the upper right hand corner of the screenshot below:

I signed him out of the Google home page which produced a “clean” screen. Being still a little suspicious, I clicked on the Sign in button on the home page, and was greeted with a “Hi FirstName” and that student’s Google username/email requesting that a password be entered. When I clicked on the arrow next to the username, I finally got the option to “Use another account” or even better “Remove an account.”

More experimentation took place. I didn’t log-in or remove the account, but went back to the Seesaw app and tried logging in with Google again there. I was given his username, but would have to enter a password. I assume that if I had removed his account from the Google home page that everything would have come up blank.

My conclusion: users will have to go to Safari after logging out of Seesaw and sign themselves out of Google. The bottom line is that when you log out of Seesaw, you are ONLY logging out of Seesaw. Google account information is not being removed unless you manually do it, leaving a user susceptible to others accessing his/her account and files, possible even with other apps that use Google.

I have discovered that this issue also exists if you are using a web browser access for Seesaw on a computer or Chromebook. The one exception is if a Chromebook is set up for a public session, then as soon as the Chrome browser session ends, all data is wiped. In other words, the next user on a public session will not be able to access someone else’s account. A good thing.

I did a little Internet search to see if there was a less cumbersome solution than remembering to go to google.com to log out. Unfortunately, Seesaw did not have any information in its support center. I did find a video (from a teacher not affiliated with Seesaw) about clearing out Google accounts on iPads that was eye-opening. I couldn’t believe how many accounts could be stored and accessed in Seesaw… a big challenge in a shared device environment. Watch below.

In this video, the students were signed out (as indicated below their names), but the usernames were present (probably because they were not removed as he explained as a method of cleaning up a long list). I wonder what would happen if students never were signing out of Google via Safari on the iPads because they did not realize that they needed to? Would all of the accounts be signed in and accessible to anyone who came along?

The next day, I tried this scenario out, and sure enough… I got into several accounts. I discussed this matter with another teacher who told me that they were using the Email option in Seesaw, not the Google option. As I was shown, with the Email option, you still type in your Google username and password, but it does not log you into Google as well. When the students signed out of Seesaw, and we went to google.com via Safari, there was no trace of the student. Score!

Strangely enough, I had tried to log in with the Email option the day before, but it would not work for me. I had assumed that it would not work for students as well. My next move was having a fifth grader from the original class to try the Email option to log into Seesaw. The result: he also was unable to log in this way.

Hmmmm… why can one of our third grade classes do it, but a fifth grade class can not? This is getting much more complicated, and requires me to reach out to find out what is the difference in these users/accounts.

In the meantime, I know that Seesaw does allow for QR code access, and that some teachers prefer this method for students. I have been a proponent of us using our Google accounts because our students know their log-ins and with a little practice are quite quick. It’s a great way for them to understand the process, too. Of course, now, I can see yet another reason for young students using the QR code access: to avoid the Google sign out issue.

However, I don’t think I’m going to recommend that at the grades 3-5 level that we be deterred. I think there is a lot of value in teaching the need to be concerned about your account security. I just wish there were prompts within the app itself to remind the user and fewer steps that I know will be a challenge for anyone who is in a hurry to move onto the next task in the classroom.

Please take this as good awareness of our other services we use that are linked to Google sign in.

Thanks for reading about my trials and tribulations… I know for some this may seem like something to not worry about in an elementary school, but I think it’s a necessity to be mindful of security and to teach good habits for our digital world.

Everyone Can Create

October23

If you are using iPads, you must check out Apple’s Everyone Can Create series.

Five, free guide books were released this month:

I attended a session by Apple and did some of the step by step “lessons” in these books… there are so many ideas of how to harness the power or drawings, photos, videos and music into the content area.

What I like is they are utilizing their core, free apps, such as iMovie, Garageband and Camera in many of the suggestions.

For example, one “trick” that I learned has to do with a feature in Photos that I didn’t know existed in the new iOS.

Snap a photo using the Camera app. Then open the photo. Choose Edit. There are the usual options such as cropping and color adjustment, but did you know that if you tap on the … (three dot menu) you can choose Markup? You then can use a marker to draw or choose text to annotate on the photo. It then can be saved and used in another app or shared elsewhere. What a simple way to add a title, labels or point out something in a photo for kids. It then can become a part of a bigger culmination of work (like a PicPlayPost media collage).

Here is my attempt at using Markup:

Using an iPad, I took a pic in the Camera app and choose to edit in Photos.

Tapped on … in edit tools and then Markup.

Used the writing utensils to draw an arrow on the photo.

Clicked on the + for more options! Like, Text.

Added a text box and made a caption.

The final result of how it will look when shared.

(Special thanks to the “I Spy School Days” book by Walter Wick and Jean Marzollo at a center outside my office today.)

I seriously am thinking about making a study group to explore the Everyone Can Create guides… would you join?

 

New School Year – More Chromebooks – Lots of Questions

September25

We’ve had Chromebooks at Abbot for several years; however, with more devices now being deployed to classrooms as dedicated learning stations this school year, lots of questions are popping up.

I’ve started an FAQ for us at Abbot to help, and I’m going to add to it as needed.

Are there any questions missing? Please comment below, and I’ll do my best to find an answer!

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Web 2.0 Reflection

June5

I am taking an educational technology course as a part of my CAGS program. An assignment that I had to complete was a reflection on some Web 2.0 tools. I thought I would share my thoughts here. As always, your comments are welcome!

“Web 2.0 How-To For Educators” by Solomon and Schrum shares a plethora of tools for educators and students alike. Many of these options help advance teachers pedagogy as well as meet student learning objectives.

Blogs have been around for some time now; however, the purpose and results are still relevant. Blogs or an online journal or web-log were one of the first leaps into the notion of web 2.0, giving many users the ability to contribute to an online world. The Internet no longer belonged to computer science professionals only. Anyone can express his/her thoughts and ideas through posts or journal entries that are available to anyone else on the Internet. Blogs are a great place for educators to reflect on practices and share what they are doing in the classroom. Furthermore, if blogs are set up to be public or even to a select group, conversational exchanges may take place in commenting.

The same holds true with students contributing to blogs. Being able to share his/her work with a potential worldwide audience instead of just the classroom teacher can be motivating to students and drive the writing process. Blogs also are ideal avenues for many types of learners in expressing his/her knowledge in often a non-threatening environment that affords the writer plenty of time to formulate ideas before sharing. When expectations, parameters and guidelines are established, blogs can be a rewarding experience that helps students learn real world communication skills.

Microblogging sprang out of blogging, giving the user the opportunity to contribute short bursts of information on the web. Twitter is one of the most popular examples of microblogging that many teachers use for professional development. The key to Twitter is that the user types only 140 characters or less to his/her followers. These short writings are perfect for passing along a website address as a resource or to send out a request for resources. This free service has allowed teachers to connect with educators worldwide and build what is often referred to as Personal or Professional Learning Networks (PLN). In order to see the power of Twitter, one has to invest a little time and gather up contacts to fully experience the benefits, and for this reason, this microblogging platform can be a hard sell to busy teachers. Likewise, it can be like drinking from the fire hose with rapid tweets that appear constantly. Learning how to filter and curate are essential, and again that takes some time.

Twitter has found its way into the classroom as a distribution method to families with teachers tweeting out what’s happening. Many schools have Twitter accounts to which people subscribe, receiving notifications and usually lots of pictures of the great work taking place. Twitter is a wonderful system to reach busy families and even keep extended family connected. It’s also a good way to drive traffic to your blog or other work online with a simple share of an address in a tweet. While young students are not permitted to use Twitter due to age restrictions (13+), teachers can invite their followers (in the form of a tweet) to visit their students’ blogs, granting an even wider audience for sharing and collaborating.

Podcasting is a take on the old radio show. A person audio records a segment and then posts it to a site where there is RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed capabilities. In other words, the beauty of podcasts are that they are a way to express thoughts and ideas, and the audience can subscribe to the feed, so that whenever a new “show” is posted the user can get it right on his/her device. Hence, that’s where the “pod” derives as the practice started on iPods and specifically through iTunes. Images or even video also can be added to these “casts” making them Vodcasts. Due to the ease of their creation on most devices, podcasts are readily available on all topics. Educators can find one and subscribe. It’s a convenient way to find out what other people in the field of education are doing as one can listen while driving or going for a walk all from a mobile device. This medium also is appealing to those who prefer the audio and/or visual modality to reading.

The same holds true for students of all different skill levels and learning preferences. With a simple recording app and a secure, child-friendly hosting site, teachers can give students podcasting or vodcasting as an option for reflection and sharing of ideas and work beyond the classroom walls. Creativity can be sparked with fun ways to display and assess student knowledge. Of course, attention has to be paid to privacy concerns of children with certain guidelines about what is put out there on blogs and any online service. Moreover, parental permission has to be obtained. However, students will learn practical digital citizenship skills. Plus, they will have a real audience for their work which is very exciting.

Productivity Tools, in particular Google, can be a teacher’s and a student’s best friend. Two of the key features of using a Google service such as Docs and Slides are flexibility and collaboration. Google saves “to the cloud” and not to a specific device. A user can start working from his/her iPad, and then later at home, go on the same Doc on a computer and continue working. This aspect has been a game changer with students being able to work at school and from other locations in order to complete assignments at another time. Furthermore, if a teacher is working on a grant utilizing Docs, other members of his/her team may be given sharing permissions to go into the same Doc synchronously or asynchronously to contribute to the writing when it’s convenient. There is no more attaching and sending the latest update of a project among group members via email. Everyone (teachers and students) can access the Doc live online and see the latest version of a draft. In addition, through commenting features, editing and developing ideas are promoted and fostered. Potentially, a teacher or a student can work with anyone in the world with such a tool, developing the skills needed in today’s careers. School districts can help facilitate this type of environment through the creation of teacher and student accounts. Specific parameters can be set to make the experience safe and appropriate for various age levels. With the introduction of Google Classroom in the last few years, delivering and managing this online assignments to students is very user friendly for even the youngest users.

Teachers and students have two roles that they play in today’s web: consumers and creators. Apps or applications that run on mobile devices or through online subscriptions are readily available. Many apps can be for entertainment or productivity. In school, the focus is on apps that assist with the learning process. Teachers may use an app that tracks behavior or can send a message blast out to families. Apps may be chosen for students that help a student practice a math skill or watch specific videos on a topic. In this regard, the user is a consumer. There are apps, however, that shift the role to creator. For example, apps that record videos and voices turn a device such as an iPad into a creation tool. Apps that build multi-media collages from photos and talking avatars produced by other apps and then consolidated into one output for sharing with their teacher or another targeted audience further demonstrates the creation capabilities. As with other tools, the management of these apps and the devices does require attention to updates and safety measures on the part of the school. The increased accessibility to curriculum for all students is tremendous and definitely shines through in enthusiastic and engaged classrooms.

With all of these tools available, it’s important to keep in mind that a tool is just that – a tool. It can’t replace a teacher. Yet, the good news is it can advance a teacher’s practices through deliberate use and promote student growth through thoughtful, calculated implementation into the learning process.

Keep Up-to-date on Google Classroom

May15

One thing that I appreciate about Google Classroom: it’s constantly evolving. If you are an avid user, I’m sure you have noticed the “pop ups” from time to time explaining new features. Unfortunately, if you’re like me and in a hurry, you may dismiss those “pop ups” without a single thought in order to do what needs to be done at that moment. (We’re never busy, right?!)  And then life happens… and you forget to explore the new feature… cycle repeats until a colleague mentions it, and better yet, shows what s/he is raving about.

Well, I found something that may help keep you in the loop  even if you are an impulsive dismisser: The “What’s new in Classroom” page from Classroom Help. This page is updated monthly by Google itself, giving links that lead to clear visuals on how to use a new feature.

Other ways to stay “in the know”…

So check these out and, perhaps, you’ll be THAT super, cutting edge colleague who now helps everyone else out.

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