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.

posted under Management | 2 Comments »

Snow Days & Distance Learning

March27

Snow…

That’s become a dirty word in a lot of school systems.

Granted, we all love a random day off, but after too many, you suddenly realize that the school year will continue well into that period of time when students (and staff) shift into “summer vacation brain”, making instruction not so effective.

Many districts have tried Blizzard Bags (with and without success) to keep student learning from being interrupted on snow days. There are many reasons why such an endeavor may or may not work, from student resources and support at home to the structure and quality of the activities created.

My district has investigated the possibility of making up some of our snow days this school year with “Distance Learning Days”. Essentially, students would make up a specific snow day by completing a certain number of assignments (based on a developmentally appropriate number of minutes) that correspond with the missed day. Since we are looking at this from the perspective of making up days and want to make this endeavor family-friendly, students would be given a two week window to complete that Distance Learning Day’s assignments at home on their own schedule.

I was very excited to talk with a colleague this morning who had started thinking about this proposal. She had started a folder in Google with a Doc dedicated to each Distance Learning Day. She has given permission for you to peek at what she’s drafting here! (Thank you, Ms. Anderson!)

What you will notice is that she is developing a workflow for herself and colleagues to collaborate on building these Distance Learning Days as well as for students to complete assignments that address specific learning objectives in an efficient, clear manner using digital tools and services.

For example, this folder can be shared with all the members of her teaching team, including specialists. Let’s say that her students missed music class or strings class, that specialist will be able to type in an assignment on the chart she created for that day. That way when she links this Google Doc in her Google Classroom, students will have the expected work all in one place for easy access. Furthermore, many of her grade level team is teaching the same content at the same time as she is. Therefore, they will be able to work together on the creation of high quality assignments in this space and then make a copy of the Doc to tailor to that specific classroom’s schedule for the snow day that is being made up.

Ms. Anderson and I also talked about how familiar subscription services such as DreamBox, BrainPOP and Typing Club may be utilized by students at home with directed assignments. For example, the teacher may make a short term assigned focus in DreamBox that addresses that snow day’s math learning standard/lesson. The teacher can access the results of the work right in the dashboard of the program, proving that the work was completed and what next instructional steps the teacher can take with that student. In BrainPOP, students can be instructed to watch a movie in a content area like science or social studies and take the built-in quiz. The student can fill out a Google Form that reflects on the learning as well. The Form can be “generic” so that it may be used for lots of topics at BrainPOP and other future Distance Learning Days. The Form’s results will be submitted to the teacher and archived via a Google Sheet, demonstrating learning and holding students accountable for the work. (Of course, a teacher even could sign up for My BrainPOP for more great services and feedback opportunities!) In Typing Club, a teacher can make specific assignments as well or just indicate a set number of minutes for keyboarding practice. The service logs all of the work that students complete in order to check expectations and see progress right on the teacher dashboard.

And there are so many more Google apps and non-Google services that could be harnessed in the creation of authentic activities that meet student learning objectives. Plus, the opportunity to “flip classrooms” with teacher instructional videos… and differentiating and personalizing the assignments so that all students can get what they need and feel successful

I think we really could take control of these Distance Learning Days and craft them into wonderful opportunities for advancing student learning and teaching practices.

(Disclaimer: We all understand that if there is no power or access at a student’s home or even the local library that these outlined digital activities would not be able to take place. For synchronous Distance Learning Snow Days, alternate plans and materials would need to be ready for students or more time allotted for the completion. Making up days with the two week grace period gives us a lot more wiggle room for digital devices and services to be available and operational.)

An Idea for Sharing, Collecting & Organizing Links From Socrative (or Anywhere)

February13

At a PLC meeting this winter, group members were talking about not reinventing the wheel with Socrative quizzes that they had created in math. In Socrative, there is the ability to share a quiz to an email address; therefore, the team was beginning the process of sending each other these quiz links.

While I love the idea of sharing these resources, I was envisioning a possible nightmare for them: overflowing inboxes full of emails with these links that would have to be addressed and organized. The emails would come in randomly, too, as people shared new quizzes throughout the year. I’m also assuming that the sender would have to enter each person’s email address every time.

An idea that I proposed to streamline this whole process was the creation of a Google Form. Every time a PLC member wanted to share a Socrative quiz, she would copy the quiz link and then enter it into a Google Form that would organize the information into a Google Sheet that all PLC members could access. Members now could go to this Sheet to get the quiz links. Additionally, a member could set up individual notifications for the Sheet by going into the Tools menu as shown below:

Notifications would keep them from forgetting to check the Sheet for the latest links.

There also is another advantage to collecting and organizing these links via a Form: more specific details about the quiz can be included and archived that are not options in the Socrative sharing method.

For example, subject area and topic may be collected along with the link. Then when a teacher visits the Sheet for ideas, it is clear what the quizzes assess. There also is a place for notes on the Form for any other specifics about the quiz, such as titles, targeted audience, modifications, etc. The Sheet would be able to be sorted by subject area and topic for easy retrieval of all quizzes in that area and/or topic.

Here is an example Form from my Guided Math PLC.

We are all doing so many great things… how are you sharing, collecting and organizing them?

Keyboard Shortcuts on a Chromebook

November14

There are many things that we automatically know how to do on a laptop or computer; however, when we are on Chromebooks things can feel a little different, and our “go to” keystrokes and methods don’t seem to work.

For example, I have people ask me a lot: How do I copy and paste on a Chromebook? How do I take a screenshot?

At this point, I switch between so many devices that I don’t have everything memorized. Therefore, a little Google search yielded some resources for all of us. Here is a link to some popular keyboard shortcuts for Chromebooks… and yes, screenshot key combinations are listed! Another resource I found is a little more comprehensive.

The coolest find: when you are on a Chromebook, press these 3 keys: Ctrl+Alt+/ .

An interactive onscreen keyboard will appear. Now, press on the Shift, Ctrl, Alt or Search keys (either separately or even various combinations on your physical keyboard), and the onscreen keyboard will display a menu of different tasks that can be performed when combing with other keys. I love that there is a built-in reference right on the Chromebooks! This is a must try!

 

AssistiveTouch – A Great Demo Tool for iPad

October17

Being able to demonstrate where to go and what to do on an iPad is essential. Even if you are plugged into a VGA cable projecting your iPad on a screen, the audience (your students) can not see easily where you are tapping. Often where you are only appears for a split second with a slight color change, depending on the app you are using.

AssistiveTouch to the rescue!

Turning on this accessibility option on an iPad can make directions crystal clear for your students.

Watch this video to see what I mean.

Go to Settings on your iPad. Then go to General and scroll to Accessibility. Under that category, choose AssistiveTouch. Toggle the feature to On.

You will notice a spotlight-like circle will appear on your iPad screen. You can move that spotlight circle anywhere on your screen. Moving the spotlight as you model directions on your iPad is like “watching the bouncing ball”. (Remember following that object as you sang along to words on a screen?) When your iPad is plugged into a projector (or AirPlaying) and you move the AssistiveTouch circle to the parts you want highlighted, students will see everywhere you go!

Of course, there our other reasons to use AssistiveTouch (go here to learn more about this powerful tool and its intended uses), but it works as a visual movement tracker beautifully for us with students.

Demonstrate away!

(This tip is compliments of an Apple Update iPad Workshop that I attended this Fall. It’s the little things that really can make a difference!)

posted under Management | No Comments »
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