Latest Tech News

  • Why Google Meet for TSD Video Conferencing?

    Why is TSD using Google Meet for Video Conferencing instead of the popular Zoom platform? Answer: For a number of reasons explained below, we are standardized on Google Meet and Google Live Stream. See this video for summary explaination in addition to the reasons below:

    • We want to focus PD efforts and guidance around one platform
    • We want to minimize technical requirements - all staff and students already have a Google account and almost all types of machines will work.
    • Google Meet is compatable with all of the Google applictions our staff and students regularly use. 
    • We have been meeting with other tech leaders in other districts and we are all experiencing issues with our video conferencing software, no matter which one we use. That is because poor performance is less about software and more about the other parameters that the software depends on (see below).
    • A video conference can be clear and efficient for some users and not for others. That is because each meeting has different circumstances. Video conferencing depends on how much bandwidth is available at all ends for all users, the quality of the computer's graphics card, and the quality of the computer's network interface card. Other factors also can affect a video conference such as large use by other businesses in the region who are hogging up bandwidth during a certain time of day.
    • Bandwidth use has skyrocketed. To deal with it, Comcast is setting limits during peak times that can degrade video conference quality.
    • Services have to be vetted to determine if their privacy policy meets legal requirements for schools. This is why many districts are disallowing Zoom. It's privacy policy is not compliant with Colorado student data privacy laws and it has many concerns found here.
    • One of the best ways to figure out how a service is doing is to look at downdetector.com. By clicking on Zoom, you can see that it often has more issues than Google Meet. But that changes as conditions change. 
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  • Student Tech Access Survey 2020
    ITS is trying its best to make sure as many students as possible have internet at home and an adequate device for remote learning purposes. In order to proactively reach out to families in need, we need good data on who needs assistance. 
     
    Therefore, we ask that students take the Student Tech Access Survey 2020 at https://forms.gle/XiRYRY6uV7krb5VG6 while they are in school under our network. They may take it remotely too but it's important for all students to have the opportunity to take the survey under guaranteed internet access in our school buildings. This survey can also be found in student email inboxes by 5:00 pm, Friday 11/13. It's a brief survey but young students will need help understanding what is being asked by a guiding adult. ITS will use the results of this survey to proactively reach out to students in need.
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  • TSD Technology Community Forum

    We hope you were able to join us for this presentation and Q&A session on September 24th. But if you were not able to view it live, you can find a video recording of it here.

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  • What is Digital Restriction?

    If, after following positive behavior protocols, family/school collaboration, and site discipline guidance, a student continues to display undesired behaviors to the extent that the teacher is unable to facilitate class instruction, a site administrator may contact ITS to request  “digital restrictions” (duration of time and level of restrictions will vary based on situation, student, and request of site administrator). If a student is in digital restriction, the following will be restricted:

    Minor Digital Restriction

    • Can’t set student device background, set to caution sign
    • Can’t change profile image, set to caution sign
    • Email only allowed to/from staff
    • Websites restricted to only required/allowed for educational purposes. ( all sites blocked except some of what we allow- some educational sites/apps)
    • Complete blockage of Social Media, YouTube, Netflix, Games, etc.
    • No Google Chat

     

    Major Digital Restriction

    • All of the above restrictions
    • No access to Google Meet video conferencing

     

    Teachers can further moderate chat in Meets (when allowed), and Google Classroom.

     

    Digital Suspension is the complete disabling of all student account functions including the ability to log in to any student device or any digital accounts issued to the student such as the Google account. This should be used very sparingly for only the most egregious and time sensitive situations

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  • Google Classroom Help Community

    Teachers, if you need help with anything in Google Classroom, you can get great tips from expert educators by using the Google Classroom Help Community here.

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  • Comcast Xfinity Tips and Solutions to Enhance Home WiFi

    Comcast has provided this guidance for students and families with Xfinity internet to get the most out of their connection for online learning. See this guidance here. You can also set up parent controls if you have Xfinity using the directions found here.

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  • New Features Coming Soon to Google Meet

    Read about the new features Google will be releasing soon for Google Meet video conferencing here.

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  • Optional Chromebook Damage/Loss Insurance for Families 
    Thompson School District has partnered with One2One Risk Solutions to provide optional accident and loss protection for our district chromebooks. Registering with One2One and purchasing a damage waiver will protect you from the full cost of repair or replacement for your district-issued device and limits your responsibility to a per-occurrence deductible (see below).  The protection plan cost is $15 per device and covers the device through the end of the school year against accidental damage, cracked screens, fire, liquid damage, electrical surge and loss/theft (a loss/theft claim requires a police report for coverage). First incident has a zero deductible, second claim on the same device will be a $25 deductible, and the third claim will be a $50 deductible.  A loss/theft claim without a police report will require the replacement cost of the device (this varies depending on the make/model of the device). If you want to take advantage of this optional insurance, please visit www.one2onerisk.com and select “Enroll My Device” to get started. Open enrollment ends on September 30th so don't delay. Again, this is optional. You are not required to get this insurance. Please note, this offer is only for chromebooks. We have a 3-year warranty on iPad damage if it happens in its case, but no loss protection for iPads.
     
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  • iPad App Loading Request Form

    In order to streamline the student device checkout process for iPads, we changed the way apps are loaded. Under the current circumstances, we are not using the Self Service app to find catalog apps as we have done in the past. Now a generic list is loaded on all iPads with specific location/group iPads loaded later. If you or your staff know that an app is in the TSD Catalog of Digital Resources, but you don't see it on your iPads, you can request that it be push loaded onto them by our centralized system using the request form found at https://forms.gle/P5NGuQe5FH7R847R9. This form is also housed on the ITS website at https://www.thompsonschools.org/Page/18622.

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  • ITS Back To School Newsletter

    Please read the ITS Back To School Newsletter for important infromation about technology for the upcoming school year.

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  • Can Students Use a Personal Computer for Online Learning?

    At schools that don't have one-to-one technology for their students, yes, this is a good option. For schools that issue one-to-one devices to students, the answer to this is more complicated than a yes or no. Students may use their own computers to access their Google accounts. However, certain software applications and features will only work on a district managed device. For instance, Google Quizzes locks a district device into the quiz until it is over so that students have difficulty cheating. We are trying to get the quality of online instruction to improve. To do that, we need teachers to be able to depend on being able to use applications that they know will work on the devices students are using. So, yes, they can use their own device but they should have a school device as well to make sure they will be able to use all the applications a teacher may assign students to use.

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  • Thompson School District Student Technology Access

    TSD is very engaged in providing access to technology for students for remote learning. All students that need a device, will get one depending on which of the following two situations apply.

     

    Schools With One-to-One Technology Access

    At the schools listed below, students are required to check out devices directly at their school. These devices support specialized curriculum and because of this, they are not optional. Students enrolled at these schools who checked out a device last Spring will turn in the old device before they can receive their new device from the school. If not already completed recently, parents must update their student’s registration at https://thompsonco.infinitecampus.org/campus/portal/thompson.jsp prior to a student checking out a school device. Then they need to complete the checkout form at https://forms.gle/SaMHLKEf9KuRLRq88 before making an appointment to come to the school to check out a device. 

     

    1. Mountain View High
    2. Conrad Ball Middle 
    3. Laurene Edmondson Elementary 
    4. High Plains School
    5. Turner Middle
    6. Berthoud High
    7. Bill Reed Middle 
    8. Walt Clark Middle 
    9. Carrie Martin Elementary
    10. Monroe Elementary 
    11. Berthoud Elementary 
    12. Ivy Stockwell Elementary 
    13. Mary Blair Elementary
    14. Loveland High 
    15. Big Thompson Elementary 
    16. Ferguson High

     

    Schools Without One-to-One Technology Access

    At the schools listed below, student devices will be checked out by appointment only, during school days, from 9:00 to 4:00 at the TSD Service Support Center at 2890 N Monroe Ave, Loveland, CO. To arrange an appointment, log into google.com with a student's TSD Google Account and then go to https://tinyurl.com/y4yptfbr to choose an open appointment. Or, call 970-613-7777 for assistance. Students enrolled at these schools who checked out a device last Spring should keep that device for the foreseeable future. District devices are meant for students who do not have their own devices at home. They are supplemental to home technology and are not meant for all students, only those that don’t have their own devices at home. If a TSD student from one of the schools below does not have home technology available, they may check out a device regardless of family size. If it has not been done recently, parents must update their student’s registration at https://thompsonco.infinitecampus.org/campus/portal/thompson.jsp prior to a student checking out a district device. Then they need to complete the checkout form at https://forms.gle/SaMHLKEf9KuRLRq88 before arranging an appointment. Unfortunately, this device offering is not available to TSD charter school students.

    Please do not come to the checkout appointment if anyone in your family is exhibiting symptoms of illness. Parents/Guardians of students younger than 16 must check out the device for their student. To qualify for a student district device, the following conditions are required. The student must:

    • have inadequate home hardware options to access learning resources,
    • be currently registered at a TSD school, and
    • have access to an internet connection outside of TSD facilities.

     

    1. Thompson Valley High 
    2. Lucile Erwin Middle
    3. B.F. Kitchen Elementary
    4. Centennial Elementary
    5. Cottonwood Plains Elementary 
    6. Coyote Ridge Elementary 
    7. Garfield Elementary
    8. Lincoln Elementary 
    9. Namaqua Elementary
    10. Ponderosa Elementary 
    11. Sarah Milner Elementary 
    12. Truscott Elementary 
    13. Winona Elementary 
    14. Early Childhood Center at All Locations
    15. LEAP

     

    Internet Access for Students

    TSD has been working since last Spring to assist families who don’t have adequate access to the internet. There are five methods of access that are available. As families are found without access, the ITS Help Desk follows up to help get them connected. If you know a TSD family without internet access, please fill out the Internet Access Assistance Request Form at: https://forms.gle/7496EgpT7jMnXfCw6 so that we can follow up to provide assistance.

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  • Free Internet from Comcast

    COMCAST EXTENDS 60-DAYS OF FREE INTERNET SERVICE TO NEW INTERNET ESSENTIALS CUSTOMERS.  As the current school year comes to an end, school districts across the country are already announcing plans for when school returns in the fall. To help provide additional support to students and families, Comcast will continue to provide 60 days of free Internet service to new, eligible Internet Essentials customers through the end of this year. In addition, Comcast will continue to waive, through the end of the year, the requirement that customers not have a past due balance with Comcast to qualify for the free offer. Learn more here.

     

    COMCAST EXTENDS FREE PUBLIC WIFI ACCESS TO EVERYONE FOR THE REMAINDER OF 2020. To continue to help keep people connected as the country prepares to reopen, Comcast is extending free access to the 1.5 million public Xfinity WiFi hotspots to anyone who needs them, including non-customers, through the end of 2020. Learn more here.

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  • ITS Strategic Technology Plan

    ITS has finalized its five year strategic plan as part of the district's Stive 2025 plan. You can find the ITS plan here.

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  • Seniors and Non-Returning Students - Turn In Checked out Devices

    If you checked out a chromebook from the school district, please turn it in on a Tuesday from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm during the month of May at Mary Blair Elementary School (860 E 29th St, Loveland). Students may check-in the device without a parent, but they will need a student ID or other valid form of identification. Please check-in the charger, cord, and device all at once. This is only required fore graduating seniors and students that will not be coming back to attend school in TSD in the Fall. All other Pre-K-11th grade students that checked out a device from TSD may keep it over the summer for learning puposes. 
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  • 2019-20 ITS Spring Newsletter

    Please read the 2019-20 ITS Spring Newsletter carefully for infromation you need to know now and for next school year.

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  • End of Year Technology Check Out/In Guidance

    This guidance is in addition to specific building procedures for tracking and maintaining technology inventory. The timeline to implement these procedures is mid May to end of May depending on each building's end of school year schedule.
     
    ITS will begin collecting devices that have been issued to seniors and students not returning next school year on all Tuesdays in May. All other Pre-K-11th grade students will be allowed to keep any devices issued to them by ITS throughout the summer. This will allow them to use those devices to continue learning in our optional online summer school program and on their own. It will also help them start the next school year more easily given the uncertain nature of that time. 
     
    In schools, please leave all computers and tablets plugged in and turned on. This way vital updates can be remotely pushed to your devices during the summer months. Shut the cover of all laptops. Do not cover electronics with plastic unless you know construction will be occurring in the area over the summer. If there will be construction, turn them off and cover them. For desktops, you can leave the computer on but turn off the monitor.

    For those returning staff that wish to keep a TSD computer at their home over the summer to work on, the form at https://forms.gle/qDRn659HvZiLBTv97 is required to be filled out. If a staff member is leaving the district or does not have a need to checkout technology, it should be turned into their supervisor with all peripherals before the last day of contracted work. When a staff member leaves TSD, supervisors are then required to inform their assigned ITS technician that the device is ready to be refreshed and issued to a new staff member. Usually, that will be the new hire that is replacing the person that left. 
     
    For staff with PC laptops, please bring them to school on your staff checkout day to be logged into the district domain to automatically get operating system updates and renew your software licences.
     
    Staff that have custody of technical equipment at their location should do an inventory of such equipment and ensure it is organized and ready to use for the next school year. ITS staff members will be doing a thorough cleaning of all computers during the summer months.
     
    When implementing these guidelines, please follow all contagion safety procedures such as not allowing groups of people in close proximity, wearing masks, and washing of hands.
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  • Online Learning Resources

    Our district's technical abilities to provide online learning continue to expand. Here are some resources for teachers and families.

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  • Google Classroom Professional Development
     
    If you need coaching in Google Classroom, call the Help Desk at 970-613-7777 to arrange for help. You will also find recordings of PD webinars that were given on Monday, March 30th at https://sites.google.com/thompsonschools.org/tsdpd/.
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  • Options for Calling Families at Home

    There are three options for staff to call families.

    1. Send a Google Meet video call invitation to a parent’s or student’s Google account. If sent to a student’s account, contact the parent first to make sure they are on the video call at the same time.
    2. Set up a Google Voice phone number that is separate from you regular phone number.
    3. Call a phone number using Google Hangouts
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  • Little SIS and Google Classroom

    We have fully integrated Google Classroom and Infinite Campus through a system called Little SIS.  Teachers and staff members may receive emails with heading similar to "Re: Little SIS has made updates to your Google Classroom classes". 

     
    What does Little SIS do?
    Little SIS compares the rosters within Infinite Campus to the rosters contained within Google Classroom. If a new student is added to your roster in Infinite Campus, the new student will be added to the linked Google Classroom.  If a student leaves a class, the student will be removed automatically from the linked Google Classroom.

    What does this mean for teachers?
    Little SIS analyzed the classrooms for all teachers with the @thompsonschools.org domain accounts.  If you have classrooms outside the domain, your classrooms are not affected.
     
    For the analysis, if there was a 78% match or more of the individuals within the Google Classroom and the Infinite Campus roster, the Classroom was linked and will now be synced with Infinite Campus. If there was not a match, a new classroom was created for you.
     
    So what do I do now that Little SIS created a classroom for me?
    • Teachers have the ability to accept or decline a newly created classrooms. 
    • If you decline, you will not receive any further messages (this school year).  
    • If you accept, the Google Classroom will remain in sync with the rosters from Infinite Campus.
     
    Do students have to accept the invitation to the Classroom?
    Students will not receive any information about this Classroom until it is accepted by the teacher. Once it is accepted, it will automatically be available to students in their Google Classroom dashboard. No more link invites or codes for students would be needed.
     
    Can I still use the classrooms I already have set up this year?
    Yes, you do not have to accept the new classrooms. However, you will need to manually manage the students (still send invites or provide students with codes). You just need to decline the classrooms created for you.
     
    Improved Guardian syncs for easier communication, if you allow guardian access.
    With this integration, students will automatically be connected with the parent/ guardians documented in Infinite Campus. If you choose to allow guardians to receive the summaries, you will no longer need to lookup email addresses for parents/ guardians. 
     
    If the guardian summary is selected in your classroom, parents will receive an email allowing them to see the Google Summaries for classes. Parents have the option to decline to receive these messages.
     
    Learning Services will be sending information about Google Classroom PD soon. In the meantime, you can use the Beginner's Guide to Google Classroom.
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  • Need a New Personal Computer?

    Apple Education Pricing - Available to current and newly accepted college students and their parents, as well as faculty, staff, and teachers of all grade levels. https://www.apple.com/education/pricelists/  - Click on blue "Shop the Apple Online Store for Education" button to access. 

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  • Enabling Distance Learning with G Suite and Chrome

    This recent tutorial is made for teachers to prepare them for distance learning. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gslpx7Q8mhc

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  • New ITS Help Desk Support Chat

    ITS offers Hangouts Chat support at helpdesk@thompsonschools.org. Those needing assistance will need to "start" the chat and we will be happy to help. 

    1. On your computer, go to Hangouts in Gmail or hangouts.google.com. If you have the Hangouts Chrome extension, Hangouts will open in a new window
    2. At the top, click on the plus sign to start a New conversation
    3. Search for "help desk" and select it Step 2 Step 3
    4. Type your message. You can also add emojis and photos
    5. On your keyboard, press Enter
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  • Sanitizing a Computer

    1. Turn off the computer you want to disinfect.
    2. Remove dirt, dust and crumbs from the keyboard by using a can of compressed air if available. Hold the can approximately 6 inches from the keyboard and spray along the perimeter of each key. Otherwise, turn it over and shake it out over a trash can.
    3. Sanitize the keyboard by using a disinfectant wipe or a soft, linen-free cloth dipped in isopropyl alcohol. Rub the cloth or wipe on the top and sides of each key and then clean the surface and bottom of the keyboard thoroughly. Use a new disinfectant wipe or cloth to clean the mouse.
    4. Use a prepacked iCloth or dampen a microfiber cloth with plain water mixed with isopropyl alcohol or white vinegar. Do not use other cleaners on a screen as they can cloud or even damage it, especially touch screens. Gently wipe the computer monitor to remove dirt and fingerprints. Avoid placing pressure on the screen. Pushing on the screen can damage the pixels of a flat-screen monitor. 

    Sanitizing a Phone

    1. Remove dirt from the keypad and speaker by using a can of compressed air if available. Hold the can approximately 6 inches from the surface when spraying.
    2. Starting with the handset, wipe the entire surface of the phone by using a bleach-free disinfectant wipe or a soft cloth dabbed in isopropyl alcohol, including the speaker and microphone.

    Warnings

    • Wash your hands prior to sanitizing the electronics.
    • Do not use excess force when cleaning the keyboard, mouse or monitor.
    • Never use bleach or abrasive cleaning products to disinfect the computers and phones. Bleach can cause damage, including discoloration and fading.
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  • InnEdCO Conference - Stipends for Teachers

    The InnEdCO Conference is Colorado's premier event for instructional technology. If you would like to go to the coference, you can apply for a stipend at https://www.innedco.org/endowment/conference-stipends. Applications are reviewed according to the following criteria: 

    • Preference will be given to those who demonstrate well written applications that include compelling personal learning goals and a desire to share their learning with their colleagues
    • Recipients will be established across urban and rural districts.
    • Recipients will be selected based on financial need.
    • Recipients will be selected to include a variety of veteran and new teachers
    • Recipients will be selected based on various educational technology skill levels from novice to expert.
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  • Planned Network Upgrade and Outages

    Current TSD bandwidth is 0.5 Gbps for elementary schools, 1.0 Gbps for secondary schools, and 3.0 Gbps in total for the district. This is a volume limit, not actual speed. Actual speed is determined by many factors in addition to bandwidth limits. It's like adding more lanes to a highway. Some cars and drivers are faster than others, but if everyone hits heavy traffic, everyone has to slow down. This upgrade will make bandwidth slowdowns less common as hitting yours school's bandwidth limit will become a more rare event. The new bandwidth caps for schools will be doubled to 1.0 Gbps for elementary schools and 2.0 Gbps for secondary schools. The total district bandwidth will go from 3.0 Gbps to 10.0 Gbps.
     
    To complete the final stages of this work, we have to take down the network at certain locations over Spring Break. If you school is not listed, it's because we found other off-hours times to upgrade the equipment in that location. This will not affect your Google or Infinite Campus accounts on networks outside of TSD such as your home. 
     
    During the following days, network services will not be available at the following sites within TSD:
    Monday, March 16 - TSD Network Down Districtwide
    Tuesday, March 17 - Network Down at HPS and MVHS
    Wednesday, March 18 - Network Down at BHS and TMS
    Thursday, March 19 - Network Down at TVHS and WCMS
    Friday, March 20 - Network Down at BRMS and LEMS
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  • BYOD or District Device?

    While TSD allows students to bring in personal devices and connect them to the Guest Network SSID, it is recommended that students use district devices instead of their own personal devices for their school work. The reasons for this recommendation are as follows:

    • Certain secure systems are only available on district devices. While a student can get to their Google Account on a personal device, some apps will not work as well because they require a level of security and/or a district license that only works on a district owned and managed device.
    • Standardized assessments require centralized district management due to security reasons. So a personal device cannot be used for standardized assessments.
    • Personal devices are less secure because they are not under the full protection of our district firewall. So they are more susceptible to malware and viruses. This is why they are only allowed on the Guest Network SSID. 
    • At certain times of the year, the Guest Network is throttled down to conserve bandwidth for the secure TSD Network SSID. So personal devices may run slower or not connect at all during those times.
    • Teachers use Learning Management Systems with students to organize school work. These systems work best on district devices.
    • The district pushes out licensed software that teachers and schools need on a universal basis. These applications can only be pushed out to district owned devices. 
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  • Blocked Image Sites

    Recently, we found a vulnerability in our filters. Some sites such as Gettyimages.com or Shutterstock.com were not blocked. But once you enter these sites, they can be searched and certain inappropiate images can be accessed. Therefore, we have blocked a number of these image catalog sites. They do not internally filter themselves so this is the only way to stay compliant with the Children's Internet Protection Act (CIPA) and protect our classrooms from inappropiate images. If students need images, they should use safer image catalog sites such as https://www.photosforclass.com/http://www.pics4learning.com/, or https://search.creativecommons.org/

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  • Infinite Campus Single Sign On

    Infinite Campus user account passwords (excluding Loveland Classical and New Vision staff) will be updated to sync with your TSD computer password on Wednesday, January 22nd. If you need assistance with your Infinite Campus account, contact x5102.

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  • ITS Winter Newsletter

    Happy Holidays from ITS! Please read the ITS Winter Newsletter here.

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  • Standardizing TSD’s Learning Management Systems

    After considering input from multiple focus groups of educators and students, the Executive  Leadership of the Learning Services and Innovative Technology Services Divisions has decided to discontinue the use of Schoology in all schools except CBMS and for individual users at MVHS starting in the 2020-2021 school year. Google Classroom is now considered the district’s primary Learning Management System (LMS). It will get first tier support while Schoology will receive second tier support at CBMS and MVHS only. At CBMS, all staff may use Schoology. At MVHS, individual teachers are also authorized to use Schoology but it is not officially considered the LMS of MVHS.

     

    “First tier support” for Google Classroom means that we will commit district staff time to improve the system and provide more professional development. We are now working on improvements to Google Classroom’s synchronization with Infinite Campus, automated rostering, and pre-populated guardian email addresses to use with the guardian summary feature. “Second tier support” for Schoology means that we will continue to fund needed licenses and fix technical issues when time allows as a second priority to work on Google Classroom development. For the latest news about what Google has been doing to improve Google Classroom, click here. 


    This decision was based on multiple factors. Both Google Classroom and Schoology are rating similarly in terms of quality (see G2 Reviews for Google Classroom, G2 Reviews for Schoology, and TrustRadius Ratings for both). However, there are significant differences in staff usage, support needs, cost, professional development requirements, and integration with other applications and systems. Regardless of LMS used, we will also be working on creating standards for how teachers organize and use an LMS to improve the experience for students and their families. For more information about this decision, please contact the leadership of Learning Services or Innovative Technology Services.

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  • Special Project Grants Application Open from InnEdCO

    Our state ISTE affiliate organization, Innovative Education Colorado (InnEdCO), is pleased to accept applications for the 2020 Special Project Grant. This is a classroom/school level grant. See https://www.innedco.org/special-project-grants/ to apply. Contact ITS if you would like help with your application. 

    Evaluation Criteria:  

    • The application includes at least 2 - 3 clear digital age teaching and learning outcomes which are aligned to the proposal goals.
    • Outcomes reflect how they intend to use funds secured from the grant. 
    • The special project outcomes are reasonable for the number of students impacted by the grant.
    • The applicant demonstrates the ability to deliberately plan for and implement the special project with one school year as well as include measures to  monitor the successful completion of the grant proposal.
    • The proposal includes one or more of the ISTE Student and/or Educator Standards. Strong ISTE standard alignment is highly regarded.
    • Refer to the use of highly effective instructional practices within the curricula. (Schmoker, Growth Mindset, Hattie’s Research etc)
    • Clearly explain how and with whom they will collaborate to ensure the success of this proposal.
    • The special project could be used as a model or replicated by others in their grade level or subject area, school or organization. It may also relate to some aspect of school or grade level planning.
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  • Google Sheets Free Training

    You can learn how to organize information and analyze data using the Getting Started with Google Sheets course now available on Coursera. This course is ideal for users who are new to Sheets or students looking to sharpen their analytical skills.

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  • How Does Staff Get a New Computer?

    Each Spring, an inventory survey is conducted to determine staff eligibility for the replacement cycle to replace about 1/5th of the staff fleet. The survey will determine who, at that time, has a computer older than 5 years old and is therefore eligible for replacement. This is a 80/20% arrangement for staff computer replacements where ITS pays 80% and the supervisor's budget pays 20%. For new or transferring staff, the process is a little different and is found at https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1HZsCwF1UhwzWOsywTduQkSvSnqR_052D1DHtcf181TE/edit.

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  • Nationwide Congressional App Challenge

    This is a great opportunity for Middle School and High School students to take part in the nationwide Congressional App Challenge and our App-a-thon which will take place at Google offices in Boulder on Saturday, October 12th, from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm. Congressman Neguse will be at the App-a-thon in the afternoon to talk with students and learn about what they are doing. Tech-experts from Google will also be on hand all day to work with students and answer their questions. You will find the full flyer here. Students will have until October 31st to finish and submit their app to the Congressional App Challenge.

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  • Student Data Breach Notification

    Pearson is an educational software company from whom Thompson School District (TSD) purchased a variety of services and software licenses. Late last month, Pearson Clinical Assessment notified TSD and thousands of other school districts and universities that one of the company’s software products, AIMSweb 1.0, had been accessed by an unauthorized third party, resulting in unauthorized access of some TSD staff and student data stored by Pearson.

     

    Pearson’s security incident announcement is available here: https://www.pearson.com/corporate/news/media/news-announcements/2019/07/pearson-customer-notification.html.  TSD used the Aimsweb 1.0 software tool to screen and monitor the reading and math skills of PreK–12 students, identify at-risk students, and assess individual and classroom growth.  According to Pearson, the only data exposed included student or staff first and last names, date of birth, and in some cases, old email addresses that are not our current type, but may be forwarding to the newer type of email address. This data is directory information that most students and staff have consented to being public information and that can be disclosed without consent pursuant to the federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

     

    According to Pearson’s notice, no other personal identifiable information of TSD students or staff was exposed. Importantly, account passwords were not affected. Further, Pearson’s notice states that it has no evidence that any of the exposed data has been misused. To confirm Pearson’s assertion, TSD Network Engineering conducted a basic search on the most commonly known dark web portals that traffic illicit data to see if any TSD student or staff data could be found, but there was no apparent evidence of any of this data on the internet at that time.

     

    The company explained that the vulnerability has been fixed and to prevent the possibility of future security breaches, Pearson has retired the previous version of the software that was subjected to unauthorized access. It took some time for Pearson to discover the breach and an ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) inquiry has slowed the notification process. The data breach happened in November 2018 and Pearson was notified by the FBI in March, 2019. The FBI’s investigation is ongoing as the perpetrator is still unknown.

     

    If you would like to know whether your staff or student data was affected by Pearson’s data security incident, then contact the ITS Help Desk at 970-613-7777. Pearson is offering complimentary credit monitoring services to qualified persons as a precautionary measure. If you are interested in these services, then contact Scott Overland by phone at (202) 909-4520  or email at Scott.Overland@pearson.com to see if you qualify to receive them. If you have specific questions for Pearson about this incident, you can contact the company at 866-883-3309 or email at aimsweb1request@pearson.com

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  • Technical Support Delays
    Hello, at this time of year we receive more technical support tickets than we can close each day. This means the backlog builds until things begin to settle down at the end of the month. Then we start eating into the backlog for the next two months. So support will be delayed in some cases. We're sorry, but not everyone will have what they want by the first day of school.
     
    Two Common Problems:
    1. If anyone with a Mac computer is having problems getting their password set/changed on a Mac, try the directions here first before calling into the ITS Help Desk. The Help Desk is bogged down and they might not get through. 
    2. If anyone is having problems connecting their PC or Mac computer to the new Konica Minolta copier/printers, try the directions here first before calling into the ITS Help Desk.
     
    Remember, if you need help, put in a ticket to contact your building technician first. If you can't get a hold of them, call the ITS Help Desk at X7777. 
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  • 2019-20 ITS Back to School Newsletter

    You will find the 2019-20 ITS Back to School Newsletter here. ITS may add to or revise this newsletter as needed over the next 30 days.

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  • G-Suite for Education News

    Product News
    Stay up to date with G Suite Updates
    Trying to keep up with all of the latest from G Suite? We’ve just updated the “What’s new in G Suite?” Help Center article to include recent launches from the past six months.

    To help teachers and students find assignments quickly, we added topic filters to the Classwork page and changed how new items and topics post to the top instead of the bottom so that students can see the newest information first (newly created courses only). To make Classroom accessible to all students, we’re also changing the way attachments appear in assignments by bringing back thumbnails- so all attachments now have an image preview, especially useful for students who aren’t yet reading.

    Securly can protect you
    How do you ensure your students are on-task and protected from inappropriate content? Join this webinar to learn how a district using Chromebooks can benefit from Securly’s free filtering and self-harm detection solutions.
    Educator Resources
    Looking for new ways to innovate in the classroom? Check out the Dynamic Learning Project Strategy Menu ⎯ a new resource from the EdTechTeam and Google that highlights 150+ instructional strategies and tech tools, as well as helps educators enhance student collaboration, creativity, and more.
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  • 2018-19 ITS Spring Newsletter

    You will find the 2018-19 ITS Spring Newsletter here. ITS may add to or revise this newsletter as needed over the next 30 days.

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  • “Ubiquitous Technology Access” UTA Selection Process 
     This Spring, the Technology and Leadership Advisory Committee (TALC) conducted the “Ubiquitous Technology Access” UTA selection process. We understand your disappointment if your school was not selected to go first. It is the intention of the district to get as many schools as possible to UTA status as time and funding allows. Getting all ten of the schools on the current list to UTA status in one school year is an ambitious goal with the funding and staffing we have for next school year. We knew that there would be more schools that wanted to go to UTA status than we could accomplish. So we set up a fair selection process in which each school was visited by ITS to prepare them for a second visit from a TALC survey team that would assess the readiness of the school for UTA based on this rubric. The survey teams assessed leadership vision and planning, professional development needs, network infrastructure, device selection, special programs, vertical articulation, and strategic considerations such as feeder area.
     
    While your school might not be going to UTA status next school year, there will be used technology from other schools going UTA that will be redistributed to non-UTA schools. There will also be a other new technology deployed to all schools such as new network, doubled bandwidth, new phones, new intercom/bell/time system, new copier/printers, mirrored TV classroom projection systems (for certain classrooms), and new staff computers (for eligible staff). 
     
    TSD currently has three schools (MVHS, CBMS, and LEES) with “Ubiquitous Technology Access” (UTA) for students. The UTA Implementation List for 2019-20 is:
    1. Turner Middle School
    2. Berthoud High School
    3. Bill Reed Middle School
    4. Walt Clark Middle School
    5. Carrie Martin Elem. School
    6. Ivy Stockwell Elem. School
    7. Loveland High School
    8. Monroe Elem. School
    9. Berthoud Elem. School
    10. Mary Blair Elem. School
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  • You Might Have to Replace Your Wireless Mic

    Changes beginning in 2017 concerning operation on 600 MHz frequencies. Wireless microphones that operate in the 600 MHz service band (the 617-652 MHz and 663-698 MHz frequencies) will be required to cease operation later than July 13, 2020 according to federal regulations, and may be required to cease operation sooner if they could cause interference to new wireless licensees that commence operations on their licensed spectrum in the 600 MHz service band.  See FCC 15-140. If you use a wireless mic, ask your building's technician to check it out to see of it needs to be changed to a different mic with a different frequency. 

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  • iPad Apps for Learning PD
     
    ITS and CBMS are putting on a Late Start Wednesday PD at CBMS from 7:45-8:40 on March 6th. If you would like to attend, please sign up using the form at https://goo.gl/forms/UYxG9U4Ck36mBD9i1. Please make sure it's ok with your supervisor before signing up.
     
    WHY: To improve teachers' understanding of instructional technology and to expose educators to the possibilities of teaching with iPads.
     
    WHAT: This PD opportunity is scheduled in two session time slots. Each time slot offers seven mini PD sessions to choose from. If you use iPads now or your school is considering iPads for next school year, please consider attending. No more than 30 participants are allowed in a session, so sign up quickly to reserve your spot. These mini PD sessions (25 minutes) are grounded in pedagogy using our new Digital Learning Taxonomy (https://sites.google.com/thompsonschools.org/edtech/digital-learning-taxonomy) to show off the capabilities of the iPad apps and give participants a good idea of how they could use them right away in their classrooms.
     
    WHEN: Wednesday morning of March 6. Light breakfast refreshments 7:30 - 8:45 a.m. Session 1 is 7:45 - 8:10 a.m. Session 2 is 8:15 - 8:40 a.m. Travel to home schools starting at 8:40 a.m.
     
    WHERE: Assemble in the CBMS Auditeria starting at 7:30 a.m. Move to sessions by 7:45 a.m. Session room locations will be available at CBMS on the morning of March 6th at 7:30 a.m. in their Auditeria.
     
    HOW: All teachers from all TSD schools are welcome, but if you have other activities scheduled at your school for Wednesday late start, we understand if you can't make it. You can choose to attend just Session 1, Session 2, or both as long as there is room in the specific PD session. If a session goes over 30, you will be notified to choose another option. 
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  • Protecting Student Data Privacy

    We all have a role to play in protecting student data. Please check your confidential files and folders to make sure their sharing permissions are set to only allow appropriate staff to access them. Below are some directions on how to secure documents in Google Drive and Team Drives. First, start with determining if the data is confidential.

     

    Confidentiality of Student PII

    Student Personally Identifiable Information (PII) includes, but is not limited to, information that is collected, maintained, generated, or inferred and that, alone or in combination, personally identifies an individual student or the student's parent(s) or family. PII, as defined by federal law, also includes other information that, alone or in combination, is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community, who does not have personal knowledge of the relevant circumstances, to identify the student with reasonable certainty; or information requested by a person who the educational agency or institution reasonably believes knows the identity of the student to whom the education record relates.

     

    Some examples of PII collected by TSD that when connected with a name, and without written consent to disclose (such as with a sports team), would constitute confidential data are:

    • A personal identifier such as a student ID number
    • Other indirect identifiers such as a student's date of birth
    • Records regarding a student’s primary disability
    • A student’s socioeconomic information
    • Photos, videos, and voice recordings
    • State-administered assessment results, including participation information, courses taken and completed, credits earned, course grades, and other transcript information
    • Grade level and anticipated graduation year
    • Attendance and mobility information
    • Special education data and special education discipline reports
    • Program participation information required by state or federal law

     

    Student education records are official and confidential documents protected by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), the Colorado Student Data Transparency and Security Act, and other state and federal laws. You can find the laws pertaining to what sort of data needs to be kept confidential at http://www.cde.state.co.us/dataprivacyandsecurity.

     

    When in doubt, use any of these three simple rules to determine if data is confidential: 1. Is it PII? 2. Could it be used by someone for malicious purposes? 3. Would any reasonable person, such as yourself, consent to this data being openly available to everyone? If any of these apply, or you are still in doubt, error on the side of caution and treat the data as confidential.

     

    Securing Documents in G-Suite

    If you put documents in your Google Drive that are in other formats such as MS Word or PDF, they can only be secured with share setting in Google Drive. All Google docs can be secured with Drive and/or individual document share settings. In Drive, set confidential documents to “Specific people can access” at the “View” or “Comment” levels. You should only select the “Edit” level if you truly want others to be able to modify the document. Use version history if you need to find out who has changed what and when in a document. Use the directions here to learn more about how to share documents in your Google Drive.

     

    Google Team Drives are not great places to put confidential documents if a lot of different people will have access to the Team Drive’s settings. Team Drives are often used by students, teachers, and school communities to share resources that are openly available. But if you do use a Team Drive for confidential documents, make sure the following share settings are on:

     

    1. “Sharing outside Thompson School District” set to “Only people inside Thompson School District can be given access to the files in this Team Drive”
    2. “Sharing with non-members” set to “Only members of this Team Drive can access files in this Team Drive”
    3. “Download, copy, and print” set to “Prevent commenters and viewers from downloading, copying, and printing files in this Team Drive” unless team drive members have a legitimate need to do so.


    Some or all of these settings may be on by default for new Team Drives, but older drives may not have had these setting set or someone may have changed them to be too open so double check your settings to be sure they are right. Use the directions here to learn more about how to properly set share settings in Google Team Drives.

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  • TSD Digital Learning Taxonomy

    A committee of TSD educators have been working on developing a digital learning taxonomy to guide all schools as they grapple with what it means to teach and learn differently with technology. The purpose of this taxonomy is to encourage teachers to reach for new levels of critical thinking and personalized learning through seven standards. These standards come from the International Society for Educational Technology (ISTE) Standards for Students. Our committee has contextualized them for TSD and is engaged in an ongoing effort to provide lesson vignettes as examples of each standard by grand band. You will find the Digital Learning Taxonomy (DLT) here. Click on any of the standards to see more information and examples. Some examples are still being developed and have not been published yet. If you are a teacher that would like to add an example, please contact ITS for more information.

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  • Chromebook Manufacturer Delays

    In a press release dated September 29, 2018, Bob Swan, Intel CFO and Interim CEO, announced the impending shortage of Intel chipsets used in entry Chromebooks. Read release here

    Here are the facts:

    • There WILL be a shortage of Intel chipsets used to make devices (Chromebooks, Windows laptops, etc.) affecting production levels and inventories in the millions.
    • Intel is prioritizing production of their XEON and Core Processors used to build higher end units, therefore supply will be tight on the entry level PC market.
    • It has not yet been determined the exact level of the shortage, but device distributors have announced that some models are already on limited allocation with others to follow.
    • Limited allocations are expected to last into August 2019 and possibly beyond.

    In short:

    • In direct connection to this shortage, prices of devices are expected to increase.
    • Lead times for deployment are adversely affected.
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  • Why Retire the THOMPSON WiFi and Generic Login Accounts?

    THOMPSON WiFI

    Our old WiFi has a security type called WPA. Our new TSD WiFi is a much more protected security type called WPA2-Enterprise. The differences between these two are significant in their protection against attacks on our network. We knew it would take some time to get all machines switched over to the TSD WiFi so we turned it on in August and gave everyone a semester to get machines switched over using the directions in the Fall and Winter ITS Newsletters or by submitting a Web Help Desk ticket. This week, our technicians are working diligently to find all of the devices that need to be switched over. If you have a device that is not a TSD owned device such as your phone, you can use the THOMPSON-GUEST WiFi with no password needed. The TSD WiFi allows access to sensitive student data and systems while the guest network will not.

     

    Login Accounts

    We understand this change can be stressful on some students. Many of them learned a generic username and password long ago and have never used anything else to access TSD computers. We wanted to give students enough time to learn their individual usernames and passwords so we decided not to implement this change at the beginning of the school year. Instead, we announced the change in August and gave everyone the first semester to get used to using their individual usernames and passwords. When our systems are hacked into by a generic account, is not something we can track down and change easily. But if an individual student account is used improperly, we can find out what happened and immediately change the account without messing up a larger number of students.

     

    Our students’ Google/Gmail account usernames and passwords had never been changed. This  was asking for trouble from hackers. Plus the scheme to create them was easy to guess and resulted in ridiculously long usernames for some students. Over the years, this led to a number of past breaches of student accounts. Often these come from generic accounts that become so widely known that they are not longer secure. To better protect student data by making accounts harder to compromise, we changed the usernames and passwords for all students over the summer. While usernames will not be changed again, passwords will change every July. You can assist students in finding their username and password. Staff have access to the Student Portal and Google Account username by going to the student's Demographics tab in Infinite Campus. If you have any questions about Student Portal/Google Account usernames and passwords for students, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 613-7777.

     

    Thompson School District is one of the last school districts to retire generic login accounts. Most other districts recognized the security risks of these types of accounts and stopped using them long ago. A recent independent audit of our district technology pointed out this need for better security.

     

    As TSD modernizes its technology, more and more staff and student data needs to be protected. We are also deploying many learning applications that only work with individual accounts, not generic ones. Recent laws obligate the District to tighten our network security and protection of student data. Two recent laws pertaining to this are the Student Data Transparency and Security Act and the Colorado Protections for Consumer Data Privacy Act. While changes in technology are never easy, they are necessary to get the most out of our technology while balancing the need to safeguard student data.

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  • Mac Login Changes

    In order to improve the user experience when logging into a Apple/Mac computer, we have implemented a new login screen for all Mac computers running macOS 10.13 and newer. While the login screen looks different, it will still offer the same functionality that is on the previous default login screen. This will simplify the process and enable to computer to login quicker and with less issues. Detailed directions can be found here. You can also contact the ITS Help Desk at X7777 for further assistance.

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  • Staff Laptop Tuneup Clinic Jan. 3-4

    From 8:00-4:00 daily, January 3-4, you can bring your TSD issued staff laptop to the Support Services Center at 2890 N Monroe Ave, Loveland, CO 80538 for repairs and updates. If you come to the clinic on January 3rd or 4th, you will be greeted in the SSC lobby by ITS staff. A Web Help Desk Ticket will be created and your computer will be taken back to the repair center for evaluation. Within 10 minutes, you will be informed about the length of repair/update needed. If it will take more than one hour, you are welcome to come back later to pick up your computer once you have been informed by email or cell phone that it is ready. Or you can wait in our lobby while the repairs/updates are done. Please help us get a jump on the many needs that the new semester brings by participating in this clinic if your computer is malfunctioning so that you are ready to go when the students return.

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  • Email Fraud is Increasing
    The district has been experiencing an increase in email phishing attacks. Every day countless phishing emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are so ridiculous that they are obvious frauds, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a phishing message and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of things that you can look for that I have outlined below. We can block the sender of these emails but they tend to use a different email to send from each time they attack. If you get one that you are concerned about, please take a screenshot or picture of it and contact the ITS Help Desk at 613-7777 so we can take any needed action. If you suspect it is a phishing email, do not forward it, click on any links, open any attachments, or respond to it in any way. Usually, choosing the three buttons more menu in the upper right corner of an email window and choosing "Report Phishing" is the best way to handle it. Then Google will try to block the sender on a global scale. ITS takes other precautions that make the damage of certain phishing attackes less likely and problematic, but we prefer to keep those measures secret so that attackers do not know to plan ways around them. 
     
    Ten Tips for Spotting a Phishing Email:

    1: The message contains poor spelling and grammar

    Whenever a school or other organization sends out an important message, the message is usually reviewed for spelling, grammar, and punctuation, among other things. So if a message is filled with poor grammar, spelling, or punctuationmistakes, it probably didn't come from a legitimate source.

    2: The message asks for personal information

    No matter how official an email message might look, it's always a bad sign if the message asks for personal information. Your bank doesn't need you to send it your account number. It already knows what that is. Similarly, a reputable company should never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question.

    3: The offer seems too good to be true

    There is an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That holds especially true for email messages. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, the message is probably a scam.

    4: You didn't initiate the action

    Just yesterday I received an email message informing me I had won the lottery!!!! The only problem is that I never bought a lottery ticket. If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest you did not enter, you can bet that the message is a scam.

    5: You're asked to send money to cover expenses

    One telltale sign of a phishing email is that you will eventually be asked for money. You might not get hit up for cash in the initial message. But sooner or later, phishing attackers will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, or something similar. If that happens, you can bet that it's a scam.

    6: The message makes unrealistic threats

    Although most of the phishing scams try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising instant riches, some phishing artists use intimidation to scare victims into giving up information. If a message makes unrealistic threats, it's probably a scam. If you are threatened, let someone in authority know about it. If you are a staff member, that is your supervisor. If you are a student, tell your teacher or a school administrator. 

    7: The message appears to be from a government agency

    Phishing attackers who want to use intimidation don't always pose as a bank. Sometimes they'll send messages claiming to have come from a law enforcement agency, the IRS, the FBI, or just about any other entity that might scare the average law-abiding citizen.
     
    8: The message contains a mismatched URL

    If the email contains a weblink, look for a mismatch between where it says it is going and where it looks like it is going. For instance, if it says it is a link to CNN News but the URL says www.ukrainenews.com, then something is suspicious.Oftentimes the URL in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is probably fraudulent or malicious.

    9: URLs contain a misleading domain name

    People who launch phishing scams often depend on their victims not knowing how the DNS naming structure for domains works. The last part of a domain name is the most telling. For instance, cnn.com is CNN News. But cnn.com.maliciousdomain.com is not from CNN. Usually, the phishingattacker simply creates a child domain bearing the name Microsoft, Apple, or whatever. The resulting domain name looks something like this:Microsoft.maliciousdomainname.com.

    10: Something just doesn't look right

    If something looks off, there's probably a good reason why. If you receive a message that seems suspicious, it's usually in your best interest to avoid acting on the message.
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  • ITS Winter Newsletter

    You will find the ITS Winter Newsletter here. It has many technology topics you need to know to start the 2nd semester off right. Please read it and let us know if you have questions.

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  • Infinite Campus Has a New URL

    Please go to https://thompsonco.infinitecampus.org/campus/thompson.jsp to access Infinite Campus from now on. The system is now cloud hosted so the URL has changed. If you have the old URL bookmarked, please delete it and bookmark this new one instead.

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  • New Digital Badges Program

    You may have noticed that some of your peers have a different Goggle account profile image that is a representation of thier digital badges. Earn your digital badges for your efforts to learn and teach others about technology. See https://www.thompsonschools.org/Page/19948 for full details.

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  • 2018-19 Round 2 of Staff Computer Replacement Cycle

    An email was sent to all staff that asked them to give some inventory information about their staff computer to determine if they are eligible for a new replacement staff computer. If you are TSD staff, please take the inventory survey. If you don't find it in your email, you can also take it here. Funding is very limited so taking the inventory survey does not guarantee a replacement computer.

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  • Google Applications PD Opportunities

    Hello, ITS has received many requests for more training in Google applications. So we have scheduled trainings at SSC. If you are interested, please RSVP at the appropriate link found here. While these training opportunities are open to all, there is limited space available. ITS is not offering extra duty or substitute pay for these optional trainings. We hope you take advantage of this chance to learn more about the latest Google applications used by staff and students alike. 

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  • Convert Your Old Google Sites to New Ones Before it is Too Late!

    If you still have Google sites that were created in the classic version, convert them to new ones soon. You will find the full directions on how to do so here. The new site will not look the same as your old one and some features are not avialable while other new features are. Esentially, If your site is suitable for migration you will see the NEW Convert your site to the new Google Sites Try it now banner, so use the Try it now link. If you want the new Google Site to be editable by the same people then check the Share with the same people option and then use the Start button to start the conversion. Once converted use the Continue button. Use the Review draft button to open the draft new Google Site created from your classic Google Site and make any changes you want to the draft new Google Site (any changes made in the new Google Site will not be added to the original classic Google Site). Google is decided in 2018 when the full migration switch over will occur. Once announced, the deprecation schedule will include at least one year of unchanged operation followed by three months of read-only operation. 

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  • New Gmail Switch Over Occurs October 16th

    Google will force all users to switch to the new Gmail on October 16th. You do not need to do anything to activiate this switch over. You will simply notice that your email looks a little different with some new features. For all you need to know about the new Gmail, click here.

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  • Adobe Creative Cloud Alternatives

    During the last few years, Adobe has changed the way they sell their software. They have required it to be bundled as a full suite and cloud based on a yearly renewal. This has dramatically increased the cost to our users. ITS now advises TSD users to consider alternatives to Adobe software such as those found at https://www.techradar.com/news/the-best-free-alternatives-to-adobe-creative-cloud as a more cost effective option. Contact ITS if you would like further guidance. 

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  • Top 10 Tools for Self-Paced Learning

    Check them out here. Many of these are in our TSD Catalog of Digital Learning Resources.

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  • New Google Classroom Features

    Google has added some new updates and features:

    • Materials on the Classwork page—Teachers can add materials to the Classwork page.
    • Classwork page for existing classes—Teachers can add the Classwork page to existing classes or classes they’ve previously removed the page from.
    • Easier posting on the Stream page—Teachers and students have an easier way to post in the Stream.
    • Edit the room, subject, and section during course creation and in Settings page—Teachers can edit the room, subject, and section when creating or editing a course or in the Settings page.
    • Teachers can edit the room and subject when creating or editing a course.
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  • ITS Division Happenings

     

    • Infrastructure Department:
      • Two network engineers, two help desk technicians, one telephones specialist, and four systems technicians support the technical infrastructure of TSD including servers, switches, wiring, WiFi, networks, software, and more
      • With federal eRate assistance, rebuilding 60% of our school networks to be future ready for 1-to-1 student access
      • Beginning a replacement cycle for classroom projection (mirrored TVs), phones, and intercom systems
      • Changing the WiFi (from THOMPSON to TSD) to be more secure yet easier to connect to for authorized users
    • Client Services Department:
      • Eleven school support technicians and two senior repair/deployment technicians serve all schools and special programs
      • During August 2018, about 1,700 technical support tickets were opened with about 1,400 completed and 300 in progress
      • This summer, 84 computer labs (mobile and stationary) and 1,800 iPads were cleaned and reprogrammed
      • Earlier this month, 150 of our oldest and most problematic laptops were serviced at a weeklong Staff Laptop Tuneup Clinic held at SSC
      • Restarting a staff computer replacement cycle after many years without one
      • Deploying new student devices funded by BASH and Rotary
    • ITS Cooperative Initiatives:
      • Strategic planning process for 1, 3, and 5 years started
      • Increasing network and user account security and privacy protections
      • Cooperating with Learning Services and others to develop a digital learning taxonomy to guide instructional planning and personalized learning
      • Refining or offerings in the TSD Catalog of Digital Learning Resources
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  • Google Calendar Sharing Settings

     

    Please set your calendar sharing settings to at least "See only free/busy (hide details)" - Only free/busy information displays. You can also decide to share event details if you wish. You can still decide if an individual event should be "private" when you create the event. You can also set up a separate personal calendar by using a personal gmail account not assocated with TSD. For a quick video tutoral on how to share Google calendars, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWdNXdXl-hI. 

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  • August 30th from 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Phones Down for Maintenance

     

    Backup batteries for our central phone system need to be replaced. This will take all phones down from 4:30 pm to 5:30 pm on August 30th. Please plan to not have phone service in the district at this time.

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  • Google Adds Features to Education Applications

     

    In time for back-to-school season, Google has polished its education offerings. Changes include updates to Google Classroom, Docs, its virtual reality offerings, and teacher training. See the whole article here

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  • More Secure Student Google/Gmail Accounts

     

    Why were student accounts changed? First, our student’s Google/Gmail account usernames and passwords had never been changed. That is asking for trouble from hackers. Plus the scheme to create them was easy to guess and resulted in ridiculously long usernames for some students. Over the years, this led to a number of past breaches of student accounts. To better protect student data by making accounts harder to compromise, we changed the usernames and passwords for all students. While usernames will not be changed again, passwords will change each July. These are not new accounts, just different usernames and password. So no previous data has been lost. The old username is an alias to the new one so anyone sending email to the old email address will have no problems as it will automatically redirect into the renamed account. If you need assistance with a student’s account, call the ITS Help Desk at 7777.

     

    If you need to assist students in finding out their new username and password, there are a couple of options. Parents have access to see the new Student Portal and Google Account username by going to the student's Demographics tab in Infinite Campus. The student's password has been reset with 3-digit leading characters + their 6 digit student ID.  This information is also on the student's Demographics tab.

     

    A query is available for you to use to obtain all students' Portal credentials. This query is saved under query_Public and is called "USERNAME AND IDs - Sorted by student". If you have any questions about these new Student Portal/Google Account usernames and passwords for students, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 7777.


    Parents or students can email portal@thompsonschools.org for assistance with the IC Student Portal.

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  • Staff Laptop Tuneup Clinic

     

    From 8:00-4:00 daily, August 6-10, you can bring your TSD issued staff laptop to the Support Services Center at 2890 N Monroe Ave, Loveland, CO 80538 for repairs and updates. See the ITS Back To School Newsletter here for more information.

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  • Time to Change Your Password

     

    All staff passwords will need to be changed starting today, Friday, August 3rd or the next time you log in. This password will sync with your Google Account so that they are the same credentials for both. See the ITS Back To School Newsletter here for more information.

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  • Student Google Accounts Are Accessible Again

     

    Good news, access for students into their Google Accounts has been restored!

     

    As previously communicated, the student usernames and passwords have been changed from last year. To find out what a student’s account login credentials are, parents can go to their Parent Portal Account. Student credentials will be displayed within the parent/guardian's Portal accounts by clicking on "Student Portal Account" located on the bottom left-hand side of the home page. This will display the student's new username and password. This change is only for students and will not affect your parent account.

     

    If parents and students need help accessing their Parent Portal Account, they can contact the Parent Portal Support Desk by email at portal@thompsonschools.org.

     

    If any student is still having problems accessing their Google Account, they can call the TSD Technical Support Desk at 970-613-7777 for assistance.

     

    If you are wondering why we have changed the usernames and passwords of student accounts, here are the reasons:

    • They have never been changed. That is asking for trouble from malicious actors.
    • We need to secure accounts of students who have had their credentials compromised in the past and make it harder for fellow students and others to hack into student accounts to protect student data privacy.
    • We want to create the correct atmosphere of personal credentials security - usernames and passwords are precious.
    • We want to help the youngest students learn to enter their credentials and get rid of ridiculously long user names.
    • Some applications put limits on username length so we need different length requirements for them to work (shorter).

     

    Thank you for your patience as we worked to solve this complicated problem.

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  • Student Google/Gmail Accounts Update
     
     ITS is very aware of everyone's concerns about the problems we are experiencing with student Google/Gmail accounts. We apologize for the inconvenience. Here is a progress update.
     
    This issue began Friday evening with an error in a program TSD uses called Google Cloud Director Sync (GCDS). This is software managed by Google and used by us to synchronize accounts with a central director of information called Active Directory. On Friday, all student accounts got suspended. This means that their Google account is safe and has all data but that students cannot sign into their accounts. We cannot simply turn them back on as the software (GCDS) decides the status of accounts and will just turn them right back off.
     
    Over the weekend, ITS gathered information about the problem and contacted Google Technical Support Tier 1. Since then, we have been escalated by Google to Tier 3 support. This means that Google Engineers have asked us for log files and other information and access to our systems to study the problem, hypothesize a solution, test the solution, and if it works, implement the solution. As of 10:00 a.m. today, they gave us an estimate of 24-48 hours. But it really depends on what they find. If ITS tinkers with the system, we could cause more problems like duplicated student accounts or deletion of account data. Therefore, we are cautiously working with Google to ensure that all student accounts become fully functional with no loss of data.
     
    This is only affecting student Google accounts, not staff. We can get individual students into their accounts one at a time but this takes about 10 minutes per student. At 16,000+ students, this is not a practical method for all students. But if there is an emergency situation in which a student must get into their account now, call the help desk at 7777 and we can work on that individual's account to get them into it. 
     
    When we have more information to share, we will update everyone. Thank you for your patience as we work on solving this problem. 
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  • ITS Back To School Newsletter

     

    Hello and welcome back! You will find the ITS Newsletter here. It has many technology topics you need to know to start the new school year off right. Please read it and let us know if you have questions.

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  • Get Ready for the NEW Google Classroom

     

    Google made quite a few updates that may impact GC users this fall when you return to school. Here's a round up of what we know and when you can expect to access the updated features. See the full article at https://www.techlearning.com/tl-advisor-blog/get-ready-for-the-new-google-classroom.

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  • www.match.com Blocked

     

    It has come to the Superintendent's and ITS attention that https://www.match.com is being used during work time and with TSD email/nework resources. It also can be used inappropiately by our students and exposes them to adults in ways that add no educational value and could be dangerous. Therefore, we are blocking the site within our domain.

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  • BusinessPLUS Software Outage and Upgrade

     

    We will be upgrading the BusinessPLUS software between June 1st and June 4th.  We will shutdown the system on Friday June 1st at 5:00pm and will bring it back online for use on Tuesday morning, June 5th. Please plan on not having access to BusinessPLUS on Monday, June 4th.

     

    The major changes in this upgrade are to the Employee Online system and the payroll system.  When the system comes back online, you shouldn’t notice anything dramatically different in the way BusinessPLUS looks and operates.

     

    We will do everything in our power to ensure that we have a smooth transition to the new version, but with any upgrade, there is the possibility of unanticipated issues arising.  Please do not hesitate to call or email us to report anything out of the ordinary that you come across once the system comes back online.

     

    Cory Sharshel - 613-6789 or cory.sharshel@thompsonschools.org

     

    Patty Goltz - 613-5036 or patricia.goltz@thompsonschools.org

     

    Thank you for your patience during this transition.

     

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  • Clear Out Voicemail

     

    On June 4th​, 2018:

    The District's voicemail server will be replaced. Voicemail service will be unavailable during the week of June 4th. Voicemails in the current system cannot be transferred to the new system. It is critical you clean out your current voice mail box before you leave for the summer. Voicemails in the old system will not be accessible after June 3rd, 2018.


    Documentation for setting up your new voicemail box will be available after June 4th from the ITS web page.

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  • Canon Copier Supplies and Support

     

    The leased Canon copiers at sites throughout TSD now have automatic supply ordering set up through Canon Solutions America. At an established low level of 20% remaining, toner bottles will automatically be ordered and sent to your school or building office for your machines. There is now no need to phone in requests for supplies for the Canon copiers (with the exception of staples, which will continue to be supplied upon your request with no extra charge as part of the lease contract with CSA.)

    Please continue to send empty Canon GPR 37 and 38 toner bottles taped into their boxes to Nancy Douglas via district mail for proper recycling.

    Also, please continue to contact Canon Solutions America directly for service and maintenance issues with the leased Canon iR-ADV copiers at 1-800-355-1385. Be sure to have your Canon copier serial number available at the time you call, verify your school's address with the representative, and post the service request ticket number on the copier.

    Here are links to videos for clearing jams and replacing staples in the leased Canon copiers:

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  • Google Account Transfers

     

    This video explains three ways to download or transfer Google account data for graduating students or staff leaving the district: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ejkmVfUlAo4. A step-by-step guide can be found at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1HYaNQwup8L79r69IMfLyVainC1VKqOmXe8-BDr4Oqbg/edit#slide=id.g21b2cee20d_0_32

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  • Help Desk Open During the Summer

     

    ITS will continue to provide technology Help Desk support throughout the summer. For technical support, call (970) 613-7777 or submit an ITS Web HelpDesk Ticket at http://helpdesk.thompsonschools.org.

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  • Tune Up Clinic 

     

    During the week of August 6-10, we will be holding a District computer/laptop tune-up clinic at the Service Support Center at 2890 N Monroe Ave, Loveland, CO 80538. If you are having any problems or just need some updates done, stop by to check in your District laptop computer for a tune up. You can wait if it will take less than 1 hour or you can drop it off. A support ticket will be created and you can come back and pick it up later if needed.

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  • Digital Resources Catalog Sort

     

    Principals will be asked to forward a spreadsheet to teachers soon that has the apps, extensions, software, and web services for your school level. Teachers, please put a “Y” in the column for rows you use and want kept in the catalog next year. Put an “N” next to ones you do not recommend or that are malfunctioning. Leave all other rows blank if you are unfamiliar with them. This will help us sort the catalog for next school year.

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  • Password Changes

     

    In order to better secure individual users and our collective network, we need to change passwords. Staff passwords will be changed twice a year, in July and late December. Student passwords will be changed once a year in July only. Directions on how to change your password will be sent to your email account in July. Student passwords will be changed by ITS. Directions on how to assist students in finding out their passwords will also be emailed to you before the 2018-19 school year begins.

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  • Summer Tech Directions

     

    Please leave all computers and tablets plugged in and on. This way vital updates can be remotely pushed to your devices during the summer months. You should shut the cover of all laptops. Do not cover electronics with plastic unless you know construction will be occuring in the area over the summer. If there will be construction, turn them off and cover them.

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  • Planned Telephone System and Voicemail Service Outages
     
    On May 18th, 2018 - 
    Beginning at  3:00 pm a vital upgrade to the district's central telephone system will be performed. During that time telephone service district wide will be unavailable. The estimated time for telephone service outage is 3-4 hours.
     
    On June 4th​, 2018 -
    The district's Voice Mail server will be replaced. Voice Mail service will be unavailable during the week of June 4th.
     
    Voice mails in the current system cannot be transferred to the new system. It is critical you clean out your current voice mail box before you leave for the summer.  
    Voice mails in the old system will not be accessible after June 3rd, 2018.
    Documentation for setting up your new voice mail box will be available after June 4th here on the ITS webpage.
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  • Google Configuration Changes

     

    Our Google devices, applications, and Chrome browser are all managed by the Google Admin Console. There are many useful settings and features available to use that we have not taken full advantage of until now. A collaborative group worked for months to go through each section of the console and all of our core G-Suite applications to determine the best revisions to configurations that could increase educator and student access to educational resources and decrease student misbehavior and distraction. These changes went into effect on May 4th, 2018. They are not set in stone. We would like to hear any feedback you have so that we can revise them for the start of next school year. Please share any questions or concerns with matt.kuhn@thompsonschools.org so they can be addressed.

     

    These changes are not always universal. Certain changes are only for K-2 students or secondary students. Only some changes affect adult (staff) users. The major setting and feature changes being made are summarized here by group. Please take the opportunity to inform students of these changes.

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  • Purchasing Approved Technology

     
    We have updated our technology standards. The online store can be found here. Please use this store for all school/district purchases of technology. You will need to have a budget key code to place an order.
     
    The store can be accessed both from within and outside of our network. It can also be found on the menu to the left under "Hardware Standards and Store." Waivers for any requests for hardware not in our current standards need to be requested from the TSD Executive Director of Technology. Out of specification technology often does not come with the business grade warranties we need and is hard to support since it many not have the right configurations for our network and applications. "On sale" items you may find on other websites are not usually the right types of hardware we need to work effectively in our systems. 
     
    Directions:
    1. Once you are on the store website, login at the upper right corner of the window with your usual computer username and password.
    2. Find the item(s) you want under the [Technology Catalog] menu. Usually, you should look under the [Good Performance] category unless you can justify why a different category is more suited to your needs.
    3. Indicate quantity and needed accessories and choose [Add to Cart].
    4. Make sure your order is right and choose [Proceed to Checkout].
    5. If you do not see your address as an existing one, choose [Create a new address] and enter your name and TSD location. Then choose [Continue].
    6. Enter the TSD Budget Key Code that this purchase will be charged to. If the purchase will be split between codes, indicate how much and to what codes the purchase should be charged to in the notes field. 
    7. Also in the notes field, indicate who should receive the hardware and in what room number. 
    8. Choose [Continue], review your order for accuracy, and choose [Place order]. This will automatically send the order to ITS for purchase and deployment.
    If you need assistance completing this process, please contact Mike Hartman or Nancy Douglas in ITS and they will be glad to help you.
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  • iPad 2s

     

    Because Apple is no longer supporting the operating system on iPad 2s and have deemed them “End of Life,” we've concluded that the district will no longer repair the iPad 2’s. Like obsolete computers, the cost of repair has become greater than the value of the device and the money would be better used in upgrading school/classroom iPads.

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  • Pinterest Blocked

     
    Pinterest is now blocked on the TSD network. We apologize for the inconvenience and we are disappointed that Pinterest allows pornographic material on their service. When inappropriate network traffic is brought to the attention of ITS, the federal CIPA law requires us to act.
     
    We suggest searching for ideas and curating your work on Educlipper or SymbalooYou can still access your Pinterest account when you are not on the TSD Network by using your phone as a hotspot, at home on your own network, or at places like Starbucks. When you have time, you could move the links you need from Pinterest to a safer service that does not have inappropriate content accessible to students on it.


    Some call it the new Pinterest for educators, Educlipper is really a great and promising website where teachers get to curate and organize digital content. Educlipper has been designed specifically for educators and by an educator. The process of setting up your Educlipper account is pretty easy and can be done in a few clicks and once logged in you can instantly start adding content.


    Symbaloo is a personal start page that allows you to easily navigate the web and compile your favorite site all in to one visual interface. Save your bookmarks in the cloud and access them from anywhere with any device.
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