Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Top EWG Tech Tips For 2018

Traveling throughout the district, I get to see tech supporting powerful, collaborative, thought provoking activities every day. I also get to see simple things that slow down or otherwise break tech. Remember, tech only breaks when you need it most so avoiding any kind of tech disruption is key. As the calendar year begins anew, I thought a top ten tech tips would be helpful.  Here it is.

  1. Take your laptop to the printer. Few things are worse than trudging back to your room to reprint after digital demons devour your first or second print job. Take your laptop to the printer.
  2. Large radius power cable loops are charger friendly. Bend your power cable sharply and tightly, and it will break. Replacements are expensive, and IT people will growl at you for wrecking their equipment. Again, make big radius, cable friendly loops when storing your power supply. 
    Cable friendly loops
  3. If you still use lots of standalone office apps like word, excel, or powerpoint, ExamView, or something else not cloud based, Google Drive is still your friend. On the MacBook, you can use Google File Stream to automatically sync your documents and other files to your Google Drive. Think of Google File Stream as a virtual flash drive that automatically backs up your stuff. That your stuff is backed up is important, because no one else is backing up your stuff. Use Google File Stream today, and use it tomorrow. Once the smoke escapes its MacBook confines, it's too late to start. Oh, and that smoke? It's your data -potentially years of work - going to a digital oblivion.
  4. Still using a flash drive as every day storage for documents, curriculum, student work, tests, and other important stuff? Stop it. Before you send your flash drive through the laundry, lose it at the grocery store, or it just quits working - (taking years of data with it), migrate to the cloud. We're a Google school, so using and backing up to Google Drive makes sense, but you can also use Dropbox, Onedrive, iCloud, or something else. Get over the fallacy that you can keep your flash drives and data safer than cloud based providers.
  5. Still emailing documents, PDFs, and other files to colleagues? 1996 was a long time ago. Collaborate and share through GDrive or something else, instead. That way, everyone enjoys access to the same, current, up-to-date document.
  6. It's okay to upgrade your MacBook to High Sierra. Sure, for years you were told not to because it would break your wifi connection at school. That is no longer the case, and upgrades are now recommended. Plug your device in, hit the upgrade button from the Apps Store update tab, and let the process happen. Your MacBook will perform better, enjoy longer battery life, and also provide better end user security.
  7. Rebooting your Chromebook, MacBook, iPad, or other devices fixes most problems. Sound not sounding? Clicker not clicking? Display not displaying? Reboot. Do this before submitting a ticket or calling IT.
  8.  Be kind to display adapter dongles. Using a display adapter dongle as a laptop rest is a proven way to make sure it is broken when you
    Dongles are not weight bearing supports!
    need it most. It should bear no weight nor suffer twisting, torquing strains.
  9. Do not perform any laptop, iPad, or network upgrades during the school day or just before you want to use your device, especially if your students are testing, presenting, performing, or otherwise involved in some kind of learning activity. Ditto for final project/exam periods. Updates will always take longer than expected, especially if the margin of time to upgrade approaches the amount of time available.
  10. If your students are to watch a video during class time, consider projecting it through a single device, rather than having everyone stream the video. Our district's bandwidth is awesome, but 25 plus streams from Youtube or some other media source is likely to give everyone in your class a good dose of the buffering hour glass. Playing a video on one device is roughly analogous to carpooling; something we should probably do more often.

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