Getting Started with Google Docs and Apps

Helped introduce our 1315 new Google Docs accounts to MS and HS yesterday.

Best part was two HS teachers who shared some examples from their four years of use. I had no idea that the comments feature and versions feature could allow paperless exchanges between teachers and students for revisions. It also appears that sharing one document with up to 19 others has worked out (as long as they weren’t trying to edit simultaneously). Best recommendation for simultaneous editing was only two at a time.

We also did a test that was interesting– a PDF was uploaded into Google Docs, and then downloaded back out as an editable Word doc.  Interesting.

We’re using single sign on for all the accounts via Finalsite, which allows us to use existing usernames and passwords from AD, but it means the normal Google sign in pages can’t be used.  Maybe that’s more security, but it might be confusing for users to start (especially those with multiple Google accounts).

Backing off Moodle 2.1

I’m sorry to report that we needed to back off on our Moodle 2.1 migration. We had gone all the way to a hosted provider who migrated all of our 1.9 course material in, but we still found some issues that we couldn’t resolve in time. We needed to roll back to 1.9 local.

The main “gotcha” was the file management and backup issues. First, we found that our migrated 1.9 data worked correctly in Moodle 2.1, but then the backups of this data appeared scrambled and unreliable. We were able to fix this a bit by modifying templates and structures, but not enough to be confident. The zip backups are very important to us, because we run them every 48 hours for all classes, and they are also the way we finish one year (clear all data) and then reload courses for the following year (from the zip files).

We also found interface challenges with loading files into Moodle as a teacher and then managing them. There were enough changes triggered by the file restructuring in Moodle 2.1 to scare us a bit– enough for the rollback.

So, we’re stable and running fine back on our 1.9 local server, and we only had a 3 month commitment to the hosted server, so we’re fine for the start of school. It was sad, however,  to lose so much work on the migration to 2.1 that didn’t quite make it.

The Long Summer

Okay, I haven’t posted since March. As you might guess, it’s been a long summer.  I didn’t even remember my password to log back into this system…

Since taking on the roles of both technology and some school operations, I find myself working on computers and buildings at the same time. This summer we had about 50 different projects underway (my teams, that is), leading to a broad range of changes. Some of the largest:

  • Fully renovated sports pavilion
  • 22 Epson Brightlink installations
  • Expensive air handler for kitchen and servery
  • 100 Meru access points moved (new data and electrical)
  • New roof for Lower School reception
  • Zimbra upgrade 6 to 7
  • Google Docs and Apps roll out for 1500 users
  • 14 more HP MFP printer/copiers
  • A Palo Alto box installation
  • Macbook Air pilot
  • iPad2 pilot
  • New Veracross feature implementations

The list goes on, and I won’t mention the ten air-blade style hand driers.

Now, as others come back to work, I feel like taking a break and think about conferences to go to. Maybe NAIS in Seattle… Maybe ISTE in San Diego…

Let the school year begin.

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