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Issue 104 - Term 4 Week 9

Issue 104 - 2023 | Term 4 | Week 9

Recently, some of our amazing digital classroom officers (DCOs), and the principals who support them, attended a two-day forum at ITD HQ in Eveleigh. For the past three years, DCOs across more than 1,000 schools were an integral part of the Rural Access Gap program. Their main goal is to help improve teacher confidence in using digital tools and delivering better student outcomes. This was achieved through a variety of PL initiatives and mentorship programs curated by ITD's Digital Support team. As the Rural Access Gap program nears its 2023 conclusion, this event served as a chance to reflect, connect and learn with and from each other and key stakeholders from ITD, Adobe, Apple and Canva. 

Each of the 27 DCOs in attendance also shared their stories of exemplary digital achievement, as they presented across multiple categories. Watch the quick video and celebrate the amazing achievements of DCOs from across NSW!

As advised in Week 3, our current contract with Zoom will not be renewed. From 2024, all staff should use either Microsoft Teams or Google Meet in place of Zoom to run any online meetings. All existing single sign-on staff user accounts with Zoom will remain active, but have no Zoom licence attached. Staff will be able to join Zoom meetings hosted by others using their DoE account if needed. Staff that would like Zoom's Basic free service should log a call with EDConnect from the start of Term 1, 2024 to request this be added to their account. The Basic free service restricts meeting duration, total attendees and some in-meeting features and functions. The link at the top of this article will soon include the correct process to follow to purchase full Zoom licences for certain staff members, if needed. Support staff in our Education offices and in formal meeting rooms generally use Microsoft Teams. Since the start of this year, Google Meet is also a viable solution for schools to consider. 

When our schools started "learning from home" in 2020, everybody became very familiar with Zoom and Microsoft Teams as the platforms for hosting online meetings. Classes were held with students, briefings were held with parents and meetings were held with staff. But now, with our Zoom contract ending, many could be looking for an alternative other than Teams. That's where Google Meet comes in. Since we added the Google Workspace for Education PLUS plan for all staff at the start of 2023, we've opened up many exciting and powerful features in Google Meet, making it an excellent option that's well worth trying out. For simplicity for all users, one of its best features is that when using a desktop or a laptop computer, there is no need for any special desktop app to be downloaded and installed. Google Meet works directly and seamlessly in the browser! For phones and tablets, there's a free Meet app in the Apple and Google stores. Use the link above for PL and click the image below for a detailed feature set.

In our last issue, we advised that the scheduled go-live for Week 5 had to be delayed because of a Wi-Fi issue. Further configuration and testing has since been successful and we now plan to make Windows 11 available as an F12 rebuild for eT4L devices from Monday, 11 December. There is no requirement to build any devices to Windows 11 now. This is an optional deployment as it involves a full disk wipe and fresh install. The previous Windows 10 v22H2 option remains available for deployment. The trial identified several models of older devices that are not compatible with Windows 11. For existing devices at your school, before considering kicking-off bulk rebuilds of devices, please perform a thorough test of each model in your fleet and confirm success. You can always rebuild failed installations with 22H2, which Microsoft will support until October 2025. ITD recommends that schools build any newly arriving devices at the school with Windows 11. 

Microsoft's Immersive Reader is a powerful tool that caters to diverse learners in the classroom. It provides access to appropriate and accessible resources based on students' unique needs. Immersive Reader gives all students an easy, built-in way to have texts of all kinds individualised - including larger font sizes, more spacing or a distinctive colour contrast. Others may need a piece of text read aloud or translated into their first language. Immersive Reader limits reading distractions by helping readers focus using built-in tools, like Line focus, Picture dictionary, and Grammar tools. It is built into Word, OneNote, PowerPoint, Edge, Minecraft and other Microsoft applications, making it easily accessible to educators and students alike. With Immersive Reader, educators can create an inclusive learning environment for all students' unique needs and abilities. Watch Daniel Mckay from our Digital Support team explain it all in under three minutes!

Safer Internet Day graphic

Connect, reflect, protect this Safer Internet Day, Tuesday 6 February 2024. Bring together your whole school community to make the internet a safer place with Cybermarvel’s online safety education and awareness program.  

  • Connect safely by keeping apps and devices secure and reviewing privacy settings regularly 
  • Reflect on how actions online may affect others or your own safety 
  • Protect yourself and others by learning how to stay safe online and report online abuse 

Get your students involved in learning about safe online gaming with eSafety’s Be an eSafe Kid virtual classrooms for Years 3-4 and Years 5-6. Teachers can register for our professional learning webinar on Social Media Self-defense. Let’s work towards making every day a Safer Internet Day with Cybermarvel’s resources for students, parents and teachers. 

2023 was a significant year of change for many teachers. It was the first time that many started using cloud services like Google Classroom or Microsoft Teams with their students to manage lessons and class activities. Now, as the year ends and these teachers start thinking about 2024 and the classes they'll need in the cloud, what should they do with the previous Google Classrooms and Class Teams? All teachers will benefit by keeping their cloud resources manageable, year on year. ITD's Digital Support Team have released two new videos to assist teachers at your school with both Google and Microsoft classrooms! Please share this information with them.

2024 is shaping up to be an exciting year and Apple have two amazing PL programs - one to kick it all off and another more-in-depth set of learning mid-year. Act now to register your school's interest! 
🚀 Back To School: Give your tech year a head start by setting your learning community up for success with the Back to School Series. Discover tools and resources to help manage your workload, build classroom connections and support the needs of all of your students. Learn how Apple technology can help address your classroom’s top priorities for the year ahead.
🚀 StorySchool: aimed at Stage 2 and 3 teachers in one-to-one iPad classrooms, features on-demand resources and virtual sessions, providing strategies for integrating technology in literacy activities. Teachers and students will even have an opportunity to participate with classrooms across Australia and attend workshops with author Tristan Bancks! Check out what you can expect by watching this quick video about 2023's StorySchool.
🚀 Register interest for both programs before December 20 as spaces are limited!

Turning off ICT infrastructure over the holiday period can stop important software upgrades, antivirus and security updates.  It is strongly recommended that you DO NOT turn off the following infrastructure:

  • All components in the main data cabinet
  • Components in any other data cabinets
  • Your school’s eT4L Server and UPS
  • Apple Caching Server - if you have one

Note however, that heatwave temperatures can cause problems for your eT4L Server and UPS in particular. You should definitely consider ventilation in the server room over the break. If you do need to turn these devices off, necessary updates will take place on your return to school and likely slow down your network access during the busy first days of Term 1 next year.  

In many areas of NSW, Summer is lightning season. In order to protect your equipment over the long break, it’s a good idea to turn off the power point and unplug the following devices:

  • Computers (desktops/laptops) and monitors
  • Notebook and iPad trolleys
  • Printers, projectors and other peripherals
  • Multifunction devices and copiers
  • Main Learning Displays and Televisions

On the Term 1 School Development Day – turn on all your school computers so they can receive security and Windows updates from your eT4L server. Also turn on your storage trolleys so device batteries can recharge. This will ensure that they are ready for use by students as school resumes.

Dell notebook restarting

With greatly increased cyber threats occurring globally, all device vendors have accelerated the release of security updates over the past year. It is expected that in late December and January, several critical updates will need to be applied to all managed devices at all schools. Regardless of whether you use Windows, Chromebooks, Macs or iPads, all are very likely to have security updates that need installation. As recommended in the previous article, schools should turn off all of these user devices over summer and disconnect them from power. But what this means is that upon restart when school resumes, these updates will deploy, install silently in the background and require a device restart. If the first use of these devices after the break is by students, they will likely see disruption caused by these important updates. We strongly recommend that all schools plan for the return to school and focus on powering up all devices, including those stored in trolleys. Log on and allow for these security updates to install and wait for the prompt to restart before using them with students. 

While we request that eT4L Servers in schools remain switched on, as Summer progresses, concerns are raised about server and power supply operating temperatures. For schools with no adequate cooling or ventilation in the server room, consider mitigating action such as leaving windows and doors open (only if appropriate) and using pedestal fans on a timer during the day and set on low, to keep air flowing in the room. Please note that if ITD's Operations team receives a critical alert from any eT4L Server, we may perform an emergency shutdown to protect the hardware and data. Our critical alert thresholds are set at 47 degrees ambient temperature, or 90 degrees for the CPU.

You may not know that there's been an ICT Thought of the Day included at the bottom of every news.T4L released since issue 18, way back in 2016? But did you know there's also a webpage where you can view them all in one place? So with the school holidays upon us, we thought it would be good to compile them all from oldest to newest, to see how the humour has evolved, from clever to corny - but always with a tech focus. We hope you enjoy this little indulgence of ours and use this final article to wish all of our readers a fantastic Christmas, New Year and a restful holiday - before we see you again in week 3 of 2024 for the start of another twelve issues of news.T4L!

Information Technology Directorate publishes three issues of news.T4L each term. Remember - share each issue with your staff! And if you aren't receiving an email notification as soon as a new issue of news.T4L drops, then you're missing out! So why not subscribe?