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Issue 95 - Term 1 Week 9

Issue 95 - 2023 | Term 1 | Week 9

What locally-developed ICT initiatives are running at your school?

ITD's Digital Strategy team is interested in finding out about 'home grown' tech solutions that are working well in schools. Some schools have developed their own ICT solutions to complement what's provided, through locally available skills and knowledge, or contracted experts. We recently asked schools if they had implemented any local ICT initiatives to resolve issues, solve problems or automate processes. It's fantastic to read the many varied responses that came in at the above Yammer discussion.

So does your school have a local ICT initiative you can tell us all about? What custom tools are you using in terms of desktop, web or mobile apps or databases? Or are there any other automation processes developed for admin or classroom use? Please add them to the discussion linked above.

As advised in week 3, the Microsoft Store for Education, available on department-owned Windows computers, will be retired by Microsoft on March 31. All of the commonly used modern Windows apps listed at that store will be added to the eT4L Software Catalogue by the start of term 2.  Schools are then able to request each title that they'd like to distribute, and approve the request to have the titles added to their Locally licenced software in UDM. From there, they can be deployed to managed Windows devices. The advantage to this is rather than each user of a computer needing to separately install each title from the Microsoft Store themselves, they can be installed for all users of each device via UDM. In addition, these modern Windows apps will auto-update to their latest versions as they are released by the developers.

The department's Curriculum Reform STEM team will produce 10 case studies to help schools to encourage female students to engage in Science, Technology, Engineering and/or Mathematics. Do you have a specific girls in STEM program or initiative that could be easily shared with other schools? We're gathering information about programs in NSW Government schools aimed at increasing gender equity in STEM education. Tell us about your girls in STEM activity, program or initiative by completing this quick Girls in STEM form. Selected schools will be invited to participate in an in-depth survey and discussion, allowing the STEM team to create a case study capturing your intiative and publishing it on the DoE STEM Education website. A release day will be provided to complete the survey, collate images and check permissions for publication on the website. 

Commencing later this week, all users in NSW DoE should start to see changes to user interfaces across various applications in Google Workspace for Education. Google Material Design 3 introduces a refreshed user interface that is purposefully designed to streamline the collaboration user experience across their products. In Docs, Sheets, and Slides, you’ll see improvements such as: 

  • A simplified user interface across the top, helping you find frequently used actions faster 
  • Additional user experience improvements in commenting, background, rulers, and gridlines. 
  • Some features have been relocated to reduce clutter within the new interface. 

In Drive, you’ll see improvements including:

  • Key actions attached to files, for quick access and increased productivity. 
  • Ability to select multiple items at a time and undertake batch operations for frequent tasks.
  • New search options (including type, owner, and last modified) to help you find files faster.

There are so many Aruba wireless access points (WAPs) now in our schools, providing the convenience of fast and reliable network and internet connection for all of our mobile devices. High Schools in NSW have had WAPs in their classrooms since 2009, with many of those old AP125 models still in operation today! Since then, primary schools added the various ranges of Aruba's Instant WAPs, like the iAP105, 205, 305 and lately, through Connecting Country Schools, the AP505 and 515. One thing in common with all Aruba WAPs is that they have indicator lights - often on the face of the WAP, but sometimes on the edge. And for optimal operation, the indicator lights should always be green. Sometimes, you may see orange or red lights, suggesting sub-optimal performance, or some other issue. But if you see no lights - it probably says something is very wrong with the unit. So how can you avoid problems with your class's next mobile lesson? Look up - every day! Check those indicator lights. Are they green? Are they different to yesterday? The sooner you report indicator light discrepancies, the sooner your Wi-Fi issues will be fixed. Take a photo showing the lights and attach it to your online EDConnect ticket, and include the AMS room number for the WAP.

Two students working together at a laptop computer

The NSW Student Learning Library  provides ready-to-go K-2 English and Mathematics learning resources for students, that can be accessed at any time, at home or at school. Each learning resource is NSW syllabus-aligned and has been created and reviewed by accredited Australian teachers. With an English and maths focus for Infants students for now, more learning resources will be added to the site soon. The remaining K-10 learning resources will be released in coming years, aligned to the new NSW syllabus rollout. These resources:

  • include embedded instructional videos and other easy-to-use learning materials
  • are supplied with both printable and online options 
  • are adaptable by teachers to meet the diverse needs of their students
  • enhance student engagement
  • minimise the effort and need for guidance from parents and carers for at home learning
  • reduce the time teachers spend finding or developing high quality resources
  • are also available for teachers in the Universal Resources Hub

Teachers and students may have noticed a recent change in their portal with the Google Classroom button or link being removed. This change was made on request of multiple schools reporting that the link doesn't automatically sign the user into their Google Workspace account, if it is selected as the first option after the portal has loaded. Google advised that it is not possible to engage single sign-on direct to Google Classroom. Please advise students to always choose the Google Workspace button in order to access all Google apps, including Classroom, avoiding the need to sign on again.

An upgrade to the core eT4L services is scheduled at all NSW schools during the upcoming school holidays period. An upgrade of Config Manager will be applied to all school eT4L servers from the morning of Tuesday 11 April through to the afternoon of Thursday 13 April.  During this maintenace window, please avoid any: 

  • UDM software deployments 
  • F12 device builds 

Staff intending to perform these functions during the break should schedule their days accordingly.

We're excited to announce another new addition to our growing range of stem.T4L kits, with the launch of the Junior Explorer kit! This newest kit contains 16 Sphero indi robotic cars and 16 Apple iPhones. It's designed specifically for Early Stage 1 through Stage 2 students. The indis ​​​can be used device free, straight out of the box with just the cars and colour tiles. But taking the next step, students can use the supplied iPhones to learn critical problem solving and coding concepts using the Sphero Edu Jr app. Watch the quick video below to find out more about how indi works and we're sure that your teaching ideas will immediately start flowing! To add to your own ideas, a fantastic indi educator guidebook is also available with lesson plans and challenges to engage students. The Junior Explorer kit is available to book now for Term 3 and onwards. You'll find the Junior Explorer kit under the Specific Items section of the kit booking system.

Many schools use Canva in class to create great, visual arts, posters and project work. Others might use Google Sites or Adobe Express for these student productions. Giving students an opportunity to try a variety of tools when producing their work not only builds their tech skillsets, but allows them to take advantage of the different visual features included with each product. Another great tool that all students have access to, is Microsoft Sway. It's part of the Microsoft 365 suite and can be accessed from the waffle menu at the top-left of any 365 web app.  With Sway, students can:

  • Create an e-portfolio
  • Write a digital story
  • Collaborate on a class newsletter

Find out more about Sway, and particularly how it can be used in the classroom.

The latest issue of T4L Kids magazine

T4L Kids has gone sports mad! Our cover star for issue 12 is Madison de Rozario, Paralympic gold medalist, world record holder and Aussie sports hero. Meet Madi and explore the technology behind her legendary performances. You can also investigate the tech behind racing wheelchairs.

This issue explores concepts around sportsmanship, games prototyping and includes exciting challenges around sport, performance and creativity to engage students in their learning. Students can take the challenge to improve their fitness or performance using a camera or a phone, they can build a fitness app, and learn how to call a match. They can even set up an esports club at their school!

Grab T4L Kids magazine today and share the link with your students!

Looking for some engaging creative ideas for the end of term? Apple's Education team recently shared two sets of 30 creative activities for students using built-in features of iPad. One set is designed for children from K through 4, with a second set targeted at students in Stages 3 and 4. The activities can be easily tailored for a whole class, a family or completed individually. Have fun doing all of the activities! You can choose from five days of photo fun, challenging friends to take the best slow-motion video, sharing a passion project, and so much more!

March 31st is World Backup Day - reminding us all to protect our valuable files by creating backups. Losing data and files can be a disaster - backups can save you from losing everything. Back up your files to cloud storage to ensure you have a copy of your files if something goes wrong, such as a ransomware attack or the theft of your device. Watch these videos on migrating files to OneDrive and Google Drive and make it a habit to save your work files and folders to department cloud storage. If you use a personal device for work purposes, set up automatic syncing of work files to OneDrive or to Google Drive. To learn how to back up and restore files to and from Windows and Apple devices visit device backups.

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?