Thursday, April 28, 2011

Who is using Google Apps for Education in Illinois?

I have been gathering a list of educational institutions in Illinois using Google Apps for Education.

Here is what I have found:





Please let me know in the comments if your school or district is missing.


Illinois Seal Image from: http://www2.illinois.gov/about/PublishingImages/seal.gif

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How to Block Gadgets from Sites in Google Apps for Education

This is a question that comes up quite often when looking at Google Apps for Education:


How do I block students from adding gadgets in Sites in Google Apps?


The FAQ and Google Code Resources that answer this question makes it seem pretty simple, and it is, once you know the step by step instructions.


First of all there are 2 main options of blocking gadgets in sites or on iGoogle pages:

  1. Blacklist Gadgets One at a Time: 
    • I would only use this option for a domain that is for staff or adults only where I have a particular person complaining about a specific gadget
  2. Blacklist everything and then Whitelist Gagets One at a Time: 
    • I would use this option if you want to protect students from any possible inappropriate gadget
Either Option Starts out by creating a simple interface in a Google Site for Whitelisting and Blacklisting.

Step 1: Sign into Google Sites with an account that is an Administrator of Google Apps for Education and create a new site. 

Step 2: Name the site and make sure only specified people can view it 


Step 3: Edit the page and go to Insert then More Gadgets and select Add Gadget by URL
  • In the box that appears add this URL http://google-feedserver.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/resources/gadgets/domain-gadget-directory-manager/spec.xml





  • Change the size of the gadget to be 880 X 800


  • Click OK and then Save the changes to the page
You will then have an application on the page that allows you to Blacklist or Whitelist applications and see the directory. 



Now you are ready to execute the steps to Blacklist Gadgets one-by-one

Option 1: Blacklist Gadgets 1 by 1.

Once you have installed the gadget application above you will see this on the page you created














You can search by keyword (gadget name, category, or url) and find the gadget you would like to blacklist. Click Add to blacklist the gadget. It may take a few hours for the item to be blacklisted. 

To whitelist a gadget and get it back in the directory click remove next to the blacklisted item












Option 2: Blacklist Everything and Whitelist Gadgets 1 by 1

Step 1: Follow the instructions above to set up a page with the Domain Directory Gadget Manager

Step 2: Download the Feed Server Client Tool (FSCT) which is this file to your computer (windows or linux only - my instructions are for windows)





Step 3: Unzip the file and put in in your C: drive root










Step 4: Open the cmd prompt (cmd.exe) and type cd c:\fsct













Step 5: Type "fsct shell" and enter the username and password of an administratior of the GAFE account










Step 6: Type: "setpublicgadgetdirfilter BLACK_LIST" and hit enter. You will get back a response that your site feed has been updated.






Step 7: Unblock your Domain Directory Gadget Manager (not sure if this has to be done, but just making sure it remains open) by typing: "addwhitelistedgadget http://google-feedserver.googlecode.com/svn/trunk/resources/gadgets/domain-gadget-directory-manager/spec.xml"








You have now blacklisted all gadgets and have a tool to whitelist back the ones you want students or staff to use.

Whitelisting Gadgets after Everything is Blacklisted

Go back to the site page you made with the Domain Directory Gadget Manager













You can search by keyword (gadget name, category, or url) and find the gadget you would like to whitelist. Click Add to whitelist the gadget. It may take a few hours for the item to be whitelisted. 

To blacklist a gadget and get it back in the directory click remove next to the whitelisted item


Although it would be nice to have these features native in the GAFE control panel, Google does provide resources fro protecting our kids from inappropriate gadgets. It should only take about an hour to set this up the first time. After that you have created your own control panel for blacklisting or whitelisting Google Gadgets in Google Sites.



Do you want to learn more about Administering Google Apps for Education, or would you like to send your Teachers to a week of "Google Camp"? See what we are offering in our district this summer for professional development around GAFE here: https://sites.google.com/a/maine207.org/play/areas-of-study/google

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Do we need to archive student emails?

This is a question that came up in the Illinois Google EDU user's group this morning.


Let me start off with the disclaimer that I am not a Lawyer

Referencing this from the State of Illinois (where I work):


Effective January 1, 2001, the Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205) is amended to allow Local Government agencies to reproduce existing public records in a digitized electronic format with the intent to dispose of the original records. This practice is only allowable if the electronic records are reproduced on a "durable medium that accurately and legibly reproduces the original record in all details," and "that does not permit additions, deletions, or changes to the original document images." In addition, the digital records must be "retained in a trustworthy manner so that the records, and the information contained in the records, are accessible and usable for subsequent reference at all times while the information must be retained." Each agency is also under the obligation to file a Records Disposal Certificate with the appropriate Local Records Commission before any original record may be disposed of and before the reproduced digital record is disposed of. Click here for the Guidelines Summary.

To understand that paragraph you must understand what a record is (from Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205))

"Public record" means any book, paper, map, photograph, digitized electronic material, or other official documentary material, regardless of physical form or characteristics, made, produced, executed or received by any agency or officer pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of public business and preserved or appropriate for preservation by such agency or officer, or any successor thereof, as evidence of the organization, function, policies, decisions, procedures, or other activities thereof, or because of the informational data contained therein. Library and museum material made or acquired and preserved solely for reference or exhibition purposes, extra copies of documents preserved only for convenience of reference, and stocks of publications and of processed documents are not included within the definition of public record. 

The key pieces from our point of view (within the realm of technology) is that any digitized electronic material made, produced, executed or received by any agency or officer pursuant to law or in connection with the transaction of public business must be "retained in a trustworthy manner so that the records, and the information contained in the records, are accessible and usable for subsequent reference at all times while the information must be retained."

Do we need to maintain Student emails?

In my opinion we are not obligated to retain their emails or documents because:

·         They are not an agency or officer of public business
·         Their personal records are protected from disclosure to the public under FERPA
o   “FERPA gives parents certain rights with respect to their children's education records. These rights transfer to the student when he or she reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level.
o   “Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record.

Just as we are not required to hold on to every assignment, notes between students, or notes from students to teachers we are not required to hold on to every email a student has ever composed or sent from our email systems.

However, there are well defined records we are required to maintain (more about that later), student email just isn't one of them.

Again, just for the record, I am not a lawyer - I just like blogging about this kind of stuff...