7 Steps to Secure your Device

portable devices

Secure your Device posterMany of us use our devices as an extension of our brains. We keep personal information such as our banking details, passwords, addresses, social media accounts, contacts, etc. on our devices. This could be catastrophic in the wrong hands. In the best case, we would simply lose all of our data, but they would be backed up elsewhere. In the worse case, an unscrupulous individual could steal private information from our device or use this information to defraud us or our friends and family. Whether you have an iOS, Android, or other device, it is important to secure it.

Follow these 7 tips to secure your device:

  1. Set up a passcode of 6 or more digits on your device.
  2. Use Touch ID or an unlock pattern for added security of your device.
  3. Sign into iCloud/Google sync so that your device is backed up.
  4. Turn on Find My iPhone (iOS) or Find My Device (Android). On iOS, make sure that you also turn on Send Last Location.
  5. Enable two-factor authentication for all accounts that you use on your device. This makes the next two steps very important if you lose your phone or if it’s stolen. This setting will prevent unauthorized access of your accounts, but may also keep you if you don’t have any other devices that are logged into the accounts.
  6. Add multiples verified emails or phone numbers. Use the alternate phone number of a partner or trusted friend, so that you can get the verification code from them if you need to access your accounts on a new device.
  7. Memorize your Gmail/iCloud password. This may encourage you to create a password that is easy to remember. Remember that even if the password is easy for you to remember, it should be hard for other people to guess. Make sure that your password has a combination of types of characters, and is at least 8 characters. The longer and more random the password, the harder it is for criminals to crack it.

For additional tips, and instructions to help you access the various settings on iOS or Android, see this PC World article.

App Spotlight: Padlet

padlet logo

Overview

Padlet is a digital canvas where you can create, create, and collaborate. It’s one of the most popular tools with my colleagues, and I’ve used it for years, since its previous incarnation as Wallwisher. It’s a freemium product, with a version for schools called Padlet Backpack.

Using Padlet

To use Padlet, it’s best to create an account. You can sign up with a username/password combo, or by connecting your Facebook or Google account. This gives you a personal profile, which includes a public feed of your padlets, as well as any biographical information that you’ve added to your account. If you don’t create an account, make sure you save the links for any padlets that you create, and to finish editing their settings within 24 hours.

When you create a new template, you can select one of five formats, or convert between formats:

  • Wall which uses a “brick-like layout”, when order doesn’t matter
  • Canvas which lets you arrange content and create connectors within them, for trees, mind-maps, flowcharts, brainstorming, etc.
  • Steam for a vertical organization of content, to make lists, reports, blog posts, etc.
  • Grid for rows of content, useful for storyboards, noticeboards, etc.
  • Shelf for columns of content, each independently scrollable, e.g. compass point activity, introductory padlet.

You can create a padlet from scratch, using a template, or by modifying an existing padlet which allows copy, and you can decided whether or not others can remake your work as a template. There are a variety of wallpapers to choose from. Themes are also available in the premium version. For each padlet, you can set a custom link address.

template choices

Template choices

 

There are options for visibility: Public, Secret, Password-Protected, Private or Organization Wide (premium feature). You also decide permissions for users: read-only, write, moderate, admin. Posts can show up instantly, or you can turn on moderation. You can manage posts by other users, and edit, transfer, copy, or delete them. Also, at any point, anyone can export a Padlet as a pdf, csv, image or Excel file. They can also share it on social media, or embed it elsewhere on the web.

post to padletPadlet lets you add posts to the board, using links, photos, video, documents, music, voice recordings, and other file types. You may also be able to comment on other posts, depending on the settings of the padlet.

Padlet has integrated search, which lets you find your own padlets, or to search for padlets on specific topics.

Padlet Backpack

I haven’t used the premium product, but according to the Padlet website, it offers the following features:

  • user management and access control
  • more privacy
  • extra security
  • branding
  • school-wide activity monitoring
  • bigger file uploads
  • controlled environment
  • support

Great Features

  • Support for multiple languages
  • Easy to collaborate in the space
  • No signup required to post
  • Upload files from your computer, or embed from the web
  • Attached links and files have previews right in Padlet
  • Links are automatically recognized and hyperlinked
  • Real time updates of the padlet, or focus mode which lets you decide when to refresh the content
  • Copy posts within one padlet or from one padlet to another
  • Automatically create a QR code for your padlet

Tips

  • Use an organizational tool like a Venn Diagram or T Chart as a background to help you organize posts
  • Install Extensions for Chrome, Firefox, or Safari to quickly add web content to your padlets, or install the Chrome App for easy access
  • If students are posting without an account, have them put their name in the title of the post

10 Ideas to use Padlet in the Classroom

  1. Make a list of resources for your students, color coded by topic, or reading level.
  2. Have students create a wall as a presentation on a topic
  3. Create a padlet for collaborative brainstorming
  4. Collaboratively create a question and answer board with students
  5. Create a video playlist for a course
  6. Create a booksmarks board for a class
  7. Have students post reviews of books that they are reading
  8. Post a daily message/question to students that they can respond to
  9. Create a weekly “newsletter” for parents, curated by students
  10. Have students create showcases/portfolios of their work

Devices Supported

Padlet works on iOS, Android, Kindle, and on the web.

Padlet with Kids

Padlet allows use by children under 13, provided that schools take the steps needed to comply with their local laws. In the US, this means respecting COPPA and FERPA, and either consenting on behalf of parents, or getting parental consent before sharing any personal information about children.

Resources

Spring Cleaning for your Mac

cleaning supplies

Sierra has included some new tools to manage storage on your Mac. However, if you have an earlier version of Mac OSX, these options are not available.  Cleaning your Mac is an important step in maintenance, and includes cleaning the hard drive, as well as the outside of your device.

Clean the Hardware

First off, turn off your computer and unplug it from power. Take your computer out of the case. Get a microfiber cloth, dampen it slightly, and wipe down your computer. You can also use the damp microfiber cloth on the screen. If you keyboard is extra dirty (I’ve seen some keyboards that I didn’t want to touch), use a soft toothbrush to get between the keys. Lifehacker explains that you can use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser if you computer is greasy. We also have some LCD cleaning foam in the Idea Lab. Here are the official cleaning instructions from Apple.

Update your Software

Now’s a good time to update your software as well. I usually recommend that people do security updates as soon as they come out. Update your apps in the App Store, as well as your operating system, if your hardware is compatible.

Also, clean up your login items, those are the applications that automatically open when you start your computer. Go to System Preferences | Users and Groups | Login items, and delete the items that you don’t want to automatically open when you start your computer.

Make Space on your Hard Drive

  1. It’s okay to delete apps that you never use on your laptop. You may have installed something for testing, or for a short time, and kept it installed. If you no longer need it, delete it. You can do that by dragging them to the trash can. For a cleaner uninstall, you could use an app like AppCleaner.
  2. Clean out your old photos and videos, remove duplicates, and empty your Photos’ trash.
    • export old photos to an external drive
    • save old photos to Google Photos or to iCloud with optimized storage turned on (only available in Mac OSX Sierra)
  3. Clean out your download folders. Either move files into Documents or delete them.
  4. Organize your desktop. Delete saved screenshots that you no longer need, and move files into folders in Documents. If you can’t see your desktop, it’s a good idea to clean it up. If you want to move a file but be able to quickly access it from the Desktop, make an alias to the file on the Desktop after you move the file.icon for alias
    • To make an alias, click on the file with two finders and select Make Alias.
    • Drag the alias (it’s not a real file, just a pointer to a file as seen by the arrow on it) to the Desktop
  5. Use an app like Disk Inventory X to see the size of folders, or use the Finder to find large files.

To use finder to find large files:

  1. Open Finder, 
  2. Go to File | Find (shortcut CMD – F)
  3. Change Kind to File Size.
  4. Set the minimum File Size requirement e.g. 100 MB

find large files gif

Back Up

Use Time Machine to back up your hard drive, or copy your necessary files over to a back up hard drive. It’s a good idea to schedule a weekly back-up time in your calendar. I encourage you do that now, if  you haven’t done it before.

Using IT Integration Walls in the Classroom

IT Integration Walls

An IT Integration wall is a great way to support student use of technology for learning in the classroom. You can take many different approaches to creating the wall. One approach is to create a poster of Just Right resources for your grade/students. Here’s an example from a Grade 2 classroom.

IT integration poster

Just Right Resources

In elementary school, we use the concept of “Just Right” apps and websites to help children understand that some websites are appropriate for children, while others are not. Students use bookmarks and QR codes to get to websites appropriate for use in the classroom.

This Grade 2 teacher included instructions of how to use Dropbox, as well as QR codes to resources for the current unit. The space can be as big, or as small as you want it to be. Involve students in the creation process, especially at older grades. If you or your technology coordinator has created instructions for using technology resources, incorporate these resources into the integration wall.

Managing the Wall

Implement the wall at the beginning of the school year, so that students get in the habit of solving problems themselves, and with the help of their peers. Have sections of the wall that will be useful throughout the year, as well as more dynamic sections that change with the unit or term.  Here are some ideas of how to involve students:

  • Have students submit a few websites that can be added to the wall.
  • Model the process for deciding if a site or app is Just Right, and involve students in the decision.
  • Invite students to create instructions for common tasks, to post on the wall.
  • Provide space and opportunity for student to identify their expertise and offer assistance to peers.
  • Track how often different resources are used on the wall, to know what to leave and what to replace. It could be a student’s job to analyze the use of resources.

Facilitating Student Support for Technology Integration

It can be really hard not to take control of a student’s mouse/keyboard/computer/iPad and solve problems for them. I have to constantly remind myself that learning isn’t about having students (or teachers) watch me solve their problems, and that I am doing students a disservice when I sacrifice their learning in the interest of speed. I often remind students to ask peers who are sitting nearby before asking me for help. This is to encourage the idea that we’re a community of learners and can learn from each other, not just from the teacher. Here’s one more idea to encourage student efficacy in technology use.

Create a board somewhere in your classroom of the tech skills/tools that you use. Have students write their name under each skill/tool that they can help others with. Allow students to go to each other for help in solving problems. You can limit the number of times that a student posts their name on the board. It’s also helpful to establish protocols on when and how students can get help from classroom experts. Consider how an expert may be able to indicate a desire to work undisturbed for some time.