Tag Archives: technical issues

How to Overcome the Top 6 Problems with Glogster

Glogster is a web based app that can be used by teachers and students to create posters. These posters can be made into book reports, short stores, or reports. Each poster has a link on the Internet. These links can be set to private or public. A private link can only be viewed by registered Glogster education users. A public link can be viewed by anyone in the world.

Glogster tips

Tips for using Glogster.

When using the Glogster education version, students become part of a learning community. This means they can view classmates’ work, as well as work done by students from other schools. Students can comment on the posters to offer encouragement.

Glogster offers many benefits to educators. For example, they can set up a project, monitor student work, grade online, and quickly create presentations of completed glogs. However there are some shortcomings. To overcome them, it is important that all educators emphasize the importance of being a good digital citizen to protect students’ safety and privacy.

How to Overcome the Top 6 Problems with Glogster

Problem 1: Unable to Lock Profiles

Student profiles cannot be locked. This means your students can change their photo, name, and status whenever they want. Why is this a major problem? Children often think it is very funny to change their name to something silly or change a picture to something inappropriate. With no way to prevent profile changes, it is essential for teachers to discuss the importance of responsible digital citizenship. Students need to understand that their “digital self” is a reflection of themselves.

Problem 2: No Way to Moderate Status Updates

Status is part of a Glogster profile. It appears as a callout bubble beside the profile picture. The status feature is a great way to send a welcome message to viewers. However, it is also a way to share inappropriate messages with friends. Since there is no moderating system a teacher cannot determine when a status has been changed. For this reason, you need a rule that outlines the criteria for an appropriate status update.

Problem 3: Privacy Concerns!

Student profiles in Glogster allow a user to add their full name, birthdate, and list details such as personal interests. Anyone can view a Glogster profile if they have a Glogster account. Moreover, if a glog is set to “public” anyone can see the profile. This is a safety issue. To protect your students ask them avoid posting their full name, birthdate, or school name. It is a good idea to keep interests blank as there is no reason for this information to be shared.

Problem 4: No Way to Moderate Comments

Students can view each other’s glogs and post comments. This is a great way to foster a learning community. However, the drawback is that comments cannot be moderated by the teacher. A student can write anything they want in the comment box. To avoid the abuse of this feature emphasize the importance of being polite. You may wish to draft a set of Commenting Guidelines.

Problem 5: Profiles Can be Shared using Social Media

I dislike this feature the most. If a person views a glog they can click the nickname link to see the profile of the creator. Social media buttons allow a link to the profile to post to Facebook or Twitter. Teachers need to protect their students’ privacy. For this reason, make absolutely certain that Glogster profiles reveal NO personal information and use an avatar instead of a student photograph.

Problem 6: Comments and Classmates are Visible

As a teacher I would prefer that comments and classmates were only viewable by users assigned to a particular class. Unfortunately this is not the case. When someone views a glog, they can read all comments posted and see a list of classmates. This emphasizes the need to make sure that comments posted by students do not reveal personal information and are appropriate. Moreover, it highlights the importance of using an avatar and not a student photograph.

How I Solved the Privacy and Security Issues with Glogster

I wanted to use Glogster with my students. It is an excellent education product that offers wonderful possibilities. Here is what I did to solve the privacy and security issues:

  1. Prior to using Glogster I gave a Digital Citizenship mini-lesson.
  2. I drafted a Glogster Agreement. As a class we read/discussed each point. All students had to sign the document and I keep it on file as a reference. If students do not follow the terms of the agreement they cannot use Glogster.(I will post a copy in my next blog post)
  3. I had all my students create avatars to use as their profile picture. (I will post instructions for some excellent sites and how to capture the images.)
  4. Student profiles list name as First Name with Last Initial.
  5. Birthdate on all student profiles are set to January 1, 2014.
  6. All other profile information must remain blank.
  7. Status updates must be related to the task and be appropriate. To give students a frame of reference I tell them the principal or your grandma should be able to read it.
  8. I have planned a Commenting lesson prior to sharing our glogs and during that class everyone will sign a Commenting Agreement document.
  9. All glogs will remain Private.
  10. I wrote Glogster customer support and requested changes to the system. Please do that too! Maybe we can get some privacy/security features added.

My students enjoy using Glogster. By being proactive and recognizing some of the shortcomings, we are able to use this service safely. So can you!

TEACHERS! It is Time to Junk out your Files on the Server!

Organize Files


Follow these tips to stay organized!

We do a daily backup of information for staff and students using an offsite backup utility. It was generously donated to us with a 250GB storage limit.
However, I just received a backup error to say that we are over our limit!

I started to look through the directory to locate the source of the problem. Volume for teacher folders is rather large.

They are jammed packed full of stuff!

I notice there are the essential files such as templates, lesson plans, worksheets, and assessment tools. Those cannot be deleted. However, there is a large portion of outdated files that can likely be removed from the server. On closer examination, I discover the biggest contributor to the storage capacity issue is PHOTOS! Since most photos are taken in a hi-resolution format they eat up space quite quickly.

Teachers are BUSY people. They barely have enough time to create a file, never mind take the time to delete outdated ones. It is a good idea to clean out your folder at the end of the school year. However, IF you ignored this request last year, it is a good time to do it now!

I know you don’t want to part with anything, because “you might need it”. However, there are definitely some files you can delete.

For example, do you really need the Pizza Day announcement from five years ago? The event is over.

What about the photos from the school trip in 2002? Those children have graduated and left the school.

Here are some suggestions to get and STAY organized:

Sort Files by Date: Open your folder and sort the files by date. Just because the files are OLD does not mean they are unnecessary. Take the time to open up your old files. If they are not necessary then delete them. If you want to keep them, organize them into folders so that you can find them easily in the future.

Transform Documents into Reusable Templates: There are likely parent letters, newsletters, or other publications you created that are reusable. Create a Template folder. Place the “master” files into the template folder and apply a read-only property. Now you can use the file over and over again.

Organize your Files into Folders by School Year: I understand that you want to keep files for the school year in case you need to refer to them at a later time. For example, school calendars or school trip forms might be something you want to store for the year. To stay organized, create a folder that includes the school year as the first label in the name, such as 2012 2013 School Calendar or 2012 2013 School Trip Forms. Store suitable files for the school year in those folders. At the end of the school year, you can quickly sort the folders by name and then delete all of the unwanted folders for that school year or move them to an external storage device.

Zip Old Photos: Today, digital cameras take photos at such a high resolution that the file size for just one image can be quite large. Combine that with all the photos taken over the course of a school year with the photos saved from previous years and your folder can easily reach capacity. If you are storing photos from a few years ago, but you have no immediate use for them, you can compress them. To do this, place the photos into a clearly labeled folder. Right click the mouse and select Send to and then Compressed (zipped) folder. A new zippered folder will appear with all your pictures. You can now delete the original folder.

Use an Image Resizer to Reduce File Size: An Image Resizer is software that will compress your images to make them a smaller file size. The Windows PowerToy and Image Resizer for Windows offer the unique advantage of small file size paired with scalability. Photos can be scaled to fill an entire Microsoft Word page or PowerPoint slide without losing their sharpness. Instructions for how to use these tools to resize batches of photos is explained in the blog, Resizing Images Without Losing Quality.

Archive your Photos to DVD: You are proud of the work you and your students have created. Deleting it can be difficult. A good idea is to archive the files instead. You can transfer the materials such as the school year book from four years ago to a DVD and clearly label the content. Place it in a safe place. Now you can access the files in the future if necessary.

Delete Photos as you Go: Preview the photos while they are still on the camera. Delete immediately any photos that are blurry or have a person’s head cut off. You aren’t going to use them, so get rid of them right away.

Be Selective of the Photos you Keep: Digital cameras let us take many picture of the same subject matter, so that we can be sure we have the “perfect” shot. This means often there are six photos of the same girl smiling. It is a good idea, that once those photos are transferred from the camera onto the computer to identify the perfect photo and immediately delete all the photos you did not like. Then take a few minutes to resize the photos you want to keep. This will keep the storage problem to a minimum and save you time in the future!

Computer Frankenstein

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Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween

Two lifeless machines are pushed in on the cart. In my office laboratory I replace dead parts with used components to make the computer usable once again. Can I fix these new ones?

I start my analysis of the first computer. Nope, this one is not going to make it – the motherboard has failed.

The dissection begins. Video, network, and sound cards are removed. I look over the RAM stick. Yes, that can be reused. I dig it out.

I look around my computer graveyard. There are skeletons of old towers. Stacks of useless monitors block the floor. Soon I will need to properly to dispose of this mess. But I have more important things to do.

My attention returns to the problem at hand. I begin troubleshooting the second machine. This one has a failed hard drive. I rummage through the tidy plastic drawers that hold vital computer parts. I grab a gently used hard drive and pop it into the machine.

I plug in the computer. No lightening is required (although that would be cool). It’s alive!

It is time to reformat this computer and get it student-ready.

Happy Halloween!

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No Technical Issues! How Wonderful!

computers

A perfect class!
No computer problems.

Today, I had the perfect class.

I had no technical issues. It was wonderful!

We are still working on TechnoWonderland. In today’s class we were completing the Session 1 Extension Activity, Amusement Park Map. The technology skills targeted in this lesson were copy, paste, group, and ungroup. The task had students use clip art as symbols to produce a theme park map that includes attractions, food court, entertainment, and services. In the last class, the network was sluggish and students struggled to insert clip art. Intermittently their machines would hang, which became a source of frustration.

But today was different.

When I walked into the computer lab that morning I was greeted with a pleasant sight. The “do not use” tag was removed from the out-of-commission computer in the back corner. ALL the computers were working in the lab. I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t have to hope that a student would be away sick so that I would have enough machines. (At one point this year I had three machines down).

The day just got better and better! All the students were able to login and none of the machines hung. The entire class was able to access the Internet with no freeze ups. Everyone was able to save their files AND no one lost work.

I NEVER heard, “Mrs. Love this isn’t working”. Not for 40 minutes! Instead, the only hands up in the air were for students that had questions directly related to the task.

WOW!

The students were actively engaged for the entire class period. The noise level remained at a constant hum. There were no spikes in the volume, usually associated with a technical issue.

After class I chatted with my co-worker about how pleased I was that the class had been so productive and error-free. We both agreed that this is so rare for a technology education teacher. Typically, at one point during the class you are going to encounter the unexpected. Although some circumstances can be easily resolved, others can be quite puzzling.

I wasn’t the only person happy. One student commented on how smooth the computer lab was running. Shortly thereafter another student said, “Oh no, why did you say anything? You’ll jinx it!” I laughed! It turns out we all know how rare this moment can be.

I wish I could bottle this moment. It feels fantastic!