For the last five years, every October 31 staff and students have been super generous posting birthday wishes on my wall. Since I’ll be taking the day off this year, I hope you’ll indulge me with an alternative way to receive and respond to those encouraging messages.
Here’s what I’m thinking.
Teachers: Have your class (and/or colleagues) engage in an activity that allows the participants to express what using My Big Campus has done for them. That could be as simple as adding a class discussion to your group, “What has using My Big Campus done for you? Bob wants to know. :)” Or it could be a series of quick video interviews compiled by your students. Or photos with students holding simple handwritten signs.
Now, the critical next step. On or before Monday, November 2, share the responses with me via Messages—and get in on a drawing.
If it’s a class discussion or a bundle, just include the link to it. Don’t worry, I’ll be able to get to it. ;)
if it’s files, you can attach those to the message.
If you have more than one class, please send one message for each.
After I receive your submission, I’ll respond with a personalized message you can share with your students. AND you’ll be entered into a drawing for a class set of MBC wristbands (there may even be a coffee mug in it for you).
I look forward to hearing from you and your students!
P.S. Thank you to everyone who helped me select my senior portrait. :)
I had a lot of fun posing for my senior pictures around our offices. And I really like most of them. Now I need to choose one to put in my yearbook, and I've narrowed it down to these five. Would you help me choose just one by this Friday, October 2?
One of the major goals we had for My Big Campus was to connect educators around the world for fellowship, sharing, brainstorming, and professional development. That turned out to be a big success -- I'll be forever grateful to have met some of our most dedicated education professionals on My Big Campus, and in real life at user conferences and training sessions. I'm so proud of what you've done! And while this, our "senior year" together, will be a little different, I'm expecting great things as we forge ahead supporting one another.
We've got your back!
My staff and I will continue to monitor site activity to answer questions and provide a safe environment for students. Technical support is available for teachers and admins by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and you're welcome to post general questions on my Wall.
Export Tools update
School and District administrators can now run a bulk export for staff-created content at each school. The FAQs in the Help Center have been updated with a how-to article for admins, and we've created videos showing how to export Drive, Groups, and Schools. Join our Back-to-School Update webinar to see it in action and ask your questions.
As previously announced, the migration timeline for licensed and unlicensed customers is as follows.
Licensed customers can continue using My Big Campus until July 31, 2016, or until the expiration of your license, whichever comes first.
If your school or district does not currently have a license for My Big Campus, your access will end September 30, 2015.
You can request information about licensing at this link.
We've bundled the most-needed features for safe online learning, including device management, web zones, and school-safe content, into an easy-to-use control panel for teachers and administrators. The Teacher Dashboard is available to all current Lightspeed Systems customers. Learn more.
We've been working closely with our preferred partner itslearning to provide enhanced migration service to schools and districts who migrate from MBC to itslearning. Sign up at this link to find out more about features, migration options, and pricing. We're excited about this partnership, and we're very pleased with the response so far. We've also engaged with other popular LMS vendors to help them get ready for incoming My Big Campus users.
Back-to-School Update Webinar
Teachers and administrators are welcome to join us on Thursday, September 24 at 1:00pm Pacific time (4:00pm Eastern / GMT -7:00) for an update on site activity, export tools, Teacher Dashboard for Lightspeed Systems customers, and the part I'm looking forward to the most, sharing my Senior Portraits! :)
You may remember that hilarious TV commercial from one of the big box office supply stores, promoting their "Back to School" sale. It went something like this:
Back to School time is coming up fast for a lot of our customers, and in today's blog I'd like to encourage district administrators to start adding and updating users, groups, group rosters, and parents right away, rather than waiting until the new school term is about to start.
So, here are the Top 10 Reasons to start yourSIS Importsnow
You'll beat the rush. Over the past few years, we've observed that there's a huge spike in SIS Import activity right at the beginning of each new school term. While we continue to add capacity and bandwith for situations like these, the sudden influx of requests can cause backlogs ranging from hours to days, depending on how many other imports are in the queue.
You'll have time to validate and fine tune the process. Have you recently updated or replaced your SIS software? Are you a new administrator replacing someone who has moved on to another role? Is your district considering SIS Imports for the first time? Are you deploying Mobile Manager, even if you're not planning to use My Big Campus? This is the time to work out the kinks and get one-on-one support from Lightspeed staff.
You don't have to wait until classes and schedules are finalized. Import the data you have now, and update it as needed -- the bulk of the import work will already be done by the time things settle down.
You'll avoid THE most common support question from your students:Why does it say I'm in grade/year n when I'm now in grade/year n+1? For students who are advancing a grade or year at the start of the term, it's easy to update their user accounts in My Big Campus to reflect their progress. If you're filtering the MBC Library by grade level, this is an essential update.
You'll have more time for the rest of your tasks. We recognize that My Big Campus is not your only job. You'll also be wrangling devices, schedules, enrollments, training and professional development, and all the other start-of-term tasks, in addition to what you already do to keep your IT infrastructure running smoothly. Take some of the pressure off by getting this one necessary task out of the way.
Your teachers will have extra time to prepare for the new term. With classroom groups already created, teachers will be able to organize resources, discussion prompts, assignments, and other activities -- just as they already do in their physical classrooms. If they're new to MBC and/or Mobile Manager, they'll also have some time for self-paced or guided training. And, they'll be able to reach out to the entire MBC community of professional educators to share tips and ideas.
Staff will have their groups ready so they can enable and configure their gradebooks.Teachers will have ample time to define letter grades, grade ranges, categories, and weighting for schoolwork they assign during the upcoming academic year.
Our support team is fresh, well rested, and ready to help. The beginning of the school term is a hectic, intense time for all of us. And like you, we want to do our best to help every customer in a timely manner. That’s harder to do the closer we get to the first days of school.
You'll be a superhero to your staff and students. When things are running smoothly, people feel more confident about exploring new tools and technology. Be the confident, well organized leader your staff and students look up to, and measure your success with each breakthrough, each achievement you've made possible for them with My Big Campus and MDM.
Ready to get started? Follow the instructions in thisTech Note.
This really is the "most wonderful time of the year" -- and we're here to help make it happen for you.
One of the goals I had in mind for My Big Campus was to provide a safe place where students could learn how to become good digital citizens. Unlike other social network sites, My Big Campus is private, which means that only people with a My Big Campus login can see what's on this site. Your school can also control whether other MBC users can see the content students share here. And, if someone searches for you in Google, Bing, or other Internet search engines, your My Big Campus activities will never appear in the results. Finally, My Big Campus staff check frequently for inappropriate content so they can reach out and provide support and guidance as needed.
Why is this important? Learning to use the Internet is a lot like learning to drive a car. Someone you trust gives you the instruction and coaching you need, and lets you practice -- under supervision, until you're ready to handle things on your own. I think just about everyone will agree that carelessness or irresponsibility behind the wheel can have serious consequences. The Internet can be like that too -- without someone to show you the right and wrong way to handle online activities, you could find yourself in trouble, whether it's unwanted contact from strangers, embarrassing or hurtful information about yourself or your friends becoming public, or even identity theft (when someone uses your name to get credit cards and loans).
My Big Campus Digital Citizenship Pledge
I will not share personal information online about myself or others such as home address, telephone number or age.
I will not use bad language including acronyms or abbreviations.
I will not have conversations or create posts that would be inappropriate in the classroom.
I will not threaten, insult, gossip, tease or be mean to others.
I will respect the feelings and ideas of others.
I will not add pictures or videos that would not be appropriate to share in the classroom.
I will flag any inappropriate content I find.
I will not share my login information with anyone or allow anyone else to use my account because I will be held responsible for anything that they do.
I will not spam others.
I will try to use correct grammar and spelling.
I understand that using ALL CAPITALS is considered yelling and may offend others.
I will check with my teacher whenever I have questions about any of the rules.
You can see that these are really just the same rules you use to get along with people in real life. Talk about them with your friends and teachers and think about how to apply each guideline to your online activity. If you have questions, or you're not sure what to do, ask your teachers -- they want you to succeed!
It's winter here at My Big Campus headquarters in California. We may not get the kind of cold weather here that many of you experience in a typical winter, but like you, we find it's a good time to focus on work while we wait for spring and summer. With that in mind, I'd like to bring you all up to date on new features and updates we've released in December and January:
New Feature:District Library Districts (organizations) can now have their own private and searchable District Library to house curriculum, pacing guides, assessments, PD resources, videos, websites, and so on. What is more, these resources can be pushed to appropriate staff by grade and subject area--right on their Library page. Select Library and then select See All in the District Library Resources box or select District Library from the dropdown to search your District Library.
SAFARI Montage: Users can now add SAFARI Montage content to Bundle and Drive (District subscription required)
SAFARI Montage provides K-12 school districts with a Learning Object Repository, Video Streaming Library, IPTV and Live Media Streaming, designed to handle video efficiently.
netTrekker: Users can now add netTrekker content to Bundle and Drive (District subscription required) netTrekker is a safe, easy-to-use search engine designed for teachers and students to find quality educational websites, videos, images, and more--all aligned with state and Common Core standards.
Added ISTE Standards for Teachers and Admins. Start adding them to your PD bundles and schoolwork, then run Academic Reports on them as you guide your staff into digital learning.
See all applied standards to a bundle, schoolwork, or other item under new Standards tab--complete with name of standards set, content area, grade level, abbreviation.
Profile / Activity
The user’s last name is now displayed instead of the user’s first name in the upper right-hand corner. This helps teachers who do not want their first names displayed to students when projecting.
Staff users can now change the title of their blogs. This can be useful for teachers who want to replace their first name with a salutation--or adopt a creative blog name.
Graded discussions: Teachers can now issue grades for student contributions to group discussions. Grade-entry panel matches your selected sort order for posts: Created at (chronological), Latest Response (most recent), User (last name alpha order).
Participation required -- students have to post before they can view other responses in a discussion
Added a confirmation popup when wanting to leave a group
Admins can now see the context for messages in User Content and Suspicious Activity reports -- helpful for evaluating the context for a conversation before taking appropriate action
Suspicious Activity report now includes tabs for Needs Attention, Deleted, Ignored, and Removed by MBC, so admins can see how a particular item was handled, and by whom.
We’ll be in Cincinnati, OH, at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, June 23 & 24 2015. More info here.
Interested in presenting at the conference (and getting the conference fee waived)? We're accepting session proposals now. Make your pitch here.
That's it for now. We have more updates in the pipeline, and you're welcome to post your feature requests and questions on my Wall. For the latest information on updates and known issues, staff users can join the My Big Campus Progress Report topic. Finally, you can access the depth and breadth of expertise from My Big Campus power users and staff in the MBC Trainers group.
On most social media websites, you're not the customer, you're the product. Think about this for a moment -- the pages you like, the links you share, the friends and places you mention -- they're all just data that can be mined and sold (with or without information that identifies you personally) to businesses and organizations that are intensely interested in what motivates you. The more you share in public (and, sometimes, in private), the more these sites, and their advertisers, can learn about you.
It's good to make friends, right?
Think about how social sites offer to connect you with your friends. They invite you to share the login and password to your email account, which gives them the names and email addresses of everyone you talk to -- fellow teachers and students, co-workers, family members, friends, places where you've shopped online, and much more.
Many email accounts automatically add the addresses of anyone you've messaged to your Contacts -- not just your close friends and family, but everyone -- unless you change your settings. Think about that too, especially if you've already shared your contacts with that great new site you just joined. An advertiser looking at these connections can now make a pretty good guess about your lifestyle, shopping habits, and even income level -- all based on what they already know about your friends.
You may be sharing more than you realize
Mention someone's name in a status update, and there's now another connection between you, your interests, and your friends. "Tag" someone in a photo, and you've now provided a face to go with the name. Now the real data mining starts: Look at the site's recommendations for people and pages to like, friend, or follow. Did you find a long lost friend, or someone you'd rather not see again? Are you and your "Likes" now showing up in their recommendations?
Let's say you're okay with sharing that information because you feel you have nothing to hide. What about your friends? Do you know someone who is a victim of crime or abuse? The database of shared connections may have just helped connect a victim with their abuser. Do your friends have strong opinions about controversial subjects? Their "likes" and connections are also now part of your digital profile, whether you agree with them or not.
So what's the harm?
What's the result of all this sharing? First, let's look at the obvious things -- as you browse the web, you see ads that seem to reveal a lot about you and your interests, including things you would prefer to keep private, such as health conditions. You may find yourself turned down for jobs or college admissions, based on what people can see about you online -- your "digital footprint." Your online profile can even affect your credit score, as many news stories reported last year.
Why My Big Campus is different
So what does this have to do with My Big Campus? It's simple, really. We want My Big Campus to be a safe place where students can learn and practice good digital citizenship in private, with the guidance of their teachers and My Big Campus staff. What happens here, stays here -- it's not for friends of friends, strangers, or advertisers to use in ways that are not in your best interests. There's no anonymity -- each of us is accountable for what we post, and we monitor the site for behavior that could be harmful to students. We hope that the lessons you learn here on My Big Campus will help you protect your privacy (and the privacy of your friends and family) as you make your way onto the open Internet.
If you have thoughts about sharing and privacy, or suggestions to help people stay safe online, let me know in the comments. Until next time, I'll see you around Campus.
Teachers: We're adding a Gradebook to My Big Campus. And, I'm certain you will love it.
We've had the Gradebook in a small-scale beta test for a few weeks. Now, it's time to move Gradebook beta testing to a larger scale. Teachers and responsible staff, we need your help. If you're interested in giving us a hand testing, tweaking, and otherwise refining Gradebook functionality, sign up here. You'll be given Gradebook access for groups you own and asked to record your findings in feedback discussions.
Meanwhile, here's a sneak peek.
Gradebook Prep Work: District Administrator Settings
(NOTE: Administrator preparation steps are not a pre-requisite for participating in the Gradebook beta test.)
District administrators have a few backstage activities to complete before teacher Gradebooks will reflect your actual school terms. An administrator must create a School Year, define Terms (grading periods), and then assign those variables to a school or schools. Teacher Gradebooks will then be auto-populated with those school terms. Highlights of the quick process are documented here.Want to look for yourself? See the video below.
Gradebook Prep Work: Teacher Settings
Once you've signed up for beta access to the Gradebook and received some instructions from our staff, you'll access your Gradebook from the Schoolwork tab on the left-navigation bar. From there, you'll enable a Gradebook for any individual Groups you own. (Gradebooks are visible only to the Group creator). From there, you'll define a few key settings such as Final Grade Display and assignment Categories (weighted or unweighted). Existing Schoolwork will auto-populate the Gradebook for the date range or school term selected.
In the Gradebook, educators can change/override all grades manually – allowing teachers to assign a numeric grade value or mark student work as Missing or Excused. Teachers can also Revert to a previous score. Outside assignments (those not originating from My Big Campus) can be added to the Gradebook. And, teachers can move between grade entries using the Tab or arrow keys on their machines – real time savers.
Steer your cursor to the video below for a look at the teacher interface.
Watch for More
Our development team is hard at work, so be watchful. In the coming weeks, expect to see more site updates, including some heavily requested, whiz-bang features fashioned at the LightspeedConnect Hack-a-thon.
Update:December 3 Back in October, we informed you that Google was planning to move all of their servers to encrypted-only that will always enforce Safe Search. This change-over has happened today, so YouTube videos within My Big Campus are not playing properly. Our current suggested workaround is to place your Lightspeed Systems Web Filter into proxy mode to retain search reporting and restriction. It is possible to configure this so that only the Google traffic is proxied and does not require you to proxy all of your encrypted web traffic. We are monitoring the situation and will continue to look for better solutions.
To set up your Lightspeed Systems Web Filter, follow the instructions on the Community Site to create a PAC file here and configure your filter as a proxy server here (login required). If you have any questions or need assistance configuring, our Support team is here to help.
Update: October 20 If you are still having intermittent issues with streaming YouTube videos in My Big Campus, try these steps. 1) Clear the browser's cache because the stored information may be outdated. 2) If that doesn't solve the problem, check with your IT staff. If the school is using the Lightspeed Systems Rocket web filter, have them review this page for pertinent release information. Barring any infrastructure issues at the school site (e.g., broadband, access points, device authentication), we are seeing consistent success with these measures.
Update: September 24 At this time, YouTube is not forcing HTTPS (encrypted) connections. Therefore, schools using the Lightspeed Systems Rocket web filter may update their appliances to release candidates 2.7.10rc4 and 2.8.0rc8. In those updates, network staff will find a toggle to the Support Tools section – allowing a root administrator to switch between the old method of handling My Big Campus YouTube requests and the newer method that forces My Big Campus YouTube requests to YouTube EDU. We anticipate YouTube could begin forcing encryption again at any time--which may require use of YouTube EDU again, and these releases will allow your local administrators to respond quickly. Thank you for your patience as we work to adapt to changes outside our direct control.
Update: September 12 Per below, we added all My Big Campus videos to the Lightspeed Systems YouTube for Schools Admin playlist, and in doing so detected an undocumented limit to the number of videos allowed. Today we learned that only the 2,000 most-recently added videos will play. We are talking with Google/YouTube again to reach a resolution.
As you are probably aware, YouTube recently introduced a change in the way it streams videos to sites such as My Big Campus. For customers allowing YouTube access only through MBC (by virtue of integration with the Lightspeed Systems web filter), the YouTube change has kept many videos from playing in the library and bundles.
In technical terms, YouTube is now forcing HTTPS (encrypted) connections. The encryption sort of “cloaks” the video request and prevents the web filter from recognizing the video and allowing it to play. This move by YouTube is part of Google’s larger initiative to actively promote secure connections everywhere. See “Google to Give Priority Ranking to SSL-Enabled Sites” and the “HTTPS Everywhere” presentation at this year’s IO conference.
Working directly with our contacts at Google, we’ve developed a solution that will once again make it possible to play YouTube videos inside MBC, while still blocking users from accessing YouTube directly. There are three parts to this solution:
An update to the Lightspeed Systems web filter software to enable us to unblock the videos.
Adding every YouTube video in the MBC Library to Lightspeed’s “YouTube for Schools” playlist.
Redirecting YouTube video requests in MBC to Lightspeed’s “YouTube for Schools” account.
The web filter update is available now, and we recommend installing that update as soon as possible.
With more than 300,000 videos in the MBC Library, the playlist update will take a little longer to complete. We estimate that about two-thirds of those videos have already been added, and we are working to add the remaining ones as quickly as YouTube will allow. In addition, as you navigate to videos in the library, we will automatically add those to our playlist.
We appreciate your patience as we work on resolving the YouTube issue for our customers.