Action Required: New Office 365 Features

Over the summer changes to Office 365 have been made that require your action and/or attention.

Receiving Group/Team Messages

Don’t worry, you are receiving all staff emails. But for your department groups and other Office 365 teams, the following applies:

Microsoft updated the Outlook web interface over the summer. You need to find your groups in the left nav bar, click on each, and confirm that

  1. The Star is checked
  2. Settings > Follow in inbox / Receive all email and events is checked

     

If you don’t complete these two steps, group email will not be delivered to your inbox. They will instead only appear when you click on the group’s inbox.

Staff Portal Updated

Update your bookmarks! The Staff Portal was updated over the summer. The correct address is http://staff.ncpachina.org. Look in the “Instructor Resources” and “Extracurriculars” for most documents relevant to you. Thanks to Joe for beautifying and simplifying the site!

Your Outlook Calendar Now Syncs from PowerSchool

You’ll notice that your Outlook calendar now shows your classes, ASAs, advisories and study hall from PowerSchool.

We hope this makes it easier to schedule meetings across departments, as the Scheduling Assistant will now show correct free/busy times. A few caveats:

  • Currently, your calendar shows your PS classes two weeks in advance
  • If you’re a co-teacher, your events don’t yet sync over

For All G9 Teachers: Grade 9 Tech Onboarding Materials

At the beginning of the school year, each department’s grade 9 teachers teach a lesson to help orient students to their technology.

2019-20 Skills Matrix: an overview of what skills will be covered by which departments/classes for grade 9 students

First Two Weeks folder: contains all the PowerPoints and videos needed to cover the above skills.

FYI: Prior to starting class, students will have:

  1. Changed their NetID password
  2. Connected to the WiFi
  3. Installed the NCPA App Store, which lets them install various software relevant to their courses, especially the NWEA Secure Testing Browser for MAP testing.

That being said, students may have various tech issues. Feel free to send them to the IT helpdesk if they need assistance!

Access Your Predecessor’s Canvas Course

If your predecessor actively used Canvas, you’ll be able to access their old Canvas course. In the left nav bar, go to Courses > All Courses:

You’ll see your predecessor’s courses under Past Enrollments:

You can also copy content from those old courses to your new course – either item-by-item or everything at once! Follow these instructions from the Canvas Guide to do so.

Innovation, Easier: Technology Pilot Program Launched

Sometimes you want to use some paid software, hardware, or process to support your teaching that isn’t part of NCPA’s standard technology package. When this happens, you can now apply to start a technology pilot program. A successful application will give you and other pilot participants access to funds needed to purchase and evaluate these services. After the pilot period, you’ll present an evaluation to the community, and a decision will be made about adopting the pilot tool on a permanent basis!

We hope this enables more rapid innovation at NCPA and makes the institutions more responsive to teacher and student needs. Ready to apply?

 

eLC now just one bookable resource

After looking at usage patterns for the eLC, we’ve discovered that in the vast majority of cases people booked both eLC-East and eLC-West for their events. In cases where each side was booked by a different event simultaneously, the users found that noise from each event interfered with the other. Therefore, to improve the user experience in the eLC, as of today we have combined eLC-East and eLC-West into one booking. From now on, please book the “eLC” resource instead of looking for “eLC-East” and “eLC-West”:

Your previous bookings have been preserved, and if you had only booked one side of the eLC, you now have the whole room reserved.

Furthermore, to reduce conflicts and optimize scheduling, an office assistant will manually review and approve all booking requests, similar to how the library and main hall conference rooms work.

Saturday Certificate Sessions Coming to an ISS School Near You

Over 50 teachers, TAs and administrative staff attended last month’s Saturday Certificate Sessions:

Feedback was great – and the lunch catered by Liberty probably didn’t hurt. So here’s more good news – to meet the need for relevant, connected training in Office 365 and other educational technology tools, there will be four SCS events in the 2019-20 school year: September, November, January, and March. Stay tuned here for more details!

Calling All Innovators

We’re looking for four innovative, collaborative teachers to be Tech Ambassadors! This is a new stipended opportunity for the 2019-20 school year. The application deadline is Tuesday, April 30.

New Telecommunications Option for Teachers

In the past, NCPA was a Google Apps school. Teachers needed to use a VPN to access their e-mail, calendar and documents, so we provided ExpressVPN as a benefit so that teachers could access their work-related files from home and other off-campus locations. We also provided the Cisco Anyconnect VPN, which connects users to the school network and its government-authorized commercial VPN.

Since the school’s founding in 2012, China has become more aggressive in blocking VPN services, and is fining individuals for using unauthorized VPNs. ExpressVPN has become less reliable, and our users report the least satisfaction with ExpressVPN among NCPA’s IT services according to our annual survey. By comparison, users report higher satisfaction with the Cisco Anyconnect VPN, which provides more reliability and better speeds for everyday tasks.

To mitigate the risk posed by these issues, beginning in the 2019-20 school year, new faculty will continue to receive access to the Cisco Anyconnect VPN, and will additionally be provided with home routers to extend the NCPA campus network to their homes using the SSID NCPA-Offsite. When connected to NCPA-Offsite, users have access to the campus network and its government-authorized VPN – it’s just like being at school. However, the school will not provide ExpressVPN, the use of which is illegal according to Chinese law.

Pilot users in semester 2 2018-19 report higher reliability and speed using the NCPA-Offsite router. It’s also more convenient because you don’t have to use a VPN app at home – when you’re connected to NCPA-Offsite, you’re connected to the internet via the campus network. You will still have a separate, non-VPNed WiFi network.

Returning teachers may choose to participate in this new scheme by completing the form below by May 15 at 4pm. Returning teachers who don’t respond will continue with their current benefit.

Additional Parent Contact Information Available for Faculty in PowerTeacher

More parent contact information is now available in the PowerTeacher > sqlReports 5 > Student Demographics for Teachers report. Where previously there was only a “Guardian E-mail” field, which may have been the father or mother, there are now two additional columns for mother’s e-mail and father’s e-mail.

The registrar’s office requests that you e-mail both parents when contacting home. This will better inform parents and make them more likely to repond to/act upon your e-mails. Please contact Lucy Zhong, lzhong@ncpachina.org, with any questions.