Technology Update #16

In this Issue

What’s new and the same in technology for 2017-18? This issue will walk you though new features for your MacBook Air and iPad, highlight new software and services that are available and you will learn a great trick for talking to your Mac. Enjoy!

Thought of the Week

Welcome to the 2017-2018 school year! I hope everyone had a great summer! By now, you are hopefully enjoying your new technology. All teachers have received the latest generation of 13” MacBook Air’s and elementary teachers have also received the new 9.7” iPad. With these new devices and the new software they support we now have access to a few new tools, services and apps.

We also understand that too much change, too quickly can be overwhelming. The technology team remembers three years ago too! 🙂 I’m happy to report that the major systems that we use are staying the same. That’s right, no changes to email, the Staff Intranet, the Help Desk, Blackboard or the iOS app request process.

For elementary teachers, if you had requested apps for your students in the past, those apps will still be available (provided they are still in the App Store). No need to re-submit your request! Technology has also worked hard over the summer to upgrade our device management server which we hope will deliver a better Self-Service experience for all staff and students.

Now, let’s take a look at the new things available to you!


Google Team Drives
All staff and students now have access to Google Team Drives. Team Drives are collaboration spaces where documents are not owned by individuals, but rather by the team itself. That means that if someone leaves the team, their documents stay! It’s great for use with curriculum teams, PLC’s or administrative teams.
NEW Google Sites
While not really new per se, the new Google Sites are dramatically underused by staff and students. These new sites look great, are easy to create and can be viewed on any device. Use them for a classroom webpage, create a homepage for a club or organization or have students create websites as part of a project. Learn more here on Area 66.



You won’t notice too many changes on your Mac, but there are a few. First, you now have access to Siri! You can ask your Mac anything that you might ask on your phone. It can look up facts for you, search the web for images and more.

The Photo’s app has also been improved with better search and facial recognition. Lastly, you’ll notice that you can now play some videos in Picture in picture mode – allowing you to keep the video in the corner of the screen while you work on other things.
The iPad is quickly evolving into the computer for everyone. There are many new capabilities that your iPad gains as a result of the new hardware.

  • For the first time you will be able to run more than one application at the same time using split-view and slide over. You can have Safari up on one side while taking notes on the other. Check out how to do this here on Apple’s website.
  • You can also use picture-in-picture mode for videos. This lets you watch a video while working with two other windows/apps. It’s great for checking out an instructional video while taking notes and assembling a Keynote!
  • We also now have access to Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s app for learning to code. Simply put, it’s AMAZING. Stay tuned for resources on how you can incorporate it into your curriculum. It works the primary grades all the way up to college students (and beyond)!
  • There are a few app changes that you should be aware of. We’ve been behind on updates due to the old hardware. Now, with the new iPads we have jumped up to be current. You’ll notice that many apps have a new look and feel. For example, Explain Everything has a completely new interface! Please check out the apps you plan to use BEFORE you use them with students.

Tips and Tricks

Here’s a quick tip for you. Have you ever wanted to talk to your computer instead of type?

You can!

Your Mac comes with a built in speak to text tool! It’s not only a convent way to get text onto a page, but is also an incredible accessibility tool for many. Learn how to enable Dictation on your Mac, and tips and tricks to using it at Apple’s website here:

The Westside “Philosophy of Technology”

By Paul Lindgren
Our “philosophy of technology” at Westside Community Schools is not big on prescribing or dictating. Our district hires great teachers and provides them with powerful technological tools, personalized training, and compassionate support. We then expect them to try new things, keep what works, and then share with others.

This is how we build upon our successes and, over time, organically grow authentic and effective technology uses for the learning process.

Please remember that it is not what is happening on our students’ screens that is important. Rather it is what is happening with our students’ brain cells that is of the utmost significance. Teach your students to make powerful points—not just Powerpoints!


As always, if you ever have any technology integration related questions, please let us know. We are happy to work with you to design lessons, develop workflows and even come into your classes and work with you and your students.