Technology Update #55 – Welcome Back 2020

In this Issue

Welcome Back to School! 2020 promises to be an interesting year, but let’s make the most of it! Take a look at some of the ‘key tips and tricks’ to help get your year off to a great start for both in-person and extended campus learners! It’s a bit long, but well worth the read.


Reminder on Posting Student Photos to Personal Social Media Accounts

As a reminder, the district has a board policy regarding staff posting images of students on their personal social media accounts (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.)

School staff have the ability to post photos of students on District websites, publications and classroom social media pages (assuming that parents have not opted out – check with your building administrative assistant for the FERPA opt-out list). This rule is contained in Board Policy 5220 which describes which photos may be used without specific permissions of a parent. This policy does NOT contain a provision for posting student photos on personal social media sites. Therefor, under FERPA, student photos may NOT be posted on personal social media sites. 

Webex Teams

Webex Teams will be a collaborative space where staff can have ‘teams’ (groups of people) and ‘spaces’ (common communication areas) to message one another. Webex Teams also integrates into the Blackboard learning management system used by WMS and WHS to provide for rich blended and extended campus learning functionality.

What is the difference between a space and a team and their advantages?

Spaces: You can think of a space as a virtual room with two or more people, where you can send messages, make calls, have video meetings, share files, and whiteboard with everyone in the space.

Teams: Teams help keep everything organized and are great for a group of people working together on multiple projects and across various spaces.

Webex Meetings

Webex Meetings will be the district-approved video conferencing platform and will replace the Google Meet platform.

Tips for Audio Success
With any video conferring platform, it’s important to take a few easy steps to make sure you have the best audio performance. Research has shown that people will put up with sub-par videos and still be engaged in the content, however if the audio is bad they quickly check out.

To that end:
• When possible, use headphones when on a video call.
• If you don’t have access to headphones, mute your mic when you aren’t speaking.
• In group calls, it’s best practice to mute your mic regardless of if you have headphones when you aren’t speaking.

When conducting a video call for remote learners in your classroom:
• Mute the mic’s of your students until you’re ready for them to speak.
• Encourage the use of the chat and hand raise feature to gain your attention.
• Stay close to your computer. If you are more than 3′-5’ away, the microphone will have a hard time picking your voice up clearly.

Feedback and echo is caused when the microphone of your computer picks up the audio that is being broadcasted by the speakers. It feeds it back into itself and causes the echo. Having headphones in breaks the cycle, as does muting yourself when you aren’t speaking. This also helps prevent background noise (things like rustling papers, cutting out classroom decorations on top of your computer, mowers outside your window and fan noise) from distracting others during the call.

New Features!
Westside staff now have access to the Webex assistant! This tool provides automatic closed captioning for all Webex meetings! This is a tremendous service that will help us meet the needs of our learners with hearing difficulties.

Prior to 8/17/2020 when you created a meeting, anyone in the meeting was able to share their screen. Now, the default meeting type will prevent that.

When you wish students to share their screen, you’ll need to “Pass them the presenter ball”. To do so, use one of the options below.

Option 1:

  • On the Participants panel, select the desired participant’s name, then click the Make Presenter button.
  • Right-click the name on the Participants panel, then select Change Role To > Presenter.
  • Select the desired attendee’s name on the Participants panel, go to the Participant menu > then select Change Role To > Presenter.

Option 2:

  • On the Participants panel, click and drag the presenter ball to the desired participant’s name, then click on the Yes button.

When the student is done, simply do one of the steps above on YOUR name.

You can read more about Webex at:

How to get tech help

Westside uses a ‘Web Help Desk’ to help facilitate technology help. The help desk should be used for all technical technology problems (i.e., hardware/software issues with laptops and iPads, projectors, etc.). Help with incorporating technology into your lessons should be directed to Matt Lee or Bridget Brown.

The help desk can be access at: Log in with you email address and password.

You can also send an email to one of the addresses below to ask for help.

Elementary: for Hillside, Westbrook, Loveland, Swanson, Sunset Hills, Underwood Hills staff. for Oakdale, Paddock Road, Prairie Lane, Rockbrook, Westgate staff.



Parent Help

We’ve put together a parent portal to help assist our our learner’s parents and guardians with district technology. You can access the page at:


At the elementary level, we’ve worked to make it easier for you and your students to access key learning materials. We’ve enlisted the help of Clever to help make this possible. Students and staff have a Clever icon on their iPad. Once there, you’ll log in with your Westside Google account (email and password).

Clever is set up to provide automatic rostering (aka putting students in classes) and log-in capabilities for the services below. Please direct students to access the following services via Clever:

  • EduTyping Jr.
  • CommonLit
  • MackinVia
  • Pearson Math
  • Pearson Science
  • TCI Social Studies

Apple Classroom

Currently, all PowerSchool classes are being synced over to both student and teacher iPads.When a teacher opens the Apple Classroom app on iPad OR Mac, they should see a listing of all of the classes that they teach.

Student iPads are set up automatically.

HOWEVER, for teachers needing to create classes that are not in PowerSchool there will be an additional step needed until the new version of Classroom is released (“Fall 2020”). Why might you need to create your own Classroom? You’ll need to create your own class anytime you want to use a grouping that is NOT in PowerSchool – for example a 5th grade team that switches students for Math/Science or an art teacher that is meeting with students in groups that aren’t reflected in PowerSchool.

Work Around Method to Create Custom Classes

  1. Open up SCHOOL WORK. Yes, you’ll need to use a separate app for now.
  2. Tap on the ‘Create Class’ icon
  3. Enter a name for the class
  4. Tap on Students
  5. Start typing student names. They should match up after a few characters. Continue until you have all the student that you want in your class.
  6. Tap Done and then “< Add Class” to go back
  7. Tap on Done.



For 2020, WMS has chosen to standardize on Google Classroom. WHS teachers have the ability to pick between Google Classroom and Blackboard.

The Blackboard system was upgraded this summer. Please take a look at: to see all the changes, as well as tutorials to walk you though many common tasks. For example, learn how to:

  • Utilize the new Template / Teacher Class course structure
  • Convert a class to Ultra
  • Set up Webex integration to allow students to schedule office hours appointments with you AUTOMATICALLY!
  • Copy class content between courses
  • Add AL/ACP/Co-Teachers to a class
  • And much, much more!

Google Classroom
Want to learn more about Google Classroom? Check out this great webinar!


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.