GSuite Security Best Practices

Lance Lennon GSuite Security 

Lance Lennon - Director of Technology in Iowa with a school of 1000 students. 

Separate your GAFE super admin account. Turn off Email and Chat. Set with 2 factor authentication. Make a complex password. Stay logged out. Only log in when you need to. I think this is one of the most important pieces of advice. An entire district can be compromised. Not following this has pushed the NYCDOE, Google, and AmplifiedIT to develop a district parachute to save GAFE domains.

Create custom admin roles. Why needs access and what access do they need? Use admin roles. The More controls can be access to do this. 
Some admin accounts are pre-made, 
Help Desk Admin - Changes passwords. You can customize further for specific OUs.
Services Admin - Turn services on and off. Give read access to OUs. 

Security - Password Requirements and Recovery. Understand what your requirements are. Set minimum based on this. 
Allow users to turn on for 2-step verification. This will help to prevent hacking. Enforce the 2-step verification for staff. For students it’s not a great idea. They would need to use phones for it. When users log in for the first time it does not redirect them to setup 2-step. 
There is a USB key for those that don’t want to use their phone. YuniKey $25. 
Create a video for 2-step verification. 
Keep it fun and light as you turn key tech requirements. 
The initial setup requires a phone. 

DKIM - DomainKey Identified Mail and SPF Sender Policy are meant to stop and minimize spoofing on emails. 
Need access to DNS. See if your setup at

Email footers. App does with a footer so it goes out on every email without the student/teachers control. 
Apps>GSuite>Settings>Advanced>Append Footer

GSuite Vs Additional - Age Restrictions on Additional, Support on GSuite, 

Suspend Accounts and move to a different OU . Delete when an account is created in error. Documents remain shared with who they are shared with. Moving accounts doesn’t suspend. Need to actually suspend. GAM can do it. 

With Groups to avoid international spoofing require a suffix to groups. This identifies it as a group. 

Manage Alerts in reports. The reports can be setup to alert when there are too many login attempts. Custom reports can be made to track specific events. Users can be tracked to see what they are doing. 
Login can be reported. 
Specific logins can be tracked if a student needs to be located. The physical IP will identify where they last logged in. 

Block sites to prevent adding personal accounts to their school account. 

Scratch 3.0 ISTE 2018

ISTE 2018 is off to a pre-conference start. I had the opportunity to listen to Dr. Resnick of MIT speak on Scratch 3.0 and the new features we are about to see. I’m on board with it, and excited for what’s coming. My only reservations are the provided materials may be blocked (YouTube), no collaboration features, and a lack of ability to see the code as a syntactical language.

Beta Launch 3.0 August 1st, 2018

Full Launch 3.0 January 2nd, 2019

Dr. Resnick asserts Scratch 3.0 provides more ways to create and more ways to get started. The editor has a new look which provides a better user experience.

It even works well with iPad. I checked.

It has a nice new add sprite function with a library of sprites showing costumes like gifs as you mouse over.

Block pallet is fully scrollable. No longer do we need to remember the category for the block. We can scroll through them all or jump to a category. Blocks are bigger for touch screen ability. Pallet of blocks is on the left for a left to right flow.

They’ve added new sounds that work with a mouse over. I anticipate a noisy classroom ahead. They added a sound editor which has the capability to add effects. Costume editor is also improved.

One of the more exciting things we saw was the new extensions library.

Certain devices add more physical actions such as shaken. Consider how programing can be a physical description with the coding. We can have student interact with the programming and become part of it.

Micro bit hooks up to make a game controller based on the tilt.

Video capture allows video interaction with sprites. A lot can be done here. To visually interact. Consider what can be made to work with students with various needs.

Scratch connects with Spotify and gets music and other music data like beats.

<Enter Music Video Here>

How to resources being provided but YouTube videos are embedded. This could be an issue of access for some school districts. Hey Google, Can you shuttle us to a different domain for Educational verified videos?

<Enter Video of Resources>

Translated blocks

Harvard will be updating the current curriculum for Scratch 3.0. To better match the new format.

Beta Launch 3.0 August 1st

Full Launch 3.0 January 2nd

Lastly the backend has Debugger built. We may see it in 3.0

I’m excited to work with the new version. It has a lot of promise in some areas especially since it’s moving away from Flash. I’m missing out on a much needed way for students to collaborate in real time. The system assumes a 1:1 device relationship which is happening in many districts but it’s far from reality in all. The lack of ability to flip the code to a syntactical language is frustrating since I want students to ultimately pick-up other languages. I’m hopeful for an API so we as educators can develop and interact on a grander scale. In the meantime I’m looking forward to the upcoming launches.

Will you remember what’s on your hard drive in September?

We are at that time of year when many schools are already off and New York is just finishing. I’ve spent time between exams taking down the classroom decorations, removing bulletin board backing, saving borders, and filing things away for next year. It dawned on me that we are coached and encouraged to “summerize” our classrooms but not our hard drives. I mean, all that data isn’t going to get dusty. If you’re like me however your brain gets dusty over the summer and that file labeled “meeting.doc” that you were sure you would remember gets forgotten. Yes, we could just open it up but to do that we have to mouse over to it, click rapidly twice and wait. Too many steps just to discover it may not be important at all and in the new school year you have many other important things to put energy into.

Tips for organizing your files for the next year:

  • Make the time to do it. Give yourself the time you need to do this work. We are use to moving around a classroom. Take the time to sit and work through your files
  • Label folders and files clearly. It should be clear to anyone else where to find things. Have a colleague take a look for you and see if they can easily identify where things are. 
  • Group similar folders in a single folder. It can be overwhelming to have to scroll through files and folders to find what you need. Creating an effective nested structure can help make things easily accessible. 
  • Use school years on folders with dated materials. Grades and student work align to particular years. It's best to keep the work in folders dated by year for reference. 
  • Backup hard drives. Hard drives fail and we cry. Creating physical copies of important files or moving things to the cloud can save you from having to rewrite all those lessons. 
  • Copy cloud folders. I like to have all the materials I developed in my personal account as a backup. Use Google Takeout or Gsuitetips Copy Folder to move your personal digital resources. 
  • Color code and emojize your folders. While this can add a bit of levity to what you are doing it also makes things very easy to find at a glance. It's also a fun trick to show students. 

Just as you would clean up a classroom, stow and secure all your digital resources. Clearly label folders. Even if there’s many of them. Consider grouping folders in other folders. I do courses then each course gets a folder within for resources, lesson plans, gradebook and so on. I break my resources into printable (rare in the digital age), videos, files. I also keep duplicates within the individual lesson folder. Inevitably I’ll remember the resource but not the lesson I used it with.

Check the mysterious files. I’m one of those who opens a new blank document to show off some feature and then gets pulled into something else so the document gets closed and saved with an untitled name and garbage information in it. If I remember I’ll delete it later but they do slip by me. I found over a dozen in this year’s drive to clean. Force yourself to check each file you may not recognize. If you can, get rid of it. You save yourself some confusion later.

Back up everything. Google, OneDrive, iCloud, Box, Dropbox are amazing places to keep your data. It does happen that passwords get forgotten and accounts get locked for various reasons. Hard drives do fail and data becomes unrecoverable. You may have a backup system running but it’s still important to put files in a place you feel in control of. Use a spare USB drive, External Hard drive, or an online cloud storage. If you are keeping files in Google drive on your school's domain you can take a copy of all your files with you. Use Google Takeout to download a zip. Or to keep the google file type share a folder from your personal account to your school account. Put all the documents and folders you want backed up from the school account in the shared folder. From your non-school account sign in and use Gsuitetips Copy Folder and follow the steps to make a copy and retain the folder and file structure. 

And in case you need to know about making Emoji Folders:

Applying Digital Skills in the everyday classroom

Our students come to us with interests, some with passions. How can we harness that interest/passion and teach them the digital skills they need for success in the workplace? 

Google has begun supporting the digital learner with a framework of video centered activities to teach the digital skills of GSuite while engaging with curriculum content. Applied Digital Skills has been released for the CSFirst team to teach the GSuite along side some virtually authentic tasks. Students have the opportunity to explore data analysis while creating a concept for the next big blockbuster movie, make a map of some favorite places from a sheet, or do some organized college research.

What Google Provides:
  • 20 units of authentic tasks which can be tailored to the student. 
  • Lesson plans for the teacher with actionable tips on teaching each one. 
  • Rubrics: Customizable with created project samples. 
  • Tracking of student activity. 
  • Extension tasks. 
  • Videos with transcripts (transcripts only can be translated) of demonstrated instruction.
  • Steps bulleted as a summery of action. 

What you need to figure out:
  • How work will be turned in. I recommend using Google Classroom and linking the activity as a resource. Materials are some times built on top of so if you are taking a series of assessment snapshots ask students to turn in a copy of their work so you don't have to rely on Version History. 
  • What topic(s) you will center the lesson around. Not all lessons provide the opportunity to frame the work around a content topic. Be sure to review the work first. 
  • A full set of devices for your class to use. While this can be done in small groups it's best geared to a 1-to-1 environment. It's developed to support students working at their own pace which means they need the digital ability to do so. Devices do work for this so if you are a BYOD environment even with cell phones it can function for you. 
  • How to do the work students are doing. Don't be fooled into thinking this is a simple learn how to alternate row colors in a spreadsheet. The lessons shift into basic programming and you will have a lot of questions you won't expect unless you do it yourself first and even a second time. If you are new to GSuite put yourself out there and take the risk to do it with them. 
  • Why are you doing this work. The why is very important to students. The dreaded answer I get when we talk about why we do something is, "for a grade". That's the soul killer for all of us. Develop with your students the "Why" so it's authentic and has a real world impact. If you are doing an If-Then Story partner with another class or elementary grade and make the "Why" about developing stories for them. 

All students need digital skills. Not just in Digital Citizenship but also in Digital Production/Creation. We need to develop students that not only have content knowledge but will think beyond the facts and innovate the future. Giving students an end goal product and allowing them to select what fills it supports developing digital production skills while exploring passions. Google has provided the framework for just that. A student passionate about sports can be directed to develop an interactive spreadsheet of their favorite sports icons. Add in a map of where each player grew up. Compare players through an interactive slide deck discussing the pros and cons of each player while including comparison graphs as evidence. Wrap all this up into a website and we have a completed project which has taught a student more than just content. They’ve developed digital skills which can be applied to the workplace.

According to Bloomberg our students are most hirable when they can creatively problem-solve, communicate, think strategically, and lead. To do all this our students need to be able to Apply Digital Skills. 

Project based learning with the teacher as facilitator and differentiated delivery of instruction and assessment is a recent push in education. Don’t just talk at them, engage them in building authentic projects and even better if they have real world applications. I would even augment the previous example to suggest students interested in this subject working as a group pick an accessible local sports community team as their topic. Students become connected to an authentic audience and work with real data and information making the experience more meaningful in an ideal world.

While my experience with the Applied Digital Skills delivery platform from the teacher side hasn’t been without issue, I have found the guided activities accessible and helpful for many learners. It gives an entry point for each and works best in a classroom when all learners have access to technology on a 1-to-1 basis. It can work in grouped technology settings but some students may be left behind. I recommend weaving the units as self contained pieces through out your regular curriculum. Thank Google for helping us to develop applicable digital skills. 

Supporting Our Itinerant Population One Classroom at a Time

Image result for google classroom
How can we better support an itinerant population?
I recently had the pleasure of working with members of District 75 training them in how to use the G-Suite. I knew D75 as supporting those students who may be caught up in the court system. I hadn’t considered how our students personal issues can make a tough teaching situation even tougher.

Here’s the bullet pointed list of what I recommend to support an itinerant population:
  • Use classrooms as units rather than full classes. Small chunks of assignments to complete are more reasonable to a population dealing with so much personally.
  • Pre-Assign all work in classroom before students. They can enter the digital class and see what is expected. So much else of their lives are unknown factor. Give them expectations they can know and meet. 
  • Give an index for students to refer to. A Google Keep they can copy or Doc/Sheet with check offs could help them keep on task. 
  • Naming conventions are needed for every post. Don’t just identify what it is but also where it falls in the order. 

Every student deserves a chance. They also deserve more chances after they screw up. It’s education after all and that takes trial and error. While sometimes our students create their own pattern of negative life choices it doesn’t mean we give up. District 75 is the unique district within all our districts supporting those students working to break out of their negative life patterns.
While working with the teachers it became clear that technology can solve many of the problems students and teachers face when the classroom isn’t always physically or socially/emotionally accessible. We worked through Google classroom not as a semester’s solution but as small bite size classes. 
Say you are a student no longer in the school environment you are familiar with, surrounded by teachers you don’t know and classwork you didn’t expect. At the same time you are dealing with something personal which may affect years of the rest of your life. I don’t think could not handle much school work in such a situation. Being shown a classroom of twenty uncompleted lessons is overwhelming. A view of a few days or a week or two of work is more reasonable. Those students starting over may also have a strong reaction to a mound of work assigned at once. Ultimately breaking up the assignments into chunks can provide a reasonable looking way to deliver content.
So why not design units of instruction as a class. Students enter and exit the classroom frequently and may be absent for longer than normal periods. While their lives drastically change around them they could use us as a constant to support them. While some students shift out of one “classroom”/unit others may remain and still others may join. 
So what do we need to support such a population? In my opinion, a way to deliver content in units to individual students. A GClass can be used to individually assign to students however this is a massive amount of work for the teacher. In using individual classrooms we can add students throughout the year. As they advance they can be shuffled to another GClass or to a GClass which may meet their needs. 
An index or clear learning pathway is also helpful to a struggling student. Create a Doc or Keep with an ordered path. Identify main assignments and secondary supporting understanding assignments. Copy the assignment links in classroom and link to the indexed items. This path can be used by students to navigate their education on an individual path. One thing was brought up by the team which I think can most help an itinerant population: Naming Conventions. If a student comes to class Wednesday they want to know what they need to complete from Monday and Tuesday. If we as teachers can be more cognizant of name our assignments with dates our students can better support their own education. If you are a teacher that excuses work based on the date you can better correlate attendance records. Students will know what is expected of them and be able to improve their success. 


In September I accepted an informal challenge to build an automatic Google Form to Calendar invite Add-on. I've had some experience with coding. (More like just fun trial and error with computers.) I read the article and dug into the concept.
I was surprised at how easy Google Scripts was to use. Once I understood the concept of a line of code the door to explore opened. It wasn't just easy it was also pretty fun to code. Google scripts is extremely powerful and can give some major returns pretty quickly. The process of developing a full add-on had it's own hurdles but was ultimately rewarding not only in the success and ideas for further development but for the personal connections and doors it opened. Check out AutoInvite here.

Exam Timer

With the Exams looming I prepped code to do the ever so difficult Exam time math. This can be embedded in the new google sites allowing for a custom build. Demo

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