Announcements

Classroom Orchestrator Pilot

posted Jan 13, 2017, 8:00 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Jan 17, 2017, 9:21 AM ]


Keep your students focused and on task more effectively with the assistance of a new Lightspeed service called Classroom Orchestrator. Classroom Orchestrator allows you to do the following:
  • See your students screens in real time; great for making sure students are staying on task.
  • Lock students screens; keeping students focused when device use in not necessary.
  • Close Chrome tabs on students devices; rid students of applications and sites that divert their attention. 
  • View students web history; see the websites your students have viewed in the past.
  • Mirror your Screen; great tool for demonstrating something from your personal device.




Please sign up HERE if you are interested in participating in the pilot. 


2016 Chromebook Holiday Round-up!

posted Dec 1, 2016, 8:23 AM by Doug Carlton   [ updated Dec 1, 2016, 8:24 AM ]


It's that time of year! If you are looking to buy a Chromebook for a loved one as a Christmas gift, you've come to the right place. Chromebooks make for great gifts, as they are inexpensive and easy-to-use. One thing to keep in mind this year is that all Android apps will soon be available on Chromebooks, so touchscreen Chromebooks are in vogue. 

We would like to now present the BH-BL I.T. Department's 2016 Chromebook Holiday Round-up! Here are our selections, arranged by price:



samsung chromebook 3 photo

  • 11.6-inch display
  • 2GB (recommended here) or 4GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage
  • Advertised 11 hours of battery life*
While we wouldn't normally recommend any non-touch Chromebook with only 2GB of memory, we're going to break our own rule for the first recommendation. The reason is that the Samsung Chromebook 3 provides a budget-friendly option for basic web browsing and productivity tasks on an 11.6-inch display. While the Samsung Chromebook 3 won't offer touch functionality for Android apps or a lot of RAM for intense multi-tasking, it will get the job done for many tasks, such as watching YouTube videos, streaming music, reading the news, and browsing social media.


  • 10.1-inch convertible touch display
  • 2GB or 4GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage
  • Advertised 9 hours of battery life*
  • HD webcam
The ASUS Chromebook Flip makes it onto our round-up list for the second year in a row! Like all 2-in-1 convertible Chromebooks, the screen on this device flips all the way around backwards so that it can be used like a tablet. When the screen is folded back, the keys on the keyboard become disabled so that only touch inputs are detected and an on-screen touch keyboard will appear as needed. This Chromebook is very lightweight, yet features a sturdy aluminum construction. It does have a smaller keyboard and smaller display, which may not be suited to users with larger hands or those who require larger displays. This Chromebook may be more ideal for users who are on-the-go.

Note: If you purchase the ASUS Flip, make sure you follow the directions in the Getting Started Guide (found in the box) for charging your Chromebook before using it for the first time.


acer R11 photo


  • 11.6-inch convertible HD touch display
  • 2GB or 4GB of RAM, 16 GB or 32 GB of storage
  • Advertised 10 hours of battery life*
  • HD webcam
The Acer R11 is a nice step up in quality and size from the ASUS Flip C100. This is a 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook that is a more adult-friendly size. The keyboard is comfortable to use and more similar to most laptops than the ASUS Flip C100. The R11 features a hybrid build of molded plastic and aluminum, allowing for durability while maintaining a lightweight form, increasing its portability for users who are on-the-go. With Androids apps on the horizon, this will be a great, cost-friendly laptop for using your favorite touch-enabled apps!


acer R13 photo


  • 13.3-inch convertible HD touch display
  • 4GB of RAM, 32 GB of storage
  • Advertised 12 hours of battery life*
  • HD webcam
The Acer R13 is the big brother to the Acer R11, and this is the current reigning champion of touchscreen Chromebooks! This is another 2-in-1 convertible Chromebook that will work wonderfully with Android apps. This is a faster, more powerful version of the R11 that features a larger, better display as well as longer battery life and a fully aluminum build. If you can afford the larger price tag, this is the Chromebook to get this holiday season!



Final thoughts - Just a penny!
All of these Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is Google's  fast, cloud-centered operating system. For this reason, almost any Chromebook on the market will boot quickly, load webpages quickly, and offer most of the same software features regardless of the particular specs. You can even hook all of these models up to a TV or projector with the correct cable. Our advice is to decide:
  • What size Chromebook you want (we've listed several different sizes here!)
  • Which physical features you want (such as a touch screen or an HD display)
  • Which devices are within your budget

We hope this post helps you decide which Chromebook will suit your holiday purchasing needs!


Note: With Android apps forthcoming, we highly recommend buying all touch-enabled Chromebooks with 4GB rather than 2GB of memory (RAM). All links provided will direct you to the most suitable model.

*Advertised battery life changes with the type of use. Streaming video will use more battery life than working on a Google Doc. Lower display brightness will help conserve battery life as well.


Updated Filter Instructions

posted Apr 6, 2016, 6:17 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Aug 26, 2016, 8:55 AM ]

• Are you having trouble signing in or requesting certain sites to be unblocked?

• Are you getting broken or blank pages leaving you unable to sign in or send a request?

• Do you need to request a site to be unblocked for students?

• Are you looking to have a less restrictive filter profile on a personal device?

Now that we have been using the new web filter for two weeks, we want to provide some additional methods for accessing sites.

If you are on a Mac or a personal device (mobile phones, tablets, laptops, etc) and you want to receive a less-restrictive profile, you can visit filter.bhbl.org.  The site provides easy access for logging in.  The site also provides an alternative method for requesting sites be unblocked when not receiving the blue "Submit site for review page."  Please note that logging in with this method will timeout after 120 minutes. After your session has expired, you will have to revisit filter.bhbl.org.

For further questions on authenticating, please see the guide below:

How To: Sign in as a Teacher Using Lightspeed's Web Filter

How To: Submit a Site for Review with Lightspeed Web Filter



Webfilter Transition

posted Mar 17, 2016, 12:16 PM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Mar 31, 2016, 5:13 AM ]

As you may have heard from your building’s tech coordinator, the district is transitioning over to Lightspeed’s Web Filter on March 18th. This transition will bring about many new improvements over our older M86 Web Filter. It will bring about improvements in safety and security since Lightspeed’s Web Filter has a dedicated team that works around the clock to update web filter definitions. Also, if students were to bring district devices home, they would be connected to our web filter. We will also gain the benefit of tightening the filter for the portions of our population that need it the most without affecting our staffs’ web experience.


What does this mean for you? During the process of switching over, you may find sites that were once unblocked to now be blocked. This is not an expected behavior of the filter but it does sometimes occur. In the event of this happening, you can follow two easy steps (see tutorial) to request the site to be vetted and unblocked by someone from our team. For those of you who are on a Mac, you may have to authenticate within the site’s block screen which is also a two-step process (see tutorial) to receive a more relaxed filter profile. During the initial phase-in of the new filter, the BHBL Tech Staff and NERIC will be closely monitoring these unblock requests. We anticipate a rapid turnaround for unblocking requested sites


Upon request, we can provide teachers with a sample student login so if you have concerns that a site might be blocked for students, you can test it out before your class.


We appreciate your cooperation and patience during this transition. If you have any questions, please email me at msteinberg@bhbl.org


Thank you,Michael Steinberg

Casper Suite Rollout

posted Feb 12, 2016, 11:06 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Feb 12, 2016, 11:11 AM ]


Attention all Mac users: Next week, we will be starting our Casper Suite deployment.  During the week of Feb 22nd, we will start installing the Casper Suite software onto district devices [read: Macs].  This WILL NOT remove or modify any files on any of the devices. In fact, nothing is going to appear to have changed all after the installation. Having remote access allows us to manage the devices more effectively which translates into less downtime for teachers.  If you have any questions, please email msteinberg@bhbl.org



new SMS

posted Dec 22, 2015, 1:54 PM by Tracy Falvo   [ updated Jan 11, 2016, 8:38 AM by Michael Steinberg ]


Do you want to be a GURU?  

Now you can!  We are adopting a new Student Management System! We will start using eSchoolData (eSD) in the 2016-2017 school year. 


         One of the cool new things available will be the GURUBoard dashboards. 

"GURUBoard® is a new product that eSchoolData has developed to enable everyone to be a true “guru” within their given role. GURUBoard® both simplifies the day-to-day tasks of users, and empowers them with data by presenting it in an interactive, graphical style. With the increasingly high stakes in K-12 education, it has never been more important for individuals within districts and schools to be able to use and apply data simply and effectively."


We are partnering with NERIC again! 

The NERIC eSD team publishes Weekly Teacher Tips and Monthly Newsletters. We will post them on our website: eSchoolData

click to enlarge

Our eSD kickoff meeting with NERIC will be on Thursday, January 7th at 3:30PM. Please contact Tracy Falvo (tfalvo@bhbl.org) if you are interested in participating on the eSD implementation team.

Please check back - we will update this page on a regular basis!

Coming soon: Implementation timeline

Chromebook Holiday Round-up!

posted Dec 2, 2015, 7:27 AM by Doug Carlton   [ updated Nov 30, 2016, 10:08 AM ]

A Chromebook can make for a great gift this holiday season! The simplicity of Chromebooks makes them a great choice for users of all ages. But with so many models and manufacturers out there, it can be hard to choose the right one for your needs. For that reason, we would like to present the BHBL I.T. Department's Chromebook Holiday Round-up! We recommend the following Chromebooks, ordered by price:



  • 11.6-inch display
  • 2GB or 4GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage
  • Advertised 13 hours of battery life*
The ASUS C201 features a lightweight, plastic construction at a very ideal price point. With all the standard Chromebook features such as a multi-gesture touchpad and front facing camera, this is a great buy for the budget-conscious consumer. 


  • 10.1-inch convertible touch display
  • 2GB or 4GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage
  • Advertised 9 hours of battery life*
The ASUS Chromebook Flip is a very neat device! The screen on this Chromebook flips all the way around backwards so that it can be used like a tablet. When the screen is folded all the way back, the keys on the keyboard become disabled so that only touch inputs are detected and an on-screen touch keyboard will appear as needed. This Chromebook is very lightweight, yet does feature a sturdy aluminum construction. It does have a smaller keyboard which may not be suited to users with larger hands. This Chromebook may be more ideal for users who are on-the-go.

Note: If you purchase the ASUS Flip, make sure you follow the directions in the Getting Started Guide (found in the box) for charging your Chromebook before using it for the first time.


HP Chromebook 14
  • 14-inch display
  • 2GB of RAM, 16 GB of storage
  • Advertised as 9 hours of battery life*
The HP Chromebook 14 is a nicely-sized laptop for doing work. With a 14-inch display and hard plastic construction, it definitely feels more "grown-up" than most Chromebooks out there. The HP Chromebook 14 is well-suited to multi-tasking productivity, providing more screen real estate for managing multiple docs, sheets, or presentations. This Chromebook feels more like the full-sized laptops we are all used to using. Furthermore, the HP Chromebook 14 offers different color options while maintaining a reasonable price!


Toshiba Chromebook 2
  • 13.3 display, full 1080p HD resolution
  • Faster processor than most models
  • 4 GB of RAM, 16 GB of Storage
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Advertised as 9 hours of battery life*
With a full HD display, backlit keyboard, faster processor, and more RAM than most models, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is one of the more future-proof and full-featured models on the market. The main draw of the Toshiba Chromebook 2 is its full HD display panel which will be great for viewing photos, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and other multimedia.



Final thoughts
All of these Chromebooks run Chrome OS, which is Google's super fast, cloud-based operating system. For this reason, almost any Chromebook on the market will boot quickly, load webpages quickly, and offer the same software features regardless of the particular specs. You can even hook all of these models up to a TV or projector with the correct cable. Our advice to you is to decide:
  • What size Chromebook you want (we've listed four different sizes here!)
  • Which physical features you want (such as a touch screen or an HD display)
  • What price point suits your needs. 

We hope this post helps you decide which Chromebook will suit your holiday purchasing needs!




Note: Many of these Chromebooks are offered with 2 GB of RAM or 4 GB of RAM. While 2 GB is probably sufficient for most web browsing, going with 4 GB of RAM will make your Chromebook more future-proof.

*Advertised battery life changes with the type of use. Streaming video will use more battery life than working on a Google Doc. Lower display brightness will serve to save battery life as well.
 

 


SMS Video Tutorials

posted Nov 4, 2015, 11:03 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Nov 5, 2015, 7:43 AM ]

Hello Back-to-Schoolers!

posted Sep 8, 2015, 11:57 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Sep 14, 2015, 6:55 AM ]

Just a quick reminder about the Frame for Education webinar tomorrow, September 23rd, at 9am PST (12pm EST).

Frame webinars are a great opportunity to learn how to configure your account and publish apps to as many student and faculty as you'd like, with just the click of a button.

During the webinar, all attendees will receive a code for $50 of Frame services.








We will also discuss how Frame can help you:

  • Give all your teachers quick and seamless access to software like Achieve from their iPads
  • Never worry about performance or OS again
  • Have students designing in Autodesk Revit, Adobe Photoshop, SOLIDWORKS and AutoCAD from their Chromebooks at home
  • Get rid of computer labs forever

We’ll also make time for Q&A to ensure all your questions get answered.

If you haven’t tried Frame for Education yet, sign up for free to try apps we've configured for you, then start your free trial to install and run your own applications in the region of your choice.

We offer special plans for larger accounts. If you’re looking to deliver apps to 50 or more students, please let me know at alexandra@fra.me.

All the best,
Alexandra Connell
Director of Business Development, Frame


Microsoft Office Promotion

posted Aug 24, 2015, 5:54 AM by Michael Steinberg   [ updated Mar 8, 2017, 6:37 AM ]



The Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Central School has recently partnered with the Capital Region BOCES and Microsoft on an Enrollment for Education Solutions (EES) agreement that provides licensing on core Microsoft products for our entire school district. One exciting feature of this agreement allows each of our employees to participate in Microsoft's Software Assurance Home Use Program (HUP). This program enables you to purchase and download a licensed copy of Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2013 or Office for Mac 2011 to install and use on your home computer for a very low price of $9.95.

 

Under the Home Use Program, you and our other employees who are users of Microsoft Office at work may acquire a licensed copy of the corresponding Home Use Program software to install and use on a home computer. You may continue using HUP software while you are under our employment and as long as we continue this partnership with the Capital Region BOCES.

 

To access the Microsoft Home Use Program Web site: 
1. Go to http://hup.microsoft.com/
2. Select the United States for viewing the order Web site. 
3. Enter your Burnt Hills e-mail address and insert the following program code: 
83C76E8D9B   
Note: This program code is assigned to our school district for use in accessing this site. You may not share this code with anyone outside our organization.
4. You will then receive an email with the next steps to purchase and download this software.

We trust you will enjoy this benefit and expect that having access to this software at home will be of great benefit to our employees as well as to our entire school district.


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