Tuesday, October 20, 2015

**Important YouTube Update**

In an effort to both protect our students and give staff power over the content that is utilized, the Agora Information Technology Department has implemented YouTube restrictions through our Google Apps account. Please note, that these restrictions only apply to students, and all YouTube videos will remain available for staff to view.

With this change, you will now see a blue banner appear under videos as you browse YouTube (while logged in to your Agora account). This banner will indicate to you whether or not the specific video you are viewing is watchable by our students. Google uses a special algorithm to determine whether videos are safe, so many will already be watchable by default. However, if the video is not already allowed, you are given the option to approve the video by simply clicking on the “Approve” button on the banner. These changes take immediate effect for the students.

Video watchable by students:

Video not currently watchable by students:

Video manually approved for students to view:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Staff Help Desk Phone Number is Live!

We are happy to announce that our new dedicated phone line for the staff help desk is live! As a reminder we have three methods for you to be able to contact us for assistance.

We have instructions for the three methods here and instructions for the staff portal here. We look forward to serving you!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Staff Help Desk

We are happy to announce that our own internal employees will now handle technical support for all staff members. As a department, we have taken the feedback you have provided and are acting on it to improve service. We have hired two additional staff members (Kalif Celestine, Kyle Sleighter) who will report to Taylor Thompson and be dedicated to providing support to you. They have been on site this past week learning about the organization and the expectations for support. Support will be available fro 8 am to 5 pm, Monday through Friday. 

We are still waiting for the setup our dedicated phone line to be completed, but we expect it to be available this week (a follow up communication will notify everyone). Our dedicated phone number for technical support will be 844-50-STAFF. This number is only for staff members so you won't be competing with families for assistance. We are also available by email, staffsupport@agora.org, and a web portal located at http://staffsupport.agora.org.  Instructions for how to submit a ticket are located here along with portal instructions here

We look forward to assisting you and will continue to make adjustments to provide the best possible service. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

Sapphire Account Access

With our continued use of Sapphire we have been receiving many requests for access, and assistance with passwords. In an effort to streamline this process we have created a form: https://goo.gl/N3w6cv. This form allows staff to request an account, reset a password, change a name, or request additional permissions. When completing the form please be sure to use your name as it is listed with Human Resources.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer Update

Remember when this is what technology looked like?

We hope everyone is having a great summer! We have a few technology related announcements to share your way. Please read below:

Computer Reimaging:
Flash drives and instructions for reimaging have started going out today! You should expect to see them arrive in your mailbox within the next week or so. Please be sure to reimage as soon as possible so that we can ensure everyone is up and running before the start of the school year.

Please make sure that your computer is backed up before reimaging as the process will completely wipe your computer. Attached are guides that will assist you in backing up to an external device (ie flash drive) as well asbacking up to Google Drive if you have not done so already.

Helpdesk Support:
As a reminder, our support desk is up and running to provide support for families, students, and staff. Any technical issues you or your students have should be directed to the Support Desk and they'll either be able to assist directly or escalate larger issues to the appropriate resources.

The Support Desk can be contacted via email at helpdesk@agora.org or by phone at 844-50-AGORA (844-502-4672). Please note that Option 2 is available for faculty and staff specifically. Their hours are as follows:
·         Monday – Thursday: 7:00AM – 10:00PM
·         Saturday: 9:00AM – 3:00PM

Technology Department Team:
We are also happy to announce the following additions to the Agora Technology Team:
·         Landon Hunsberger (lhunsberger2@agora.org)  – Network and Information Security Administrator
·         Taylor Thompson (tthompson@agora.org) – Support Desk Manager
·         Eric Scheib (escheib@agora.org) – SIS Specialist

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Support Desk is up and running!

We are happy to announce that our support desk is up and running to provide support for families, students, and staff. Any technical issues you have should be directed to them and they'll either be able to assist, or triage to the appropriate person. They can be contacted via email at helpdesk@agora.org or by phone at 844-50-AGORA, Option 1.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Email - Your action needed!

I have unfortunate news for everyone. The email migration was not successful. The Google Tool was not able to function properly with K12's servers, and we were only able to migrate a few accounts. This will require everyone to migrate themselves following the steps below. Nothing has been lost, but this does require every staff member to take action.

Migration Steps
1.       Backup your email, if you haven’t already (instructions)
2.       Use Google Apps Sync for Outlook to connect google to Outlook and optionally migrate over contacts, calendars, and notes (instructions)
3.       Restore backed up email to Outlook using the Restore PST directions attached (instructions)

Don't have Outlook?
If you do not have Outlook installed there is a different utility you need to use. The tool can be found here and a tutorial on using it is located here

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Email is Live!!

Google is now providing our email service! I want to reiterate that your email is still the same. You can access the web client at http://mail.agora.org using your Google Apps for Education login information (instructions). Below are some helpful instructions to assist with the transition.

While email is up and running, the actual migration of your contacts, emails, and calendar items is ongoing. This process may take several days to complete. Do not panic if you don't see any emails, we just haven't migrated your inbox yet.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

What is the difference between @agoraeagles.org and @agora.org Google Apps accounts?

This is a great question, and a common one from staff. Both accounts are Google Apps for Education accounts, which means they have the same features. There are some important differences that benefit staff.

The new Google Apps accounts (@agora.org), are tied to the new systems Agora will be using. When a person is hired, their data will cascade through the system and all of their accounts will be create automatically. This runs the gamut from tools like Blackboard to Google Apps and Hapara.

The new Google Apps accounts (@agora.org) also allow someone to share a document with your work email address and you have instant access. With the @agoraeagles.org account you have to then request access, which can be a time consuming process.

These two distinctions will make the user experience much better for everyone. We do not have a timeline for closing the @agoraeagles.org domain, but we are asking staff to being moving their documents to the new domain.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Imaging Teacher Laptops

We've received many questions about the process for imaging teacher laptops. We are still finalizing the image (ie, installation of Windows), and the process for imaging. We will be sending out USB flash drives with the image, along with instructions for installation. We are hoping to mail everything by the end of June. The timeline for imaging is this summer. Obviously, the earlier you do it the more time we have to resolve any issues.

We plan to use Windows 7 for the 2015-16 school year and we'll likely skip Windows 8 in favor of going to Windows 10 during next summer. Don't ask us what happened to Windows 9, that was Microsoft's deal.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Teacher Laptops

We have received many questions about the plan for existing teacher laptops, along with requests for replacements. We do not have the funding to replace all teacher laptops this coming school year. Priority was given to the student laptops since K12 owned those devices. We will be replacing laptops on a needs basis. We will work to firm up the criteria over the coming week and communicate the process, and criteria, to everyone.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Google Apps Passwords - What Happened??

Recently everyone experienced the pain of their passwords being reset in Google Apps. I know this caused a lot of confusion, frustration, and inconvenience. I want to use this blog post to apologize to everyone for the inconvenience and to explain what happened. First lets cover a few basic terms that will help with the explanation.

The cloud - By now everyone has heard this term, but many aren't sure what it means. The easiest way to explain the cloud is that it's rows of computers sitting in a warehouse, running software, and storing information for people. If you have a smart phone, most of your apps function by reaching into the cloud to leverage these computers.

Integration -  Integration, in this context, is the ability of two pieces of software (aka systems) to talk to each other. Integrations can be fairly simple, like Facebook login options for websites, or much more complex involving many moving pieces.

Part of the strategy as we move to self management is to make our systems as efficient as possible. We are working to make the systems seamless, so a person can be hired and the data will cascade through many systems (via integrations) and create all of the necessary accounts for that individual. Those same integrations will also keep passwords synchronized.

Almost all of the software we use is hosted in the cloud (Blackboard, EE Highlight, Google Apps, etc). These companies can provide outstanding service for a fraction of the cost we would incur doing this "in house". One of our key partners is Global Data Consultants (GDC); they host key parts of our systems that keep passwords in sync. We were setting up accounts in Google Apps and on GDC's systems. The Google Apps accounts were created first and we proceeded with communicating this to school staff. We were racing the clock since school ends this week. As GDC created the accounts on their end, the passwords synchronized as we would normally want. Unfortunately it sync'd a different password for everyone's accounts, including those of us in the Technology Department. We worked very quickly to put everyone's password back.

This was an initial setup issue, and will not be an ongoing problem. When you image your computer this summer and select a password, that password will sync through all of the systems (Google Apps included).

Monday, June 15, 2015

Google Apps for Education is Live!

We are happy to announce that all faculty and staff now have Google Apps for Education accounts! All accounts were created earlier today and are now available for you to login to. As a reminder, the email portion of your Google account will not be available until 6/25, but you will now have access to explore the remaining pieces of the Google Apps platform!

Important Notes:
1. Please click here for first-time login instructions.
2. Your username is your current agora email address (e.g. youremail@agora.org)
Note: Transitioning K12 staff, please replace the @k12.com in your email address with @agora.org (e.g. use jsmith@agora.org instead of jsmith@k12.com)
3. Your initial password is temp + your 5-digit employee ID number (e.g. temp12345)

                Note: Your employee ID number is the same as your EAC username

Friday, June 12, 2015

Common Questions

There are some common questions we receive from staff, so we've compiled those into a document located here. Our goal is to help clear up some of the concerns, and provide more information to staff. The picture above is an overview of our new systems. The PDF version is located here.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Welcome to the Agora Cyber Charter School Technology Department blog! As a department we will be using this blog to communicate updates to staff, along with being a one-stop-shop for instructions we send.

Important - Email
We will be cutting over to Google email from K12 on 6/25. Your email will remain @agora.org, but you will have access to the Google web mail client that is the same as a personal Gmail account. Personally, I'm very excited to have access to the new web client. You will also be able to continue using Outlook and we've linked instructions from this blog on how to setup your email in Outlook (here). We are asking that all staff archive their email prior to the transition (instructions). We are planning to migrate all contacts, emails, and calendar items, so the archive will serve as a backup.

Important - Staff Laptops
We will also be sending out instructions, along with flash drives, for staff to image their own computers. Due to budget constraints this year, we will not be able to reclaim all laptops and handle it centrally. The new version of Windows 7 you'll be installing will have some enhanced features that will allow us to easily push software to you and keep your machine up to date. It should also allow the computer to run faster.

We're sprinting towards 7/1 and the school transition. We are on track to have the learning platform up and running. The initial deployment will be a starting point with enhanced features being rolled out on a regular basis through the summer. Things will only get better!

We are also setting up student laptops for deployment. We are ready to ship to all of our confirmed 2015-16 students during the last week of June.