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.