Employee Assistant Program

Our district has provided a great opportunity for our staff with the employee assistance program. Information for that can be found on the Staff Hub. There is a link on the left hand side called: Employee Assistance Program.

A few of you have asked some questions about the Skill Builder portion of the program. The information says that you would need Internet Explorer to use. Since our certified staff have MacBooks, you will need to use either Firefox or Safari for this portion of the program. It will prompt you to download Adobe Flash, which you can do by just following the directions. If there are other areas of this website or any website you visit that require Adobe Flash, you’ll want to use either Safari or Firefox.

If you have any issues with this, reach out to one of our tech team members!

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Google Voice

I’ve had some conversations lately around staff finding that text messages or phone calls are one of the best ways to communicate with parents. Totally agree that this is true and I strongly believe it’s our job to bridge the communication gap with our families. A concern that arose in these conversations has been using personal cell phone to text or call parents/guardians. I get that concern, don’t want to have them call you on the weekend, etc…

A solution to this is using Google Voice. This tool has been around for 8 years, but still seems a bit unknown. Google allows you through their service to have a phone number to text or call through them. You can text through your computer to parents and don’t need to give out your personal cell number. Here’s a how to use the product. 

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Data Desk for Google Read and Write

One of the most common requests for Read&Write for Google Chrome users has been the ability for teachers to easily manage student access to features.

This is important during testing scenarios, for example, when teachers don’t want students in one class to use a dictionary or other support feature while they’re taking a test. Historically, it has been difficult to turn a Read&Write feature on or off for just that one class or group of students without impacting students in other classrooms.

That’s where Data Desk, a feature management tool for Read&Write for Google Chrome, comes in. With Data Desk, teachers using Google Classroom can simply pick a class, select individual (or all) students in that class, and choose which features should or should not be available to those students. Teachers can even set a time limit for how long they’d like the new feature set to be active.

 To get started, teachers will need to visit datadesk.texthelp.com and sign in with their Google ID. A Google Classroom permission request will appear. Accepting the permissions will allow Data Desk to display the teachers’ classes, along with the list of students in those classes.*

Once the classes are imported, the teachers simply select which class or individual students they want to modify features for and follow the instructions provided. Note that unless a timer is set, all features that are unchecked will remain unavailable to selected students until they are changed back by an educator.

I’d highly recommend that you use this video as a reference when parsing this subject.
As with many features we use with Google, this utilizes Google Classroom to manage students. You’ll need to have students enrolled in Google Classroom for this to work.
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Google Team Drive

Google Team Drive is a feature that Google added in the fall of 2016, yet has not gained a whole lot of traction recently. I’d like to draw your attention to this great collaborative tool and outline a few reasons you’ll want to move some of your collaborative items into Team Drives instead of just shared folders.

When a staff member leaves CCSD, we suspend their google account. This deactivates the account, but keeps their ownership of documents open. A year later, the account is deleted and documents they owned are gone – deleted… This has caused some problems in the past for teams who share documents and don’t transfer ownership before this occurs.

Google Team Drives help overcome this issue. When a document is added or created in a Team Drive the ownership of the document lies in the Team Drive, not the individual, alleviating this issue of losing items when people leave the district. I’d highly recommend that PLC teams utilize this for documents that are in curriculum maps. We don’t want to lose those important documents.

Information about Google Team Drives can be found HERE.


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We have a district account to WeVideo. This online video editing software is a cool tool you can use with students!
They have provided a teacher guide that has some great tools for use and is easy to follow along with. It is very similar to any video editing software and is very intuitive. This tool is designed for web use, so it is easy to access and use on Chromebooks.
We have attached a screen cast of how student and teachers will log in. Student and Teacher accounts are active in WeVideo, but they have to log in as a new account with their Google @crprairie.org credentials.
If you have any questions, please let the technology office know.
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As many of you have heard, we have purchased an application called GoGuardian to help teachers monitor student devices at the 5-12 level. This tool works through Google Chrome and Google Classroom to allow teachers to monitor devices.

Implementation has gone well! We already have 2190 connected students, which is a large portion of our 5-12 student population. Training has been offered at each building and has gone well.

As with any product or new thing, there have been bumps along the road! A few bumps that have come up and solutions:

  1. If 2 teachers have access to the same Google Classroom, one teacher needs to add the classroom to their GoGuardian account, then add the other teacher through GoGuardian.
  2. Many have asked about the daily implementation emails. I’ve created a screencast, using QuickTime on my MacBook to show how to change a preference in GoGuardian to not get the daily email. It’s found HERE. 

As questions arise around GoGuardian, please let me know!

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Google Classroom update

With the start of the school year right upon us, I was passed along this piece from shakeuplearning.com with an overview of updates to Google Classroom. Some are more substantial than others, but always good to know!



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New update on Google Calendar




I’ll be sharing updates periodically that I receive or find out about for the services we use here at College Community. This new update from Google Calendar sparked my interest! Take a look!


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Change can be difficult and change can be exciting. With change, there can be feelings of loss and also feelings of joy. As many of you have heard, I am going through some professional changes right now. As of July 2, I will be serving College Community Schools as Director of Technology. The decision to move into this role was not an easy one. I’ve loved my time as Principal of Prairie Creek and serving the students, families, and staff there. I’ve been a building administrator for eight years and a teacher for nine years before that. Moving into a role away from students was not an easy decision.

When I looked at the job description for this new role, I was drawn back to my younger years. I double majored at Wartburg College in Computer Science and Math Education. Moving into a role that challenged my thinking around networking and device management really excited me. This role also provides me with the ability to continue to plan and provide high quality professional learning for educators, this time more focused on technology integration.

As I stated above, the decision was not easy. Prairie Creek has a tremendous staff that cares for kids. Leaving them was not easy. We’ve grown together, learned together, and celebrated together. I will miss the people at Creek and miss getting to know our students and families.

Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions around technology here at College Community. I’m planning to keep TechHawks.org as our home for all things tech at Prairie, so look for more posts in the future. We’ve been progressive in our work and we will continue to be progressive!

Eric Townsley

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Google TakeOut

Google Apps logo

I posted on this last year as well, but it’s worth a re-post.  Google TakeOut is a great tool if you are looking to move your Google content from one account to another.  This is particularly useful if wish to transfer content from your professional account (@CRPrairie.org) to your personal account (@gmail.com).  This is a really good idea if you’ve ever mixed your personal life with your professional life (received personal email in your CRPrairie.org account or created Google Docs with personal information in them).  I would recommend considering this tool for that purpose as it’s a great way to keep your professional account strictly professional and avoid any potential embarrassment or liability if there would ever happen to be a Freedom of Information Act request for your content.

Since they released TakeOut last year, they’ve updated and improved it.  It’s really easy to use.  and now allows not only allows the transfer of Gmail, Contacts, Drive, etc… but it also allows you to download this content in industry-standard formats.  So, you don’t have to move it to another Google account — you can download it and use it with other programs and systems.  So, if you are looking for a fast, simple way to clean up your Google content of personal content or you are exiting the district, this is a great tool to use.

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