TIPS Team blog has moved…

In Uncategorized on November 24, 2009 by TIPS Team

While we love WordPress and the cool things you can do with it, we’ve found that using a public SITE in Share gives us the ability to make posts, list the blog on the SITES list for all staff and students in Edmonton Public Schools, push out an RSS feed, and model the use of the secure tools we’ll be providing to staff and students through StaffZone and the student portals.  A few of the features we like about SITES in Share are:

  • the ability to create a blog site from a custom template.  We’ve made a Simple Blog Template, and have shared it with a few consultants so that they can modify and edit it to make it better. 
templates in share
New features for templates in EPSB
  • ease of access:  for staff members creating a blog, they can easily restrict access to a group of colleagues or whoever they like by email address.  One click makes it public on the www, and it can be turned off just as easily.
  • for schools on the student portal project, this makes it simple to blog with your students as they already will have accounts in Share, and you can easily create a closed community of students in your class (if you like) for them to securely share.

Have a look at our new blog at , or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Why it’s a bad idea to send large attachments in email

In Tools on November 4, 2009 by TIPS Team

For EPS staff, we all know about the limits in our inbox.  I know I get a message every couple of days telling me that my inbox is full.  Most of the time, this is because someone has sent me a large file attachment – either a co-worker sharing photos of a new baby, or a video that could probably be found on you tube.  So why do people still insist on sharing large files when they know it causes us Outlook grief?  Even with Share (Google) Apps having increased the maximum attachment size to a whopping 25 MB in June, some people want to send larger files. Daniel (another blogger I follow with the  Google Blog) wrote a thoughtful comment that explains why it’s a bad idea to send huge files by email.  Keep these points in mind the next time you have large photos, videos, or files to send:

People who demand large message size limits rarely understand the limitations of the email transmission.

Because of the MIME encoding used when sending binary attachments, your files expand 33% when sent via email. In other words, a 15MB attachment requires 20MB plus the message text, plus message headers.

When you carbon copy 20 of your friends & coworkers, a separate message is sent to each. 20MB x 20 = 400MB. That’s half a freaking CD.

If 5 of those friends are on the same small company email server, downloading those messages saturates the entire bandwidth of their T1 data line for nearly 9 minutes. Because each message has separate headers, it isn’t easily cached and gets completely downloaded by each recipient.
Compare this to uploading the same attachment to a web server, FTP server, file transmission service like YouSendIt, or video streaming site like YouTube. One copy is uploaded. The download is typically 8-bit so minimal expansion factor. The small business’ network can cache the content, so it’s only downloaded once then fetched locally from the web caching server.
Bottom line, sending a large attachment via email is relocating using the U.S. Postal Service as your moving company. It is painful, limited, and expensive.

TIPS on how to share large files: If you’re in Edmonton Public Schools, you currently have access to your own Share (Google) SITES through StaffZone for uploading large files – you just need to make a filing cabinet page for yourself.  For sharing photos, try Picasa or Flickr (you can keep those photos private by adjusting viewing permissions), and Picasa also accepts video uploads even though YouTube is the more mainstream standard.


Netbook vs Laptop

In Tools on October 30, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged:

IMG_0225With the sudden popularity of netbooks in the consumer electronics world much discussion has surfaced around the educational uses for these devices.  Schools are always pressed for funds so it is only natural that the discussion is usually framed around the question “What can these devices replace?”  rather than “What can these devices add to the classroom?”  Education Weekly has a well researched article that frames this debate very well.


TIPS on Web 2.0

In Tools on October 27, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged: , , , ,

We’ve been busy cross-posting our information using a variety of Web 2.0 tools. You can now access our info on:

TIPS Resources Site on
Our New YouTube Channel
Follow us on Twitter for tidbits of information
A link to our RSS feed (blog posts)– simply post this URL into your favorite RSS reader

Happy reading, tweeting, blogging and viewing! 🙂


Energy Conservation TIPS

In Planning on October 23, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged:

Power Plant

Power Plant

The TIPS team would like to remind everyone that technology in the classroom does leave an environmental footprint.  While it may be necessary to leave your workstation running over the weekend if you are using remote desktop, it is not necessary to leave the monitor on.  Interactive white boards and other accessories do not need to be powered on when not in use either.  If there is any way that you can get the standby light to go off (especially over the weekend) then small amounts of power can be saved which add up over the 1500+ of these devices that exist in our schoolboard.  Out in the cloud there is much discussion about the power consumption at the hundreds of massive data centres that have sprung up.  InfoExecutive has an article that talks about how some of these server farms are seeking carbon offsets by setting up in British Columbia and Quebec where power is 100% hydroelectric.  An article in Data Centre Knowledge refers to studies that indicate that there are efficencies to be gained by turning up the thermostat inside these large data centres.  It costs money and creates carbon dioxide in order to keep these machines cool, so the warmer that you can keep them the less it costs.


Using Web 2.0 Video Tools

In Professional Learning, Tools on October 13, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged: , ,

discoveryeducation_com_web2_0Discovery Education, in partnership with CDWG,  has just released a  series of videos, entitled Web 2.0 Conquering  Technophobia.  Presented by the DEN gurus, Hall Davidson and Steve Dembo, these videos are short, easy to use and contain “just-in-time” information. Definitely worth a view.

You can follow Steve Dembo on Twitter @teach42 and Hall Davidson @HallDavidson.

Here’s one on Video Tools. It covers 3 very different tools:

  • Create stunning movies by uploading your pictures and adding some music. Available in an education version.
  • Create your own talking avatar.  Upload your own picture or select from a variety of famous characters. This is similar to
  • xtra Referred to as a text to movie creator.  You simply just need to play with it.


Is Google reading my mind? Some new Share tools are just what I was thinking…

In Tools on October 9, 2009 by TIPS Team Tagged:

One of the great things about “cloud computing” tools is that there are no software updates to install or new version announcements…not with Google Apps (we call them Share Apps) anyway. One day you’ll be thinking, “Gee, wouldn’t it be great if you could get an RSS feed from a site”, or “It’s such a hassle to recreate that list page for every meeting we have, why can you make it once and save it as a template!”

Well, what I’ve found is that the folks at Google pretty much must be monitoring my thoughts because sure enough, I thought those things (along with the other members of our team) last week, and sure enough, there they are.

With RSS feeds, you’ll now be able to use your favourite RSS reader to monitor your Share sites (for updates, changes, or comments) instead of relying on the “subscribe to changes” emails ending up in your Share Mail ( inbox.

With the page templates, I can spend some quality time designing a page, then make it a template for my site.  Very useful if you have made a class blog, for example.   If you find other cool ways to use these new features (or old features), be sure to SHARE them on the Share HELP site for staff & students.  Everyone in EPS had editing rights to that site, and anyone can see it on the web.

Terry from the TIPS team.

Here’s what Google had to say about these new features:

(By the way, I keep up with what’s new with apps by following this page.)

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