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Google Migration and FAQs

Google Transition 2017 FAQs

WPS is migrating to Google in Spring 2017; Read the FAQs to learn more and to get your questions answered!

Can I still use Microsoft products and my H: drive?

Many have asked whether the spring 2017 migration to Google means the end of support for other Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and related products. Most of the files developed in these products were shared in the H: Drives you have on your work devices. 

The short answer: YES, you can still use Word and related Microsoft Office products, and you will still be able to access and share via your H: drives in the fall.

The long answer: We will ultimately end support for Microsoft Products over the next few years, phasing them out as we migrate everyone towards using Google as their primary productivity platform. With a move towards cloud-based collaborative Google apps comes a decreased need for local and network storage of files, such as the H:Drives. 

Many teachers have begun to note the limitations of storage on H: Drives. Fortunately, Google Apps for Education accounts have no limit to the storage available: you can store as much as you want! However, this does mean you will ultimately need to migrate shared resources over to Google. Our Spring 2017 transition does not require this, but you are likely to hear more about it in years to come.

What training will be offered?

Multiple optional PD opportunities will be available for teachers who want to brush up on or build their Google skills. Options are flexible

Option 1: Google Badges

Earn Google Ready Badges for five of the GSuite Apps: Mail, Calendar, Drive, Classroom, and Read and Write! Each badge module takes about two hours to complete. Badge modules will be rolled out as they are created, and information about joining them can be found by clicking here. You can pick and choose which modules to do, but GMail and GCalendar are highly recommended for all staff. Do all 5, earn 10 PDPs!

Option 2: Face to Face PD

We are also offering a "Spring into Google" course for those interested in a little more hands-on help with Google. At the moment, the course is limited to 30 people, but we are able to offer a second round if the course is popular or fills up quickly. Find out more about the course here! This PD requires you to attend every workshop. 

Option 3: School-Based Workshops

We will also work to offer workshops and stop-in opportunities at all of our school sites. Talk to your Digital Learning Teacher about what might be offered at your school, and when!

Training will also be offered in face-to-face workshops for secretarial staff on how to manage and maintain school email listservs and other resources. More on this to come!

What about old mail I want to keep?

You have two options for migrating mail messages that you want to keep:

  1. You can conduct a full migration of any mail folders or messages you want to keep using the Google Migration Tool. A full tutorial of how to do this is included in the GMail Badge Module. 
  2. You can forward individual messages that you want to keep over to your Google (@walthampublicschools.org) account from your Outlook (@k12.waltham.ma.us) account.

As a component of the Google Migration option (1), you can also migrate contacts and calendar events. Keep in mind that it is best to do this migration close to April, because that is when we will do the official "switch" of our primary email client.

When can I start using GMail to send and receive all of my emails?

"Google Day" is April 24th, the day we return from Spring Break. On this date, we will switch the email login for portals and gradebooks to your @walthampublicschools.org login, and we will communicate to everyone that they should use Gmail for all mailing activities.

Why a set date instead of a slow rollout?

We initially considered a phased rollout, school by school. However, we do not want to cause confusion throughout the system as people email across schools from different accounts -- how will everyone know where to email people? Therefore, we are going to set a specific date, and on that date, we will all agree to "Go Google." Readysetgo!

When can I start using GCalendar to manage events and invite people to meetings?

Now! Many individuals throughout Waltham Public Schools have already started using Google Calendar to manage events and activities. You can invite people to a Google Calendar event now by entering their @k12.waltham.ma.us email into the "invite" area -- they will receive an invite that will go on their Outlook calendar.

Unlike Mail, there is no need to wait to start using Google Calendar as your primary event management system!

I've heard about data privacy concerns. Will student information be safe?

As members of the Massachusetts Student Privacy Alliance (MSPA) and as educators, we are dedicated to ensuring that our students are safe and that their privacy is protected in our online systems. Most concerns about data and Google revolve around two issues:

  1. Google mining or using student data to develop their products.
  2. Google sharing data with third-party vendors.

Regarding the first concern, Google does use "metadata," or statistical data about usage trends or user activities, to impact how they build their products. For example, if many teachers use the "assignment" feature in Google Classroom to frequently attach pictures, Google might add a feature that makes it easy to search pictures in Google that are already filtered for fair use (this actually happened about a year ago).

Metadata is stripped of identifying information, and Google has had access to student metadata since we first started using the Google platform about six years ago. Google does not share any data with advertising companies, and within any Apps for Education domain, students are not exposed to advertisements, as articulated in Google's Apps for Education Terms of Service.

Regarding the second concern, many third-party applications contain features that connect the application with one's Google account, requesting "access" to particular Google information whenever the individual logs in with Google. While WPS does not block all third-party apps (this is impossible, because new apps appear on the marketplace daily), we encourage teachers to use third-party apps with Google that the Department of Instructional and Information Technology has vetted and deemed safe, or apps with which we have established MSPA agreements, such as Nearpod, Read and Write for Google, or GradeCam. If a harmful app is reported, we can block it from being used or installed on our Google devices or from WPS Google accounts.

We also encourage teachers to use their judgement, check with Digital Learning Teachers, and to read terms of service before using a Google-ready third party application, to ensure that sensitive student data is not being shared with vendors we do not trust. This is a constantly-moving target in the digital age, and is as much about education as it is about monitoring and restricting systems. 

As an additional safety measure, we will back up all Google Drive and GMail content and data. We are also researching solutions that will allow us to monitor our Google domain for harmful, inflammatory, violent, or concerning content, such as might indicate cyberbullying, privacy concerns, or FERPA violations.

Regardless of the systems we are using, our first priority is to keep our students safe, to educate them and their teachers about how to keep their information private in the digital age, and to provide the best possible digital experience for our WPS community.

How do I get my mail and calendar on my cell phone?

You have two options for viewing and responding to mail and calendar events on your mobile devices:

For APPLE users, visit your settings and delete your old @k12 account. Choose "add account" to add your new Google account, and insert your credentials. Be sure to hit "save" in the upper right when you're done, and to turn on "mail" and "calendar" for that account. Now your WPS GMail account should show in your phone's default mail and calendar applications.

For ANDROID users, you can follow the steps above to integrate your new account into your default mail and calendar apps. Alternatively, you can download the GMail and GCalendar apps on your phone. Apple users can also download the GMail app, but there is no GCalendar app for Apple mobile devices. Once you have downloaded the app, sign in with your Google account and access your mail via the GMail app.

What about all the apps that I sign into with @k12...?

Many of you have likely signed up for accounts with organizations or applications, or are on list serves or email groups, that correspond with your @k12 email. For your Waltham Public Schools apps (TeachPoint, GradeCam, Portals, etc.), we will switch the email over for you. For apps or email groups you have signed up for on your own, you will need to change the associated email in your settings if you want to continue receiving notices or updates from that organization.

You can do this slowly over time -- chances are, you don't remember every single account out there! Here are a few tips:

  • Over the next few months, when you sign into something, check in the "settings" or "preferences" to see which email you have provided.
  • As you receive emails from outside organizations, check to see if the email came to your @k12 email (because we will automatically forward to gmail), and respond with a note that you have switched email addresses. 
  • Consider putting a note in your email signature in Google that you have switched email addresses.
  • You can also put an auto-response on Outlook that will send a message back to the sender that your email has changed.  
What about all those email groups like "ALL-MD?"

We are recreating email groups in Google using the "Google Group" application and are training school-based secretaries how to maintain and adjust their email groups as necessary. You can also create Google groups of your own! Our district google groups will be the same as the ones you've always used, except with @walthampublicschools.org on the end. But if you find one is missing, please let us know by alerting HELP. 

Google Links and Resources

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