Remote Learning Update, March 18, 2020

Yesterday was such a success. We had nearly all our students from 5th to 12th grade connect digitally to their teachers, using Google Meet and/or Canvas. Even many of our little kids connected with their teacher via video conferencing, or a posted video on Google Drive.

I am so proud of all our staff, students and family members, everyone is working hard to make this a success. I have seen some really good videos the last few days. I am going to post one today on the Remote Learning site and the District FaceBook page.

Information for Families and Staff:

Here are a few things we learned yesterday:

Google Meet
Google Meet has been working really well for us, we had many sessions with students yesterday and we will continue those connections with our students for the rest of the week.
Google is working to make some changes to Google Meet that should be implemented over the next few weeks.
The ability to kick someone off will be removed, and they are also working on changing the ability to mute the participants. The lagging we have seen is not a Google Meet issue, but more a bandwidth issue.
TIP: Please turn on Captions when you are creating or joining a Google Meet session.

Many of our families only have 10MB connection at home, sometimes even less. When teachers share large video files, or they are joining a Google Meet session, they need to make sure students turn off wifi on all other devices (like cell phones).
Yesterday I talked to a mom that had a 12MB connection and 3 kids working from home. We came up with a rotation system for her kids, that only one student would watch a live broadcast or download a movie from Canvas or Google Drive.
I also had her disconnect all cell phones from the wifi network. This seemed to fix her son's issue with Google Meet immediately.
Keep that in mind when you schedule a Google Meet with your students or post a video.

Canvas did fix the connection issues yesterday, but we may still see slowness for the reminder of this week. This is in part due to the number of students around the world using Canvas.

Sora is a wonderful resource for students, we have 1000's of books available, and we also have some Audio books. If parents have a library card, they can connect that to their Sora app too.
You can find more information on the Remote Learning website (for parents and staff).

I was contacted by a parent yesterday who was struggling with a low bandwidth, she contacted Comcast and Comcast was able to increase her bandwidth for free for the next few months.
If you are struggling with Bandwidth at home contact your internet provider and see if you are eligible for this upgrade.
We have that information listed on the Remote Learning website too.

Common Sense Media
Common sense media is full of great information about using technology safely.
This would be a great time to introduce Common Sense to your student, lots of great materials available on the website.
Common Sense Media

Information for Staff:

Videos and Bandwidth
Please be aware of the video size, you can right click on the video and click "Get Info" to see the size. I would recommend to stay under 200MB, that's a 2 minute movie. It's better to create 5 - 2 minute movies, than one 10 minute movie. You may even have issues uploading the video to Google Drive or Canvas if your upload speed is only 2MB, like mine is.

Many teachers are using chat in Canvas with success, let me know if you need any support with creating assignments or quizzes.

I have got a few requests about using Zoom. You will experience the same lagging issue for students with slow wifi at home. If 3 or more participants join, the meeting will time- out after 40 minutes for the free version. At this time we are not supporting Zoom, unless you are working with students with special education needs or need to contact students via a phone call. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding Zoom.

Video Sharing
HS students have access to YouTube, while Middle and Elementary students do not. Please make sure that if you share materials and videos with students, you follow FERPA and copyright laws.

Know that I am also available for any support. If you have any suggestions to make this a better learning experience for our students, please email me, we are all in this together.


Cathrine (Cat) Olimb
Director of Technology
Manitou Springs School District


Office: 719 685 2012

[email protected]