Tuesday, September 26, 2017

How to Install Software at School. It's Easy with the App Depot, Chrome Web Store, and more.

Don't let download restrictions stop you! Use the App Depot and Chrome Web Store to get what you want.

Can I Install Software at School? 

In Plano ISD, we keep a very secure network. One way we do this is by restricting the ability for users to install software on our network computers that could potentially pose as a security threat to our network.

What's the work around? You know there's always a work around! Below is the procedure to follow to find/acquire software for you and your students.


Your lesson calls for students to present what they learned using a tool of their choice. A student asks you if he can record his computer screen. "Of course you can!", you exclaim. You tell him to go to the App Depot to search for and install Screencast-o-matic.

Side notes: Or you can advise him to install the Screencastify Chrome Extension via the Chrome Web Store; perfect for Chromebooks. Teachers can get ideas from our Hotspot website's Suggested Apps & Websites page under the "Presentations that Pop" list of tools.


App Depot

Check to see if we already have the program you're looking for in the App Depot. Search the name of it in the search field. Click on the program to install it.

app depot icon


On PISD Instructional Technology's Hotspot website, click on the Suggested Apps & Websites page to peruse the plethora of tools suggested for you and your students! In this case, scroll down to "Presentations that Pop" for tools that your students can use to present their learning.

Hopefully, one of these ways will help you locate a tool for your students to use based on your situation. 

Request Software Testing & Packaging

It's not as tedious as it sounds! If you would like software that is not found in the App Depot, follow this step:

  1. Talk with your curriculum coordinator about what your options are. 
    • At that point, he/she will either answer your question or contact Instructional Technology to brainstorm solutions and request that the software be tested on our network. 
    • When it comes to us, we can install it, test it, approve/deny it, and send it to our engineers to have it packaged and placed in either the App Depot or a PISD Apps folder. 
    • Within days you'll have it ready for you to install in the App Depot or it'll be pushed to your PISD Apps folder. 

Can I Install Software on a Chromebook?

Not a thing. But what IS a thing is using the Chrome Web Store to add Apps and Extensions. Check out some of our favorites here: tinyurl.com/pisdchromify Click on "Suggested Extensions" or "Suggested Apps" on the top right of the screen.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Chromebooks a-Coming!

Plano ISD is in the midst of rolling out Chromebooks to its students and teachers! Currently there are 18 elementary campuses that have Chromebooks in all their classrooms, with the goal of 100% district-wide Chromebook integration within the next few years. All classroom teachers and librarians will soon be receiving a Chromebook to check out and use for the duration of their employment with PISD.

While at first glance a Chromebook looks like a "mini laptop," the Chromebook environment is actually very different from that of a traditional laptop. One major difference is that no software is ever installed on a Chromebook, so if you use specialized software that does not have a web-based component, you wouldn't be able to use that on a Chromebook. However, since most applications that most teachers use are now Internet-based, the Chromebook is a great tool for its portability and versatility.

Some advantages of Chromebooks are:

  • speed - boots up and connects to Internet within seconds
  • battery life - up to 7 hours without recharging
  • weight - lightweight and portable
  • access to email & H drive via Webdesk
When you log in to your Chromebook, you will also be automatically logged in to Webdesk. If you're not already a Webdesk user, you will soon become one! Webdesk offers one-click access to all the programs you use every day, such as your gradebook, TEAMS, and all the programs that are assigned to you. You can also create additional tiles to easily personalize your page and gain quick access to the sites you visit the most.

Your Instructional Technology Team has been hard at work for many weeks creating and curating the resources you will need for Chromebook success! Click the links below to learn more about making the most of your Chromebooks, both for personal use and for your students' learning.

Plano ISD Chromebook Academy Website

Plano ISD Chromebook YouTube Channel (check back often, as more videos are being added on a regular basis)

Plano ISD Webdesk | Webdesk Quick Start Guide

After you've reviewed the materials above, test your Chromebook knowledge by playing our fun Chromebook game. Just log in with your PISD Google account! (Want to know how we made this cool game? Contact us! )

Do you have feedback on our Chromebook Academy site? Suggestions for things we should include? Let us know!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Transitioning from Atomic Learning to Hoonuit

You have personalized Professional Development at your fingertips with Hoonuit–formerly known as Atomic Learning. If you had the opportunity to use Atomic Learning before, you know that this online tool provides you with personalized PD.

As an educator looking to grow your digital literacy and technology skills, you can choose from hundreds of online courses that YOU want to learn about. Hoonuit can be accessed from school or at home with your PISD credentials.

With Hoonuit's outcome-based learning model, applying what your learn to your classroom is a breeze. Also, Hoonuit can be access by students -at home or at school- with their PISD credentials.

Here's how to sign in:

  • Username for Staff: firstname.lastname (example: sue.smith)
  • Username for Students: firstname.lastname.# (example: alex.levine.2)

  • Password: PISD network password

Learn anywhere, anytime, about things that interest you in an easy and convenient way. Check out some of the many online tutorials here.

If you're looking for some videos to check out first, try some of these:

Note: these links only work after you have logged in at Hoonuit