ParentComms app for iPhone

The ParentComms:Mobile app for iPhone (version 1) is currently available free of charge from the iTunes store. The app is designed for both school staff and parent use.

The app is designed to work in conjunction with the OpenCheck website to allow parents to receive free, immediate alerts if your school has to close in an emergency.

Staff members that have the ability to update school status in OpenCheck will be able to do this quickly and easily directly from the app.

Users who install the app should maximise the benefits by logging in with a USO account, either a school-issued account or a parental account ending in .uso.

Alternatively, anyone who does not have an account, can register the app simply by entering their mobile phone number. Parents using the app will be able to help schools using the USO-AutoText service to cut their texting costs by having messages routed to the app instead of sent as a text.

Initial functionality includes :

  • USO username authentication
  • Mobile phone number authentication
  • Control of OpenCheck School Status
  • Message Display including OpenCheck status

 

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Secure file transfer to non-USO users

USO-FX has been enhanced to allow staff in LGfL 2.0 schools and LAs to ‘Push’ documents securely to non-USO users (e.g. health service officials). USO-FX previously allowed files to be received from non-USO users via the ‘Invite a file’ feature but files could not be returned.

Now, the ‘Invite a file’ feature can be used in conjunction with the new ‘Push a file’ functionality. This means that USO-FX can support secure two-way communication with individuals not subscribing to USO directly, though action must be initiated by a USO account holder.

The new ‘Push a file’ feature uses a combination of the recipient’s email address and a PIN code sent to their mobile device by text message or ParentLink:Mobile data message.

A sender can access ‘Push a file’ via the USO Support Site by picking the ‘Push a file’ option from the main USO-FX menu.  The sender may include a document, or just a simple text-only message. The recipient will receive an email with a single-use web link. The web page will then ask for a PIN code before allowing the user to securely access the document or message.

Other UK schools and LAs that subscribe to USO-AutoText also have access to this feature.

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iPhone app now available

The ParentComms:Mobile app is now available for iOS and can be downloaded from iTunes.

Parents using the app will be able to subscribe to receive status notifications from all the schools which their children attend. hero-hardware-iosSchools simply need to be actively using the FREE OpenCheck service for automatic updates to be sent out. Notifications of emergency closures will be sent out immediately while notifications of scheduled closures will be sent out the day before. All updates are sent to mobile app users free of charge.

School staff members will also be able to update their school status directly from the app itself if they log into the app and have the correct permissions. School staff can also subscribe to status notifications from any of the school(s) which their children attend so long as the school is using the OpenCheck service.

For more details regarding both the Android and iOS app please visit our website.

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Free OpenCheck upgrade and mobile app!

opencheck

We are excited to announce the launch of the upgraded OpenCheck service located at opencheck.atomwide.com. The new website allows parents to check the status of their children’s schools or view the schools’ scheduled closures for holidays and inset days.

For schools, the site offers a self-contained web application where open and closed information can be entered directly into the built-in administration interface by any users with the OpenCheck updater permission.

A new mobile app, ParentComms:Mobile has been released in conjunction with the launch of the new OpenCheck service. This app is designed to be used by both parents and school staff.

Parents who install the app will automatically receive notifications of school status so they can stay informed effortlandroid appessly in case of emergency closure, especially with severe weather being predicted in the coming weeks.

School staff can also be notified of school status changes. Authorised staff will, for the first time, be able to update status of their school(s) directly from the app.

Nominated Contacts will be able to monitor their network usage, receive alerts regarding connectivity issues, and much more.

The app is currently available for Android devices with the iOS version to be released shortly.

Please click here to download the app or go to Google Play and search for ParentComms, USO, or Atomwide.

 

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Would you like to be a Beta tester?

Atomwide is about to relaunch the OpenCheck service as a new standalone, self-contained website with built-in administration features. OpenCheck enables schools to enter their status online so that parents can easily find out about school closure either by visiting the website, calling a telephone number, or receiving updates through a specially created smartphone app. This is a free service to any school using USO.

The improved service will come with a fully integrated mobile phone app that will allow parents to be notified of any updates made by your school and allow you to post updates via the mobile app.

We are currently looking for people to join the Beta programme to test our Android app. Anyone interested in taking part should email contact@atomwide.com. Please provide your USO account username as well as the Gmail address used to register your Android device.

An iPhone app is also currently in development and we will be asking for iPhone users to volunteer in due course. Please keep an eye on our blog if you are interested.

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User-recognition login for young pupils

The WhoAmI? service helps very young pupils to log in to myUSO learning resources via ‘Early Years Login’ without them having to remember their username. This is achieved by the pupil being directed to whoami.uso.im, typically by their teacher, and then answering a series of child-friendly questions to identify themselves.

Who am i? websiteThe pupil is asked the name of their class, whether they are a boy or a girl, and the first letter of their first name. This will result in either their name, or a short list of possible matches, being presented to them to choose from.

Clicking on their name in the list will result in them being sent to the Early Years login page where their username will have been pre-filled in for them. They will then only need to enter their PIN by either using a keyboard or clicking on the relevant pictures associated with the numbers in their PIN.

The WhoAmI? service is part of the Early Years Login that is activated by the school’s Head Teacher signing a declaration on the USO support site and the required data being exported via USO-AutoUpdate. Full details can be found here. This ‘helper’ service has been designed to work only within recognised school IP ranges to maintain security.

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Introducing the Early Years login for myUSO

We are delighted to announce the launch of an Early Years login page that helps pupils in Year 6 and below to access USO-authenticated learning resources via a simplified process using a PIN in place of the password that older students require.

Early Years login pageOnce Early Years login is enabled for the school, younger pupils can access myUSO by going to http://easy.uso.im and entering their USO username, followed by their PIN code.

The PIN can be entered directly using a keyboard, or by clicking on a sequence of numbers associated with child-friendly animal graphics.  This will grant access to an ‘Early Years’ view of the myUSO website where the pupil will find links to a relevant set of learning resources that can be further categorised by school staff to best suit the needs of each school or group of users.

The ability for a school to use Early Years login is simply enabled by a Head Teacher accepting a declaration found in the USO support site, and relies on MIS data being provided via USO-AutoUpdate. For full details on activating and using this feature please see the User Guide.

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QR code Early Years logins for young pupils

myUSO, supported by the Early Years Login for younger users, is designed to encourage greater use of learning resources through easier and more locally organised access.

To further assist in meeting that aim, a ‘User-recogniton’ helper service (WhoAmI?) is available for use by young pupils within school.

Another useful login aid, and one which can be used inside or outside of the school, uses QR codes that can be printed out and kept on crib cards, book jackets, or other convenient locations.

Quick Response (QR) codes are a type of two-dimensional bar code that are used increasingly in all sorts of familiar places.  They can be read by many devices, but perhaps will be most typically used with ‘smart’ phones and tablet devices running Apple iOS (iPhones, iPads) or Google Android (various manufacturers’ phones and tablet computers).  Other devices, including LearnPads (Android tablets with ‘classroom management’ software), and computers with appropriately configured webcams, can also read these QR codes.

A pupil’s QR code will have their details and username embedded in it so that when scanned by a computerised device, such as those described above, it will take the pupil to the Early Years login page which will have their USO username pre-filled in. They will then only need to enter their Early Years PIN by either using a keyboard or clicking on the relevant pictures associated with the numbers in their PIN.

To make this simple to implement, teachers can print a list of the QR codes onto A4 sheets of labels and hand out a label to each pupil to be stuck to their notebook, etc., so they will always have it to hand.

QR codes are part of the Early Years Login that can be activated by the school’s Head Teacher signing a declaration on the USO support site and the required data being exported via USO-AutoUpdate. Full details can be found here.

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Prize draw results from LGfL Conference

It was good to see everyone at the LGfL Conference 2013 and have an opportunity to meet and answer your questions regarding the services already in use and those yet to come. If you didn’t get a chance to speak with us then do drop us an email at info@atomwide.com – it was a very busy day and we tried our best to speak to as many people as possible. It was nice to see some familiar faces!

The Atomwide stand ran a competition to win one of three prizes:

1st prize – A year’s free subscription to the School Shop (cashless payment system) – worth £500

2nd prize – A year’s free subscription to USO-AutoText with 1000 texts – worth up to £300

3rd prize – A year’s free subscription to Fax Service (online faxing) – worth £200

We had nearly 100 entries and are delighted to announce the winners:

1st place – Anglica School Partnership – Bexley

2nd place – Sellincourt Primary School – Wandsworth

3rd place – Blessed Sacrament Catholic School – Islington

If you didn’t win this time, do keep an eye out on our blog posts and Twitter for more competitions in the coming months.

If you would like any further details on the competition prizes or any of the products and services discussed on the day, please email us at info@atomwide.com for further information.

Congratulations again to our lucky winners!

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myUSO – a new online bookmarking service

myUSO is a password-protected bookmark service for all USO-enabled schools, giving school staff the ability to pre-configure a set of managed links to Internet and Intranet-based services for their users.

By creating a publishable ‘Home page’ from which staff and pupils can easily access all USO authenticated services, plus any additional web-based services linked alongside, myUSO presents a simple, convenient and organised route to online resources for schools.

myUSO can be configured by staff for use by any person in their school that has a USO account. Staff can create tabs within the website which contain links relevant to all users, staff-only, or specified year groups or classes, and make each tab visible accordingly.

All users except young children using a special ‘Early Years’ log in can sort, search and filter the links available to them through an intuitive control which also defines how the information about each link is viewed.

Additionally, all users can easily create a set of personal bookmarks with just a simple ‘drag & drop’ structure enabling links to be organised into folders.

An unlimited number of links can be placed within each tab, and the collection of bookmarks presented to pupils and staff can be as limited, or as comprehensive, as the school wishes.

myUSO is a free service available to any USO-enabled school, and can be accessed via http://my.uso.im/ using any student or staff USO account.

Full details about the service are available here.

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LapSafe security products now available from Atomwide

Atomwide is pleased to announce that it has added the LapSafe range of security and charging products for laptops, netbooks and tablets to its growing catalogue of services for schools. The LapSafe products available from Atomwide will help your school support the implementation of any type of mobile computer solution and manage:

  • Laptop, notebook and tablet security
  • Charging (all leading types of device catered for)
  • Network connectivity (hard wired or wireless options)
  • Mobile IT suite functionality
  • Central storage and distribution

The complete range of LapSafe products is available at extremely competitive prices through Atomwide. You can find the whole range by visiting the Atomwide online shop and for further information please contact info@atomwide.com.

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Win a year’s subscription to AutoText

Atomwide is holding a number of prize draws through 2013 where a USO-enabled school can win a year’s subscription to the AutoText service and 2000 text messages.

To be able to enter simply follow Atomwide on Twitter by going to http://twitter.com/atomwide.

Schools can increase their chances of winning by having multiple members of staff enter the competition. The only requirement is that anyone wishing to enter the prize draw on your school’s behalf must have a functioning USO account and be following Atomwide on Twitter.

Everyone following us on Twitter will receive a tweet containing information on how to enter the AutoText prize draw. To enter, simply log in to the Atomwide survey website using the link that will be provided and answer three simple questions.

The survey site will be live for 48 hours from the time of the tweet after which a winner will be selected from the completed submissions. The winner  will receive a year’s subscription to AutoText and 2000 text messages for their school. If the winner’s school already subscribes to AutoText then 3000 free text messages will be added to the school’s AutoText account instead.

You can see more information mobile phone with messageabout the texting service on the product flyer and details of how the interface works can be found on the help pages of the USO support site.

Atomwide will be running multiple competitions in the coming months so if you don’t win at first keep watching!

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HTTPS searching with Google

The problem

Using Google search will often take users (unknowingly) to the HTTPS version of their search engine. This changes the search experience as the data and content become encrypted, making it hard to filter against content or key words using filter systems such as WebScreen 2 and prevents the Google Safe Search function from being enforced.

The solution

If you wish to disable Google searches from taking place in an HTTPS environment so that filtering rules can be enforced along with Safe Search, you can do so by using the DNS servers in the core of the LGfL Network. These have been configured to ensure that any request for https://www.google.ee is redirected to a non-HTTPS version of the Google site in the locale requested. This means that for example if a user trys to surf to https://www.google.ee/ they will always end up at http://www.google.ee/

This DNS redirection does NOT affect other Google systems such as Gmail, to which secure access is still available.

In the LGfL 2.0 network, the LGfL core DNS servers located at 172.30.178.53 and 172.30.178.54 can be used to perform this redirect for Google, in other broadband networks use your core DNS servers.

If you do not wish to make use of this service and wish to run your own local DNS then you can point them at root DNS servers on the internet which are NOT blocked on your network by default.

If you wish to completely secure your school’s network then please raise a support case and ask for all non-core DNS requests to be blocked through your local firewall. This will prevent local users from changing the DNS servers they are using away from the core servers.

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Functionality update to the RAv3 service

It is now possible to configure a remote workstation or laptop to enable the user to establish a VPN connection to the school’s network before logging in to the machine itself. In schools where staff are issued Windows devices to use away from school premises, administrators can configure such devices for the other staff.

The correct configuration would then allow the user to establish a secure connection to the school’s network even before logging into Windows. Once the secure connection is established, users will be able to log into the school’s domain which enables relevant scripts to run and mapped drive connections to be made.

The configuration must be made locally on each device and is currently supported for Windows devices only on post-Windows XP operating systems.

For full details on how to configure this setting please see the configuration instructions.

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Information on how texting works on UK mobile networks

When using any texting service, there will be instances where text messages don’t make it to the end user’s mobile phone. This can lead to confusion on the part of the sender as to what exactly has occured. This post aims to help senders understand what actually happens when a text message is sent.

To read the full article, please click here.

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