Makeover of the myUSO website

We are excited to announce the introduction of a fully re-designed and re-built myUSO website. All the functions and features you have come to rely on are still there, with a few enhancements and a more elegant, modern design that makes it well suited for use on mobile devices as well as desktop computers.  The main changes are in how the features are accessed and the structure of the site itself.

The site now has a more defined structure, with a clear Home page, for presenting relevant information at the point of login. New features for being able to control and customise your Home page will be introduced in the coming months. This redesign will enable a range of future development and allow the introduction of great new features which will make it an indispensable tool for both staff and pupils.

One of the biggest changes has been to the site management, with a dedicated Settings section that controls different areas of the school’s myUSO configuration. To alter any of the myUSO functions, please check the Settings sections for the relevant controls.

When visiting myUSO, everyone will be presented with a popup message offering to take you to the new site. If you choose to go to the new site, you will automatically be taken there each time you log in. If you choose not to use the new site fully just yet, you will have a few weeks to get used to it as the old site will continue to be operational until Easter, at which point it will be retired, leaving only the new-look site.

Please be aware that for the time being, pupils using any of the Easy Login methods will be taken to the old site. This will allow their teachers to know what to expect in the classroom environment and to become fully familiar with the new site themselves before introducing it to their pupils. However, by the start of March, pupils using the Easy Login option via the new site, will be able to access that site rather than be redirected to the old one.

The site will continue to evolve and develop in the coming months and we look forward to your feedback and suggestions.

Secure Document Exchange – now in myUSO

The myUSO website continues to grow with new features being introduced. We are delighted to say that the ability to share files in a secure and traceable manner is now available in myUSO, having moved from its previous location in the USO Support Site. This feature, known as USO-FX2, is available to all staff users in schools subscribing to LGfL or TRUSTnet and will be found as a new page within the site.

USO-FX 2 offers staff members the ability to share sensitive data with others within the school or LA as well as relevant third parties both within and outside the USO system. Files are uploaded to a secure server and can be accessed by their intended recipients via a valid username and password, along with second factor authentication, where required. All actions come with a visible audit trail so that recipients get email alerts when files are available and the person sharing the file knows who has downloaded their file and when.

For users of the original USO-FX via the USO Support Site, this offers all the functions and features with several enhancements: a vast increase on file size limits, no file type restrictions, second factor authentication on a per-file level and more.

The original USO-FX will be retired in the coming months so anyone still using that will continue to be able to do so for the foreseeable future but is urged to begin the transition to the new version.

New feature for myUSO site

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new Welcome page for the myUSO website. This initial landing page offers a friendly entry point into the site and presents links to both the Early Years login methods for younger pupils, as well as the standard login for everyone else.

myUSO front pgeThe Welcome page presents a default design but each school will also have the option to create a customised Welcome page to be used instead. In the customised version, schools can display their logo, an image and a range of messages to visitors. When in school, the custom Welcome page (if used) will replace the official default Home page through the recognition of each school’s IP addresses. Additionally, schools can also create a specific URL through which to access the Home page features such as the login links. The school-specific URL will allow users to access a school-configured Welcome page even when at home.

Additionally, schools wishing to integrate access to myUSO with the school’s website can embed the relevant code in their site. This will make the top bar, containing the login links, appear on the school’s site for easy access to myUSO, whether at school or at home. A script for this functionality is available from the Settings section.

The settings can be configured by Nominated Contacts who will need to log into the site, click on Edit Links and then select Settings. All relevant instructions for configuring the various options will be found in the configuration section for each setting.

Enhanced functions in myDrive

Due to popular demand, we have added some new and improved functionality to the myDrive file sharing service.

Our latest development allows more control over documents and folders used within your establishments. While anyone is able to create a personal folder and share it with others, Nominated Contacts now have the ability to create a folder which is managed only by the Nominated Contacts. This allows documents to be stored and shared within a school without the need to consider the possibility of a staff member leaving and taking their documents with them. As the folder is controlled by Nominated Contacts, anyone in that role will have access to the folders and documents which will remain in place even if one or all the Nominated Contacts have left.

Additionally, third party support organisations can create yet another type of folder that allows them to share documents and resources with all the schools their company supports with just a few clicks. These folders will be made available to all the school staff to whom they are relevant and will managed by the staff members of the support organisation.

As ever, if you have any queries you can check out our help page on myDrive which is in the user guide found within the myUSO website.

Get your message across with our WordPress plugin

Atomwide have developed a WordPress plugin that can be used by any school running their own hosted WordPress site, whether hosted with LGfL or another provider.

The plugin integrates with information from OpenCheck and allows you to send updates posted on your site to every member of school staff via the ParentComms app. You can also choose to send blog posts to every parent that subscribes to your school’s status feed from OpenCheck using the ParentComms:Mobile app.

The FREE plugin, called WP ParentComms Connect, can be downloaded from the WordPress repository and installed into your WordPress site. It must be activated by your school via a code that can be obtained via a dedicated page in the OpenCheck website, accessible only to Nominated Contacts and others with OpenCheck permissions.

Once the plugin is installed and configured, new content can be sent to parents and/or staff as soon as it is published, keeping everyone up-to-date on important school events and announcements, completely free of charge.

To fully benefit from this offering, schools should encourage parents and staff members download the free ParentComms app which is available for iOS and Android, with a Windows Mobile version to be released soon.

StaffMail service upgrade

We hope you enjoy using the LGfL StaffMail service, and have found it meets your needs and is consistently reliable.  LGfL and Atomwide are pleased to announce that over the next few weeks, the StaffMail service will be updated from the current version (Microsoft Exchange 2007) to Exchange 2010. A further update to Exchange 2013 is also planned but it is necessary to update first to 2010.

This upgrade will bring several benefits to end users, particularly an enhanced OWA (webmail) interface that offers the “Premium” experience to users of browsers other than Internet Explorer (eg Chrome or Firefox). Previously these browsers could only access the “Light” interface. The current issue with IE11 only being able to access the Light interface (unless the site is added to Compatibility mode) should also be resolved.

It is expected to take several weeks to migrate all users to the new version. Once the upgrade process begins those using OWA will notice a slightly different login screen and as each user’s account is upgraded  they will be presented with the improved  OWA interface after login.

Users using Outlook to access their mailbox should not notice any major differences; they may be prompted to close Outlook and re-open it, at the point where their mailbox is moved, but it is not expected that any changes will need to be made to Outlook profiles.

We anticipate this upgrade process will be completed with minimal user inconvenience.

LGfL Technical Conference Prize Draw

Anyone attending the LGfL Technical Conference on Monday 30 June can win either an iPad mini or a ticket to the Caterham Formula 1 Technology and Engineering works in Langley Oxfordhsire (on 21 August 2014)

Your chance to win a prize will be determined by a prize draw. Electronic raffle tickets will be delivered to your installed ParentComms:Mobile app. To be eligible, you must have the app installed on your device and authenticated by your USO account.

The ParentComms app allows a school’s Nominated Contact, to receive information and updates from a range of services such as alerts regarding network status and announcements posted in the support site.

It also works in conjunction with the OpenCheck service helping schools to inform parents of unexpected closures easily and free of charge.

To be in the competition you must:

  • Be registered to attend the Conference on 30th June 2014
  • Have the ParentComms app already installed on your phone
  • Ensure you have logged into the app with your LGfL USO account.

Please note this competition is open only to school staff and not employees of any private company engaged by the school. Please see the Terms and Conditions for full details.

The winner will be drawn at random and the results announced at the close of the LGfL conference on Monday 30th June 2014.

Please check our blog, Twitter or Facebook feeds for winner announcements.

Competition winner

Thank-you to all who attended the LGfL conference on Monday. It was lovely to see you all there and the day proved to be a success, with brilliant keynote speeches from David Mitchell and Dr Andrew Curran.

The winner of our competition which was open to users of the ParentComms app was selected at the end of the conference. We would like to congratulate Peter Luck from The Campion School in Havering.

LGfL wireless networks deployed in Richmond libraries

A new LGfL wireless network has been rolled out to all public libraries within Richmond as of March 2014. The managed wireless solution uses LGfL’s WebScreen 2.0 filtering system and offers pupils and staff from local schools flexible internet access by providing web filtering designed for them by their own schools.

Configuration of filtering policies takes place within the schools and is automatically activated in the libraries through the per-user filtering feature. To benefit from the service, students and staff need to simply use their existing LGfL USO user credentials and log into the system. This filtering will automatically cover the mobile devices of everyone with a USO account connecting to the libraries’ wifi. The actual filtering policies covering each user will be set up and managed by the schools. Adult users without USO accounts will be able to obtain access on request from library staff.

This system makes filtering management simple for library staff and ensures that all users who can be identified by their schools can bypass local filtering settings and obtain the degree of access they would normally be accustomed to at their schools.

Full details on creating the correct configuration are available in the USO Support Site User Guide.

If you would like to know more about using the LGfL managed wireless system in your own establishments please email info@atomwide.com or call 01689 814700.

New LGfL resources are available

Two new teaching and learning resources have just been launched by LGfL. These items are exclusively available to schools who are part of the London Grid for Learning network.

whole story For Foundation stage, KS1 and KS2 there is The Whole Story – a resource aimed at exploring how storytelling can maximise the creativity within learning activities for children.

This resource offers a professional storyteller’s advice to teachers on how to incorporate storytelling across the curriculum using images, objects and structure.

viralFor KS3 and KS4, a literacy resource, Viral Contagion English, can be used to help study the literacy issues behind the need to communicate quickly and effectively in the event of the outbreak of a biological virus.

For an overview of all the teaching and learning resources available to your school from LGfL please visit http://showcase.lgfl.org.uk.

ParentLink changes to ParentComms™

Atomwide has renamed the parent-focused product portfolio from ParentLink to ParentComms™ following customer feedback.

This decision has been influenced by the existence of a similarly named US product in the mobile app stores causing some confusion with our customers. In order to help users find the correct product we have decided to rebrand from ParentLink to ParentComms™.

The new name is part of the ongoing upgrade programme for Atomwide’s mobile apps and is also being reflected across all related websites and news articles. The suite of online services designed to improve parental engagement is growing following the recent release of the mobile app for iOS and Android devices. The decision to adopt the ParentComms™ name should help avoid any confusion in future.

Parental Engagement Tools at BETT 2014

We are looking forward to this year’s BETT exhibition, taking place from 22 until 25 January. We will be showcasing an exciting range of services, including the ParentComms portfolio of tools designed to help you generate parental engagement. Come and visit us at stand F178 to ask about any of our products and services. We’ll have staff available both technical and non-technical questions.

We’re pleased to say the recent relaunch of the free OpenCheck service is gathering momentum, with more and more schools using its automated status features to keep parents informed of any unexpected closures, particularly with current weather conditions. This service is available free of charge to schools nationwide. We are running a poster competition for pupils where the winning entry can win the school either £500 cash or £2500 worth of WiFi equipment to help improve the school’s wireless network. More details are available at our stand F178 or click here to read all about it.

We are also keen to let everyone know about our reporting tool, ParentComms:Reporter and our cashless payment system, ParentComms:Pay+. Just ask any of our staff for a demonstration. Both of these and OpenCheck are tied together by the ParentComms:Mobile app, available for both parents and staff. To read more click here.

 

ParentComms app for Android

The ParentComms:Mobile app for Android (version 1) is currently available free of charge from Google Play. 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. The app also has the ability to recognise staff members with Nominated Contact status and present additional options to such users.

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
  • Support for for Nominated Contact to view network usage graphs with zoom functionality
  • Support for staff to see names of USO Nominated Contacts at the school
  • Support for cctv service

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

 

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.