Technology Tips: October 2019 Edition

Oct 21, 19

Microsoft Office: Talk-To-Type and Read-Aloud Options

Did you know you can save time typing your emails and Word documents by talking through them? Office’s dictation feature not only lets you create drafts with ease, but it makes writing much more accessible for those who may not be able to type traditionally.

To use this feature, make sure your microphone is on and working. In your Office 365 account, go to Home > Dictate. If you are using a Mac, you’ll go to Edit > Start Dictation. The Dictate icon will turn red once dictation has begun. As you talk, the text will appear on the screen. Select Dictate again when you are finished adding your text.

Office continues to increase accessibility with their read aloud email option called Speak. To use this feature with Windows, click Customize Quick Action Toolbar, which is next to the Quick Access Toolbar. Click More Commands > Choose > All Commands. Select the Speak option, add it, and click OK. If you are using a Mac, click the down arrow on your top tool bar. Select Read Aloud and the feature will be added.

Google Sheets: Language Assistant

With so many English as a second language parents and students, it’s important to utilize tools that will enhance communication for everyone. Google Sheets has two great tools to help you interpret and speak in other languages.

With the language detector in Google Sheets, you input the text and it will tell you what language it is via a two-letter code. This list will provide you with all of the languages and their codes.

Google Sheets Screen Cap

If you are looking to communicate with someone who speaks a different language, Google Translate can be a helpful tool. Using the language codes you can select the language you’d like to use, enter the message you would like to say, and let Google do the rest.

Google Sheets Screen Cap

Lessons Learned: Data Security

Preparation is at the forefront of school district success. Whether it be teachers creating lesson plans or principals implementing fire drills, district leaders understand the importance of being prepared. But, has your technology team prepared a strategy for preventing a ransomware attack? 

On September 6th, Rockford Public School District 205 was hit with a ransomware attack, causing outages on their website, telephone lines, Wi-Fi, and student information systems. Since the attack, the district hired an outside forensics firm to assist their IT team in ensuring all staff and student data is protected. 

While there isn’t a perfect formula to prevent a hacker from striking, there are steps you can take to reduce the risk of your district becoming a victim of malicious activity. The first is to keep passwords strong, unique, and updated frequently. Hackers can keep tabs on keystrokes, which is why frequently changing your passwords is important.

Consider enrolling your staff in security training, such as KnowBe4. With hackers being more intuitive than ever, it is crucial that your staff knows how to keep themselves and your district safe. Here are additional ways you and your team can protect your district against ransomware attacks. 

Malware of the Month: Android Apps to Uninstall

Since June 2019, a new malware campaign has targeted Android apps on Google Play. To date, 24 Android apps have been infected with the malware, which hides in the advertisement framework of the apps. Hackers are using these applications to access your financial information and make purchases you haven't authorized. Here is a list of the affected apps, which have had over 472,000 downloads and affected victims in 37 countries.

Consider deleting these apps as soon as possible to keep your finances and data safe. Review your credit card statements to make sure there aren't any purchases you haven't made. It's always a wise idea to be aware of the permissions and settings of each of your apps, making sure you are protecting yourself and your information. 

Originally posted in Skyward’s Educator Newsletter

WSIPC is a non-profit cooperative that provides technology solutions (including Qmlativ), services, and support to K-12 schools. WSIPC’s purpose is to help schools do more with every dollar and to empower them with the tools to work smarter. To learn how your district can become part of the WSIPC Cooperative, contact us at or 425.349.6600.

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