Apr 17 Distance Learning Information

Welcome to the final term of the year. We have compiled some useful information in relation to Distance Learning and the role technology will play in it below. Please check the Castleknock College website frequently as we will be regularly adding more information as it becomes available.

Distance Learning Policy

We have devised a new Distance Learning Policy to reflect the changed circumstances brought about by Covid-19 and the significant increase in the use of technology to continue learning. This policy does not introduce any new concepts, rather, it specifically outlines the various applications used for the delivery of online classes remotely.

This new policy operates alongside all of our existing policies which can be viewed [here].

Where to Check Daily

Always check Assignments first for updates. Some teachers use the following which should be checked every day for work:

  • Microsoft Outlook
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Microsoft OneNote
  • Edmodo

Your son’s teacher will confirm exactly which platform(s) they use for their class. If your son is not sure, ask them to e-mail their teacher to find out. Every teacher has an e-mail account in the format: firstname.lastname@castleknockcollege.ie

Here are the links to these various platforms:

Office365 – Outlook E-mailhttps://outlook.office.com
Office365 – Microsoft Teamshttps://teams.microsoft.com

In the case of a subject where your son’s teacher uses OneNote, the teacher will have sent them a link to the relevant notebook to use. If they don’t have this link please have your son e-mail their teacher right away. If your son needs their password reset for any of the above platforms please e-mail it.support@castleknockcollege.ie.

User Guides and Manuals

Teams Assignments: Checking and Submitting Homework – Video by Mr Smith. This is primary place for teachers to set work.

Additional information. OneNote: Checking and Submitting Homework – Video by Mr McDonnell

Additional information. Edmodo: Checking and Submitting Homework – Video by Mr Corry

ICT Help & Support

The College ICT Department is working remotely and remains online daily 0800 to 1600. Please get in touch with any query or concern you might have, however small or insignificant you may think it is. The Department is here to help and offer any advice or support it can during these stressful times.

Your first line of support for any queries should be via e-mail to it.support@castleknockcollege.ie.
Due to the volume of queries received at this time it may be several hours before you receive a response but the aim is to give you a response on the same day as your e-mail is received.

Please include your son’s name, year and classgroup in the subject line and give as much detail of the problem or query as you can in the e-mail.

Frequently Asked Questions in Relation to Online Learning

Q. There have been several reports in the media regarding security issues around Zoom. Why are you still using it?

A. The reports regarding Zoom in the media have been monitored very closely. We continue to closely monitor and observe Zoom – both our own internal experiences of using it as well as external reports of others use of the platform – at all times. Our findings and conclusions thus far are outlined below:

  • Meetings are not encrypted end to end
    • Meetings are encrypted between each user and Zoom’s cloud (“encryption in transit”)
    • Meetings are decrypted within Zoom’s own servers only and not the public internet
    • The purposes of decryption are to:
      • Indicate to participants who is currently talking
      • “Spotlight” (make prominent) the video of the person talking, if video is used
      • Enable recording of the meeting to the Zoom cloud
    • We are not availing of the Zoom cloud recording feature. Therefore, any meeting is decrypted in real-time only for the purposes of the meeting features to work. There is no record of the contents of the meeting held – either in encrypted or unencrypted form – after the meeting ends on Zoom’s infrastructure
    • Teachers do record the meeting themselves and the recording takes place on their local device only. In some cases they may wish to distribute the recording, in which case it is uploaded to the Office365 Stream platform – essentially a private Youtube – which utilises full encryption and requires a valid @castleknockcollege.ie login to view
  • Zoom classes (or “meetings”) can be “gatecrashed” or “bombed”
    • This is not a problem unique to Zoom
    • This occurs where:
      • a meeting ID is set up without a password set and those responsible for such attacks are rapidly trying or “autodialling” unprotected meeting ID’s
      • the meeting details are posted to public social media sites or websites which are being scanned by those responsible for these attacks to find such links
      • the meeting details are intentionally passed onto third parties by one of the intended participants
    • It is College policy that meetings have the following security aspects applied:
      • Each meeting receives a randomly generated meeting ID
      • Each meeting receives a randomly generated meeting password
      • The meeting does not begin until the teacher has joined
      • Teachers must manually admit each participant into their meeting
  • Zoom can be used to spread malware, discover people’s passwords and to take confidential files from their computer
    • Sadly, this is true but again is not a problem unique to Zoom
    • The same principle applies to the “phishing” and “Wannacry” malware that were significant newsworthy items for companies and organisations such as the UK’s NHS in 2017
    • The same principles of good security practise apply in Zoom as much as they do anywhere else:
      • never open unfamiliar or unexpected attachments or files
      • never click on unfamiliar links
      • never enter your passwords on unfamiliar sites
  • Zoom’s iOS app was sending activity information to Facebook
    • The app has been updated and this “feature” removed

Q. Our broadband is struggling to download large videos or to allow our son be a part of live Zoom sessions. What can we do?

A. For best results, we suggest:

  • Download videos first thing in the morning (or last thing at night) when internet usage is relatively low
  • If joining Zoom sessions, try to minimise other usage on the broadband connection at the same time. The biggest bandwidth consumers are:
    • Downloading or updating games and software on PlayStation, Xbox, Steam, etc. Note that these often happen automatically in the background while the console is on
    • Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Youtube, etc., particularly when watching in HD or 4K resolution
  • Get as close as you can to your WiFi modem, or if possible, plug your device directly into your modem using an ethernet cable.

Q. Our broadband is still too poor to facilitate downloading large videos or joining live Zoom sessions, or we have a “capped” data allowance. What are my options?

A. A mobile data connection might help ease the load on your main broadband connection if it’s too poor or if it has a monthly allowance which you fear going over. You should check around your area to see which network provides the best results in terms of coverage and speed. The following plans are examples with no contract term and allow you to hotspot your mobile phone handset to your laptop, tablet or computer:

  • Three:    €20/28 days/unlimited data  [Link]
  • Eir:          €20/28 days/80GB data      [Link]
  • GoMo:     €13/30 days/80GB data          [Link]
  • Virgin:     €15/30 days/80GB data     [Link]

There are of course many more operators and plans available on the market however these do not cover you for the ability to “tether” or hotspot your phone to your laptop, tablet or computer. On some operators they will charge you a significant premium (hundreds of Euro or more) on top of your usual monthly amount while on others it simply won’t work at all.

Mobile broadband performance is generally at its best when you are as high up as possible to give the least obstructed path to the nearest mast – try and locate yourself somewhere upstairs. When checking for coverage in your area, you should also bear in mind that there are a wide array of mobile phone providers but there are only three physical mobile networks in Ireland. Hence, if you are having issues with one provider then switching to another provider that uses the same physical network will not yield you any better results. See the below to see who uses which network:

Operators who are using this Network
Vodafone Vodafone
Three Three
Rural WiFi
Eir Eir

Q. We have several students in the house, and we do not have enough laptops to go around. How can we ensure everyone can participate in online learning?

A. All methods of online learning that we implement can be used on a smartphone, tablet or computer, although generally the bigger the screen the easier it is to work and follow along. If you are having difficulty being available to participate in online classes because of a lack of device availability, please let your son’s year-head know immediately. We have a laptop loan scheme in place. Please email Carolyn on headmasterpa@castleknockcollege.ie.

Do you have a question not covered by the above?

Please e-mail it.support@castleknockcollege.ie.