Crystal RSS Feed

Crystal Feeds keep users and school uptodate with Crystal development and software updates

28/04/2015 15:48:11
Loop RSP

Hi Everyone This LoopRSP newsletter contains the following: • An update on the LoopRSP. • Links to the Connected Learning Advisory - 0800 700 400 during business hours. • Information on how you can have input to key Advisory Groups. • A request to update your school’s list of relevant contacts. An update on the LoopRSP – yes, we are still in existence! Given both the number of enquiries Geoff Scrimgeour, Ruth Elmey and I still receive from schools, there is clear demand for LoopRSP activities. Fortunately, with the transition to the N4L and the wind-up of the Loop’s other activities now complete, we have some funds remaining to enable aspects of the LoopRSP support, PLD and advocacy programme to continue this year. While this funding can’t support the full RSP programme, we see real benefit in continuing key aspects including: • Lead Teacher sessions – to keeping schools abreast of developments and maintaining that collaborative environment • Secondary/Area school ICT Directors meetings - providing an important forum for information sharing and tackling key issues of mutual interest • Strategic support for individual schools with future-focused learning, modern learning practices, flexible learning environments and the integration of digital technologies. Also, helping senior management with frameworks and resources for visioning, strategic planning and change management. • Advocacy on behalf of the region’s schools – ensuring your voice is heard on key forums and that local schools don’t miss out on important opportunities. • A monthly email update – what's happening nationally, developments/initiatives to be aware of, links to good resources and best-practice, handy hints etc • An overhaul and then maintenance of the “Future-focused Learning” website which will become the one-stop-shop for the accumulated LoopRSP resources – more details next newsletter. So, feel free to contact me at if you have questions or need assistance. Happy to arrange a school visit. We are also interested in hearing of any activities you believe we should support. Connected Learning Advisory – now open for business! Hopefully you will have seen information in the Gazette and elsewhere introducing the Connected Learning Advisory service (CLA). This new MOE funded advisory is operated by CORE Education who have assembled a talented team to serve school including Warren Hall and Tim Harper who a number of you will already know. This service aims to help schools make the most of digital technology, whether they need advice about getting started with using laptops and tablets in the classroom or are at a more advanced stage and have questions on particular topics, like engaging the school community with digital technologies or finding digital resources. To find out more about the Connected Learning Advisory service, view the recent introductory webinar or visit If you have a question about digital technologies for learning, you can contact the Connected Learning Advisory team on 0800 700 400 during business hours. Do give them a try – and I would love feedback as to how well this service works for you. How you can have input to key Advisory groups. Currently, through Geoff, Ruth and me, the Top of the South has a voice on the following groups: The Review of the Positioning and Content of Digital Technologies in The New Zealand Curriculum This is a talented group of sector, business and research representatives – and likely to make significant recommendations about digital technologies in the NZC. It would be great to hear what schools are thinking. Student Management System (SMS) project – the MOE’s attempt to make progress on this thorny issue. There is widespread frustration with current offerings so various options are being considered including the possible move to a single system and/or a centralised, web-based database. The Connected Learning Advisory Reference Group – acting as a sounding board for this new service, providing sector feedback and input into strategic discussions. The N4L Advisory – providing feedback from schools and giving insight and advice around key strategic issues. I am very keen to hear of your experiences with N4L (good and bad) and about any other services or support you would like the network to provide. Minister Nikki Kaye’s C21st Learning Reference Group whose report “Future-focused learning in connected communities” is currently before Cabinet, if adopted, a number of the recommendations will have significant ramifications for the sector. Education Sector ICT Strategy for “A digitally enabled Education System”. This initiative is looking working towards the seamless, web-based interoperability that schools need to take full advantage of the digital environment. A number of these ideas are being pioneered by “Crystal”. It’s really important that you utilise our presence. Please contact us if you want to know more – and give us feedback and/or suggestions so we can represent the views of the “chalkface”. A request to update your school’s list of relevant contacts. Please visit the following Google Sheet LOOPRSP CONTACTS 2015 and check the details listed. Feel free to edit as appropriate – or send me an email at and I will up-date for you. Thanks for your help with this as our support relies on being able to reach the right people in your school. Finally, as always – just email me at with any questions or suggestions. Many thanks Charles Newton. Charles Newton Charles Newton Consulting 100 Tosswill Road Tahunanui Nelson 03 548 6270 0274 392 411

15/04/2015 08:31:26

The trial of papercut at parklands school is now fully operational (see below)

15/04/2015 08:29:58
Google Organsational Units - provisioning.

Firstly a little background. Google administrators are very familiar with Google groups. These are the groups you can put users into in order to manage resources. A user can be in many Google groups (Blogger, ETV, Hapara, Classrooms etc.) Crystal provisions Google groups. However… Like Windows and Linux operating systems Google Apps also has “Organisational Units”. Organisational units are groups you can put users into in order to apply Google’s policies or rules. Users can only be in one OU (Organisational Unit). In the past Crystal did NOT provision Google OU’s (Organisational Units) as few schools used Google OU’s but with recent Google developments schools are finding they need to use Google OU’s more and more. Why provision Google OU’s These changes are driven mainly by the increasing use of differing levels of Google ‘Status” – aka the differing rights of users to do online Google things. Google+ is at the leading edge but there are other Google services using this method of control or management. For example: • Google+ is being used to manage YouTube channels and access (partly to manage the content filtering hole there). • Google are promoting this method as the way of managing the ‘hole’ in content filtering their resources (see a past Crystal email) Schools can manually make and provision Google OU’s but this can be a big task and mistakes can easily slip through. Crystal is asking it’s schools – do you want Crystal to provide automatic “Google OU provisioning”? As usual Crystal needs three schools to ‘ask’ for it to make development to be worthwhile…. with even more schools would raise the urgency and speed of development of this service. Currently these schools have made requests… • Hampden Street … would like any 12+ user to automatically get Google+. Users under 12 years would be blocked from Google+. • Hurunui … wants designated users to have no email access (parental request) How would it work? There would be a sequential set of “Google OU levels’ (Remember user’s can be only in one OU) The higher the level- the more rights. 1. Closed (User email, sites and Google+ functionality is off) 2. Limited (User cannot email or correspond outside the local Google school domain) 3. Standard (Users have email, sites and Docs but no Google +)[Student default] 4. Google+ (A standard user but will automatically join the Google+ service at the age of 12 years)[Staff default] 5. Administrator (Can manage user level Google activity . No policy access) 6. SuperAdmin (Can edit any and all Google settings) Notes: • Each user would be at one level of Google OU. • Schools can set at which level student and staff are placed by default. • We can add more levels of OU’s as required. • Granular changes made in Crystal Account details by manual changing specific users Google level. • This service will ONLY work if your school is on Crystal step 4 or better- that is use “rich provisioning”. If you are interested please contact Geoff asap.

15/04/2015 08:28:30

RBI-2 . The is the government revisiting the RBI to fill in the blackspots and missing sections of the rural community. A MUST read for rural schools

15/04/2015 08:27:38

Keyword: Filtering-YouTube What one school found N4L can't and in the near future will not be able to filter the searches inside of Youtube. Changes Google have made to Youtube since buying it have made this even harder to manage. Management at a school level then becomes the issue... If a student is logged in to their google account they can get access to the full search on the site. If not logged in.. Safe Search is automatically on. I've made our teachers aware of this and have asked that all Youtube use is done within the class spaces (no longer randomly up our very long shared space). If students do come across something inappropriate you need to report it to the Youtube Community support - copy the offending URL and email it to them (I'd also copy the email to N4L - I think they need to be aware of how often it happens). Our student that bought the issue to our attention was searching for it on purpose - took an ipad from the IT cupboard and went and hid in an upstairs workspace before school with it. We've tightened the management of that before school access as it shouldn't have happened. Yes ... if they search for it in Youtube - they will likely find something and unfortunately for us it was pretty graphic. Principal had to contact the parents and let them know and we locked him out of his google account/IT access for the rest of the year (it was only in the last two weeks anyway). N4L suggested that we could block it completely or restrict it to the Teacher's Youtube version - but that is pretty restrictive and would block out a lot of the content our teachers use for teaching. Or what I mentioned in option 4. - Report all dodgy URLS to Youtube cc to N4L. It appears there is no quick fix - we are managing it by tighter control in our senior MLE and so far we haven't had the issue again since before Xmas. Apparently the Youtube app on the ipads makes it easier to access it too - hence I've removed it on any ipads that had it installed. I realise this is probably not that helpful... feel free to ring me if you have any questions. Regards,

30/03/2015 10:32:56
MoE SMS review and update

In March 2015 I was invited to a MoE meeting to plan the next step in SMS development. I also spent the previous week in Wellington trying to find out more about recent changes in Identity Management, Single Sign On, SMS interoperability… that sort of thing. In summary (my opinion – no one else’s – biased towards a schools viewpoint) … • Yes – there is the start of a SMS review. o The reference groups were clear they wanted a single SMS that combined all the current SMS features + Crystal features – yesterday. o The practicalities say that this decision must be part of a consultation process that will last several years and who knows what may result. • Crystal succession planning … Crystal will be around for at least 3-5 years … that is at least until the next generation of educational support services get off the ground. The amount of thinking and development needed will make this a slow process. I am pretty sure it will look very much like Crystal, work the same way, be interoperable with Crystal but have lots of associated PD (I hope). Remember Crystal is way ahead of the pack because it has been built on The Loop UFB which was world leading. • The MoE latest attempt at SSO called EESA2 failed last November 2014. o NZQA and The Pond seems to have then gone off to do their own secret thing which is very disappointing for those who have a vision of shared data driven learning. o Tertiary (Tuakiri) and RealMe (E-Govt) also have built their own systems but at least they are compatible with most other systems. o This seems to have also sparked the MoE into life with the SMS review as above • For those geeks… E-Govt have a set of operating standards out that can be seen here ( • Crystal changes … none as such BUT it will change the way Crystal approaches cost recovery for any developments. We will have to increasingly charge one off ‘setup or configuration” fees for new services rather than incorporating them into the ‘operational’ cost as we done in the past. Operational (ongoing cost) will continue to be as is – basically very low.

05/03/2015 05:07:02
Crystal and Microsoft 365- progress spreadsheet

Crystal and Microsoft 365- progress spreadsheet. See link below.

05/03/2015 05:06:10
CareersNZ is back online

How do existing students login? Single Sign On users coming from Crystal Identity Provider will now be able to login using the exact method as before i.e Please note the change in my-career-portfolio, from just my-career. Users using the old url i.e with my-career should get redirected accordingly. How do new students login? New users (students) logging in from Single Sign On will now be provisioned and logged automatically. Before, students were asked to complete their sign-up. What extra information is being captured? Attributes such as DN and mleph_Organization is now also being captured for existing and new users. How do users logout? Single logout is currently not supported, which means students will be logged out of My Career Portfolio, however if they still have a valid session with Crystal IdP they will be logged back in. How do users login without using Crystal IdP? In order to initiate login for My Career Portfolio, it can either be done by visiting or from the Home page top right corner. How is account registration handled for students using their school email address? Users will no longer be able to sign up or register for My Career Portfolio if they are already provisioned using Single Sign On. However, they can use the password reset feature if Crystal IdP is not available to them.

25/02/2015 11:38:40
Newletter - Feb 2015

Hi, Now the new year has started we have discovered a number of new trends and practices that may be of interest to you. 1: The latest trend is re-enrolment’s (especially in KAMAR) which seem to be the hot tool this year. Old students come back and now some (all?) SMS’s gives them their old SMSID number (even from years ago) … and this means/infers we have to haul out the old suspended links, AD accounts etc. back out of storage otherwise we end up with duplicates and/or orphaned cloud accounts. Remember the goal is to have all the same identities for all the different clouds, SMS and networks … even if some of the accounts are years old. We have just introduced a nightly check that looks for anomalies in re-enrolments … and it has found all the ghosts from the past ;-) 2: A number of schools now use preferred names instead of legal names or student codes This trend is being forced along by the rising immigrant population where anglicised names (aka preferred names ) take preference over Legal (cultural names). Crystal can handle every option (e.g. preferred names, legal names, SMSID codes) but it can only apply one template at a time to the whole school - and not retrospectively. There is a lot of discussion on whether senior schools need to have legal names to match RealMe and NZQA at some point in the future. You may want to consider this in your future plans. See attachment for some more background (note –some of this attachment is written for College network managers- just ignore the tech bits) 3: Schools are always asking for new Crystal services … but we need at least three schools to ‘want’ a service before it worth developing. The problem is getting “three or more” schools to acknowledge they also ‘want’ that service even if it free. ;-) I have attached a brief list of Crystal projects under consideration. It would be appreciated if you could review the ‘request list’ and see if there is anything there your school may want… if there is please ask or it will probably never happen. Remember most of the services are free… but you still have to ask so we canestablish the demand. 4: Youtube filtering Several schools have now been caught by their students accessing hard pornography. How: YouTube contents are not filtered by the N4L filters – YouTube contents are effectively hidden from the N4L filters. Youtube in theory keeps their content free from explicit sexual content but in practice this often fails. Please read the advice attached – this advice is given by a school who experienced this last year 5: Ongoing difficulties that are not easily resolved Teachers getting married/divorced, double barrel names, names with Apostrophes’ and very long names cause the most trouble. • Apostrophes’- Microsoft (365/Windows) accepts but Google does not. • Long names are managed differently in different clouds. • Hyphens are managed differently in different clouds. Crystal applies a set of complicated rules so that the same names appears the same in all the different clouds.. HOWEVER often there are some unexpected results of this process and this has to be watched. No one (Facebook, Google etc) has mastered this username algorithm … most end up with lots of random numbers at the end of the username in an effort to make it unique. 6: Some schools have recently become concerned about usernames being farmed for digital identities or privacy issues Crystal has several FAQ’s on the topic (See attachment). Google also has some great tools (if you are using Google mail)- here is the best trick -set this up for you users of concern. Remember Crystal can make the username almost anything (see #2 above) but each option has its downsides. Also remember it is very hard to change names retrospectively. 7: Recently Charles and I wrote an article on the old Loop for Interface. You may want to read it online here. 8: Ring up for a quick Crystal refresher. We are learning all sorts of tricks every day. We now run many more nightly checks that we used to looking for quirks. Thanks, Geoff

03/02/2015 13:23:14
Preferred vs Legal name

Username Preferred vs Legal name Keyword: UsernamePreferredName Concept: Allows school to choose whether to have preferred or legal names Date: This utility was added in Feb 2015 will only apply to new users. Caveats 1: There is no Preferred Initial plus Last Name Bugs to be corrected later 1: the code has to be edited via the ACCDB – will need to make this an editable field in Wrangler. 2: The new procedure compiles error free but not tested live 3: The manual Add account doesn't’t have the preferred name so this doesn't’t work for manually added users Ooptions: FN.LN First Name dot Last Name (default used for any unrecognised code) PN.LN Preferred Name dot Last Name FN+LI First Name plus Last Initial PN+LI Preferred Name plus Last Initial FI+LN First Initial plus Last Name

01/02/2015 11:52:01
Crystal Menu

Crystal by its very nature delves into all sorts of interesting concepts and projects. These are nearly always documented. The Crystal site "" is a simple menu structure that links to these different resources.

01/02/2015 11:51:23
Google API

Goggle has restructured their API interface so it requires a much higher level of security than before. Crystal is rewriting their interface to accommodate these changes. The only changes schools should notice are the requirement for digital certificate for almost all interactions.

01/02/2015 11:50:48
Launch or Start Menu

A simple launch menu has been designed and implemented that school may use if they wish. The aims of this menu are three fold… 1: It provides a platform where links to the various clouds can be referenced. 2: Small schools can use this menu to link to common resources. 3: The more technically able schools can use the table behind this menu to build their own menu

01/02/2015 11:49:56
Kamar Directory service

Kamar Directory Service Keep an eye on this post. It will become updated as testing and trials get underway.

01/02/2015 11:49:06

Dreamcatcher is undergoing a revamp. Make sure you check the exported CSV file to ensure that all fields are populated correctly. Dreamcatcher requires a different type of data that probably has not undergone previous tests of validation and reliability – so make sure you double check.

17/12/2014 18:58:08
New provider for Learning Technologies Advisory service 2015-17

The following is the press release from Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye [11 December 2014] announcing the new Learning Technologies Advisory: Associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye today announced that CORE Education has been chosen to deliver the Ministry of Education’s new Learning Technologies Advisory (LTA) Service. A total of $5 million will be invested in the service over three years, starting in 2015. “This service is about helping teachers take advantage of digital technology to enhance learning in our schools. “The world is now awash with digital resources, such as interactive, online learning tools, that can help make teaching and learning more engaging and more effective. Through the LTA service, teachers will have access to a team of experts, who can offer help and ideas on how to use technology to maximum effect in the classroom. “The team will also proactively alert schools to technology related opportunities, and encourage teachers to collaborate to share ideas and practices.” From July 2014, crown company ‘Network for Learning’ provided an interim advisory service to schools receiving internet services over its managed network. CORE Education, which offers a range of e-based learning and development services, will deliver the LTA service to all schools from 2015 on. A recent survey showed that around 70% of schools believe digital technologies positively affect teaching and learning, but only 14% feel all their teachers have the necessary skills to manage digital resources for learning. “The Government has already invested in ultra-fast broadband and network upgrades, and many schools now have fully-funded, high quality internet access. “The LTA service will help ensure teachers have the skills and knowledge to make the most of this technology platform. “The rapidly evolving digital world makes this an exciting time for education, and it’s important we help educators and students tap into that world, to create engaging ways to learn.” - Further reading: Media release from CORE Education.

04/11/2014 09:22:37
Extra Fields

Some clouds require extra fields ... namely DoB and Gender. Crystal has added these to NetAdmin so that users can edit. Currently these have to be done manually but hopefully in the future this will be an automatic process. ********* Hi Crystal users, You would of noticed two new fields in Crystal NetAdmin: Gender and DoB This is for a new service- provisioning Dreamcatcher. Only two schools are using this Dreamcatcher (MGC and Garin). Could the rest of Crystal schools please ignore these two fields- they don’t actually do anything at this point.. Yes- it does label everyone as a girl. You could manually correct all your users – but otherwise please ignore until I can update correctly - probably the Xmas holidays.

04/11/2014 08:34:29
Email to all

Dear all, Just a quick catch up from Crystal. Is everything going well? If you have an issue with Crystal- please email Geoff ASAP and I will get onto it. Services- have a browse of the Crystal services here … if you are interested in any of them just ask (especially the free ones ;-)) Small schools - One service I am surprised there has not been a great rush to adopt – free secure file storage. Ideal for those confidential files, policies etc that you don’t want Google to scan. New services we are working on… • ClickView for the large secondary schools • Wireless provisioning … we are starting to rebuild this service after ‘depowering’ it during the N4L transition. • Dreamcatcher provisioning. • File services • Redesigning the Google provisioning interface to take advantage of the new Google services. • Investigating how we can add Wireless provisioning, Google Classrooms and 365 Looking forward to hearing from you. Geoff

04/10/2014 17:14:24
Schools ICT contractor

It would be VERY advantageous to schools if they updated N4L records (aka leave a note on their web site) with their current ICT support people. Feel free to add multiple entries. Crystal school should add Crystal to their of ICT support providers.

25/09/2014 09:15:53
AD Provisioning -Enhanced

Crystal has developed and implemented an enhanced AD provisioning service This is where Windows domain school can provision their AD (logon, profile, home drive, and other fields) from Crystal. This service ensures that the SMS, AD and clouds usernames are identical.

25/09/2014 09:00:00
File services

Crystal is developing a secure file service. This is where school may store their confidential files securely. This service is designed for Serverless schools where they need a file storage system where they can keep their critical files assure that they will not be scanned or compromised. Keep watch on this RSS feed and/or the link below for details.

25/09/2014 08:59:27

Crystal is developing a Papercut model for small schools. This is where school may use the Papercut software to manage and monitor their printing. Colleges have used this excellent software for years but recently the costs have been lowered so that serverless schools can also benefit. This service is designed for Serverless schools where they need a print management system. Keep watch on this RSS feed and/or the link below for details.

25/09/2014 07:32:16
New SSO services

Currently we are looking at developing SSO and provisioning MackinVia and EBL clouds. More soon.

25/09/2014 05:27:37
SSO test page

This is the new link to the SSO test page. Remember to select the "Default SP" option. Link:

25/09/2014 05:24:46
2015 timetable provisioning

Hapara, Moodle, Google etc provisioning: Remember to allow plenty of lead time is you are moving to rich (time based) provisioning in 2015

25/09/2014 05:23:40

AccessIT have updated the way AccessIT handles Wheelers so that EBooks can be seen in AccessIT register etc.

25/09/2014 05:22:16

Crystal is building its own Dreamweaver export module so we can avoid the username differences Kamar generates. These differences result in SSO failing with some Dreamcatcher users.

13/09/2014 12:10:32
AD provisioning

Windows AD can now be automatically provisioned by Crystal. Schools with Windows server can have their AD (logon, profile path and home drive) all provisioned by Crystal.

13/09/2014 12:01:06
SSO providers now have all changed to use the N4L

All of Crystal SSO providers have changed their metadata so those services can now work across the N4L. Users will notice the logon screen is now blue signifying that service has changed.

18/08/2014 06:40:03
The old Loop Name servers are now offline

The old Loop name servers are now offline. The collection of hardware from Loop schools and service centers has started. The Internet for the old Loop is being switched off on the 29 August 2014.

18/08/2014 06:38:20
Crystal is now full functional in the N4L environment.

The Extranet (now called has a nice new logo and light blue background. Even the schools are in alphabetical order.

11/08/2014 11:41:21
***** Crystal is now fully functional ***************

All of the core Crystal features are now functional across the n4L

11/08/2014 08:16:15

A 365 service called has been started by EdSerf. Crystal is looking to integrate its services with this project. More soon.

18/07/2014 07:18:49
Moving Crystal web and database servers - Saturday 16 August 2014.

Final move. Web servers (Crystal1, Crystal2) and databases (LoopSQLSvr to CrystalSQL1) need to be moved all at the same time. ** Crystal will be offline for this move**

18/07/2014 06:55:45
Digital Hub

A standalone site assembling information about "Digital Hubs" has been built.

18/07/2014 06:55:24
SSO services

A separate site describing Crystal supported SSO services has been built. This site is a collection of comments and suggestions as to how to best make SSO best work.

18/07/2014 06:55:00
Wikieducator service

Due to little use the SSO functionality for Wikieducator has been dicontinued. User can still use the Google Apps - Wikieducator to achieve the same functionality.

18/07/2014 06:52:40
Password Policy and help

A new password help page has been written (blue ? bedside the password. Please note that "weak' passwords will now NOT be accepted by Crystal.

18/07/2014 06:52:22
Job Management service

The Job Management services is now fully operation (red tab). The job tracking services however has yet to be activated.

16/07/2014 20:19:46
Crystal checklist

A Crystal checklist based on the old Loop checklist has be built. It will advertised more fully when all the features are implemented.

16/07/2014 20:17:36

This is a tempory information cache for CCTV user ... until EdSerf build their own site.

16/07/2014 20:17:10
The Crystal Menu

A master Crystal menu has been generated ... but it will be several months before it is finally tuned.

16/07/2014 20:16:05
Crystal invoicing - when does it start

Crystal school invoicing will start on the 1 August 2014 ... but of course the invoices will not be send until the end of the month. Schools can pre-view thier accounts under the Wrangler brown tab.

16/07/2014 20:15:33
New, Updates and a RSS feed

The Crystal RRS feed and web page is being updated.

16/07/2014 20:14:16
The Pond

Crystal is currently working to gain access to The Pond for all users.

17/07/2014 16:08:19
Crystal's redundant and load sharing site

The Crystal redundant site is operational. Eventually this will be located at Bohally Intermediate. This site will act as a hot swap redundant site in times of disaster. or Can load share in time of high traffic. At present it is being tested along side the Sandpit.

17/07/2014 16:07:22
The Crystal Sandpit

The Crystal sandpit is now operational. The sandpit is a full working copy of Crystal. This is where trials and testing takes place. Physically the Sandpit is at Barry's place and runs through Mahana school. The sandpit can run all the Crystal school should it be required.

17/07/2014 16:05:42
New Crystal Identity web site

New Crystal Identity web site to replace the old Loop Extranet. It is a pale blue colour. Have a play. Not all the features are enabled yet.

17/07/2014 16:05:30
Help files

Crystal now has a interactive help page. Just select the blue ? in the top right hand corner.

04/07/2014 09:21:33
NetAdmin Updates

Hapara provisioning is now fully operational. Prepare your provisioning manually (as before) but after the first few manual trials email Crystal asking for the system to be made automatic. Small schools or trial classes ... proably be best to still do the process manually. Once you have more than three groups/classes then best to use Crystal. Have a read of the hapara help page (blue conextual ?)