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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Enhancing Safety - Creating a "Need Assistance" Button in Outlook

Yesterday a campus asked about a panic button for their receptionist, so I wanted to find a low cost way for a campus to create a message summoning assistance without having to install physical hardware.  This is a low cost affordable way for users of Outlook to create "panic" button that can be surreptitiously activated via a couple of mouse clicks.

  • Open Outlook.

  • Make sure you are on the "Home" tab:   

  • Look for the "Quick Steps" box 

  • Click "Create New"

  • The Edit Quick Step window will appear:
  • Name your quick step with a logical name - such as "Need Assistance Now"
  • Click "Choose An Action" and scroll to "New Message"
  • Click "Show Options" and fill in the data for the email you want to quickly send when help is needed - you can send to as many recipients as you would like.  If you want to send email to Cell Phones as SMS messages, you can do so by following this guide at
    • Here is an EXAMPLE setup:

    • Click the "Finish" button when done.
    • Now test this out by clicking the name of the Quick Step in your "Quick Step" window.  
    • To send the message click the "Send" button

Monday, December 10, 2012

The human side of IT management - Go ahead and hug your IT team today

There are so many times in technology where our teams are under immense pressure; there is the start of school with what seems to be an insurmountable mountain of work orders, the stress of a system failure, or the worries for a smooth system implementation. All of this takes its toll on our employees, and sometimes I wonder if as IT leaders we do not spend enough time doing simple things to make our staff’s work lives a little bit better.  
This is my cutest blog post ever.....
IT staff often have incredibly difficult jobs, but sometimes we need to be IT coaches and let our team members know that they did a good job and give them a pat on the back. It’s the little statements that we make that can show our human side and help make our employees feel valued. Maybe school's IT departments can’t offer free employer-provided meals, ping pong tables, and break rooms with TVs and sofas, but we can show our human side now and then.
Employees need encouragement and praise when things are done well. Don’t forget the value of a simple good morning, a thoughtful hello, or a chance to laugh with our coworkers. Sure, I wish I had some of the flexibility for rewarding my staff that my colleagues in the private sector have, but we do have things we can offer too. As school leaders we can often offer better work hours, a generous set of vacation and days off, and what can arguably amount to a better work/life balance than the private sector. 
In the end I know that I always need to work on letting my employees and coworkers know that we are on a team, that I value them, and that I am here to work with them and for them. This is not an easy task, nor is it one that ever ends. So this coming year, hopefully all of us can strive to show our fantastic IT staff how much they mean to us by being just a bit more human and taking a moment to show we care.

This blog is cross posted at SchoolCIO - at