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Showing posts from 2012

Bring in da noise, bring in da funk

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Well it has been a while since I have posted. It will actually be another bit until I post again as I will be heading to a Moodle conference and then onto a little vacation. One of the ideas that I have been chewing on lately has been how to manage the stream of information that comes my way. We are inundated with information. Even with means to manage this stream (RSS and readers, listservs) there are times when the stream feels overwhelming.

Google Plus and Blogger available for Beloit College Google Apps

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If you havent seen the news about Google Plus and Blogger for Beloit College, click here.

This is a welcome addition to our group of apps at Beloit College. This post is the first on the new platform. If you have followed the blog or commented on any of the posts (thank you to those who have!), I have been experimenting with platforms - mainly between Blogger and Wordpress. The fact that we now have Blogger enabled for the domain sways me in that direction. I would like to experiment with Wordpress in the future, but I think that will wait a little while.

There have been a number of requests for a blogging platform on campus. I think that this will be a great tool for humanities, writing/English in particular and other disciplines looking for a way to allow students to reflect on the work they are doing. It could also be a good tool for departments looking for another way to market themselves and add to their sites on the main Beloit.edu pages.

 I am excited to get back to blogging. …

Interesting Reading

Well...I haven't had much time to write the past week. Moodle has consumed most of my attention. I have gathered a group of articles that have come across my desk that I think may be helpful or thought provoking. I will list them here and provide a quick summary of why I think they are noteworthy.

The first in the round up is an article about QGIS or Quantum Geographocal Information System. The Chronicle's Profhacker blog presented an article about the benefits of QGIS. I look forward to downloading and trying this out.

Second is an artical from Digital Inspiration about how to record screencasts on and iPad or iPhone. As mobile devices become more ubiquitous, it is important from a training/teaching perspective to be able to show how to access your device and the content on it.

The third article is titled, "Pros and Cons of Social media in the Classroom". There are stron proponents on either side of the argument for or against. I will not share my opinion here, but…

Password Management with Lastpass

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Now what was that password again? Our world is requiring more and more passwords. Remembering them requires that a person either creates a simple password that is easy to remember, but less secure or one that is more secure, but difficult to remember. So what to do?
I would definitely recommend erring on the side of caution and creating a more secure password over convenience. There are many methods for creating secure passwords - here is an excellent Lifehacker article on the subject. But what do I do with all these passwords I have to remember? Enter Lastpass. This service keeps track of all your passwords in a secure cloud environment. If you are concerned about the cloud, you can try KeePass. Lastpass works will Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari and Opera. There are also mobile verisons for all the major mobile flavors. Lastpass can auto-fill or auto-login to sites you visit, generate secure passwords based on the criteria you set and fill out online forms. Everything is …

Insync

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I missed posting last week - my schedule would not allow it, so sorry! As a punishment, I will post twice this week.


I came across this app in one of the feeds I follow. This application allows you to sync your Google Docs files to your computer and vice versa. It, unfortunately, is Mac only. It works similarly to Dropbox (which I also highly recommend), creating a folder on your machine. This allows you to drag/drop files that you want to upload to Google docs. It will not automatically convert them, however. You will need to use the Google Docs interface for that.

One cool thing is that this application integrates with Growl (a notifications application). Any time a document is updated (any shared docs) a notification pops up unobtrusively onto your screen. This is a nice way to be aware of changes to documents.

Moodle 1.9.x or 2.x?

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There is a lively discussion going on about whether or not schools/administrators should move to Moodle 2.x or stay with 1.9. You can view the discussion: http://moodle.org/mod/forum/discuss.php?d=196713. Some have said that they will stick with Moodle 1.9. Moodle HQ has said that they will end support for 1.9 in June of this year. There may be an option for some support until December 2012. While offering some great new and some reworked 'oldies-but-goodies' some feel that Moodle 2.x is not ready for prime time. Taking all these things into account, where do you fall? Would you stay with 1.9 or go to 2? Please leave your comment(s).

Evernote Clearly

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I have been a long-time user of Evernote. I recently came across another extension called Clearly (by Evernote). This cool little extension clears all the clutter from a webpage or article that you may be reading, allowing you to focus on the text.





I will show you two examples of an article I was reading. The first is without Clearly:


















As you can see the page is fairly cluttered and full of ads and other content that distracts from the main article.

The second image is much cleaner.

















There are four buttons along the right-hand side. They are (top-bottom):
Hide the overlayClip to EvernoteShow Themes (allows you to change coloring and text size)Print Being able to read an article without distraction is nice enough, but that last item, "Print" is the icing on the cake. With it, you could of course print the article, but also very easily create a PDF copy of the article with the same clean interface. The PDF includes the original URL for the article/page as a reference. This is a…

LibriVox

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I was recently introduced to LibriVox. This project has been producing audio recordings of books in the public domain through volunteer support since 2005. You can read more here. All of the recordings are posted in the public domain and are free to use. Much of the content for LibrVox comes from the Project Gutenberg.

According to the website, "LibriVox volunteers record chapters of books in the public domain and release the audio files back onto the net. Our goal is to make all public domain books available as free audio books." This may serve as a great source of content for pleasure reading and for literature courses. There are a few options for listening to content on LibriVox. You can download a book or section of a book directly to your computer amd listen with your favorite media player (files are mp3 format. You can also subscribe to a podcast that will deliver a reading to you three times a week. If you use iTunes you can download the recordings directly and then s…

Diigo

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Diigo has been around for awhile now. I am not sure why it is still in beta, but I digress. Diigo is a social bookmarking tool. You can watch a video explaining what social bookmarking is here. If you have not tried this tool, I definitely recommend it. Others have reviewed some of the great features of Diigo. I don't want this post to be an exhaustive list of all the capabilities of Diigo, but suggestions of how you might use the tool.

Here are a few ways that I could see Diigo being used in a class environment and personal/professionally...

Course resource - It is easy to create groups and groups lists of bookmarks. A class could aggregate a collection of online resources for a particular project, complete with annotations and notes that the entire class could share.

Personal Learning Network - A person can use this tool as part of their own learning network, gathering resources, sharing them and connecting with others that share the same interests. I use the 'Read Later' …

iBooks Author and other stuff

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So... you may or may not have heard about iBooks Author. Some have touted that it will revolutionize the textbook. There have been may reviews (here, and here) and some videos like this one. There has been much talk about iBooks Author's EULA (here, here and here). I do not want to rehash what has come before, but hopefully build upon and turn the discussion in a bit of a different direction.


I think that on the surface of things iBooks and the accompanying authoring program may seem revolutionary. We now can have the Potter-esque moving newspaper, text interspersed with audio and video, while also allowing users to interact in a somewhat limited way with the content. As was mentioned before, one piece that iBooks do not yet include is a way for social interaction with the content. This is limiting pedagogically because much learning happens in discourse and the exchange of ideas around content. So digging deeper, iBooks are, albeit shiny and handsomely packaged, still really just …

Coming Soon...Again.

As you will see, I have tried my hand at blogging before and it was hit and miss. I want to give this 'blog thing' another go and see what I can make of it. 
This blog will serve as an outlet for all the cool and interesting things I find on the 'internets'. Hopefully some of this information will even be helpful and/or at least informative to you (the reader). I hope to post at least once a week (we'll have to see how that goes). If you like what you read, please subscribe via the Subscribe To Posts option. Doing so will bring the content automagically to you (not that I don't enjoy repeat visitors!). I welcome you to comment on the posts that you see/read.
Thanks!