Showing posts from 2017

Adobe Photoshop Content-Aware Fill Majic!

If you have never seen content-aware fill in Photoshop, it is majic.
Watch the video below for a demonstration.

Updates to Google Calendar

Google has announced that it is updating the UI (user interface) for Calendar. If you are interested in learning about the changes and new capabilities check this page.

One thing to note:
This will roll out gradually. Google gives the admins the choice of how this change will be rolled out the the domain, either automatically or manually. The automatic roll-out begins November 14 with a deadline of February 28,2018.  Check with the Beloit College IT department for a specific timeline for our domain.

Check this post for the full details of the update.

About Stories

I enjoy Vlogbrothers videos. This one below addresses (at about 1:07) an important issue in the world of teaching and learning. Namely storytelling, and particularly the question of what is a, or your, story about? This is a key thing to think about as you are drafting your stories - what are the stories about? Not, what is the plot, but what overarching topic/idea/emotion/subject is your story about? What is the point you are attempting to illustrate? Why is your story important? Put another way, what is the point?

These are questions with which a storyteller must grapple and answer if they want to create a good story. If you are looking for tools to help you or your students draft a (digital)story please check out this website: Digital Media Toolbox Libguide. I have put together resources and recommendations to help create the best product possible.

P.S. Flat Dr. Pepper is just saddening to think about.

CLAMP Webinar: Moodle Quiz Friday, September 22

On Friday, September 22, I will be facilitating a webinar sponsored by CLAMP for a presentation about Moodle, specifically the Quiz module.

Sonya Johnson PhD, professor of Religious Studies at Beloit College, will share about her experience coming to Moodle, anxieties and expectations she had, challenges she faced and how Moodle helped her meet those challenges. She will also share about the ways in which Moodle and the quiz module in particular, supported her pedagogy. Sonya will finally share lessons learned/take-aways and her future plans for her courses in Moodle.

The session will be recorded and the video posted here when it is available.

If you would like to view the webinar it will be be held in Zoom (

Read PDFs Aloud: Tagging

I have talked about making PDFs accessible on this blog before. In addition to being able to search through the text, another of the benefits of running OCR (optical character recognition) on a PDF is that it makes it possible for a person to have the document read aloud or to listen to the document with TTS or text-to-speech technology.

Most of the time the OCR process works without issue. Sometimes however, the OCR will finish and the document says "blank" when it is read aloud. How do you know that a document will be able to be read aloud? I will outline below a few steps you can take to make sure that your PDF will be ready to be read aloud.

Checking Your PDF So how do you know if your PDF can be read aloud? The following steps will illustrate how to do so in Adobe Acrobat Pro. The first check is to make sure that the document has been OCRed. To check this, you can open the PDF and then click and drag to select the text. If this is successful then this means that the do…

Free Image Sources

Photo by Kristian Karlsson on Unsplash

Students or anyone looking for free to use images may find some resources on the Digital Media Toolbox LibGuide. The link below points to some new sources as well. Many of these images are free to use without attribution, although it is recommended and a nice thing to do if you can.

The list of sites is:

UnsplashKaboom PicsMorguefilePixabayStocksnapNegative SpaceShot Stash
For descriptions of each of the sites the original article can be found at:

Update to Google App Launcher

Google posted on their blog that on August 1, they will be updating the layout of the apps in the app launcher to, in their words, "make the app launcher more convenient for new users and those who don’t take the time to customize it. " This should only affect new users and users who have not changed they layout manually already.

If you find the order of the apps changed and do not care for the order, you can change it by clicking and dragging the app logos to the desired location within the app launcher.

You may read more about the changes at the link below.

Google Classroom: Alice Keeler - "My Respond to Private Comments in Google Classroom Workflow"

If you are using, or are interested in using Google Classroom, then I recommend that you check out the post and blog linked at the end of this post. In the linked post. Alice Keeler lays out a workflow for managing private comments in Google Classroom. This workflow puts the priority on providing substantive, helpful feedback. If it doesn't help the student it is not worth your time to do, right?

OCR...The Devil Is In The Details

OCR (optical character recognition) is a complex and inexact process. I covered some of this in a previous post. The video below is a deeper dive into the processing and math (just a touch) behind how OCR processing happens.

Because of the complexity of this process it is important to begin with the best quality original scan possible. Some scan settings to keep in mind:
Color - This should be set to Grayscale. The grayscale setting helps to gather as much detail as possible from the original without making the file size too large.Resolution (DPI) - This should be set to 300 dpi. This is the minimum resolution recommended for OCR.Format - The file format should be PDF.

Blended learning Conference, Bryn Mawr College, May 17-18

Bryn Mawr College hosted the Blended Learning in the Liberal Arts Conference on May 17-18, 2017.  I was able to present as part of a group, sharing about development of the ACM Institute on College Futures (ICF) Institute online course. 
The presentation may be viewed from the conference repository:

The ICF was originally a program of two-day workshops in which faculty gained a broad overview of the economics of higher education and explored various financial planning challenges that colleges face. To disseminate this material to faculty and staff more broadly, the ACM developed the Institute on College Futures Online (ICF Online), a self-paced professional development course that recreates the seminar experience in an online environment. 

More information Blended Learning Conference may be found on the conference blog at: You may find information and presentations from past Blended Le…

Formative Assessment - Android apps

I recently came across this post on the Educational Technology and Mobile Learning blog, listing a number of apps that may be used for formative assessment. I have not used all of these, but the list provides some good options for gathering "in-time" feedback from students.

Kahoot is fun to use. while straight-forward and easy to use it offers some sophistication as well.

Poll Everywhere is one that I have heard a lot about, but have not had the opportunity to use. I also would like to mention Mentimeter. I have participated in a poll using this tool and it was easy to use.

One other app from this list that looks interesting is Plickers. This app uses the instructor's mobile camera to read symbols on cards held up by students. The students do not need their own devices. This may be a good option for someone who does not want students to have devices in the classroom, or who does not what to discriminate between those that have a device and those who do not. This tool favo…

ITEC Workshop: Adobe Premiere Pro

Adobe Premiere Pro is a powerful video editing program used by professionals and hobbyists to create their video projects. This software is available on all computers in the Library. What follows below is a summary of information covered during the ITEC workshop sessions on Premiere Pro. The information below includes steps for common tasks related to projects that may occur as part of a class project or other video project.

Customizing the Workspace in Adobe Premiere Pro
The default view of Adobe Premiere Pro can be a bit overwhelming the first time you open the program. Adobe includes a number of built-in workspaces suited to different tasks in Premiere. If you are familiar with iMovie or Final Cut Pro the Editing workspace will feel more similar to what you are used to. Each of the panes within the program window may be resized to your liking. If, for instance, you need the Timeline to be larger, you can click and drag the edge of the pane to resize it. You may also add panes by s…

Google Doc's + Keep

Google recently announced that it is now possible to integrate Google Keep into Google Docs. This means that a person is able to click and drag notes from Keep directly into a Google Doc.

To be able to see your Keep notes in a Google Doc, click on Tools > Keep notepad. 

Once you have done this, you will see your keep notes appear in a sidebar on the right.
You can then click and drag your notes into your Doc. This works for URLs, images, bullet lists, and text.
You can read more about this integration here:

PDF Forms

On Thursday, February 16, ITEC presented a workshop on creating PDF forms as an addition to this semester's series of workshops. As a companion to this guide, you may wish to check out our summary of the session on making PDF documents accessible. What follows is a summary of the information shared about creating PDF forms.

Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Pro The easiest, most straight forward way to create a PDF form is accomplished through the use of Microsoft Word (Word) and Adobe Acrobat Pro (Acrobat).
12 The recommended workflow is to create the form initially in Word. It is much easier to format text, tables, and other elements from within Word than it is in Acrobat. This speeds up the creation process and ensures that the resulting form looks the way it needs to. This also makes it easier to go back and edit the form later if changes are needed. The one downside to this workflow is that it will require a re-do of the steps below in Acrobat.

Microsoft Word This post will not…

Google Hangouts Temporarily won’t support phone and video calls on Mozilla Firefox

If you use the Firefox browser to access and use Google Hangouts, please be aware that there is a temporary issue causing phone and video calls to not work in the Firefox browser. 
The work-around is to use another browser. Hangouts will continue to work in Google Chrome, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Please see this blog post for the full details:

Some Levity via ACOMIK

This is something that I found that points out a common frustration.
The conclusion: Save early, save often.


UPDATE: Accessible PDF session notes

The post containing notes from the Accessible PDF sessions has been refined and updated to include a better workflow for making PDFs accessible, notes about having a PDF read aloud, and working with PDF scans from books in which two book pages exist on one page in the PDF.

Please contact ITEC if you have any questions about any of this information.

Adobe Acrobat Pro: Working with Book Scans

Many times a PDF document is scanned from a book, placing two book pages onto a single page in the PDF document (example below). While this saves time in the scanning process, it can produce some difficulties for those accessing the document from a screen reader or using the read-aloud tools because the PDF reader doesn't know where the correct page order.

There is a way to split these two pages into single pages within the PDF. Know that there will be clean up to do after this is complete. The tools mentioned in this guide will help with the document cleanup.

The steps to convert a book-scanned document into a single-pages document is as follows:
Click File > Print.Choose Adobe PDF as the printer.In the print dialogue:
- Click Properties > Layout > Advanced...
- From the Paper size drop-down select PostScript Custom page size.
- Enter the desired height and width. In this case I used 11" for the width and 8.5" for the height.
- Click OK.
- Click OK.
- Click OK.Click P…

Adobe Acrobat Pro/Reader: Read Documents Aloud

It is possible to have Adobe Acrobat Pro or the free version, Adobe Reader, read documents aloud to you.

This is a great tool for those who learn best by hearing. Listen and reading can also help with comprehension. The only requirement to be able to do this is that the document has rendered text. if you need to render the text through running character recognition, you can read how to here.

To have a document read to you:
1. Click View > Read Out Loud > Activate Read Out Loud
2. Click View > Read Out Loud, and then choose the option you wish. You can have it read to the end of the current page or to the end of the document.

Once the document is being read, you can access the same menu to pause, stop, or deactivate the reading.

ITEC Workshops Spring 2017

We will be continuing our series of workshops this semester investigating topics related to teaching and learning. We are especially excited this semester about having guest presenters for a number of the sessions. Please do make an effort to support our colleagues.

The spring rotation starts February 6 and runs through April 14. Sessions will be scheduled two days per week at different times.
Monday sessions will be held 4-5PM. Thursday sessions will be held from 12-1:00PM. Locations and links to RSVP are listed below.  We hope that this staggered schedule will maximize opportunities for people to attend.

Click here for a downloadable, printable copy of the schedule.

If you are interested in attending a session, but unable to do so, please feel free to enter your information onto our waiting list form. The form can be found here:

If you have questions about any of the sessions or suggestions for topics that we should include, please contact

Spring 2017: PDF Accessibility Workshops

The Library, IT, and LEADS offices are offering four sessions on creating accessible PDF documents. These sessions are meant to be a hands-on look at working with PDF files in Adobe Acrobat. Please feel free to bring your own computer to work along with the presenters.
The four sessions are:
Wednesday, 1/11/17, 10:30-11:30 am, Science Center 150
Wednesday, 1/11/17, 2-3 pm, Learning Studio (Library)*
Monday, 1/23/17, 12:30-1:20 pm, Science Center 150
Friday, 1/27/17, 12:30-1:20 pm Learning Studio (Library)*
RSVP Form Please let us know if you will be attending one of the sessions by using the appropriate RSVP form above.
If you are interested in attending a session, but are unable to do so, please feel free to enter your information onto our waiting list form. The form can be found here:
*The seating will be limited to 12 for the two sessions which will take place in the Learning Studio.