Friday, October 30. 2009
Wondershare QuizCreator is a tool that a colleague quickly demonstrated to me. It helps educators quickly and easily create Flash-based rich, interactive quizzes for online tests or Web assessments. Besides SCORM compliance for LMS, the built-in service FREE Quiz Management System (QMS) also help track, analyze and report quiz results for effective learning.
Here is an overview. If you have used the tool, add a comment below.
Tuesday, October 27. 2009
A followup to an earlier post on vooks (video + books) is this one on blooks - blogs + books. The website OurBlook is self-described as:
OurBlook is a website combining the dynamic online atmosphere of a blog with the researched, in-depth analysis of a book. Our online community is a collaborative resource created and used by academics, public policy officials, and journalists at the natural intersection of current events and the media. Everyday, these experts join OurBlook to engage in an on-going conversation with their colleagues that seeks out the responsible, sustainable ideas that will define our future.
If you have not used a blook, you can click to their blook, Future of Journalism, where experts discuss the future of journalism, what the information distribution map will look like in 20 years, and question whether traditional journalism is a thing of the past. Highlighed contributors include John Yemma, Chris O'Brien, and Charlotte Grimes.
has announced that the next release of Flash will be available on iPhones and that will continue the process of redefining newspapers, textbooks and magazines.
Sunday, October 25. 2009
I was working over the weekend on my presentation for the upcoming NJEDge.Net Conference 6.0 (November18-20). My session is titled "The Ripple Effect: Faculty Redesign Through Course Redesign" and I guess the title hints a bit at where the presentation goes. I might have called it "The Shell Game," because part of the idea is sleight-of-hand.
The Writing Initiative at Passaic County Community College which I direct has as its primary goal improving writing. The means to do that is by redesigning more than twenty courses across disciplines as writing-intensive. But, when the grant was written, an embedded component of the project was also to increase the use of technology by the faculty and students both participating in those writing intensive courses and in the larger college community.
There's a good chance that there has been some type of faculty-development, technology-infusion effort at your school at least once in the past decade. Many of them are not very successful. There are lots of different reasons for that and my session won't try to determine why, but what I have observed is that in some cases the technology was never accepted by faculty as necessary to what they were teaching.
Our approach has become (and it has changed during our first two years) trying to make sure the horse is in front of the cart. Though we, by necessity, still need to offer some formal faculty development for our Initiative technology, we are trying to keep a lot of that less formal.
We have a lot of technology in the writing courses for students and faculty - collaboratively creating digital content that is shared with other instructors, online assessments, lecture capture, streaming video, e-portfolios, e-tutoring, online scheduling, and promoting the use of the college portal and learning management systems. We have courses that are online, blended, and face-to-face. There's so much technology that we were often questioned (particularly by faculty) in the first two years of the grant if we weren't losing sight of the writing.
Now, as we start year 3 of the five-year grant, we can definitely point to one successful aspect of our efforts: the ripple effect in the adoption of the grant-funded technologies beyond the writing-intensive courses and instructors.
My session will report on the successes and challenges of these efforts including the data collected by my team and PCCC's Institutional Research department about the initial effects the Initiative is having on student success, learning outcomes and retention.
It pleased me to read the EDUCAUSE Top Teaching and Learning Challenges report for 2009. In trying to set the agenda and collaborate with colleagues around real solutions and innovative directions, the community came up with their Top Five Challenges in teaching and learning with technology. Our Initiative addresses all five.
1. Creating learning environments that promote active learning, critical thinking, collaborative learning, and knowledge creation.
2. Developing 21st century literacies (information, digital, and visual) among students and faculty.
3. Reaching and engaging today's learner.
4. Encouraging faculty adoption and innovation in teaching and learning with IT.
5. Advancing innovation in teaching and learning with technology in an era of budget cuts.
"Faculty Redesign" is not something you really hear being discussed on campuses as much as course redesign, but that's what I am talking interested in seeing happen on our campus. Both are best done as a process, rather than some thing we do because we have new tools to use.
The first 3 challenges in the list above are more explicit in our grant. The last two may ultimately be the most important.
If you want to know more about the EDUCAUSE Challenges and participate, check out their project wiki where they are trying to build a network of solutions and join the Challenges Ning Network.
Friday, October 23. 2009
Last week was the BlogWorld & New Media Expo which included the 2009 "State of the Blogosphere" report compiled by Technorati and delivered by their CEO Richard Jalichandra.
Since 2004, Technorati's annual State of the Blogosphere report has followed growth and trends in the blogosphere. This year bloggers were surveyed directly to provide the data for the report.
The 2009 State of the Blogosphere survey demonstrates that the growth of the blogosphere's influence on subjects ranging from business to politics to the way information travels through communities continues to flourish. In a year when revolutions and elections were organized by blogs, bloggers are blogging more than ever, and the State of the Blogosphere is strong.
Technorati released five segments that you can now access online. They started with demographics on Who Are the Bloggers, then onto the What and Why and the How of Blogging. The last two segments are of less interest to me and most educators - blogging revenues and their political impact - but are probably where the most interest is in blogging in the larger part of the blogosphere.
In addition to the survey results, there are also interviews with some big names from blogging:
Michael Arrington, TechCrunch
Penelope Trunk, Brazen Careerist
Steve Rubel, Edelman Digital, Micro Persuasion
Alex Santoso, Neatorama
Henry Copeland, Blogads
Arianna Huffington, The Huffington Post
Jonathan Salem Baskin, Dimbulb
Mathew Ingram, Toronto Globe and Mail
Seth Godin, Squidoo, sethgodin.typepad.com
Simon Mackie, Web Worker Daily
Dan Gillmor, dangillmor.com
Duncan Riley, The Inquisitr
Thursday, October 22. 2009
The Fun Theory is a belief that the easiest way to change people's behavior for the better is by making it fun to do.
If you teach, you wouldn't have much trouble accepting this theory. The tough part is making it fun.
Volkswagen's turned a subway staircase in Stockholm, Sweden into a giant piano to show fun can trump conveniences like an escalator. (It made me think of Tom Hanks in Big.) The ad, created by , is part of VW's " " campaign. Can you get people to use the stairs instead of the escalator? Watch and see.
Do you have an idea that uses fun to change behavior? Enter now for the chance to win €2500.
I'm sure some corporate sponsor will pick up on the idea and sponsor something similar for educators to make learning fun. Right?
Wednesday, October 21. 2009
I saw the end of an Internet era in the email I received last June that told me:
We're writing to remind you that Yahoo! GeoCities, our free web site building service and community, is closing on October 26, 2009. On October 26, 2009, your GeoCities site will no longer appear on the Web, and you will no longer be able to access your GeoCities account and files.I have had sites there since 1996, though I didn't keep the two sites that still existed there updated or pay much attention to them. I suspect that was true of many such sites.
GeoCities was a web hosting service that started (before it's Yahoo connection) back in 1994. It was the first free hosting service that I ever used to create a site when my knowledge of HTML was almost zero.
Back then, you selected a "city" where you wanted to "homestead" your web pages (Computer-related sites in "SiliconValley" and entertainment in "Hollywood" - my writing site was in Athens.) In mid-1997, GeoCities was the fifth most popular site on the Web, and had signed up its millionth Homesteader.
A post on ZDNet also sees the closure of GeoCities as an end of an era. Rupert Goodwins said that GeoCities was "the first proof that you could have something really popular and still not make any money on the internet." It may be that Yahoo's management of GeoCities is another example of their inability to turn a popular Net property into a moneymaker. But, I also think that in a time where there are lots of places to host free content, GeoCities and other similar services like Tripod.Lycos seem old-fashioned, less dynamic and much harder to use than something like a blog site.
Actually, my sites, which I will just allow to be deleted, will not really be gone forever. The Internet Archive announced a project to archive GeoCities pages, stating "GeoCities has been an important outlet for personal expression on the Web for almost 15 years" and their vast Internet Archive will be contain as much of GeoCities sites as possible.
Tuesday, October 20. 2009
Writing is a daily practice for millions of Americans, but few notice how integral writing has become to daily life in the 21st century. To draw attention to the remarkable variety of writing we engage in, and help make writers from all walks of life aware of their craft, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) created a National Day on Writing. On October 8 the Senate passed a resolution declaring October 20, 2009, the National Day on Writing.
Today, a gallery of submitted works will be opened up for everyone to view a wide variety of pieces. Groups will also be celebrating the day across the country.
Friday, October 16. 2009
Anne Frank and literature is the type of topic that is more likely to appear on one of the other blogs that I use, but in this instance, it was the tech side of teaching her diary that caught my attention.
Many teachers use Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl as a reading in their courses. It's one of those titles (like To Kill A Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men et al) that is a standard, especially in high school English classrooms, which make them perennial bestsellers. Maybe that list is too narrow, (It's also the list of Cliff Notes, Spark Notes and all those publications too.), but her diary continues to have interest.
Part of that interest may be that we have the diary to read at all. The story of its discovery and publication is part of the entire story. (It was turned down by plenty of publishers.)
Francine Prose has a new book called Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife. Prose's book looks at the diary in a different way: as a literary work. She doesn't approach the diary as a teenager pouring out her inner life, but as a more consciously crafted work of literature.
For students who read the diary in middle school or high school, this might be an interesting approach to the book in an upper level English class or college classroom. Prose shows evidence that Anne did a lot of revision before her arrest with the intention of being published.
There are still those that criticize Anne's father for "minimizing the Jewish essence of the Holocaust," and might criticize Francine Prose as over-inflating Anne's literary abilities and ambitions. That's just more for the discussion.
I also wonder how many teachers take advantage at the media freely available online to supplement this kind of discussion. Why not assign students as an "outside reading" to listen to Francine Prose talk about new book online?
What discussion might come from students looking at the only known film footage of Anne Frank herself? This video (yes, on that terrible time waster - YouTube, which is probably blocked in some schools) was shot July 22 1941.
"The girl next door is getting married. Anne Frank is leaning out of the window of her house in Amsterdam to get a good look at the bride and groom. It is the only time Anne Frank has ever been captured on film. At the time of her wedding, the bride lived on the second floor at Merwedeplein 39. The Frank family lived at number 37, also on the second floor." The Anne Frank House offers this on their YouTube site.
I also heard Francine Prose on my local NPR station (WNYC) interviewed and that is available online. It's from The Leonard Lopate Show which is also available by subscription in iTunes, so you can download the files. That's useful for classrooms that have limited bandwidth or block all the good media sources.
The show site's comments also led me to discover that "NYC houses the US partner organization to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam right here in Soho on 38 Crosby Street. It provides exhibitions on AF and her times and other related materials, as well as public and in depth educational programming going into the schools (such as the one Ms. Prose visited in Queens) dealing on issues of intolerance, creative writing, always using the diary as a piece of literature."
Another Recommendation: Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer - a good book for students who want to write, that encourages them to first be readers.
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