Monday, October 27, 2014

Tech Tip: Backing Up and Syncing Documents

SyncToy logo
There are many golden gems on Microsoft’s web site, like SyncToy, which is a free application that allows the user to sync files and folders between two places. I use it on both my thumb drive and my primary computer to save time by automatically syncing my files for me when I decide to work on my laptop or on any other computer. It also works as a backup. There’s another bonus: it’s absolutely free to download at http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15155!

This "little" program has saved me so much time & frustration. I use three or four computers in different locations; however, I need access to the same set of files for each location. Unfortunately, not all of the computers have stable Internet services (or any Internet); therefore, I can place my files on my thumb drive and just “sync” it when I get back to my primary workstation. According to the system requirements listed on SyncToy, this application is compatible with Windows 7, Windows Vista and XP.

Other options for backing up assignments and documents can be to email yourself the assignment or sign up for one of many web synchronization (and/or file sharing) software programs such as http://www.google.com/drive/index.html or https://www.dropbox.com/.  Google Drive and Dropbox are cloud storage services that allow you to access them via a browser, app or designated folder. Currently, Google Drive offers 15 GB of free cloud storage and Dropbox offers 2 GB.

Friday, September 26, 2014

7 OER Sites Every Faculty Member Should Visit

“Yes Cards Spiral Many Commitment Consent Positive”  image by geralt, public domain
In preparation for conferences and training sessions, I wanted to develop a list of my top 10 OER sites for faculty members to visit.  As it turns out, I don't have that many.  So, here's my top 7 OER sites that every faculty member should visit (in no specific order).

In support of Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funded OPEN and encourages grantees to reuse existing OER to save time and effort.  OPEN provides specific sources for grantee use for photo/images, video, audio/music, general education searches, such as repositories, open textbooks and complete courses, including the ones listed below. Select the “Find OER” tab at the top of the page for a list of OER.

College Open Textbooks
College Open Textbooks is dedicated to increasing awareness and adopting OER for community colleges and two-year colleges.  The College Open Textbooks Collaborative consists of twenty-non for-profit and non-profit organizations with over 200 colleges.  Furthermore, the organization provides training opportunities for instructors and peer reviews textbooks.  These efforts are focused on decreasing textbook costs by offering high-quality open source textbooks.

MERLOT is a program of the California State University.  It contains thousands of learning materials, including textbooks, animations, assessment tools, presentations and much, much more!

In 1999, MIT Faculty developed and launched OpenCourseWare (OCW).  The pilot version ran in 2002 with 50 courses published.  A decade later, 2150 courses have been published with numerous translations available including Spanish and Portuguese.  Additionally, as of September 2013, MIT reported that OCW has tracked over 49 million YouTube views, 43 million iTunesU downloads and over 182 million visits to their website (MITOCW dashboard report). 

By ISKME (OER Commons, a project created by ISKME) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
This site provides access to OER, as well as tools to organize, create and save.  Allows free registration and advanced search features including Education Level, Material Type and Media Format to name a few.

The Open Course Library (OCL) was launched in 2011 by the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in order to combat the effect of textbook costs on student success and completion.  OCL created new course material using Creative Commons licenses for 81 of its highest-enrolled courses.

By Logo and trademark of the Wikimedia foundation, designed by Wikipedia user "Neolux" (SVG version created by DarkEvil, revised by Philip Ronan and optimized by Zscout370 and Artem Karimov) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Foundation is a non-profit organization that hosts numerous projects including Wikimedia Commons, Wikipedia and Wiktionary, all of which are available under a Creative Commons License.  Commons has over 19 million media files including images, sound and videos that can be used at no charge. 

Please feel free to share any of your go-to resources.

Friday, September 5, 2014

So Many Apps! So Little Time!

With iPads and Apple TV sweeping the campus, many faculty are trying to just keep up with what's happening in the app world.  If you turn to your colleagues and ask them what are their favorite apps, each one will likely provide you with a list of their top picks.  So the question becomes, how do I really know what's out there and available?

While the ProfHacker in The Chronicle of Higher Education will periodically publish a piece on iPad apps, eliciting recommendations from its readers, there are also a few web sites that I have found particularly helpful when exploring the wonderful world of iPad Apps.

One can always turn to the Apple iTunes Preview Apps Store or iTunes for Education through your favorite browser for lists of popular educational apps.  Not to be outdone, Google Play also has its site which can be browsed for apps for android devices. Excellent descriptions of each app is available with a simple mouse click. 

PadGadget (http://www.padgadget.com/ ) is the self-proclaimed “…premier iPad focused website for iPad news, apps and accessory reviews.”  While the site is not specifically focused on educational technology, those of you who want to know what's happening in the wonderful world of the iPad will find this web site appealing.  It is a great site for to help you keep up with what is happening in the iPad world and the latest apps and gadgets that you can use to extend your iPad's functionality.  In addition, the Apps Tracker tab allows one to filter the top 200 apps by category and cost.  The results can be sorted by number of downloads, rating, trends, etc. Clicking on any app in the list will pop up a more detailed app description. You can also follow PadGadget on Twitter.


Another excellent site, EducationalTechnology and Mobile Learning, provides several pages with links to iPad resources, Ed Tech Resources, and a number of other tools for educators.

Happy exploring!

Monday, August 25, 2014

C3B4Me Policy

A new semester is upon us.  I try to do one new "thing" every time I teach a class.  This summer, CTE hosted a Flip It! Workshop.  One of my take-aways was the C3B4Me Policy.  I decided to refer to it as the C3B4Me practice to avoid confusion with "real" institutional policies.  Essentially, this policy encourages students to be self-directed and reliant.  Read the article by Dr. Honeycutt, the founder of Flip It Consulting.

I plan on discussing it briefly during my first synchronous chat.  Here’s what I have posted in my classroom as an announcement:
"Sign Note Thumbtack Pin Reminder Thumb Notes" image by Nemo, public domain C3B4Me Practice
Have a question?  Before emailing me, please try to locate your answer on your own by checking three different sources.  Consider contacting a classmate, reviewing the syllabus, reading the assignment directions or checking the announcements.  If you can’t locate the information you need, please feel free to contact.  I’m here to help!

If you decide to use it this semester, please share your experiences with this practice/policy.  Tried something new this semester?  We love to hear about it too!  Have a great semester!

Monday, August 11, 2014

On the search for videos

“Search To Find Magnifying Glass Hand Finger Thumb” by geralt, public domain
In my last two blogs, we discussed tools that we can use for creating your own videos.  This time I would like to share a few sources for videos and searching tips. The sources are primarily open educational resources (OER) that have licensing designed to make it simple for users to reuse, rework, remix and redistribute materials.  For more information, visit Creative Commons (CC) for a short video with information regarding their open licenses.
So, what are OER?  There are many definitions of OER.  In simple terms, OER are any type of resources (videos, images, tests, software, textbooks and much, much more!) that are in the public domain or licensed to permit free use and re-purposing by others.
Whew…finally, I’m onto the video sources I mentioned earlier. 

YouTube
The best way to find a video that is licensed under the Creative Commons license on YouTube is to use the CC Search tool described above in the General Search and Photo/Image Search sections. Unfortunately, YouTube does not provide a filter or advanced search capability on their home page for finding all YouTube Creative Commons licensed videos. However, http://www.youtube.com/creativecommons lets you see the most viewed and most reused Creative Commons licensed videos.

Tip:  If you are on the YouTube home page and type in your search term followed by a comma and then “creativecommons” the videos returned are CC licensed.  Also, when uploading videos, by default, the licensing is set at “Standard YouTube License”, which essentially means the creator is granting YouTube the right to broadcast the video.  See the Terms of Service (specifically, Section 6.C.) for full details.
Let’s you easily upload and find CC licensed videos.  This site tends to be used by businesses and organizations.

The Internet Archive has a collection of old video and movie footage.  Check out site for old cartoons, sports videos, ephermal films and news footage.
Tip:  This site allows you to download video and you burn them to a DVD or thumb drive to avoid slow internet connection (not that the internet is ever slow!).
TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. In 1984, it started out as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. The best talks and performances from TED and partners are made available to the world, for free. More videos are added on a regular basis.  All of the talks are subtitled in English, and many are subtitled in various languages. If you’re wondering, there’s an app too!

Do you have any go-to sites for videos?  Please share them with us.



Attribution:  “Video Search” in open4us.org, CC BY 4.0

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Video Tools

Last time, I shared a few ‘video’ tools that I have used.  However, there are many video tools out there.  You may also want to check out the following tools that others have used to create materials for their classrooms, as well as student productions.  Please let me know what you think of them and feel free to share more!

This iOS, Android and Windows compatible app ($2.99) is an interactive white word and screencasting tool.  Check out these short videos, which highlight the commonly used features.  One example that I found, was that a student recorded how he was trying to balance a chemistry equation.  (Using the 'Explain Everything' App in the classroom YouTube video).  

Create animated videos.  The basic features are free. They also have premium features for a cost.  Consider using it as an alternative to PowerPoint.

A video sharing site with multiple levels of membership and yes, there’s a free one too!  Vimeo is comparable to YouTube, but there are some differences.  Do you have a preference?  Let us know what you think.

This freeware converts videos to multiple formats and has editing features.  There is a Windows and Mac version. 

I invite you to share a tool and your creation with us (whether you think you're creative or not)!
  
Looking ahead…I’ll share a few tips and resources to search for videos created by others.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Video Tools

The CTE recently hosted a workshop on the Flipped Classroom.  We spent a day eating yummy food and snacks, as well as sharing instructional strategies and modeling a flipped classroom experience.  To supplement the workshop, I thought I’d share three video tools that can be used in a flipped or your current classroom.  I have used these tools in my online courses.  Essentially, screen capture refers to a process that records audio and video components on your computer screen.  (However, it may also refer to a still image of your computer screen.)


This is a free web based screen capturing tool for up to 15 minutes of recording time or feel free to purchase for more features.  I use the free version.  Screencast-O-Matic allows video creation in multiple formats (mp4, avi and flv) for uploading to its site or YouTube.

Student Strategies:  
  • Use Screencast-O-Matic to provide a video introduction of yourself or a course, whether it’s online, hybrid or face-to-face.
  • Need to respond to a student question, but it would take too long to type it out or need to "show it", use this tool to personalize your response or keep it general and use it again later.
  • Keep your first video short until you become more familiar with the tools and process.  
  • Don’t sweat the small mistakes-the show must go on!

Most of you are already familiar with YouTube.  But…did you know that YouTube has editing capabilities and an automatic text captioning feature?  It’s not perfect-but it’s a start.  You may also upload a transcript.   Check out this YouTube video that quickly walks you through closed captioning.  Also, you can categorize your video files as public, private or unlisted. 

Tech Tip:  Use “Mashups” in Blackboard to easily view and share YouTube videos.

Here’s an example of how I used the videos tool to provide my students a tutorial for formatting Microsoft Word for a College 101 type course.



This is my first attempt at blogging.  I hope you found it helpful.  Is there something you’ve been wondering how to add to your classroom?  Need help with any of these tools?  The CTE is here to help you!  Send an email to cte@triton.edu or call extension 3371.