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13
Jan

Podcasting By Phone with Gabcast & iPadio

I posted this on my podcasting blog almost 3 years ago. I’m doing a presentation tomorrow on enhancing courses with audio and thought I would revisit gabcast and take a look at iPadio. Check it out.

I attended the TechEd ‘07 conference in Ontario last week and podcasting was all the rage. Most sessions were standing room only. I tried to squeeze in as many as I could get into in the three days I was there just so I could learn something new. Most of the presentation were good, but there wasn’t much new information offered up for the experienced podcaster. I was lucky enough however to wander into a presentation on the last day that introduced me to a great podcasting tool: Gabcast. The website below does a great job of describing Gabcast:

Gabcast Podcasting By Phone Or VoIP – VoIP Sol

If you’ve caught the bug for podcasting and can produce enough chatter to publish your own audio content online, Gabcast will host your files for you for free. Once you post audio content either using a regular phone or a VoIP service, you can access the audio files from your website or weblog (Blogger, TypePad, WordPress, and more). The Gabcast service can also be used to host conference calls (VoIP Sol).

I can think of many ways to use this service. The presenter set up a podcast for the attendees to call in and leave feedback from the presentation. She had one of us call in during the presentation to demonstrate how easy it is use. The called showed up immediately on her site. Example below:

iPadio is a similar service, but includes an app you can use on the iPhone and Android phones as well. Here is what it looks like.

27
Dec

Keynote: Student Engagement for the 21st Century Learner

Recently I was asked to present a keynote at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ. I was both surprised and honored for the invitation, and I immediately accepted. I talk about teaching with technology all the time, so this was a great opportunity to share my insights on the topic. But first I had to narrow my focus, as there is so much to be said today about teaching with technology. Thanks to the help of my colleagues, Lisa Young and Shelley Rodrigo, I was able to come up with my topic of student engagement.

One of my goals in this presentation was to try to engage my audience by using some of the same technology tools I would talk about in the keynote. I was able to use Animoto, Wordle, Poll Everywhere, YouTube, Voicethread, and MindMeister. The presentation was recorded and put together by Thatcher Bohrman at Yavapai College. Thanks Thatcher!

Links from the Presentation:

Presentation Slides: http://freshmancomp.com/Yavapai%20Keynote.zip

Creative Commons License
Student Engagement for the 21st Century Learner by Dr. Alisa Cooper is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at freshmancomp.com.

23
Nov

Schedule Student Conferences with TimeDriver

Every semester I schedule conferences with all my students to talk about their final papers before they start to finalize the paper. I was always a pain trying to schedule these 60+ conferences with students until I found TimeDriver. Watch how I use TimeDrive to schedule student conference fast and easily.

24
Aug

Mobile Learning Takes Shape in ENG101

I’m about one semester away from teaching a fully mobilized ENG101 course. What do I mean by a mobilize course and mobile learning? Mobile learning is learning that happens when the learner takes advantage of the learning opportunities offered by mobile technologies. Mobile gadgets are everywhere, and just about every student has a mobile phone in his/her pocket. Why not take advantage of these learning tools, as like to refer to them?

So this semester I introduced a mobile learning opportunity to my students in the ENG101 class. I created content that could be viewed, read, watched and listened to on a mobile device. Then I created this video to tell students about it. How they take advantage of what I’ve created and to what extent is yet to be seen.

24
Aug

Teaching with Email in the Online Classroom

Over the years education has continually changed, or evolved into something that is considerably different from what education was when I was in school. One major difference is the inclusion of online and hybrid courses into the course offerings. This is still evolving on most campuses, so it’s understandable that many people in charge of educational institutions aren’t always clear about how faculty use certain technologies in their classrooms. So I’m going to try to clarify some things.

First, we’ve used email for many years in our district, and all employees are given an email address to use to communicate official district business amongst ourselves. This system works well, as it’s easy to find an email address in the district and send a fellow employee a message. We can even create distribution lists to send to certain groups of people. It works so well, that we used to get tons of emails on a daily basis from just about anyone who had a cause, a need, a show, or any important information they felt everyone in the district needed to know. Mercifully someone recognized the overload we all experienced, and we adapted to a “only specially designated people on each campus can send ALL district emails. Thank God or whoever made that decision. It was nice to see that we could recognize a problem and find a solution.

But as I mention, delivery methods of teaching have changed too, and faculty are now using email in lots of different ways. Before I started teaching online classes, I never gave my students my email address. I couldn’t imagine how I would handle all that email, and there wasn’t really a need. If they had a question, they could just ask me in class. When I first started teaching online, I recognized the need for students to be able to contact me and quickly created an email account just for that purpose. Since then how I use email in my online and hybrid courses has evolved along with the courses themselves. I don’t use email as just a way for students to ask questions. It is so much more than that.

Email can be a drafting space, prewriting activity, organizational tool, assignment dropbox, conferencing space, peer review tool, and so much more. It is so essential to teaching online that it always surprises me that as an educational institution, we have never sought a more robust email tool for faculty to work with. It has always been up to us to figure out how best to make it work. It wasn’t until webmail evolved that some of us began to dream big with email and start to use it in more ways than the obvious. Now it’s hard to imagine teaching without it.

Here’s a brief example of how I use email in the first week of school. I begin by sending all my students an email introducing myself and giving them a list of things I’d like for them to do before the first week of the semester ends. This list includes filling out a form and providing me with a convenient email address for them. If it’s convenient, they’ll use it and hopefully read my correspondence to them. I use the collected information to set up folders, filters and auto-responders in my email client. To get students familiar with using email in my classes and to help me set up the filters, I have students send me an email after they have completed the first assignment. That email is received, filed, and an auto-responder to that particular email is sent out. It all works quite smoothly. I get what I need and students get instant feedback.

I also keep track of student activity on the course network via email. When students fill out the form, register for the network, and participate in the first discussion, I get an email notification for each. This allows me to quickly approve their registration and then welcome them to the network right away. Students feel a part of a community and feel as if there is someone present to interact with in the online environment. In the first week, many students are nervous about the online class and have questions. During this week, I try to answer questions as soon as possible. For instance, the bookstore had a mix-up with the books for my class. After reading the syllabus, students discovered that the book listed in the bookstore was different than what was listed on my syllabus. Many emailed me to asked about this. One student had even emailed from his phone while he was still in the bookstore and got a response right away. He was able to purchase the correct book right then.

I don’t profess to respond that quickly all semester long, but to me it equates to all that extra time all faculty spend during the first week giving directions, advice, answering questions and just plain being “present” on campus for students. Students have responded well to this interaction in my classes. Just today a student responded to me with,

“Wow, I am seriously impressed by the quick response. I will have to remember this when I do ‘Rate my professor’.”

Once the first week is in the books, I continually use email as a teaching tool in my online courses. Students in the ENG102 course send me research prospectuses and we have email conferences about their research progress. Students collaborate on writing projects in Google Docs and use email to invite me to see their work and to receive updates on revisions made. And I use my email contacts groups feature to take role and keep track of attendance in my hybrid and face to face classes. These are just a few of the ways that email has evolved for me.

When I’m teaching, I don’t have time to deal with emails about:
Biology instructors needed, weekly air quality, and employment opportunities. I’ll handle that later when I get back to my work “office.” I have email for teaching, and I have email for work. My work email stays at work, and my teaching email goes with me to my many teaching environments and teaching moments. I control when, where and how I want to deal with it. I love that freedom, and I love that it allows for me to serve my students. I couldn’t do this if I had to deal with all my email in one standard, made for business, work email account. That just doesn’t work for me.

5
Jul

Video Essay Option Available to Students

For two semesters now, I’ve written into the plans an option for students to do a video essay for the argumentative essay instead of writing a traditional position paper. So far only two students have attempted a video, with mixed reviews. In the first case, the student did a good job with using the technology, but the argument itself was a bit confusing. It’s unclear if this is due to the use of the technology or if the student just had trouble rationalizing her argument. In a written paper it is easy to quickly dismiss the argument as poorly written and unsupported by the evidence in the paper. But with a video, it is not as clear. With so few students choosing this option, it seems a waste of time to dig into supporting arguments in video form. This is something I will have to do as more and more students choose to do video.

Presently this is the only criteria I have listed in the instructions:

  • 3-5 Minutes in length
  • documentation required (use APA style)
  • work needs to make a claim and support it (in other words, this work should have a thesis and support that thesis just like the position paper)
  • research (at the very least, for images, video, and audio) required

Grade will be determined by how well video essay meets criteria and how the essay is suited/developed for the video format.

In preparation, I ask students to:

You will need to script your work. Beyond the obvious (you need to determine what claim you will make and how you will support it), you should storyboard your work. An easy way to do this is by creating a table using a wiki (why a wiki? this way, you can keep it as a resource for your final portfolio). To create a storyboard, simply create a two column table in a document. In the left hand side you may put an image or a description of an image. In the right hand side, place any notes or voice overs that you may include. I’d suggest you list your purpose in a brief heading/ abstract.

I found most of this assignment on the internet and have adapted it to fit my needs for this assignment. I also had to update the technology instructions to fit the tools available today.  I give them an example of the storyboard and then give them some steps to follow in creating their video using Windows Movie Maker. Students are required to submit their storyboard and a works cited page with the video essay. I won’t have an example until we work out all the kinks or until a student knocks this assignment out of the park.

5
Jul

Update your Calendar & ToDo Lists via Twitter

My first post about Twitter, Little Known Facts about Twitter in the Classroom, talked about some easy uses for Twitter in the classroom. I said, Twitter is connected to everything. I can update my Google calendar and ToDo tasks via Twitter, and I can set it up so Twitter will broadcast my blog posts from my blog to Twitter with a link sending people back to my blog to read the post. Think announcements for students with that one. It’s also connected with a very nice polling site, Poll Everywhere, that lets your respondents vote in your polls via Twitter. Twitter makes their API available so any company can develop tools that will work through Twitter.

This post follows up that and talks about the calendar and ToDo updates via Twitter. If you’re busy, like most people are, you might find that your calendar and a ToDo list are very helpful in keeping you going. I rely heavily on both in my everyday life. Usually when I’m out and about, and I need to either add an event or meeting to my calendar, I find it a hassle to pull up my calendar program and add it. Same thing with my ToDo lists. But I’ve found that sending a text message directly to Twitter can do that for me. All I have to do is text a direct message to my Google Calendar or Remember the Milk ToDo service and it automatically posts to my calendar or list. Click the links for more information about each.

I use this when I schedule conferences with students. I grab my phone and send a text message to 40404 with “d gcal Meeting with ‘Student’ Tuesday at 11am.” The d is for direct message, which is private on Twitter, and gcal is the Google Calendar Twitter name. The rest is the event I want added to the calendar. When I get to a computer, all the appointments are there in my calendar. And since I sync my Google calendar with my Blackberry, they show up on my phone calendar too within minutes. The screencast below shows you how this all works.

Part II of III tips for using Twitter in the classroom. Part I covers using Twitter via text messaging on your cell phone, Part II update calendar/ToDo list via Twitter. The last tip will show you how to use Twitter with a polling service PollEverywhere.

28
May

What’s on Your iPod Touch? Mobile Apps for Learning


We’ve been having a little exchange on our list about mobile gadgets and apps for the iPhone and iPod Touch, so I decided to blog about what I have on my iPod Touch. Not so surprisingly, I have very little music. I have an iPod Video and Nano for that. The Touch is for mobile learning. I’m trying to see how this gadget can be used in education. The obvious is podcasts, both audio and video. It’s easy to find good podcasts to share and recommend with students, as well as create your own. So I have over 3 GB of video on my Touch, mostly video podcasts. One of my favorite apps on the Touch is iTalk. I can hook up an external microphone and record lectures right on the Touch. Then I can sync and have the podcast uploaded to where ever in a matter of minutes. Sound quality is really good.

Most of my apps are free, unless indicated by (paid). Here is a list of my first page of apps on my Touch.

  • Google
  • YouTube
  • Remember the Milk (RTM)
  • Twitterific & TwitterFon
  • iTalk
  • Facebook
  • Bb Learn

These are all obvious choices. We haven’t had a chance to try out the Bb Learn app yet. District says we will be able to do so after the upgrade, which just happened, so I’ll check into that next week.

My second page of apps is a mixed bag. I have a few ereaders I’m trying out and some blogging tools.

  • Kindle & eReader & GReader (Readers)
  • Google Voice & GV Mobile (Paid)
  • Google Talk & Skype (chat)
  • Gyminee
  • WordPress
  • Animoto
  • WootWatch
  • Tumblr
  • Where
  • Brightkite
  • TripIt
  • Nike +iPod

These are some of the more important mobile tools for blogging, reading documents, books and RSS feeds, and communicating via chat, voicemail and text messaging.

As I move through my app pages, the apps get less and less relevant to mobile learning. So far we’ve seen lots of social networking apps and reading and writing apps. That trend continues, but I start to add more home automation and fun stuff. I mean, you never know when you will need to Tivo a show for class, right.

  • myhomework (Keep track of classes and homework)
  • Evernote (This could be a big elearning app)
  • Shakespeare (Complete works on my iPod)
  • Yelp
  • Yahoo!
  • LinkedIn
  • i.TV & DirecTV & PhoneFlix (Schedule DVRs & Netflix)
  • fring (IM & Skype in one/VOIP)
  • Assistant (PageOnce – Acct Management)
  • WSJ (Wall Street Journal)
  • Flickr
  • Ustream (watching only)

I found lots of apps that have created collections of works like the Shakespeare one. This would make teaching a lit class easy in terms of access to free books. Evernote has the biggest potential for impact in the mobile learning space. I will be exploring this a bit more this summer.

My last two pages are just a bunch of games and sports apps like for the Master’s and the NBA playoffs. Also MLB (At Bat) lets you listen to live game audio for $10 for the whole season. I also have the Stanza ebook reader, a dictionary, notes, and a calculator. That’s it. And like I mentioned earlier, I only paid for 3 apps. As I explore and try new ones, I’ll probably purchase more if they are worth it. We’ll see.

So what’s on your iPod Touch or iPhone? Leave a comment and let me know so I can add to my collection.

22
May

Little Known Facts about Twitter in the Classroom

The whole world is talking about Twitter, so this post is probably nothing new to some. Most people get that you can post a short message about what you are doing, and anyone who follows you on Twitter will be able to see the message. I follow you, I see your messages. You follow me, you see mine. But many people still don’t understand how it works beyond that. For instance, many aren’t aware that you can have selective tweeters’ tweets delivered directly to your cell phone via text message. And you can reply back to Twitter via text message. Once you and your students are signed up and properly set up, the whole process can be conducted via cell phone text messaging, making the whole process mobile and not tied to a web page on a computer.

Another little known secret to novice Twitter users is that Twitter is connected to everything. I can update my Google calendar and ToDo tasks via Twitter, and I can set it up so Twitter will broadcast my blog posts from my blog to Twitter with a link sending people back to my blog to read the post. Think announcements for students with that one. It’s also connected with a very nice polling site, Poll Everywhere, that lets your respondents vote in your polls via Twitter. Twitter makes their API available so any company can develop tools that will work through Twitter. There are so many more, but in the following movie I focus on the first tool mentioned above. In subsequent posts I’ll show you the other tips. Have a look.

Using Text Messaging with Twitter from soul4real on Vimeo.

Part I of III tips for using Twitter in the classroom. Part I covers using Twitter via text messaging on your cell phone.

One of the things I forgot to mention is once you get your cell phone set up to receive text messages from Twitter, you can post a tweet by sending it to 40404 from your phone. Next up, update your Google calender and ToDo tasks via Twitter.

12
Feb

New FAQ Avatar for my Online Students

I’ve been playing around with SitePal for a year and a half now. I love the idea of having an avatar for students to interact with, but it has proven to be a bit time consuming and expensive. My initial investment was a cool $99 to get five avatars and scenes with 1 minute of audio each (Bronze). One minute is not a lot of time and during the first year I had a hard time keeping to the limit, so I ended up neglecting my avatar, dubbed Associate Professor Sam.

But instead of giving up completely on the idea, I decided to invest a bit more money into it and see if I could make it work. Initially the lowest SitePal plan costs $99 but didn’t include Text to Speech (TTS). That is how I make Sam talk to my students. Without the more expensive plan, I had to create my own TTS, which I did with a separate program called TextAloud. The program works great and I use it for other non-avatar announcements from Assoc. Prof. Sam that are usually much longer than 1 minute. But if I was going to really utilize the avatar, I needed to eliminate a few steps. So I upgraded to the Silver package for this semester only (3 months). The additional costs ($100) is a bit much for me to have to pay out of pocket, but for 3 months it wasn’t so bad ($24), especially since SitePal was offering a discount.

So I created a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) box for Sam and posted a few questions for students on the Ning Social Network. It was really easy to type out the answers to the questions and have SitePal convert to speech. They even had my same voice for Sam. I posted the widget below so you could give ole Sam a try.