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Posts from the ‘CyberSalonAZ’ Category


Tips for Creating Audio for Multimedia Projects

I’ve been assigning multimedia projects for students for years, and I’m always pleasantly surprised with what my students give me. With absolutely no training, they have managed to present some pretty exciting projects that include audio, video, photos and various other types of media. They have used wikis, blogs, webpages, Google Sites and even Web 2.0 tools to display their masterpieces. And I’ve provided little to no training, just suggestions for tools to use. I’m rarely disappointed.
This semester, however, I thought I’d raise the bar a little and provide a little training in the form of short videos introducing a tool and briefly showing them how to use it. I’m curious to see if more students will choose to use the tools and thus produce even better multimedia projects. Well, we’ll see. Projects are due on Sunday. Below is one of the short videos I created for them to introduce using audio in their projects. I introduce Audacity, AudioPal, AudioBoo and iPadio.


Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

More Audio Podcasting Tools

  • AudioBoo is a mobile & web platform that effortlessly allows you to record and upload audio for your students or the rest of the world to hear.
  • ipadio allows you to broadcast from any phone to the Internet live.  Phone blog, collect audio data, record and update the world, or simply let your mates know what you’re doing – ipadio is integrated with Social Media & Blogging platforms.
  • AudioPal: anyone with a personal website or blog can easily add audio to their site. Engage your visitors by creating an instantly interactive website using AudioPal. Just create your message and embed your flash audio player.


Digging in Diigo for Inspiration

It’s only the 2nd day of NaBloPoMo and I’m already having trouble finding inspiration for blog posts. To help give me some ideas on what to share with you, I decided to visit Diigo. This is where I stash anything that I find of interest that I hope to visit again soon. There is a ton of stuff in there, and I have to admit, I do more stashing than I do revisiting the content. Some day. Well, today is that day apparently.

As I sit here and reflect on my usage of Diigo as an archival service for my interests, I’m feeling that sharing with you about how I use it might be as beneficial as sharing what I have there. Let’s focus on the former. I switch over from Delicious to Diigo a couple of years ago after I saw what @rrodrigo was doing with it, and Delicious had just been bought out by Yahoo! I felt that my “brain” was being messed with, so I needed to switch to a safer place that wasn’t going to disappear on me. Diigo was the choice, mostly for the added features over what Delicious was offering.

I had started using social bookmarking in my ENG102 research paper writing class, and I desperately needed an easier way to group students together by class and have them engage with each other online over their shared research projects. This was cumbersome in Delicious, but proved to be a breeze in Diigo, as Diigo has Groups, and is set up for teachers to easily add students and organize them in these groups. I was in heaven after I discovered this. But the best features that really sold me on Diigo were the annotation tools. I love that my students can highlight sections of a web page and make notes. They can comment on pages that have been saved and “Like” links that have been saved. And we can even have a discussion forum right in the middle of it all. It’s truly awesome for shared research assignments.

My students love it because it’s easy to use. They have lots of tools to make Diigo easy to use. They include Bookmarklets and browser addons. Students were able to simple drag the Diigolet up to their Bookmarks Toolbar. And there are tons of mobile apps and Web Services. My favorite is Save to delicious, which automatically cross-posts to your delicious account. I couldn’t just abandon Delicious. We go way back.

I also use Diigo as part of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). I’ve subscribed to groups and even created a group for CyberSalonAZ. One group that I’ve found great resources in is Diigo In Education. Once you subscribe to a group, you can select to get daily updates on new content via email. It’s easy to keep up with the posts when they come to email. You can also choose to have no email or maybe a weekly update. You should all join our CyberSalonAZ Diigo group and start sharing. See below for joining and seeing what we’ve saved recently.


Diigo Image from


National Blog Posting Month

It’s National Blog Posting Month: meaning you commit to blogging daily for the month of November. I know not everyone can keep up with that hefty goal, but how about committing to one a week? It sure beats trying to do NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.  No thank you on that one, although I know some of you have done this. Last year I did NaNoVloMo (Videos) and NaNoExeMo (Exercise) – Yes, I made the last one up, but I did do it.

Anyway, if anyone is interested in posting to their blogs for NaBloPoMo, REMEMBER to cross post to the CyberSalon blog. I think most of you are already set up for that. Just use the tag or category you set up. It might be fun to read about some of the cool things you all are doing. Come on. Don’t be shy. Let’s give CyberSalonAZ a little jolt of technology infusion blogging. It’s lonely over there.


Setting Up the CyberSalonAZ Network

Step 1: Install WordPress

Cheryl purchased the domain name and installed WordPress to her existing Dreamhost server. Mary Jane Onnen donated $20 to pay for two years of domain name registration. Installation of WordPress can be quite simple, as most hosting companies have 1 click install. However, Cheryl decided she wanted for the site to be as secure as possible, so she did a manual install through sftp. You’ll have to talk to her about what all she did.

Step 2: Create a Network

Cheryl created the network in WordPress 3.1 and chose to use the subdirectories option. She basically followed the directions for doing so on the WordPress Codex page (Create a Network). I think this can probably be the most challenging step, but if you follow directions it’s not hard. When you set up a network in WordPress, you have the option of either using subdirectories or subdomains for the network blogs you create. For example, in my setup for my class, all my students have their own blogs. I had to decide what I wanted the URL to their site to look like:

  • Sub-domains — like and
  • Sub-directories — like and

Cheryl chose subdirectories because it was easier to set up. When I chose subdomains on my ENG101online site, I had to open a help ticket for my hosting account to ask them to set it up for me. Keep that in mind if you like that option.

Step 3: Install Plugins

We both installed BuddyPress, Achievements for BuddyPress, FeedWordPress, BP Posts on Profile plugins, and set the Akismet API key for the spam filter. If you’ve ever installed plugins on a WordPress blog, you know how easy this is. The hardest part was finding the right plug in. When I did a search for BuddyPress, there were so many plugins that the main plugin didn’t even show up on the first page of results. One I found it though, it was 1 click install. So quickly I’ll explain these main plugins and our reasons for installing them. First, BP adds the social networking features to the WordPress network we set up. To simplify what it is, let’s just say BP is Facebook added to your WordPress. It adds member profile pages, groups, activity streams, friends and friendship requests.

Next is the Achievements for BuddyPress plugin. I’m most excited about this plugin, so of course we had to install it right away. If you’re not familiar with the concept of gamification or social gaming, I’ll be posting more on this later. It basically turns your site into a gaming site where members can earn points, awards and badges for doing certain activities or actions that are determined by the site administrator. As an example, I set up an “event” achievement with the condition of: “The user rejects a friendship request from someone.” When a user performs this event, he automatically earns a badge called the “Asshole Badge.” I just used a image I found on the internet for the badge. I also set it up so the asshole earns 5 points for his efforts.

Connecting our existing individual blogs to the site is important, so we installed the FeedWordPress and BP Posts on Profile plugins. The first is an Atom/RSS aggregator for WordPress. You set up feeds that you choose, and FeedWordPress syndicates posts from those sources into your WordPress posts table. So most of our members have personal blogs where they currently blog about technology and education, and we can now grab the RSS of those existing blogs and have those posts post to the new site’s main page. It’s a really cool plugin in that it automatically maps up with existing users who have the same user name or email address if is listed in the RSS feed. The BP Posts on Profile plugin takes those aggregated posts and displays the posts on the members profile page. So when you’re looking a members profile, there is a posts tab. In that tab, it displays all the posts they have posted.

Lastly, Cheryl set up Akismet by plugging in her API key. As most already know, Akismet protects your blog from comment and trackback spam.

Step 4: Choose a Theme

I chose a BuddyPress theme I purchased for my ENG101online course. We’re not sure it’s the best theme for us yet, but for now we are working with it. It’s called BPSlick and I purchased it for $30. It was the best looking BuddyPress theme I’d seen, and it was recommended by Boone Gorges when we attended his workshop at Wordcamp Phoenix in January. There aren’t many BP themes out there yet -not nearly as many as there are for WP. Cheryl created the purple header to match in Photoshop.

Step 5: Play & Learn

Play with it and learn how to do whatever it is you want to do with your own social network. My first need was: How do I get a RSS feed for a Twitter list? Twitter provides an RSS feed for user tweets, but not for lists. I searched high and low and found that I can do it with Yahoo! Pipes! Yep, Pipes. Check it out: Someone already created the pipe, so all you have to do is type in your username and the name of the list you want the feed for. Sweet! I created a page on the network called Tweets and I posted the feed to Twitter list: @soul4real/Maricopa.


Experimenting with WordPress Plugin to Stalk My Students

I’ve been blogging for years, and I have well over 10 blogs on, self hosted WordPress and Blogger. No, I do not try to update them all, just as I would not try to wear all my clothes on the same day. They are there for when the mood strikes me to post about xyz; I go to the blog that applies and post. But recently I began teaching my online courses out of WordPress blogs. I started with WordPress MU (multi-user), which was pretty close to a nitemare, but recently when WordPress updated to 3.0 the networking and multi-user features were built. Well, sort of. There’s one little step that needs to be done to activate it, but that was a lot easier to do than setting up WordPress MU.

Setting this all up as my course management system to replace Blackboard required a lot of experimenting. In fact, in this second semester of using it for my online classes, I’m still experimenting. For instance, with my ENG101 course last fall I installed BuddyPress to add more networking features, but in my ENG102 and ENH295 courses I did not.

BuddyPress: Social networking in a box. Build a social network for your company, school, sports team or niche community all based on the power and flexibility of WordPress.

I decided I liked the added social networking features of BuddyPress, but I wasn’t comfortable with using it or the look of it just yet, so I put that on hold. Instead I’ve been experimenting with some other plugins to add similar features.

One of my favorite plugins is Who’s Online. I have 72 students in 3 sections of ENG102, and it helps to know who has logged in recently. With this plugin I can add a widget to the sidebar that displays all 72 students’ pictures, names and last logged in status. Or if they are currently online, it will display that. I love looking at all the avatar photos of my students, and it’s easy to take “online roll call” with this feature. What would really be cool is if I could click on the photo or name and be taken to a profile page to read more about each one. Oh wait, that’s what BuddyPress does. Ah, I’m not ready for that just yet. Maybe next semester.

So I’m not really stalking my students. That was a pretty good attention getter though. Don’t you think? If you’d like to see a pretty good WordPress site running BuddyPress, you should check out @Teach42’s Fit42 Challenge. Not only is he running BuddyPress, but he also installed the Achievements plugins that allows him to award badges to users for completing various tasks. It’s really cool. I’ll save more on that for a later post.