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Thursday, March 24, 2005

CamStudio: software wants to be free!

update: CamStudio does not appear to be available from the U. Calgary site anymore but can still be downloaded here.

I came across this post from BRAIN_blog (Mohawk College) that reviews a few "dream" research tools. There is a link there that led me to a featured product at the University of Calgary that can make life a lot easier for screencasters.

The product is called CamStudio and it appears to do pretty much what Camtasia does for screen capturing with audio, producing an avi file. The advantage is that it is freeware.

I did a quick test and it seems to work nicely to capture either the whole screen or a section. The one thing it does not have is an avi editor.

I would be interested to hear from anyone who has used this tool.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

podcast tags

I just saw Nicole Simon's post on Podcasttag, a new service to put tags on podcasts.

Tested it out on a post in our CoAS podcast and it worked like a charm.

Very cool service.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Horizon Report from NLII/NMC

The 2005 Horizon Report from the National Learning Infrastructure Initiative and New Media Consortium is now available. This is a nice concise overview of technologies expected to penetrate the educational environment on 1 year, 2-3 year and 4-5 year horizons. Here are some things I found interesting:
1) Dartmouth College students can check out ipods from the library for their language class
2) cell phone polling in class
3) within the next 12 months adoption of ubiquitous wireless and "extended learning" (basically hybrid or blended courses). I think that student demand will play a big part in how quickly this happens. The technology is not the bottleneck.
4) within 2-3 years: intelligent searching (RSS is a big part of this, blinkx.com, federated searching) With the flood of information, it becomes more important to know how to retrieve information quickly rather than aggregate. Also knowing with reasonable certainty that something has not been done becomes even more important.
5) gnooks.com displays a map of authors with proximity indicating similarity. (I am still thinking about why Ayn Rand is so close to Buckminster Fuller)
6) also within 2-3 years: educational gaming - I am not sure about this one. I think it will require a lot of time and testing and the right experience to pull off.
7) within 4-5 years: social networking and knowledge webs. Wiki's created collaboratively within a class. This is powerful stuff. Teacher as knowledge catalyst.
8) within 4-5 years: context-aware computing and augmented reality: Virtual Reality for medical students, computers making more assumptions about the user's intention in a specific context

Sunday, March 20, 2005

screen capture for Mac

Update: this should work

Several faculty have asked about a product like Camtasia that would work on a Mac. I have nothing to recommend from experience but here is a list. Some of these products just capture an image but several do record video and audio. If you try an evaluation version let me know how it works out. We should be able to integrate with our standard captured lecture system.

Friday, March 18, 2005

learning styles and e-learning

Here is a nice review article on learning styles and the implications for e-learning. A case is made for the value of identifying the learning types of your audience before deploying your e-learning package. This is the kind of thing we have been discussing within CoAS but we are nowhere near being able to fully implement that. The best we can do now is use the technology that fits best with the type of content that needs to be delivered.

The authors make a distinction between the "black box" approach, where the computer is used to automatically deliver content and assess the progress of the student, and the "networks approach", where technology is used to facilitate communication between student-teacher and student-student. We have seen both types this term in our fully online courses. Our English Composition class used the network to enable peer review and class discussion, while Organic Chemistry leveraged recorded lectures and automated feedback.

There is such a vast difference between the experience of a "black box" and a "networks approach" online class that I believe that is the source of so much confusion in the assessment of the success of e-learning.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

chemistry virtual lab

I have talked with a few faculty in our College about how far e-learning can be pushed and the limitations usually end up with the laboratory component. Project IrYdium is a virtual chemistry laboratory that is sponsored by NSF and freely available for educational purposes. It will probably not be possible to completely replace a hands on experience but the way this software breaks down the steps of doing a laboratory experiment is really quite realistic. It might be useful as a pre-lab practice or as additional laboratory exercises. Even the meniscus in the burette looks good!
Here is a short video demo
Here is the link to the website.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

ipod uses

Following up on our podcasting of lectures pilot program this term, several other courses next term will be podcast as audio in addition to being available by streaming audio/video screencast. It is interesting to take a look at how ipods are being used for educational purposes.

Of course there is the Duke initiative, where ipods were provided to 1650 freshmen at a cost of $500,000. In the report from the Duke Chronicle, uses for the devices included distributing audio recordings of lectures in an Economics class. No mention was made of podcasting so I assume these were simply made available for manual download. Out of a class of 300, 40 students were reported to have been recording the lectures on their own, suggesting that there is a significant demand for this form of lecture content. Other uses included pronunciation audio files for a Spanish class. Using this technology in language classes seems like a no-brainer. The most interesting application, I thought, was for a music class, where students had to record their voices on top of music provided by the teacher. The use of audio recordings of the students as an assignment is something that we have discussed in CoAS and it is nice to see that there it has been used successfully.

Following up on Duke's lead, Drexel's School of Education will be providing ipods to freshmen this fall.

Another interesting application involves making ipods loaded with audio books available on a loaner basis. The South Huntington Public Library on Long Island, New York is doing just that. Each ipod holds one audio book. Ten are currently available.

I think that one of the biggest challenges for implementing podcasting for education involves overcoming misconceptions about how the technology can be used. The term "podcasting" is turning out to be a disadvantage to some extent because it is often assumed that it requires an ipod. Use of an ipod may be optimal for high mobility applications like exercising or using public transportation. However, in commuting by car, I have found that using a laptop is more convenient. What makes podcasting work is the automatic downloading of files. Focusing on the audio device can detract from this key point.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

WebCT showcase

Next week, wednesday March 16, IRT is hosting a showcase of WebCT classes. I'll be highlighting lecture recording using Camtasia.

WebCT Faculty Showcase
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
11:00am – 1:00pm

Living Arts Lounge
Creese Center


11:00am Welcome – Dr. Janice Biros

11:05am set-up
11:10am Dr. Eva Thury
(Set up 11:05am-11:10am Present 1110am-1125am Questions 1125am-1130am)WebCT and Pedagogical Techniques

11:25am set-up
11:30am Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley
(Set up 11:25am-11:30am Present 1130am-1145am Questions 1145am-1150am)
Using Camtasia to Capture Lectures and Enhance WebCT Courses

11:50am Lunch is served!

12:10pm set-up
12:15pm David Welsh & Khedra Conrad
(Set up 12:10pm-12:15pm Present 1215pm-1230pm Questions 1230pm-1235pm)
Using WebCT to Create Collaborative Environments for Cohorts of Executive MBA Students

12:30pm set-up
12:35pm Dr. Stephen Smith
(Set up 12:30pm-12:35pm Present 1235pm-1250pm Questions 1250pm-1255pm)
Using WebCT across the Curriculum for Graduate Students in Engineering Management

12:55pm Wrap-up and Thank You – Dr. Janice Biros

Monday, March 07, 2005

chemistry pod resource

Here is a resource for chemistry of audio files accompanied by pdfs. Most of the chemistry sites I have come across give low level or incomplete information. From looking at the lecture on aromaticity, it seems to cover what I do in CHEM 242 and a bit more. There are lectures on NMR, coordination chemistry, electrochemistry and using chemical abstracts.

The download of the mp3's is slow (15-20 minutes per file).

Saturday, March 05, 2005

podcasting webinar overview

Here is the podcast of the event.

The notice was short but we did get one of our screencasting early adopters Jane Huggins to join John Morris' IRT crew and myself at the Educause podcasting webinar yesterday. Cyprien Lomas and Jennifer Reeves reported on how they used podcasting to record conference presentations and hallway conversations. They reported that podcasting is 22 weeks old and new applications are being reported on a weekly basis. Their presentation reflected the enthusiasm of early adopters of a new technology.

An important point was made by Jennifer that the success of podcasting is based on simplicity and convenience. Some people who have not experienced podcasting find it difficult to understand what the excitement is all about. After all people have been putting links to their media on websites for years. The only difference in podcasting is that the files (usually mp3s) are automatically downloaded to your mobile audio device or laptop. But that is the critical step that makes this technology naturally integrate with the workflow of most people that commute. If you are going to listen to something anyway, and the audio files are just sitting there a click or two away, it becomes just as easy as turning on the radio. The added effort of having to manually download the files from a number of sources on a daily basis is not something most people (including myself) can put up with for prolonged periods of time.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Drexel library blog

Jay Bhatt and Andy Wheeler now have a blog on Engineering Resources in the Hagerty library. Even if you are not in engineering I would recommend subscribing to their feed. They have an information retrieval tutorial that would be excellent for science students in our college.

webinar on podcasting today

EDUCAUSE will be broadcasting a “webinar” on Podcasting. If you are interested or want to pass this along, we will be connected to the event in Korman 011. The event starts at 1:00pm and should last about an hour.

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