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Sunday, May 29, 2005

Site Meter

A few days ago I installed SiteMeter on most of my blogs. It is especially simple to add to a Blogger account with no need to modify the template. The free version will tell you how people are finding your blog (i.e. search engine, search terms) and how many are visiting. To get the results in summary format requires a paid subscription. Scroll to the bottom of this blog and click the Site Meter icon to see.

I was pleased to see that people are finding this blog through "How to" queries - podcasts, Camtasia, recording classes, etc. I want to keep the content here high on actionable information. That's what I look for in my feeds.

I was also glad to see people finding my organic classes CHEM 241 and 243 through searches for chemicals and chemical reactions.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

ChemSketch, Flickr, Paint and Blogger combo

In my organic chemistry classes (CHEM 241 and CHEM 243) I give students an extra credit assignment that involves drawing molecules and reactions and linking to peer-reviewed articles.

In order to help with this I recorded a tutorial that shows how to use ChemSketch to draw molecules, Paint to easily save as bmp and Flickr to upload. I also show how to create a Blogger account, insert the reaction and link to an article.

This might be useful not only to chemists but to anyone who would like to post pics to a blog for free.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

screencasting and podcasting lectures in CoAS

There have been a few changes since my last post about what is available for screencasting and podcasting lectures at Drexel in the College of Arts and Sciences.
I'll use this post to update small changes going forward.

Here is what we have available:

1) We have a few tablet PC's that can be signed out for lecture and seminar recording. They have Camtasia installed to do the screen capture. You can use SMART notebook or Powerpoint for writing freehand. As long as you stay reasonably close to the tablet, the built-in microphone is generally good enough for the audio.
2) If you don't need to draw or write freehand you can install Camtasia on your laptop and ask me for a license, which you will need after the 30 day free trial.
3) Start Camtasia Studio. Click on record. Give your lecture. Click on Stop. Camtasia will ask for a filename that it will save as an avi.
4) You normally shouldn't need to edit the recording but if you do, you can use Camtasia's editing functions and I have a screencast on that here.
5) At this point you need to make the file available to students. This can be done by:
a) Converting the avi to Flash using Camtasia. Use 800x600 resolution and no more than 5 frames/sec. This will generate 4 files that all must be uploaded to a server. Ask me for an account if you don't have access to a server. It takes about 20 minutes to convert an hour long lecture.
If you want to do a podcast, you need to convert the avi to an mp3. This can be done using Konvertor. Use 8000Hz, 16kb/s and mono. Let me know if you need a license. You can upload the mp3 and any other relevant files (pdf, ppt, etc.) onto the server.
If you wish to keep access to your recordings private to the class, creating links in WebCT is probably the way to go. If you want to make your class public, using a blog is convenient. A good place to create a free blog is Blogger. A screencast of this entire process (except the mp3 conversion) can be found here.


b) Copy your avi to a folder maintained by IRT. They have a script that will convert your avi to a Real Media file and host it on a streaming server. The video will lose some resolution, which can be a problem when recording text while web browsing but is generally fine for Powerpoint or free hand drawing. If you are off campus you must install VPN to access the folder. You avi will be deleted after 5 days so make sure to keep a copy.
I believe there is still a glitch in the conversion to mp3 but that should be fixed soon.
An RSS feed is provided to your students. The advantage is that you don't have to keep track of filenames or do the file conversion but you can't add text to the feed.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Michelle Francl: E-Learning and Physical Chemistry

Drexel CoAS E-Learning Lecture Series

Wednesday May 18, 2005 11:00

Location: 4020 MacAlister

This is not your father’s (or my mothers!) physical chemistry course

Physical chemistry is a core course for chem majors, and increasingly attracts students from allied disciplines, such as biology and medicine. Yet in the face of enormous changes in the practice of physical chemistry, texts and curricula for the course have changed little since the 1950s when my parents were chemistry students. Eliminating both the lecture and the textbook is one route to modernizing the course. What’s left? Concise, topically driven interactive electronic texts (based on symbolic math programs such as Mathcad and Mathematica), context-rich materials drawing on the primary literature, IM office hours, blogs and guided inquiry resources.

Michelle M. Francl is a professor of chemistry at Bryn Mawr College, where she has been on the faculty for almost 20 years, teaching physical chemistry, general chemistry and mathematical modeling. She received her Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine in 1983. Her research is in the area of computational chemistry, where she is best known for her work on methods for assigning charges to atoms in molecules. Current research interests include the structures of topologically interesting molecules, such as moebiusenes. She is on a list of the 1000 most cited chemists, a member of the editorial board for the Journal of Molecular Graphics and Modelling, active in the American Chemical Society and the author of “The Survival Guide for Physical Chemistry”.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Using Waypoint

Using Waypoint

11:00 May 11, 2005 - Living Arts Lounge (new location)

Andrew McCann in an engineer, writer, and entrepreneur. He spent 5 years with General Electric Company in a variety of process improvement, management, and sales roles. He has taught a wide variety of undergraduate and graduate writing courses and was a scholarship recipient to the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference. His fiction has appeared in Scribner’s Best of the Fiction Workshops and he teaches in Drexel’s English and Philosophy department. In 2003 he founded Subjective Metrics, Inc. to commercialize the waypoint system of writing assessment.

Responding to student writing and other subjective projects is challenging and time consuming. Often teachers feel that the effort they put into writing margin and end-notes on student papers has little effect.

Waypoint, an online assessment tool, is designed to improve the response process.

Waypoint provides teachers with a structure for creating interactive rubrics. Moving rubrics from paper to an interactive webpage gives teachers the power to give detailed feedback to their students in significantly less time than handwriting or typing. Teachers still receive papers the way they always have - and make margin notes etc. But instead of handwriting end comments, teachers use an infinitely customizable template to select and modify prewritten, rubric-based text. Teachers can easily access a history of comments for a particular student and quantify a cohort's strengths and weaknesses.

Students receive feedback via either hardcopies or emails.

Please join Andrew McCann, the developer of waypoint, for a guided tour of this new tool.

This talk is screencast and podcast here:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Education is gossip made respectable

I came across this quote "Education is gossip made respectable" in Michael Drury's book Counterclockwise. There are many other nuggets in that autobiographical work.

The idea that education is a conversation (gossip) is something that I have been bumping into in my own experience and reading/talking with other educators.

Ironically the reason I have been encountering conversation in class is due to the archiving of screencasts of my lectures and making my class fully-online optional. Instead of creating a distance between myself and students, in many cases it has enabled conversation by reducing the amount of time I usually have to spend repeating myself to be understood. It seems that having the basic information of the class available in archived lecture format is useful as a background to integrate information naturally through conversation (at least for some students).

I am finding that conversation can be catalyzed by involving additional sensory modalities (e.g. kinesthetic when using molecular models for organic chemistry) or games. What these have in common is a natural tendency to constructivism, which I have found to be notably absent in lecturing (especially in a large room).

Monday, May 02, 2005

Google Scholar Seminar

update: this talk is screencast and podcast here

Drexel CoAS E-Learning Seminar Series - May 4, 2005 Living Arts Lounge 11:00

Google Scholar and other Information Resource Tools: Constructive Analysis

This constructive discussion will examine variety of information needs from a wide spectrum of audience ranging from university faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. During the course of this session, several issues will be discussed: type of information needs which can be best met by Google Scholar,

information needs where other resources such as online handbooks, encyclopedias and other reference tools are most useful, and situations where simply other types of resources and tools that provides comprehensive citation analysis, business and entrepreneurship information and online bibliographies are best alternatives.

JAY BHATT is the Information Services librarian for Engineering at Drexel University. He is responsible for building library collections in engineering subject areas, outreach to faculty and students, and assisting faculty and students in their information retrieval process. He is actively involved with the Engineering Libraries Division of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) and the International Association of Technology University Libraries (IATUL). He is also the 2003 recipient of Drexel University's Harold Myers Distinguished Service Award. He received his M.S. in Library and Information Science from Drexel in 1997 and M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering also from Drexel in 1986. He joined the Hagerty Library as an Information Services librarian for Engineering in December 1997

RSVP to Jean-Claude.Bradley@drexel.edu if you wish to attend.

Next Events:

RSS Club Meeting: 12:00-13:00 Friday April 29, 2005 in 4020 Macalister.

Using Waypoint, Andrew McCann 11:00-12:00 Wednesday May 11, 2005 in 4020.

Missed a seminar? Most events are screencast and podcast here

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