Archive.org, or the Internet Archive, has functioned as a digital library of all media types on the Internet since 1996.  Available material has been free to the public, with some exceptions, since its start and it has served as a library for Open Educational Resources way before the term “OER” ever existed.  The archive also existed before Creative Commons but began to gain in popularity as the Creative Commons licenses were first released in 2002.  Because of the interest in using OERs and the stipulations of a Creative Commons license, the Archive  has organized its content by containing Creative Commons licensed material all in one place.

Until the last year or so, all Creative Commons licensed materials that are moving images, audio or text (e-books) in Archive.org were found in the “Open Source” collection.  Now that the term “Open Source” has become the term for designated software that is free for use and modification, Archive.org has changed the name of these databases to “Community Video,” “Community Audio” and “Community Books” to reflect the practice of sharing information among OERs.

All three sections can be found, circled below, among the tabs at the top of the home page.

Archive links

Community Video

If you scroll down after clicking on the Moving Images tab and find Community Video, you’ll see it listed among many different categories of video topics, all known as Sub-Collections. Among others, these include Arts & Music, Computers & Technology, Spirituality & Religion, full-length movies, and historical newsreels.  The Community Video category alone contains 175, 202 items!  All of these videos have Creative Commons licenses and are free of charge.  You can browse by collection, title, subject/keyword, language, date uploaded and by video creator.

Community Video, upon first glance, is overwhelming, but narrowing the terms of a search will yield useful videos.  For example, if you are a professor of social services and you scrolled down to the sixth video you’ll see,  “Sadobabies- Runaways in San Francisco,” a documentary from 1988 produced by writer/social worker May Peteren on a certain community of teenage runaways and their circumstances.

To the left of the video page, you’ll see the area where you can play or download it as a MPEG4 (the format you’ll most be able to use), Ogg Video or MPEG2.  If you click on the Archive icon at the bottom right of the embedded video you will also be provided with a video link and an embed code to insert into your online course or blog.  Again, this is just one example of many videos available in the Community collection.  One caveat: there is a fair number of “noise” videos, as well, of little educational use.  However, the numerous search options help you find videos more useful for higher education instruction.

Community Audio

The Community Audio collection has the same search capabilities as the video collection and has just as many Sub-Collections.  Sub-Collections here include podcasts, live music archive, audio books and poetry, the Berkley Grocks collection of interviews with leading scientists and technologists, radio programs and non-English audio.  In Community Audio alone there are 929,335 files.

Searching in Community Audio reveals the breadth and depth of recordings available to you.  In a random search, I found legally obtained MP3s of NY Fire Department radio dispatches from the early morning and afternoon of 9/11.  Each are over 46 minutes long.  I found a Librivox audio book recording of Treasure Island from Robert Louis Stevenson. Once, searching with a history faculty member, we found MP3s of songs and spirituals such as “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” and “Old Man River” sung by Paul Robson and taken from the original 78 rpm recordings.  Any Archive.org community recording can be streamed, downloaded in a variety of file formats, given as a hyperlink or embedded into an LMS or blog.

Community Books

A search under Community Books yields yet more resources using the same search capabilities.  The Sub-Collections include American Libraries Project, Canadian Libraries, Project Gutenberg, Biodiversity Heritage Library and scans from the The Universal Library Project (or the Million Books Project).   You may recall in higher education media news that Archive.org has taken it upon themselves to scan and digitize every book in human history to make them available on Archive.org.  Obviously that project is still ongoing.

Community Books can be searched using many different languages including Africaans, Catalan, Kannada, Latin, Swahili and those more commonly used.  Click “Browse Community English Texts” and then “Microsoft Excel 2003 Tips and Tricks” shows you the type of formats you can download.  You can click to read it online, download it as a PDF, an epub, a file for a Kindle, a Daisy reader app, a full text format (looks like a txt file), and a djvu file, a scanned image of extremely high resolution for viewing in a web browser.

Here is a video from a YouTube member on how to download an Archive.org e-book for Kindle via the iPad:

Hopefully, this post has piqued your interest in Archive.org and their Community collection.  If you want to learn more on this topic, please see your center’s FIT.

 

On May 17 and 18th, the College of St. Rose in Albany NY hosted its second annual “Technologies in Education” conference at various buildings on campus.  The event billed itself as a free conference and professional development opportunity for K-12 teachers, higher education faculty and students, technologists, librarians, and anyone else interested in the use of technologies in education.  Participants were free to attend the workshops throughout the day and visit with the vendors in the vendor showcase.  Vendors included SmartThinking, EBSCOhost, AV Rover, Blackboard and others.

There was no keynote speaker, so attendants were free to choose between an equal offering of workshops and presentations in technology-pedagogy integration for K-12 or higher education.  I attended the workshops geared towards higher education and am please to share my experience here in this post.  The following are short summaries of the major points of some of the workshops.

“Planting New Ideas” – Laura Matechak, Onondaga Community College

Ms. Matechak demonstrated several Web 2.0 tools that she has helped faculty at her institution implement.  The tools she showed the participants were LiveBinders, Vocaroo, VoiceThread, Screencast-O-Matic and Dabbleboard.

“Managing the Online Discussion Board” – Dr. David Seelow,  Excelsior College

Dr. Seelow let participants in on how he designs online discussion boards in his blended and fully online writing courses.  He stressed 1) the need for the instructor to model for students what an exemplary discussion post should look like before they begin, and 2) that the questions posed by the instructor must elicit student responses that are tied to course-intended outcomes. In the blended setting, he uses discussion boards as a teaching management tool.  For example, when showing a movie in class he will use the class time to show the movie and then task students to participate in the discussion for that day’s viewing as homework.  This way, students are discussing fresh events and not having the discussion of a movie in class several days after viewing.  In the fully online writing course, Seelow addressed considerations like how many questions should be asked in an online discussion board as well as the benefit to students when instructors share learning objectives in a discussion board and describe the functional purpose of the discussion board before students are asked to participate.

“Electronic Portfolios: A Flexible Assessment Tool” – Dr. Erin Mitchell, College of St. Rose

Dr. Mitchell took participants through her experience with student-created ePortfolios for her foreign language courses in their college- supported platform iWebfolio which will be replaced by Chalk & Wire  in September 2012.  Her students create ePortfolios as an assessment instead of taking a sit-down test, demonstrating less anxiety about fulfilling the instructor goals.  Their portfolios reflected authentic use of language in a setting where student learning is transparent from beginning to end. From the instructor perspective, ePortfolios are less burdensome to grade as one doesn’t have to sort through a pile of paper, plastic binders or CD-Rs from students.  Dr. Mitchell showed that the common content for an ePortfolio includes target student goals, samples of student work, student self evaluations and instructor feedback.  Students are free to show their skills by creating photos, videos, audio or any other digital artifacts for inclusion.  Dr. Mitchell also recommended having in-class training sessions for portfolio setups, continuing to address student portfolio questions during class,  keeping up with feedback, and checking in with those students you find are not contributing regularly to their ePortfolios.

“Movement and Learning: The Use of Educational Scavenger Hunts and Field Trips” – Dr. Stephen Gareau,  Buffalo State College

Dr. Gareau began his presentation with an introduction to the overarching rationale for his use of Scavenger Hunts.  His use of this kind of teaching method is based on the concept of Mobility Learning Preference, researched by Dunn and Dunn in the late 1970s.  This ‘preference’ is a common mode of informal learning that takes place when one visits a museum or art gallery, and stems from the idea that humans are, by nature, migratory and hunter-gatherers.  In his graduate level Instructional Technology course, students were to go out on campus and digitally record their findings of the visual design principles used in web design as reflected on their own campus buildings.  Next, in another lesson to teach students how packets are transmitted across a network to send email, Gareau sends students to piece together taught content on their own by participating in Dr. Gareau’s use of Letterboxing, a geographical quest to find clues in small boxes planted in different locations on campus.  More ideas of how to use Letterboxing to teach interdisciplinary concepts can be found at atlasquest.com.

“Importance of PLNs in Education for Professors and Students” – Dr. Regina Luttrell, Eastern Michigan University

A PLN is Personal Learning Network, an informal network that consists of social media connections to thought-leaders or major researchers that you feel can expose you to relevant and up-to-date knowledge.  Maintaining a PLN is a beneficial tool for professional development for any professional or student in any chosen field.  Dr. Luttrell showed us her PLN and the various resources it draws on.   People within your PLN can be drawn from Twitter, Facebook, DIIGO communities, LinkedIn, blogs and professional online journals, for example.  Dr. Luttrell had workshop participants create their own PLNs with her help to determine the best social media outlets to find their professional development connections.  A PLN is not one certain website or one’s own blog but rather the knowledgebase gained from aggregating all of these disparate outlets.

“Power Plays: Exploring Negotiations of Power in Online Collaborative Course Design” -  Dr. Michele Forte and Dr. Himanee Gupta-Carlson, SUNY Empire State College

Forte and Gupta-Carlson began by having participants create crayon drawings of their responses to a guiding question and pass it to the person next to them.  This activity illustrated their main point of considering how we collaborate with others and what we contribute to make sure our ideas are represented.  Both professors illustrated this concern by presenting their shared online course “Imagining Justice in a Diverse Society” offered at Empire State College.  Some issues that arose during course creation were explored in group discussion at the presentation.  The issues were ideas such as how we get students away from the idea of sole authorship to collaborate and arrive at something new.  When working in a group, when does one speak and when should one be socially polite? How do we teach respect and dialogue in the online setting? The answer is, by encouraging all students, instructors and course developers to consider universal design and multicultural, diverse perspectives.  Also, one hypermedia site that the course draws from is the digital museum known as the National Women’s History Museum.

If integrating technology within your studies, in ways you’ve just read here interest you, then please visit your center’s Faculty Instructional Technologist.


 

Interest in having one’s files accessible from the Internet, known as ‘cloud computing,’ instead of a device like a USB drive, has increased recently.  Knowing that devices can crash unexpectedly, losing all of your hard work, makes the idea of having files always readily available regardless of the device you are working from (laptop, home desktop, work computer) attractive.

If you hear someone talking about cloud computing,  they are most likely referring to one of two services, online backup or cloud storage.

Online backup services just provide an area where you can store important files in case of a disastrous situation such as a stolen iPhone or dropped laptop.  With this type of service you cannot share these files or edit them quickly.
Cloud storage services not only house your files but also give you editing access to them and let you share files with anyone you invite. Dropbox, due to a very good marketing campaign, is probably the most well known of the many cloud storage options.

In this post, I will highlight six similar services: Dropbox, Insync, Wuala, SugarSync, SpiderOak and Box.  Again, please note that there are many more than just these.

All six of these have a free account option with basic functions, higher price plans with more storage and options for individuals, accounts for businesses, and mobile device capabilities as well.  Each service has pros and cons but the bottom line comes down to which one fits your needs.
Dropbox icon Dropbox

Basics: 2GB free to $100/year for 50 GB + downloadable cross-platform desktop client
Pros: Dropbox is the most popular, so people you work with may already have a Dropbox account.   Also, shared folders can be created quickly, collaborators have similar interfaces, and “Public” folders provide URLs to share a file as a hyperlink.  Dropbox syncs with email clients Outlook and Thunderbird, and Dropbox syncs quickly with your other devices.

Another special feature is that the free account and the pay account have the exact same features.

Cons: If accessing from the Web and not your desktop client, files must be downloaded from Dropbox to be edited, then must be uploaded again to be saved. There are privacy issues, and shared folders count against your personal GB allotment.

Click here for a video demonstration.

Insync iconInsync

Basics: 1 GB free to $100/year for 400GB + downloadable, cross-platform desktop client

Pros: Insync is for working on your Google Docs files offline.  When editing, Insync opens a Google Docs word processing document in Microsoft Word, not in Google Docs, for full editing capabilities!  Then, when you press “Save,” it intuitively saves in your Insync folder and the changes are immediately reflected in Google Docs!  Also, native applications, like Google Forms, when opened to edit in Insync, open Google Docs.

Cons: Desktop folder can be hard to navigate, it’s not made for Linux yet, and is only useful if you are a heavy Google Docs user.

Click here for a video demonstration.

Wuala iconWuala

Basics: 1 GB free to  649 euros/year for 1 TB + downloadable, cross-platform desktop client

Pros: Wuala has the same capabilities as Dropbox, but files are encrypted in your computer, so not even Wuala employees can access user files. Also, Wuala separates the backup and sync functions.

Cons: You cannot sync from an Android device to Wuala.  Also, of the five here, Wuala used to offer more GB of space online by trading unused local disk space from your computer, but they have recently discontinued this feature.

Click here for a video demonstration.

SpiderOak iconSpiderOak
Basics: 2 GB free to $10/month for 100GB + downloadable, cross-platform desktop client

Pros: Spider Oak has a “zero knowledge privacy policy” and have recently added even more encryption capabilities that make it the safest of the five listed here. Folders in SpiderOak can be synced across an unlimited number of devices including USB thumb drives.  Also, their pay plans are cheaper than Dropbox.
Cons: Interface may be confusing with two separate windows, one to sync and one to backup, and both functions do not happen concurrently. Also, its complicated interface may use up more of your computer’s resources.

Click here for video demonstrations.

SugarSync iconSugarSync

Basics: 5 GB free to $4.17/ month for 30 GB + downloadable, cross-platform desktop client

Pros: SugarSync is the most highly rated.  You can pick any folder on your computer to sync, whereas Dropbox only lets you sync one folder (your “Dropbox folder”) where you must know what to put in it.  With SugarSync you can back up and/or sync computer folders, and folders can be easily duplicated among devices. Its iPhone app lets you see files backed up across all of your computers and devices. Their mobile app can also mass upload photos taken on your phone and, unlike other services, can stream media with a desktop client, meaning you can watch movies or listen to music within SugarSync.

Cons: SugarSync is best for a power user.  It may have more features than you need or want.  Also they have no Linux support.  Free account is on a 30-day trial and is feature-limited.  For example, in the free version you can only sync/backup two computers.  What if you want to try SugarSync on your three devices but don’t want to pay money without knowing if it will work across all of them?

Click here for a video demonstration.

box.net iconBox

Basics: 5GB free to $19.99/month for 50 GB

Pros: Comments can be added by users as subheadings under the file name.  Box offers content management, online workspaces geared for collaboration, task management, granular user and group permissions, admin account transfers and a built-in editor. High level features include custom options for embedding files into a website, Google Apps integration and administrative controls that allow Box users to create and manage a complete workspace environment. Box is most used by enterprises.

Major Con: Box has no desktop client so files can only be accessed online.  This is a major issue if you are looking to sync folders.

Click here for a video demonstration.
As you can see, there are major differences between these services; choose the one that best fits your needs.  If privacy is an issue, try Wuala or SpiderOak.   If you need advanced functions, try SugarSync.  If security is not an issue to you, then you might choose Dropbox.  If you don’t care about syncing files among devices, consider Box.  Also, keep in mind that there are many more cloud storage services in the marketplace that you might explore

If you want to learn more, ask your center’s Faculty Instructional Technologist.

The practice of making higher education course content available to anyone, regardless of whether the individuals are enrolled as students of that institution, has become known as distributing Open Educational Resources (OERs).  These may include anything from course materials and learning objects to videos, tests and visual images.   Stephen Downes, of Athabasca University has stated that an OER may be “an entire course, complete book, or a more granular piece, such as a single learning object.”   OER materials are made available without strict copyright restrictions open lockby having one or another type of open licenses.  These different types of licenses are explained and available at the Creative Commons web site.

MIT began the use of OERs in 2003 when it launched OpenCourseWare as a free, digital publication of MIT course materials.  Since then, many more institutions have joined in this emerging educational technology trend as evidenced by growing participation in the OpenCourseWare Consortium.

Collaborative efforts between faculty and students to create learning materials can also become OERs.  As Rossini and Graeff (2009) state, “OER creates the opportunity for a more fundamental and transformative change:  [The] move from passive consumption of educational resources to the formal engagement of educators and learners in the creative process of education content development itself.”

A fundamental concept of using OERs includes the four “R”s that characterize their function.  As Hilton, Wiley, Stein and Johnson state, we are to:

  • “Reuse” – use all or part of a work for our own purpose,
  • “Redistribute” – share the work with others,
  • “Revise” – change the form of the work to suit our needs, and
  • “Remix” – take two existing resources and combine them.

Since there are so many OERs available to you via a simple Google search that it can seem overwhelming, a good place to start instead is at the OER Commons.  There, you can browse OERs by subject area, grade level (primary, secondary and post-secondary), material type, media formats and Conditions of Use.  For example, under “Gateway Courses” you will find high enrollment, general education, online courses that are made available to anyone interested in the course or its learning materials.  Clicking on the link to each course description gives you a guest username and password to enter the course.

While OER Commons does offer open textbooks, there are several sites devoted exclusively to open textbooks, with Flat World Knowledge getting the most attention. This site’s home page describes the high standards they hold for their textbooks which are “written by expert authors, peer-reviewed and professionally edited and developed.”   After joining the site (by creating a username and password), you will be able to easily browse their titles.  For example, look at Principles of Management V1.1 by Mason Carpenter, Talya Bauer and Berrin Erdogan.  In the “About the Authors” area, you will find that all three authors are highly credentialed professors at a major university.   Like most OER textbooks, it can be surmised that these three authors came together to create this open textbook out of a need to use a course book that contains the most relevant content to their teaching purposes, where none existed before.  The book itself can be viewed and downloaded as a PDF, shipped as a printed textbook or uploaded to an e-book reader, each for less than half the average price of a college textbook.  Supplements include online, interactive study aids for downloading or the ability to load the e-book as an MP3 for listening on the go!

There are many sites devoted to open video resources, with Khan Academy being the most popular.  Signing in allows you to use their self-assessment tools to earn points and badges.  While Khan is an excellent resource, it may be difficult to find videos for the post-secondary level, as the majority of videos there are intended for primary and secondary grade levels.

OER Commons can be searched easily to find quite a few higher education-level OER videos.  Once there, a simple search using the keywords “Post secondary” and “Video” in all subject areas, reveals 4,002 relevant videos in the OER Commons collection.  Academic Earth is another site than specializes in video course content for higher education. There you will find video lectures in disciplines from Literature to Physics from universities such as Harvard, Yale, Stanford and others.

If the idea of remixing digital content seems foreign, watch this video on using OER Glue.  OER Glue is a new web browser add-on from Google and is intended for the Google Chrome browser but there are plans for it to be usable in Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox.  This (audio-free) video quickly walks you through finding OER resources using OER Glue and shows you how you can organize them to create your own course:

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1wUwUIGI7c&feature=related)

If you are concerned about what qualifies something as “open,” visit the Empire State College Online Library’s Public Domain Resources web site which offers tips on finding copyright-free resources by media type, or visit the library’s Copyright web site for guidance on complying with U.S. copyright law.

Finally, if you have any questions and want to learn more, see your center’s faculty instructional technologist for assistance with integrating OERs into your coursework!

References:

Downes, S. (2007).  Models for sustainable open educational resources.  Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and Learning Objects, 3, 29-44.

A Brief Overview of U.S. Public Policy on OER from California’s Community Colleges to the Obama Administration.  (October8, 2009).  Retrieved November 20, 2011 from http://publius.cc/brief_overview_us_public_policy_oer_californias_community_colleges_obama_ad

Hilton III, J., Wiley, D., Stein, J., Johnson, A.  (2010). The Four ‘R’s of Openness and ALMS analysis: Frameworks for Open Educational Resources. Open Learning: The Journal of Open and Distance Learning25 (1), 37-44.

 

Using podcasts to offer feedback can enhance an instructor’s presence with his or her online students.

Every ESC ANGEL course has a Wimba podcasting application.  The one on your course’s main Course page may or may not be enabled.

To enable ANGEL’s WimbaPodcaster:

Click Edit Page directly below your course name and number in the upper left hand corner.

Step 1

A row of buttons will then appear.  There, click the Add Components button.

Step 2

The Available Components window will open.  Scroll down the list to make sure the box to the left of WimbaPodcaster is checked.  Then, click Add Selected. (Note: you can also drag the Wimba nugget to any to new area of the course home page in Edit Page mode.)

Step 3

The Available Components box will disappear.   Now, click Save.

Step4

To create a new podcast,  go back to the main Course page and click on Click here to launch the podcast.

Step 5

A window like the following will open.

toolbar

Available tools are listed in the top row of buttons:

  • New is where you record new podcasts (more on that later).
  • Edit is available for curated podcasts, to override one and create a new one, or to edit accompanying text.
  • Delete moves the selected podcast to the trash.
  • The Import button allows you to upload to Wimba a recording you may have made with other software that is either a mp3, wav, or spx file (must be smaller than 10 MB, or roughly 10 minutes of speech).
  • Export allows you to export your podcasts in ANGEL to your computer.
  • In Options, clicking on the down arrow lets you choose if you want the selected podcast to play when clicked or be part of a continuous playback of all podcasts.
  • The middle box lists all of the course podcasts.

To create a new podcast:

After clicking New, the following window will appear.  In the subject line, give the podcast a relevant title.  Any podcast addressed to an individual student should have the student’s name in the title.  Record your voice by pressing the red “record” button.  Enter ADA-compliant text, to reduce cognitive load, in the text area just below the recording window.  When done, press the Post button.

New podcast

Students access the podcast on the course home page as seen in the picture below.

Student view

If you’d like to learn more about the Wimba tool, contact your Center’s Faculty Instructional Technologist.

 

Reordering an assignment list in your ANGEL course Gradebook may be necessary as the Gradebook can look confusing depending on how it was set up.  Items initially appear by default in the order they are attached to the Gradebook.

To rearrange your assignments to list in a more logical presentation for you:

Step One:  Go to “Categories” in the Gradebook.

Go to catagories in the Gradebook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Two: Check the box next to the category whose assignments you want to reorder.  Then click “Show Tasks.”

Go to Show Tasks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Three: Click the “Reorder Assignments” link.

Click the Reorder Assignment link

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Step Four: Click to highlight the assignment you want to move.  Then, move it using either the “Top,” “Up,” “Down,” or “Bottom” buttons.  Doing so makes this:

Moving Assignments

 

…into this:

Click "Save" when done

(Reminder: Click “Save” after reordering the assignments)

If you have any questions, please contact your center’s FIT.

Twitter Basics

Twitter is a popular Web 2.0 tool for micro-blogging and is beginning to find a place in higher education learning environments. Micro-blogging is the term used to identify the act of communicating via brief texts within some Web 2.0 tools, especially Twitter. Twitter allows only 140 characters in total for Twitter account holders to compose statements or “Tweets.” These Tweets may range in content from “what I’m doing today” to hyperlinks that may be of interest to subscribers (“Followers”). Engaging students in discussion via Twitter allows them to interact with materials that are presented in real time. There are many Twitter accounts created for many different areas of interest. For example, one could follow NY Times at Twitter, The White House at Twitter or Empire State College at Twitter.

Signal-to-Noise

Two important Twitter-related concepts to keep in mind when implementing Twitter as a learning activity are “signal” and “noise,” terms borrowed from radio broadcasting. “Noise” describes those Tweets that are of very little contextual quality and have little relevance. “Signal,” on the other hand, describes posts that have relative meaning and which might provide stimulating discussions among your students.

Twitter and the C.O.I. model

Twitter has been used to enhance “social presence” as defined by the Community of Inquiry Model (The Model of a Community of Inquiry, 2007). A case study from the University of Colorado, Denver focuses on the use of Twitter in a module of an instructional design and technology course (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009). The authors encouraged their students to use Twitter in a variety of ways: to post questions and queries to one another or to the course team; to send student?to?student direct messages; to tweet comments on relevant news events; to share resources; to report on conferences attended; to link to student blog postings; and, to exchange personal information. The authors claim that the use of Twitter can enhance students’ perception of a sense of “social presence,” an important concept that helps promote student involvement, commitment and retention. They conclude that Twitter is good for sharing, collaboration, brain-storming, problem solving, and creating within the context of moment?to?moment experiences (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009). This case study illustrates something of the flexibility of Twitter to enable a range of interactions from private messages between peers, to lightweight Twitter?based tutorials, or “Twittorials” that engage the whole cohort. The evaluation also supports the social-networking dimension of Twitter, with students clearly comfortable with the varieties of information exchange and the heightened perception of belonging and of social connection to both teaching staff and fellow students.

Additionally, Bradshow reports on the use of Twitter in journalism courses (Bradshow, 2008). He describes the difficulty of engaging students who have not used social media before. Part of his aspiration was to expose students to Twitter as a means of helping them see the implications of new technologies for the journalism profession. He argues that teaching students about the tools, through the tools, will help them have a better understanding of the broader implications of these technologies for journalism (Conole & Alevizou, 2010).

Potential applications

Several observations from David Perry’s (Assistant Professor of Emerging Media and Communications at the University of Texas at Dallas) January 23, 2008 blog entry on Twitter for learning purposes are summarized in the following bullets:

  • Class conversations continued via Twitter. Tweeted information served to reinforce the connection between the class material and its existence in the “real world.”
  • Enhanced social presence as viewed in the Community of Inquiry model…Students became more willing to talk and engage in coursework discussion by getting to know each other better through Twitter.
  • Twitter’s “Public Timeline” – Students (and faculty) can get a sense of what on Twitter is getting the most attention on a global level.
  • Track a Word – Using this function of Twitter will allow one to subscribe to any post that contains that word. For example, a student studying the Civil War could track to find any Tweet that contained the word “Manassas.” This is another efficient way to distinguish Twitter “noise” from “signal.”
  • Perry’s interest in going to the MLA convention, a convention for those in the language and literature field, led him to track the initialism “MLA” on Twitter. Doing so helped him connect before the convention with other Twitter users that were going, as well.
  • The author was able to get instant feedback on lectures from students who were also able to post questions regarding lecture content with classmates responding!
  • Follow a professional in your chosen field – Perry notes that students interested in journalism can follow NewMediaJim, real name, Jim Long. Jim works for NBC and Tweets about being on Air Force One, covering the Middle East, etc. He has 42, 213 Twitter followers, to date, and offers a not-easily-found, insider’s view of journalism.
  • Follow a famous person of interest to you – Many celebrities, artists and politicians have Twitter accounts they post to, regularly!
  • Grammar rules: – Because of the limited amount of characters allowed in Tweets, students will have to be more aware of grammar and punctuation rules to create Tweets that are clearly understood.
  • “Rule-Based Writing” – Again, because of its character limitations, students will have to be aware of how that affects the content they choose to Tweet.
  • Allows students to contribute to the “Teachable Moment.”
  • Twitter is good for sharing short inspirations that may pop into one’s head.
  • “Round-Robin Writing” – Remember this from grammar school? Perry, in his blog, cites how this can be a stimulating activity when done via Twitter.

 

Twitter is a rich resource for any field of study that can benefit from media-reported, current events. If Empire State College faculty members are interested, they can see their center’s Faculty Instructional Technologist and can also find ESC-related Twitter info here.

References:

Bradshow, P. (2008) ‘Teaching Students to twitter: the good, the bad and the ugly’ Blog post 15/02/2008. Retrieved January 12, 2011 at http://onlinejournalismblog.com/2008/02/15/teaching-students-to-twitter-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/

Conole, G. & Alevizou, P. (2010). A literature review of the use of Web 2.0 tools in Higher Education. Retrieved from http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/EvidenceNet/Conole_Alevizou_2010.pdf

Dunlap, J. C. & Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Tweeting the night away: Using Twitter to enhance social presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2).

Junco, R., Heiberger, G. and Loken, E.  The effect of Twitter on college student engagement and grades. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, no. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2010.00387

N.A. (2007). The Model of A Community of Inquiry. Retrieved from http://communitiesofinquiry.com/model

Perry, D. (January, 23 2008). Twitter for Academia. Retrieved January 16, 2011 from http://academhack.outsidethetext.com/home/2008/twitter-for-academia/

Wikis

An article by Marybeth Green and Gerri Maxwell in the most recent edition of EDUCAUSE Quarterly, “Wikify Your Course: Designing and Implementing a Wiki for Your Learning Environment.” was brought to the Academic Technologies staffs’ attention.  Although its focus is on wiki use in higher Ed, the article starts with technical considerations to be made at the support level when choosing from one of the many different companies offering wiki sites.  Considerations like how “private” it can be, can the college’s internet traffic capacity handle something where a large amount of data is being sent to and where there are many people on one site at one time were addressed.  I appreciate such issues being addressed because I haven’t seen a nuts-and bolts view of having one at a college in other writings.

Wikis can be used for group projects that are of a long or short time length.  Creating a group essay is more efficiently completed on a wiki than passing paper around.  The process can alleviate the student burden of coordinating the time for physically meeting and having to make sure all members of the team are participating equally.

The best affordance of the wiki is that it cuts down on the time and energy spent on getting together to do the project so more time can be spent on creating content at a deeper level. Short term projects that involve tables can be copy and pasted from a word document to the wiki as well. (Green & Maxwell, 4)

As the college looks to embrace, as a unit, the integration of wikis, I have found my research into the uses of wikis going deeper within the actual designated and spontaneous behaviors of any wiki’s “contributor.” The idea of “who does what” in a wiki space to be most effective must be clearly outlined to ensure efficient teamwork.   It is a tool for group collaboration and the definition of roles for contribution can be even more clearly defined as everyone role is transparent during the editing process.  These relationships may be of consideration to those mentors interested in hosting a class wiki. Being able to have all involved sit down and learn about what their role will be, and not address what content they will actually put in it can be done over an indefinite period of time for faculty and staff. Unfortunately, students in higher education, and blended learning, don’t have a loose frame time span to learn to use new technologies.

Therefore, the final page of the article was of most benefit to me as it detailed issues that arose from using wikis in the higher Ed setting.

  • Don’t assume students will become proficient in using a wiki immediately.
  • Students were found to be reluctant to edit each other’s work.
  • Making peer editing a requirement was seen by students as additional pressure.
  • Some students may not readily find value in a learning environment where they take complete ownership in their learning.

Possibilities

Wikis have proven to be a highly effective tool for group collaboration in the classroom and distance setting.  By addressing the above issues as an institution seeks to integrate this tool, planning can take place to insure student participation is at a high level. Perhaps a short, introductory unit on using a wiki could be given by the mentor for their mentees before they enter and edit content.  The focus, then, could be on content itself and student technological issues could be assayed beforehand.  Students should also be made to understand that they must wisely choose what peer content to edit and be prepared to give a constructive explanation of why they made such edits.  Pressure can be alleviated from requiring peer editing by showing student guidelines for what constitutes as peer editing and what constitutes as unconstructive bashing.  Finally, struggling with the idea that greater ownership in ones academic work is worthwhile is less likely to be an issue for adult learners, who are highly self-directed.

Green, M. & Maxwell, G.  (2010) Wikify Your Course: Designing and Implementing a Wiki for your Learning Environment.  EDUCAUSE Quarterly. 33 (3). pp. 1-11.

With the increased need among students to gather references from the web for use in distance learning,  social bookmarking for group collaboration will become more common  than before.   Social bookmarking, overall, lets one keep whatever websites they’ve found of interest without having to save them as bookmarks on their home computer or laptop server.  Social bookmarking makes web articles retrievable from any computer/device with internet access!

The benefits of using  a social bookmarking tool could take up another entire blog post but, right now, I’ll look at the two most  popular, diigo and delicious.

Both let you bookmark URLs in your own online library that can be organized in helpful ways. Tagging with keywords, sharing with other “groups” within each site and the option to share or keep your links private are the functions diigo and del.icio.us share.  For del.icio.us, however, the features stop there.  The site might be fun for you as a way to share interesting information with friends and family, but diigo (likewise free of cost- by the way) offers more advanced features that serve well in asynchronous, distance learning group collaboration.

Each of these advanced features are not difficult to learn to use.  The most convenient feature of diigo is that you can install  a diigo toolbar (called a sidebar) to your web browser!   The basic sidebar has about 13 tools.  You have icons to open the sidebar, log in or out of diigo, search google through diigo- the most necessary functions.  Getting now into the strengths of diigo are  its following toolbars. These icons give you the ability to bookmark a site without logging into the diigo URL.  You are also able to highlight text you find most relevant to you with the “Highlight” tool (in different colors no less!)  You can do a screen capture of your selected bookmark  for later reference.  The ability to comment on text or post sticky notes ( not on the sidebar) make group collaboration more possible by allowing everyone in your group the option to discuss the given text.

These are the most commonly used features of diigo for the researching student. There are so many more ways to manipulate your material in diigo that this blog post doesn’t cover as  it would be an information overload to cover them here.  If you are a student or faculty, try diigo for yourself and you may find yourself using it whether your course requires it or not!