Saturday, August 23, 2008

"Virtual" Student Response Systems

Yesterday’s tip talked about clickers in the classroom (see and mentioned ResponseWare Web. That’s a “revolutionary” new response system that enables classroom or audience participants to engage in polling using a mobile device (PDA, cell phone), laptop, desktop or handheld clicker from TurningPoint Technologies. “As a web-based polling application, ResponseWare Web allows participants to submit responses via any device with access to the internet and immediately transfers results to TurningPoint's interactive polling slides” (see

It’s important to note that you can “mix and match” response devices. Whether participants are students in a classroom, committee members in a face-to-face meeting or remote conferees (connected via a webinar session or conference call); the presenter, chair or speaker can gather anonymous feedback from participants:
  • If responders are using a device that connects to the web (cell phone, PDA, laptop), either in the meeting or remotely or
  • If responders are using a TurningPoint clicker (either RF or XR) and located in the same location as the speaker (within range of the TurningPoint access point).

“Without using their voices” this product enables anonymous audience participation. After allowing a period for polling, the speaker, instructor, chair, or facilitator can display a graph of the polling results with percentages or counts using TurningPoint 2008 (works with PowerPoint) or TurningPoint Anywhere 2008 (works as an overlay with any application or web page).

Response devices that can be used instead of a handheld clicker include the Apple® iPhone™, a Blackberry®, a smartphone using Windows Mobile 5.0 or above, or any laptop or standard computer with wired or wireless access to the Web.

Using this technology, you can move along the agenda and gather feedback whether your “audience” is face-to-face or in remote sites; e.g., students in classrooms, students in distance learning courses, committee members teleconferencing from remote sites, and so on.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Clickers in the Classroom

Student response systems (affectionately called clickers) are being integrated into instruction at both the high school and college level. This semester, we have over 20 faculty members at JCCC using the TurningPoint clicker system. TurningPoint Technologies offers three different applications for use with their clicker system: TurningPoint 2008 (which works hand-in-hand with PowerPoint to add special interactive slides with questions and then displays the responses received from students in graph form), TurningPoint Anywhere 2008 (which overlays any computer application and can be used to poll, survey, collect and display student responses; e.g., you can use the overlay on top of a screen displaying a Word document, a web site, an Excel document, or literally any application), and ResponseWare Web (which collects student responses using a web site; that is, it can be used in a classroom where all students have access to a computer or it can be used when students have their own wireless laptop or cell phone with Internet access). ResponseWare Web can also be used with distance learning students, since only web access is required…no student clicker is needed..

If you’re one of those faculty members using TurningPoint, one of the first lessons we try to teach is that after installing the software, users should set the default option for the TurningPoint 2008 add-in to always appear in PowerPoint. If you do so, you don’t need to open TurningPoint 2008 and then open a PowerPoint slideshow. With the option set, you can simply open PowerPoint and the TurningPoint 2008 add-in is loaded automatically and available. To turn on this setting:

  1. Open TurningPoint 2008.
  2. Select the TurningPoint tab (in Office 2007 version).
  3. Select the Tools > Settings command.
  4. In the Presentation settings (select in the left panel), under the Misc section (you’ll need to scroll down in the right panel), change the value for “Add-In always loaded” to True (click on the word False and use the drop-down to select True).
  5. Click Done (bottom of window).

You only have to do this once and then TurningPoint will always be loaded when you start PowerPoint. Then you can dispense with the TurningPoint desktop shortcut if you wish.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Sharing & Finding PowerPoint Slideshows

A basic premise of Web 2.0 is that users collaborate, publish and share digital resources. Slideshare qualifies because it is a repository of PowerPoint slideshows that are contributed by the creators, can be viewed, downloaded and used by others (as always giving credit is both neighborly, judicious and appropriate). is a searchable archive of slideshows covering topics from Aljazeera to the Olympics to Zoology and everything inbetween. Visit the site, use the search box to enter a keyword (“copyright,” “web 2.0,” “conflict management,” or whatever) for the topic you’re researching and you’ll (probably) find a host of slideshows.

Once you locate the topic you seek, you can view the slideshow (clicking through a page at a time), display it full screen, download it, and leave comments (or view the comments of others). If you create an account and log-in, you can upload your own slideshows (if you want to share them; in PDF, PPT, PPS, POT, ODP or keynote format), locate and download presentations (if the creator enables the download), embed slideshows in a blog or website, and create a slidecast by linking your slides to an audio track. You can also enroll in a “group” and receive email alerts when anyone posts a slideshow or message related to that topic.

To check out a couple slideshows I’ve posted on “Web 2.0” and “copyright,” see

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Mind-Mapping & Web 2.0

What tools are available for instructors to develop instructional materials or for use in instruction? How do you locate one of the plethora of Web 2.0 apps that meet your instructional or course development needs? To address that issue, I populated a mind map for "The Instructor's Digital Toolkit: A Show & Tell Session," a presentation for the Kansas City Professional Development Council Conference at Ottawa University last March 1, 2008. Then I updated the mind map for use at a similar presentation for the Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (SIDLIT) held at JCCC on July 31 and August 1, 2008.
Specifically, the mind map is but a single example of what can be accomplished using a tool like Mindomo. Mind mapping can be used:
  • To document classroom brainstorming sessions,
  • To develop a timeline,
  • To organize tasks,
  • To flowchart processes,
  • To cluster ideas,
  • To present information in a classroom or for a presentation (instead of using a PowerPoint slideshow).

In the example at, Mindomo has been used to categorize and document a host of Web 2.0 applications (plus some desktop apps that might be useful for online and classroom instructors).

When using the mind map, hover your mouse pointer over each note icon to see related text, click the globe icon to jump to the website for the specified application, click the "+" sign to expand and display subtopics or (if visible) click the "-" sign to contract and hide subtopics.

How would you use this web 2.0 tool?

Monday, August 18, 2008

Web 2.0 and What It Really Means

From Wikipedia (commonly considered a prime example of a Web 2.0 application), Web 2.0 is defined as: “ the trend in the use of World Wide Web technology and web design that aims to enhance creativity, information sharing, and, most notably, collaboration among users. These concepts have led to the development and evolution of web-based communities and hosted services, such as social-networking sites, wikis, blogs, and folksonomies. The term became notable after the first O'Reilly Media Web 2.0 conference in 2004. Although the term suggests a new version of the World Wide Web, it does not refer to an update to any technical specifications, but to changes in the ways software developers and end-users utilize the Web.”

And what does that mean? The British Guardian newspaper further describes Web 2.0 as “an idea in people's heads rather than a reality. It’s actually an idea that the reciprocity between the user and the provider is what's emphasised. In other words, genuine interactivity, if you like, simply because people can upload as well as download.”

Web 2.0 is really a concept that identifies tools which:
  1. Use the Internet as their platform (e.g., the application resides on the web and not necessarily on your desktop),
  2. Enable web authors (e.g., publishers) and web users (e.g., readers) to easily collaborate and co-publish, and
  3. Breaks down the barriers between publishers and readers (e.g., we all become publishers, contributors, editors and readers).

The best definition of Web 2.0 can be obtained by seeing “it” in action. So, let’s suppose you are one of thousands of individuals who take digital images of “places” you’ve visited. You can share those images with anyone or a select group of friends. That’s basically what Flickr, Picassa and other Web 2.0 photo sharing sites enable you to do. But let’s take it a step further. Suppose you want to see not just a 2D photographic image of a landmark, historic site or location, but also want to “contribute” toward a virtual 3D view of that “place.” That’s what Microsoft Photosynth does. It takes hundreds if not thousands of images, aligns and synchronizes them so that users can see the combined photographic contributions of “the many” in order to view a “unified 3D version” of the image. To quote Microsoft’s site at, “what if your photo collection was an entry point into the world, like a wormhole that you could jump through and explore?”

The following video was presented at SIGGRAPH to demonstrate what the university of Washington and Microsoft Research have been able to accomplish using this tool. Check out

Now that’s Web 2.0. It’s collaborative, utilizes the best work of all contributors, while breaking down the artificial barriers between publisher, editor, artist, contributor, and reader…and make us all..all of the above. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about yet another Web 2.0 tool and how it can be used in instruction.

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