Friday, February 27, 2009

What's the Buzz - Innovation & Technological Trends

In a Technology Brown Bag session (held at JCCC on Wednesday, February 25, 2009), Marziah Karch, Keith Krieger and I tried to focus on what's new, what's old, what's hot, and what's trendy in instructional technology. Our belief is that innovation in instruction often has its genesis in that moment of epiphany that follows exposure to a new "trend" or idea. So we focused on discussing new technological trends based on the Horizon Report 2009 by the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE.

This year’s Horizon Report 2009 lists 6 “big” new trends including:
  1. Mobile devices
  2. Cloud computing
  3. Geo-everything
  4. The personal web
  5. Semantic-aware applications, and
  6. Smart objects.

Over the next several days, we’ll focus on each of these trends and share specific examples of tools and applications that fall under each trend. If you’re impatient, you can view the entire report (in PDF file format) at

You can also view a video/slideshow that records when the report was presented at EDUCAUSE (53 minutes in length) at (or

Keep in mind that the Horizon Report 2009 identifies:

  • The top 6 predictions for technologies that will be adopted in higher education,
  • Provides a timeline for the anticipated adoption (ranging from less than a year to four-five years),
  • Provides current examples of how the trends are being used, and
  • Allows readers to participate by adding additional examples through the use of social bookmarking (uses delicious, see but you can also view just the bookmarks for each trend – I’ll share those links as we go along).

More to follow...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Transitioning from Word 2003 to 2007

Thanks to Maureen Fitzpatrick who pointed me toward a very helpful web site at (the actual long URL is

This Flash-based site visually demonstrates where you’ll find a familiar Word 2003 command or action on the new Word 2007 interface. With the shift to tabs for all Office 2007 applications, some functions were re-arranged and appear hidden to the “converted” user. Now, you have a web-accessible tool to use in finding that misplaced, rearranged, seemingly hidden new location for those old, beloved Word commands.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Icon If You Must

I frequently see web sites, online courses and PowerPoint presentations with an overabundance of animated GIFs and icons. Frankly, when it comes to cutesy icons and graphics of any kind, more is not better. Too much of anything can be distracting and unprofessional looking.

On A&E’s “Sell This House” TV show, one rule of thumb is “Less is more! When preparing your home for sale or an open house, minimize the amount of personal items that are on display. Excessive personal photos, trinkets and memorabilia will distract a buyer. Remember, the goal is to provide an environment where the buyers can picture themselves in the home for years to come.”

When you welcome a student (consumer of knowledge) into your course or to your web page (virtual home), the same principle applies. Eliminate clutter, don’t distract the “learner,” focus on what is important (e.g., the content you wish to pour into their brain). Always ask yourself “does that icon, animated GIF or graphic help convey or enhance the information the student needs to acquire or is it a distraction?”

Now that I’ve tried to talk you out of using animated GIFs and icons, here’s where you can find a collection of the little devils, if you insist on using them. Take a look at the very clean, professional icons at but please avoid the cheesy stuff at

Need more? Check out the very nice icons at and

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Digital Research Tools (DiRT) Wiki

The range of digital resources for instructional use is pretty wide ranging (and constantly changing). Web 2.0 tools emerge quickly and sometimes disappear just as quickly. That’s why it’s always helpful to have a single source to determine what’s available…especially when you share a common interest and point of view (e.g., education). Lisa Spiro of Rice University and her wiki colleagues collect and share information about tools and resources that are useful for educators and scholars. Her project, the Digital Research Tools Wiki (DiRT) can be viewed at and includes “a directory of tools organized by research activity, as well as reviews of select tools in which we not only describe the tool's features, but also explore how it might be employed most effectively by researchers.”

Browse a little and you’ll find tools that enable you to do everything from “Analyze Statistics” to “Visualize Data” plus many functions in between. Some of the categories of tools covered include those for blogging, creating mashups, editing images, making a screencast, managing bibliographic information, sharing bookmarks, converting files and much more.

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