Monday, November 8, 2010

Web-based Annotation Tools

Have you ever wanted to add annotations to a web site so your students (or friends) will know exactly the portion of the site on which they should focus? There are several tools that can prove useful. adds a panel to the right side of the web page (in your browser) to display annotations and comments. incudes an educator’s version that features bookmarks, annotations, highlights, sticky notes and more. adds sticky notes (that is, “bookmarks on steroids”) to annotate web sites. Sticky notes enable you to do more than just link to a page; rather you can add notes and annotate to highlight the important paragraphs and features.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Since When Is Twitter an Educational Tool?

Last June attendees at the Teaching with Technology Idea Exchange (TTIX) conference ( participated in a hands-on session using Twitter to teach and recreate history. The end result was “Sinking the Titanic, 100 Years Later” (see Twhistory is an online effort to use Twitter to teach, recreate, and reenact history. Further, the educators involved “see opportunities for students to learn to think more deeply about history by participating in creating TwHistory reenactments with their classmates. They will learn how historical narratives are made.”

Other reenactments are listed at if you wish to see further examples.

By the way, if you’re still skeptical of using Twitter because of your initial experiences with the tool, check out the Twitter Life Cycle at and Alan Levine’s blog at It might change your mind.

If you’re still not convinced, you might want to try a collaborative 3D timeline for a classroom project (rather than the Twhistory approach). If so, check out If you have an educational need, there’s an online tool.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Good Question Leads People on a Quest: What’s the Future of Education

We’ve concluded the Digital Nation conversation at JCCC (…or have we. There are many voices besides PBS attempting to explore technology and how it is and will affect our lives, our society and the way we define ourselves as human beings.

Michael Wesch is another voice asking educators to examine their roles in this digital age and he comes from as far away as KSU. Wesch has been dubbed "the explainer" by Wired magazine and is “a cultural anthropologist exploring the effects of new media on society and culture. After two years studying the effects of writing on a remote indigenous culture in the rain forest of Papua New Guinea, he has turned his attention to the effects of social media and digital technology on global society. His videos on culture, technology, education and information have been viewed by millions, translated in more than 15 languages and are frequently featured at international film festivals and major academic conferences worldwide” (for more information check out

Some JCCC faculty members, like Terry Helmick, have used Wesch’s materials in the classroom. Terry used a TED ( presentation given by Wesch in August 2010 (see and then asked her Interpersonal Communications students to respond to these questions:
  1. If a good question is one that “leads people on a quest” what kinds of questions could you ask yourself right now?
  2. “When media changes our relationships change.” What is the most common media you use to communicate with those close to you and how has that changed your communication with those individuals?
  3. “Students are meaning seekers; they are looking for who they are.” What meaning are you seeking to find in your life?
  4. If student’s “learn what they do”, what do you wish to be doing to help you improve your interpersonal communication with those close to you?

Spend 19 minutes and explore the power of media, critical thinking, global connections, and the world we as educators already occupy (along with our students).

By the way, if you’d like to see a less blurry version of the Dove/Unilever ads and the Green Peace response (mentioned by Wesch), check out and The video created by Wesch’s students (partially shown in his TED talk) is available in its entirety at

Also the Eric Whitacre virtual choir can be seen and heard at Whitacre describes the project at

SoftChalk Connect: A Learning Object Repository for SoftChalk Users

JCCC has for several years licensed SoftChalk, a tool you can use to:

  • Create interactive web pages for your e-learning course. It's easy, quick, and your lessons will look like a professional designer created them.
  • Engage your students with lessons that include pop-up text annotations, self-assessment quizzes, and interactive learning games.
  • Package your lessons for delivery via CD-ROM, Intranet, Internet, or integrate with your LMS (Learning Management System).
With the latest update to SoftChalk 6, you can now publish your lessons, eCourses, interactive Flash activities and quiz questions to the searchable repository, called SoftChalk CONNECT (see

CONNECT enables you to organize your personal collections by creating and managing folders. Another significant enhancement is the ability to create CONNECT "groups," and then require authentication by group members for access to your CONNECT content. For example, if you want to share a SoftChalk lesson with a group of colleagues or a group of students, you can publish the lesson to CONNECT, and using the new Group feature, limit access to only those in your group.

Go to CONNECT and search for your discipline. Maybe you’ll find a learning object you can use. You can learn more about SoftChalk using an online self-paced course developed by the Ed Tech Center (see and to access the software with the installation key see

If you’re interested in attending a webinar on SoftChalk CONNECT, you can register at (3 PM, October 20) or (11 AM, November 8).

Friday, September 17, 2010

More about QR Codes

After yesterday’s mention of 2D or QR (Quick Response) Codes the logical question is how do I generate a QR Code? The answer is as easy as going to, entering your message and clicking the Qurify button. You’ll then have the option to download the code as a PNG or JPEG image, emailing the code to a friend or printing a hardcopy of one or more QR codes. The downloaded QR Code can be included in a document or web site or printed. There are numerous other sites that enable you to also generate QR Codes, just Google “create QR Code” and you’ll see a long list.

The code to the left is a message to all JCCC QR code readers. Below and to the left you’ll find a QR code that includes a URL with more information on QR Codes.

Why would you want to create QR Codes? QR Codes are readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera with a QR reader and SmartPhones. QR readers include apps like beetagg, i-nigma, Kaywa, and ZXing (most are free). The QR codes could be used to:

  1. Deliver text messages to students at specific points in their readings or course work,
  2. Identify and open web sites with supplemental readings,
  3. Include contact information (phone number),
  4. Send a prescribed SMS text message to a SMS service (such a subscribing to a SMS news update), or
  5. Share GEO (geographic) coordinates.

This is one case where innovation could be free! For more details, check out

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Use of Motion Picture and Video Clips in Education

I'm not a lawyer, only offering a summary of my understanding of the following:

This summer saw a change in the interpretation of a portion of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The change specifically affects instructors using a small portion of video in the classroom and how they may acquire those video clips. If this issue interests you, please read on.

Background: Over the summer, there was a lot of excitement over a “change” in the copyright law specifically regarding the use of video in instruction. The event was not so much a change in the law as a change in interpretation…from someone who has the authority to reinterpret. The Librarian of Congress has the authority to designate “classes of works that will be subject to exemptions from the [copyright] statute’s prohibition against circumvention of technology that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work.”

The Librarian may “determine whether the prohibition on circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works is causing or is likely to cause adverse effects on the ability of users of any particular classes of copyrighted works to make noninfringing uses of those works” (italics added throughout for emphasis).

In July 2010 the Librarian “designated six classes of works” that “Persons who circumvent access controls [e.g., copyright protection] in order to engage in noninfringing uses of works…will not be subject to the statutory prohibition against circumvention.”

The very first class of work listed was “Motion pictures on DVDs that are lawfully made and acquired and that are protected by the Content Scrambling System when circumvention is accomplished solely in order to accomplish the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into new works for the purpose of criticism or comment, and where the person engaging in circumvention believes and has reasonable grounds for believing that circumvention is necessary to fulfill the purpose of the use in the following instances:

(i) Educational uses by college and university professors and by college and university film and media studies students;
(ii) Documentary filmmaking;
(iii) Noncommercial videos”

In a closing comment, the Librarian stated that “All of these classes of works find their origins in classes that [were] designated [earlier], but some of the classes have changed due to differences in the facts and arguments presented in the current proceeding. For example, in the previous proceeding [the Librarian] designated a class that enable film and media studies professors to engage in the noninfringing activity of making compilations of film clips for classroom instruction. In the current proceeding, the record supported an expansion of that class to enable the incorporation of short portions of motion pictures into documentary films and noncommercial videos for the purpose of criticism or comment, when the person engaging in circumvention reasonably believes that it is necessary to fulfill that purpose. I agree with the Register [of Copyrights] that the record demonstrates that it is sometimes necessary to circumvent access controls on DVDs in order to make these kinds of fair uses of short portions of motion pictures.” (italics and underline added for emphasis)

What does this mean? Faculty at not-for-profit educational institutions may use small portions of video for instructional purposes even if they must use DVD rippers (see to break the encryption. The ruling does not address what constitutes “fair use,” it only allows circumvention of copy protection to obtain clips, when the use is legal. So combining this ruling with provisions of the fair use provision, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) and the T.E.A.C.H. act would suggest these guidelines for faculty and technical support staff:
  1. The video/DVD must be legally obtained (not an illegal or bootleg copy).
  2. The video must not be available and marketed specifically for on-campus or online classroom use.
  3. The video clips used must be for educational purposes only; that is, used to meet specific course objectives.
  4. The video clips, if delivered via digital (electronic) technology, must only be accessible to and restricted to currently enrolled students through password protection (such as provided by a learning management system) or similar technological methods.
  5. When DVDs or other media formats are protected by anticopying technology (such as CSS, a content scrambling system frequently used for DVDs), that protection may be circumvented if the resulting use of “short portions of motion pictures” is for lawful educational purposes. The instructor will not be in violation of the anticircumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA, 1998) based on the recent rulemaking by the Librarian of Congress.
  6. The rulemaking exemption also permits instructors to use ripped content in non-classroom settings that are protected under “fair use” such as presentations at academic conferences.
  7. In summary: copying and performing film clips in the classroom is not an infringement of copyright and appropriate methods may be employed to circumvent the copy protection, if the use complies with the fair use provisions of the copyright act.
  8. Phrased another way: “The question, essentially, was: did the breaking of encryption on a DVD for a fair use of the content violate copyright law? The answer is now ‘no.’ And that answer is a very good thing for higher education. With the uncertainty lifted, film studies professors -- or any instructors or students who wish to use encrypted digital materials -- may now do so without fear of litigation, so long as fair use covers the content.” (see Milano, Inside Higher Education, below)
  9. Finally, these new exclusions to copyright are in effect for 3 years and then the Librarian of Congress must review and renew or change the ruling.

Final note: Nothing in this rulemaking establishes that instructors or institutions may freely convert an entire VHS (analog) tape or video to a digital format either for archival purposes or for classroom use. However, it’s clear that small portions of legally obtained analog video may be digitized for classroom use.

Sources for this article include:

JCCC Anatomy & Biology Project Featured by Producers of Articulate

Tracy Newman, Sr. Ed Tech Analyst, developed a Human Anatomy project using a software tool called Articulate for use by students and faculty through an online Science Resource Learning Community. The new learning tool is currently featured on the company’s E-Learning blog ( and includes a snapshot of the online application.

The article states, “Tracy helps faculty and staff with their computing & instructional technology needs. Earlier this year, she used Articulate software for the first time to rapidly create a series of study tools for the college’s anatomy class. Now several other instructors want to leverage the same approach for their own courses.”

Industry Gears Up to Compete with iPad

The iPad has become the hot, new technology since its release. Many educators and institutions have established pilot acquisition programs to see how the iPad might support instruction. The marketplace seldom stands still, especially in the face of a popular new technology, so now other manufacturers are joining the “Tablet Wars.”

Among those companies getting ready to release their own product is Samsung. The Galaxy Tab is described at Some of the basic features designed to set it apart from the iPad include: based on the Android 2.2 operating system, “users can continuously communicate via e-mail, voice and video call, SMS/MMS or social network with the optimized user interface,” it touts the ability to video conference, give access to the Android Marketplace of apps, supports the Adobe Flash player 10.1 and features a slim 7” TFT-LCD screen. No word on pricing, availability and whether or not it will be sold without a telecommunications (phone) contract.

Another option that is currently available is the slightly smaller (5” screen) Dell Streak (see It also runs the Google Android OS, can communicate with Google Mail or Outlook, runs Android apps and is designed for mobile web access, business applications and video conferencing. Dell lists the Streak for $549.99 but it may be available for as low as $299 with a two-year AT&T contract activation.

2D Codes or QR Codes

Have you run across the two dimensional (2D) codes also called QR (quick response) Codes? A QR Code is a matrix barcode that is readable by QR scanners, mobile phones with a camera, or a smartphones. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded by the QR Code can include text, a web URL or other data.

An example of the educational use of QR Codes can be viewed by examining Ubimark’s publication of Around the World in 80 Days with QR Codes (see Ubimark has republished the Jules Verne classic but this time with QR Codes (two per page) that enable the reader to access supplemental materials or participate in online SMS chats. The site demonstrates an interesting use of QR Code that might enhance learner engagement.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Random Name Generator for Classroom Use?

Recently an instructor asked “A couple of years ago at SIDLIT (Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology) you randomly chose participants for (door) prizes using the computer. Can that same idea be used to randomly choose students in a class to respond to questions? I just thought it might be an interesting way to keep the class motivated to stay awake.”

Here’s the answer: There’s a random name generator that could be used to accomplish what you wish at
Be sure to click the "Click here" link above the Random Name Generator button to create a class list. You can then bookmark the page (with the list) and/or download it and use each time you need to generate names for that class randomly. You could create a roster once for each class and then never have to type those names again.

Green Tip

If you’re the eco-aware, green, environmentally conscious type of person, take a look at the American Libraries blog posting on “Before You Press the Print Button Consider This” at:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

NASA Footage Showing Gulf Oil Spill from Space

Visit to see a two-minute video of compiled NASA imagery showing the view from space of the burning Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the subsequent oil spill. The images were taken by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (or MODIS) instrument and selected to best show the disaster. The images begin with the oil rig explosion on April 20, 2010 and include images acquired through May 24, 2010. The latest images and other NASA stories are available at

Thanks to for alerting me to these links.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beware Amazon Phishing Messages

Here I was checking email, minding my own business, and a confirmation came across for an order I didn’t make! I can tell it’s a fake (and they’re fishing for personal information) because:

  1. I have no outstanding order with Amazon for $73.99 (or any other amount).

  2. I moused over (but didn’t click) the links and my status bar shows an actual link that is NOT to any page.

  3. I went to (by typing the actual address, not using a link within the document), logged in, checked for any Open Orders and found none (I order a lot from Amazon and thought all orders had been received but wanted to double-check).

  4. I noticed that the “Thanks for the Order” didn’t include any mention of what I ordered (and Amazon’s invoice/confirmation always does).

So be forewarned. Even if you get email from a company with whom you do business, if ANYTHING seems fishy, don’t use links in the email but go direct to the site to verify the order, the communication or whatever it is. Be cautious. It pays.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Have You Registered for 2 Days of Free Workshops?

Even while you wind down this semester, plan to start the fall semester by registering for SIDLIT (more information at Register today for sessions on “Facing Reality: The Challenges of Using eTexbooks in Online Classes,: “Android Productivity Tips,” “Beyond Ning: Rolling Your Own Social Network,” “Education by MMO: The Evoke Game,” and sessions on Pecha Kucha, hybrid courses, ANGEL, Blackboard, Windows 7, Clickers, Gaming, Social Bookmaking in education and much more. Over 60 sessions scheduled and complimented by door prizes, free food and snacks!

If you are not a current C2C member becoming a member is as easy. Simply go to and click the Create New Account link in the bottom left corner. Once you’ve completed the member registration form, locate the SIDLIT SIGNUP link and click it.

Join Colleague to Colleague (C2C) and join us for a cost efficient (free) conference at Johnson County Community College on the first Thursday and Friday (5 & 6) in August 2010. And pass on this message to your colleagues so they can attend and learn at SIDLIT 2010.

“What Bugs You About Email?” Captured

Last week we held the last Technology Brown Bag of the school year at JCCC. THe session included a panel of JCCC staff (Marziah Karch, Keith Krieger, Michael Rea and Jonathan Bacon) who asked attendees, “What Bugs You about Email?” All of us use (and many abuse) email daily.

You might find it informative to view the discussion and hear some tips on how you can eliminate email frustration for yourself and your correspondents. The video archive of the session is available at

Video archive links for all of the Spring Semester JCCC Technology Brown Bag sessions are available at

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

AcademiX: Learning in an Open Access World

Apple Computer has announced AcademiX 2010, a free one-day conference on “Learning in an Open Access World.” More information is available at The conference can be attended as part of a simulcast in Lawrence, Kansas (and other sites nationwide) or from your desktop. When you register, you’ll be asked to indicate where and how you wish to attend. We’ll show portions of the webcast in the Ed Tech Center at JCCC.

Remember, you can also register online and watch from your home or office computer.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tip: Buying a Car with Data

In the market to buy a new car? It’s the one activity that can make strong men and women weak in the knees. Why? Because no one (in today’s economy) can afford to overpay and everyone feels at a disadvantage in a car show room. What should you pay for a new car? What’s the average sticker price? Is the negotiated amount or sticker price a great price, a good price and a rip-off?

What if one site existed that could help you calculate the “True Cost” (what a dealer paid for the car including discounts and holdbacks…an amount typically less than factory invoice) and the “True Average” (that is, the average cost of a car in your zip code, your region and the country as a whole)?

If such a site sounds helpful, check out, print the page, take it to the dealer and you’ve got your “buyer’s ammunition” in your hands.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Comparison of eBook Readers

At JCCC we're scheduling a special Technology Brown Bag session on eBook Readers next week. Northwest Missouri State University (NWMS) has investigated the possibility of transitioning from textbook rentals to using eBooks to deliver all college textbooks. NWMS has researched the current crop of eBooks including the enTourage Edge, iPad, Kindle, Sony Reader and others. In this session Darla Runyon, Curriculum Designer and Assistant Director Center for Information Technology in Education (CITE) and Roger Von Holzen, Director of CITE from NWMS will share their research and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the various eBook readers they've tested.

Resources that you might find helpful on the topic include a short article from The Chronicle of Higher Education ( and a second article (with much more detail) from the EDUCAUSE Quarterly (

Pecha Kucha, Ignite and Flash Sessions

Pecha Kucha, pronounced “pe-chak-cha” (see or for help with the pronunciation) “is a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images.” Pecha Kucha presentations (also called Flash or Sprint sessions) typically use 20 PowerPoint slides each displayed for 20 seconds which limit the presenter to 6 minutes and 40 seconds to convey a concept or idea.

Ignite Law is a weekly Pecha Kucha event held in Chicago for lawyers and is free (with a ticket). It’s just one example of regularly scheduled Pecha Kucha sessions around the country. Many educational conferences are beginning to incorporate this type of event within their conference schedule. An example is the upcoming Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (SIDLIT) sponsored by Colleague to Colleague and JCCC (supported by Staff and Organizational Development and the Ed Tech Center). Check out or for more information.

If you’d like to see video from the Ignite Law sessions, check out Additionally, you can see a Pecha Kucha training video about Pecha Kucha presentations at

Could this concept be valuable in the classroom? Or maybe there’s an application for PowerPoint Karaoke (see

This We Know about U.S. Locales

Interested in some “factoids” about a particular locale (city, town or zip code)? Want access to all the demographic data for communities across the United States (culled from the Agency of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Labor and the U.S. Census)? If so, check out This We Know at

For instance, did you know that for the 66210 zip code (Overland Park, Kansas), there are 33 factories within 8 miles; there were 311 violent crimes (or 1.8 per 1000 people) and 20,434 people are unemployed (2009 data); plus 40,732 homeowners and 19,012 renters reside in the area (2000 census…wonder how much that’s changed!).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Playing to Learn

According to a NY Times Op-Ed piece on "Playing to Learn” (, “Scientists know that children learn best by putting experiences together in new ways. They construct knowledge; they don’t swallow it.” While the piece was written for the K-12 teacher audience, is it applicable to higher education?

C-SPAN Video Available Online

Suppose it was valuable (for your classroom instruction) to have access to 160,000 hours of video spanning 23 years covering the hotly contested Health Care Reform battle and other legislative actions? If you need it, it’s online as part of the C-SPAN archives at Purdue Research Park (see article at Check out the archive at for the latest and greatest news as well as the historic and timeless C-SPAN video.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Mobile Notebooks and Sketchbooks

On April 6, Ruben Puentedura and his concept of “The Lively Sketchbook,” was featured on the New Media Consortium’s Adobe Connect webinar series. The session, archived and available at, offers an insightful discussion of how mobile devices can act as the equivalent of the sketchbooks (a la Da Vinci or Hemingway). The concept is that writers, researchers and artists often use physical notebooks to record ideas, sketches and concepts that later are the building blocks for their creative end-products. Puentedura suggests that mobile devices (iPhone, iPad, Android phones) can all be utilized to create digital notebooks or sketchbooks by students and faculty alike.

Apps that can be used to create a Lively Sketchbook (such as Awesome Note, EverNote, WordPress, Instaviz, MyWiki, Sketchbook Mobile, Storyrobe and many others) are listed on Ruben’s blog at Three videos showing Ruben using mobile apps area available on Youtube at, and

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Share Your Expertise This Summer at SIDLIT

Colleague to Colleague (C2C), the sponsors of the 2010 Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology (SIDLIT), has extended the presentation proposal deadline until Friday, April 30, 2010. Proposals are submitted online at

SIDLIT is an opportunity for faculty and staff to share and discuss instructional technology ideas and techniques with your colleagues from the Midwest. Examples of 2009 SIDLIT sessions are displayed online at Topics range from copyright issues, to Web 2.0 tools, to student and faculty support issues to best practices for online instruction.

Notification of successful proposals will be communicated by Friday, May 7, 2010.

Registration for SIDLIT is now open and can be completed online at SIDLIT will be held on Thursday and Friday, August 5 - 6, 2010 in the Regnier Center on the Johnson County Community College campus in Overland Park, KS. This is a free conference supported by numerous sponsors including: Articulate, Blackboard/ANGEL, the Ed Tech Center (Johnson County Community College), Epsilen, Hawkes Learning Systems, KCREACHE, MBS Direct, McGraw-Hill/ALEKS, Pearson/eCollege, Softchalk, Staff & Organizational Development (Johnson County Community College), and Tegrity.

Looking for a Helpful Guide to Buying a Digital Gadget?

Looking for an eBook reader, digital camera, high-definition TV, Netbook or Smartphone? Measly (at “helps you find the perfect gadget.” You can find the site’s recommendation by taking a quiz or simply exploring. Either approach will walk you through important features and criteria for the device you seek.

If you want to view the reviews of a product you’re considering, you’ll find a useful site too. Information is power, so use it or lose it.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If You’re Going to Buy from Amazon, Get Free Shipping

Have you ever placed an order with only to find you’re just a few cents away from free shipping? So you just add another CD or book, right? Wrong. To make up that 37 cent shortfall (or whatever amount), visit the Amazon Filler Finder site at, enter the amount you need to increase your order by to quality for free shipping, and you’ll see a list of items costing that amount or more. Rather than pay over $5 in shipping, buy a Prestone 17400 V-Belt (or whatever item puts your order over the top) and then donate the item to Goodwill (if you don’t really need it). It’s a win-win situation.

By the way, to buy, just click on the link shown for the item on the Amazon Filler Finder site; you’ll jump to and the item will be visible. also has a similar tool for, but it only checks bestselling books at that site.

In the Recycling Mood?

Hope Phones ( accepts old cell phones (any phone, no matter the condition or age) to help healthcare workers and medical clinics in developing countries. The not-for-profit service “allows donors to print a free shipping label and send their old phones in for recycling. The phone’s value is then used to purchase usable, recycled cell phones for healthcare workers in various third world areas.”

“Every cell phone given to community health workers connects distant patients to a medical clinic. A $10 cell phone will provide 50 families with access to emergency medical care, health information, transport services, and clinic resources.”

Got an old phone? Visit the web site.

Screen Magnifier

A faculty member recently asked if I knew of a free utility to magnify select portions of the computer screen. Thanks to Keith Krieger, I discovered a neat little tool at This is a freeware tool available for download but with the understanding that the software designer will not provide email or other support. Use at your own risk. It is simple to use, once installed and started (you can add a desktop icon when the app is installed), it appears on the Windows Taskbar and can be invoked with a simple click on the Taskbar icon and dismissed by pressing Esc.

Innovation Corner: iPad-Next Big Thing?

Mike Elgan of ComputerWorld wrote about Apple’s iPad on March 27, 2010 ( stating, “I'm predicting that old people, toddlers, baby boomers, teenagers, twentysomethings -- OK, that all age groups will use the iPad in significant numbers. It will be the first consumer electronics product in recent decades to match the age demographic of the TV.”

Later in the article Elgan continues, “The combination of touch, rich media, third-party applications and a familiar (iPhone-like) user interface make it ideal for people who would never dream of buying most other categories of consumer electronics.”

After a discussion on how the iPad can revolutionize gaming (“I believe many people who have never embraced gaming will be converted into gamers by the iPad -- much like the Wii did, but on a much larger scale.”), Elgan discusses its impact on education.

“The iPad is ideal for education because it will be easy to develop for, cheap to buy, easy to carry and store (no cables, peripherals and so on), and come with seemingly infinite content and media. As with games, the network effect phenomenon will affect education. It won't take long for apps to emerge that pull together courseware with downloadable instruction and live lectures, events and so on. It will become a medium by which far-flung schools can help one another. But you can't get in on all this collaboration unless you're using the iPad. So schools will. Students will. Teachers will. The iPad will be very big in education.”

So what do you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SIDLIT Registration Now Open

Registration for the 11th Annual Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology ( SIDLIT ) is now open , the institute will be held on Thursday and Friday, August 5-6, 2010 at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, Kansas. The conference is jointly sponsored by JCCC and Colleague to Colleague (C2C). If you are already a member of C2C, register by logging in at and then click the SIDLIT SIGNUP link. If you are not a member of C2C, go to and join C2C. If you signed up as a member on last year’s website you are still a member, if you forgot your password click the Request new password link.

The two-day institute includes presentations, topic-oriented special interest discussion groups, hands-on workshops, and demonstrations. There is no charge to attend, but registration is required.

This is also your invitation from C2C to submit a proposal for a 50 minute presentation on issues or topics related to distance learning and instructional technology. Proposals for hands-on training to be offered in a computer lab are also invited. Returning this year, we will be offering an improved Speed Geeking session (a take-off on speed dating) which offers 5 short, concise presentations during a one hour session. New this year we are presenting a Web 2.0 Sprints session where 4 presenters spend 10 minutes demonstrating/discussing their favorite new Web 2.0 tool.

To be a part of this year's SIDLIT 2010 submit a proposal at and click the Submit a session link.
April 15th is the deadline for proposals.

The SIDLIT Planning Committee will review all proposals and presenters will be contacted prior to May 4, 2010.

What’s in Store for the Weather?

Are you too focused on your inbox to look out the window and see what the current weather is? Or tired of guessing about tomorrow’s weather? Check out a full screen view of weather in the Overland park, KS area at Want to view the weather for a zip code other than 66210? Go to

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Top 10 Passwords You Should Never Use

Reprinted from Uniblue Tip of the Month

According to a report, most users still haven't answered the call by security experts to implement more robust passwords. In fact, in a list of the most easy to hack passwords, simply typing '123456' took a truly forgettable top prize.

Security firm Imperva recently released its list of the passwords most likely to be hacked based on 32 million instances of successful hacking. Imperva named their report "Consumer Password Worst Practices," and some of the entries near the top are truly simple and could lead to theft or identity fraud.


The following is a list of the most predictable passwords, and should not be used under any circumstances (Source:

  1. 123456
  2. 12345
  3. 123456789
  4. Password
  5. iloveyou
  6. princess
  7. rockyou
  8. 1234567
  9. 12345678
  10. abc123


Other key findings in the report: it seems that almost 1 in 3 users choose passwords comprised of six or fewer characters; more than half use passwords based on only alpha-numeric characters; and almost 50 per cent used variations on their name, popular slang terms, or simple strings of consecutive characters from the average QWERTY keyboard -- such as 'asdfg'.

Imperva has made several obvious recommendations, suggesting most users adopt passwords with at least eight characters and to mix those characters between upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Passwords should be simple enough that they won't be too easily forgotten, but the idea is to make cracking the code virtually impossible for either an unknown or known hacker.

About this article: Dennis Faas is the CEO and Chief editor of a daily, digital publication dedicated to MS Windows, computing, technology trends and solutions to real life computing issues: all written in simple English. Subscription to Infopackets Windows Newsletter is free. Visit us today!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Innovation Corner: More on Digital Textbooks, Connexions & DynamicBooks

As a follow-up to the eBook and digital textbook postings earlier (see, I heard from at least one assistant professor who wrote: “Thank you for reporting on ebooks. I was just telling [a book] rep today that unless they can lower their price and or provide a better digital learning option, I will be changing books and I already use Flat World Knowledge in one class with great success and will probably replace the [rep’s]book with Flat World. I love Flat World Knowledge and so do my students….”

Tracy Newman, JCCC Ed Tech Center Sr. Analyst also responded to the eBook report stating “Flat World Knowledge (where you can remix textbooks)… reminds me of a project I worked on for KU Med before I started working at JCCC. I worked for a professor in the field of photobiology, which is a difficult field to find textbooks for. He started what he called the Digital Photobiology Compendium (DPC). He offered stipends to various professors to write articles about their field of knowledge. We then organized the articles into a grid where professors could easily create an account, log in, and choose/assemble a “textbook” by picking and choosing which modules and in what order they wanted to use them. Students would then log in and have access to the modules their instructors chose – essentially a custom, online textbook!”

“There was a paper written in 2003 about it:

“It looks like they have discontinued the part of the project that allowed students and instructors to log in and create/use the custom textbooks, but the articles are still online and freely available.”

A similar resource is available and offered for all college and university faculty through Rice University. It’s called Connexions (see Connexions is self-described as “a place to view and share educational material made of small knowledge chunks called modules that can be organized as courses, books, reports, etc. Anyone may view or contribute: [including] authors [can] create and collaborate, instructors [can] rapidly build and share custom collections [and] learners [can] find and explore content.”

You can learn more about Connexions by listening to Rice University professor Richard Baraniuk, one of the founding faculty members. In this TED (Technology, Education, Design) Conference presentation, he explains the vision behind Connexions, his open-source, online education system; see

Macmillians DynamicBooks
Of course textbook publishers are not standing by idling waiting for open source textbook repositories to grab their business. Macmillian Publishers has announced a system, called DynamicBooks, that “lets any professor make a customized version of one of the company's existing titles. That means that chemistry professors can take one of the company's chemistry textbooks, rewrite some parts, add their own papers or chapters, or embed videos or homework questions they've created. Any passage added or changed is clearly labeled as not part of the original book, so students know what is original and what is customized—a concession that was made to textbook authors.”

DynamicBooks also includes an incentive system where “Professors who customize a textbook have a chance to make some extra money. For each customized copy that a student buys, the professor who contributed the material gets a dollar. That could add up if a professor's retooled book becomes popular and is assigned by professors at other colleges.” For more information check out

Facebook: Guidelines and Challenges

How private are your frustrated, idle threats on Facebook? Ask the East Stroudsburg University associate professor who’s January 21, 2010 Facebook posting read: "Does anyone know where I can find a very discrete hitman, it's been that kind of day." She’s now suspended, see And what would a lawyer advise other lawyers as far as posting to Facebook? Check out “Saving Face: 5 Tips for a More Secure Facebook” at For more detail; read the article, but the short summary is:
  1. Use a strong password and change it frequently.
  2. Review carefully your privacy settings and change if needed.
  3. Be discriminating in your use of Facebook.
  4. Take control of what others can post to your page.
  5. Consider using “friends lists.”

Friday, February 26, 2010

Shrink-O-Matic: Another Free Tool

A couple of week ago, we introduced Shrink-O-Matic at a JCCC Ed Tech Center’s Web 2.0 Wednesday session. It’s an Adobe AIR application that easily resizes (shrinks) one or more images (such as JPGs, GIFs and PNGs). If you need to quickly reduce the size of images, you can simply drag and drop the images into Shrink-O-Matic and they'll be resized as you specify! The web 2.0 app offers options so you can choose the output sizes, names and formats of the graphic files. Check it out at It’s a very simple application to use.

Just be aware, this tool is supported by the online developer. If you get stuck, review the Shrink-O-Matic blog at

Innovation Corner: Will the 20 Pound Textbook Still EXist in 5 Years?

Some interesting developments are occurring in the eBook/publishing arena. The recent O'Reilly Tools of Change (TOC) Conference in New York (February 22-24, 2010) covered many topics including eBooks. As recorded on the Smashwords blog (Smashwords is an eBook publisher and distributor), Raymond Kurzweil, the man behind the new Blio ebook platform, spoke of “how most forward-thinking people consider technology progression as linear (steady predictable progress), when in fact some of the most important technical progressions are exponential (progress accelerates over time, catching everyone by surprise). Ebooks are likely an exponential phenomena. They're not a fad, and they may reshape the book market faster than any of us believe.”

The posting on Smashwords ( includes some interesting stats (see the section on “Stats, Stats, Stats”) such as “Ebook customers would be willing to pay more for ebooks if they come with social-media-enabled tools that help them discuss and share the books with others.”

The posting continues, “[What are the] most popular devices for reading ebooks: This is interesting. You might guess, as I did, the Amazon Kindle. Wrong. The most popular device for 47% of customers is their computer screen. Kindle comes in at a close and impressive second place at 32%, followed by 11% for the iPhone, 10% for iPod Touch (note this adds up to 22%, pre-iPad), 9% each for the Blackberry and netbooks, and 8% each for the Barnes & Noble nook and the Sony Reader.”

The most interesting section of the post (“The Future of Digital Textbooks”) states “Whenever publishers create content for which there is great demand (such as textbooks), yet they make that content prohibitively expensive and inaccessible (textbooks), it causes customers to seek out alternative content options (piracy, used textbooks, etc.), all of which provide the publisher no economic benefit.”

“Digital textbooks offer potential relief to students and their parents. The challenge for college textbook publishers is to make the transition to lower cost digital products without putting themselves out of business. I think Flat World (see is well-positioned for the future of textbook publishing….”

If you want to know more about Flat World Knowledge, which offers “remixable textbooks by expert authors” check out the site (above) or the blog posting at

Another potential eBook/textbook tool is Scribd (, “a place for writers to sell books they can't afford to publish and for people to discover others with similar reading interests” (see which has a new send-to-mobile-devices feature that enables readers to select books on the Scribd site and send them to the Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble’s The Nook, the iPhone or a mobile device using the Android operating system (such as the Motorola Droid, Samsung Beam, Nexus One, and HTC Hero). Scribd currently hosts over 10 million documents (growing by 10% each month) and unlike Amazon and Barnes & Noble, their emphasis in on the small self-published author. What does that mean? College instructors can author textbooks or chapters or papers and distribute to the student’s existing mobile device via Scribd.

So when textbooks skyrocket in price, faculty members can author or remix digital versions, and ebook readers, mobile devices and the computer screen are common and popular ways to access content…what do you think is the future of the hardcover or softcover textbook?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Class Videos and Copyright

The University of California at Los Angeles has stopped allowing faculty members to post copyrighted videos on their course Web sites after the Association for Information and Media Equipment (AIME), a group that protects the copyrights of education media companies, charged the university with violating copyright laws by posting the videos to the password-protected course Web pages without the proper permissions. For additional details, check out the Inside Higher Ed article at (be sure to check the very intriquing comments to the article at ).

A follow-up article is also available at .

What does this mean? In overly simplistic terms:
  • Fair use only allows a portion of a work (video or otherwise) to be used by a not-for-profit educational institution in the classroom.
  • The TEACH Act extends the classroom to include any online, password protected course space with access only by currently enrolled students, and access enabled only for a time period appropriate to presentation and discussion of the work.
  • The use of the video must be related to specific course objectives (i.e., not just as a time filler).
  • As a "general rule", the TEACH Act would only authorize portions of, not entire works. The exception might include showing an entire film in a media studies program, but other criteria must also be met.
  • The work (including video) must be legally obtained (e.g., not a pirated copy).
  • The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) makes it illegal (even if fair use might otherwise apply) to bypass the encryption on digital media (e.g., CSS encryption codes on region-encoded DVDs) in order to create a streaming media version. For example, if you digitize and bypass the encryption on a DVD to create a streaming video clip, the issue of fair use is moot.
  • The TEACH Act does not extend fair use to works primarily produced or marketed for in-class use in the digital distance education market.
JCCC has licenses with several companies to provide video access for instructional purposes, including Ambrosia Video, Journal of Chemical Education (ACS) demonstrations, American History in Video (streaming video collection includes newsreels from 1929 through the 1960s plus hours of documentaries from the History Channel and more), Counseling and Therapy in Video, Dallas TeleLearning Digital Resource Repository, and the INTELECOM Online Resources Network.

Members of AIME, the group that has threatened UCLA with a copyright infringement suit) are listed online ( ).

As background for this increasingly important area of media usage, check out “Video Use and Higher Education: Options for the Future” at .

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Word Tip: Converting a Graphic to Free-Floating

Have you ever added a graphic to a paragraph in Microsoft Word 2007 and found it locked to a specific paragraph when you wanted it to be a "Free-Floating" graphic? To change it from locked to free-floating, simply click the graphic to select it. A new tab labeled Picture Tools appears above the right-most tab. Click the new tab and in the Arrange group, near the right-side of the ribbon, click the down-arrow next to the right of the Text Wrapping text. From the drop-down menu, choose "Through". This releases the graphic from its paragraph anchor, and you can drag the picture anywhere in the document. If you need to have extra vertical space to position the graphic, simply press the Enter key until enough space is reached, and drag the picture to the new location.

Thanks to John R. Nicholson for this tip.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Free eBook Reader Coming?

Everyone’s releasing eBooks, from Apple’s iPad to Amazon’s Kindle to the Sony eBook Reader to Barnes & Noble’s The Nook. At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Ray Kurzweil, creator of Kurzweil Educational Systems (technology pioneer and developer of a range of assistive technology products) announced the February release of Blio, a free eBook reader. According to eSchool News (see ), “Perhaps the software’s most impressive feature is that it can support the original layout, font, and graphics of any book in full color, its creators say. It also can support embedded multimedia such as video and audio, and readers have the ability to highlight, annotate, and share information.”

“Blio isn’t yet available, but already it’s backed by Baker & Taylor, one of the world’s largest publishers, as well as Elsevier, Hachette, HarperCollins, Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, and Wiley. Blio users will have access to more than 1 million books altogether, its makers say—including a large selection of current bestselling titles.”

If interested in Blio, go to their web site ( ) and signup for an email alert when the app is available. Also check out for a feature comparison chart (bottom of the page) with other eBook readers.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Eyes on the Earth 3D

Instructors: What if you could enable your students to view Global Climate Change satellite data from NASA in 3D (based on over a dozen key satellites orbiting the Earth; such as AQUA, CloudSAT, OSTM, and so on)? Check out and be sure to watch the demonstration video first. It’ll explain the controls you have to selectively view data from one or more satellites. The site does require you to install the Unity Web Browser, but it’s pretty straight-forward to do.

Be sure to check out the planet’s vital signs on the right, including the long term summer average of Arctic Sea ice, parts per million of Carbon Dioxide, the rise or fall of the sea level since 1992, and the increase or decrease in the global temperature and the size of the ozone hole.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Gadgets I Didn't Get for Christmas

Just before the holiday break, we held a Technology Brown Bag session on "Electronic Gifts for the Season" (see video at I invited several staff at JCCC to participate and Keith Krieger (Technology Training Coordinator) was one of the invitees. Keith was unable to attend but sent me a list of interesting gadgets...none of which I received for Christmas. :-(

We ran out of time to share his information, so the least I can do is share these great gadgets with you. Here's Keith's note:

"Since I can’t be there, I thought I would share a few items I’ve seen.

I’ve done this for the Center for Business for 4 Christmas seasons, and I like to have a bit of fun with the items. Please feel free to pass these along for anyone to review or point out."

Space Food Sampler from ThinkGeek: $20

For aging boomers who bought every Beatle album (not that I would know anything about that):

The Beatles: Rock Band

For Trekkies (more aging boomers):

An entire set of iPhone applications devoted to Klingon: dictionary, conversational Klingon (“The engines are overheating, Captain!”), and phrasebook. $11.99 for the suite.

For WoW fans, you can now buy an in-game pet to accompany you:,c:33

7 Cool and Easy Robot Projects (book):

Free virtual robot software to use with the book, or buy expensive Lego Mindstorms kits for real robots!

Simplify charging your gadgets with PowerMat:

Poor man’s network using a plug-in Ethernet crossover adaptor, from ThinkGeek:

My Blog List