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?

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