Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Speaking of computerized recommendations, I came across this site a few weeks ago, and wasted a good hour playing with it. It’s called “What Should I Read Next?” and it’s super easy to use. It works better with better known and more widely read books (really disappointing suggestions for W.E.B. DuBois, for example), but even the disappointments are interesting for what they say about American reading patterns, I think.

One question that always comes up at the end of the semester, from some student or other, is “What should I read next?” It’s always a fun conversation to have, but even with 30 of us, it’s limited by the experiences in the room. It would be fun to have that conversation with this tool.

And if you want to know more about the people who run the site (and what they’re doing with your data!), you can read about it here. Have fun!

And, I figure, the more registered users they have, making recommendations, the better the tool will be.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Tired of pasting links into emails and then emailing those to yourself for reading at another time? Tired of long bookmark lists that you never get back to and never clean up? Tired of combing through your browsing history to find “that one site” that had that article whose title you can’t remember about that subject that you can’t quite recall with enough precision to find it in Google?

Well, it’s your lucky day. Check out “Instapaper.” Just create an account, do the simple drag and drop as directed, and then, whenever you come across a site you think you’ll want to read later, click the button you dragged to your toolbar and whammo–you have a reading list to return to whenever you want.

When you’re ready, you go to Instapaper and your saved links are all there waiting for you in one spot. It’s super easy, and nice to have everything in one spot rather than relying on my cluttered memory.

Website Wednesday

One from the audience! Kristin Bivens (English) was kind enough to write up (and record!) this one about one of my favorite freeware options. Thanks, Kristin!

About two years ago, Audacity showed up on my radar.  Audacity is an open software program for recording mp3s (amongst other functions).  Currently, I use Audacity to record mp3 lectures for the hybrid course I teach (ENG 102 for science majors), to record feedback to my students’ writing (they have the choice between verbal or recorded feedback), and to record mp3s to clarify f2f lectures (when there’s a need to do so).

Truthfully, I have found, from the composition perspective, that using recorded feedback for student writing is incredibly well-received (my students have found it to be effective) and it really helps to handle the paper load (increasing both the quantity and quality of the feedback I provide to my students).  They are able to listen to the feedback numerous times; they are able to download the mp3 to their players or phones; and I am able to keep a paperless record of their writing journeys throughout a semester.

At first, I was hesitant to use this technology—it intimidated me.  When I decided to teach a hybrid course, I knew I would need to just get over it and use the technology and benefits Audacity offered.  I wouldn’t consider myself an expert when it comes to Audacity, as I only use it to record and export mp3s (and it has so much more functionality), but I am proficient using Audacity now.  I intend to continue to use Audacity in my f2f and blended learning teaching.

If you’re interested in Audacity, you can download it for free here.

There’s a tutorial for Audacity here.

So, if you have the inclination, try it out.

UPDATE: More evidence of my rampant stupidity; I misspelled Kristin’s last name! Sorry! Mea Culpa. I have corrected it above.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I spent yesterday afternoon at the Faculty Council hosted focus group on Professional Development with Franklin and Alicia from the Development Task Force, which got me thinking about various things I want to learn and this list that I stumbled on a few weeks ago. It’s not just one Web site this week, people; it’s 12 dozen. That’s right…144 sites, compiled by a blogger for a list of places to go to self educate.

The blog where this post resides, “Marc and Angel Hack Life,” might be a legitimately helpful destination in its own right for a lot of people. They do lists there (with links!). Things like this or this or this.

Lots of resources here to explore. And they might even take requests!

 

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I don’t have much experience using social media in the classroom, but I was curious when I came across The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Social Media on the blog Edudemic, run by these folks. Coincidentally, when you open the Teacher’s Guide link and scroll down to access it in the document viewer, you can see how Issuu works, a useful tool for posting documents on Blackboard that was the subject of a Website Wednesday last semester.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I am sad to say that this post is already a failure and the fault is mine.

As you may have realized from previous posts on the subject, I am a bit of a procrastinator. Also, a cheapskate. (The relevance of those two items will be apparent in a minute or two.) Since I saw the funny videos made by District’snottheboss of me, I have been planning on highlighting the website/software that makes them possible and doing so by making a movie of my own. Alas, it cannot be.

Still, I can tell you about the site and the tools there. It all comes from a site called Xtranormal.com. If you go there, you’ll see (once you sign up for a free account) that you have two options for moviemaking–option one is to download their free software, a program called “State;” and option two is to use a program called MovieMaker and publish your movie online (basically using the tools without downloading them).

The latter requires buying something called Xtranormal Points (XPs) that you “spend” to buy sets, pay for “actors,” and other sorts of things like that. When you sign up for an account you get 300 to start with (which is enough to make a movie and try it out), I think. Somehow, I lost mine, though, which is why I couldn’t make one. They sell the XPs (you can buy 1200 for $10–which is enough one very very fancy movie or lots of pretty simple ones, assuming, that is, that you’re not a cheapskate like me), and they have educator discounts, but they are not “same day”/instant, which is a problem for procrastinators like me (see the bottom of this page).One good thing about the XPs is that once you “buy” an asset, it’s yours to use in future films and projects anytime you like without additional charge. So, really, with only a few dollars you could have all that you need to make a lot of movies. But how does one make a movie with these things? Good question.

First you start by a collection–they have superheroes, historical figures, soccer players, robots, etc. Then you pick out the set you want, the specific actors (and their voices/accents), background sounds and/or music, and then you get to the story, which is basically a text box featuring a variety of symbols (one for pause, one for “points finger,” and others for faces, motions and the like). Then you type in your text and drag over the symbols you want to the appropriate places in the dialogue, and blammo–you’re a movie maker. You can preview and change your items pretty easily (it appears), and it looks totally fun to play with.

Being a cheapskate, I went for the software download version, but it’s still downloading as I type this, and I have no idea how long it will take to install or whether it will crash my computer. I also don’t know if I have to buy XPs for the downloaded version, but as soon as I know, I will add the info.

And if I can get around to it, I just might make a movie, too…

Website Wednesday

If you’re not hitting the highways or the friendly skies (pat-down!) for the Thanksgiving break, you might find yourself with some down time to catch your breath and do some pleasure reading. If so, don’t forget that all HWC employees have at-home access to an absolute treasure trove of periodicals through our library’s online databases. Once or twice a month I find myself scrolling through the 4000+ titles of ProQuest’s Research Library database, and I inevitably find something worthwhile to peruse in journals like the The Canadian Journal of Film Studies or Community College Review or Comparative Civilizations Review (and that’s just three of the 437 “C” titles). It’s not just academic publications either. If you want to hunker down with People or Vogue or American Cheerleader, they’re on there. I just downloaded some recipes from Vegetarian Times. The majority of titles offer full-content access, with individual articles available for download in PDF. Once you access ProQuest, click on the “Publications” tab to see an alphabetized list of all their periodical titles. Keep in mind, too, that ProQuest is just one of our library’s online databases. Check out all of them here. Remember that you’ll need to log-in with your CCC username/password to access any of the databases. HWC’s library log-in page for faculty, staff, and administrators is here. Happy reading!

Website Wednesday

Are you ever looking for good, reliable global statistics related to wealth, health and poverty? Me, too, and usually I end up at the United Nations site, which is usually somewhat dated and suspect to boot. I’d rather rely on private groups and NGOs, but they have agendas, too, and so I end up not knowing who or what to trust.

I think I found a good source.

I stumbled across a site called Giving What We Can that is fascinating in its own right, but a great feature of it is a Webliography of resources on global statistics in the form of reports on poverty (the list is HERE). The list includes some of the Usual Suspects (WHO, UNICEF, World Bank), but also some groups that I’ve never heard of (Copenhagen Consensus, Gapminder, J-Pal).

Sobering to poke around in them, but invaluable, too. And if you get the chance, check out the “How Rich Are You” Calculator or the “What You Can Achieve” Calculator (both are listed under “Resources.” It’s pretty interesting. I bet it would be for students, too.

Website Wednesday

Here’s a handy tool for sharing documents with students on your Blackboard sites:

Issuu is free a self-publishing tool that allows users to upload a file and then display it in an easy-to-read document viewer. Say you were teaching Macbeth, and to help introduce the play, you asked your students to read the Folger Shakespeare Library’s study guide to the play. The PDF file is available for download on the library’s website, so, using Blackboard, you could simply provide a link to it or upload it to your course site. Or using Issuu, you could embed the file directly into your Blackboard site and present it in a snazzy document viewer that offers full-screen display (and realistic page-flipping motions to boot).

Unfortunately the free version of WordPress (the site that hosts the Harold Lounge) doesn’t allow users to install the needed plug-in to embed Issuu files in blog posts, but you can get a sense of how the document viewer looks here. To embed an Issuu file directly in Blackboard (probably the most viewer-friendly means of sharing your documents), you will have to copy the embed code provided to you by Issuu after you upload your file and then paste it in your Blackboard content area after clicking the “Toggle HTML Source Mode” button (the one that looks like this: <>). You can choose from a few different layout and privacy choices, and include downloading and printing options as well. Files are limited to 100 MB and 500 pages, and the following file types can be used: pdf, doc, ppt, odt, wpd, sxw, rtf, odp, sxi.

Website Wednesday

Looking for a new way to make a flow chart or other sort of organizational scheme?

Let’s say that you and a few colleagues were brought in to take over a large and complex institution–oh, I don’t know, just off the top of my head, let’s say it’s a Community College district with seven independently accredited colleges–and you were brought in to “reinvent it.” Let’s say, further, that you wanted to include the people who worked there in some parts of the reinvention, but not others (owing to your desire to have your team in place to carry out the reinvention). Let’s go on to assume that one of your first tasks was to propose a budget for the coming year, and that, time being short, the budget required you to use the old organizational chart rather than the one that is evolving by the day.

Let’s also agree that months later, you have embarked on a reorganization of the administrative ranks (both at the Central Office and at the college-level), as well as the sub administrative ranks, in advance of the reinvention. Now it would make a lot of sense, would it not, to provide a new organizational chart to the employees of the district as quickly as possible so that work and information can flow as efficiently through the organization as possible, right? Clearly we must have a technology problem, right? What else could it be?

So, in the spirit of offering solutions rather than complaints, this week’s Website Wednesday is dedicated to a new and easy to use tool for creating charts of all kinds, including organizational charts. LovelyCharts is free, easy, and downright fun. Practice by making your own organizational chart of the City Colleges. I’d do it, but every time I start, I get depressed.

Anyway, you can watch how to use LovelyCharts right HERE.

 

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I know that you saw some of these highlighted at DWFDW, but just in case that is a long ways away from your mind, and because we’re at the midterm (when, it is generally supposed, it’s a good idea to get some student feedback about the course, and because you might not want to use CCC tools to conduct your own research about student satisfaction (or lack thereof) with your courses, you can consider the following tools, each of which I’ve used and found quick and simple to work with.

Flisti.com is a resource for creating superfast, multiple choice, online surveys–no sign up is required, and the sharing options are plentiful.

If you’d like a little more control over your poll, PollEverywhere.com is a good option. In fact, come to think of it, I think this might have been the one that was highlighted during DWFDW.

You know, just in case you want to do any quick survey’s of student opinions about, oh, I don’t know, anything that is going on around the college, maybe…

Website Wednesday

What do you think of when you hear the letters, BBC? Masterpiece Theater? World News? Benny Hill?

Maybe, just maybe, after spending a little time on this site, every time you hear BBC, you will think about the History of the World as told through the stories of 100 objects.

Poke around a little. It’s cool. I’m sure you will, like I did, find some stuff that you can use in some class or other.

And even if you don’t, I’m sure you’ll learn something…

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Today’s site is a 674 item long list of web sites (and Tech tools) available for post secondary educators, compiled by edutecher (get it?), with everything from free word processing programs to presentation tools to text summaries and film sites, and that’s just from the first page (1-34). Lots and lots of great stuff here.

You can get even longer lists (or shorter) by playing with the categories along the left hand side of the page. Dig in, and if you find something great, leave a note in the comments for the rest of us.

Website Wednesday

Website Wednesday is a regular feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Informational literacy, particularly with respect to the evaluation of Web sites is an important area for an eudcator whose students are doing research projects of one sort or another. Fake sites have long been a staple of web literacy education, two of the more famous being the site on DiHydrogen Monoxide (a.k.a. Water) and “Feline Reactions to Bearded Men.

Just in case you think your students might have seen those, here is a page with links to a whole collection of Bogus sites and Teaching Resources.

Even if you don’t use them, they’re worth a look–it’s a fine line between clever and stupid, but these are all on the safe side. Or mostly, at least.