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Blackboard Feature of the Week:
- Teaching with Technology:
"Discussion Board Guidelines"
Topic: "A New Version of StudyMate:
Flashcards on the iPod"
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 49.
Technology and Download News Briefs
Windows Vista and Office 2007 were released
officially to consumers this week (on Tuesday).
Vista comes in 4 flavors (prices shown are from
Amazon): Vista Home Basic ($191.99 for full
version, $98.99 for upgrade); Vista Home Premium ($226.99
for full version, $152.99 for upgrade); Vista
Business ($282.99 full, $191.99 upgrade); and Vista
Ultimate ($378.99 full, $249.99 upgrade).
Amazon provides their own descriptions of the
Click here for the Microsoft Windows Vista site
for further explanations. Palomar is licensed
for the Business version. Our IS department
has not yet released a rollout schedule.
To upgrade or not to upgrade?
Click here for a brief (3:35) audio analysis of
the pros and cons of upgrading to Vista now by CNet
editor Brian Cooley, as heard on American Public
Tense." In sum: Pros: Much better
security, beautiful new interface, many media
friendly features; Cons: XP is already a very good
OS and Vista is just an incremental improvement,
avoid the service pack syndrome and wait, get an OEM
install rather than a do-it-yourself upgrade.
Click here to download the Vista Upgrade Advisor
to find out if your Windows XP-based PC is ready to
Office 2007 the story is different. The new
office interface is truly
revolutionary and, once mastered, makes using
the more sophisticated features in the Office apps
much easier to use. Once again, Palomar's IS
department is not yet ready to support the new
Office, and does not have a firm rollout schedule.
The programs are available in the Academic
Technology computer labs, if you want to come play
with them, and will be the default Office programs
in our labs beginning with the summer semester.
Click here for the new Office Online web site.
Will Palomar faculty members and staff be able to
purchase the new products through the Foundation for
California Community Colleges at greatly reduced
prices, as we did with Windows XP and Office 2003?
According to Steve Tuck, the FCCC customer relations
lead, yes, sometime around April. Steve said
he expects the prices to be similar to the previous
Click here for mover information from the FCCC
web site. The FCCC does sponsor a site where
students can purchase Office at somewhat reduced
StudyMate 2.0 is now available for download from our
StudyMate/Respondus web site (login with your
Palomar email address and email password required).
Click here for an overview of the new features,
chief among which are suppoort for small screen
devices (like the iPod), a calculated question
template, and embedded audio clips.
Those of you with 1.x versions of StudyMate will
have to download the new software and install it.
Apple has released a security patch for QuickTime
version 7.1.3 over all platforms. "A buffer
overflow exists in QuickTime's handling of RTSP
URLs. By enticing a user to access a
maliciously-crafted RTSP URL, an attacker can
trigger the buffer overflow, which may lead to
arbitrary code execution." Just the usual.
Click here to read more and download the patch.
Click here for the Apple support/download site
where information on all the latest
patches/downloads can be found.
In more bad news for Apple, they have declined to
appeal and been compelled to pay legal fees for two
web sites they sued last year in an attempt to
silence them. In Apple v. Does "Apple had
asked courts to compel two Apple rumor sites,
O'Grady's PowerPage, to disclose the names of
their sources for a series of stories..."
Apple argued that "amateur websites are not eligible
for the legal protections afforded to professional
journalists..." but a Santa Clara county court
disagreed. "The court awarded the two sites
more than twice their actual legal expenses in order
to deter companies like Apple from harrassing
journalists with lawsuits" (ars
technica). Apple has paid over $700,000 to
the two sites.
has announced that Lightroom, it's first
RAW-oriented photography workflow application, will
be available February 19 and will be priced at $299
for both Mac and Windows platforms.
Click here for the Adobe press release,
here for the article in ars technica,
here for the Adobe Lightroom web site.
- Snapshots and multiple settings for same RAW
- Improvements to Develop, Slideshow, Printing and
- New Key Metadata Browser for quick tagging and
- Beefed-up labeling and rating
- Curves show more range information for selected
- More connection between actual disk structure
and what you see within the application
- Clone and heal nondestructively
Apple markets a similar product called
Aperture, priced, coincidentally, no doubt, the
Microsoft released a new giveaway this week,
MS Photo Info 1.0. "Microsoft Photo Info
allows photographers to add, change and delete
common "metadata" properties for digital photographs
from inside Windows Explorer. When installed,
a new "Photo Info" item appears on the context menu
for files selected in Windows Explorer. To use,
simply select one or more image fiiles, right-click
and choose "Photo Info" to open the Photo Info
properties editor." Photo Info is for Windows
XP or Vista.
Also from Microsoft this week they released a
utility to restore Backup files made with NT
Backup to Windows Vista computers, and emphasized
the use of the
Windows Vista Upgrade Advisor, a utility that
will help you decide whether your PC is ready to
upgrade to Windows Vista.
While there is plenty of time to prepare, daylight
savings time will be early this year, three weeks
earlier than last year, in fact, and it will be
extended one week later. It will begin on
March 11, 2007 and end November 4, 2007.
will your calendaring applications and operating
system take all this? Microsoft has prepared a
thorough summary: "Preparing
for daylight saving time changes in 2007."
Many Microsoft products are affected. Some
patches have been released, some will be continuing
through March. As long as you have automatic
updates turned on, you should not have to worry.
If not, you may want to dig in to the dirty details
of the Microsoft summary web site. Mac users
should consult the
Apple support site, and search on "daylight
savings time 2007" to find instructions for your OS
and platform version.
Speaking of early, there are some who
like to do their taxes as soon as they get their
W2s. This year the IRS has good news.
They are sponsoring a program called "freefile,"
that allows for free electronic tax filing developed
through partnership with various tax preparation
companies. Conditions for use require that the
taxpayers Adjusted Gross Income be less than
$52,000--which includes 75% of taxpayers.
Click here for details.
- Student filmmakers, want your video broadcast around
the world?: Unicef is sponsoring the "Make a
difference" video contest. Film makers under
25 are being asked to "look at the four priorities
of the session’s adopted agenda “Building a World
Fit for Children”: Promoting healthy lives;
Providing quality education; Protecting children
against abuse, exploitation and violence; Combating
HIV/AIDS. How have these goals been achieved in
your community? What problems still exist in your
communities? What suggestions do you have to fix
these issues? What can be done to make the world
better for children?" Your video must be
exactly 1 minute long. Videos will be
displayed on the Unicef web site, and the winning
video broadcast around the world on the
"International Children's Day of Broadcasting,"
vodcast by UNICEF, and featured on UNICEF web sites.
Submissions must be made by March 30, 2007.
Click here for more details.
- Do you tag? A new
Pew Internet & American Life Project poll
released this week shows "...28% of internet users
have tagged or categorized content online such as
photos, news stories or blog posts.
a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they
tag or categorize online content." Tagging, or
adding custom terms to categorize Internet content,
is common at "sites such
(a site for sharing
(a photo sharing site),
(a video sharing site)
(the blog search
engine)." Bloggers typically tag their posts
with descriptive terms, and the blogging tool we
Windows Live Writer (still in beta, though),
makes it simple to tag blog entries.
Tags are public, and can be searched across large,
diverse sites like the ones mentioned above.
Click here for the 500 most popular tags at
Click here for a PDF version of the report.
Safari tech-book online:
How to Build an RSS 2.0 Feed, by Mark Woodman
(O'Reilly, 56 pages -
(accessible from on-campus or with a
password off campus). "The little orange
feed icons are everywhere on the web. From search
engines to shopping sites to blogs, Really Simple
Syndication (RSS 2.0) has become one of the hottest
web technologies going. RSS 2.0 is a powerful - yet
surprisingly easy - way to distributing timely
content to a web-based audience."
- Attention publishers: the
more you give away, the more you sell. Google
Book Search recently sponsored a conference titled "Unbound:
Advancing Book Publishing in a Digital World."
here to watch a YouTube video
highlights montage of the conference.
File this one under, "it's easier to tear down than
According to the BBC, "Microsoft has admitted
that speech recognition features in Vista could be
hijacked so that a PC tells itself to delete files
or folders." You might also file this one
under "ignore the obvious:" "The
exploit scenario would involve the speech
recognition feature picking up commands through the
microphone such as 'copy', 'delete', 'shutdown',
etc. and acting on them," a Microsoft security
researcher wrote on the team's official blog."
While Microsoft has protested that there are
"additional barriers that would make an attack [like
this] difficult," it is not impossible. The
Microsoft Security Response Center blog added "You
may ask why this is new to Windows Vista as previous
versions of the operating system do not appear
affected. Windows Vista’s sophisticated speech
recognition allows for easier operation and extended
support for commands." To quote perhaps the
most famous American, "D'oh!"
Listen to the news [mp3 -
- Academic Technology Training
we will be conducting 2 workshops:
Click here to access the general ATRC workshop schedule,
here to read a description of the various
workshops within their competencies. This spring we also
have a new
Blackboard Certificate program.
Click here to read a description. Finally,
we provide TBA training for instructors who cannot
attend workshops or have special interests.
Dr. Haydn Davis with questions about TBA
training (or call ext. 2341).
Register for all Academic Technology workshops
Professional Development web site.
- @ONE Training
@One also announced their Spring
Technical Institute will be held at San Jacinto
College on April 2-5. Three workshops will be
for registration information. Cost is only
- Free Microsoft eLearning courses: for a limited time access
to these excellent e-Learning products on Office
2007 is available.
Click here to access a gateway to sign-up for
training in the new Office interface, Access 2007,
Excel 2007, Infopath 2007, OneNote 2007, Outlook
2007, PowerPoint 2007, Word 2007, Visio 2007, and
Groove 2007. You may also download a free
e-book from this site titled
First Look 2007 Microsoft Office System in
For those who have already installed Office 2007,
and are struggling with the new ribbon, Microsoft
has released three very nice interactive,
flash-based reference guides showing where the old
commands (from Office 2003) are now located in
Office 2007. Download these free for
- Free online training is available for Horizon
Live Classroom and the Horizon Wimba
Voice Tools, both of which we have access to in
our Blackboard system.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Effective communication is important in
any class and, in online and hybrid classes, crucial.
Typically, online and hybrid class instructors make the
discussion board a central part of their class. Even with
all the new communication tools available to Blackboard
instructors, the discussion board is the place that students
and instructor communicate with each other. With this in
mind, I’d like to offer some suggestions about developing
and maintaining a vibrant discussion board.
There are two general approaches to
constructing the DB in the first place. In Blackboard, the
instructor has to create forums, the repositories for DB
posts, but there are a number of decisions that must be made
after that is accomplished. Perhaps the first important
decision is whether to require students to initiate the
original threads or whether the instructor will do it. An
argument for requiring students to do it is that this will
encourage/force them to take ownership of the DB. An
argument for having the instructor do it is that the initial
threads will be focused on relevant course topics. In my
experience the second approach tends to be more successful.
Another early decision is whether or not
to allow students to start new threads as opposed to
requiring them to comment on the instructor’s thread and,
possibly also to students’ posts. Again, I know instructors
who have successful classes with either approach but again
in my experience, allowing, even encouraging students to
start new threads works best. I’ll mention just one more of
the set-up options that one has when creating a new forum.
Should students be allowed to modify their posts after
submitting them? I know some instructors who feel strongly
that they should not. However, I come down on the other
side: while I don’t allow students to remove a post I do
allow them to modify it – to accommodate the times when a
student discovers, after the fact, a typo or poorly
Of course it probably goes without saying
that unless the students’ posts are graded, they probably
won’t post. But how should posts be graded? Some instructors
require that students post a number of times per week to
receive participation points. But what counts as a post? If
one goes only by number of posts, then posts such as “I
agree with Jane” count. If both quantity and quality are
important, how is quality determined?
Students appreciate it when their
instructor provides clear guidelines regarding how to earn
full credit for posting. Examples of doing this well are
provided by Dr. Bera and Dr. Lockett.
The Blackboard Feature of the Week - David Gray
you already know where you're going, it's not too hard to
find the way. But, sometimes, your students won't know where
to find materials... There are some Blackboard tools that
can act as detour signs to help them find their way.
In among the Content Area controls for
instructors are a couple of little known tools: External
Link and Course Link. These content types allow instructors
to place a link in a content area that will detour users to
another place, either to some web site with External Link,
or into another segment of the course site with Course Link.
Click the button for External Link and the
only required information is to give the link a name and
provide the URL of the web site. There are choices to type a
description or attach a file to this content, and a choice
to force the link to open in a new window. (In modern
browsers this will likely be in a new tab, instead.)
Click the button for Course Link and you
only are required to name the link and browse to the course
location it should point to. The course browsing system is
similar to the Course Map in Blackboard, so won't be
difficult to use. Be aware that the content in an area isn't
bookmarked, so if you create a course link to an item all
the users will see is the folder containing that item; the
users will have to scroll until they can see the content.
(Course Links are a strong reason for organizing your
content into folders.)
Simple traffic direction within
Blackboard, the External and Course Links.
Note: To get to David's vodcast site,
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry Gray
A New Version of StudyMate: Flashcards on the iPod
is a new version of StudyMate available at our
Respondus/StudyMate download site (Windows-based
It is version 2.0. For those unfamiliar
with StudyMate, it is an authoring tool that makes
it extremely easy to create any of ten different
Flash-based learning activities and games, such as
Fact Cards, Flash Cards, Pick a Letter activities,
Fill in the Blank activities, Matching, Multiple
Choice quizzes, Crossword puzzles, a Jeopardy-like
game called Challenge, and a Glossary builder.
Click here to see a sample of the various types
of activities. (Samples page will open in a
new window -
Flash player required).
What is new and exciting about version 2 are its
download options. StudyMate now saves any or
all of the Fact Cards, Flash Cards and Multiple
Choice quizzes in small screen format which can be
downloaded and synced to the iPod, the PSP, or other
small screen devices. Briefly, here's how it
A single check box as part of the StudyMate
Publish procedure will cause it to produce zip files
for download and sync to iPods, in a 320x240 screen
size, or Nanos, in a (176x132) screen size.
The files it creates are .zip files--a collection of
zipped bmp images in a folder structure. Click
on the download link below, and choose "Save" to save the
file locally. Complete instructions for
downloading and unzipping can be found
- Windows XP users should right-click the zip
file once it is downloaded and choose "Extract
all..." from the context sensitive menu.
An unzipped version of the folder containing the
bmp images will be saved.
- Mac users have the edge. Mac OS X will
automatically unzip the file to a folder in the
Now, for both Mac and PC users, copy the unzipped
folder to your iPod's Photo sync folder, plug in
your iPod, and let iTunes sync the files
automatically. (This is assuming you already
sync photos with your iPod. If not, select
your iPod within iTunes, click on the Photos tab,
define a sync folder, and check the sync box.
The sync operation will then occur). That's
all there is to it. Now select Photos from the
iPod main menu, choose the appropriate menu item (it
will be named with the StudyMate folder name) and
Any other device capable of displaying pictures
and being synced from a computer will probably
also work. We tested it with several
devices running Windows mobile AND ActiveSync, and they all worked.
(An Audiovox SMT5600 cell phone, a Sony PSP, an iPAQ
4705 PDA, and an HP HW6515 Smart Phone). A conversion from bmp format to the native format of
the device occurred in all cases (as, indeed, it
does on the iPod). Most PDAs will use the
320x240 format, phones (except PDA phones) will use
the 176x132 format.
Ironically, it did not work on the Microsoft Zune because the Zune
could not understand bmp format. Ironic
because this is a long time standard graphics format
for Windows. Had we wished to batch convert
the bmp files to jpg format with a program like
Photoshop they undoubtedly would have loaded just
fine on the Zune, but who's going to go to that kind
of effort for a few flash cards?
If you wish to try it for yourself, here are the
download links again:
Download for iPod Video and PSP (320x240 pixels)
Download for iPod Nano (176x132 pixels)
and here is the link
for complete instructions for PC, Mac, and PSP (via
Download and installation instructions
These links contain Fact cards (a "one-sided"
card stating a fact), Flash cards (the familiar
"two-sided" cards with a term and definition), and
multiple-choice quizzes, all in the same file.
If you have not yet downloaded and installed
StudyMate (PC only), go to our
Respondus/StudyMate site, login using your Palomar
email address as username and email password as
password, read the instructions, then download and
install the software. If you have never
installed StudyMate before, you will have to
register the product with the license key and other
information indicated on the download page.
Version 2 is not an upgrade from previous versions,
so if you are a 1.5 user (or earlier) you will also
have to download and install (yes, you can run both
versions), but you should not have to register the
new one. We have licensed StudyMate and
Respondus for all Palomar college faculty members
If you need assistance getting it installed, or
with using it, email
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (760) 744-1150
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