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- Blackboard Feature of the
"No Running in the Pool Area"
- Teaching with Technology:
"A Potpourri of Tips for Teaching with
Tech Talk Topic: "Publishing to Blackboard
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 54.
Technology News Briefs
Economy Days are coming soon. On April 4-5 the
Palomar College Economics, History and Political
Science department will sponsor a group of
distinguished lecturers speaking on a wide range of
Speakers will include Dr. Thomas
Patterson from the John F. Kennedy School of
Government at Harvard University, Dr. Matthew Shugart,
the Graduate School of
Relations and Pacific Studies at the University of
California, San Diego, and Dr. Ranjeeta Ghiara,
chair of the Department of Economics at CSUSM, among
many others. Many of the lectures will be
webcast, but the webcast schedule is not yet
available (watch this space). Click here for
the room/time/speaker schedule.
- Version 7.1 of iTunes with version 7.1.5 of
now available for download. The update
compatibility issues with Windows Vista (though
it is still billed as a download for Windows 2000 or
XP) and adds full-screen Cover Flow and new sort
Additionally, this version plugs 8
QuickTime security vulnerabilities and bundles in
the upgrade is support for Apple TV media hub, in
anticipation of the soon to be released Apple TV
device which will make it possible to stream video
content from your computer to TV set.
Click here for an AppleInsider report. Re
the notorious Windows Vista issues, the
Apple web site says "iTunes 7.1 is recommended
for use with most editions of Windows Vista,
however, Apple is actively working with Microsoft to
resolve a few remaining known issues."
The @ONE system has announced an Online Teaching
Conference to be held June 11-12. There are
three ways to attend:
- In person at Ohlone College in Fremont, CA
(early bird registration is $75);
- Virtually (and free) via CCC Confer
- Virtually via downloads of archived sessions
after they are held.
Click here for more information.
- It is not too late to be part of the Windows
Home Server Beta. If you:
- Have two or more networked PCs at home;
- Have a broadband connection and router;
- Have a spare PC or server that can be dedicated
to Windows Home Server;
click here to apply to become part of the beta.
What is it for? Two things, basically:
1) backup of files on your home computers; 2)
playing your media on any computer from a central
has announced that there will be two editions of
Photoshop CS3: CS3 and CS3 Extended. CS3
is for designers and professional photographers, CS3
extended has the same feature set but adds
cross-media capabilities for working with web motion
graphics, video and image analysis, and special
features for architects, engineers and scientists.
Both editions will be available March 27 when
Creative Suite CS3 is launched.
Click here for the Adobe press release.
Click here to download the beta of Photoshop
here for the CS3 web site.
Nearly in concert, Microsoft announced a new HD
Photo file format "...for end-to-end digital
photography that offers higher image quality,
greater preservation of data, and advanced features
for today’s digital-imaging applications" (Microsoft
has announced that in the next 60-90 days they will
be closing over half of their 225 stores.
(This is after they bought and closed all of the
Good Guys stores).
Click here for a list of stores affected.
You will note that the Encinitas, San Diego, San
Marcos and Murrieta stores are all on the list.
According to Roman Ross, CompUSA CEO, "Based
on changing conditions in the consumer retail
electronics markets, the company identified the need
to close and sell stores with low performance or
nonstrategic, old store layouts and locations faced
with market saturation." In English what he
means is, the Internet is eating their lunch and no
one in his right mind would pay CompUSA prices when
you can find it for substantially less online, and I
don't mean the CompUSA web site. A gotta-have-it-now
emergency is the only reason to visit a computer
store, and it would have to be a really big
emergency in the case of CompUSA rather than Fry's.
It is easy to find brightly vested, underpaid
employees with limited knowledte who will run from
you at other outlets. To prove that CompUSA
just doesn't get it, their going out of business
sale amounts to 10% off, all sales being final.
On Wednesday of this week Bill Gates testified this
week before the U. S. Senate on strengthening
American competitiveness. According to Gates,
cannot maintain its innovation leadership if it does
not educate world-class innovators and train its
workforce to use innovations effectively.
Unfortunately, available data suggest that we are
failing to do so -- in our math and science
programs, in our job training programs and
especially in our high schools" (ComputerWorld).
Click here for a video (2 hrs. 2 min. - Windows
media format) of Gates' testimony (available until
April 4, 2007) and
here for a transcript.
once the world leader in gaming, has stumbled badly
since the release of the very pricy PS3. While
the Microsoft XBox and Nintendo Wii have surged
ahead Sony has struggled to keep up with nothing
really new except a great hardware platform--until
now. At the
Game Developers Conference this week they
announced the impending release of "Home," a
new 3-D world akin to the
Second Life virtual world, except with "stunning
graphics" and "superior processing power."
Click here for a game video trailer from GDC.
At the conference Sony announced a large-scale beta
test of Home to begin in April, followed by a Fall
release. Home will be a free download from
Sony, who will make money by selling virtual
furniture and "upscale apartments" to virtual
residents and by placing ads in virtual public
Click here for a Slashdot article,
here for the official Sony press release.
What do Franklin D. Roosevelt, Allen Ginsberg, The
Lone Ranger, and Lou Reed have in common? A
flair for fashion? Hardly. They are all
included in this year's
National Recording Registry.
Each year the
Librarian of Congress a number of sound recordings
to include in the registry based on nominations by
the public and by a panel of experts known as the
National Recording Preservation Board.
Click here to view the 2006 registry,
here to view the entire registry to date (it
began in 2002). You must
act now to nominate a recording for the 2007
registry. The deadline is July 1, 2007.
Not all recordings in the registry are held by the
Library of Congress. The Preservation Board
provides links to the various libraries holding
the original copies.
Once again, Congressmen Rick Boucher and John
Doolittle have introduced a bill in Congress to
restore the fair rights freedoms that have been
rolled back by the hated
Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The bill
(known as the
Fair Use Act) is less ambitious than last year's
bill, which went nowhere, but these heroes of
citizens' rights continue to press the case for
awareness of the punishing rights rollbacks of this
Click here to hear a CNet interview with
Congressman Doolittle, and
here to read the specifics of this act from the
The twin pillars on which Wikipedia are founded,
trust and tolerance, met the real world this week
when it was revealed that a prominent volunteer
author/editor had falsified his credentials as a
university professor, complete with bogus Ph. D.
Editing under the name EssJay, Steve Jordan, a
24-year old college student, had authority arbitrate
disputes between authors. He represented
himself as a tenured professor of religion at a
private university: all lies and prejudice.
Mr. Jordan has "announced his retirement from the
Click here for the NY Times story. Jimmy
Wales, Wikipedia founder, responded with kindness
and humanity, but did ask for Jordan's resignation.
What, exactly, was the up side for Steve?
Being taken seriously by people who didn't know you
were a fake? Ah, humanity.
Worried about English in the age of text messaging?
U ot 2 b. Click here for the hilarious
Homophoner. No sents of heumur? Uz
it az a pronunceyashun gyd.
featured Safari tech book online this week is:
Windows Vista: The Definitive Guide by William R.
Stanek. "Whether you're a beginner, power
user, or seasoned professional,
Windows Vista: The
Definitive Guide has everything you need to
customize the operating system, master your digital
media, manage your data, and maintain your computer
-- regardless of which Windows Vista edition you're
using." Safari Tech Books Online are
accessible from on-campus or with a
password off campus.
Listen to the news [mp3 -
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
No Running in the Pool Area
may have a lot of water in the Pool already, but
it’s not time to have students dive in yet! After
discussing various ways to get questions into pools
in Blackboard, and an examination of how Random
Blocks of questions can be pulled into Tests from
pools, it’s finally time to discuss some strategies
of pool design.
As mentioned previously, it is quite important to
be certain that all questions in a pool are of equal
difficulty, since questions will be pulled at random
from the pool, and all questions pulled from a
specific pool will have the same points possible
value. So, unless all the questions you want to
offer your students are truly equivalent, it would
be wise to have several pools, of differing
difficulty, and pull random blocks of questions from
each into the test.
When you have created pools at certain difficulty
levels, you should also audit your questions in
relation with the other pools. For example, it would
be possible to ask a question in one pool where the
question text would actually contain the answer to a
question in another pool. Now, if all the students
were receiving the same test that might not be a
problem, but if only some of the students would be
given that advantage it might be time to consider
re-wording one or both questions.
Another pool design issue, since these questions
are pulled at random, is that you cannot be sure
your students will see any particular questions from
the pool. A common test design tactic would be to
intersperse static questions which all students will
receive with random blocks of questions from pools.
When you assemble all these components onto a
Test Canvas, you would end up with static questions
displaying right on that canvas (ensuring that all
students will be given those questions) mixed with
Random Block entries which would represent anywhere
from one to many different questions that will be
different for each student. Once that test is
deployed you can try a test attempt as an instructor
as often as you like, but the only way to feel
certain that all the questions will work together
well is through analyzing the Question Pools
If you are starting this process from scratch,
then YES it can be difficult and will be time
consuming. Some naming conventions and pool design
strategies are discussed in the March 9th
“Blackboard Feature of the Week” on the ATRC Podcast
series, which may be of help to you.
Next up, how the deployment options of a test can
help or hinder random question designs.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Potpourri of tips for Teaching with Blackboard
- Create a “Website Spotlight” link in your
Blackboard course (perhaps put the link in an
announcement). This website exemplifies a point
or issue that you will cover in that week’s
lecture – or in the material your online
students will cover.
- Develop your Blackboard announcements in a
word processor then copy and paste them into
your Blackboard course. This way you’ll have an
easy way to post announcements into future
courses (if you simply copy the announcements
from one semester to another, the announcements
retain the old date).
- Many instructors spend a lot of time and
thought developing a comprehensive syllabus.
Sadly, students often do not read it at all or
read it less carefully than we would like.
Create a short syllabus quiz that tests
students’ understanding of the key points you
want them to remember. You can provide a couple
of extra credit points for completing it or
even, through the adaptive release feature in
Blackboard, make access to other parts of the
course contingent upon them reviewing the
- What is working and not working in your
class? You can answer this question by keeping a
journal that records aspects of the course
related to organization, interaction, etc. By
keeping notes of what works and doesn’t work in
your course you will be well prepared to
redesign or change things that didn’t work, as
well as increase things that did. One easy way
to implement this idea in Blackboard would be to
create an item in a content area (say in Course
Documents), do not make it available to
students, and have it be positioned first in the
list of items in that content area. Now, when
you want to make a note simply go to the content
area, open the item (by clicking Modify) and
begin jotting down your notes.
- If you ask your online students to introduce
themselves as a way of getting them to begin
using the Discussion Board, print out these
Discussion Board posts and keep them handy when
you’re working in your course or emailing
students. You can refer to some piece of
relevant personal information (academic goals,
hobbies, etc) when you communicate with them.
This establishes a personal connection that many
online students miss. If you have the students
develop the homepage tool in Blackboard you can
print these out – they are particularly helpful
if students have uploaded a photo of themselves.
- There always seem to be some online students
who don’t post to the Discussion Board even
though it is a course requirement. Some online
instructors will allow a student to make up
missed points by submitting a summary of that
week’s Discussion Board posts. This summary
could be submitted by email to the instructor or
posted to the Discussion Board.
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry Gray
Publishing to Blackboard from StudyMate
We have written about StudyMate a good deal (see
49, and more). StudyMate is
an authoring tool that allows professors to create
10 different Flash-based activities and games (Fact
Cards, Flash Cards, Fill-in-the-Blank activities,
Matching, Multiple Choice quizzes, Crossword
puzzles, a Jeopardy-like "Challenge" game, etc.)
using four simple templates. The Flash activities
can be placed on any web server or can be published
directly to your Blackboard courses. StudyMate will
import items from MS Word files or the Respondus
Test Bank Network, making it easy to create
interesting, interactive activities from existing
content. Version 2 of the product was new last
December, which added a new question template
(calculated questions, supporting many math
functions and any number of variables), embedded
audio in mp3 or wav format, and output for the small
screen (i.e., the iPod, PSP, smart phone, PDA, etc.
- see our article "Flashcards
on the iPod,").
To get a feel for these activities,
click here to see them in action on a web page.
This is a very plain web page, but it can be dressed
up in any way you wish.
Any Palomar instructor may login to our
StudyMate distribution point (using their
Palomar login credentials - email address as
username, email password as password) and
download/install/register the program on their own
PC, at work and/or at home. The number of PCs
on which it can legally be installed is not limited,
but note that it is ONLY for PC, not the Mac,
Available for training we have a PDF
User's Guide (78 pages) and a PDF
Quick Start Guide, a set of
demo movies, and various
How-to guides. On the whole, StudyMate is
indeed very easy to use. The only thing that
becomes slightly confusing is how to publish your
StudyMate activities to Blackboard. There are
two ways to do it. I will describe both below.
Method 1: Creating a Zip File and "Unpackaging"
It In Blackboard
After you have input or imported your StudyMate
terms and questions, you will click the Publish tab
and enter the Publish Wizard. On the initial
Publish Wizard screen you will choose the types of
activities you want StudyMate to generate:
Make your selections and click Next.
Now you will see a screen asking you how you want
to publish or export the Flash learning object.
Choose HTML + SWF.
On the next screen, enter a title for your HTML
page, optional text or instructions, a save
location, and choose whether to launch the file in a
browser after publishing.
Note that clicking the "Save As..." button on
this screen does NOT do the actual save, but simply
defines a Save location and file name for the
resulting saved files. When you first begin
using StudyMate you will probably want to place a
check in the "Launch HTML file automatically..." box
to see how your work comes out. Once you grow
familiar with the program, however, you will not
bother with this.
Now click Finish. A "creating activities
for small screen devices" dialog will appear (if you
made this choice) and in a moment the files will
have been saved to the location you chose.
If you chose to save files for small screen
devices, 5 objects will have been saved:
- An HTML file, which acts as the index to all
activities and download files. It will be
activites, named "projectname.js."
- A Shockwave file which are the actual Flash
activities, named "projectname.swf."
- A zipped folder containing the 320x240
images for larger screen devices, like the video
iPod, named "projectname_L.zip."
- Another zipped folder containing the 176x132
images for smaller screen devices, like the iPod
Nano, named "projectname_S.zip.
"Projectname," of course is whatever name you
have given to your project. Note that it
cannot contain punctuation, special characters or
Now, select all of these files (click on each one
while holding down the control key).
Right-click your selection, with your cursor over
the html file. Hover your cursor over "Send
To," and select "Compressed (zipped) Folder."
The resulting folder will be named "projectname.zip."
This will contain all the other folders and files,
and is the only folder you need for the rest of this
Now, login to Blackboard. Enter your course
and enter the content area where you wish to place
these activities. Click "Edit View" in the
upper right of the screen, and then click Add Item.
On the Add item screen, give your item a name
(required) and type any instructions you wish.
In the Content area of this page, browse to your zip
file, give it a link name, and choose "Unpackage
this file" from the Special Action drop-down.
Now click Submit. Blackboard will respond
with a Contents Action page asking you to define the
"Entry Point" to your flash activities. Choose
the htm file that you created above:
Note that the only other choice you have to make
is whether you want the activities launched in a new
window or not. If you choose No, the links to
them will appear in the Blackboard content frame,
but when any link is clicked, it will, of course,
appear on a separate flash windows on top of the
Click submit and you're done.
Method 2: Publishing Directly from Within
StudyMate to the Blackboard Server
To publish directly to Blackboard from StudyMate,
select "Publish directly to a Course Management
System" from the StudyMate Publish Wizard, and
choose "Blackboard 6.3-7.x as the type of system.
Click Next. On the next screen, choose
"Standard Upload - HTML and SWF file." DO NOT
choose "SCORM 1.2 package." The first time you
do this, you will not have yet defined settings for
an existing server, so select "add new server"
from the Blackboard drop-down.
When you do, another dialog will pop-up saying
"Pre-configured server settings may be available
for: Palomar College." they are not. so
click No, then Next.
A "Blackboard Server and Course dialog box will
appear. Follow the instructions to fill our
areas 1 and 2 by logging in to Blackboard, pasting
the login URL (from the browser address bar) in area
1, then entering your course control panel and
pasting the URL into area 2. Now, click the
"Extract >>" button and the remaining "technical"
fields in the form will be filled out.
Now all that remains is to fill out a "friendly"
name for your server in the Description field and
your login information in the fields provided at the
bottom of the form. Check "Remember my User
Name and Password" if you work on a private
computer. If anyone else has access to your
computer, do not check this box.
Note that you will only have to do this once.
On subsequent Publish operations this data will
already be stored in StudyMate for you.
Click Next and enter the course and course area
you wish to publish to.
Click Next, and enter any of the discretionary
information you wish on the next screen.
Click Next, and the publish will occur. A
status window will inform you when the publish
operation is complete. After you see
"Completed" click Finish and you are done.
After you have done this the first time, subsequent
publish operations are simple indeed.
So which method is best? Either will work
just fine. For simplicity, after the initial
setup is done the second method is certainly the
simplest. The first method leaves a zip file
and supporting files on your hard drive, however,
that you can re-purpose, use on other web sites, and
save as a backup. For this reason, I prefer
the first method, but it's your call.
Podcast Episode 54 |
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