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- Blackboard Feature of the
"...the Water's Fine!"
- Teaching with Technology:
"Learning Contracts: What and How"
Tech Talk Topic: "Audio and Video in
PowerPoint: Embedded or Linked?"
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 55.
Technology & Download News Briefs
Blackboard courses have been created, as of 10am on
Friday, March 16. There are 1110 new summer
courses in Blackboard now, for the four, six and
eight week summer sessions. Faculty may begin
copying material into them when they wish.
Contact Academic Technology for assistance at
firstname.lastname@example.org or call (760) 744-1150
Next week is Spring break week, but we will still be
here. Next Friday is a District holiday, so we
will record our podcast next week on Thursday.
What is important about Friday is that there will be
a power shutdown to the northern half of campus from
8am-10am in order to bring the new Natural Sciences
building online. The shutdown will affect the
- BE & BES
- CES 1 & 2
- Maintenance Complex
- NA/NB/NO Buildings
- P Building Complex
- RF & RC
- SC & GJ
- TCA & TCB
- U & W
If you have questions, call the Facilities
department at ext. 2629.
the IS update to Palomar servers for the daylight
savings time change did not seem to work quite as
hoped, the Blackboard update did--almost. We
say almost because there was a very obscure problem
Sun Microsystems Java JDK, on which Blackboard
depends. It seems Sun uses its own time zone
database, apart from the domain database on which
all other times depend, to determine time zone time
of day. We made the Sun java patch as soon as
we became aware of it (Thursday) and all was well.
Only a single student seems to have been affected,
and he not adversly. To learn more, click the
following link to listen to an interview with David
Gray on this problem.
David Gray on Daylight Savings Time in the Sun JDK and
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
Click here for
the room/time/speaker schedule.
To insure the continues smooth operation of the
Blackboard system Academic Technology will commence
a procedure of rebooting the entire system on the
first Wednesday of each month.
2 hours, from 6am to 8am, for this to occur.
In addition to system reboots, we will be applying
tested server patches and other necessary updates at
these times. Most commonly, the full two hour
period will not be required, but for planning
purposes assume that it will. The first "Reboot
Wednesday" will occur on April 4.
Microsoft has released a PowerPoint Add-in called
the "Template Creation Wizard." It does just
what its name implies, it makes it easy to create
custom design templates from within any version of
Click here to download. Windows Genuine
validation is required.
The new HD photo format we reported on last week
from Microsoft is now available in a plug-in for
Photoshop CS2 and (yes) CS3.
Click here to download. Note that this is
a BETA offering. We do not recommend it for
installation on a production computer.
Microsoft has released a white paper (48
pages) on transitioning from FrontPage to Expression
Web (we will be licensed for SharePoint Designer
2007 on campus, which is nearly the same thing).
Click here to download the white paper, which
contains an explanation of the new standards-based
approach of Expression Web. Later this semester Chris Norcross
will be offering a training workshop titled "So
Long FrontPage: The Future of Web Authoring at
Palomar College," which will address many of the
issues taken up in the white paper.
Google has released version 5 Beta of its
Desktop Search product, featuring its own Vista
like sidebar of gadgets. Click here for an
ars technica tour.
Apple on Tuesday issued a security patch (the
seventh in the last three months) to fix 45 (count 'em)
different vulnerabilities in Mac OS X.
Click here for the Apple bulletin,
here for the CNet article. Apple also
released a separate
iPhoto security patch. Microsoft remained quiet
on its traditional patch Tuesday, and I quote:
"Microsoft has no security bulletins to release as
part of the monthly release cycle for the month of
Security Newsletter). That's a first.
This one is courtesy of Chris Norcross, who spotted
it this week. Beginning March 13, the New York
Times is opening up access to TimesSelect
permanently to all faculty and student with .edu
email addresses. TimesSelect includes access
to Op-Ed columnists, News columnists and the Times
archive back to 1851, limited to 100 articles per
month. 36% of the Times subscription base is
online-only subscriptions. Students who have
paid a subscription will receive a pro-rated refund
if they take advantage of the free offer (Editor
& Publisher article).
Click here to get free TimesSelect.
According to a study published by the
Information Technology and Innovation Foundation,
titled Digital Prosperity: Understanding the
Economic Benefits of the Information Technology
Revolution, "The diffusion of information
technology and telecommunications hardware, software
and services turns out to be a powerful driver of
growth, having an impact on worker productivity
three to five times that of non-IT capital...in the
United States IT was responsible for two-thirds of
the total factor growth in productivity between 1995
and 2002 and virtually all of the growth in labor
Click here to download (69 pages - 4.07MB) the
report in PDF.
Click here for a NY Times story on the report.
Source: Digital Prosperity itif.org, p.
Convinced a job in IT is the future? Think
again. According to the report, IT jobs
"...are not growing faster than the overall economy.
Moreover, going forward, it is unlikely that the IT
industry will be producing job gains out of line
with its size." In other words, the IT
industry itself has realized the same sorts of
productivity gains as other industry, creating lower
demand for new IT jobs.
According to Edward L. Ayhers, historian and dean of
the graduate school of arts and sciences at the U of
Virginia, "There's an illusion being created that
all the world's knowledge is on the Web, but we
haven't begun to glimpse what is out there in local
archives and libraries." (NY
Times). The Times article goes on to say
"At the Library of Congress, for example, despite
continuing and ambitious digitization efforts,
perhaps only 10 percent of the 132 million objects
held will be digitized in the foreseeable future."
Why? Cost. Given economic reality, huge
swaths of national, not to mention local history,
will be neglected and lost. A possible
crowdsourcing, similar to the remarkable
digitization of genealogical records done by the
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A new study out this week from the
Pew Internet & American Life Project titled "Latinos
Online" finds that Hispanics with lower levels
of education and English proficiency remain largely
disconnected from the Internet. In fact, 78%
of Latinos who are English-dominant and 76% of
bilingual Latinos use the Internet, compared with
32% of Spanish-dominant Hispanic adults. Other
key findings include: 76% of U.S.-born Latinos go
online, compared with 43% of those born outside the
U.S.; 80% of second-generation Latinos, the sons and
daughters of immigrants, go online; 89% of Latinos
who have a college degree, 70% of Latinos who
completed high school, and 31% of Latinos who did
not complete high school go online.
Click here to download a PDF version of the
Source: Latinos Online, p. 8
And speaking of crowds and their work, we reported
episode 50 on the 100,000 DMCA takedown notices
sent by Viacom to Google YouTube.
happened, predictably, was that 100,000 Viacom
videos were taken down, and put right back up, along
with 50,000 more. Enraged at having to send
takedown notices for each instance of alleged
copyright violation, Viacom has decided to sue
YouTube for 1 billion dollars (Google paid 1.65
billion for YouTube last summer) citing "brazen"
copyright infringement. Viacom accuses Google
of a shakedown with their individual takedown notice
approach (it's complicated), insisting that Google use filtering
software instead. Google says filtering
software doesn't work well and responded by saying
"We are confident that YouTube has respected the
legal rights of copyright holders and believe the
courts will agree." See you in court, buddy.
Click here for the ars technica article.
A consortium of the world's largest
software/hardware/IT services companies (Microsoft,
Google, Dell, HP, Intel, and Philips)
filed a document with the FCC this week
proposing to use/resue TV spectrum to deliver
wireless Internet access to homes. Microsoft
has built a prototype, tentatively called "cognitive
radio," which the FCC will be testing over the next
months. It will not reach market earlier than
2009. One more delivery platform means more
competition for cable companies and other large
ISPs, which is, in the end, good for consumers.
Click here for the Washington Post article.
Listen to the news [mp3 -
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
…the Water’s Fine!
Finally, at last, summer really is here. I’m not
just talking about all the pool references over the
last several weeks, but to the fact that the Summer
2007 Blackboard courses were created as of 11 a.m.
today. This is in accordance to our policy of
creating courses no less than 90 days prior to the
start of term, and officially Summer starts this
year on June 18th. Look for some tips and advice on
populating your Summer courses with material in the
Now, about those pool references; we designed the
pool, filled it with water, and at long last it is
time to jump in. To re-iterate, the tests are
created in the Test Manager, and may contain
combinations of static questions and Random Blocks
of questions from your pools. Once the test is
built, it’s time to deploy it!
To deploy a test, just go into a Content Area of
your course and click the prominent Add Test button
near the top of the screen. A list of available
tests will show up; don’t be alarmed if only some of
your tests display on this list. Each test may only
be deployed from one location, so already deployed
tests do not show on the list. Submit this, and…
your test is deployed, but no one can see it. The
next step is to Modify the Test Options so that
students can actually take the test.
Rather than belabor all the test deployment
options, which are covered in great detail both in
the Blackboard Instructor’s Manual and in the
Building a Test online video tutorial, I’d like
to focus on options that relate directly to use of
Tests may be set to allow multiple attempts,
either to allow students unlimited attempts or to
allow up to a specific number of attempts. (For
example, students may take the test up to three
times.) Given that each attempt of the test will
bring up a different set of test questions, offering
multiple attempts may make pedagogic sense. If you
do allow multiple attempts, there is an additional
choice to make; how should grading be handled?
Blackboard allows a choice of accepting the grade
from the last attempt, the first attempt, the
highest, lowest, or an average of grades from all
attempts. This scoring control is located in the
Item Information screen, accessed from within the
The feedback controls actually are impacted by
use of Random Blocks. Your choices for feedback
shown to students are Score, Submitted Answer,
Correct Answer, and Feedback (which may or may not
be filled in, since that is an independent and often
little used field on individual questions). Likely
you will always want to show the Score, but you may
not want to show other Test Feedback depending on
your testing situation. If, for example, you haven’t
told your students that their tests are being
randomly generated, you may not want students able
to compare question lists until after the test
period. Fortunately the Test Feedback options can be
changed at any time, even after tests have been
taken. So, if desired, you can only show the Score
during the period when students may take the test,
but then modify that option to show other
information after the test period is done. (Test
Feedback may be accessed by students at any time by
clicking on the Score in their My Grades list.)
The final set of controls that are impacted by
Random Blocks are in the Test Presentation section.
Tests can be shown to students either all questions
at once, or only one at a time. If you wanted to
further obscure the fact that your students are not
all taking an identical test, running the test in
One at a Time mode might be a good choice. Further,
there is a check box that will randomize the order
of the questions in the test; if the order of your
test questions truly doesn’t matter, this is likely
a good choice to select. However, if your test is
built in some sort of sequential fashion (perhaps
with static questions followed by a block of random
questions all on a related topic, then another set
of static and random questions after that) then
selecting the Randomize Questions choice would spoil
Of course use of any of these deployment options
will be determined by how well they fit your
teaching and testing style. Now that you’ve heard
your choices, it’s time to jump right in and start
swimming in the vastness of random tests. If and
when you have other questions, or run into problems,
just send an email to
email@example.com and we’ll try to help
you out. Happy testing!
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Learning Contracts: What and How
In this Teaching-With-Technology segment I am
going to discuss something about which I’ve been
conflicted: Learning Contracts. At one level it’s
straightforward enough, a learning contract is an
agreement between the student and instructor,
mutually arrived at, that determines what is to be
learned, how it will be learned, and how the
learning will be evaluated. OK, I get that and it
certainly seems fair, even desirable – after all,
you’re getting buy-in and commitment from the
student right at the beginning. And Constructivist
Learning Theory would predict that this will result
in superior learning compared to a more traditional
approach. A web page I discovered at the Worchester
Polytechnic Institute site is instructive (see link
below). Titled “The Benefits of Learning Contracts,
And How to Design One,” the site identifies the main
- Increased student motivation and engagement
– they will be more interested and enthused
about something they helped create
- Increased student responsibility – they are
more likely to follow through with something
they agreed to in advance
- Increased student learning – having a sense
of ownership, being interested and responsible
translate into increased learning
- Increased transfer to the workplace or “real
world” – students tend to create learning
contracts that have personal relevance for them
and their objectives
- Increased individualized instruction – by
their very nature learning contracts are
individualized which recognizes different
See the link below for an example of how to
construct a learning contract. The struggle I’ve had
with this concept is how to actually do it
effectively. My bottom line reaction is that
Learning Contracts can play an important role in
learning and, at least for me personally, probably
will be most effective if they are implemented
selectively, on a student-by-student basis rather
than as a model for a whole class.
Create a What’s New content area in your course
and link to it via an Announcement (see screen
capture); this way whenever you update any area of
the course, students can go to one place for
In classrooms: show DVDs and VCRs through
projector as well as TV in the room (turn on the TV,
the data projector, and click Video on the wall
mount); video will play through both the TV and the
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry Gray
Audio and Video in PowerPoint: Embedded or
The number one question we get with regard to
inserting audio and/or video into PowerPoint
presentations is "Will the audio or video file be
embedded in the PowerPoint presentation file (the
PPT file) or will it be linked?" The number
one related complaint we hear is, "The presentation
worked just fine in my office, but the audio (or
video) wouldn't play when I gave the presentation
from my flash drive (or CD, or portable hard drive)
in the classroom. It is the same problem.
Here are the answers.
First, video files are never embedded in the
PowerPoint presentation file. They are always
linked. That means, if you are going to
transport the presentation to another computer, by
means of a flash drive, portable hard drive, CD,
network drive, you must be sure the PowerPoint
presentation knows the relative path to the video
file. The easiest way to do this is to create
the PowerPoint presentation in the same folder in
which you have placed all your video (and audio)
resources. Then, when you are ready to move
your presentation to another storage medium, copy
the ENTIRE FOLDER to the new location, the PPT file
and any related video files. (PowerPoint 2003
can use AVI or WMV video files; MOV files must be
converted to WMV (using the
Windows media encoder) before inserting the the
presentation. AVIs should also be encoded to
greatly reduce their file size).
With audio files (PowerPoint can use aiff, au,
snd, wav, wma, mp3, mid, and midi file formats) the
file will be embedded in the PPT file if it is in
WAV format AND it is smaller than the link size
limit that is set in your user configurable
PowerPoint Options. The default link audio
file size limit is 100K, which sounds big, but is
not if the file is in WAV (an uncompressed) format.
To access the ink file size limit in PowerPoint
2003, click Tools > Options and then click the
You can set the link size limit to any value you
wish, but remember, the higher the limit, the larger
the audio file that will be embedded and the larger
your PPT file will get. Rather than embedding
very large WAV files into your PowerPoint PPT file,
we recommend encoding your audio files using the
Windows media encoder to WMA format. These
sound files will have essentially the same sound
quality as the WAV files, and be very much smaller.
It is true they will be linked to your presentation,
rather than embedded, but they will load and play
much more quickly.
What if you record your own sound files using the
built-in recorder in PowerPoint, or the built-in
narration tool? If so, the resulting files
will be in WAV format, and will obey the link limit
as described above. Unless you are narrating
the entire presentation, however, using the built-in
narration tool, we recommend recording your audio
outside of PowerPoint, using one of the WS-100
digital audio recorders available through academic
technology, our recording booth, or a microphone
attached to your computer and a free recording
program such as Audacity. Convert the
resulting files (if necessary) to WMA or MP3 format,
and insert them in your presentation.
Here is our recommendation for including audio
and video in your PowerPoint presentations.
First, gather all your supporting files in a folder.
IN THAT SAME FOLDER, create the PowerPoint
presentation, using the Insert > Movies and
Sounds... > Movies from File... or Sound from
File... choice. Save the presentation in that
folder. Now, when it comes time to transfer
your file to a flash drive, CD, etc. copy the entire
folder to the new location. Your PPT file will
not lose its relative links to its media files then.
A final word. Don't forget to go to the
location and rehearse your presentation IN THAT
LOCATION, ON THE ACTUAL PRESENTATION COMPUTER, USING
THE ACTUAL ROOM SOUND SYSTEM in advance. There
are other things that can go wrong with audio or
video in PowerPoint besides losing the path to media
files. The sound settings on the presentation
computer must be selected and the volume set.
The speaker system volume must be operational, set
and not muted. The presentation computer must
have the correct codecs for playing your media.
The overhead projector in the room must be new
enough to accommodate video from a computer.
These problems are all easily solved, but all
require lead time, something you will not have if
you show up at the last minute with presentation in
hand. Like they say, there's no substitute for
Podcast Episode 55 |
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