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- Blackboard Feature of the
- Teaching with Technology:
"Using Online Assessments in On-campus Classes"
Tech Talk Topic:
"Adobe Acrobat Techniques"
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 57.
Technology & Download News Briefs
Economy Days are coming next week. 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.
Click here for a schedule of the webcasts.
The Blackboard system will be rebooted the first
Wednesday of each month at 6am. Plan as much
as two hours for this process to be conducted to
allow for application of operating system patches to
the system. The first "reboot Wednesday" will
occur this coming Wednesday, April 4.
On Tuesday Adobe announced the release of Creative
Suite 3. Take a deep breath before reading the
new prices: "The estimated price for Creative Suite
3 Design Standard is $1,199 and for the Design
Premium version, $1,799. The
Web-oriented editions cost $999 for Web Standard
and $1,599 for Web Premium. "
actually ones in 6, count 'em, six flavors.
Click here for the CNet description,
here for the Adobe press release. The
web-oriented version sill begin shipping in April,
other editions later this summer. The company
spokesman, in a masterpiece of disingenuity, said
"...[Adobe] is not aware of any substantial problems
Creative Suite 2 on Windows Vista but that the
company is not officially recommending that usage
because it has not done a full barrage of tests."
What, after 5 years of highly publicized Microsoft development, Vista came as a
surprise to Adobe? Of course they want you to
spend another $1,000 to $2,500 on the same products
you already own (whose feature sets the average user
probably uses small subsets). Caution
before spending may be indicated.
Click here for a set of PDF files from Adobe
describing the various CS3 packages,
here for the Creative Suite 3 web site.
Boot Camp, it was announced this week, now runs
Windows Vista. If you want to run both Windows
and OS X (Tiger 10.4.6 and soon to be Leopard...) on
the same Intel-based Mac, you might be interested in
participating in the
public beta for the new Boot Camp.
Yahoo announced this week that starting in May
they will remove all limits on the amount of e-mail
storage its users can have. That's right,
unlimited email storage. Previously Yahoo had
limited user email storage to 1GB. Microsoft
gives a free 2GB of storage, and Google 2.8GB.
"Officials said the decision reflects the plunging
cost of storage" (NY
Citizendium (first reported in our
episode 33), a Wikipedia rival with certain
"editorial reforms" made its debut this week.
Citizendium stands for "citizen's compendium."
Anyone can post to it, but posters must first
register with their real names and overall content
is governed by an editorial board.
The Citizendium was founded by Larry Sanger, ousted
"co-founder" of Wikipedia. "Gentle expert
oversight" is what Citizendium is supposed to have
and Wikipedia is supposed not to have. So far
it has 1,100 articles (compared with over 1,706,000
articles in the
For the first time the United States has lost its
number 1 position in the World Economic Forum's
Global Information Technology Report.
The US dropped to position
7, and was supplanted by Denmark. "The Global
Information Technology Report (GITR) has become the
world’s most respected assessment of the impact of
information and communication technology (ICT) on
the development process and the competitiveness of
press release). "A
deterioration of the political and regulatory
environment in the US prompted the fall"
Click here for the Networked Readiness Index
rankings [PDF]. Here are the top 10 (with
their previous ranking in parentheses):
the hardware front, a new 100GB hard drive upgrade
for the video iPod is now available from
PDASmart. "The PDASmart 100gb upgrade
installs in an existing 60gb or 80gb iPod Video
without any modifications to the case. A new rear
casing is available for the 30gb model to allow for
the slightly larger hard drive size" (Podcasting
News). Prices start at $275. On the
other hand, the iPod is a natural candidate for the
new solid state hard drives, so waiting may be the
File under: Computers good at multitasking, People
not good at multitasking. "Several research
reports...suggest that many people would be wise to
curb their multitasking behavior when working in an
office, studying or driving a car" (NY
Times). Researchers from Vanderbilt
"...used magnetic resonance imaging to pinpoint the
bottleneck in the brain and to measure how much
efficiency is lost when trying to handle two tasks
There is a new Parks Associates study out last week
on Offline Americans. "Twenty-nine percent of
all U.S. households (31 million homes) do not have
Internet access and do not intend to subscribe to an
Internet service over the next 12 months, according
Parks Associates’ National Technology Scan."
Here are the reasons why:
Chart based on data presented in the Parks
3/22 press release
File under "water can be carried in buckets too":
busses equipped with Wi-fi are bringing the Internet
to remote, rural villages.
Click here for a BBC article that describes bus
service in parts of India, Rwanda, Cambodia and
Paraguay that load up on web content in the city,
and then drive to the country, serving up content to
rural computers. The project (known as the
United Villages project) even allows user requests
for specific content. So what do Indians
request? The cricket scores, new Aishwarya Rai
photos and the latest Bollywood tunes, according to
the founder of the United Villages initiative (which
is delivered for a fee). The busses also
deliver and collect emails from the villagers.
Fact: Mickey Mouse is more popular than ever.
If you think your web site serves up a lot of pages,
Disney.com. They reported on Tuesday that
their re-designed site (released last January after
responding to the complaints of many over their
older, clunkier site) is serving up over 1 billion
pages per month, 100 million videos streamed each
week, over 6 million unique broadband visitors each
month, and a ten-fold increase in site
registrations. Who says site design is
unimportant? Not Mickey. Gorsh. (Click
here for the ars technica article).
Safari Tech Book Online:
Microsoft Office Excel 2007 Inside Out by
Mark Dodge and Craig Stinson. "Learn how to
conquer Microsoft Office Excel 2007—from the inside
out! This book packs hundreds of time-saving
solutions, troubleshooting tips, and workarounds,
all in concise, fast-answer format. Includes a
companion CD." Palomar maintains a
subscription to Tech Books Online, and the books can
be accessed from any computer on the campus network,
or from off the network with a password
obtainable from the library.
Listen to the news [mp3 -
- Academic Technology Training
@ONE training resources:
- Free training from
- 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
- Free online training is available for
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
Oops… now what?
Last time you learned about the different tools
at your disposal when the time comes to set up a new
course site. As a warning, I mentioned that you
should always go into the destination course and
confirm that everything copied/imported properly.
Now it’s time to discuss what to do if things go
If you ran a Course Copy or Import Package to get
your materials into the new course, but the material
didn’t come through correctly, you can always run
the copy or import again. However, if some material
was put into your course the first time, you’ll want
to clear it out before re-running the copy/import,
or else you will end up with duplicated content. To
clear out your course, there are two steps to take:
- First, run the Recycle Course tool, which is
linked in the lower left of the Control Panel.
You select some or all of the sections of the
course, content areas, announcements, etcetera,
then type Remove and click Submit in the bottom
right of the page. Shortly thereafter your
course will be devoid of that content… so make
sure you are in the correct course before trying
this; recycling a course cannot be undone.
- Second, take a look at the remains of your
new course. If you selected everything from the
Recycle Course tool, you will probably just have
a bunch of empty content areas on your course
menu; you may want to use the Manage Course Menu
tool in the Control Panel to restore your course
back to a default state, by removing all the
entries from the Course Menu other than the
Announcements tool. At this point, you should be
able to re-try your Course Copy of Import
Package procedure, and possibly have better
results this time.
If you had problems with a publisher’s Course
Cartridge Import, however, you will not just be able
to re-import a cartridge. Even if the contents of a
course cartridge are recycled or manually removed
from a course, the Blackboard system remembers that
the cartridge was imported and will not allow
another Cartridge Import to be processed for that
course. In that event, contact technical support and
let us know the class number; there are two choices
you can make, have us remove the cartridge or have
us reset the cartridge. Removal will, as expected,
remove all cartridge material and free up the course
for you to import another cartridge. A reset will
remove the cartridge material and automatically
re-try the cartridge import process. However, in
either case, that must be done by a Blackboard
system administrator rather than at the course level
by the instructor, so you will have to contact
At any rate, these are some things you can try
when things go wrong. Remember that, when things go
wrong, you can also contact Palomar’s Blackboard
technical support by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
or calling 760-744-1150 x2862.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Using Online Assessments in On-Campus Classes
All instructors devise strategies to assess their
students’ learning. In traditional, face-to-face
(f2f) classes the most typical strategy is some form
of multiple-choice, short answer, or essay test that
is done in class with paper and pencil. This process
usually takes one full class period, after which the
instructor collects the tests, grades them, and
enters the grades, one-by-one, into a Gradebook.
Some instructors have begun to schedule online,
Blackboard tests with their f2f classes. Why? What
are the benefits? What are the drawbacks?
As most faculty
know, every class a Palomar student can enroll in
has a Blackboard shell created along with the class.
The Blackboard class remains unavailable to the
students until the instructor chooses to make it
available. Increasingly, instructors are using the
Blackboard class component to supplement what they
do in class. For example, many now post their class
syllabus, handouts, and other resources for their
students to access via Blackboard. One resource that
has not been widely exploited yet by f2f instructors
is the very robust testing module in Blackboard.
Blackboard provides two types of assessment:
Tests and Surveys. Tests are constructed to assess
the student’s knowledge or skill level and
Blackboard has many different types of questions an
instructor can use. Different point values and
feedback for each question are possible and, when a
student completes the test it is graded
automatically (except for short answer and essay
type questions) and the score is automatically
entered into the Gradebook. Surveys are used for
polling purposes and evaluations and cannot be
graded and no names are associated with a submitted
Benefits of Using Online Assessments.
Why might instructors who teach f2f classes only
want to employ Blackboard assessments in their
classes? Consider these possible benefits.
- Save Time – less time in class spent on
testing means more class time for instruction;
in addition, the grading of all objective test
items is done automatically and the grades
entered into a Gradebook.
- Increase Student Motivation – Blackboard
tests are automatically graded and can provide
detailed and immediate feedback. Students are
more likely to learn from their errors when they
see them right away and receive corrective
- Reinforcement of Learning – the instructor
controls when and for how long an assessment is
available to students. Using assessments as a
learning check, a test could be set up directly
after a class period to allow students to test
themselves while the material is still fresh.
- Knowledge Pretest – it’s helpful to know how
much students know about a topic before
beginning the lecture
- Student Feedback – using the Survey tool can
be a handy way to obtain information about
student perspectives about a topic or classroom
- Increase Student Engagement – create open
book, open notes tests which encourage students
to collaborate with each other; students who are
reading as they go along, talking with others
about the questions and answers are learning,
and these tests can be graded as extra credit
- Practice Exams – even if you continue to
test in class, allowing students to take
Blackboard practice exams can support their
learning and help them focus their study
Drawbacks of Using Online Assessments
- Cheating – if you allow students to take
tests online, how do you know it is really them
taking the test? The short answer is you don’t.
There are strategies you can take to minimize
cheating but you can’t eliminate it.
- create a number of Blackboard
assessments each worth a few points, it is
less likely that someone could have another
person take all the tests for him
- have students take the objective portion
of the test online and the essay portion in
- proctor the online test in class by
scheduling the mobile laptops – this won’t
save class time but each student could
review his/her test individually and see
corrective feedback for each question (and
the grading and Gradebook entry would be
- Accessibility – requiring online assessments
means that students must have access to
computers with internet access but availability
is so widely available today that this shouldn’t
be a concern
- Required Technology Skills – true, some
computer skills are required to take Blackboard
assessments but some familiarity with technology
is required for most things in our lives today
While most f2f instructors probably will continue
to rely on in-class testing, that approach could be
supplemented with online Blackboard assessments
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry Gray
Adobe Acrobat Techniques
I conducted a workshop on Adobe Acrobat version 7
this week. We covered all the basics, and a
good time was had by all, as they say, but after it
was over I realized there were several points I had
wanted to make that just didn't fit in the allotted
time. It must have been the big prize giveaway
that distracted me. Anyway, here they are:
Controlling the Opening View in a PDF
Document. Let's say you want your PDF
document to open with the Bookmarks navigation panel
open. To achieve this, open the document in
Adobe Acrobat and select File > Document
Properties... Click the Initial View tab of
the Document Properties dialog box and in the Show
drop-down select "Bookmarks Panel and Page."
Also select the "Page layout" view and
"Magnification" and "Page number" you wish to
start with (ie, the physical page in the sequence
beginning with 1 IN ACROBAT, not necessarily page 1
in the document, if there is prefatory material).
There are also some interesting Window Options and
User Interface Options you can select. Be
careful, there is some mutual exclusivity going on
here. If you select "Hide window controls" the
Bookmarks panel will not display, even though you
want it to. You must know also that if you
hide the menu bar, the tool bars and the window
controls that the user must press F9 to get the menu
bar back in order to exit the program. A
picture is worth a thousand words here:
Controlling Document Security. To
control document security, once again choose File >
Document Properties..." and this time click the
Security tab. The initial state of the
document is to have No Security attached.
Click the "Security Method" drop-down and select
"Password Security" to access security settings.
Note that "Certificate Security" and "Adobe Policy
Server" are not relevant at Palomar.
If you wish to require a password to open the
document itself, place a check in the "Require a
password..." box. When you click OK, you will
be required to confirm the password. If you
forget the password, you will never be able to open
the document again.
Note that you must save the document from within
Acrobat for the security settings to take effect.
If you also wish to restrict printing or
modification of the document, check the "Restrict
editing" checkbox and set the printing and change
restriction. Your choices of printing
restrictions include "None," "Low Resolution (150
dpi)," or "High Resolution."
The following illustration shows your choices on
the "Changes Allowed" drop-down:
If you have not placed a check in the "Enable
copying of text, images and other content" checkbox,
none of these capabilities will be enabled:
Finally, provide a password in the Change
Permissions Password box. You will be asked to
confirm it after clicking OK. Note that this
must be a DIFFERENT password from the one used for
Document Open Password.
Searching a Folder of PDF Documents.
Searching an open PDF file in Acrobat is easy.
Just click the little binoculars icon on the File
toolbar, enter your search term and conditional
filters (checkboxes) and click Search. What is
not commonly appreciated, however, is that you can
search an entire folder of PDF documents, none of
which have to be open in Acrobat. To do so,
click the Search icon (the binoculars - or click
Edit > Search, or press Shift-Ctrl-F). Under
the "Where would you like to search?" area of the
search pane select "All PDF Documents in" then click
the drop-down and choose "Browse for
Location..." A Browse dialog box will appear
allowing you to navigate your file system to the
folder you want to search (this is another good
reason to store all PDFs in subfolders of their
own). Select the folder, enter your search
term, apply conditions (if any) and click Search.
Acrobat will report search results by document:
By clicking any of the contextual search results
entries Acrobat will open the document and jump to
the location (which will be highlighted in the
document) within the PDF file.
Creating a Web Link within a PDF Document.
Use the Advanced Editing toolbar to select the link
tool (or choose Tools > Advanced Editing > Link
Your cursor will assume a crosshair shape.
Hold down the mouse button and draw around the text
(or graphic or area of the page) you wish to act as
the web link. When you release the mouse
button, the Create Link dialog box will appear.
Select the Link Type and be sure "Open a web page"
is selected (Note that you can also make it an
internal document link by selecting "Go to a page
view," make it a link to another document by
selecting "Open a file," or make it a Custom link,
which can become very complex, but more on that some
Now, click Next. An "Edit URL" dialog box
will appear. Enter the URL to which you wish
Since most URLs are quite long, it is far easier
to find the site to which you wish to link in your
browser in advance of making a link in Acrobat.
Copy the link URL from the browser address bar and
then paste it in to the Acrobat Edit URL field
rather than trying to type it.
That's it. Pretty simple all-in-all, but
also pretty powerful when adding features to your
Podcast Episode 57 |
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