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Opportunities Next Week
- Blackboard Feature of the
"Drop the Drop Box"
- Teaching with Technology:
"Structuring Your Discussion Board"
Tech Talk Topic:
"Get Started with Office 2007"
- For more, visit our
podcast notes page
for Episode 62.
Technology & Download News Briefs
new iTunes was released this week, iTunes 7.2 (a 44
MB download). It has two new features: 1) you
can now purchase "higher quality" (256kbps) DRM-free
(and higher priced = $1.29 per track) music from the
iTunes store (called "iTunes Plus music");
finally got around to fixing Windows Vista
compatibility problems. Along with the new
iTunes Apple issued a security patch to QuickTime
Click here to download. "iTunes Plus
debuts with singles and albums from EMI’s digital
catalog of outstanding recordings from artists such
as Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Norah Jones, Frank
Sinatra, Joss Stone, Pink Floyd, John Coltrane, and
Paul McCartney, a dozen of whose classic albums are
now available on iTunes for the first time" (Apple
Click here for an engadget review of the iTunes
Plus Music Store.
Also from Apple, on Wednesday (May 30) they
announced the availability of iTunes U: the campus
that never sleeps,"...a dedicated area within the
iTunes Store featuring free content such as course
lectures, language lessons, lab demonstrations,
sports highlights and campus tours provided by top
US colleges and universities..." (Apple
press release). Gone are reference to
iTunes U content as "podcasts," though they are
placed in the podcast section of iTunes when
has not been silent about the upgrade to Google
Earth. Version 4.1 was released this week with
significant updates to layers, geographic web
photos, a new help tips system, better Google maps
integration, improved Windows Vista support, and
seven new languages. To upgrade open Google
Earth and on the Help menu click "Check for Updates
Online." If you do not yet have the free,
basic version of Google Earth, download it from
it is still hidden in the official product
interface, Google has quietly added facial
recognition features ti Google Image Search (ars
Presumably there will be a
simple checkbox for this feature, but for now to
make it work add "&imgtype=face" (without the
quotes) to the end of a URL returned by a Google
image search and search again. This time the
results will contained only images containing faces.
For example, entering a search for "Palomar College"
at Google Image Search will result in 13,200 highly
miscellaneous pictures. Adding the "&imgtype=face"
string to the end of the resulting URL in the
address bar of your browser, and pressing Enter,
will perform the search again, this time showing
faces only (including, rather impressively, line art
faces and sketches of faces, including many MySpace
masterpieces and some very odd inclusions.
also announced this week the availability of a beta
Gears, an API which will allow Google
applications to work off-line. Warning: Unless
you are a programmer developing applications for the
web, or just really curious and can afford to
rebuild your computer,
do not download and install
Gears on a Palomar production machine. "Using
Gears, online data that is usually held on web
servers can be stored offline on an individual's
computer, and then synchronised when the user logs
back on to the web" (BBC).
The next logical move is to start moving Google Docs
and Spreadsheets (and soon, Presently) off-line.
Yes, Microsoft, that's the sound of Google sneaking
on to your desktop turf. (See the
Google press release).
Microsoft yesterday announced the release in beta 2
of Live Writer. We reviewed Live Writer beta 1
episode 36 and have been using it ever since.
Live Writer is a desktop client that allows you to
compose your blog locally and then publish to the
web when you are ready. Beta 2 is supposed to
be more stable with more extensions. New
features include inline spell check, table editing,
categorization, special extensions for WordPress and
TypePad, improved linking and image insertion, and
paste special operations similar to other Microsoft
products. We will be reviewing it soon, but
unless something has gone horribly wrong it is a
Click here to download.
File this under "you can't bottle air."
Audible.com has announced the shutdown of their "Wordcast"
podcast hosting service. Since podcasts have
been from the beginning free, and freely based on a
simple, open protocol (RSS) it was difficult finding
users who would pay for what they can easily get
something non-proprietary and non-exclusive without
may have heard this one on the news: A
somewhat alarmist report, released near the end of
April, by the American Council of Trustees and
Alumni titled "The
Vanishing Shakespeare," reveals that it is
becoming increasingly optional for English majors at
"top" colleges and universities to take a course in
Shakespeare. (The title of chapter 1 is "The
Assault on Shakespeare and the Great Authors," thus
alarmist). Instead, the trend is to require
courses in critical theory, or popular culture.
The report makes for interesting reading.
Click here to access the PDF version of the
report (3.5MB, 68 pages). In spite of the
going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket tone of the report,
Shakespeare continues to thrive in the real world.
Click here for a Time Europe report on the
Shakespeare Industry, here for a Shakespeare
festival locator (from the Folger Shakespeare
Library), which seem to be occurring in every other
park and municipality in the
Click here for a downloadable NPR series on "Shakespeare
in American Education, 1607-1934," containing an
episode titled "Culture Wars and the University,"
apropos of the Vanishing Shakespeare "debate."
For a typical opposing response, see the one from "Free
Exchange on Campus," but click this link mostly
for the Colbert Report video on
debate in college.
sounds futuristic, but not that futuristic:
Microsoft has announced the commercial availability
Microsoft Surface expected out in Winter, 2007.
Surface is a digital, 30-inch tabletop device with
amazing touch sensitivity aimed at making "the line
between the virtual world and the physical
world...increasingly thin." It is a computer
interface in a "a table-like form factor that’s easy
for individuals or small groups to interact with in
a way that feels familiar, just like in the real
world." View the demos at the Surface site to
get the idea. The demos prominently display
links between Surface and the user's cell phone,
enabled by a new very close range radio technology
Wibree. Read this
New York Times article on the near-future use of
cell phones as they become our be-all interactive
device. You may also be interested in this
interview with head of Nokia's research center
on the uses of very near radio frequencies in
tomorrow's cell phone.
In just seven and one-half minutes Blaise Aguera y
Arcas describes two new Microsoft technologies,
Photosynth, that: "Using photos of oft-snapped
subjects (like Notre Dame) scraped from around the
Web, ... creates breathtaking multidimensional
spaces with zoom and navigation features that
outstrip all expectation." If you are reading
click here to see the TED video.
- Last week our friend Haydn made reference to
potential pedagogical uses of Second Life, now this
week, jumping on the Haydn Davis bandwagon, the BBC
announced they will, for the first time, broadcast a
program on the Second Life economy from within
Second Life (CNet).
The Money Programme was broadcast "at the Rivers Run
Red Cinema in Second Life (coordinates 200,
123, 45) at 7 p.m., 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. British Summer
Time." (That's 11am, 12pm and 1pm PDT (UTC -
7) - see the
World Clock Time Zone Converter).
Safari Tech Book Online:
Special Edition Using Microsoft® Office Word 2007
by Faithe Wempen, Nicholas Chase, Kathy Jacobs,
Karen McCall, Joyce J. Nielsen, Patrick Schmid . "This
book will help you build solid skills to create the
documents you need right now, and expert-level
guidance for leveraging Word's most advanced
features whenever you need them. If you buy only one
book on Word 2007,
Special Edition Using
Office Word 2007
is the book you need." 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 - 18:34]
- Academic Technology Training
- We have completed our training schedule for
Spring 07. We will announce the new schedule
in this space in a couple of weeks. For those
desperately interested in training we have a
tentative schedule which will not be finalized
for another week.
- Palomar Office 2007 Training
- The Information Services department will be
offering training in several of the Office 2007
products (Word, Excel and Outlook). Training
will occur on various days in June. Conact the
help desk at ext 2140 or
firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
@ONE training resources:
The Blackboard Feature of
the Week - David Gray
Drop the Drop Box
If you have students sending files to you
electronically through Blackboard, you may be using
the Digital Drop Box. If you are, it’s time to
Digital Drop Box in Blackboard is a tool which
allows students to either add a file for later use
or to send a file to the instructor. From that point
of view, a student’s drop box isn’t too bad. They
only see their own assignments, and although there
are no management tools, if they clearly labeled
their submissions they don’t get too confused. Well…
students only get confused over which files they
sent, as opposed to which files they added but never
sent. The number one student support issue with the
Digital Drop Box arises when a student adds a file,
then wonders why it was never sent to the
The Digital Drop Box from the instructor’s point
of view has similar choices, rather than being able
to send to only one person though, the instructor
can send a file directly to any student’s drop box.
However the lack of any management features really
begins to plague instructors; where students only
see their own, the instructor sees all sent files
from all students… for all assignments… until the
instruction manually and individually removes each
file. Bear in mind that these files are only sorted
by the date and time of submission; there are no
sorting or filtering features available. Combine
that with a lack of any tie-in with the gradebook,
making grading a totally separate process from
submitting grades, and the Digital Drop Box just
plain isn’t a robust tool.
more robust and manageable system for having
students submit files in response to an assignment
is the Blackboard Assignment Manager. This tool
allows separate course entries for each assignment
students must submit files, and each file submission
is automatically bound with its gradebook entry.
There are tools to view or download single files,
multiple files at once, or to even remove files one
you have submitted grades for them. Given that the
file submissions are separated by assignment, there
is no danger of confusing file submissions with the
wrong assignment. Best of all if a student does save
a file rather than submitting it, the gradebook
indicates this to the instructor, cutting down on
potential confusion. (For instructions on using the
Blackboard Assignment Manager, check out the
“Teaching with Blackboard” screen video.
We’ve been trying over the last year or so to
help Digital Drop Box users give the Assignment
Manager a try; universally, those who start using
the Assignment Manager love it and never go back. If
you’re interested, just call 760-744-1150 X2862 or
email@example.com with questions. Time
to drop the Drop Box.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
Structuring Your Discussion Board
As Cameron Crowe says in
Vanilla Sky, "Each passing moment is a chance to
turn it all around." Beginning a new semester
is an opportunity to rethink your use of the
discussion board and restructure it to make it a
more vital and engaging part of your online course.
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
Get Started with Office 2007
Microsoft has released an unprecedented number of
free tools to help users learn the new Office 2007
interface and get up to speed with the new versions
of old familiar programs like Word, Excel and
PowerPoint. Today I would like to present
links to these materials for those in need (and we
all will be, sooner or later).
Free Training. Access to the
excellent Microsoft eLearning series is being made
available for a limited time. By registering,
you can gain 90-days of access to a course on the
new Office interface.
Click here to access the gateway page. You may also download a free
e-book from this site titled
First Look 2007 Microsoft Office System in
More Free Training. The new
Office Online web site (which ought to be on one
of the startup tabs of everyone's browser) has a
"Help and How-to" tab.
Click it to gain access to a variety of training
resources. For example, there are free courses
basic training for the ribbon,
basic training for efficiency tools (mainly
basic training for graphics (mostly having to do
with PowerPoint), and
basic training for information analysis (mostly
Microsoft also publishes a series of self-paced
training courses that use Flash, audio, text, and
interactive elements to teach all the basics, and
some of the more advanced features, of the Office
Click here to access the gateway page.
A full range of audio/text/interactive online
lessons can be found by
clicking here. They are organized by
product. For example, clicking on the Outlook
2007 link will give you free access to 10 different
focused Outlook lessons, ranging in length from 20
to 55 minutes estimated completion time.
Click here for an overview of how these lessons
Microsoft Webcasts. There are
Microsoft live and on-demand webcasts available on a
wide-variety of Office topics.
Click here for the Office System webcast gateway
page, then click the product in which you are
interested, and select the webcast to view.
Clicking the "View All On-Demand Webcasts" link at
the bottom of the short list of on-demand webcasts
will bring up a very long list of past webcasts.
Getting Started Add-ins. If you
would like your training to be available from within
the new programs themselves, download and install a
"Get Started" tab for
PowerPoint 2007, or
Word 2007. After installing you will find
new "Get Started" tabs in these programs:
The Get Started toolbar is a set of links ready
at hand to a full range of Microsoft training
My favorite is the first, the interactive guide.
The interactive guide allows you to point to a Word,
Excel or PowerPoint command in the old 2003 menu
system, and then shows you where it has moved on the
new ribbon system. (Be patient as you watch
the demos). You will find yourself saying
"Where did the #@!%& merge and center command
go?...Oh, that's where," sorts of things all the
The "Discuss" link on the Get Started toolbar
will link you with a knowledgeable community of
users who have faced the same problems you are
facing. You can ask questions and get answers
The Crabby Office Lady. For several
years now Microsoft has published columns from
the Crabby Office Lady. She is the
in-house Microsoft Office expert who shoots from the
hip, talks straight, and brooks no whining. In
addition to a huge backlog of articles, Crabby has
videos and an
RSS feed to keep you in the know.
Office RSS Feeds. To access a list
of RSS feeds dedicated to Help and How-to with
click here. Once subscribed (there is no
cost, of course) you will receive in your new
Outlook 2007 (or IE7, or preferred news reader)
in-box news of new training materials as they are
published by Microsoft. If you are new to RSS,
Newsletters. Even good old-fashioned
electronic newsletters contain lots of Office
training information. Subscribe
Blogs. Finally, for those of you who
just can't get enough Office training, there are the
Microsoft blogs, especially the
Inside Office blog, which is updated every week
Podcasts. There are lots of podcasts
to listen to with tips and tricks on the new Office
Click here to access them.
What's that, not an Office 2007 user yet?
Then you will need the
Office Compatibility Pack for Word, Excel and
PowerPoint to open the new file formats as your
students submit them to you. If you wish to
purchase the new Office system for home use, Palomar
has contracted for work-at-home rights through our
Microsoft Campus agreement via the FCCC.
Click here to purchase Office 2007 Enterprise
edition for only $45 plus tax. (Click on the
"learn more..." link in the Buy Microsoft box.
You will see it. You must complete your order
by sending in an order form with proof of Palomar
employment. It's a somewhat confusing web
site, but just be patient.)
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