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Opportunities Next Week
- The Blackboard Feature of the
- Teaching with Technology:
"Online AA Degree?"
Tech Talk Topic:
"The Five (10) Best New Things About Word
- For more, see
podcast notes page for Episode
Technology & Download News Briefs
Apple apologizes for lowering prices?!? Yes.
Apple responded to an angry groundswell from, shall
we say, "pioneering customers," who purchased the
initial iPhones at $599 just 10 weeks ago.
Apple announced this week that they were
discontinuing the 4GB model, and dropping the price
on the 8GB model from $599 to $399--just in time for
Christmas. As a token of their good
intentions, they are offering $100 back--in store
credit--to the early adopters who paid the premium
price for the early release of
the iPhone (msnbc).
Also from Apple, a new lineup of iPods, led by the
iPod Touch was introduced on Wednesday. It
does away with the click wheel and replaces it with
a touch screen, a la the iPhone, and can also
download songs wirelessly. The first use for
the wifi iPod? It will light up whenever you
in range of a Starbucks and owners can download
the song currently playing when it does.
Uh-huh. Apple also announced a new Nano that
plays video. The Touch will sell for $299 for
a 4GB model and $399 for a 16GB model; the new Nano
for $149 for 4GB and $199 for 8GB. Meanwhile,
the only serious competition the iPod has,
Microsoft's Zune (if you can believe that) cut
prices by $50. The 30GB model now sells for
Click here to watch Steve make the announcements
via QuickTime video,
here for more information on the Touch, and
here for more on the new video Nano.
To go along with the announcements
iTunes 7.4 has been released. Not going to
get a new iPhone or iPod any time soon? You
should still download the update because it contains
a fix for an iTunes security vulnerability
identified affecting Mac OS X 10.3.9 and 10.4.7 and
above, and Windows XP and Vista (CNet).
On Tuesday of this week the power failed at Palomar,
and consequently internet services, eServices and
Blackboard were unavailable for approximately five
hours. An unidentified systems problem also
caused these services to be inaccessible from
off-campus for about 8 hours, beginning at
approximately 11pm on Wednesday night.
Microsoft released XML Notepad 2007 this week.
It provides a "...simple intuitive user interface
for browsing and editing XML documents" (bink).
Click here to download from Microsoft.
Google Earth 4.2 is now available with Sky, a
new feature that "lets you explore the universe.
Just as satellite imagery is stitched together to
show our planet in Google Earth, Sky has imagery
from the Hubble Space Telescope and various digital
sky surveys to form the first-ever navigable map of
the stars with all real imagery.
just as you're used to in Google Earth - zoom in to
distant galaxies hundreds of millions of light years
away, see the planets in motion, and explore the
remnants of cosmic collisions. It's like having a
giant virtual telescope at your command!"
Click here for more information,
Adobe announced the impending release of Audition 3,
Adobe's sound editing software. "Adobe
Audition 3 is designed to give audio professionals —
sound designers, recording and mastering engineers,
and musicians — a flexible production toolkit for
recording, mixing, editing, and mastering audio" (Adobe
press release). Audition 3 is expected to
ship in the final quarter of 2007 and will be priced
at $349 for the full product, $99 for upgrades.
Just 11 years ago there were less than 1 billion
phone lines on earth. Now there are over 4
billion, 61% of which are in developing countries,
primarily China and India. How many people
this represents is not known, because many refuse to
give up their land lines in favor of mobile.
There are 1.27 billion fixed lines, and 2.68 billion
mobile accounts, according to the International
Telecommunications Union. That was BEFORE the
latest price cut in the iPhone (engadget).
AT&T this week announced a new
service: "AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless," which
permits parents to "stay in touch with their
children while controlling the children's mobile
phone use. AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless™ is a
feature-rich service that allows a parent to set
usage limits on a child's talk time, text messages,
instant messages (IMs) and downloads, manage how and
when a child can communicate, restrict access to
mobile Web sites and allocate minutes among users of
shared wireless plans." If you are one who
does not find multiple contradictions in the phrase
"AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless" you may want to
investigate the service.
Click here for the AT&T press release,
here for more information on the service, which
is priced at $4.99 per month per line.
Safari Tech Book Online:
Flash CS3: The Missing Manual, by E. A. Vander
Veer and Chris Grover. "Flash CS3, the latest
version of the premier tool for creating web
animations and interactive web sites, can be
intimidating to learn. This entertaining reference
tutorial provides a reader-friendly animation primer
and a guided tour of all the program's tools and
capabilities. " Palomar maintains a
subscription to Tech Books Online, and the books can
be accessed from any computer on the campus network.
Contact the library for information about off-campus
Listen to the news [mp3 -
- Academic Technology Training
- Elluminate is our new econferencing system.
There are many excellent training resources
available through the
Elluminate training center. Live,
instructor led training seminars--conducted through
the Elluminate interface--occur regularly and
may be scheduled through their web site.
- @ONE training resources:
Feature of the Week - David Gray
This feature is not really about Blackboard, but
certainly speaks to the sort of files you may want
to put into Blackboard. At my “Putting Stuff in
Blackboard” workshop earlier this week there were
several exercises revolving around adding items into
Blackboard. The “how to” of this process was
discussed in an
earlier feature and shown in an
online video, so I won’t bother to repeat it
here. However, during the workshop, there was
a great deal of discussion about what sorts of files
can and should be attached to Blackboard items. I’m
going to run down the most common file types, and
give some general guidelines on how to change your
files into these formats.
If you wish to put graphics into Blackboard, you
should upload .GIF or .JPEG files. Both these file
formats can be read by every modern web browser, so
students would not need extra “plug-in” programs to
view the images. The .GIF format is typically used
for computer-generated, low color-depth images; the
.JPG (or sometimes .JPEG) format is used for
photographs and complex, high color depth-images.
Virtually every graphics program can save in one or
both of these file formats, and if you have occasion
to contact the Academic Technology graphic artist,
(email@example.com or X2644), to request
graphics production, you will certainly be given
your project in one of these image formats. When
attaching images to an item in Blackboard, you may
want to select the “Special Action” to display the
image, rather than the default action of making a
link to the file.
For audio files, there are also a pair of formats
we recommend. The .MP3 format is pretty much
universally readable by computers and can be created
in many different, free, audio creation and editing
programs (such as
Audacity). An alternative to this format is the
.WMA (or Windows Media Audio) format, which may be
played on PCs with the Windows Media Player or on
Apples in QuickTime using the
Most of the time, when I get questions about file
formats, faculty have either Word documents or
PowerPoint presentations to upload. It is possible
(and, unfortunately, common) to just attach these
files directly to Blackboard items. However, with
the recent release of Office 2007, it’s quite likely
that the versions your students have may differ from
the version of Word or PowerPoint that you have… and
the new file formats are not automatically readable
in the older programs. Now, it is true that you
could save from the new programs in the old format;
everyone forgets to do this. It is also true that
users of the old programs can install a converter to
allow them to read the new file formats; this is a
process that daunts some people. My suggestion: do
NOT upload the Word and PowerPoint files!
Instead of uploading the original files (.doc, .ppt,
.docx, .pptx, etc.), just convert these files to a
more universally available format, such as the Adobe
.PDF format. The conversion process is simple to do,
and will likely result in less technical support
issues in the future; plus the .PDF format is
readable by any computer with the Adobe Reader
program, which is available for virtually every
operating system in existence as a
free download. Most computers already have this program
If you are using Office 2007, there is a
converter add-in available from Microsoft. This converter will allow Word, Excel, and
PowerPoint to directly save .PDF files.
If you are using older versions of Office, you
can always save in the .DOC or .PPT formats as usual
then convert them using the PCPDF converter
available to Palomar employee and students. The online tool will
email .PDF files back to you, and you can save them
to your own computer, which is only slightly less
convenient than having the converter built into the
Either way, once you have the .PDF files saved,
attach those to items in Blackboard and your
students should be able to read them just fine. The
PCPDF tool can also be something your students use;
if you have been having students send you files, you
already know they can send in some truly unusual
file formats, but that PCPDF converter can handle
several hundred different file formats, so YOU won’t
have to worry about anything but .PDF.
So there are my recommendations for common file
formats to use. To give an esoteric review: go ahead
and upload .PDF, .WMA, .MP3, .GIF, and .JPG files
without worry; anything else, you may want to
consult Blackboard Technical Support (at
firstname.lastname@example.org or X2862) for advice.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
The growth in online classes has been
nothing short of phenomenal. Our experience at Palomar
College is probably fairly typical: a few years ago we had a
handful of online classes, now we have over 250 classes
listed as Internet and that doesn’t include the Hybrid or
ETV classes. Increasingly, many on-campus classes have an
online presence as well. The main reason for this growth is
student demand as we’ve commented before; the online classes
are the first to fill each semester and often the Deans ask
us to add additional sections.
Every semester I’m asked by students: “Why
doesn’t Palomar offer the AA degree online?” Of course many
institutions do offer an online AA. A Google search I did
revealed page after page of institutions that claimed to
offer an online AA degree – not to mention BA and MA degrees
as well. And some of these institutions are accredited by
major accrediting agencies. How do these institutions handle
the science lab component? A lot of different ways it turns
out. Some actually send out science kits that students use
at home to conduct experiments. In other cases, creative use
has been made of simulations. How appropriate is this? At
Palomar I feel pretty comfortable in saying that we would
not endorse any approach other than an on-campus science lab
experience. At least I think that’s how most of us feel now.
While I was thinking about this issue I
came across a web site that offers some pretty interesting
online learning experiences in the disciplines of Biology,
Biotechnology, Environmental Studies, General Science,
Geology, Neuroscience, Physics, and Veterinary Science to
name a few. This site
www.umuc.edu/virtualteaching/ is easy to navigate and
provides many excellent teaching/learning activities. One
example is the virtual laboratory the Department of Physics
at the University of Oregon has created in which a number of
sophisticated Java applets allow students to learn core
concepts in such disciplines as Astrophysics, Mechanics, and
So while we may not be interested in
offering a science and lab course online, many online
resources exist to help students learn concepts in our
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
The Five (10) Best New
Things About Word 2007
I had the opportunity to do a workshop
this week on the new Office 2007 programs, or "core
programs" I should say because we only attempted to cover
Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Most of us use Word a
great deal, and sometimes Excel and PowerPoint. This
week I would like to nominate what I think are the best new
things in Word 2007.
I have to start with the new interface: The Ribbon,
technically part of the Microsoft Fluent User interface.
The ribbon is a system of tabs, groups and commands that
assemble the most used features of Word into logical
groupings and place them before the user when they are
needed. At first, being used to the old way of using
menus within menus within menus we find the ribbon
indecipherable. After making the commitment to learn
it, however, we see the advantages. There is a
audio lesson from Microsoft that only takes about half
an hour to complete that will introduce you to the ribbon.
Click here to use it.
Another part of the new user interface is the system of
galleries, especially those that are part of "contextual
tabs." What's a contextual tab? It is a tab
(like the Home and other tabs in the illustration above that
groups commands) that appears only when it is needed.
If you select a picture in a Word document, the Picture
tools tab appears. If you select a table the Table
tools tab appears, and so on. On those tabs you will
find formatting galleries, that is, visual thumbnails that
you can hover your mouse over to see the effect of applying
a certain formatting to the selected object. Here is
the picture styles gallery, which will appear if a picture
By hovering my mouse over each style I can
see what they will look like if you choose to apply the
formatting to my picture. After I do so, I can edit
the properties of the formatting and change virtually any
property of it.
SmartArt is a truly amazing tool that makes it easy to
insert and format very sophisticated, professional looking
graphics to illustrate points you are making. Like
most other things that allow formatting, SmartArt is chosen
and formatted using galleries:
There are many to choose from. The
illustration above shows only a small part of the Lists
gallery, and there are many other galleries.
Formatting options include 3D effects, shadows, gradient
fills, and many other professional artistic effects.
One of the strengths of the new XML-based Word file format (docx)
is that the text and other elements of a document can be
instantly modified by applying styles. Those familiar
with CSS (cascading style sheets) on the web will appreciate
this idea. The contents of a document are essentially
neutral, and their appearance is controlled by the style
selected by the author. That is how Style Sets work in
Word. First open your document, then click on the
Style Sets drop down. As you move your mouse across
each style set, you will see the entire appearance of your
document change. You can also create your own style
set and save it to the style set templates for future use.
The Document Inspector.
Often people will distribute Word documents widely, unaware
that they contain metadata--that is, data about data--that
can, in some cases, be sensitive information, like the name,
position title, phone number, or other details about the
author, institution, or place of document origin, comments
attached to the document, version history, server
information, hidden text, and other information the author
or institution may not want distributed. It has been a
common complaint that it is difficult or impossible to
remove this metadata from Word documents--until now.
The document inspector examines your documents and finds all
the hidden metadata lurking beneath the surface. It
then gives you the opportunity to remove it. Access
the Document Inspector by clicking the Office button,
hovering over "Prepare" and selecting "Inspect Document."
And if I had to make it to ten (we don't
have space) I would nominate 6) the mini-toolbar, that
contains the most common formatting commands and hovers just
within reach whenever you select text; 7) the new status
bar, with its zoom slider; 8) easy access to program control
features from the Word Options button, rather than having to
use Tools > Options, or Tools > Customize, or Tools >
Add-ins, and so on; 9) the new spell and grammar checking
controls; and 10) the save as PDF or XPS add-in.
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