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- Upcoming Training
- The Blackboard Feature of the
"An Apple a Day..."
- Teaching with Technology:
Tech Talk Topic:
- For more, see
podcast notes page for Episode
Technology & Download News Briefs
an iPod just to workout with? The Apple iPod
Shufle is now only $49 for the 1GB model and $69 for
the 2GB model. Why wait? Like it or not,
iTunes is the standard for online music, so why
Click here for details.
- Firefox Version 3 Beta 3 is now released.
Click here for the release notes and download
- Apple has released a major bug fix patch for the
Version 10.5.2 is now available for download.
According to engadget, the release contains
nearly 100 bug fixes to the latest Apple operating
Click here for more.
Windows Live SkyDrive is now out of beta, and
the free storage capacity has been increased to 5
GB. SkyDrive is a free service that permits
storage online in personal, shared (where you
control who has access) folders, and public folders,
accessible from anywhere.
- Also from Microsoft, on Patch
Tuesday in March Microsoft will begin officially
distributing Service Pack 1 for Windows Vista
(though many people have already, to their regret in
some cases, found leaked versions on the web and
installed them). In advance of the release
Microsoft has issued a
list of programs that will no longer work with
Vista after the upgrade. Members of the list
are kernal kin used to prevent viruses, trojans and
the like from working, but some familiar names are
on it. Among the best known:
- BitDefender AV
- Fujitsu Shock Sensor
- Jiangmin KV Antivirus 10
- Jiangmin KV Antivirus 2008
- Trend Micro Internet Security
- Zone Alarm Security Suite
- Iron Speed Designer
- Xheo Licensing
- Free Allegiance
- NYT Reader
- Rising Personal Firewall
- Novell ZCM Agent
In most cases vendors will have
patches that will fix things up. The list at the
microsoft site is "not considered to be comprehensive" (CNet).
In what is being described as the final nail in the
coffin of HD-DVD format, rent-by-mail giant Netflix
has chosen to stock only blu-ray discs.
Farewell, HD-DVD. (engadget)
If you are wondering how rare that HD DVD player you
bought is, the answer is not rare enough to make it
really worth anything. About a million of them
were sold worldwide, with about 600,000 units sold
in the US. Stack it in the closet next to your
Betamax. Who know. In a few decades... (Click
here for the Toshiba press
conference/announcement of death/post-mortem).
It may not ultimately matter as we enter fully into
the media-less distribution model of the near
- Want to strip DRM (Digital Rights Management) from
downloaded media? DVD Jon has the answer for
you, and this time he is trying to provide an answer
for a large number of consumers. DVD Jon is
famous for cracking the DRM on many downloadable
formats and publishing how-tos for geeks. It
is technical territory the average (read older)
consumer does not want to enter. Now he has
formed a company, called SpiceFlow (incorporated
under the laws of the Cayman Islands--no kidding)
which will "liberate your media," and for free.
DoubleTwist is the name of its principle product, a
client application that makes it "easy enough for
parents" to strip DRM from media. One of the
check boxes on the installation programs reads
"Liberate my iTunes music purchase." You get
the idea. Is it legal? It is built
around social sharing of media, but it is
undoubtedly legal in the Cayman Islands, and in most
cases illegal, current copyright laws being what
they are, in the United States.
Click here to read the ars technica article and
find the download link.
Safari Tech Book Online:
Making Things Talk, by Tom Igoe.
"Building electronic projects that interact with the
physical world is good fun. But when devices that
you've built start to talk to each other, things
really start to get interesting. Through a series of
simple projects, you'll learn how to get your
creations to communicate with one another by forming
networks of smart devices that carry on
conversations with you and your environment. Whether
you need to plug some sensors in your home to the
Internet or create a device that can interact
wirelessly with other creations,
Making Things Talk
explains exactly what you need."
Palomar maintains a subscription to Tech Books
Online, and the books can be accessed from any
computer on the campus network without as login, or
with your Palomar login and password from anywhere
in the world.
Click here for more information about off-campus
- Academic Technology Workshops
- 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.
Feature of the Week - David Gray.
An Apple A Day Keeps The Doctor Away
Now that Spring is springing, it’s time to
run through a routine checkup to ensure that your Blackboard
course is going to stay healthy.
First, if you haven’t yet made your course
available to students, you should. (Click
here for instructions). Assuming your students are
able to get into your course site, you may want to take a
look at how and when your students are using the course.
Course Statistics are available, as discussed back in
episode 73 and shown in the online
video demonstration. You may also want to examine the
Performance Dashboard, as mentioned back in
episode 69, which can easily show when the last time
each student access the course was.
Now that you have a pretty good idea of
how and when your students are accessing your course, you
should also go through the exercise of backing up your
course site. To do this, just follow the instructions in the
online video demonstration for Archiving Your Blackboard
here for instructions).
At this point you should feel confident
that your students are using your course, that you have a
backup of your course saved, and that all things Blackboard
are working well. If for some reason you don’t feel this
way, feel free to contact Blackboard Technical Support at
firstname.lastname@example.org or extension 2862 and we can
try to help you.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
and Quizzes in Blackboard: Tips and Suggestions
Many online instructors give at least some
of their tests online through Blackboard. In this Teaching
with Technology segment I’ll offer some ideas regarding
online testing that others have found useful. And by the
way, I know at least a couple of instructors who teach only
on-campus classes who had their classes take one of the
required tests online. In both cases, the instructors missed
a couple of classes and didn’t want to use another class
period for a test. Changing the test design a bit and having
the students take the test online solved this dilemma and
was a big hit with the students.
Here are some of the issues that
frequently come up with online testing along with tips and
suggestions for implementing them.
Issue: I can
see some advantages in giving some tests online but I’m
worried about cheating.
Suggestions to minimize cheating:
- Structure the online class to employ
many small online tests or quizzes – it’s extremely
unlikely that someone could arrange to have all of them
taken by another person.
- Structure online tests to emphasize
higher order thinking – such as applying concepts -
instead of using all multiple-choice items.
- Use multiple-choice items but
randomize the test items so each student gets an
equivalent, but somewhat different test (Blackboard
permits pulling questions randomly from a pool of
- Create timed tests so that students
don’t have time to look up answers.
- Instead of showing a complete page of
test items, require students to answer the question,
click “Submit,” answer another question, click “Submit”
and so on.
- Enter html code that prevents
students from printing or copying test items. If the
following code in entered into the Instructions area of
a test or quiz, students will be prevented from
printing, copying, or pasting test items. If you’re
interested in this send me an email and I’ll send you
- Require students to take the online
tests in a supervised setting (i.e. Sylvan Learning
Issue: I want
students to see the correct answers to an online test but
only after all students have taken the test – can I do this?
absolutely. You can set up the test so that right after a
student completes the test he/she will either see nothing or
will see the score only – no correct answers. Later, after
everyone has finished taking the test, you can go back and
modify the test settings so that, when a student clicks on
his/her grade in the gradebook, it will show the completed
test, his/her answers, and the correct answers.
Issue: I want
to set up a test such that students can take it multiple
times and I want to be able to see the answers for each
attempt – can all the answers be saved and viewed by me
students are allowed to take assessments multiple times, the
grade entered into the Gradebook can be any of the following
choices that you specify:
- Grade of Last Attempt,
- Grade of First Attempt,
- Highest Grade,
- Lowest Grade,
- Average of Grades
Most Best Practice recommendations suggest
that Blackboard tests can be most advantageously used when
they are one component of an overall assessment system. In
other words, while Blackboard offers a sophisticated testing
module, it is best to emphasize other ways to assess student
learning as well.
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
Persistent URLs to
Journal Database Articles
I have created a screen video, linked
below, that demonstrates how to create persistent URLs which
link directly to journal articles in the journal databases
at Palomar College. These URLs can be used in
Blackboard or on a web page, and permit access to the
articles in the colleges electronic research databases, from
on or off campus. If the user is off campus, an
authentication process is invoked for the first instance in
any browser session that one of these links is clicked.
Students or staff from off campus use their Palomar
authentication credentials (the same user name and password
used for eServices and Blackboard) to access these articles.
There are several advantages to using persistent URLs:
- There is no need to xerox and distribute articles in
class or to convert the article to PDF format and place
it in Blackboard (an activity that is probably in
violation of copyright anyway, unless special permission
has been obtained);
- Students can be directed specifically to the
articles the professor wants them to read;
- Since the links are persistent, they can be copied
from semester to semester to new Blackboard course
shells and they will still work. They will only
cease to work when either the online database changes
the base-URL (and the whole idea is that that will not
happen) or the college ceases to subscribe to the
Not all of the databases subscribed to by
the college permit the use of persistent URLs, but the
primary ones do.
Recently the library, who maintains the
subscriptions to these electronic databases and manages
access to them, has changed the means of off-campus access
recently. From on-campus, access is as it has always
been and requires no user name or password. From
off-campus, however, the databases are now accessed via a
proxy server which passes user which authenticates users
based on their Palomar login credentials, that is, their
Active Directory (eServices and Blackboard) username and
password and then confirms them as an authenticated user to
the database program.
For students, this means that their
9-digit student ID number should be used as username, and
whatever password they have set in eServices should be used
as password. This also means that when persistent
links are created to articles within the journal databases
these links now need to be prefixed with the Internet
address of the authenticating proxy server, with a login
specifier attached. This prefix is:
To build a persistent URL, therefore, that
will work from on or off campus, you must locate the
persistent URL to the article to which you want to link, and
then prefix it with this proxy prefix.
Examples will help here. Four of our
most heavily used databases support persistent URLs:
Ebscohost, JSTOR, Gale Reference Library, and the Proquest
newspaper database. Here is how to constuct a
persistent URL in each one.
Ebsco Academic Search Premier Database
- First perform your search and find
the full text article to which you want to link.
- Click the "Citation" link at the top
of the article:
- Locate the field in the citation
record titled "Persistent link to this record."
- Copy the URL given after this label.
- Prefix this URL with the Palomar
proxy prefix, and then use this full URL to create a
link on a web page or within Blackboard.
A typical link from an Ebsco database will
look like this:
The entire Persistent URL will look like
(Even though this link looks like it wraps
around and occupies two lines on your screen (if in fact it
does) that is only apparent, a result of the formatting of
the web page on which you are viewing it. The URL must
contain no line breaks, carriage returns or any other
special characters. It must be a continuous string of
pure text characters.
A link to this particular article, then,
would look like this:
Cosmology's Big Three
Search results in JSTOR display what is
called a "Stable URL" for each article. This is the
same thing as a "persistent link" in Ebsco terminology.
Use it to construct your persistent URL.
A JSTOR Stable URL looks like this:
A persistent URL to this article accessed
using Palomar's proxy server looks like this:
Or, when converted to a normal web page
link, like this:
A Hole in the Middle of the Galaxy
(Once again, this is a continuous string
of characters and must not contain line breaks.)
Gale Virtual Reference Library
In search results in this database you
will find a "Bookmark" field. Click the "Bookmark this
Document" link after the Bookmark label.
On the resulting screen you will find a
Bookmark URL. Copy this URL. It will look
something like this:
the line break, of course). Add the proxy prefix to
create the Persistent URL to this article:
Proquest Newspapers Database
finding the article to which you wish to link, click the
"Full Text" link.
click "Copy link.":
at the top of the full text article. In the resulting
popup window you will find what is called the "durable link"
to this document. That is the link you need to use to
build your persistent URL. Copy it, prefix the proxy
prefix, and you have created your link. This will work
for HTML and PDF versions of the articles, which is also
true of the Ebsco articles.
Building the Link in Blackboard
you know how to create persistent URLs to journal database
articles that will work from on or off campus, how do you
create the link in Blackboard?
to the content area within your Blackboard course where
you wish to place the link.
Click "Edit View" in the upper left corner of the page:
Click "External Link" on the Add Content toolbar:
the link a name (you can copy and paste in the article
name from your search results) and paste your persistnet
URL into the URL box.
Click Submit and you are done.
will look like this in Blackboard:
You can, of course, write any sort of
instructions, comments or bibliographic information you wish
to go along with the link.
I have created a screen video (flash
required) which will walk you through each step of creating
these links in Blackboard for each of the four databases
Click here for the screen video.
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