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- The Blackboard Feature of the
"Bb Sync for iPhone and iPod Touch"
- Teaching with Technology:
"10 Ways to Improve Blended Learning Course
Tech Talk Topic:
"Google Earth 5 - Essential Teaching Tool"
- For more, see
podcast notes page for Episode
Technology News Briefs
Explorer 8 has been officially
released for public download by Microsoft, to next
to no fanfare, but that is only because the
development cycle has drug on for so long.
It's feature set is little changes since we first
looked at it. It is mostly a collection of
catch-up tools to bring it to parity with Firefox 3.
Version 8 is expected to become part of automatic
updates during the course of the next several
months. For now, users must deliberately
download the product. Blackboard at Palomar
College does not officially support IE8, and we do
not recommend upgrading to it at this time.
Google is in beta-by-invitation on its new
product, a revolutionary system to centralize all
phone numbers and messaging for everyone in the
world. It is a grand vision, and when (we say
when, not it) it is implemented will cement Googles
reach into the most intimate details of everyone's
lives on the planet. The benefits of the new
centralized messaging system will be too compelling
a proposal is now being drafted which, if accepted,
would change the primary school curriculum in the
"Children will no longer have to study the
Victorians or the second world war under
proposals to overhaul the primary school
curriculum, the Guardian has learned.
"However, the draft plans will require
children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and
give teachers far more freedom to decide what
youngsters should be concentrating on in
"The proposed curriculum, which would mark
the biggest change to primary schooling in a
decade, strips away hundreds of specifications
about the scientific, geographical and
historical knowledge pupils must accumulate
before they are 11 to allow schools greater
flexibility in what they teach.
"It emphasises traditional areas of learning
- including phonics, the chronology of history
and mental arithmetic - but includes more modern
media and web-based skills as well as a greater
focus on environmental education."
Smart. Real smart. "Teach" them what
they already know and use, or can easily pick up
from their peers, and ignore the things
they need to know and that only experienced teachers
can impart. Smart.
is a huge hit, and dominates the e-Reader market.
In an effort to surpass Amazon Sony signed an
agreement with Google to provide over 500,000 public
domain books free on their competing
platform. Google has scanned some
7,000,000 books since 2004 as part of the
Search project, many from publicly
supported libraries, most of which are in the public
domain. The books have been made fully
viewable and readable on their Book Search site and
via a downloadable PDF document. Books under
copyright can be searched and viewed in "Snippet
View" which shows very limited portions of the text.
Books publishers do not want freely viewed at Google have
bibliographic entries, links to purchase or find
them in a library,
but cannot be viewed. "We have focused our
efforts on offering an open platform and making it
easy to find as much content as possible, and our
partnership with Google is another step in that
direction," said Steve Haber, president of the
digital reading business division of Sony
Electronics. Unfortunately, this is not true.
The only way to read the books on Sony's platform is
within their proprietary desktop reader, or their
hardware device. Their commitment to openness
ends at their doorstep, and they do not make the
files in the open ePub format available for
conversion to the Kindle, nor does Google, who
should be ashamed on this one, allow access to the
ePub format of the books. "Jeffrey P. Bezos,
Amazon's chief executive, has said that works in the
public domain, like those Google is making available
to Sony, are easy to get since there are no
copyrights attached" (NY
Times). But that still does not
address the larger social problem of Google using
their influence to shape the eBook commercial market
through strategic corporate alliances. It is a
case of "open" not actually meaning "open."
There's a new iPod Shuffle. It is so small
(half the size of a AA battery - less than half the
size of the previous shuffle) that the controls have
been moved inline on the earbud cord. The lack
of a screen is overcome by a new voice-over feature
which can speak the title and artist of songs and
the names of playlists. It has 4GB of storage
(think 1000 songs) in an anodized aluminum case with
stainless steel clip. It is now possible to
place multiple playlists on the shuffle and navigate
to them with voice-over. Watch the
- According to
U.S. Internet users viewed 14.8 billion online
videos during that month. These figures represent an
increase of 4 percent over December 2008.
led the growth charge, accounting for 91 percent of
the incremental January-versus-December gain in the
number of videos viewed. Perhaps most notable in
this monthly report, YouTube surpassed 100 million
U.S. viewers for the first time.
Apple has released the public beta of Safari 4, for PC or Mac.
to download. What's new? A new "top
sites" navigation feature, cover flow history
browsing, full history search, better tab
management, increased browsing speed, and a native
look for Windows Vista users. In nearly the
same breath they introduced a developers-only beta
release of the new
OS 3 for the
iPhone, whose new feature set, when it
becomes available later this year, will include
cut-copy-paste functionality, landscape view for
mail, text and notes, stereo Bluetooth, syncing
Notes to Mac and PC, shake to shuffle, auto login at
WiFi spots, and nearly a hundred other new features.
to watch the presentation via QuickTime.
- "Google Earth is probably the best way to view the
evidence of dramatic climate change in the form of
glaciers. The reasons being that Google Earth has
the best collection of satellite and aerial imagery,
it has 3D terrain, there are many user-generated
photos of the glaciers, and there are many
collections of placemarks from scientists showing
photos and video evidence of the changes. Most
recently, Google has
a collections of placemarks from the
Survey project which includes dedicated
scientists and extreme photographers who have been
placing time lapse cameras around many glaciers and
recording the dramatic changes, sometimes in just
the course of a few months, of these glaciers which
have been around for thousands of years." You can
see the collection of
the Extreme Ice Survey here
[KMZ - open with
- Google Search
two new features to search results: First, at
the foot of the first search page a "Searches
related to:" section will appear which give
associated search results based on the search
algorithm's best understanding of the original
search term. "For example, if you search for
[principles of physics], our algorithms understand
that "angular momentum," "special relativity," "big
bang" and "quantum mechanic" are related terms that
could help you find what you need." Second, if you
enter a more complex search comprised of several
terms a longer contextual "snippet" will appear
beneath your search results, to help you better
interpret the aptness of the match. "When you
enter a longer query, with more than three words,
regular-length snippets may not give you enough
information and context. In these situations, we now
increase the number of lines in the snippet to
provide more information and show more of the words
you typed in the context of the page."
Safari Tech Book Online:
Pages with CSS: Visual QuickProject Guide
by Tom Negrino; Dori Smith. "Sometimes
it's hard to get started with a new technology.
That's where this book excels. It's not going to
show Web designers everything there is to know about
CSS but rather will provide a solid introduction
from which to build their CSS knowledge. ." 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
- We have completed the Academic Technology
training schedule for spring 2009, but are always
available for TBA training, TBA departmental
training, and also have online, self-paced training
courses in Blackboard and other training materials
at our web site.
- We have developed some anytime sets of
screen videos (screencasts) that teach how to use the features of
the various technology tools available to faculty
members through Blackboard:
Feature of the Week - David Gray
Blackboard Learn iPhone and iPod touch
Blackboard released their “Blackboard Learn” application
through the Apple iTunes App Store. This is the second
product in the Blackboard Sync line; tools made to simplify
answering the question “is there anything new I need to see
in my Blackboard course?” The first, which allows a Facebook
user to receive notices when new materials show up in
Blackboard, has been available since mid-semester last
When the Facebook tool launched, we
weren’t sure that anyone would care, so we took a fairly
low-key approach. We made the tool available, but didn’t
publicize it at all. Since then, 140 users on our Blackboard
system have added the Blackboard sync for Facebook, of which
78 are still active users. Now that we know there is some
interest, something needs to be said about this new
Q: How can I
get the Blackboard Learn application for the iPhone?
A: This is a three step process, where you have to
download the App, configure your Blackboard account, and
configure the App.
your iPhone or iPod touch, go to the App Store and
search for the term “Blackboard Learn”. The Bb Learn app
is available for free installation.
- Log into your account on Palomar’s
Blackboard system and click the Blackboard Sync tool
linked at the left of the screen. Then click the Add the
Blackboard Sync application to your iPhone link. On the
next screen will be a six-digit number, which you will
need for the next step.
- On your iPhone, run the Bb Learn
application. When asked for the URL of your
institution’s Blackboard Server, enter “blackboard.palomar.edu”.
On the next screen, when asked for your Blackboard PIN#,
enter that six-digit number from step 2. There will be a
brief delay while your content syncs up, and then you
will be able to view the new content in Blackboard
courses you have access to.
Is this application just for students?
A: Not at all. Obviously students will find it useful to
quickly and easily see if there is new content,
announcements, etc. posted by the instructor, but faculty
may also find it useful for some purposes. For example,
discussion forums with new posts will show up in the
application, so faculty would know if there is a reason to
go read new posts. Other reasons are mentioned in the
podcast recording, if you’re interested.
Q: Where can
I find out more information about these Blackboard Sync
A: There is a deal of information about both the
concept behind Blackboard Sync, and the two currently
released tools (for Facebook and for the iPhone), online at
Q: Isn’t this
just an application that does the same thing you described
in the last segment, about the What’s New module in the
upcoming version 9 of Blackboard?
A: Yup. It’s clear that Blackboard wants to offer tools
to find out what new content and activity has occurred in
your courses, and the What’s New module from version 9 will
be yet another way to find this new content. The big
difference, of course, is that in the What’s New module you
have to actually log into Blackboard to see it, the iPhone
app would be far more convenient for people not already in
front of a computer. (Oh, and you all can begin using the
app now, whereas they’ll have to wait for our installation
of version 9 to take advantage of the What’s New module.)
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
10 Ways to
Improve Blended Learning Course Design
A summary and discussion about Dr. Ike
Shibley's online seminar on this topic.
"Blended learning, or hybrid
learning–taking the strongest elements of the traditional
and online classrooms and combining them in a single
course–is seeing a surge in popularity..."
here for the PDF document.
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
Google Earth - Essential Teaching Tool
know this sounds a little over the top, but it is
hard to imagine teaching any subject without
The uses of Google Earth are evident for most
science courses and history courses, but I mean
English, Econ, Business, you name it.
To get started with Google Earth, go to
download/install the latest version. It is
quick, easy and free. You will be amazed at
what you get for nothing: millions of dollars
worth of satellite imagery, sophisticated layered
models of the globe, 3D models of prominent
buildings, with access to thousands more, layers
devoted to ancient Rome, earthquake data, volcanism,
local school districts, etc.; street views of just
about anywhere in America and most other places in
the world; high-res photos of certain areas that you
can fly into and examine closely; the Oceans, Mars,
and the heavens... I could go on and on.
It is simply too great to be believed.
Download it and find out for yourself.
The first thing you will need to do to understand
the program is to learn to navigate. I
YouTube videos to get you started, and
then a quick glance through
online guide published by Google.
The next thing to do is to start playing with the
program to get a feel for it. Take the
sightseeing tour in the My Places pane to the left
of your screen; find your residence and view it in
Street View; take a trip somewhere using the
Directions tab in the Search pane--Google Earth will
"fly" the route for you; visit the Google Earth
Gallery and click on one of the KMZ (compressed
keyhole markup language) files to invoke it in GE5
and click on some of the placemarkers to see the
kind of creative things people have placed in them.
A placemarker is a "information balloon" that pops
up when clicked, and can contain anything a web page
can contain: texts, graphics, links, videos or
audios, animations, you name it; finally, explore
the layers pane by turning on/off various layers,
flying around the globe, and altering your altitude
to reveal more or less detail. It is
We have created a repository for GE resources in
the Academic Technology Training course in
Blackboard. To find it, login to Blackboard
(all faculty members and staff are pre-enrolled) and
click on the Academic Technology Training link in
the "Courses in which you are enrolled" area.
Once in the course, click on Workshops on the course
menu (upper left) and then the Teaching and Learning
Strategies folder and finally the "Using Google
Earth" folder. Explore the resources there to
learn more. I especially recommend the
material in the Resources folder.
If you decide you want to use Google Earth in
your teaching, you will need to learn more about
constructing those "information bubbles" that pop up
when clicked. It is just as easy as editing a
web page, and in fact they can be created in
Dreamweaver, for example, and pasted in, but I would
recommend taking a look at
on how to make really nice looking balloons.
You may also wish to take advantage of Google
Earth's new narrated tour feature. This one is
as simple as create a few placemarks and then speak
into a microphone while touring them in GE, then
save the file and distribute it (it will be a KMZ)
file, like all other GE files.
for a tour on how to construct one of these tours.
If you want to get going, but can't seem to
overcome the initial hurdle, contact Academic
Technology and we will be glad to guide you through
the program and share with you what we have learned
so far. This program is just too good, and too
powerful a teaching too, not to use.
Send us your comments