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- Blackboard Feature:
"Why is a raven like a writing desk?"
- Teaching with Technology:
"What is the instructor's role in
facilitating class discussions?"
Tech Talk Topic:
"Windows 7 Features"
- For more, see
podcast notes page for Episode
Technology News Briefs
7 has been released for
sale. We are licensed
for it at Palomar.
Contact the help desk with
any questions about
ultimate version is
available to all faculty and
staff through the
Foundation for California
Community Colleges for
$45. The purchase can
now be made entirely online,
without having to mail
separate verification of
students there is even a
better deal. Windows 7
Pro can be had for FREE
through the Academic
Technology MSDN Academic
Click here for
Interested in the product
reviews. They have
been generally very good.
- Google has released the
Google Dashboard. If you are wondering
just how much information Google keeps for you login
with your Google account to find out. Google
this month also announced a new Music Search
service, built-in to the Google search box (click
here to view the how-to video); an new
Social search; and a
new smartmeter partner for Google
- Mozilla has released the beta version of
Firefox 3.6. Be careful, because most
extension authors have not yet updated to the new
beta engine, so many will not work. This
release is NOT recommend for installation on Palomar
College production computers.
for FREE anti-virus anti-spyware software?
Microsoft is now giving away their "new"
Security Essentials program. Be sure to
uninstall any existing anti-virus your have before
installing it. Palomar work computers are
already covered by Symantec anti-virus, so do not
need this program, but for home PC users it is a
great alternative to one of the for-pay products.
Security Essentials is the successor to Microsoft's
now defunct Live Onecare product, which tried to do
too much without great success. Security
Essentials is simple, straightforward and effective.
- Google Earth 5.1 update has been released, and
it's a great one! What's so great about it?
Speed, speed and more speed. Load time is
faster and graphics--and Google Earth is all about
graphics--move more smoothly and appear noticeably
faster. Highly recommended for those who use
Google Earth to teach, and it's hard to image
teaching without it. For those who have Google
Earth installed, click Help > Check for Updates
Online. For those who don't,
- Featured Safari Tech Book Online:
The Missing Manual, 8th Edition by J. D.
Biersdorfer and David Pogue. "Get the
scoop on iTunes 9 and all of the newest iPods with
this bestselling Missing Manual. Apple's gotten the
world hooked on portable music, pictures, and videos
with its amazing entertainment center, but one thing
they haven't delivered is an easy guide for getting
the most out of it. That's where this book comes in.
iPod: The Missing Manual, now in its 8th edition,
provides a no-nonsense view of the latest iPod line,
including the tiny Shuffle, the video-capable Nano,
the high-capacity Classic, and the Wi-Fi-enabled
Touch." 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.
Academic Technology Workshops
- We have
completed our workshop schedule for fall 2009.
Watch this space for our spring 2010 schedule.
- We have developed (or linked to) 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
Why is a raven like a writing
No, I guess a better riddle would be:
How is UPS like Blackboard? (Okay, it’s not a good
riddle, but neither was my singing last December on the
podcast actually good singing.)
Well, in quite a few ways really, as
they both distribute content, seem fairly opaque to
those not used to using their services, and work well a
lot of the time. (I’m just grateful that I don’t
have to wear a brown uniform in order to do my job.)
But the specific way I wanted to point out that UPS and
Blackboard are similar has to do with the Blackboard
Think of Sync as Blackboard’s
equivalent of the UPS tracking system. “Has
my package shipped? Nope, still in Memphis.”
The Blackboard Sync tool allows students to see what
sort of content is available to them in their courses,
with an emphasis on what is new in there.
Currently there are two components to the Blackboard
Sync system, a Facebook app and an iPhone app.
Each works independently of the other, and a student
could use both if they choose.
Here at Palomar we launched Blackboard
Sync with no fanfare or advertising, so the students who
have started using this tool have pretty much just found
it on their own. Our current use numbers for this
iPhone Users: 98 unique, 45 active
Facebook Users: 59 unique, 45
Total Users: 146 unique, 80 active
Obviously there are a few active users
of Blackboard Sync who really do use both the iPhone and
When a user wants to set up either an
iPhone or their Facebook account to use Blackboard Sync,
they will need to log into Blackboard and click the
Blackboard Sync entry on the tool panel at the left of
The Blackboard Sync choices started
off with only the Facebook application, but the company
seems serious about making more platforms capable of
synchronizing Blackboard data. As new Sync apps
are released, they’ll just show up on the list, along
with the two current apps.
If you’re interested in more details
on Blackboard Sync, the best resource is the
official wiki Blackboard maintains about the
product. Although Sync is certainly not for
everyone, I’ve noticed that iPhone users in particular
can get pretty excited about it. Of course, I’ve
spent a good bit of time hitting “Refresh” on the UPS
tracking page, so I know that folks can get excited
about some incredibly boring stuff.
Teaching with Technology -
Dr. Haydn Davis
What Is The Instructor’s Role
In Facilitating Class Discussions?
instructors believe that class discussions contribute to
the students’ learning experience. Class discussions
provide opportunities for students to articulate their
understanding of course material and receive immediate
feedback, hear other perspectives about a topic, reflect
upon, and possibly revise, their understanding based
upon new information, and become more engaged in the
An article by Michelle Everson in a recent edition of
Faculty Focus described her experience with
class discussions when she moved from teaching on-campus
classes to teaching online. Struggling with what her
role in online discussions should be, she began by
mostly removing herself from online discussions. Her
reasoning was that, while she often formed small group
discussions in her on-campus classes, she generally
stayed out of the small group discussions believing that
hovering over the students would be disruptive.
Similarly, she reasoned, injecting her comments into
online discussions would have the same effect – students
would become self-conscious, and her online presence
would stifle discussion.
At the conclusion of her first year of teaching online
Everson examined her course evaluations and a rather
unexpected finding surfaced: students mentioned that
they wished she had played a more active role in the
online discussions. With this student feedback in hand,
Everson resolved to become more proactive in online
discussions. She will do this by committing to do the
Cheer students on and
let them know when they are on the right
points made during discussions,
about their understanding or ask them to
clarify remarks they made or expand on
instruction if students appear to be
struggling to understand material.
Online discussions offer some
advantages to both instructors and students compared
with on-campus discussions. In online discussions
everyone is able to carefully compose his/her thoughts
before posting them, discussion topics can be followed
and reviewed from start to finish, each student’s
comments can be examined, and clarification or extra
assistance can be offered selectively.
Other commentators have shown how important it is to
validate the importance of online discussions by
specifying what the instructor’s expectations are,
providing examples of “good” and “poor” discussion board
posts, and, perhaps most important, awarding points for
Tech-Talk-Topic - Terry
Windows 7 Features
Windows 7 is sometimes referred to as
Windows Vista done right, or Windows Vista R2, but it is
much more than that. In addition to being faster
and sleeker, it has some winning features that will make
you wonder how you got along without them. Here
are several of our favorite features:
The Taskbar and Windows Management.
Finally the task bar has become truly
useful for something other than a quick
launch area. When windows are
minimized they show up as navigable
thumbnails over the program icon on the
task bar, and you can switch or close
open windows by appropriately clicking
the thumbnail. Furthermore,
programs written for Windows 7 (like the
Office programs, IE, Firefox, and many
others) now have jump lists. Hover
over the program icon and you will see a
list of the recently opened files.
Best of all, window management has been
improved to where it is finally
intuitive. Ask yourself, how do
you tile two open windows on screen so
that you can drag and drop between them?
The Windows 7 answer is drag one to the
right edge of the screen and the other
to the left edge of the screen.
Bingo. How do you maximize a
window? Drag it to the top of the
screen. How to resize back down?
Drag off the top of the screen.
How to see through all open windows?
Hover your mouse over the right end of
the task bar. How to minimize all
windows? Click the right end of
the task bar. How to minimize all
but one open windows? Waggle the
one you want to keep on screen.
All the others will minimize. Yes,
I said waggle. Grab its title bar
with the mouse and shake it like a rag
doll. Sounds silly, and actually
invented for touch screen navigation, it
quickly becomes a favorite show off
File management for the average
user has become easy. Just
open/save files to the library, which
automatically contains virtual folders
that contain documents, music pictures
and videos. You can create as many
other libraries as you like.
Libraries contain not your actual files,
but pointers to your files. which
can be located anywhere but can be
treated as if they actually exist in the
library. Therefore things become
easy to file and easy to find
Search. This was
the big selling point of Windows Vista,
but works even better in Windows 7.
Now, the easiest and fastest way to find
anything is to look for it in a search
bar, and specifically in the Start Menu
Snipping Tool and Problem Step Recorder.
For those of you who have never owned SnagIt, a for-pay program from
Techsmith.com which is truly
irreplaceable, the Snipping tool will be
revelatory. You will quickly grow
to depend upon it. Briefly, it
allows you to snip any part of your
screen and save it as a graphic in order
to place it on a web page, email it to
someone else, or otherwise repurpose it.
Closely related is an even more
impressive tool, the Problem Steps
Recorder, which allows you to walk
through a procedure with which you are
having problems, taking screen shots of
relevant changes on your screen, and
then send the whole thing off to tech
support so that they can see what is
going on. We strongly recommend
the use of this tool when corresponding
with our Blackboard technicians.
Finally Windows backup makes a system
image, along with a restore disk that
can reliably restore your system.
At long last Windows has emerged from
the primitive and horrible backup
program that has been a constant Windows
feature since NT days.
The Action Center--located in what used
to be called the "System Tray"
consolidates all messaging from the OS
in one place, eliminating so many of
those annoying Windows nags that popped
up unexpectedly and (often) irrelevantly
from older versions of Windows.
The former System Tray is further
improved by placing all startup and
memory resident programs in a single
popup box, rather than a bar that
stretched to sometimes ridiculous length
across the screen.
Printers. There is now a
simple and easy way to see, access and,
if necessary, troubleshoot any device
connected to your computer, most notably
printers, from the new Devices and
Printers command located to the right of
the Start Menu. For vendors who
have written special Windows 7 drivers,
there is a special Device Stage area at
the bottom of the Devices and Printers
dialog that allows access to many of the
Calculator. The lowly
Windows calculator has come in for a
long overdue upgrade. It now can
be used as a standard calculator, a
scientific calculator, a hex/bin
programmer's calculator, a statistics
calculator, and it also has built-in,
pre-programmed unit conversion, date
calculation, mortgage, vehicle lease,
and fuel economy functions.
boot/shutdown time and a speedier
interface, thanks to offloading
many systems tasks to graphics card
memory, a new graphics memory stack, and
a new audio stack.
will especially appreciate:
Security that is better
but far less obtrusive.
networked home computers
and permits sharing of
files and even streaming
of media from any to
Credential Vault, which
solves those nasty
Windows won't remember
my password problems.
Picture Gallery and
Movie Maker tools which
are no longer part of
Windows but must now be
downloaded from Windows
beautiful desktop themes
which can now be played
Constructing a custom
desktop slideshow is now
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