Swivl

August 12, 2014 § Leave a comment

Swivl provides a “hook” for presenting captivating videos.  The hook is that the Swivl base tracks its remote (that you carry about or wear on a lanyard) and thereby your video recording device follows you about, as if you had a “personal cameraman”.  The current Swivl base has a very smooth tracking motion.

I think the subliminal message is that either I, or what I am saying is important enough for the camera to follow me, and if the camera is following me, the audience should be attentive to what I am saying or to what I am showing them.

The other Swivl feature that makes your videos more captivating is that the  remote also captures your audio very well.  You could record your audio remotely, and then use video editing software to combine silent video with the matching recorded audio, but Swivl saves you that time and effort.

I’m not sure the current price of the Swivl base & remote (approx. $300) can be justified by most individuals.  However, in an educational environment the device could be shared amongst instructors or teachers in a department.  On sharing equipment:  The current Swivl base and remote appear to be well constructed.  That said, there are several other plastic pieces that could be easily broken or lost =  the plastic remote holder that is hung from a lanyard, the 3 different sized shems that hold various video capture devices, the audio cable that attaches the video capture device and the Swivl base.

Don’t equate Swivl with the flipped classroom.  For that matter, don’t equate video lectures with the flipped classroom.

I think the Swivl might be useful in recording student teachers who are walking about the classroom during the teaching process.  You could track the instructor’s movements and have very good audio.  But, I am not sure how well the Swivl would track the teacher if the “little” or big heads/bodies of their students block the tracking device.  Put the Swivl & video recording device high on a tripod so that “line of sight” room obstacles are few.

NOTE: I gave a Swivl presentation to two groups of faculty during the Bronco Kick-Off (start of the Fall Semester 2014).  I could not have planned for a better illustration than what Professor Denise Payton provided on the fly.

My Wacom Tablet…

August 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

My Wacom Tablet performed as was stated by the company, and if I had been a graphic artist, using some image app, I would have probably been totally happy with the tablet.  However, I have done no graphic creation in several years.

When I saw a Khan Academy French Revolution presentation, I pulled out my Wacom Tablet and attempted to mimic the produced presentation.  The problem was that writing in freehand on a small tablet is worse than attempting to write on a chalkboard the first time.  You have to make sure that the writing does not drift off to the top or bottom and stays horizontally on the board.

QR Codes…

August 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

Every browser should have the ability to convert a page URL, any link on a page, or any selected text into a standard QR image on the fly.  One problem is coming up with a standard.  Microsoft wanted its own QR image, so it wasn’t going to offer a competing standard in its IE browser.

I installed a portable version of the Firefox browser on a USB stick, and added a QR plugin to it.  So, if I were giving a presentation anywhere, I could plug in my USB stick, use my Firefox browser, with my QR and other plugins, and create QR images on the fly to be projected on the screen/wall for my audience to snag.  I didn’t have to go through the hassle of creating each image and saving them somewhere.

I do not give many, or any presentations, and have not had the opportunity in a couple of years to use the browser installed on my USB stick.

ePortfolios, QR codes & MOOCs… and my Wacom Tablet.

August 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

I only plan to focus on eportfolios in this post, but for several years, I have thought that eportfolios and QR images would be great communication tools.

What I have seen regarding eportfolios is that they never appear to “catch on” with the general population at an institution, and eventually those in power choose to change the medium for eportfolio delivery.

I was just reading an article in Campus Technology and one of the reasons for purchasing a vendor created product and not WordPress was that using WP might be too difficult if a student needed to create a WP site.  So, you’re going to get a vendor to develop template pages and push them out so that users don’t have to create the individual pages?  *You can do that easily in WP, if you know what pages you want.  You’re going to have to determine the eportfolio framework anyway, no matter which product (proprietary or open-source).  You create the WP eportfolio framework (and use a plugin like WP Help to push a set of help pages to your users from a single source site).  Why should I pay a vendor to do the same thing in a proprietary product?  You either export the WP template site with all it’s pages as an XML file (easy peasey), or you copy the template site and give it to the user.

The article is talking about using all these neat Web 2.0 tools (Prezi, YouTube, Slideshare) and just embedding them in your eportfolio.  Sounds great until you go back one day and the embedded item is no longer at it’s original location.  I’m not saying that you don’t need to incorporate these Web 2.0 tools.  But you need to import enough of a copy of the external presentation so that if everything else but your eportfolio site goes down, you still have all the proofs you need.  So, PDFs, and video screencaptures of the Web 2.0 presentations might be useful.  I don’t recall the image/screencapture app, but in addition to embedding  or linking to an external web page, you might want a screencapture of that page and add that to your site with a link to it. *Maybe the Canvas LMS does this for some of its pages.

I only have anecdotal evidence, but I think the reason why many eportfolio projects fail is that faculty/admin wouldn’t be able to produce portfolios, let alone electronic portfolios.  They haven’t thought through the proofs that would show student growth and success.

Oh, and don’t get hooked by the misconception that your students are going to have some great advantage with potential employers if they have an eportfolio.  It hasn’t caught on with employers to check out eportfolios.  They like comparing apples to apples and oranges to oranges, at least during the initial stages of the employment process.  The employer gives you a form or sends you to a site where you fill out the fields… and an eportfolio is never asked for.

 

 

 

Too Noisy App Detects Mosquito Ringtones!

May 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

I am an old man, with poor hearing, so I can’t hear the majority of mosquito ringtones.  I was looking for an app that might be able to detect these and notify me by flashing signal or a sound that I can hear.  Couldn’t find one, and then later I thought that “Too Noisy” might be able to detect the sound, even though I couldn’t.  I just tested it and it appears that Too Noisy does detect some of these inaudible (to older adults) tones.  *You might not be able to tell when students are speaking and a mosquito tone sounds, but if the class is silent, then it should register when a ringtone sounds.

WordPress Plugins: WP Help for eportfolios

April 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

I has been a while since I “played” with WordPress.  Oh sure, I’ve used WordPress a lot, but haven’t really been searching for anything new.  I haven’t even had a copy of it installed on my office PC to tinker with.

A few days ago I went looking for an installer for XAMPP and WordPress (multisite).  It appears that XAMPP is on the way out and that Bitnami is the current source for easy to install open source applications, such as WP, Moodle, Drupal, etc.

The first time I installed WordPress with XAMPP it probably took about an hour.  But, having to do it repeatedly, and finding some really good instructions (several years ago), I managed to get the install time down to about 12 minutes, and that was for a Multisite version.  With XAMPP Lite (which hasn’t continued to be developed), I was also able to install Multisite WP on a USB stick.  Why you might ask?  Well, the first time, I probably didn’t have a good reason, but in a year or so, I was looking for a portable, organizational tool that could be used to take/organize and retrieve course notes, etc.  WordPress on a Stick was the “almost” perfect choice.  Perfect if you had enough PC skills to get a working copy on your Flash drive.

Think about it.  You could plug your stick into a PC, and open a browser (a portable version of Firefox, with a few useful plugins), go to the WP Admin interface and start typing notes for your class.  With a multisite instance, you could have plenty of sites for your various courses.  You could use a site for a single project, or a research proposal, etc.

An 8 or 16 GB USB drive would have plenty of room for Firefox, WP Multisite, and then you start adding text and images, and maybe even a few audio clips.  But, your videos are on the Web, and links point to Internet accessible content.

You didn’t have to pay for some proprietary app to accomplish this task.  All for free except for the Flash drive.

So, all that to get to the point of this Post Title, “WordPress Plugins: WP Help for eportfolios”

After I had installed WP on my PC, I went looking for the latest, best, WordPress plugins available… for free.  And here was one that caught my attention, “WP Help”.  You install the plugin and then you can start developing Help topics (using WP Posts) for your site.  The plugin appears to be sharp enough that you can create your Publishing Help section on one site, and other sites can “pull” from the Help content from that site.  *That’s nice!

 

 

Chromecast

March 10, 2014 § Leave a comment

 

I have tried the Chromecast with my Samsung Chromebook and my Galaxy S III phone.  Netflix works fine via the Netflix app on my phone, but up till now I have not been able to get the Chrome browser on the phone to work with Chromecast.  I just read an article that suggested changing DHCP to a “static” connection would correct this problem.  Hope it does!

Pro:

Con:

  • The projected screen does not display the mouse pointer.

 

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