Posted in 21st Century Ed

Visual Dashboards – The Lights On Effect

“…starting to build visual dashboards that rolled up the data and showed administrators overall trends, such as which metrics wDarren Catalanoere declining or stubbornly flat. “That helped us start conversations at the university that they never had before,” Catalano said. “I call it the lights-on effect. They don’t know what they don’t know until you turn on the lights. Just aggregating data in a simple visual way facilitated meaningful conversations. We provided valuable commentary as an independent actor on campus, regarding enrollment and retention trends and strategy.”

[ Darren Catalano, UMUC’s former vice president of analytics and now CEO of HelioCampus. ]

“The bigger challenge is how to get humans to catch up to the numbers and ideas thrown our way like never before. And those teams that manage it will gain a distinct advantage over opponents that can’t.” [ Geoff Baker ]

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Web 2.0 Tools

Intel Boxed Compute Stick with Windows 10 Pre-Loaded

They just keep getting smaller and smaller. currently lists this for about $134 +tax, but I saw something on TV just yesterday regarding when electronics “deals” are best during the holidays season.  The Monday before Thanksgiving is supposed to be the best for these types of items.


  • New Generation compute on device that transforms any HDMI display into a fully functional computer
  • A solution with plenty of storage and performance needed for light productivity, social networking, web browsing, and streaming media, such as Netflix, Hulu, or games.
  • Enable thin-client solutions for small- to medium-sized businesses, delivering ultra portability and reliable plug-and-play simplicity, with Windows Remote Desktop access for on-the-fly support
  • Windows 10 Pre Loaded (includes PowerShell)

It has a USB port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 support and a mini-USB connector for power, Pre-installed 32-bit OS: Windows 10 and micro SD card slot for additional storage


NOTE:  I asked about PowerShell being included with this Windows 10 because I recently have been learning some PowerShell scripting so that I could modify and use a “content migration” script via the Canvas LMS API.  *Versions of Python (v 2.x & 3.x) are included with the Rasberry Pi that I have.  I also have one of the Logitech wireless keyboards (shown below) that I use with the Raspberry Pi.  It is slightly smaller than a full-sized keyboard… and I think it is the location of the “Shift” key that causes some problems when I am using Python.

A wireless keyboard with trackpad for about $20 at Wal*Mart.

I have a Chromecast that is hooked up to my 40″ HDTV so I know how nice it is to push web video/audio to the larger screen.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Ideas & Reminders, Web 2.0 Tools

A Learning Object with a “Something” Interface


golden sphere

I think of a “learning object” as having the shape of a ball.  Everything inside that ball relates in some way to the overall understanding of the learning object’s subject or core concept.  A student can approach the learning object and enter from any direction, but to be effective initially, the student should be encouraged to enter the subject from their strongest point of understanding.  Doesn’t that make sense?  If understanding is built on prior knowledge, then entering the study of a new subject would be best from where we are most comfortable.

Analogy, “something is like something else,” provides a framework of clarification and understanding.

The learning object is in constant motion (like a Roomba, it eventually will cover all the area) and as it rotates, it reflects back our level of understanding.  Where the interface senses our greatest level of recognition, it “lets us in.”

As we enter the learning object, our level of understanding could be portrayed much like a smaller bubble (sphere), or that is what we are imperfectly working toward.  No one ever understands it all.  There are always areas of knowledge that make our level of understanding like Swiss Cheese.  But, we enter the sphere and immediately we see some things that we readily recognize, while other things are dim, or possibly even unintelligible and apparently blank.

bubbles-n-bubblesSo, we can once again move to what we know, and “turn right”.  There is that dim item and we begin to learn how it is related to what we know.  The item becomes brighter, and down to the “southeast” we see another dim item.  We explore and find something, that we never knew existed, or that we thought was totally unrelated to our current level of study.  We learn more.

Now if we step back out of our learning object and attempt to re-enter where we first entered, our level of understanding has changed.  There are still the most recognizable areas, but now, some of the dim areas are equally as bright, and to our surprise, at least one blank area is not blank any longer.

Adaptive Learning

Adaptive learning should be as simple as controlling the weather, or herding cats.  There are so many variables when it comes to individual learning that it would almost be impossible to create a tool (other than a teacher) who could interface with a student, determine their level of understanding and then proceed accordingly to improve their understanding where they are weak.

The “Something” Interface needs to be able to test our understanding and respond accordingly.  Images, audio, video, text.  Something from “A Clockwork Orange” or some psychological study where images are flashed before a test subject in a dark room.  The subject, hooked up to electronic equipment which is sensing bodily changes, increased electrical activity between synapses, modifications in the levels of gases in exhaled air, etc.  I’m not quite sure how you would determine a level of understanding.  Is it as simple as responses to questions?  It could be.

van-de-graaf-learning-objectBadges?  Someone has to determine the differing levels of understanding of a subject.  As our model of understanding of a subject begins to approach that of an orb, but there are still pockets of emptiness, resembling Swiss Cheese, then we need to fill these in.  We need a complete set of badges to complete the instructional process.

If a learning object is in the shape of a sphere, then the process more than likely will not be a linear progression.

Posted in 21st Century Ed

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

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.




Posted in 21st Century Ed

Teaching Naked…

By “teaching naked,”  José Bowen means removing technology from the classroom, but not from the course.   In essence, this is the “flipped classroom” where technology (the tool) is used to it’s advantage by delivering content, prior to and post “face to face” class sessions.  Dr. Bowen suggests removing announcements and content summaries from the F2F by sending emails with this content to his students, thereby saving precious F2F class time for discussion, etc.  He suggests that because of the proliferation of online content, and the Dr. Jose Bowendecreasing cost of delivering this content online, it will be necessary for higher ed residential institutions to distinguish themselves by “faculty interaction” (touches) with students.

Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning
by José Antonio Bowen (Passionate musician and educator Dr. Jose Bowen, Dean of the Meadows School for the Arts at SMU.)

TEDxLSU (17 minutes presentation by Dr. Jose Bowen – the gist);search%3Atag%3A%22tedxlsu%22

The book is written for dual audiences, faculty and administrators.

Book at
Teaching Naked book cover

***Keynote address and morning workshop by the author at the University of Southern Maine (recorded via Panopto – Oct. 2013)
Morning Keynote Presentation Recording (97 minutes, but full of info )

University Faculty Commons (University of Southern Maine) – Teaching Naked

NOTE:  I had missed the AppState Free-Learning Conference 2013 last year, but decided to review if any resources had been posted.  I saw that several sessions had been video recorded.  I reviewed a couple of these videos and was viewing one of these, “From Theory to Practice: Putting “Teaching Naked” Principles to Work in an Undergraduate Course” by Lisa McNeal, Appalachian State, when I started to google for Bowen and the Teaching Naked book.  This led me to the above info and resources.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools

The New Swivl, Crowdfunding & Knowmia

Earlier this week, I came across a video enhancement device called Swivl. The concept is simple. Create a rotating stand that you can put a camera device on, and then provide a sensor that will cause the device to follow you (the presenter) around automatically. The implementation was probably nowhere near as simple. Watching the demo videos was exciting.

Not only will the device follow you as you move about, but the remote sensor also records audio, so the problem of producing quality audio, wirelessly, for your video, as you move about, is solved. There is something captivating about a device that thinks you are important enough to follow your every movement;-) In one of the demo videos, the instructor moves the remote and actually uses it as a pointing device to direct the camera to what is written on the board. The signal from the remote device will also bounce off of reflective surfaces, so even if you turn around and are writing on a board (or pointing to something), the Swivl will continue to track your movements.

The first version of Swivl does not support the iPad or DSLR cameras, but the next gen products are supposed to. There is a “sports mode” that causes the device to track you, even when you are moving more quickly. Think about using this in PE or sports activity analysis.

I wonder if I could use one remote and two Swivl devices to track me with two cameras. The resultant blended video might rival Spielberg.  How about putting your iPad and new Swivl on a tripod and running the “Video Recording Teleprompter 2” app.  Walking around in a circle, while your background changes, talking directly to the camera (while reading from a script) could create an impressive movie.

I do not purport to understand the crowdfunding process, other than investors pay “up front,” have a say in the product development, and reap the rewards of first dibs on the newly released item that hopefully works especially as they would like. *For instance, I noted that the first version used AAA batteries in the remote and base. I immediately thought that I would much rather have a rechargeable battery. I see that the new Swivl will have rechargeable batteries. *The new Swivl footprint is slick and smooth.

While on the Swivl web site, one link directed me to Knowmia. This is a free site for developing and presenting short educational videos. They even have a useful, free, iPad app.

I installed the Knowmia app on my iPad2 and started testing it out. I’ll admit that I finally had to watch the instructional demo, but afterwards using the various functions was much easier. I still am enamored of Prezi for its simplicity and flow, but the Knowmia app does provide some interesting functionality in creating presentations.

Perhaps in later generations of Swivl, they will incorporate a Roomba, and you will be able to move about the house, not just in one room.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Audio/Video, Chromebook, Podcasting, Web 2.0 Tools

Chromebook AND iPad Again!

When I first got my Samsung Chromebook, it was new enough that there weren’t any accessories, such as a carrying case, specifically for the Chromebook. I went to a local Office Depot (I think.), and found a Case Logic carrying case for it. About $25.

Both my Chromebook and my iPad can both fit, snuggly, in the same case, at the same time. Maybe a little heavy, but nice to have both, if needed. There is also another zipped pocket for my USB hard drive and a digital camera, and little tripod ($1 at Dollar Tree), and a pair of headphones.

Having both an iPad and a Chromebook provides you with alot of mobile computing capability.  I could view a video while taking notes, or blogging my reactions easily.  I could record video or take pictures with the iPad and push them to YouTube or Flickr, and then create a multi-media posting with text using my Chromebook to “easily” type a detailed article.

I bought this iPad to camera tripod connector from Amazon for about $15.

Here is the iPad connected to the camera tripod ready to take video from the classroom podium.

VRT in action:

The VRT does not work perfectly, but does a pretty good job.  You can paste in a good amount of dialogue (without having to memorize what you are about to say… I would suggest rehearsing a time or two so that you don’t stumble over difficult words or phrases.).

Posted in 21st Century Ed

My Report on the Cheetah

When I was probably in 4th Grade, I wrote a report on the Cheetah. What would I be expected to do for a report if I were in 4th Grade today?

Would I be told not to use Wikipedia as my source?

Which picture(s) would I choose for my report?…0.0…1ac.1.5.img.ZYu8GOL3jGY

Would I include a video showing how fast a Cheetah can be?

Would I realize from the video that just being fast doesn’t solve all your problems?

I think I would create a Prezi presentation, which would include video and images and maybe some links to additional resources.  I would also include a VoiceThread discussion area so that we could talk about the cheetah.

Posted in 21st Century Ed, Chromebook, iPad

Correct Conjuction: iPads AND Chromebooks…

It came to me this morning while I was playing with my Chromebook and iPad and Windows 7 office PC and HTC EVO 4G Android smartphone and Google Cloud Printing and Bluetooth devices, etc. that instead of posing the question as “iPad or Chromebook”, the better phrase would be “why not, iPad AND Chromebook?”  … and Windows PC and Android phone, etc.

I’m pretty sure that neither Apple nor Google would agree, or even Microsoft, but the really big frustration over the last several years, for me, has been how many things don’t work on the Internet, not because they couldn’t, but because of human intention that they don’t work easily together.  Now that I said that out loud to myself, I also think of how the US Legislative & Executive Branches have also been working against themselves to the detriment of all.

This morning, I was watching the latest episode of “Justified” and heard one of the best quotes that I’ve heard in recent years, spoken by the character, Boyd Crowder, “That’s what assholes do, Raylan, they get old and die from being assholes.”

So, I was pretty happy to print this morning from my Chromebook to the Network printer via my Windows 7 office PC.  I haven’t figured out if I can run the Cloud Printing from any PC that I plug my USB stick into and have Chrome run from the USB drive, but I am going to test that out.

Maybe it was because I was in the Chrome “Settings” section that I was reminded of the Bluetooth capabilities, and then I thought, “I wonder if you can connect to the iPad from your Chromebook and use the actual, full-sized keyboard to type to the iPad.”  *Hey, they don’t even recognize that each other exist.  But, what if they did?

Well, you would have a pretty powerful combination of features.  See this article, which I came across a short time later, while looking to see if anyone had actually thought of putting a different conjunction between “iPad” [ ] “Chromebook”.  Oddly enough, this article shows a mashup of an iPhone and a Chromebook’s keyboard.

iPad or Chromebook: 4 Questions To Ask Before Choosing” an article by Beth Holland on “edudemic”

 Think of it, you could use all those wonderful tools from the PC world, like Prezi and VoiceThread, and Flash apps.  You would have a full-sized keyboard to take notes, blog, wordprocess or power email.  You would have a dual monitor setup with you, that you could easily carry in a single carrying case, and it wouldn’t be too heavy or cumbersome.

I could run a YouTube video, or some other form of recorded class lecture on the iPad and take notes on the Chromebook while it is playing.

Heck, I want my Android phone to Bluetooth connect “successfully” with my Apple Wireless Keyboard so that I can productively blog and email.  The iPad could eventually shrink in size, until it was say, “the size of an iPhone.  IT departments in education could then provide wireless keyboards, wireless monitors and “cloud” printers.  Everyone would BYOD and they would all connect flawlessly –SLAP!!!– and that’s when I woke up listening to the TV, “That’s what assholes do, Raylan, they get old and die from being assholes.”

Oh, yeah.  It would be a much better world if everyone tried to work together, and make the things they make, work well with others, instead of intentionally trying to make things “not work together.”