Posted in Web 2.0 Tools

Social Media Wall

I’m not sure what led me to this MIT Connect – Social Media site, but it looked interesting.  After I looked at it, I thought, “I wonder if someone has developed a WordPress plugin that could do this.”

Pretty quickly, I found a couple of WP plugins:


Social Stream


I have often wanted to embed, via iframe, a WordPress page within an CMS, LMS or portal page (Canvas, Ingeniux, LookingGlass) to take advantage of someone’s coding without having to recreate it outside of WP.  I think I’ve found something like the following before, but the result must not have been as successful.

How to create a WordPress page without header, menu, sidebar and footer?

I copied the PHP coding found at the above link and pasted it into a Notepad ++ page, saving it as suggested.  I then used some Terminal program to login to our WordPress application on a Linux system.  I transferred the PHP file into the root folder of one of our themes and then went to create a new page, using that theme.  Sure enough, there was a “Clean Page” option in the drop down for Page Templates.  The page displayed perfectly, with no header, sidebars or footer, just the application that was embedded.

Here is the result of the WP page being displayed in an Ingeniux page via an iframe:


The same displayed in a LookingGlass Portal Channel:

I also tried this using Mobirise to create a page and it looked great there also.

I have only played with adding Twitter, RSS feeds, and YouTube.  I’m not sure this would be easy, or that sometimes changes on the media source won’t break the various social media streams being displayed in these programs.

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 Audio/Video, Web 2.0 Tools

Video Teleprompter Lite by Joe Allen

A couple of years ago I had come across a video recording teleprompter (VRT2) app that worked pretty well on my iPad.  But, after a short time, the company disappeared, and I did not see the product reappear.  As I recall, the product had some glitches, but nothing that couldn’t have been worked out with time & effort.  The one thing I do recall is that the text was displayed across the entire screen (with the video that was being recorded in the background), and this meant that it was obvious you were reading from a script (by following your eye movement).

A short time ago someone asked if I had seen the Video Teleprompter from Joe Allen.  I didn’t have the time, at the time, to go look at it, but took a look at it this morning.


You might think that having the text scrolling window so narrow would be a negative, but there is method to the madness.  Focusing your eyes on the brown highlighted area on the left of the screen to read your text puts the focus of your eyes close to the camera lens… so you do look like you are speaking to the camera, and not just reading.

Here is a brief example of a video recording I did earlier this morning.

Okay, so I have my bifocals on, and you note the tilt of my head backwards in order to read the text clearly.  Still, it is pretty close to “talking to the camera.”

Posted in Ideas & Reminders, Web 2.0 Tools

Adobe Acrobat – Form Distribute

I have not played with Adobe Acrobat in quite a few years.  At one point, I had figured out how to create form fields that could be submitted to an online database from a fillable PDF document.

I had the opportunity in the last day to return briefly to Adobe Acrobat and find that the app has developed well in certain areas.

The need was to distribute a lengthy document (a planning guide) and have various readers comment on up to 9 “goal” areas.  The original thought was to have a WordPress site and allow for comments.  I even went the route of activating a form plugin with the idea that viewers of the document could send (via email from the online form) their comments.  *I finally abandoned that route because the layout of the original document was lost when moving it from Word to HTML, and to make it look “pretty” online, there would be a time consuming process to port the data over into Table columns and rows.  The comment form was also sprawling.  Given time (which I didn’t have), yes, I think I could have made the form layout more aesthetically pleasing.  But, there was also the problem that aggregating the comments would become a time consuming manual process.

So, early on, I realized that the task was calling for a fillable PDF document.

Adobe Acrobat XI easily found all the potential form fields.  It found about 4 others that were easily deleted.  I did have to delete about 10 fields that were best represented as a “checkbox” and not a “text” field.

I didn’t know how to set the PDF so that anyone, whether they had the full version of Adobe Acrobat, or just Acrobat Reader, so that they could fill in the responses and save the PDF.  That was later found under Forms –> Distribute.  This allows you to choose to save the PDF, and send it via email to a specific address.

I also found that you could Choose Tools > Forms > More Form Options > Manage Form Data > Merge Data Files Into Spreadsheet, to aggregate all the data from those returned (filled in) PDFs and export as a .csv file.  Then pull that file into Excel.

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 Web 2.0 Tools

Poll Using Smartphone and PollDaddy

Posted in Web 2.0 Tools

My Wacom Tablet…

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.

Posted in Web 2.0 Tools

QR Codes…

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.

Posted in Web 2.0 Tools

WordPress Plugins: WP Help for eportfolios

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!



Posted in Ideas & Reminders, Web 2.0 Tools


I am looking at Moodle again as a possible LMS, self-hosted.

I am amazed at how easy it is to test much of the Moodle functionality, as administrator, teacher, and student.  I have access to three instances of Moodle:  a TurnKey version (2.5x) running on a VM, a free instance running on (which surprisingly gives me admin, instructor and student access), and I’ve installed an instance running on my Windows 7 office PC (XAMMP).

I’ve just installed Moodle v2.6, using XAMMP (includes Apache, Moodle, PHP, and MySQL all setup and working) on my PC.  I’ve added several themes and plugins successfully.  It is much like WordPress, where you just unzip a package and move the root folder to the right Moodle subfolder (e.g. moodle/themes/…) .  Then when you click on the Notifications button, Moodle checks for new folders and allows you to upgrade/add the new functionality.

Here is the kicker.  I went to the instance and took a look at the installed themes and plugins, and they have most of the popular ones already added (currently about 99 of them).

We are going to have to get the LDAP and Banner Sychronization working before we even go into test mode (probably the spring), but once that is done, Moodle has some neat add-ons for faculty to play with (e.g. Attendance, Certificate, Checklist, and Podcast).  They will also probably enjoy implementing the Badges functionality in some of their courses.