Sunday, August 28, 2005

Spyware Obstacle Course did a test using 8 spyware-type nasties, running them through 6 of the leading free spyware detectors available. This site describes the results of the test by application efficacy and then provides rankings and selects the top three apps.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Getting to grips with learning styles

eLearning researcher Stephen Downes calls this paper "a good introduction for practicing teachers and instructors". One reason it's worth a look is that it refers in areas to the pedagogy of the online student in relation to learning styles. The introduction says,
"This booklet gives teachers and trainers in vocational education and training some easily digestible information about learning styles. It provides practical tips on how to identify students' learning styles, and how to respond to individuals and groups based on their preferred methods of learning. There is not a 'best' theory about learning styles; however, understanding learning styles theories helps teachers to observe their students more systematically and be more methodical in experimenting with alternative teaching approaches."

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Audio for HTML using the EMBED tag

This web page covers some of the audio file types and methods of embedding them in web pages: Wav, Real Audio, MP3, Midi

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Blogger for Word

Blogger for Word is a free add-in for Microsoft Word that lets you save a Word document as a post to your Blogger blog...without even opening up a browser. Blogger for Word makes it even easier your documents to the web, and edit your work both online and off....all you need to do is download and install the Blogger for Word add-in, and three buttons appear in your Word toolbar:
  • Publish creates and publishes a new post from the text in your document.
  • Open Post enables you to edit your last 15 Blogger posts in Word.
  • Save as Draft enables you to keep a post unpublished; it will appear in your Blogger account, but not publicly on your blog.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Web Developer - a Firefox Extension

This extention's author, Chris Pederick, says:
"The extension is highly configurable and contains many powerful features including CSS manipulation, multiple validation options and tools to display information about the current page."
The editor if Mozilla Update calls it
"an essential extension for any web developer/designer as it provides a raft of incredibly useful features all under one roof. You will wonder how you ever managed without it!"
Menus on the handy toolbar include CSS, Forms, Images, Information, Miscellaneous, Outline, Resize, Validation, View Source, Options. Bravenet's Webmaster Tips n Tricks Newsletter says,
"...a few of the developers tools that I have found most useful for basic website development. First and foremost is the Web Developer Toolbar. This is a fantastic toolbar that caters to the needs of developers. Each item (except ‘View Source’) has a drop down full of great things to do so there won’t be room to explain them all. You can resize your browser to different resolutions, outline different HTML elements in varying colors to locate problems in your code - there is a ton of great stuff in this toolbar."
Here's a direct link to the download page at the author's website (


If you already have a blog and want to TRACK YOUR BLOG:
"Blogbeat is an online service that can tell you all sorts of cool things about your blog, like who's reading it, what posts they're reading, what posts are your most popular, what other blogs are talking about you, how people find you, even what links people click on when they visit your blog. Simply register with us in a few simple steps, and you instantly get tons of cool stats on your blog! Everything is done in real-time, so as soon as someone reads a post on your blog, you will know about it."

Ziepod: Streaming Podcasts

"A new, outstandingly designed podcasting player, search tool and aggregator
has just launched." [Robin Good's review] Another good
introduction to this tool is Lockergnome's description and review, posted yesterday - feeds you information

A search engine where you can do a specific search for audiofeeds (RSS feeds of podcasting).

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Integrating RSS feeds into WebCT

A blog posting from Dr. Jean-Claude Bradley, in which he provides
"Jay Bhatt's 15 min presentation on integrating RSS feeds into WebCT courses"
in 3 formats: mp3 podcast, screencast, and Powerpoint.


Edublog offers FREE education blogs, support and hosting for WordPress blogs for "teachers, students, researchers, librarians, writers and anyone who is interested in or working in education." I've had the link and description for WordPress on my site for a few months. To review:

WordPress: FREE blog publishing tool for your desktop. If you feel ready to use your ISP's PHP service and set up a blog on your own site, this is the application for you. I haven't tried it yet, but they seem to make it really easy at WordPress. Lots of demos, tutorials, etc.
"WordPress was born out of a desire for an elegant, well-architectured personal publishing system built on PHP and MySQL and licensed under the GPL. It is the official successor of b2/cafelog. WordPress is fresh software, but its roots and development go back to 2001. It is a mature and stable product. We hope by focusing on user experience and web standards we can create a tool different from anything else out there."

Weed Exporter

I just saw WeedExporter mentioned as a way to create RSS files. (See this discussion at

I had a look at the WeedExporter information and see that it doesn't specifically mention RSS feed creation as a purpose. But it can be used to create XML, and its purpose is to "simplify the creation of files containing repetitive sections of Windows Media files metadata."

Saturday, August 20, 2005

The Smackdown Learning Model

Not specifically about learning via gaming, but the idea matches ideas that are accomplished via gaming regularly. The idea is:
"What happens to your brain when you're forced to choose between two different--and potentially conficting--points of view? Learning. That's what makes the smackdown model such an effective approach to teaching, training, and most other forms of communication."

"By presenting different perspectives or views of the topic, the learner's brain is forced into making a decision about which one they most agree with. And as long as the learner is paying attention, you won't even have to ask. In other words, it doesn't have to be a formal exercise where the learner must physically make a choice between multiple things; simply by giving their brain the conflicting message, their brain has no choice. Brains cannot simply leave the conflicts out there without at least trying to make an evaluation."

New Learning Environments for the 21st Century

Or a subtitle might be (from one of the document pages): Life in the Digital Age ~ Tinkering, Learning And Sharing.

A pdf article via Educause that is FUN to go through (graphic, interesting) and makes some excellent observations and suggestions. I'd like to quote the whole thing here! But start with this --
"Modern’ kids from the global world growing up with mobile phones and internet. Do We Understand Them? What creates meaning for them? How do they learn and do they like to learn?"
The author lists the "Skills of a Guild Master" (as in 'gaming')

  • Creates a vision and a set of values that attracts.
  • Finds, evaluates and then recruits players that have a set of diverse skills and with fit with your norms.
  • Creates a platform for apprenticeship - newbies
  • Orchestrates group strategy and governance
  • Creates, sells and adheres to the governance principles for the guild and adjudicates disputes.
"Hmmm, getting students to think critically about what they find on the web - an important 21st century skill especially for our 21st century democracy. And re-contextualizing the role of the teacher now as mentor to critical thinking."

Making Learning Fun

"It's obvious that learning games should work. Not only as we hear in prognostications from James Gee, Marc Prensky, and others, but our own intuition tells us (as well as watching kids), that when learning is done right, it can and should be fun. Learning should be hard fun. The question has always been, how do you systematically, and reliably, design fun learning? Previous attempts have been pretty hit or miss, at best. Just cramming game designers and educators in a room hasn't worked. What can we do?"

Blogs & RSS as a School Communication Environment

"I’d like to present a scenario that seems like a potent intersection between the way that a school handles information, and the “new shape of information” (blogs, wikis, rss, etc.)"
The author discusses one main suggestion/idea, but mentions others with great potential:
"With aggregators in use now, the school leadership would start using them for blog-based announcements, meeting notes, policy information, calendars, and other important information. Other special departments such as sports, theatre, music, art departments, and other school culture entities would use blogging to communicate."
Will R. at Weblogg-Ed comments further on the same topic. How do we get teachers and students on board with the idea of using Blogs and RSS as part of their information-handling and daily school life? He gives a real-life example:
"I no longer tell grandma and grandpa that there are new pictures of the kids online at Flickr because they’ve learned to collect them automatically. RSS makes them a part of that conversation."
Then he takes that back to the school environment:
"And maybe that's the new strategy, get teachers and students rss-ing first. Give them a framework for understanding how disparate looking pieces of content really aren't as disconnected as they seem, and that there are new ways to find and collect and archive ideas from any number of previously unknown places."

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

24 Questions about computer games and education

The Learning Circuits Blog poses these questions (without answers) to give you food for thought as you consider using games in your courses. You can join the blog discussion if you have your own ideas and comments to make.

Publishing on the Web

The Web Design Reference Guide link has been on my site for a while, but check out their NEW SECTION: "Publishing on the Web: Putting Files on the Server". Covers topics like how to get a domain name, a server, how to transfer files, and lost more. Great for the beginning Web Publisher.

Learning Community in Learner Paced Distance Education

I work in a learning center where the majority of students are using the self-paced versions of our courses. This link is to a study done at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada...

...a university that supports continuous intake and learner pacing in its undergraduate programs. Athabasca University is investigating the feasibility and effectiveness of adding collaborative and cooperative learning activities to this model. The report summarises a study of learner interactions in the context of learner paced courses delivered by the University. ...the study reports on interviews with Athabasca University faculty and external distance education experts, describes results from an online survey of undergraduate students, and documents how these findings may be operationalised at the University. An extensible model of community based learning support is proposed to utilise new social computing capabilities of the web, and to permit learner-learner interaction in a scaleable and cost effective manner, while retaining learner pacing.

The study report proposes a learning community model. "...The model developed during this study describes one way of learning that accommodates student desire for increased autonomy and freedom." Here are some of their concluding comments:
Emerging Internet based technologies create opportunities for new types of learning communities that allow learners around the globe to study at their own pace, yet engage in meaningful interactions with others - in essence, allowing them "to have their cake and eat it, too." The model presented in this paper...incorporates these two elements. To realise and capitalise on new forms of learner paced education will require an ongoing commitment to innovation, experimentation and reflective study of our work, but it is within our grasp. ...evidence of the need for more research focusing on more complex educational models and designs that account for the diverse needs of different learners, at different times, engaged in different contexts and studying different disciplinary content.

Strange Things You Likely Didn't Know

This is nothing like what I usually post on my resource pages, so it appears on my homepage under the title "just for fun". There are some interesting little factoids on the page. For example, do you know what a tittle is? I didn't but now I do :)

[aside note] I used the word "factoid" above, but then decided to look it up to see if it was a real word. Here's a quote from GuruNet:

fac·toid (făk'toid)
  1. A piece of unverified or inaccurate information that is presented in the press as factual, often as part of a publicity effort, and that is then accepted as true because of frequent repetition: “What one misses finally is what might have emerged beyond both facts and factoids—a profound definition of the Marilyn Monroe phenomenon” (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt).
  2. Usage Problem. A brief, somewhat interesting fact.

HTML And PHP Scripts offers FREE HTML and PHP Programming Guides, Lessons and Tutorials.

I've written to them with these suggestions: Their text is rather small to read comfortably, and it would be better if their "Articles" section were in lists rather than huge-paragraph form. In the meantime, if you persist you'll find some good information and helpers here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2005

Innovate - Special issue on the role of video game technology in education

Innovate - August/September 2005 Volume 1, Issue 6 (Note that date/issue number in case you're looking for the article after it's archived.)

Tips for writing in Plain English

This article is good, and the best part is the MANY links to resources on the topic.

Teacher Tools & Templates

from Education World:
"Every educator knows how time-consuming even the simplest classroom management tasks can be. Every minute spent on block-printing desktop name tags, composing welcome letters, writing behavior reports, sketching state flag bingo cards, drawing Venn diagrams, or creating any of the other forms, letters, and work sheets teachers use every day is a minute lost to content-based planning and preparation. What teacher can afford to lose such valuable time? Education World editors know that a teacher's time is his or her most precious commodity. We know that busy work is not the most cost-effective use of that time. We also recognize, however, the importance of the hundreds of basic classroom management tools that teachers use each year. So this year, we'll be creating a number of printable, editable templates that teachers can customize and use in their own classrooms. The templates can be downloaded from our site, saved to the teacher's own hard drive, and edited as necessary. We hope you'll find them useful."

Color Theory for the Color-Blind

An article from the Digital Web Magazine. Includes information on what color blindness is, and then explores how a color blind person can still be a good webpage designer.
"Being color-blind can be a real obstacle for anyone involved in design. For Web designers, this does not need to be true."

Web Design Reference Guide

Excellent material here! Check out the extensive table of contents.

Color Theory

COLOR THEORY from the above WEB DESIGN & REFERENCE GUIDE: This is an excellent site that explains a lot of things you really should think about when selecting color for your website. The article covers Websafe Palette, color definitions, and includes several links to color resources.

Iconico - Tools & Services for Graphic Designers & Web Developers

Iconico - Tools & Services for Graphic Designers & Web Developers

Don't believe me, check for yourself. These folks have the all-time best (and simplest!!!) web development helper tools I've ever found to be loyal to. I don't know how they do it, but they keep coming up with more and more useful apps. And they're all FREE. I can't praise these people enough!