Thursday, October 30, 2008

FOC08 miniconference

The Facilitating Online Communities (FOC08) course mini conference begins next week. The conference program is taking shape! There's a nice variety of topics, venues, and modes of communication.

This mini conference is a it of a culminating project in FOC08. Early on in the course Sue Wolff, Jeffrey Keefer, Bronwyn Stuckey, and I identified "managing multimembership" as a topic deserving some attention. We found ourselves fumbling a bit trying to keep up with new ways to communicate and network, not to mention the tools that were popping up almost daily.

Although the mini conference is schedule to run one week, we decided that our event should begin a week early because it is asynchronous. We felt that participants needed more time than a week to ease into the topic.

In fact we began even earlier than that with a survey to gather some information about how people are coping with multimembership. Then after some careful planning the facilitation group decided to launch the event with a Voice Thread. Aside from offering a different way for people to contribute their stories, we believed that one of the "management" issues we face is the vast amounts of text we deal with on a daily basis. Technically the survey and the Voice Thread were meant to gather data and stories, then the forum discussion would really get going during week 2.

We're now into day 4 of the SCoPE Managing Multimembership in Social Networks seminar. So far we've had 12 fabulous contributions to the Voice Thread, close to 60 respondents to the sruvey, and about 14 people contributing to the forum discussion. It's interesting to note that there isn't a huge overlap in participants who chose to use their voice and those who are using text. I guess that means our plan is working! The participants have shared some neat observations about their personal habits and strategies, and they've raised some excellent questions.

Hopefully we've designed this event so that you feel welcome to join in any time, and participate as much as you can. At SCoPE we're all about informal learning and no pressure. Hope to see you there!

iQity Learning Suite

IQ + Acuity = iQity. Developed by Altair Learning Management Inc. of Columbus "with and for K-12 students."
"The IQity Learning Suite includes virtual replicas of the Homeroom, Classroom, Gradebook, Teachers’ Lounge, Courses, Assessment tools and Enrollment reports. Exclusive features include the IQity LiveBoard, where students interact in real-time with a teacher (Web-cast video, live chats, interactive pop quizzes, polling and more); online high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum; graduation Practice Tests and Study Guides tailored to standards and benchmarks for many states; ReactorTM, the most comprehensive learning object repository in the world."
What does it cost?
"We offer the most competitive Pricing of any LMS on the market. For many schools, IQity’s Learning Suite will be offered at no cost. For curriculum and other exclusive feature’s we offer the most competitive pricing in the nation."

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Posterous - "The place to post everything. Just email us. Dead simple blog by email."

This is so fun! Instantly post anything on the web by sending an email. Attach files (many types, including .pdf, .html, .doc, .txt, image, video, mp3s) and that content will be embedded in your post. No need for membership, login, or anything! Just send an email and voila. The resulting post page has your own instant URL and lots of common blog features: the entry is dated, comments, subscription, tags, download links for the files you attached to your email, and more.

Here's a link to my own "prePosterous" first attempt, a quick email with attachments of a few file types. (I then signed up and created my own URL, but you do NOT have to do that!)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

VLC media player

Cross-platform media player and streaming server. "VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, ...) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network." My partner says that VLC Media Player, a FREE open source tool, is the "best media player in the world. I use it all the time. Plays everything without plugins and fuss." VLC Media Player works on Mac, GNU/Linux and Windows.

VLC Media Tutorials: If you're going to try out VLC, these tutorials might be a good way to start: "...a series of steps on how to convert video/audio, etc."

Web 2.0 how-to (and how not to) Design Guide

The author explains: "In this tutorial, I describe various common graphic design elements in modern web ("2.0") design style. I then attempt to explain why they work (i.e. why they have become common), as well as how, when and where you might use each element in your designs.... If I had to sum up "Web 2.0" design in one word, it would have to be "simplicity", so that's where we'll start."

Tip of My Tongue: Dictionary

A unique dictionary that helps you "find that word that you've been thinking about all day but just can't seem to remember." Various ways to find the word: partial word (starts with, contains, ends with), letters (unscramble, must have, can't have), look up by synonyms you know, length of word, or sounds-like.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Converting to PDF

I have a page on my Resources site devoted to file conversion resources. Here are a couple of new/updated entries today.

CuteFTP: FREE. "Create PDF files on the fly. Save fillable PDF form using Reader. Add, delete, rotate, resize, reorder pages. Stamps, overlay, headers, footers, bates. Make compact PDF booklets. Digitally Sign PDF Documents."

PrimoPDF: FREE. Recommended to me by several professionals. PrimoPDF becomes a "printer" on your applications' printer lists--instead of printing the document on paper, it puts it into a PDF. Any application that can print can make a PDF with this. "Convert to PDF from 300+ file types...optimize for print, screen, ebook, or prepress." OR you can purchase their nitroPDF Professional: "Create, edit, view, secure, form fill, annotate and sign PDF files; and do it all on-screen." (free 14 day trial) PrimoPDF gets good ratings on CNET.
I just read that the older version 3 works better than version 4. Here's the link to version 3.

The Pros and Cons of Uusing a LMS (Learning Management System)

  • 5 Advantages of using an LMS: An article from Microburst

  • Benefits of Instructional Technology/Learning Management Systems: from Wikibooks

  • Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Learning Management System: from
  • Monday, October 13, 2008

    History of Learning Technologies with Liz Burge

    This is our 2nd live session as part of the Building a Virtual Museum of Educational Technology discussion at SCoPE. Be sure to invite your colleagues!

    The History of Learning Technologies
    Facilitator: Liz Burge
    Moderator: George Siemens
    October 14th, 9:00 am (PDT) 16:00 UTC (see world clock)

    Liz Burge is a Professor of Adult Education at University of New Brunswick. No presentation this time! For this session we'll be using a Q & A format that will be much like a radio talk show. George Siemens, moderator, will field questions from the participants. If you have access to these articles it would be helpful for you to read them ahead of time. If you don't have access then be sure to come anyway!
    1. Burge, E. J. & Polec, J. Learning and teaching in practice: Where change and consistency interact. In Evans, T., Haughey, M. & Murphy, D. (Eds.) International handbook of distance education (pp. 237-258). Brighton, UK: Emerald Publishing. 2008
    2. Burge, E. J. Using Learning Technologies: Ideas for Keeping One's Balance. Educational Technology, v39 n6 p45-49 Nov-Dec 1999
    You'll see from the sweatshirt Liz is wearing in the photo on her faculty page that Liz might have some brain-burning questions for us as well! approve

    Saturday, October 11, 2008

    Websites for word lovers & writers "Wordsmith is a worldwide online community of some half-million readers who share a love for words, wordplay, language, and literature." Visit their Scheduled Chats page, where word lovers from all over the world meet to chat with others about words, languages, literature, and ideas.

    World Wide Words: An etymologist's delight! "...a fascinating website ... All word buffs should pay the website a visit. They will be well rewarded." [Quote from University of the Third Age (March 2004)] Categories are numerous; to name a few: Articles, Q&As, Reviews, Topical Words, Turns of Phrase, Weird Words, Pronunciation Guide. Weekly newsletter by email subscription or feed.

    WORDS.ibritt.comPlease visit the Writers' Resources tab on my WORDS website for a huge, categorized list of resources.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008

    STUDENTS: A Study Community for Homework Help in Physics, Math, Science, and Engineering

    CRAMSTER is an online study community "centered on providing understanding to [your] questions, whether they're related to homework, exam preparation, or general learning." Cramster "...brings together students, educators and subject enthusiasts... With around-the-clock expert help and a community of over 100,000 knowledgeable members, you can find the help you need, whenever you need it." "...find real help from students, educators, and subject enthusiasts. Ask a homework question. Try a practice problem. View step-by-step solutions to your textbook problems. Submit study resources. Find study tips on our blog." "Cramster is the first social learning network of its kind focused on quantitative subjects including physics, math and engineering. We foster a similar environment to a study group whether you are the one asking for or providing help."

    Online Survey Tool at

    "Create custom surveys in minutes and view tallied graphical results." They have a FREE basic version and a Pro version.

    Students: find a teacher; Teachers: register so they'll find you

    At this site students can search for the best rated teachers/tutors worldwide. [Note: Currently their focus is on India, but they're hoping the international community will help them expand.] It's free, but you have to register to use it. See this page for their notes to teachers..."We're building findguru to help people find great local instructors and school in their cities and neighborhoods. ...Whether we add the class or you do, students will find it if they search in your area (and we'll help you be discovered in the major search engines). ...See why teachers will love findguru. ...We want to take things one step at a time and try to make the experience great in our first few cities before moving on to our international neighbors."

    Create a Wiki -

    (My link is to their Education category.) "Free and flexible Wiki service where users can drag and drop content, including text, graphics, and video. A focus on ease of use. Share information by building pages or starting discussions on your favorite subject." For an example how the platform is being used by students and professors see

    Sunday, October 5, 2008

    Affixes: the Building Blocks of English

    The Dictionary of Affixes: "It is based on Michael Quinion’s book Ologies and Isms: Word Beginnings and Endings, published by Oxford University Press in 2002. This work is now out of print and has been edited and presented here as a free service. These pages contain examples of all four of the types of affixes that appear in English: prefixes, suffixes, combining forms and infixes."