Thursday, August 28, 2008

Want to Know Everything About a Website? Try Quarkbase.

I could tell you more right here, but this article at downloadsquad says it all, so just click my title and read, then give Quarkbase a try. Pretty amazing. QuarkBase is a non-commercial site with no advertisements.

Facebook in Education

It's one of the more popular social networking sites among students, so here are a few articles about using it in education settings.

Teachers use Facebook to reach students: A brief article posted on, a site operated by The Canadian Press, in which a high school teacher in Halifax explains how he uses Facebook in his teaching.

Blackboard Sync: "Blackboard Sync is an application that delivers Blackboard course information and updates through the Facebook interface to keep students in touch and engaged with their academic studies. CLASSMATES NETWORK: Blackboard Sync enables students to connect with their classmates through Facebook, thus creating social learning opportunities. SAFE SYNC: Blackboard Sync offers several options for participation to give the institutions as much control as they need."

Will Colleges Friend Facebook? This article talks about Schools, a Facebook application for education, developed by Inigral. "Schools upends the traditional application framework. Rather than make it available to anyone with a Facebook account, the service is based on partnerships with individual colleges that pay to allow their students access. The colleges then provide Inigral with constantly updated data feeds that allow the application to stay current with courses, clubs and other activities that students can join.... Abilene Christian University, which is already in a private beta testing phase and is set to deploy the application over the fall semester, has already gained publicity by handing out free iPhones to its incoming freshman class and being one of the earlier adopters of Google’s Apps for Education program. Kevin Christian, the university’s director of strategic partnerships, says that the university is finding it can have the benefits of 'living within the Facebook world' without ignoring 'prudent concern to retain Facebook as a true social networking site.”'Much as the university is planning to do with its new army of iPhones, Christian said some faculty members were planning on making use of the newly adopted technology in their classrooms."

Educational Uses of Facebook: That heading is for just one section of this excellent Wiki about Facebook at LTC (Learning Technologies Center). Ignatia Webs calls it "the superb wiki of George Siemens on Facebook and its benefits as a social network service. This wiki was one of the results of a workshop he did on facebook at the University of Manitoba. The wiki gives a nice overview of when which social network was started. After that he zooms into Facebook with a good analyses on pro's and cons if you want to use it in a corporate or other environment for educational reasons."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Powerpoint to video: AVI, MP4, WMV, MPEG

On request via a comment to yesterday's post about converting Powerpoint, here's an application that converts Powerpoint to video. Wondershare's application
"...can convert the dynamic PowerPoint presentation to real video show that can be run unattendedly with continuous loops ... an all-in-one PowerPoint to video converter. It can convert PowerPoint presentations to almost all popular video formats such as MPEG-1,MPEG-2, AVI, MP4, WMV, MOV, 3GP. Ideal for trade show, digital signature, in-store displays and ready for video podcast. Benefits of converting PowerPoint slide show to video with PPT to Video: ready for burning to DVD; upload PowerPoint to YouTube; enjoy PowerPoint on iPod; view slides without PowerPoint."

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

PowerPoint to Flash

Seems this is becoming a popular way to put PPT presentations online. Here are a few applications (I'm not endorsing, just listing; haven't tried anything but Impatica.)

Wondershare PPT2Flash Professional: "PPT2Flash Professional converts PowerPoint to Flash with great accuracy through PowerPoint 2000 to 2007. With this PowerPoint to Flash conversion tool, presenters can preserve and reproduce important elements of their PowerPoint slides, such as animations, transitions, textboxes, bullets, formatting, pictures, background, sound, movie, WordArt, AutoShapes, callouts, SmartArt, and even slide master."

PresentationPro's PowerCONVERTER: "PowerCONVERTER accurately converts your PowerPoint presentation to Flash and retains all of your special effects, including: NEW Player format or Single file output; NEW Batch Mode Converts Multiple PowerPoints At Once; Narration & Continuous Audio; Inserted Video & Flash; Entrance & Exit Animations; Transitions; Hyperlinks; Auto Advance or On Click. PLUS you will have all the benefits of Flash: Easy distribution on the Web or CD-ROM; Greatly reduced file size; Stream the presentation with Audio and Video; A secure and tamper proof format; Single File output option for easy management; Viewing Capabilities with or without Player."

Impatica for PowerPoint: "...simply converts the PowerPoint file into a compressed format that is optimized for streaming over the Internet. The Impatica file is typically 95% smaller than the PowerPoint HTML files...supports most of the features of PowerPoint, including text, graphics, transitions, animation effects and, of course, narration." A reviewer says: "The good: A supremely simple packing tool for PowerPoint presentations.he bad: Too pricey for casual users."

FlashDemo's Converter: Costs a little less than most other professional converters. "Create professional-look flash presentations and e-learning courses with PowerPoint knowledge. Retain the original animations, slide transitions, timings, callouts. Preserve narration, sound, animation sound effects. Create Flash movie in extremely reduced file size. Ideal for web distribution. Compatible with PowerPoint 2007® and Windows Vista®. Extreme fast Conversion speed and easy-to-use."

Convert using Free applications: Marshall Feldman's forum post, describing a process for converting PPT to flash using a series of free applications.

OpenOffice's Impress: If you don't use a lot of fancy graphics in your ppt. presentations, here is an alternative that may work for you and it's free: Impress, like PowerPoint, will allow you to export a presentation as a single flash file that works much more smoothly than the multislide plus html file that the other programs create. [quoting Daniel Rubin's discussion posting.]

Robin Good's PowerPoint to Flash Conversion Tools - Mini-Guide, Part 1: When you get to the page, you don't immediately see the list of conversion tools or the Guide; googleAds are the biggest font. But look in the narrow grey-toned column for the Guide's Table of Contents. You can't tell by looking, but each item is a link. It's an extensive guide.

Once you have a Flash file, you have to know how to put it into a webpage. Here's one tutorial, FLASH: embedding Flash, explained, written December 31/07. "There seems to be a lot of confusion about the code needed to properly embed Flash objects within a website: it's the most frequently asked question at this site's forum. The rise of social networking sites like Myspace (who filter lots of codes) and the Eolas patent enforcement have thrown quite some confusion into the mix. In this tutorial, I'll shortly align the best options to embed Flash."

Quiz Maker

Wondershare QuizCreator - Create Online Quiz, Quiz Creator, Make Flash quiz, Quiz Software, Online Assessment.

"...enables users to easily create interactive Flash-based quizzes, tests and assessments in minutes without the need for difficult programming. Users can make Flash-based quizzes from 9 question types, with images, screenshots, sounds, narrations and Flash movies integrated, and then publish Flash quizzes to Web or AICC/SCORM compliant LMS systems. QuizCreator supports customizing quiz player templates, setting feedback based on takers' responses, and tracking test results online with Quiz Management System (QMS)." [description from William Peterson, Senior E-Learning Analyst]

Phrases: a reference/resource site

The meanings and origins of sayings and phrases
Phrase thesaurus
List of sayings
Idioms: definitions, examples, origins, dictionary, meanings

As well as an alphabetized index and a search engine, they're categorized under headings like Shakespeare's sayings, biblical, nautical, proverbs, euphemisms, the body, nonsense/fallacies, etc. There's also a discussion forum, a Phrases Thesaurus (kewl idea!), phrase quizzes, most-popular phrase links, 'a phrase a week'. If you're into words and phrases, this is a fun site!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Effective Practices | Sloan-C

Sloan-C's Effective Practices site is worth checking out.
"To help make quality online education accessible and affordable for anyone, anywhere, at any time, the Sloan-C community shares techniques, strategies, and practices in online education that have worked for them. All effective practices are peer reviewed to both insure quality and to give submitters some documentation for tenure and promotion files."
They've built some good search categories for the site:
  • Search by Pillar allows you to search by the five Sloan-C pillars, the building blocks of quality online education – learning effectiveness, scale, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction – and/or subcategories within them.
  • Search by Context allows you to search by your perspectives (roles) in online learning, organizational type, or subject area domain, as well as by special cases of online learning (such as online collaboration, or large class size), and/or by subcategories within these.
  • Search by Technology allows you to search by particular technology categories – audio, video, synchronous, asynchronous, mobile, virtual, and digital resources – and/or by subcategories within them.
  • What's New returns the most recent effective practices added to the site.
  • Introduction to Second Life for Educators

    The Sloan Consortium has a few good upcoming workshops. This December 2008 workshop is just one of them.
    "Throughout this workshop participants will learn the basics of Second Life, and integrate learning theories in the use of virtual worlds. Participants will be encouraged to create activities that are student-centered and maximize the real potential of virtual worlds. A primary goal of the workshop is to get educators thinking about their classes and how the tools used in Second Life can be personalized for the learning environments that they create. The workshop will explore examples of good teaching in Second Life and move beyond PowerPoint, lecture, and passive learning. Participants will make use of asynchronous discussions, multimedia materials, reading assignments and live, interactive class sessions to collaborate, learn, and expand the range of instructional possibilities that are available to students. Registration will open soon."

    Wednesday, August 13, 2008

    "...a leading online resource for current teachers, and aspiring education students and student teachers."

    My title link is to their library of Teaching Resources & Articles. Most of those are about teacher training and teaching career resources.

    But also check out their blog, chock full of tips-n-tricks, tutorials, and more. For example, here's a list of titles in the August archives (so far):
  • 100 Awesome Classroom Videos to Learn New Teaching Techniques
  • 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers
  • 100+ Motivational Techniques to Take Learning to the Next Level
  • 101 Ways to Cope with Teaching Stress
  • 50 Ways to Use Wikis for a More Collaborative and Interactive Classroom

    And for you Blackboard users:
    The Ultimate Guide to BlackBoard: 100 Tips & Tutorials
  • Wednesday, August 06, 2008

    National Film Board of Canada - films now online!

    "We're opening our vaults! We have 70 years worth of groundbreaking documentaries and cutting-edge animated films and we're putting them on as fast as we can. These films are accessible to all Canadians and free of charge for home viewing. So far, you can watch over 300 films, trailers and clips; new releases and forgotten gems — available in three speeds (56k, 356k and 1000k)...We're adding new films, clips and trailers every week - so visit often. To keep posted on all the latest news, subscribe to our weekly newsletter, read our RSS feed or check out our blog."

    Urban Dictionary

    If you can't find the word anywhere else it might be in this one. Look up street lingo: words, images, sounds. Time magazine named it one of the 50 best websites of 2008. Here's their self-definition (on Facebook):
    "I am a dictionary with over a million definitions you wrote. I stand for free speech and having a good time. urban dictionary started in 1999 as a parody of, with definitions written by the people. in the last 7 years, people have written more than 2,000,000 definitions...wikipedia says it well: 'urban dictionary allows for many truths, rather than an authoritative guide.'"