Jennifer Maddrell's blog

Indiana University: Center for Reseach on Learning and Technology

The Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT) at Indiana University's School of Education provides some great resources, research and publications including video presentations, journal articles and papers, that focus on teaching, learning and technology. One long running CRLT project, directed by Professor Thomas Duffy, is the Learning to Teach with Technology Studio (LTTS). The LTTS provides online teacher professional development courses that focus on integrating technology in the classroom. Some LTTS classes can be applied as graduate credit. Good stuff!

Meebome Update: I had my first chat with a visitor!!

I had my first meebome chat with a visitor.  I was working away at my computer when I heard the familiar meebo ping that someone wants to chat and there was a site guest with my first meebome "hi" - what a fun surprise!  Since it is anonymous, I doubt he / she will care, so here is the "transcript" of our conversation in which my guest was ever so kind!!

[08:06] meeboguest615116: hi
[08:06] badgerjen01: OH! this is so cool! I have never tried this!
[08:07] meeboguest615116: who are you ??

Effective Writing and Presentation for Instruction

My new textbooks have started to roll in and I am getting really excited about digging into the new semester! I flipped through the texts for my Effective Writing in Instructional Technology course. The books hit on all the "common sense" factors that often are lost in the excitement of jazzing up a Power Point presentation and loading up the page with the cutest cut and paste clip art. The citations for the books (and links to Amazon.com) are listed below. The Handbook brings the writer back to three main points - Make the content 1) Easy to Use, 2) Easy to Understand and 3) Easy to Find. Again, all common sense points, but not so easy to execute. In addition, I highly recommend the Presentation Zen blog in which Garr Reynold's covers "issues related to professional presentation design." He has a wonderful way of dissecting why some presentation techniques work and others don't. I also follow the Creating Passionate Users blog written by authors from Head First books, an O'Reilly series, who often cover topics related to how people process and respond to messages in writing and presentations. Cool stuff.

Kostelnick, C & Roberts, D.D. (1998). Designing visual language: Strategies for professional communicators. Boston: Allyn and Bacon. ISBN: 0-205-20022-2

Meebome IM Widget Works Great!

As I mentioned in a prior post, meebo is my IM client of choice. I had trouble at first installing the meebo me widget, but today I no problem getting it up and running on my left sidebar (check it out) and it is working great! I can tell within meebo.com if someone is on my site and I can send the "visitor" a quick IM. Conversely, the "visitor" can see if I'm online and send me an IM from my site. How cools is that?! However, I wonder if it is weird if you are toodling around on someone's site and they bust in with a "Howdy!" That may be a bit forward if you are a stranger just passing through. I guess I'll have to ask when I "meebo" my first meebome visitor!

Mobile Internet Usage Report

Telephia recently released a report on mobile Internet usage. While the subscriber rate is increasing, the access and experience still lags far behind Internet browsing via the computer. According to their research, 34.6m mobile subscribers (presumably just in Europe, US and Canada?) accessed the Internet on their mobile device in June 2006 - up about 6 percent from January 2006 according to a PC World analysis of the Telephia report. Sites geared to quick hit lookup searches for e-mail, weather, maps and sports stats dominate the Top 10 visited sites during the month, including sites that have done a good job of optimizing their content and display for the mobile browser:

iTunes Handles Podcast .pdf File Enclosers - Who Knew?

Playing around with iTunes podcasts today, I noticed that iTunes recognizes .pdf file enclosures in podcasts and allows you to add .pdf files to your iTunes Library. I guess this may be old news to some, but it was news to me. Cool idea for distributing class bulletins and notes, turning in assignments, responding to peer reviews, etc. I attached a .pdf file here just to test it out and I was able to download the .pdf file from within iTunes podcasts and then go back to it in the iTunes library for later viewing. I also double checked it on the Apple site and here is a list of iTunes supported file formats: .m4a, .mp3, .mov, .mp4, .m4v, and .pdf.

Bloglines: Turns out to be an awesome Mobile Device RSS Reader, too

I have tried what seems like a million RSS aggregators and keep coming back to Bloglines. It has proven to be an efficient web based solution when I'm on my laptop (that I can also access from any computer when I'm away from home), but it is by far the best option I have come across for use on my mobile device (Cingular 8125). The content is formatted perfectly for reading on the small mobile browser screen and it loads extremely fast. I have hundreds of feeds in various categories in Bloglines, yet I can load updated feed content in a matter of seconds - far faster than when I log into my Google or Yahoo accounts on my mobile browser.

Yippie!! Writely.com is Back in Business

Thanks for the heads up from Nancy White at Full Circle OIB - Writely is back! One of my IU group's gave Zohowriter.com a try when it wasn't clear what was happening with Writely after Google gobbled it up, but I found that I prefer the functionality I was excited about the first time I wrote about Writely. Also, we ran into a lot of bugs and errors with Zoho when attempting to set up collaborators. I guess we weren't alone as Writely "outscores" the competition in a recent CNET.com article - against competitors that I have mentioned here (Zoho and ThinkFree) and one I hadn't stumbled upon (Glide). Glad to see that Writely is still free and once again accepting new members! Here is a quick run down of the key features of Writely:

Technorati - Blog Claim

I'm not sure the purpose, but I am "claiming" my blog in Technorati!

Technorati Profile

Blackboard to Sakai: No plans to challenge open source projects on patent

As noted in my post last night, the Software Freedom Law Center (SFLC) was retained by Sakai to evaluate and advise on the Blackboard patent. This morning, Inside Higher Ed ran a post containing responses from Blackboard's general counsel, Matthew Small, about Sakai retaining the SFLC, as well as Blackboard's general desire to work with (and not challenge) open source projects. (UPDATE: For the counter points to the IHE article, make sure to read the recently added comments at the end that bring the focus back to a challenge of the legitimacy of the patent versus if / when BB will challenge open source projects and users on the patent.) From excerpts in the IHE post:

Sakai Engages Law Center to Evaluate Blackboard Patent

The NOSE points to today's news release from Sakai announcing that the Sakai Foundation has retained the Software Freedom Law Center to evaluate and "advise on legal matters" regarding the Blackboard patent.  Indiana University runs Sakai (OnCourse) for my online Master's program, so I will have a bird's eye view as this plays out.  The Foundation puts the skunk on the table by stating in the release:

Camtasia

I downloaded a trial version of Camtasia and will be doing some side by side comparisons to the Windows Media Encoder. Clearly, Camtasia wins early points for ease of use in a bundled software package. The WM encoder simply captures the file and saves it in .wmv. Then, you have to figure out what to do with it (edit it, convert it, etc) all on your own. In a few minutes, I downloaded the Camtasia software, recorded a few second screen cast, saved it in a flash format and uploaded it to my server for your viewing enjoyment :)

Windows Media Encoder

Today, I am testing out the (free) Windows Media Encoder as a means of capturing video and audio on my computer screen (kind of a poor woman's Camtasia). Yes, it is Windows only. Overall, the learning curve to get WM encoder going was not too bad. For whatever reason, Microsoft is gearing the software solely to "professionals", but I think they are missing a large audience who would like a down and dirty way to capture video by labeling it a "professional" product. There is still a huge mountain to climb to perfect the quality, but I was able to "produce" this 3 minute first attempt in less than an hour. I am also playing around with ways to host the video. I uploaded my first attempt (in .wmv format) to Google video, YouTube and my site's server. At first blush, the Google video and YouTube options are way to small to read the screen capture. However, it took all of 30 seconds to upload and embed in a blog post, so I will keep that in mind for quick projects that don't require detailed video. Here is a link to the file that I uploaded on my web server. Not bad, but I'm going to tinker around with ways to view from other web based players.

video test: YouTube

YouTube was down for a bit today validating the number one reason why I won't put important "stuff" on free third party sides - better for just the "fun" stuff. Therefore, my YouTube video won't appear here for now.

podcast test: in drupal

Well, I guess my problem with drupal earlier today was a stupid one ... I put spaces in my file name and drupal gagged on it. So, I took out the spaces and away we go! My blog feed also works in iTunes, so I wonder why you need the audio module? Just a "fancier" player maybe?

Download Audio

podcast test: audacity and odeo

It is day one of my "summer" break between the summer and fall terms at IU, so I'm going into full geek mode to try out both some old school and new school free podcasting tools. Today, I dusted off Audacity and created a quick little ditty. My plan was to come up with a quick, painless and (as always) free way to record and upload audio into my Drupal site as a podcast and test to see if it could be read in iTunes using the RSS feed generated by my site. While I have iLife for my Mac, that doesn't count - not free! Fortunately (or unfortunately - however you look at it), things didn't quite work out the way I had planned. Here are the crazy paths I took this afternoon to create and then finally upload some audio (see more below):

online learning in action - check it out!

Please take a minute and check out the site TheWorldIsNotFlat.com. I am enthralled by it because it is:

  • Drupal based (with a tricked out design by Rain City Studios)
  • created by believers in Social Design for the Web
  • August and my first day of summer "vacation"
  • inspiration for the travel and blog about it aspirations that I have been kicking around with my husband
  • using free social networking and experience sharing tools for blog posts, pictures and video
  • demonstrating a wonderful way to learn and share via the Internet - online learning in action!!!

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e-learning 2.0 from Read / Write Web

Just pointing to an interesting take on e-learning 2.0 from the Read / Write Web site.

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Sony mylo: What's the market for a $350 IM toy with no phone and wi-fi only Internet?

The buzz today is that Sony is ready to introduce the new $350 mylo (short for my life online), a wi-fi enabled "broadband communicator" that doesn't have a cell phone (hence, no cell carrier Internet access). While the lack of a phone avoids the relatively high monthly data plans from a cell carrier, it would seem to severely limit where you can use this device (and the mobile VOIP), as well as the number of consumers who would be interested in buying it. Also, it is no iPod replacement with only 4GB of storage available with the optional (i.e. additional cost) flash memory. As I have reviewed in prior posts, I have a Cingular 8125 that does everything the $350 mylo will do, plus it is a phone and I can access the Internet via wi-fi or the Cingular wireless network (where I do 99% of my Internet surfing from the device). I guess the target market for the mylo is kids using wi-fi access at home, a wi-fi hot spot (usually for a fee), or school. However, high schools won't likely allow its use, will they? And how many college kids will want to tote around a cell phone, an iPod and the mylo. At $350 a pop and an anchor tying the device to a wi-fi network, I don't see it competing with the other popular IM "communicators" like the Sidekick 3 which doesn't have wi-fi access, but has a cell phone and can access the Internet via the $39 / month (double checked t-mobile website and verified data pricing when purchased with phone package as noted in post in comments - thanks!) $20/ month t-mobile Sidekick unlimited data package.

Blackboard blogs a "message" of clarity to client "community"

Similar to the letter CEO Michael Chasen sent to EdTech Talk, a "message" to the client "community" was released on the Blackboard Blog today. Apparently, the crush of criticism by edubloggers is "creating confusion for many people" (and maybe an Excedrin sized headache for Blackboard?) In the "message" of clarity, Chasen notes that:

"Some of the outside commentary about the patent misrepresents the scope of the patent and appears to be creating confusion for many people. The Blackboard CMS patent covers only specific features and functionality contained in the Blackboard system that were developed by the Blackboard team. We certainly did not invent e-learning or course management systems, and I am personally embarrassed that this is what some people thought Blackboard was claiming."

Unfortunately, Chasen did little to clarify how Blackboard narrows the scope of the "specific features and functionality" in what he refers to in the memo as the "Blackboard CMS patent". Maybe the "confusion" comes in the patent's Abstract which could be a textbook definition of a course management system:

Blackboard Patent and DOPA on EdTechTalk #58

The EdTechTalk live webcast #58 on the Blackboard patent and DOPA issues just finished up and I encourage everyone to catch the recording once it is edited and uploaded. The shownotes include a letter from BlackBoard CEO, Michael Chasin submitted in response to EdTechTalk's request for a representative to appear on the show. Martin Dougiamas (from Moodle) joined the conversation to add his thoughts. In addition, a representative from Desire2Learn stopped by to reiterate the company's plans to aggressively fight the Blackboard patent suit.

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meebo me: IM Widget for your Personal Website

Since my post about meebo back in March, meebo has become my IM client of choice.  I even use it in my discussion group for one of my classes.  Web based means I can access it anywhere on any computer (on my Mac and PC) and with no downloads.  Best of all, it works will all of the main IMs. As an added bonus, it is just "cute" with a super clean interface it is very visually appealing.  Now the good folks at Meebo have come up with "meebo me", a Flash based widget to sit on your website. As the meebo folks describe it:

Windows Live Spaces - Better Late than Never?

Windows Live Spaces went "live" - here is my test space.  Maybe more than fashionably late with an update to MSN Spaces, it is a pretty good looking update none the less.  Part blog platform / part social networking site / part mini-CMS (with photo storage), my first glance didn't produce any a-has. Discoveryspaces.live.com displays the updated features. Overall, a solid catch-up effort, but in a space with a lot of similar competitors.

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Net Neutrality Status: Stevens Pushing a Quick Vote before Recess?

Cnet news.com and Rollcall.com (from summary in FreePress.net) report that Senator Stevens is pushing hard to the get the support he needs to get a rapid vote before the August 7 - September 4 recess - So, it may be time to say, SPEAK NOW OR FOREVER HOLD YOUR PEACE! Here is how things currently stack up - still a lot of undecideds it appears!

Online Learning World back to Blackboard: We ain't playin', either!

Wow. I grabbed some sleep last night and woke to see this inspiring piece from Steven Downes. Seems the online learning world has once again rallied (gosh, net neutrality, then DOPA and now the Blackboard patent) and is quickly getting its collective ducks in a row pulling together a historical "prior art" record (see links to wikis from Moodle and Wikipedia) which could be used when challenging the patent in an infringement suit. In addition, Ed Tech Talk #58 (live on Sunday, August 6th) will be dedicated to a discussion of DOPA and the patent issue.  The show notes indicate that they would like to "finish this show with a community response statement."  Who knew online learning could provide this much drama?

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Blackboard to Rest of Online Learning World: We ain't playin'

With DOPA and net neutrality taking up so much space, I was almost going to let this story pass. I mean, Blackboard couldn't really try to enforce a patent related to such a nebulous concept as technology relating to systems and methods involved in offering online education, could they? Well, they did - as seen in this copy of Blackboard's suit against rival Desire2Learn - linked from an article about the suit in the Inquirer.net.  And at warp speed. While the patent was issued back in January, the patent announcement and suit filing date in TX are one in the same - see, told you they ain't playin'. I guess the biggest question now is - "Who's next?" Sakai? Moodle?

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U.S. High Speed Internet Access Report

The latest FCC report on U.S. High Speed Internet Access was released on July 26th. The report notes that high speed connections to the Internet increased by 33% in 2005 to 50.2 million total high speed lines. Just over 85% of the high speed lines were serving residential end users. For the first time, the increase in DSL exceeded the increase in cable modem connections bringing the current distribution to: Cable 50.9%; DSL 40.5%; Other 8.6%.

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Behind the DOPA numbers . . .

The sponsors of Deleting Online Predators Act (DOPA) - House Bill HR 5319 cite a seemingly staggering statistic. Quoted directly in Findings section of the Act is the statistic from the United States Attorney General that "One in five children has been approached sexually on the Internet." It is right there in black and white printed in House Act HR 5319 RFS. Read any article about DOPA and this is one of the most frequently cited U.S. Department of Justice statistics and apparently key to the arguments in support of DOPA in the House. Stated on a recent ABC News report, the statistic was framed as, "One in five children is now approached by online predators." Make sure to come back to this ABC "quote" after you finish reading the rest of this post.

OpenAcademic Integrates Elgg, Drupal, Moodle and Mediawiki

Ok. How about we pretend for the moment that there is no threat to open Internet access or to social networking learning opportunities in public schools . . . why? Because there is a really cool social networking initiative that deserves our attention over at OpenAcademic.org. The OpenAcademic project launch was announced today with the goal of integrating Elgg, Drupal, Moodle and Mediawiki into a new open source online learning environment. The goal is to provide a broad offering of tools to support both informal learning options (e-portfolios and personal workspaces), as well as formal online course sites. As the project is just in the early development stage, we will have to wait to see a demo. However, the project's goal is to offer OpenAcademic for download and installation free of charge as an open source project.

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