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Three sets of tips for screencasting

August 12, 2014

laptop with microphoneScreencasting is making a video of the output from your computer screen, usually with narration. Screencasting is popular as a way to provide first exposure to new material for the purpose of “flipping” a class, but it has lots of applications:

  • Review or clarify a challenging concept,
  • Provide students with feedback,
  • Produce a skill tutorial,
  • Answer a frequently asked question, or
  • Demonstrate a website or procedure.

Relative few college instructors have experience with screencasting, so I thought it would be helpful to gather some tips and basic info. The the first two items are courtesy of ProfHacker.

Read on!

Use a tablet for paperless feedback in Sakai

August 11, 2014

My colleague, Kevin Abbott, has been experimenting with ways to use a tablet to mark up student work submitted in Sakai. Here’s a specific scenario we worked out for marking up PDF files in the Sakai drop box tool using iAnnotate PDF on an iPad.

Assigning students a TED-style talk

August 6, 2014

TEDTED is a group devoted to spreading ideas. Their national conferences and regional TEDx events are famous for offering short, powerful talks and posting them online. Several “TED Talks” have become presentation legends, including Jill Bolte Taylor’s “My stroke of insight.”

College faculty members are now assigning TED-style talks as student projects. Many folks understand that these are more than “really good presentations,” but not everyone knows the details. This article explains what makes a TED Talk special and provides advice on developing an assignment.

Read more…

EdPuzzle for interactive video assignments

July 25, 2014

EdPuzzleEdPuzzle Logo starts by having you pick an existing online video or uploading your own. Then they provide a simple clipping tool for selecting a section of the video. Now record audio notes and embed quiz questions. Finally, assign the video to a class and invite students to join by entering a unique code. EdPuzzle tracks which students work on the assignment and how they score. The teacher can see this information in the dashboard for their account. And the accounts are free – at least until it catches on – which I hope it does.

Watch a video & see an example

5 collaborative writing tools

July 23, 2014

collaborateAfter examining several tools used by researchers in colleges and universities, Christof Schöch of the University of Würzburg (Germany) came up with a recommended list of Five collaborative writing tools for academics. His article provides details, but here’s a quick summary:

  1. Google Docs – I you’re not already familiar, here’s a video and some help.
  2. Etherpad – a basic text editor. Use a public instance like the free one at or create your own server.
  3. Mediawiki – the software that runs Wikipedia. You’ll need a web host like iPage for this, or you can install it on a server.
  4. Penflip –  based on GitHub, a collaborative coding platform. Two problems it aims to solve are accessing previous versions and bringing parts of a project together. It’s free for public projects or you can pay for support and more space.
  5. FidusWriter – for academics who need to use citations and/or formulas. It focuses on the content rather than layout. Log into the test server or download and install the open source software.

I have used the first three quite a bit, and have recently settled on Google Docs as my own collaborative tool of choice. Penflip looks very interesting, though.

Weird Al’s musical grammar rant

July 21, 2014
tags: ,

Weird Al Yankovic has been a musical humor icon for thirty years. Under his belt are three Grammys, six platinum records, thousands of live appearance, and fourteen studio albums. Yankovic’s latest release, Mandatory Fun, includes a hilarious grammar rant titled “Word Crimes”. If you don’t know about Weird Al, his tunes are generally based on real songs; this time it’s Robin Thicke’s controversial 2013 mega-hit “Blurred Lines“.

See the video and read more

Consider your academic brand

July 17, 2014

I follow Sidneyeve Matrix’ blog Cyberpop!, and she often writes about personal branding and social media. In the gorgeous slides below, Dr. Matrix provides some excellent tips and strategies to help academics mold the way they present themselves on the Internet.

Dr. Sidneyeve Matrix is an Associate Professor in the Department of Film and Media at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.


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