Monday, April 27, 2009

Skyping Guests into an ICN Room

How do YOU bring guests into your classroom?

I like to use
Skype to provide a live discussion with experts from around the nation. This is simple when your students share the same classroom as you. You just need to project your computer screen onto the wall so that your students can see your guest and engage in the exchange.

How do you do it if your students are distributed all over the state of Iowa? THEN it gets to be a bit of challenge. This means that we need to Skype our guest onto my computer and then video conference it to my students throughout the state. This is challenging but do-able.

Iowa is blessed with a video conferencing system entitled the Iowa Communication Network (ICN). This is a state-owned fiber-optic network that connects 744 broadcast-capable classrooms throughout the state. Beginning in 1992, the ICN has been providing full-motion video to schools, hospitals, National Guard armories and federal/state government offices. The ICN has been quite useful in providing distance education opportunities (our UNI Instructional Technology program has been offering a 2-year masters program since 1994.) Unfortunately, linking Skype into the system so that my distant students can interact with a visiting guest is not built into our broadcast rooms at UNI. But this doesn't mean that we can't do it. It just takes some ingenuity.
Above, you can see how I (not as glum as I look) created this interactive system. Here is how we did it:

Hooked my MacBook into the ICN system so that the it was broadcast throughout the ICN. This means that I have patched in my video and audio into the ICN system. This would allow my students to see and hear our guest (Dr. Yvonne Andres from Global School Network).

We wanted to enable Dr. Andres to see the students. There was no direct video link from my computer to the ICN video broadcasting so I needed to get creative. I arranged my hardware so that the web camera in my MacBook was staring into the output monitor. This allowed our guest to see what is being broadcast over the ICN. The only problem was that it was difficult for her to hear my students. I often had to repeat many of the questions.
  1. Although this is a little jerry-rigged, it allowed me to provide my students with an interaction with Dr. Andres that would never have been possible if we didn't have the technology of today.
What do you do to video link experts into you class? What do you use for video conferencing in a distance education situation?
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

50+ Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story

Looking for a way to tell a digital story online? Alan Levine's posting 50+ Web 2.0 Ways to tell a Story on his wiki, CogDogRoo , can help.

This site is full of tools, but most importantly, Alan shares a process for creating a story. Instead of just telling you to rush off and use a cool Web 2.0 tool to create a multimedia extravaganza, he reminds you that it's a process. "As Easy as 1-2-3"

1) Outline a Story Idea. It's important to get your ideas organized before you begin creating. This page is designed to help you structure your thoughts. It is filled with writing prompts. There are thematic links to Flickr to provide you with inspirational visuals. Multiple links are suggested to additional storytelling sites on the web.

Now you have your idea, it is time to get some media.

2) Find Some Media. Gotta have multimedia but the problem is that you have to worry about licensing and copyright if you want to share it on the web. That's where you use this page. It contains multiple multiple-media sources. Take your pick: Images, Audio, Visual . . . it's all there. He says that they are all "licensed or shared with permission to re-use." This is important so you should check the sites for their specific use policies just in case they have recently decided to change their policies so that they can make money on their products. =-/

Now . . . Let's Do IT!

3) Pick a Tool to Build Your Story - This is a goldmine! This is where he is keeping
a running list of presentation websites. These tools are divided into groups including Slideshows, Timeline Creators, Mixers, Comics, Collage, Mappers, Flickr Tools, Audio Tools, Video Tools, and Presentation Tools. This is a phenomonal collection showing everything from BubbleShare to OurStory to VoiceThread to Toondoo to Prezi. It is a plethora of possibilities.

The best part about Alan's work is that this is not just a list. He has used each of the tools to create the same story about his dog, Dominoe, so that you can compare the final products.

This wiki is a great resource for those of us who want to be creative. Since it's a wiki, he wants us to use the site to share our efforts in digital storytelling that we make using these Web 2.0 tools.

Thanks, Alan!


Readers: Have you used these tools? What did you do?
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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Creating Landmark Note Cards in Second Life

In Second Life you can return to a place of interest by making a Landmark and storing it in your Inventory. This make it easy for you but the problem is how to share these landmarks with others. You can just "drop" them on other avatars one at a time, but what if you have a number of locations that you want to share?

It is possible to create a HUD, but that takes too much programming. The easiest way is to create a note card. A note card is short document that you can create in SL. Once you have opened the note card, you just need to drag Landmarks from your Inventory to the note card.

I wanted to demonstrate this to my students so I used Jing to create a 4:45 video. You can see it in the upper left corner. I had my avatar turn to face the camera so it looked like he was talking while I was explaining it. It was pretty cool because his lips were moving and arms "cutting the air thusly . . . " as I spoke.

Click here to see Dr. Z's Video

If you want to learn how to make the cards, just watch the video.

I have had a few people ask me about how to animate my avatar so it would move as I spoke. Here are some notes about how to do that:

Lip Synching: This is an option on your SL Advanced menu. If you don't find this in your SL menu, you need to use some keystrokes to turn it on (Mac: Control-Alt-Shift-D / Windows: Control-Alt-D) Now, you need to enable the Lip Sync (Advanced>Character>Enable Lip Sync (beta)

Speech Gestures: Speech gestures should be in a folder in your Inventory. If you can't find them, you will have to search for some - I don't know where you can find them right now. Once you have them, you can right click on any of the gestures to unveil a menu that will allow you to activate or deactivate the gesture. The names aren't too descriptive so you will just have to mix and match until you like what you see.

I hope this is helpful. Contact me if you have any ideas or know where to get the Speech Gestures.

Also see: Tools for Video Authoring


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Story of Stuff

Here is an interesting video about using STUFF. Annie Leonard presents a 20-minute expose about the connections between environmental and social issues. This is a blunt realistic description of how our out-of-control consumption cycle is destroying our environment and globe.

Ms. Leonard uses an effective integration of animation and real world statistics to explain the integration of the 5 stages of Extraction, Production, Distribution, Consumption and Disposal.

I learned a great deal watching this video. I knew something about the consumption cycle and am an avid recycler. This video demonstrated the importance of finding and using a new way to consume, preserve, conserve and recycle. Did you know that 99% of the things we purchase are trashed in 6 months.

Annie Leonard is an American critic of international trade, development international sustainability and environmental health issues. Her mission is to make us aware of the life-cycle of goods and services.The Story of Stuff
is an important video for you AND your students to view. It really makes you think about what you do and how you do it.

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More Twitter Satire and Spoofs

What would happen if Shakespeare lived today? State of the Union by Carl Moore contemplates that.

Monday, April 13, 2009

How to Take a Good Photograph

I was just reading Rushton Hurley's newsletter when I found a link to Amber Blow's trilogy of videos about How to Take a Good Photograph. These videos involve various aspects for taking good photographs. She discusses long shots, close ups, rule of thirds, filling the frame and many other important considerations in photography.

This is by no means a "Kodak Production", but it covers a number of the primary considerations in photography and demonstrates how we can create informative tutorials with quality photos and ample planning. These videos appear to be the product of a class project at the University of Regina. They are worth a look.

More in this series: Part 2 and Part 3

Rushton has posted these videos on his Next Vista for Learning website. Check it out!!!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Embedding Google Presentation in Your Blog

One of the greatest features of Google Presentation is that it can be shared with others. You can embed the presentation in a blog like I did below:

You can also access this Google Presentation through this URL.

When you access a Google Presentation in this way, you can actually become 100% engaged in the presentation because you can add your ideas through the chat window. This requires you to sign-in with your Google account, but you become part of the discussion.
I have borrowed instructions in how to do this from the Tech Tips Tuesday blog.

Here's how it works:

  1. Go to
  2. Upload you PowerPoint file to Google Presentations (up to 10MB from your computer)
  3. Warning: Not all formatting features from Design Templates will always be preserved and there is NO animation.
  4. When you publish your presentation to the Internet anyone will be able to access and view it online. They will also be able to join the presentation online and chat with others also viewing the presentation. Your document will be assigned a unique address (URL) on To do this go to Share button (upper right of screen) and choose Publish.
  5. Click on the published link and this will open up your PowerPoint online and a chat window will appear on the right side of the screen.
  6. In order for audience members to discuss the presentation, they will need to log into their Google account so their name will appear in the chat window.
  7. Google Presentations also provides you with the embed code if you want to place your Google presentation in a webpage, blog or wiki.
  8. Click HERE to view a sample presentation and its chat window.

Perhaps the best part of this using this Presentation program is that you can have multiple people working on it simultaneously. This means that you and a colleague can be in separate rooms in separate cities in separate countries working on different pages of the same presentation. I especially enjoy doing this while using Skype or Google Chat to verbally discuss what we are doing (and make funny faces at my friend while we work.)

What sort of experiences have you had with Google Presentation?


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Twitter Satire and Spoofs

I just found some Twitter comedy that I wanted to share with you.

Twouble with Twitter
is a short video that takes a sane look at us insane twitterers.

This is a video about a new offshoot of
Twitter called Flutter.

It is Nano-blogging.


Do you have any other suggestions for Twitter comedy?

Check out the Official Twitter song, "You're No One If You're Not on Twitter"

Here's a song from Ben Walker that YouTube featured on its front page, so it has 185,711 views at last count. My favorite part is when he says "If you haven't been bookmarked, retweeted and blogged . . . you might as well have not existed."


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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Habitudes with Angela Maiers is a GREAT Success!!!!

I told you that Angela Maiers was going to share her work on Habitudes tonight at the University of Northern Iowa. It was FANTASTIC!!!!

I must admit that I don't have time to reflect on it right now, but Rob Galloway has posted all of the links to the streamed videos and archived chats.  I will add my opinions about this Habitudes experience later in the week.


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