Friday, December 5, 2014

2014-12-05 Instructional Technology Newsletter

Instructional Technology  News and Useful Tips.
December 05, 2014

Upcoming Instructional Technology Events

Reading Day
Monday, December 08, 2014
8:30AM - 3:00PM
A. C. Buehler Library - Fishbowl
Instructional Technology will be a part of the Reading Day Technology Workshop sponsored by the Elmhurst College Library.  I will present two short workshops on the use of Padlet to help you connect with your students, and the use of Google Forms to provide sign-ups for things like appointments or project topics.

The Reading Day Workshops will be recorded, if all goes well.  Actually, I am trying out broadcasting them to a private audience with Google Hangouts On Air. If you want to try connecting to the event, send me email and I will add you to the invitation list.

- OR -

the private video will be available on YouTube and I will include the link in the next newsletter.

Blackboard Drop-In Sessions
December 8, 1-3pm
December 9, 6-8pm
December 10, 1-3pm
December 15, 10-12am
A. C. Buehler Library - Fishbowl

Receive one-on-one help with content migration and learning about new shells.  We will offer help with exporting, importing and archiving course content; making courses available or unavailable; enrolling and unenrolling co-instructors and saving the Grade Center in Excel.

There is no need to RSVP as the Drop-On session are first come, first served assistance in the Library Fishbowl.  Please plan to spend approximately 15 minutes per course to cycle through the export/import process.  Please bring a 2GB or larger flashdrive or have access to your preferred cloud storage.

There will be more Drop-In sessions in January.

News From Information Services

The Blackboard system is now loaded with all J-Term and Spring Term courses. An instructor change isn’t automatic. The change is made as soon as I am informed from either Registration and Records staff or other individuals on campus.
Student enrollment
Students will be enrolled into courses as listed below. Student add/drop statuses will be modified daily until the 10th day of the term. If you need students enrolled into a course sooner than the planned dates below, please contact me.
J-Term 2015: students will be enrolled the first week of December.
Spring Term 2015: students will be enrolled the second week of January.
Old Blackboard system
The old blackboard system will remain accessible until January 30th. The old system will be backed up, and all courses will be exported but unavailable to instructors. If you have content on the old Blackboard system that has either not been moved or will not be moved to the new system, it is strongly advised that you export a copy of the content and store the zip file either on your computer or a flash drive. If you need assistance with exporting your content, please use the link below for step-by-step instructions, contact your library liaison, or contact Linda Selvik at
Linda Selvik
Assoc. Director Technology Services

Instructional Technology News

Google Apps for Education
Google issued a couple of interesting updates for Google Docs this week.

Compatibility with Microsoft Office Formats
If you are a Google Doc user, you know that there is seldom a need to move outside of the Docs ecosystem.  But sometimes you need to send a document in a specific format, or perhaps someone sends a .doc file to you.  Google docs has had automatic conversion built into the system, both for uploading and downloading, for some time now.  This past week they have added new formats to the conversion possibilities.  This is the list of formats that Google Docs recognizes for upload and download conversions:
  • For documents: .doc (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .docx, .docm .dot, .dotx, .dotm, .html, plain text (.txt), .rtf, .odt
  • For spreadsheets: .xls (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .xlsx, .xlsm, .xlt, .xltx, .xltm .ods, .csv, .tsv, .txt, .tab
  • For presentations: .ppt (if newer than Microsoft® Office 95), .pptx, .pptm, .pps, .ppsx, .ppsm, .pot, .potx, .potm
  • For drawings: .wmf

Docs also supports uploading and editing MS Documents without conversion.  You need to be using the new Google Drive, and you need to have downloaded the Office Editing for Docs, Sheets & Slides Chrome extension.  I will have more on this in a future newsletter.

Image Editing in Google Docs - Coming soon to Elmhurst College
This week Google released an update to the Rapid Release track which allows some picture elements and attributes to be edited directly in Google Docs.  We are on a scheduled release track, so we should get the update in a couple of weeks.  We we do, you will be able to modify color, transparency, brightness and contrast right from within the enclosing Google Doc.


Handwriting for Evernote

Evernote is great for saving and cataloging, well, everything.  Tablets and phones are great for acquiring and accessing that “everything”.  But sometimes a photo or a voice note doesn’t do it.  And type can be tedious, you’d rather just write or draw a diagram like you can on a piece of paper.  

Evernote has been working to add this to the experience.  A while ago they bought Penultimate, widely considered the best “pencil” app on the i-devices.  It allowed you to just write and save in notebooks.  You could draw and take notes exactly as you do on paper, but have it stored automatically in the cloud.  

Penultimate on the i-devices was connected to Evernote in that the notebooks could be saved to your evernote account.  However, there was no similar capability on Android devices.  Earlier this year Evernote filled that gap by incorporating the Penultimate technology directly into the Android Evernote app.  When you create a new note in the Android app one of your options is “Handwriting”.  

This is not an attempt to provide handwriting recognition, the written notes are stored in their original format.  However, even though Evernote does not convert your handwriting to typed characters, it can search and match your handwritten documents.  

So, if you have Evernote on your Android, you already have this capability.  On your i-device, you can get if by installing the Penultimate app.

As a final note, I have never liked trying to write with my fingertip.  It is uncomfortable.  It uses different muscles.  So I have two styluses.  Because nearly all smartphones and tablets, including all i-devices, have capacitive touchscreens, you can’t get just any stylus.  You need to get one that, in some way, conducts or mimics the electrical properties of your finger.  These are almost always more expensive than you might think they should be.  My favorite is the Jot Pro from Adonit.  It is very comfortable to hold, with a brushed aluminum body and a soft-touch grip.  It also has a built in magnet so that it clamps to your iPad.  The only downside is that the pivoting plastic tip can pop off.  It comes with a couple of extras of which I still have one extra after 2 years.

Question of the Week

No one has asked me anything this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment