Saturday, March 7, 2015

2015-03-06 Instructional Technology Newsletter

Instructional Technology  News and Useful Tips.
March 6, 2015
In this issue: Upcoming workshop on screen recording and editing; Blackboard Rubrics problem; updates to the WeVideo online video editor; learn Gmail keyboard shortcuts painlessly; use and create online annotated maps.

Upcoming Instructional Technology Events

Instructional Technology Workshop - Screen Recording and Editing
Thursday, March 12, 2015
11:30 and 5:30
Fishbowl - A. C. Buehler Library

This workshop will cover several tools that allow you to capture parts of your desktop or record desktop activity.  We will also cover simple editing and uploading video using WeVideo.  This online video editor will be very handy for many other video projects as well. I have covered part of this topic before.  This will be different in its emphasis on the editing portion - both video (using WeVideo - see article below) and image editing.

News From Information Services

Blackboard Problem
Currently, Rubrics created in Blackboard fail to export. If a Rubric is exported to the Local Computer, Blackboard will report a fatal error and not export the rubric. Usually, the Export feature is used to move a rubric from one course to another. For example, once built in section 1 the Rubric is exported and then imported into section 2 that will use the same Rubric.

In this scenario, the workaround is to perform a Course Copy, from the first course to the second, that only includes Rubrics (i.e. only Rubrics is checked when performing the Course Copy).

Blackboard acknowledges that this is a known issue with their software, but there is no timeline for a fix.

Instructional Technology News

WeVideo Updates Their Interface
WeVideo was already an online tool that lets you perform professional quality video editing online.  In addition it supports collaboration in the video production, integrates back to your Google Drive, and, since it is online, your video work is available from all platforms in any location with internet access.  All of this makes it my favorite video editor.

This past week WeVideo made some major upgrades to the editor based on user requests which make it even better.  Among the changes are a rearrangement of some of the controls in the Storyboard mode.  This makes the controls more obvious and easier to get at while editing.  Also in Storyboard, they have made it possible to add the same transition to all clips simultaneously, thus allowing you to easily keep a unified feel to your video.

They have also made modifications to sound editing, making it easier to record voice-overs, and to “clip dropping”, allowing you to set the timing by frame number.  The latter change makes stop-motion animation much easier.

Finally, the biggest change was the combination of the Simple Timeline and Advanced Timeline  editors into a single, more powerful, Timeline editor.

Give it a try, or come to one of my Workshops this coming Thursday (see the first article above).  We will be using WeVideo to edit the screencasts.

Google Apps for Education (GAFE)

Chrome Extension to Help Learn Gmail Keyboard Shortcuts

Users of Google Apps (Gmail, Google Drive and Calendar) can navigate through most of the application capabilities using the keypad instead of the mouse.  In all of these applications, a list of keyboard shortcuts is available by typing “shift-?” (without a compose window open).   Often this is tedious, but in Gmail, especially, it can be very handy.  Being able to delete, archive and label messages, as well as composing and sending new messages without reaching for the mouse all the time is quite convenient.  

However, there are more than 80 keyboard shortcut commands, making for a daunting learning curve.  A Google Chrome extension makes this much easier.  Keyrocket (available in the Chrome Web Store for free) will cause a small box, showing the associated shortcut, to popup on your Gmail tab when you use the mouse to accomplish an action for which there is a shortcut.  This makes learning the shortcuts much easier, and it will show you which shortcuts are worth learning - the ones that are always popping up!


Using Online Annotated Maps to Bring a Subject to Life
Sometimes your class subject matter can be enhanced by adding in an interactive map, such as a discussion of a novel set in specific locations.  Other times, a map can be essential, such as in a segment on the recent measles outbreak.  A website, My Reading Mapped, created and maintained by George Stiller provides a large variety of such maps as well as instructions and suggestions for making your own (e.g. A Tale of Two Cities).  

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