Tag Archives: educational technology

Cloud Computing in Higher Education: Launch of IU SharePoint

IU SharePoint is a web application platform originally developed by Microsoft in 2001. During the summer of 2011, University Information Technology Services (UITS) at Indiana University integrated SharePoint into the Indiana University environment. SharePoint provides a set of key features for team collaboration and content management. IU faculty, staff and graduate students are provided with 20 GB space to store files in MySites (think about it as the current o-drive). While some features require some time to learn, many aspects that IU SharePoint offers seems to be promising. Here are the some of the main functions:

1. Collaboration and Project Management

When you are involved in a team project, you might have realized that even group e-mails are a cumbersome method of sharing information. At present, rapid advancement of information technology such as mobile devices allows for collaboration anywhere at any time. SharePoint allows users within organizations to collaborate and share work within a commonly accessed Web-site framework. Graduate student, faculty, and staff can create personal sites as private work places where a number of individuals come together to engage in a group work. Group members are not only able to share their documents and files but also have an active collaboration through group discussion forums. For example, instructors, who supervise a course with sections taught by graduate assistants, could repeatedly use the same resources stored on MySite. Therefore, archiving resources on MySite enables to save a large amount of time in communicating with graduate assistant and locating course-related files from a hard drive. In addition, built-in features such as calendar and announcement tools are also useful tools to update and remind necessary information in a timely manner. In the case of Twynham School, a comprehensive school in   England, students have developed increasing sophistication in how they interact and share information via forum collaboration. Although teachers initiate the discussions, the vast majority of discussions are taking place between students and this form of collaboration is growing through SharePoint forums. (For more information http://sharepointineducation.com/student-collaboration-in-sharepoint-forums)

2. Social Networking and Individual Space for Education

One of the biggest aspects in today’s computing environment is the influence of social networking, and its influences for educational uses. With that said, IU SharePoint is also current with the cyber social movement and networking. SharePoint MySites is quite straightforward and self-explanatory.

In Overview, a quick snapshot of one’s social contents is shown along with basic profile data, one’s picture and presence information linking back to Microsoft Lync (formerly MS Office Communicator).

  • Under the Organization, a bigger organization chart is displayed with more detailed information than in the Overview. It also shows an organizational hierarchy including your peers in parallel and your superiors above you. Colleagues and tagged notes are shown in the other categories as well as a distribution lists for to which one belongs.
  • Creating Blogs is also beneficial to keep others informed. SharePoint provides rich blogging functionality for both internal and external purposes. This blogging functionality provides all the features you’d expect, with blog creation and management, blog posting, support for multiple authors, and more.  Instructors could benefit from blogging activity, for example, one might create a course-specific blog and encourage students to use it for reflective journaling. By articulating students’ thoughts and opinions without strong restrictions, students could reflect on what they learned during a class activity or project which would lead to sharing ideas based on one’s own practice.
  • Furthermore, SharePoint provides users traditional wikis along with wiki-specific web parts for customizing the experience. Wiki allows collaborating with a specific group of peers and, therefore, is more private than blogs.

In conclusion, SharePoint provides users with plenty of options for social networking, web-portal function as it collects information from diverse sources on a central page, and content management tool for collaboration. Even though some features might not be intuitive for those new to SharePoint, anyone who is familiar with the current services such as Oncourse (IU’s Course Management System), Facebook, or Microsoft Outlook should feel comfortable with using these tools. As we are moving towards the Cloud Computing Age, we see some great potential in SharePoint for educational use. (For more information about IU SharePoint: https://www.sharepoint.iu.edu IU authentication required)

Images are from:

Advertisements

Turnitin.com announces support for 31 languages


This Message was recently sent by Turnitin.com:

We are pleased to announce Turnitin Global with vastly IMPROVED and EXPANDED handling of non-English languages!Turnitin Global now handles text correctly in 31 languages in addition to English:

Arabic, Catalan, Chinese (simplified and traditional), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian (Bokmal, Nynorsk), Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish.

This means that papers submitted via global.turnitin.com will generate an Originality Report with no question marks or odd character strings replacing “special” characters.

This also means we are indexing many additional websites that contain those languages against which we compare submitted papers.

To try this capability, you must sign in through global.turnitin.com (using your regular login information). Anything that is created or submitted through global.turnitin.com will also be available in www.turnitin.com (albeit with the current service’s text display limitations).

By the end of October, this capability will be fully operational for all Turnitin users without having to use global.turnitin.com.

Note that while we are in the process of translating the Turnitin interface into many languages, it has not yet been translated to each of the above languages. Watch for additional announcements.

Note also that we do not translate the paper that is submitted in any way (e.g. we don’t translate it to English and try to find more matches).

Please feel free to contact the Turnitin helpdesk if you have any additional questions regarding Turnitin Global.

Evaluation of Web-based Forum Systems

bboard image
I’ve recently completed an extensive evaluation of web-based forum / bulletin board systems (mostly open source) for a particular consulting project and I wanted to post the results here so I would remember.

We had the following important requirements for the project:

  1. Individual, password-protected log-ins (for reporting and privacy)
  2. Differentiated user roles (e.g., administrators who can monitor and alter, if need be, student posts)
  3. User-friendly search/sort function (so users can find discussions easily)
  4. Simple, visually stimulating front page (ideally with no more than 5
    links* that are associated with visual images/icons) 
  5. Polls that can be disaggregated by site (students vote “Yes,” “No,” or “Undecided” and have to indicate where they are from to vote)
  6. Threaded discussions, organized by issue (e.g., freedom of expression, cyberbullying, violent video games)
  7. Forums organized by partnership
  8. Site coordinator forum, organized by site
  9. Teacher forum, organized by site
  10. Ability to turn off private messaging and internal email
  11. Ability to register students under the same (1 valid) email address
  12. Option of having closed registration process, or possibly open registration

There were three systems that elevated to the top: phpBB, SMF, and vBulletin. All are written in PHP/MySQL and run on *nix/apache. The first two (phpBB and SMF) are open source projects and are available for free, where vBulletin charges approx. $160 for a lifetime license. They are all very solid full-featured systems, and the interfaces and options were very similar. Although we slightly preferred interface of phpBB, SMF and vBulletin fit more of the unique registration requirements we had for the project. It was a very close call between vBulletin and SMF.

vBulletin has every feature required, including the ability to view (from the admin interface) individual responses of polls, and the unique registration options. However the downside is the initial cost of the software, and in education there is usually not a lot of money.

SMF had almost every feature as vBulletin almost won out except for the inability to use the same email for multiple registrations, and the inability to view individual responses on polls.

In the end, we would highly recommended any of the three systems as a top notch web-based forum tool! Depending on the particular needs, SMF and vBulletin have a bit more fine tuning available in their administrative preferences and general features.

Teach with Tech Podcast: Episode 17

On Thursday I was delighted to join Chris Essex on his Teach with Tech podcast as a guest commentator. In the podcast we discuss the recent MacWorld Expo conference that Chris attended, and focus on the iPhone and AppleTV, which were announced at the keynote. We also talk about how these new technologies might be used by classroom teachers and higher ed faculty.

We also discussed some of our new favorite software packages, some of which we already use, and some that Chris discovered while attending Macworld Expo.

  • Toon Boom, Mac/Windows/Linux animation and storyboard software
  • Toast 8 Titanium, Mac disc-burning software
  • Slick Transitions & Effects, Mac special effect plugins for iMovie
  • Civilization IV, a Mac/Windows history/politics simulation game
  • Sims 2, a Mac/Windows people simulation game
  • SubEthaEdit, a Mac text editor with synchronous collaboration features
  • Profcast, a Mac program that allows you to convert your Powerpoint and Keynote presentations into screencasts/videocasts.

You can watch the full Macworld Expo Keynote by Steve Jobs.

Also, you are welcome to check out other Teach with Tech podcasts at: http://www.indiana.edu/~icy/podcast/.

Teach with Tech Podcast: Episode 17

On Thursday I was delighted to join Chris Essex on his Teach with Tech podcast as a guest commentator. In the podcast we discuss the recent MacWorld Expo conference that Chris attended, and focus on the iPhone and AppleTV, which were announced at the keynote. We also talk about how these new technologies might be used by classroom teachers and higher ed faculty.

We also discussed some of our new favorite software packages, some of which we already use, and some that Chris discovered while attending Macworld Expo.

  • Toon Boom, Mac/Windows/Linux animation and storyboard software
  • Toast 8 Titanium, Mac disc-burning software
  • Slick Transitions & Effects, Mac special effect plugins for iMovie
  • Civilization IV, a Mac/Windows history/politics simulation game
  • Sims 2, a Mac/Windows people simulation game
  • SubEthaEdit, a Mac text editor with synchronous collaboration features
  • Profcast, a Mac program that allows you to convert your Powerpoint and Keynote presentations into screencasts/videocasts.

You can watch the full Macworld Expo Keynote by Steve Jobs.

Also, you are welcome to check out other Teach with Tech podcasts at: http://www.indiana.edu/~icy/podcast/.

iTunes U @ Indiana University

Here is a heads up for students, faculty, AIs, and instructors at IU. According to a December IU press release, and an article in the Indiana Daily Student, UITS has signed an agreement with Apple, Inc. to bring iTunes U service to campus. Apparently UITS has been working with IU Creative Services on a podcasting portal, that will provide links to IU iTunes U, and other podcasting resource.

No other details about the agreement have yet emerged, but if you do have any questions about podcasting for instruction stop in and see us here at the Teaching & Learning Technologies Centers (TLTC). We can sit down with you and help figure out the best solutions for your instructional goals.

Our iPod audio recording test results

I’ve completed the results of my 30GB Video iPod recording tests. My results below:

Results for XtremeMac MicroMemo:
Device: 30GB Video iPod, fully charged battery
Recording Time: 97 minutes.
File: This resulted in a 893MB .wav file.

Note: recording stopped when the iPod actually ran out of battery and powered down. Luckily, the file did get saved without loss of data..

More testing to come…

We just received a 4GB (red) iPod Nano, and I plan to test recording time on it, with the MicroMemo, and the Belkin TuneTalk Stereo. I also plan to run a test on the 30GB Video iPod with the Belkin as well…