Blackboard Tutorials, Helps, and Resources @BlackboardTutor Moving to the Next Level

Back in March 2009, I had the idea of beginning to aggregate and share the best tutorials, helps, and resources I found online, including resources from the NIU Teaching with Blackboard site that my colleagues and I develop and maintain. I went ahead and setup a free Twitter account @BlackboardTutor and using TwitterFeed, created several different automated actions whereby when I bookmarked a resource, it would automatically be tweeted.

first Tweet from @BlackboardTutor

After doing the initial setup, it was years before I would again log back into this Twitter account, as new tweets were automatically posted when Blackboard helps were bookmarked or shared online.

Since that time, what began initially as just a social media experiment has blossomed into a trusted resource, with currently nearly 1,900 followers to date. Desiring for this resource to continue to grow and benefit others in the Blackboard community, I approached Blackboard to see if it is a social media resource they would be willing to take over, and they gladly accepted. So, I’m pleased to report that moving forward, @BlackboardTutor will be moving to the next level as it will be more actively managed by Blackboard’s social media team. It is my hope that it will continue to be a great aggregator of newly available Blackboard support resources, tutorials, etc. that will benefit the entire Blackboard user community worldwide. Follow @BlackboardTutor and watch for many more support resources to come!

Presenting from iPad at BbWorld Using SlideShark

In my quest to go “laptop-less” at BbWorld, I plan to present from my iPad using the free SlideShark app. I’ve found SlideShark to be by far the simplest and most elegant solution for converting a PowerPoint to an iPad-native presentation for displaying.

first slide of PowerPoint presentation show on SlideShark app
First slide of presentation shown from iPad using SlideShark

Here’s how the service works in a nutshell. You sign-up for a free account and download the app onto your iPad. Then, when you have a PowerPoint presentation finished, you upload from your computer to your online account. Next, simply launch the Slideshark app on your iPad and after you’ve logged into your SlideShark account for the first time, you’ll see all your uploaded presentations. Tap the “Download” button to download any presentations you’ll be giving so that you have them stored locally on your iPad (in case you experience Wi-Fi issues). Displaying your presentation is then as simple as plugging your iPad into the projector and clicking the green “play” button.

If you’d like to ditch your laptop and simply present from your iPad, give SlideShark a try! Sign-up for free using this link and both you and I get some extra free storage! http://www.slideshark.com/r?r=356863

SlideShark app on iPad
SlideShark app open on my iPad, BbWorld presentations loaded

If you do plan to present from your iPad, remember your dongle đŸ™‚

Do you also use SlideShark? Or, perhaps you have found another approach for presenting PPT from iPad? Leave a comment and share your impressions of SlideShark and/or recommendations for other PowerPoint presentation alternatives.

Twitter and Informal Learning

Thanks to the post from Graham Attwell and successive mention by Nancy Rubin I came across the dissertation by Clint Lalond titled, The Twitter experience: The role of Twitter in the formation and maintenance of personal learning networks that at first glance (see the abstract below), is another article in support appears to provide insights into the support of Twitter in professional development.

Abstract

This qualitative phenomenological study involving in-depth interviews with seven educators in K-12 and higher education examines the role that the microblogging service Twitter plays in the formation and development of Personal Learning Networks (PLN) among educators. A double hermeneutic data analysis shows that Twitter plays a role in the formation and development of PLNs by allowing educators to; engage in consistent and sustained dialogue with their PLN, access the collective knowledge of their PLN, amplify and promote more complex thoughts and ideas to a large audience, and expand their PLN using features unique to Twitter. This research also examines the nature of a PLN and shows that participants believe their PLN extends beyond their Twitter network to encompass both face-to-face and other ICT mediated relationships. Secondary research questions examine how Twitter differs from other social networking tools in mediating relationships within a PLN, what motivates an educator to develop a PLN, how trust is established in a PLN, what the expectations of reciprocity are within a PLN, and what is the nature of informal learning within a PLN.

Downcast – best podcatcher app for iOS

I have been a connoisseur of podcasts for years and up to this point, still subscribe to podcasts via iTunes on my computer and then sync my mobile device to my computer to get the content onto my computer. While this workflow has continued to suit me just fine, I have increasingly been wanting to “cut the cord” and not have to daily plug my iPhone or iPad into my computer to sync new podcasts.

When Apple announced the development of a stand-alone podcatcher app for iOS 6, I had high hopes for using this app in place of my iTunes downloading/syncing workflow. However, after trying the first iteration of this app, I was really disappointed with the unrefined and clunky UI, sluggish performance and numerous errors when attempting to download new episodes, along with many missing features that I had hoped for.

I had heard many positive reviews of Downcast and decided with an upcoming trip to BbWorld where I won’t have my laptop with me, it was time for me to spend the $1.99 and give Downcast a try. I am SOOOO glad I did! Downcast is a universal app (purchase once, download for both iPhone and iPad) and does an AMAZING job at allowing me to easily subscribe to, listen to, and organize my podcast subscriptions. Also included is iCloud syncing, so all the settings and content from one device are automatically synced to the other…stop listening to an episode on one device and pick up where you left off on another! It handles both audio and video episodes, and allows for speeding up playback up to 3X. Most importantly…it just works! I unfortunately can’t say the same for Apple’s podcasts app.

download Downcast

After just 1 day, I HIGHLY recommend Downcast and if you are an iOS user podcast junkie like me, you definitely won’t be disappointed. Here’s a quick tour of Downcast that I recorded on iPad giving a few more of my first impressions.

This screencast was recorded using Display Recorder on iPad, then shared to Dropbox and finally uploaded to YouTube. While Display Recorder does have built in direct upload to YouTube, I wasn’t able to get it to work.

Have you used Downcast? What is your favorite feature? Leave me a comment and share any tips you may have for other newbie Downcast users like me.

Technology in Education: How Will it Change the Game?

In March 2012, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan expressed his conviction that “technology is a game-changer in the field of education.” One year ago President Obama put out a call for “investments in educational technology that will help create digital tutors that are as effective as personal tutors, educational software as compelling as the best video game.”

What are the sorts of promising innovations living up to this challenge? How are they accelerating the quality of and access to education? Is gaming an effective tool? What are the challenges in adapting these technologies in everyday practice? And how can we trust that they will deliver on the promises? Are there compelling opportunities for entrepreneurs? The Churchill Club assembled a diverse set of thought leaders to offer unique perspectives on these questions and explore big changes looming over the horizon.

Speakers:
Linda Burch, Chief Education & Strategy Officer, Common Sense Media
Ben Chun, Educator, Galileo Academy of Science & Technology
Anthony Salcito, Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft
Lucien Vattel, Owner, Chizuru Games & Executive Director, GameDesk
Noah Wardrip-Fruin, Associate Professor of Computer Science, UC Santa Cruz & Co-director, Expressive Intelligence Studio
Moderator: Tony Wan, Associate Editor, EdSurge