5 Things to know about Edublogs/WP and New Google Sites

Thinking about platforms for public-facing student work? Each has its own pros and cons, and there are several key factors to think about:

  1. What are the platform’s policies for how the data are stored, and what are the possibilities to export the work to another platform?
  2. How easy is it to work with a given platform (interface, navigability, collaborative functions)?
  3. Are there associated costs? Is the platform freemium, free in the educational context but paid after leaving the college?

To help students, staff, and faculty make their own decisions on what is right for them, I put together these handouts. One covers Edublogs, which is our college subscription for WordPress and the New Google Sites, which is available to everyone at Carleton via our institutional license.

Image of handout with 5 tips for using Edublogs. PDF download available on click.

image of handout with 5 tips for using New Google Sites. PDF download on click.

 

Above us only digital sky: Augmenting Real Life

Time for my second post. This post is a lot later than expected; I still haven’t got this blogging down yet.

As part of the fun new tech we have been purchasing at Carleton, we managed to get a hold of a Hololens. Unlike the HTC Vive, which is VR, the Hololens is AR (Augmented Reality). The Hololens is an impressive piece of kit and one I am the most excited about. According to Microsoft (its developer), the Hololens is “the first self-contained, holographic computer, enabling you to engage with your digital content and interact with holograms in the world around you.” In normal terms, it is a tiny computer attached to a set of glass lenses, which look like a very futuristic headset.

These lenses are where the magic happens. The Hololens has three layered screens for Red, Green and Blue channels, which are combined to render full-color objects. The onboard computer uses an inertial measurement unit to calculate the location of you and the “holographic” object within your surrounds. This technology work in a similar way to AR on your cell phone with games like Pokemon Go and Ingress.

The Hololens opens up some fascinating teaching possibilities. Unlike the Vive and VR, which is very isolating and a single users experience, the Hololens and AR can be developed to be a multi-user experience. This multi-user experience enables to each Hololens to view the same 3D, providing some exciting possibilities within the class.

One of the first projects we worked on was to develop an AR model of the Piper J3 Cub used to train Carleton students in the 1940-50s. This was a part of a museum display for Sesquicentennial celebrations. The original idea of this project was to utilize the VR and HTC Vive, but I felt the Hololens would be more fun for visitors and would still allow them to be present within the space. Thank you to PEPS for editing one of my favorite videos using the Hololens.

Video from Piper Cub J3 (https://vimeo.com/189338455). Watch this space for more fun videos!

 

Moodle Recipes: Small Group Discussions

We’ve started a new series of posts called Moodle Recipes that will focus on pedagogically effective ways to make use of Moodle in a face-to-face classroom setting. All Moodle Recipes will be available under the Moodle Recipes header on Carly’s blog, and will also be highlighted here. Continue reading Moodle Recipes: Small Group Discussions

Electronic Notebooks at Carleton: LabArchives

In the LTC Lunch: Making Learning Visible with Electronic Portfolios (Jan. 19, 2016), Deborah Gross, Professor of Chemistry, talked about how Lab Archives captures the learning that her students are doing in her lab courses.


*Deborah’s presentation begins at 14:30

LabArchives (LA) is an electronic notebook software that comes in two versions: classroom and professional. The classroom version allows you to manage a set of individual notebooks for each student, replacing the traditional lab notebook; the professional version is great for organizing your professional research and involving collaborators.

Despite its name and logo, which features iconic chemistry vessels, please don’t think LA isn’t for you or your students if you aren’t in the Natural Sciences! It really is an electronic notebook and not a lab notebook. In fact, we’ve heard from our LA rep that staff working in the area of facilities find LA very helpful.

Based on the testing that Deborah and other Carleton faculty participated in, the College has purchased access to both the Professional and Classroom editions for anyone on campus. In a sense, we’re piloting a site license for LA to see if enough folks will use it to warrant continuing in this way (or, if buying on a case by case basis is more prudent).

Our AT [un]workshop on Wednesday October 26, Electronic Notebooks for Classroom & Research: Exploring LabArchives, is a great chance to learn more about LA. You may discover, as Deborah did, that in addition to making student learning more visible both to external audiences and to the students, electronic portfolios like LA can solve logistical problems. For example, in chemistry, LA eliminated the logjam that occurs when students have turned in their physical notebooks to be graded and then don’t have them to prep for the upcoming lab, or how to deal with group projects that are recorded only in one notebook. You also may discover how an electronic notebook might help you capture, archive, and curate your own work.

We also have the following hands on training sessions coming up:
Thursday, October 20 at 3:15 – 4:00 pm in the Weitz Center, Room 027
Tuesday, November 1 at 3:15 – 4:00 pm in the Weitz Center, Room 027

Questions? Contact Randy Hoffner, rhoffner@carleton.edu

Steam Powered Goggles

HTC Vive controls on carpeted floor

So this will be my first post for this blog, actually thinking about it probably my first ever blog post. Never having wrote a post before is a strange position to be in for a computer/technology geek, but I think blogs just past me by. Anyway I should get on with what I planned on writing.

Janet Russell using the HTC Vive VR setup
Janet, using the HTC Vive, pets a dog in virtual reality.
It has definitely been a fun few weeks for me, with lots of boxes and new tech to open. With the addition of the 3D printer last week, am I very excited about the new box on my desk today. It is going to be a great addition to our technology provisions here at Carleton and Academic Technology. The title of this post is a very geeky reference to this new piece of kit….

Being the computer geek that I am, I was very excited to receive the Vive. The Vive is one of the new generation of Virtual Reality (VR) headsets. Started by the successful Oculus Rift Kickstarter, this next generation of VR headsets are very different to the early 1990s counterparts. Rather than very basic graphics and simple polygons, these new headsets are capable of streaming two HD images into either eye giving the impression of depth within the 3D scene.

Paula uses the HTC Vive headset and controllers
Paula takes aim at red globes
First project: a VR model of the Piper J3 Cub used to train Carleton students in the 1940-50s as part of a museum display for Sesquicentennial celebrations. Visitors will be able to view the model in a hanger setting and from the flight seat.

Come and experience VR for yourself either by visiting the Sesquicentennial museum exhibition or pop along to the ideaLab during our open house on Wednesday, September 21 from 12p-2p.

So it begins… 3D Printing in the IdeaLab

Carleton's newest 3D printer: Ultimaker2+ 3D Printer

As the students return to Carleton and campus life resumes in earnest, you may notice some changes in the IdeaLab and the AT offices in the Weitz Center for Creativity (not to mention the massive construction project just outside…). The IdeaLab has been undergoing renovations and redesigns to better serve the whole community. We’ll be writing another post about that whole process, but for this post I’ll be focusing on one of our newest tools: our 3D printer. This post will also focus primarily on our initial prints, rather than how-tos, but those will also be coming in the future.

After a lot of consideration, talking with experts, and looking at samples, we decided to go with an Ultimaker2+, one of the most highly-regarded 3D printers on the market. It’s a very dependable, well-supported machine, and looks fantastic too.

Our new 3D printer! #ifyoubuildittheywillcome #wehavethetechnology #ultimaker2 #filementaryMyDearWatson

A photo posted by CarletonAcademicTechnology (@carletonacademictechnology) on

As part of the initial set-up, we needed to calibrate and configure the machine. This took a few hours, as the build plate (the section that the 3D printer prints onto) needs to be perfectly level. This level of specificity goes beyond the standard bubble level; we were dealing with differences in size of less than the thickness of a piece of computer paper. With our filament loaded and the plate leveled, we printed our first test print: a little robot designed by Ultimaker.

The first 3D print from our new 3D printer (an Ultimaker2+) #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #idealab

A photo posted by CarletonAcademicTechnology (@carletonacademictechnology) on

With our 3D printer working, we decided to test another file directly from Ultimaker, a little heart keychain.

We ❤ our new 3D printer! #3dprinting #heartintherightplace #ultimaker2

A photo posted by CarletonAcademicTechnology (@carletonacademictechnology) on

After that success, Andrew had me get a large file off of Thingiverse to print. Thingiverse is an online community where people upload 3D files for others to download, modify, and print. It can be a rabbithole for time, as there is so much incredible content available to browse and look through. I ended up choosing an owl pen holder. You can see it on Thingiverse by clicking here. This was addicting to watch the 3D printer layer up piece by piece, so we set up our timelapse camera to shoot the print. Check it out below! (For reference, this five-inch-tall owl took about 27 hours to print, as each layer is less than the width of a human hair in thickness.)

Here’s what the final product looks like. It’s surprisingly sturdy and solid.

"Who" loves 3D printing…? We do! #giveahoot #3dprinting #ultimaker2 #hoursoffun #punstoppable

A photo posted by CarletonAcademicTechnology (@carletonacademictechnology) on

Stay tuned for more posts about the IdeaLab, our 3D printer, and more!

 

Writing with Light & the MN eLearning Summit 2016

Basilica shot from MN e Learning Conference 2016

In late July, I attended and presented at the Minnesota eLearning Summit 2016 at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. My presentation, Writing with Light: Building A Low-Cost Lightboard at Carleton College, was selected as a session. I’ve embedded a screencast of it below, as well as on YouTube. Here’s how my conference went, as a story in annotated tweets…

 


I was selected as one of the speakers for the summit and chose to speak on the Lightboard, which we designed and built at Carleton College. Our Lightboard is notable for its very low cost and ease of use. 
 

It was thrilling to see Randy Bass speak again. He came to Carleton last fall and gave an engaging and thrilling set of talks, inspiring us to think about the future of education and our roles within it.

One of the big questions we need to ask ourselves while thinking about education and the choices we make.

People panic about the changes in education that are happening and will happen, but that panic is often unwarranted.

Summarizing a complex concept in a tweet is tough!

The power of scale as it affects technology and education cannot be underestimated. We can use this scale to great advantage. We must also be careful of how scale can overwhelm.

My excitement went into overdrive went Dr. Bass started talking about ePortfolios. This is an area of intense interest for me. Dr. Bass had some very interesting data on ePortfolios.

Most impressive was the correlation between use of an ePortfolio and retention. It seems like students who use the ePortfolios to reflect on their work and themselves take more away from lessons.

Finally, Dr. Bass ended with an appeal to have every course teach three things: knowledge of the Domain, knowledge of the World, and Knowledge of Oneself. These three overlap to create an transformative learning experience.

Then it was time for the Lightboard! I had an engaged group who really enjoyed getting the details on how our Lightboard functions and playing with the scale model I brought with me.

This is the small-scale Lightboard I brought with me!


Here is a screencast of my presentation. Tweet at @EricMistry if you have any questions!

Next I attended a fantastic talk on various ways to use Google apps, such as docs and forms, to enhance the classroom experience. Wendy gave an engaging, well-organized presentation.

This was one of the many tricks and tips she shared. See more from her full presentation by clicking here.

 

This was really interesting. The team from U of M had some useful advice for dealing with video creation and editing at scale…

Next, I saw a short presentation on informed course design. This was very interesting as they emphasized the need for teams to be comprised of diverse perspectives in order to better meet learners.

Next was a look at the future of LMSs.

The stages of the LMS are pretty interesting. I’m not sure where they’ll go next, but it could be anywhere.

There is big money in the LMS sector. It’s impressive to think about and we should be pretty thoughtful about why so much money is funnelling towards it.

This was a great visual representation. Canvas is definitely a company to watch.

This was a very moving line from one of the introductions to the next keynote.

Dr. Marie Norman gave a really great talk on taking lessons learned from designing online courses and translating that to all teaching.

You have to love a talk that comes with an awesome reading list!

Often, straight-up lecture is not the best way to convey information. This is especially true for online classes, but we can take ideas of working around this and apply it to the classroom as well.

Scavenger learning is a useful concept that we can apply everywhere. Like with clickers, the important thing is asking well-designed questions.

Creating and sharing resources is a major component of online learning and teaching. We can take that culture and bring it to the traditional classroom.

Design is important, no matter where or how you are teaching.

Learning doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We need to think and teach accordingly.

This is a great thing for instructors to remember. Different students learn in different ways. If you engage them on all fronts, they’ll have a better chance of retaining knowledge.

I enjoyed talking more ePortfolios with Hamline’s team and other educators. It was helpful to talk problems and strategies to solve them.

…and then we were done! This was a great conference. I met and interacted with some passionate educators and other academic technologists. There are so many impressive and incredible things happening in this space. It makes me excited for the future of education.

Course Tools

A swiss army knife contains the essential tools. What essential tools will you use in your course?

Instructors have more tools at their fingertips than ever before.  Sometimes the hardest (but most important) thing we can do for our students and our sanity is to . . . to limit ourselves.  Before starting a new course, consider creating a list of the tools you’ll be using regularly as part of your instruction.  Below is a sample list that might be used in a standard course. Items in [brackets] indicate a viable alternative tool instructor.
Continue reading Course Tools

Video Assessment Tools

7 Things Interactive Tools
Video is an excellent way to communicate—but, watching video is a passive activity. Since learning occurs best through engagement . . . finding a way to make your videos more engaging is essential. Here’s a great article from Penn State on Interactive Video Assessment Tools. Take a read, then challenge yourself to couple any video you show in class with an associated engaging activity.

 

Closed-Captioning Comparisons

Closed_captioning_logo

I’m currently evaluating Closed-Captioning Services for our in-house instructional videos.  Previously, closed-captioning has been done intermittently by individual instructors or staff.  For ADA compliance, and as a courtesy, we’ll be captioning videos from here on out.
Continue reading Closed-Captioning Comparisons