Doodle & Scheduling Presentations

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I suspect that this will not be revolutionary, but it’s something I’ve been considering and finally tried the other day. My Medieval Lit class is doing presentations, and in the past I’ve taken volunteers for different days (in class), figured out and resolved conflicts (in class), and then posted the list.

I had known about Doodle already (www.doodle.com); for those of you unfamiliar, it’s an online scheduling tool. The administrator / account holder (and you don’t need an account for a basic post) posts a series of dates and/or times and invites people to check their availability. So I used Doodle to assign presentation dates. I made a poll with the presentation dates, had students type in their email addresses at the beginning of class while I was taking roll, etc., and gave them a deadline to fill it out.

Here are the results:

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Still some adjustments to make (5 on a day is tight; not impossible, but tight) and obviously some days are undersubscribed (the early ones). But an easy way to at least get preliminary scheduling done.

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E-Textbooks & On-line Courses

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Thanks (again) @bhsprincipal for this post about not only reimagining the (e-)textbook but also reframing the very discussion about what constitutes a textbook and to what extent such a resource is necessary:

http://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2012/02/13/is-there-a-future-for-e-textbooks-in-online-courses/

And this one about Temple University’s project to fund faculty members’ creation of their own e-textbooks:

http://news.temple.edu/news/temple-faculty-experiment-alt-textbooks

Great Review of the new iPad

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Thanks @bhsprincipal for this link to a great review of the new iPad: http://mashable.com/2012/03/16/ipad-3-review/.

The Future of the Textbook

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I suspect the content here won’t be quite as exciting as the title, but I would recommend this very measured take on the future of the textbook, in light of Discovery Educations’ Beyond the Textbook forum in DC. (Also, check out Discovery’s Beyond the Textbook homepage, where the showcase their digital science textbook, though, as the blog and others have said, to call this new wave a digital textbook might have the wrong connotations if it implies simply a dressed up version of the old textbook, i.e. if it is to print textbooks what powerpoint is to lectures: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/administrators/curricular-resources/science-techbook/).

Twitter Success Story (sort of)

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My Sports in Lit class watched last week the PBS documentary of Bob Hurley and his hugely successful basketball program at St. Anthony in Jersey City. Students had to write two of three journal entries on the movie, and I finished grading those entries tonight. Maybe a third of the students had at least one missing (these are second semester seniors, to put that figure in context), and so I tweeted out the following: “#eng4 Street Stops Here journals are graded. Plenty are missing and grades on Engrade now reflect that. Email me any from now on.” That was at 8.49. At 9.07 I received an email from a student with his two journal entries. (I guess the real success would have been if I received journal entries from 10 students, but I’ll take the one.)

iPad as Distraction II, March Madness Edition

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My senior boys in the iPad class immediately this morning (at 7.30 no less) informed the class that the $3.99 for the March Madness iPad app was well worth it because of its broadcasting of all 67 games of the tournament. This surprised me a bit; as I asked them, why wouldn’t you just watch the games on TV? Their response? Mr. D, we don’t have TVs in class to watch the games on…. Apparently, this Thursday and Friday afternoon will not be particularly attentive if there’s an iPad involved. (But, as a Duke grad, I’ll admit that I’ve been known to keep the games on in the background of my computer during those very days….)

Twitter Feed Embedded in Course Management System = Near Perfection?

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I blogged a few months ago about using Twitter for my homework assignments. Our Course Management System (It’sLearning) makes it a bit cumbersome to post bulletins (too many steps), and I was looking for a way that I could post homework assignments without those excessive number of steps, and I hit upon Twitter as a possible solution.

I didn’t know Twitter at all when I signed on, but early indicators were good. I had about 30 students following me, with I’d say another 20 or so subscribed via cell phone. And certain students told me how helpful the reminders and assignments I sent out via Twitter were. On the other hand, I didn’t realize that those with Twitter accounts did not receive them directly, that they had to go to their Twitter page to see if I had sent anything (among any other Tweets they may have received). I had thought that Twitter sent updates directly to them via phone or email, but that’s only for those that subscribe via phone. So there went the efficiency of the model. If the students had to go get the Tweets, that wasn’t quite as efficient as I wanted it to be.

Our principal recently started a Twitter feed (@PatTutwiler), and I used it to experiment with following someone, which is how I realized that Tweets don’t come directly to followers. He also embedded that feed in the high school’s home page (http://whs.wayland.k12.ma.us). So I figured if I could embed my Twitter feed into my It’sLearning pages, both problems would be solved: students would have a familiar place to go to check their homework (their course page), and I could utilize the ease of composing and sending of Tweets for announcements and assignments. And they can still of course receive it via their cell phone or their Twitter account if they want.

Embedding it in It’sLearning took a bit of tweaking, but here’s how to do it.

1. Go to the Twitter widget page: https://twitter.com/goodies/widgets

2. Click on the ‘My Website’ button beneath the ‘Widgets for…’ header on the left.

3. Either copy the html code as is, or customize it using the buttons at left.

4. In It’sLearning, make a new bulletin.

5. From the Bulletin page, click on the Insert button in the format menu, and choose Web 2.0 Content.

6. In that screen, choose the bottom option, ‘Paste Your Own Code’, and then paste the code copied from Twitter. Click Insert.

7. (Here’s where things get a bit dicey.)

8. When you’re back at the New Bulletin page, it will look like nothing is there.

9. Hit the down arrow, and then the up arrow. You should see a small box / small box of small boxes (the small boxes are the boundary markers of the insert).

10. Resize the box so that it’s a small-ish rectangle, and then Save.

11. If the bulletin appears blank in the Bulletin, you have to go back and resize it until it shows. I didn’t find much of a formula for this; just some trial and error.

12. Enjoy the embedded Twitter feed! (Picture below.)

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