Office of Information Technology

Tools

Pinterest Releases Rich Pins

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013
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Hunger Games Pinterest Movie Pin

Hunger Games, Pinterest Movie Pin

Pinterest fans have already begun using a recently unleashed new feature called Rich Pins. If you are not an enthusiast, a pin is a video or image you gather from a website or upload from your computer. The pin links back to the original source and can be repinned. The new Rich Pins feature includes the following category titles: Product, Recipe and Movie. You now receive more useful information on something you like. Product Pins tells you how much something costs and if it’s available. It also points you to the retail store selling the item (clothing, furniture, toys, and more).  Recipe Pins gives you the ingredients, total hands-on and cook time, and how many it serves. If you want more step-by-step instructions, you can click on the original source. Movie Pins gives you the movie’s rating, directors and actors. View its Rotten Tomatoes score or Netflix rating.

The Pin It button is now available for some mobile apps, such as TED and Brit+Co.

You will need to activate Rich Pins on your account since it has not been fully integrated. Click on the Click It Now button on the home page.

Catch-up or learn more by visiting Pinterest’s blog post, Introducing More Useful Pins

Top Homework Tools for the Tech Savvy Student

Monday, January 30th, 2012
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Try out some of the top homework tools for the tech savvy student. Receiving a seal of approval from the team over at Mashable.com these apps will surely benefit you in your academics this year.

iProcrastinate

iProcrastinate

This tool maintains all of your to-do and task lists with the ability to sync from your computer to your iPad or iPhone. You can sort tasks by priority and subject and are able to view which tasks have been completed or not.

 

Kno

Kno

With Kno you can order eTextbooks to your iPad or Computer at almost half the price of a regular textbook. There are over 100,000 textbooks to choose from also! Some of the features with Kno include text highlight and annotating with sticky notes. You can also record audio notes along with taking photo or video. 3D diagrams are available along with a “quiz me” button and a journal.

 

inClass
inClass app

This beneficial app combines everything you need into one. You’re able to keep an agenda on assignments with its monthly calendar and receive notifications based on when it is due. You’re are also able to take notes organized by class name in its notebook section along with a backup feature that allows you to sync data onto your computer.

 

Google Apps

Google Apps

Google Apps for Education includes:

  • Google Mail — Includes 25 GB of storage per user, sync with Outlook, Blackberry, and IMAP, spam filtering.
  • Google Calendar — Schedule meetings, calendar sharing, mobile device access, event publishing.
  • Google Docs — Open and edit web-based documents, spreadsheets, drawing and presentations.
  • Google Groups — Mailing lists, document, site, and calendar sharing for members of a group.
  • Google Sites — Create web pages for intranets or class projects.

 

Quizlet

Quizlet

Make or find flashcards with this helpful tool. Users are able to either create flashcard sets or browse through millions of flashcard sets created by other users. Quizlet also allows you to create a group to share flashcards with along with many other study tools such as, Flashcard Mode, Speller Mode, Learn Mode, and Test Mode. The best thing of all is Quizlet is available on the iPhone, iPad, and Android.

 

Image Credit: iProcrastinate, Kno, inClass, Google Apps, Quizlet

Apple in Education

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012
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iBooks Textbooks

iBooks Textbooks

Apple announced the arrival of iBooks Textbooks  for the iPad, a new approach to experience the classroom textbook in a more engaging and interactive way. Compared to the traditional textbook that is outdated in about five years, iBooks can be updated whenever.

Leading education services companies including Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, McGraw-Hill and Pearson will deliver educational titles on the iBookstore℠ with most priced at $14.99 or less. – apple

iBooks Textbooks are a fullscreen textbook that allows user to interact with animations, diagrams, photos, and video. Interacting with the books are simple, you just tap, swipe, and pinch.

 

iBooks Author

iBooks Author

iBooks Author allows users to create a textbook with ease. The application has Apple-designed templates so you have somewhere to begin. Creating the textbook is as easy as dragging and dropping media into the Book navigator. With a single click you can adjust images and add text. With iBooks Author you can even add widgets and interactive photo galleries that will bring your textbook to life. You can include 3D images and animations that allow readers to get up close with their learning.

 

iTunes U

iTunes U

The free iTunes U app gives students access to all the materials for your course in a single place. Right in the app, they can play video or audio lectures. Read books and view presentations. See a list of all the assignments for the course and check them off as they’re completed. And when you send a message or create a new assignment, students receive a push notification with the new information. -apple

Users are also able to build a course, which is extremely easy. You just gather all the materials for your course and follow the step-by-step instructions in the iTunes U Course Manager. In iTunes U you can include a syllabus, handouts, quizzes, PDF files, presentations, iBooks, apps, etc. Your course content can be shared with anyone in the world through the iTunes U Catalog.

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

Add-ons and Applications Improve User Experience

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011
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We’ve shared a list of browser extensions and mobile applications for more features and functionality. We hope you enjoy these as well as benefit with an improved work flow. You can always uninstall any that are unwanted.

Firefox Extensions

Take advantage of your browser with the following:

Download Statusbar

Want a download window with more features? The Download Statusbar add-on allows you to work with your downloads in your browser’s statusbar. You are given options such as to manually scan files for viruses and to keep a download history.

Download statusbar

Video DownloadHelper

Quickly download and convert image galleries and videos while surfing the web. Click the animated icon in your browser window for a list of what Video DownloadHelper found on that page. For example, it will list YouTube videos and allow you to download any to your computer, convert to another format, share with others, copy the URL, add to black list, or send to your mobile phone.

Video DownloadHelper screenshot

Adblock Plus

If you want to block advertisements and banners, check out the Adblock Plus add-on! Adblock Plus will configure so it will remove advertising as well as block malware domains. To avoid blocking advertisements on a frequently visited page, you can disable it on that particular page or entire website.

 

Pocket (Formerly ReadItLater)

Ever been reading a website or came across something that you didn’t have time to look over? Well, this handy little add-on lets you save a website from your computer or mobile phone and read it later on the same or other device. You can even read it without an internet connection. Read It Later is an add-on for Firefox as well as an application on mobile devices. Therefore, these can coordinate and save all of your information that you want to read in the same place. It’s perfect for saving blogs or articles to read on a plane or commute.

readitlater

Mobile Applications

Although there is almost an unlimited amount of apps, we selected some from that list you may find interesting…

Genius Scan (iPhone)

This free app is a pocket scanner for the iPhone. You can take any scanned object and send it as a pdf. You are able to quickly crop and straighten up your document. Save a receipt, business card, or even a recipe in your library!

Genius Scan iPhone App

Busuu (iPhone)

Learn English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish using the Busuu app. The free version includes 20 complete learning units. You are able to purchase all of the content as well. There is visual and audio material for beginning to advanced levels of speakers. The images and recording of the languages are by native speakers.

Busuu Languages iPhone app

Droplat (Android)

Droplat is a location-based file sharing app that is free! Share any file with folks nearby or at your location. You can also view shared files once you check in at that location.

Droplat -Android app

Share Your Board (Android)

Take a picture and process whiteboard data using this free app. Save ideas from a meeting or anything from a brainstorming session. The whiteboard data is something you can share with others as well.

Please, share your favorite firefox add-ons or mobile apps. Have you tried any of the ones mentioned above? If so, what did you think?

Image Credit: ShareYourBoard, Google Play, Busuu, The Grizzly Labs, Save Delete, eKoob 

Online Resources for Education

Thursday, January 13th, 2011
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It’s the beginning of the spring semester, and we wanted to share how technology is reshaping education. Technology is very beneficial and always advancing, so let’s learn how it is changing schools .

In the article 100+ Online Resources that are Transforming Education, Mashable gives nine key ideas with listed resources. The nine ideas include new institutions, learning management, online content, networks and marketplaces, live training and tutoring, learner tools, collaborative learning, funding and payments, and hardware for education. Mashable describes the technology companies that offer these resources.

For example, Mashable explains the idea of learning management.  When a company finds specific problems for schools, they sell a software solution. As a result, there are many online tools that help manage class ratings, grades, tests, etc. such as Schoolbinder.  Also, there are reporting systems and analytics, such as SchoolNet. Learning management systems for universities and schools include Blackboard and Koofers.

Another example from the article is the idea of online content. Educational content is not completely controlled by book publishers. Content sales and subscriptions are now offered on the web. For example, we now have textbook rental services and tools for publishing online educational content, such as Leaping Brain and iTunes U.

Below is an excerpt from the post:

100+ Online Resources That Are Transforming Education

by Yury Lifshits

Education technology has become a busy space in recent years. Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates continue to push the envelope with enormous philanthropic gifts toward education reform; Blackboard.com was traded at a $1 billion plus valuation; and Google is putting millions into education tech sites like KhanAcademy. At Mashable), you’ve read about social campaigns for education, gaming in education and free educational resources.

Continue reading …

Do you have any online resources to share? Do you have any experience with the resources mentioned in the article?

Universities Not Embracing E-Textbooks

Thursday, November 11th, 2010
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Campus libraries and e-book reader manufacturers have been stating the strong possibility textbooks will go digital for a while now. The U.S. Government Accountability Office states that textbook prices have increased twice the rate of inflation in the past two decades.  However, it hasn’t widely gone into effect at many universities, and recent surveys indicate a low number of students using e-textbooks.

E-Textbooks are convenient alternatives to printed textbooks for students. Printed books are converted to electronic text and accessed using e-reader devices like the Kindle, Sony Reader, and the iPad.

How are e-textbooks incorporated into courses? Ultimately, the professor would require students to pay a class material fee. This fee would cover the cost of an electronic version. This saves students money because colleges can make a cheaper majority purchase than students could purchase independently. The printed version is still available for an extra fee for students who prefer using a hard copy.

Students pay an average of $800 for one year’s purchase on textbooks. Through e-textbook models, students will receive a digital copy for $25 which normally costs $100 for print. When students sell back their printed books they receive 5-35% of what they paid (if the book is not ordered by faculty and still the current edition). Students will rarely receive 50% of what they paid for a book. This percentage is based on faculty ordering the book again and that it is in good condition.

According to USA Today’s article, For-profit Colleges Lead the Way in Adopting E-Textbooks, for-profit colleges have reshaped to using e-textbooks compared to traditional colleges. Which for-profit colleges are in the e-textbook business? American Public University System, University of Phoenix, Kaplan University law school, and Capella University are all online colleges with a high number of students using ebooks. Steve Kolowich describes this in USA Today,

Online for-profits such as American Public University System and the University of  Phoenix have for years strategically steered students toward e-textbooks in an attempt  to shave costs and ensure a more reliable delivery method that, in the context of online education, might seem to make more sense. At Kaplan University’s law school, digital  texts account for around 80% of assigned reading. At Capella University, e-textbooks are an available and accepted option in nearly all 1,250 courses.”

The for-profit structure allows instructional designers to provide the lesson plans to adjunct professors. As a result, the adjuncts teach what they are given.

Non-profits are not moving in the same direction. John Bourne, executive director of the Sloan Consortium states in USA Today,

It is more difficult to engineer change at such scale at nonprofits, because of their more distributed governance models. At those colleges, faculty control of curricular texts — including mode of delivery — is “sacred.”

One reason traditional colleges/universities are not adopting e-textbooks, is the successful alternative of textbook rentals. For example, WVU uses the Barnes & Noble’s textbook rental program for in-store and online copies. This alternative saves students half on the price of a new book. According to Barnes & Noble, a $100 book costs $42.50 to rent for that term up to 10 days after class finals.

There is much to factor in about this subject. So we would love to hear what you want to add or what you think about e-textbooks!

For more information on how professors may adapt to this change check out The Chronicles, As Textbooks Go Digital, Will Professors Build Their Own Books?

References:
USA Today
For-profit colleges lead the way in adopting e-textbooks

The Chronicle for Higher Education
To Save Students Money, Colleges May Force a Switch to E-Textbooks

WVU Today
Renting textbooks comes to WVU in the fall

U.S Government Accountability Office
College Textbooks: Enhanced Offerings Appear to Drive Recent Price Increases

More Apps For Your Collection

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010
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Welcome back! Since it’s the first week of classes, we thought collecting and sharing some mobile tips and apps may benefit you. We also threw in some iPad apps that look good on that 9.5“ screen.

iPhone Keyboard

Become more productive with your iPhone by using these shortcuts from Mashable.com. You may not exceed Melissa Thompson’s world record for the speed of texting (one sentence in 25.94 seconds), but there’s always room for some improvement. Check out the article… 10 Useful iPhone Keyboard Shortcuts, Tips, and Tricks. Please, let us know if you have any of your own!

iPhone and iPod Touch Apps

CNBC Real-Time

The free business app gives you quotes from NYSE (New York Stock Exchange) and NASDAQ (National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations) in real-time. Quickly get breaking business news and alerts!

ESPN ScoreCenter

Get information on hundreds of sport leagues! This free app informs you of goals, pitches, touchdowns, and made baskets. You can get live details such as plays and boxscores.

Foursquare

Ready to explore the city! Use the foursquare app to find your friends and places around the city. Read more about Foursquare…

Remote

During your downtime, use your iPhone or iPod Touch as a remote controller for music. The app works with wi-fi connections for your computer or Apple TV.

Acrobat.com Mobile

You are able to access your acrobat.com account from any location. What can you do with the documents? View, share, and even fax them. Using the iPhone camera, you can scan up to 5 pages. You are able to fax up to 2 pages at no cost.

iPad Apps

Apple iBooks

This free application allows you to download books and PDFs for reading. Read samples to help you decide if you want to download the book. You may find it useful that you can order your books or browse by title, author, or category. You can change the font size, type face, and choose the color of the page (between white or sepia).

NPR

Read and listen to the top NPR stories on your iPad. Enjoy features such as the playlist, hourly newscasts, station finder, and sharing. I found being able to navigate while listening to a story was a great feature.

Dragon Dictation

This application allows you to talk to your computer! Say your message, see your text or email message, and then send it out to your social networks. If you are on the go, take notes using your voice instead of typing.

Tell us about your experience with these apps!

 

Image Credit: iTunes

Apple’s Magic Trackpad Debuts

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010
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On Tuesday, Apple unveiled their multitouch trackpad, the Magic Trackpad.  This new wireless device was created for desktop computers.  Mac owners can now use this instead of, or in addition to their mouse.  Apple says, “Swiping through pages online feels just like flipping through pages in a book or magazine.  And inertial scrolling makes moving up and down a page more natural than ever.”  Consumers who love the multitouch-screen smartphones will likely have the same feelings towards the Magic Trackpad.  This new accessory connects to Mac using Bluetooth, and has a design cohesive with Apple’s latest keyboard.  The newest Apple companion is available for $69. Learn more about the Magic Trackpad at  http://www.apple.com/magictrackpad/ .

 

Image Credit: Apple Inc.

GPS Data in Google Earth

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010
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Since it is almost officially summer, you may be interested in Google’s recent update to Google Earth 5.2. We know that Google Earth can be useful for any outdoor interests, such as hiking. Users can import the data recorded from their GPS (global positioning system) to Google Earth and now view that data as a graph. One may want to view a graph of their speed or the stats on average speed. The following is an excerpt from Google’s Lat Long Blog…

Announcing Google Earth 5.2

Now, with Google Earth 5.2, we’ve added the ability to view elevation, speed, and other data as a graph directly in Google Earth. Just connect your GPS device to upload your track, and select “View Elevation Profile” from the menu. This will bring up elevation and speed graphs. If your GPS device records additional information such as heart rate or cadence, these will also be available to view in the graph. You can also see statistics such as total elevation, maximum slope, and average speed. You can select a portion of your ride and get statistics for just that section. Read more…

ReadWriteWeb explains the convenience of the upgrade. In the article, Visualize GPS Data From Outdoor Activities in Google Earth, they explain that by collecting all this data, maps can be improved for future use. Chris Cameron states the following:

Adding GPS data to Google Earth is a fun and handy tool for individual users, but the real benefit is to the greater crowd of Google Earth fans. By collecting user data from hikes, bike rides, walks, runs or any other outdoor activity, Google will be able to create better maps that feature paths for these types of activities. If Google knows which way is most popular to get from Point A to Point B on a bike, they can serve that info up to people searching for directions on Google Maps. Read the story…

Real-Time With Google Wave

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010
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UPDATE: Google is finished developing Google Wave. It will be unavailable at the end of the year. Read Google’s blog.

Imagine email and project management transforming into real-time communication. You can access a co-worker’s shared document and work together simultaneously. This powerful and fast-paced tool is a recently released Google application, Google Wave. You may have heard about it, but since it is in beta, those with accounts are invited by current Google Wavers. You can also request an invitation from Google. I hope to spark some interest without overwhelming you with colossal amounts of content. Looking at Google Wave for the first time can be a little overwhelming with its increased communication speed. However, some of you may be comfortable using it already.

About Google Wave

Google Wave is a real-time communication and collaboration tool. You are able to edit and comment on documents and conversation simultaneously. Google felt that since email has not evolved much, this tool could help change that. Email becomes a live conversation in one spot, or one document, rather than sending separate composed messages or documents back and forth. It’s an idea that combines social networking, instant messaging, email, wikis, and web chat – having it all in real-time.

Wave’s Functionality

How does Wave work and what can it actually do? Most are experimenting to see what it can do for them. I think going over some Google Wave terminology may be the best start. Here are definitions I pulled from the Google Wave forum:

  • First of all, what is a wave? It is your threaded conversation and discussion. I look at it as your original email with all of the responses (from everyone). The difference is, of course, that this conversation happens in one place, in one document, and you can join in by replying or commenting any time you want to. That’s kind of a breath of fresh air to me- seems like it will be more manageable.
  • wavelet: It is part of the threaded conversation. A wavelet is part of the larger conversation and can actually be separated from the wave.
  • embedded wave: I think this will be useful for a lot of people. You are actually able to take a wave and wavelets or whatever conversation and embed it on your webpage. So, this is a great way to get immediate feedback or comments.
  • blip: This is the smallest message in a wavelet. It would be like sending a single post using Twitter. You can attach other blips to a single blip.
  • document: This is simply the content attached to a blip.
  • wave extension: An extension makes more activity possible for google wave participants. Extensions are mini-applications that work with the wave. These can be gadgets or robots.
  • gadgets: This is embedded code that improves parts of google wave. Gadgets are shared and stored within a wave not per individual. An example is the Yes/No/Maybe Gadget that can be used for seeing what participants will be attending a conference. Another example would be the Map Gadget that helps participants plan a trip. Together, participants can mark/comment on the map to decide on where they will be eating and touring.
  • robots: Robots are active participants that are in a wave. Since they are automated, they have the ability to interact and create new waves and blips.

Now with knowing some of the google wave terms, we can better understand what it does. Will Google Wave be useful for you?

Get Me Started

Let’s look at the actual interface and how we can interact with it.

wave interface

Create folders and configure your settings in the Navigation panel. Navigation is also where you select what waves your contacts have sent you, requests from outside users, waves that you have participated in, and what waves are marked as spam. You can immediately arrange these in any order, minimize the panel, and adjust the width.

View Google Wave contacts in the Contacts panel. Manage your Google contacts by creating your own groups and importing other contact information in the Contacts panel. You can arrange contacts according to most frequent contacted.

The middle panel is your Inbox displaying whatever wave list you filtered to see. This could be public waves, waves you participated in, or your requested waves from your contacts. You are able to use commands in your search to help you filter. Below, are a few listed search commands:

  • with:public – View all public waves.
  • in:(folder) – View waves in a specific folder.
  • title:(term) – Find waves with a term in the title.
  • tag:(name) – See waves using this tag name.
  • is:read – This lists what messages inside a wave you have read.
  • is:unread – See at least one wave you have not read.
  • to:(contact) – View the waves from you to this contact.

The wave panel is where you read and participate in the wave. Type your piece of the conversation and watch while someone else types a response.

Below is a Google Wave video with explanations and demonstrations, Google Wave Overview:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6pgxLaDdQw[/youtube]

Sign up for Google Wave! Read the free online A Complete Guide to Google Wave for the Latest News and Tips.

 

Image Source Unknown

* Google discontinued the service Google Wave April 2012.