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March, 2012:

An Introduction to UW Blogs

Last month, we announced the coming release of the UW Blogs Network for faculty and staff, powered by WordPress. For those of you who couldn’t wait to get started on your own UW blog, we have good news: it’s now available! By going to blogs.uw.edu, you can learn more or start creating your own UW WordPress-powered blog. Please note that you must activate the UW Blog Network through your myUW account (these steps will be covered in the second half of the post).

We at Learning Technologies would like to help get you started. If you continue reading, we will provide a quick step-by-step tutorial on getting started with a UW blog. If you feel you need to get a little more inspired first, check out some existing UW Blogs.

Update: Thanks to the UW Bothell Web Team for informing us about the custom Bothell theme that has been developed for UW Bothell pages. See below for details on changing the default theme.


A Look at One of Singapore’s “Future Schools”

The video above is part of Edutopia’s Education Everywhere Series that examines success in schools internationally. This particular video takes an inside look at Ngee Ann Secondary School in Singapore, one of the nation’s “Future Schools”. These schools “emphasize the use of technology, digital media, and the integration of 21st century skills”. This video is a great example of successful technology use in the classroom–you can even spot a few specific tools, such as Twitter, SecondLife and Facebook.

TED launches TED-Ed

Just last week, TED launched it’s new education initiative, TED-Ed on YouTube. For those not familiar with the organization, TED is a conference-turned-nonprofit that is well known on the internet for their 18-minute-or-less TED Talks–high quality videos of public speakers discussing “ideas worth spreading”. TED-Ed plans to zero in on education by working with teachers and animators to publish lessons, which are a fraction of the length of a TED Talk. According to their site, “TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world.”

With that said, TED-Ed is also accepting nominations for educators and animators to work with the new initiative (you may nominate yourself). They are also accepting suggestions for future lessons.

Currently, there are 19 videos listed on the TED-Ed YouTube page. The categories include “Awesome Nature”, “How Things Work”, “Playing With Language”, “Questions No One (Yet) Knows the Answers To”, and “Inventions that Shaped History”. Fast Company reports that there has even been hints of interactive tools in the future.

ViDA gives students access to UW software 24/7

Wish you could access the software available on campus in the privacy of your own home? For students this spring, it’s possible! UW has adoped ViDA (Virtual Desktop Access), an online remote access software that will allow students to access both the Adobe Creative Suite and Windows 7 Enterprise from wherever there’s an internet connection.

ViDA is funded by the student technology fee, so it is a student-only service. To access it, students can log in with their UW NETID at vida.uw.edu. The site will work from a desktop browser on OS X, Windows, Linux, UNIX  or mobile device running Android, Blackberry, iOS or Windows Mobile. Keep in mind that although files can be saved locally, students should always save their work somewhere else as all files are erased upon logging off of the system.

To read more about ViDA, visit it’s UW IT page.

ViDA can be added to the list of exciting new technology UW has adopted this year, which includes Tegrity and UW WordPress Blogs.

Smartphones as Learning Tools

Last Spring, we posted an article about using cell phones in the classroom. Nearly every student, staff and faculty member has one, and in the past years there’s been a push to harness the technology for educational enhancement. But now an even more advanced mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous–smartphones. There are now 91.4 million smartphones in the United States, and many students are the proud owners of these devices. In addition to standard cell phone features of calling and texting, smartphones make it easy to browse the web, play games, check the news, study for a test, and much more all thanks to different applications that can be installed on the phone.

With technology constantly advancing, it may be only a matter of time until cell phones are replaced completely by smartphones. It’s no wonder, considering possession of a smartphone is having knowledge & resources at your fingertips (literally). This brings to mind the idea of smartphones in the classroom. Want to get the latest on a current event? Open a news app. Need to spell check something? Use the dictionary on your phone. Looking for background information on a topic? Open Wikipedia for a quick review.

But the dilemma with smartphones in the classroom is similar to laptops in the classroom. How do we use the technology without distracting students from the class work? In a Campus Technology article published recently, this question is tackled. The authors give several tips on best practices for smartphones in the class, which will be highlighted after the jump: