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Google Plus in the Classroom

In case you missed it, Google has announced that they will be releasing their own social networking site. The project, which is called Google+, is currently available on an invitation-only basis and is not yet available to the public. Still, many people have been able to try it and are saying Google+ could be a very useful tool in education.

A Wired Campus article by Jeff Young highlights the following key features on Google+, which may be beneficial to both students and faculty:

  • Google+ allows “selective sharing”, meaning that users can choose which circles of friends they would like to share specific content with. This feature could come in handy when professors would like to add their students as friends, but are concerned with respecting their privacy or personal lives.
  • Friend circles could also work as small group communication, possibly for class projects.
  • Google+ “hangouts” (casual video conferencing) can be used in place of office hours or face-to-face tutoring.
  • One assistant professor at UT Dallas even predicts that Google+ may be an alternative to the traditional LMS.

It’s hard to tell exactly what Google+ has in store for education. Since the social networking site is still in the developing stages, it may take some time before it’s widely used in the classroom. The site is expected to be released for public use on or before July 31st, 2011.

LT Site Analytics: May 2011

The Learning Technologies website analytics for the month of May are in! In total, 226 pages were viewed 6,493 times. At UWB LT, we are always interested in reading our site statistics to better understand how people are using the Learning Technologies website. Here are some things that stood out last month:

  • Our Blackboard page was the most viewed at 584 pageviews, 510 of them unique.
  • ePortfolio pages were very popular this month. The top 10 most visited pages included the pages for ePortfolios in general, ePortfolio Student Tutorials, Google Sites FAQ, and IAS ePortfolio Resources. We hope everyone who completed an ePortfolio this quarter enjoyed the experience and found our resources helpful!
  • The Digital Media Lab’s page spiked in popularity this month, moving from the 6th to the 2nd most viewed page. The page was viewed 429 times, nearly a hundred more than last month.
  • The average time spent on a page was 1 minute, 28 seconds. A whopping 5 seconds more than last month!

Thanks to everyone who visited our page last month- we hope you found our information helpful. Remember, if you need technology help, are looking for something on our site, or have any suggestions for us, feel free to send us an email at learningtech@uwb.edu.

Evernote Releases New iPad 2 App

Evernote has released a new app made especially for the iPad 2 and its Smart Cover. The app, now available on iTunes, is called Evernote Peek and is a memorization tool similar in functionality to digital flashcards. It’s the first app to be made for and operated by the Smart Cover.

Once the app has been installed on the iPad, the user can sync it up to their Evernote or StudyBlue account. Each flashcard set appears on the app in its own notebook. The user chooses a notebook and closes the Smart Cover to begin the exercise.

The app takes advantage of the 3 different folds in the iPad’s Smart Cover. When the user “peeks” by flipping up the cover to the first fold, the iPad reveals the first question or clue of the set. To reveal the answer, the user flips the cover up to the second fold. To move on to the next question, the user simply closes the cover completely, then starts the process again.

This is indeed an interesting use of one of the new features of the iPad 2. It will be exciting to see what other apps the Smart Cover may influence!

Want to see the app in action? Check out the video below:

Lecture Capturing in the Courtroom

Campus Technology reported yesterday that the Villanova University School of Law has come up with a very interesting way to use lecture capturing. The school teamed up with Control Concepts and Creston to equip their practice courtrooms with lecture capturing software and several technology tools for use during students’ mock trials. To be exact: three video cameras, ceiling and bench microphones, two projection screens to show “evidence”, and an audio system that both levels out volume and assists people who are hard of hearing.

A recorded mock trial in action at Villanova, photo by Campus Technology

The previous set up for mock trial recording was one camera that recorded the student straight-on. After the mock trial, the professor would have to make DVD copies for each student.

However, the new set up allows whatever is taped to be recorded straight to a DVD. While recording, the professor operating has two views on a touch screen computer: On one side is what the camera is actually recording, and on the other is a preview of any of the other cameras’ views. This way, the professor can see what’s coming up before s/he records it. The additional cameras also allow several views of the student. This is especially important, as law students in particular work very hard on small actions in the courtroom–how they move around, their hand gestures, facial expressions, etc. The multiple views make it easy for them to see what they did well and what they need to work on.

Villanova’s system is a great example of thinking outside of the box with classroom technology. It’s important to remember that most technologies have multiple uses. As you can clearly see here, lecture capturing isn’t always just for capturing lectures.

Infographic: Open Source Textbooks

Last week, Mashable published an article containing an infographic by onlineschools.org examining open source textbooks. The infographic highlights the advantages of colleges and universities switching to open source textbooks, rough cost estimates as well as what is currently standing in the way of a switch. The graphic below links to the entire infographic and article from Mashable: