29 June, 2006

WebCT and Pop-up Blockers

Pop-up blocking software is becoming more widely used, and this is causing major problems with off campus students using WebCT 4.1.

We need for formal mechanisms for dealing with this if we are going to be able to cope with using WebCT Version 4.1 for another year.

Meg has found some very useful links via the very useful Dr. C (Dr. C is something I'd miss if we do end up moving to another VLE).

Pop-Up Killer Review looks like a fantastic resource. Sending a student to the Detect Page will allow them to see if they have Pop-Up blocking software enabled on their machines. The Pop-Up Blocker Detector Software available for free from here will talk anyone through how to disable pop-up blocking for many different pieces of software.

We'll look at how we can pass this knowledge on in a simple way to students, as it seems many avoid using WebCT becasue of it. It sounds like not all students ask for help when they come across the problem.

15 June, 2006

blog.ac.uk 2006

I took part in the blog.ac.uk educational conference on the 2nd June. The aim of this get together was to "provide a central point to help focus and drive forward the existence of the UK and web 2.0 educational blogging community"

There are several perspectives on the day out there from Josie Fraser, Stephen Downes, Stephen Powell, Barbara Ganley, Ewan McIntosh, Miles Berry, and various photographers!

Before the conference, my perspective was that I wanted us to get academic staff using blogs themselves, before they will really be able to consider using them in their own teaching. Being at the conference inspired me to think through some further related issues.

Step One: We also need to communicate and demonstrate why and how blogs can improve students learning, to academic members of staff. I think that a list of technologies including blogs with potential uses, and the comparative benefits of each would be a good first step in helping us communicate. This could include links to some more screencasts to demonstrate their use in different situations.

Step Two: I'm not sure that many academic members of staff would be happy to be using externally hosted blogs. I've mentioned using things like Bloglines or Flickr to host blogs and images externally, and got replies connected to issues with control. I guess that means we would have to install blogging software at Edge Hill.

I think there is an obvious use for blogs in professional development courses, currently when the course closes (and our licence requires this) the community closes. A blog could live on after the course for as long as the community wanted it to, and with the professional development courses there would be a reason for it to live on.

08 June, 2006

Digitised Books on Flickr: Punch Volume 9

I was asked by Margaret from the English department to digitise some old volumes of Punch and Boy's Own Paper.

The next question was how to make them available for access. WebCT's Image Database tool was a possibility (see on Edge Hill's WebCT: Developer Community > Other Resources > WebCT Tools - very basic examples > Image Database...) but is time consuming to upload images and they are only available in one WebCT area.

Flickr looked more attractive to me as it has upload software which makes the process of uploading a large number (100s) of images perhaps 20 times faster than with WebCT. Not only that but the images are then available for the whole world to use, in various different sizes. The only drawback was a small monthly upload limit (20 MB) unless you pay (then you get 2GB), which will mean I'll have to upload the images over about 4 months unless I upgrade the account for $25 (about £15).

For example you could link to the image (automatically converted to different sizes) from WebCT:

Cover: Large
Cover: Medium
Cover: Small
Cover: Thumbnail
Cover: Square (which could be downloaded and used as icons in WebCT).

The files uploaded so far are available (out of order) for you to look at.

Finally, another interesting use of Flickr allows you and other people in your group to add annotations to the pictures. This can be used to point interesting things out, or add interesting or important information about the picture.

By the way, there are more images available from Punch 1942-1959 as are details of when each early volume and issue were released.

01 June, 2006

Example Fastrack 2006 WebCT Induction

Here is the 'Example Fastrack 2006 WebCT Induction' course.

It is in .wmv format. If you do not have the software to view it, we recommend that you install Windows Media Player version 8.0 or above.


Introduction to WebCT

Accessing and Using Your Course Area

Resources and Tools