30 April, 2007

Using FeedBlendr to Organise Your Podcast Subscriptions

I subscribe to quite a lot of podcasts on several subjects, but iTunes doesn't allow me to organise them in a useful way to me. This means keeping track of my feeds feels very messy.

FeedBlendr is an online service that allows you to combine several feeds into one - this could be used in many ways. For me, it means that I can have one feed for each subject, for example:

Educational Technology

Web Design

General Technology

The above links give you the RSS feeds that you can subscribe to using iTunes or other software. Give it a go! Many people listen to audio podcasts on their MP3 players while commuting to work or at the gym, instead of listening to the radio.

But as I said, FeedBlendr could be used to do other things, such as easily combine feeds from several blogs that are relevant to your subject. The feed could be then displayed (perhaps on your WebCT area) using some of the technologies and techniques we've mentioned before, e.g:

By email

On a timeline

Displaying recent post titles

25 April, 2007

Setting up a Webcam Feed

You may want to set up a webcam up so that people can watch a live event, or watch something develop over time.

This is a very easy thing to do with just a webcam and Windows Media Encoder software, which you'll probably have on your PC anyway.

There are simple instructions on Tech.Blorge.com which will talk you through setting up the feed from Windows Media Encoder.

We set up a FishCam(TM) below to demonstrate. For the next few days you will be able to check the 'Grow Your Own Fish' demo, running in my office. Be amazed as the fish grows!

Jake Ludington's MediaBlab blog supplied the code to set the above viewer up if you want to set one up yourself.

If you cannot see the FishCam pilot (and note that it'll be a bit hard to see at night):

-Open 'Windows Media Player'.
-If you cannot see the menus, right-click the top bar and Choose 'File' > 'Open URL'.
-Type in:

24 April, 2007

Putting DVD Content Online Using HandBrake

We're occasionally asked to put DVDs online, when the original video files no longer exist to work from.

Usually we'd create the video file to put online by connecting our DVD player to a PC with Premiere Pro on, capturing the DVD with the Premiere Pro software and then exporting the video to the file format we want.

There is free software that can do the same thing in one step, without the need for expensive software like Premiere Pro. HandBrake is an example which is quite easy to use. I've used this to convert a one hour 40 minute DVD to MPEG, and it took my PC about 45 minutes to complete the task.

I tried the convertion with a few settings and not all worked (when I saved it as an .avi video, it was upside down), but it provides a solution without you spending any money.

For help with using the HandBrake software have a look at the links on it's Wikipedia page.

18 April, 2007

Using Instant Messaging to Help Support Staff and Students

I've heard of library helpdesks having Instant Messaging accounts to allow easy access to support, and thought this interesting because it's more immediate than email.

Lindsey blogged about Plugoo which is a service that allows people to communicate with your IM account direct from a web page. I've created an example that links to my personal account below.

I like this because it lets users know if you are available and allows you to chat with them, without any barriers to them at all (e.g. logging on to email). On the other side it is impossible to identify people so you couldn't accept requests to change account details through this, and while you were logged on to IM you'd potentially be interupted all the time.

Even so it is an interesting use of IM technology.

12 April, 2007

The Use of Blogs at Edge Hill

There are a few blogs that I know of being used at Edge Hill, and I thought it might be interesting to take a look at what they are being used for. They are not all official Edge Hill blogs, but they show different ways in which the technology might be used.

Information Resources
The information resources team in Learning Services have a blog which seems to work primarily as internal communication within that team.

Mister Roy's Musings
Roy in marketing has a blog in which he talks about various things - like marketing. It is interesting as a perspective on Edge Hill University, for example the Are Students Customers? conversation. There are other blogs on blogs.edgehill.ac.uk but the others aren't currently being used very much.

hi.edgehill.ac.uk is a site aimed at those who are thinking of coming to University, and several students are blogging their experiences for the site.

EHU E-learning
There is a blog in the Faculty of Health managed by Brian Smith. It is basically a collection of bookmarks rather than original content.

Cakes: Learning Technology Blog
And while we're at it - what is this blog for? The aim is to share knowledge and experiences of using technologies in education with other people who are interested in using them.