Fast, simple, flexible virtual meeting space

How do you easily hold virtual office hours? How do you have a meeting with a student or a colleague when they/you can not physically get to campus?

The CTEL staff and their faculty assistants have used this space in the past to talk about the possibility of ‘virtual meetings’: spaces where you go online to have a meeting when you can’t physically be there. These include things like, Blackboard Collaborate (FKA Elluminate), as well as Skype, Facetime and the one all of the students, staff, and faculty have access to right from their email web interface if they choose to use it, Google Chat.  One feature all of these have in common is the requirement for a login and a ‘co-acceptance’ by the parties involved (ie. Everyone needs to be on the same platform, usernames have to be shared, there has to be buy-in, so to speak.)

This co-acceptance model can be a hard sell for many due to the variety in “tech-savviness” and tolerance for what I like to call the ‘fiddletude’ of programs.

Enter .    This is a Flash based website that requires no log in, no username, accesses the installed camera and microphone drivers on most systems and allows for a fast way to have a meeting virtually (free version also can have 5 different connectors I hear).

You create a meeting space with a click of a button:




The server will assign you a meeting room and give you a very simple URL you mail, IM or phone to your co-participants.   Then the program will load using the Adobe Flash player that is the plug-in in most modern browsers (sorry iOS users, but you have Facetime… so..).  At this step there may be a few ‘do you wanna do this?’ check off boxes to enable you to use your mic and cam and start a peer-to-peer session. At that point you are in the meeting space:

The sound is decent even with normal built in mic options and camera is completely optional, but for a fast simple virtual presence that allows you  to hold virtual office hours or ‘phone it in’ for a meeting at a remote location, it really doesn’t get much simpler in terms of software setups. (ie. There is none!)  Now, regardless of the “tech-savvyness” of your colleagues, you or your students, if you can click a link, you can have a virtual office space.




Posted by on April 23rd, 2012 Read More Comments Off

iPad Screen Capturing Apps

Recently, I had a call from an instructor seeking out ways to annotate and record audio on his iPad.  He wanted to be able to share this work as video playback to his students.  During my research for best methods, I came across a very good wiki with a number of apps.

I would say these apps are the best out there and ones that you could explore.  The best tip is to read each description and match your needs to the features of the app.  This is when you’ll find the one that works for your needs.  Happy hunting!!

Posted by on April 2nd, 2012 Read More Comments Off


On a regular basis, EDUCAUSE publishes podcasts covering a wide range of topics.  Today I would like to point out three relevant higher education topics.

Sharing and Protecting Ideas in the 21st Century
Transforming Higher Education with Emerging Technologies
The 2012 Horizon Report – if you would like to read the full report, you can find it here.


Posted by on March 22nd, 2012 Read More Comments Off

FREE iPad App: Khan Academy

Khan Academy has finally released an app for iOS, specifically for the iPad that allows you to watch any of their 2,700+ academic videos for FREE!!

According to the app details:

“We cover a massive number of topics, including K-12 math, science topics such as biology, chemistry, and physics, and even the humanities with playlists on finance and history.

Spend an afternoon brushing up on Statistics. Discover how the Krebs cycle works. Learn about the fundamentals of Computer Science. Prepare for that upcoming SAT. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, learn how fire stick farming changed the landscape of Australia.

Included in our iPad app:

- Downloadable videos: take individual videos or entire playlists to watch offline at your own pace
- Subtitles: follow along, skip ahead, or go back by navigating through subtitles
- Track your progress: Log in with your Khan Academy user account to get credit for watching videos, and see your achievements
- Exercises coming soon!

It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, home-schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology; Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.”

Download the app and check it out!

Posted by on March 12th, 2012 Read More Comments Off

Clarity and Consistency are Essential …

From Magna’s Teaching and Learning Strategies:

Says Tim Bristol:

“Consistency addresses the idea that students come to learn for the purpose of pursuing greater milestones in life. They do not come to learn about faculty preferences and quirks. Keeping this in mind, faculty need to look for ways to ensure consistency of instructional design between assessment strategies and within programs. This can apply to one’s own course (i.e., the grading rubric for the concept paper is similar to or the same as the one for the final project). This includes consistency between courses as well. Are the discussion forum questions in psychology graded in the same way as discussion forum questions in sociology?”

Posted by on March 12th, 2012 Read More Comments Off

Deleting Grade Center Columns

Often times you will accidentally create duplicate assignments or tests.  In order to remove the duplicate or any unneeded assignment, test or quiz, you have to delete the content link, actual item and then remove the grade center column.  This is a 3 step process (for tests) and 2 step process (for assignments):

1.  Go to the content area of the course where the duplicate item (assignment, test, etc) is located and delete it from there.
2.  Go to the Control Panel -> Course Tools -> Tests, Surveys, Pools -> Click on Tests.  Find the duplicate item here and delete it.  (If it is an assignment, skip this step!)
3.  Go to the FULL Grade Center column, use the downward facing contextual arrows to select ‘Delete Column’.

Delete Column is only availabile AFTER the content link and actual assignment/test/quiz is removed from the system.

Posted by on March 7th, 2012 Read More Comments Off

JOLT: The End of Isolation

I just finished reading a research study published by Merlot’s JOLT (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching).  The study examined how instructors used social media, specifically Twitter, for professional knowledge.  Quite a lengthy article, but well worth the read.  Enjoy!

Posted by on September 28th, 2011 Read More Comments Off

Smart Converter: Video Conversion Solution

by Adam Williams

Our Macs are capable of so much: we can play games, design graphics, record music, the list is near endless. So why is it still so awkward and time consuming to convert video and audio file formats? The answer lies with both the various proprietary licenses which each format brings to the table and the significant processing power needed to perform such tasks.

As a musician I know all too well how difficult it can be to convert your AIFF files to lossy formats such as MP3, and videos are a whole headache in of themselves, requiring the correct encoding per device. What I need is to be able to bounce my media into whichever format I desire, whether a song from the studio, an audiobook on my iPod, or a movie for iPad, and I want all of this without worrying about codecs, DRM, or screen resolution settings.

Smart Converter promises to help out with all the above, read on after the break to see if it delivers.

Smart Converter: Video Conversion Solution

Posted by on August 31st, 2011 Read More Comments Off

How to Receive Files in Dropbox with FileStork

by Jason B. Jones
The Chronicle for Higher Education

We’ve written before about options for receiving papers electronically outside either e-mail or a campus-based learning management system. (For example, earlier this month I wrote about GoFileDrop, which lets you receive files of any type into your Google Docs account. Also see Send to Dropbox orDropbox Forms.)

The advantages of such a system are, basically, that it gets files out of your e-mail and directly into a location where you can start to work with them, that it eliminates uncertainty around e-mail receipt, and that it doesn’t get you locked into the LMS. Handy!

A recent entry into the file-receipt market is FileStork (Via LifeHacker). FileStork makes it incredibly simple for Dropbox users to request files from people on either a one-time or more open-ended basis. (This is probably a little easier and safer than sharing a folder with an entire class.) Here’s how it works.

Receive Files in Dropbox with FileStork

Posted by on August 30th, 2011 Read More Comments Off

Khan Academy partners with Kno e-texts

A great move forward for e-textbooks.

Posted by on August 28th, 2011 Read More Comments Off