BLIO eReader for Textbooks

I saw an interesting webinar for BLIO eReader. The software-based product was developed by KNFB Reading Technology, Inc. This is an electronic book / textbook reader program which allows students to use their own digital ink to highlight passages and to also type electronic notes. There are built-in tools for text-to-speech synthesis, and there are also tools to synchronize spoken words with typed text.
 

Unfortunately, one of the main selling points is 508 and ADA accessibility - and the person presenting the webinar linked to and displayed materials which outright failed to meet 508 accessibility (video clips without closed-captions, interaction activities which required mouse-based navigation, lack of ALT text captions in images, etc.).
 

The company uses a proprietary software application (rather than Adobe Reader which would have been a preferable implementation - for accessibility and market penetration reasons). This looks like a product that has some merit for the future, but it looks as though it needs to get some solid textbook partners involved in offering titles AND to have those partners ensure that the media and image materials make best use of accessibility features in the tools.
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Top Tips for D2L

Top Tips for Using D2L from RSP / ITeach 2010 Super Roundtable "Embrace Your Inner Geek"
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Top Tips for D2L

Top Tips for Using D2L from RSP / ITeach 2010 Super Roundtable "Embrace Your Inner Geek"
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Demonstration of SkyDrive folder

This is a demonstration of the SkyDrive folder holding presentation materials relating to Podcasting and also relating to Stepping Up PowerPoint presentations.

James' Skydrive Public Folder

Hibbing Presentation: Audacity Training Video
Audacity Program Download
Audacity Documentation and User Manuals
Adding the LAME encoder for MP3 files
Other Audacity FAQs

James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Demonstration of SkyDrive folder

This is a demonstration of the SkyDrive folder holding presentation materials relating to Podcasting and also relating to Stepping Up PowerPoint presentations.

James' Skydrive Public Folder

Hibbing Presentation: Audacity Training Video
Audacity Program Download
Audacity Documentation and User Manuals
Adding the LAME encoder for MP3 files
Other Audacity FAQs

James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Online Looping Music Editor

Dubstep Studio (Learning Jam001) - use the CLICK TO MIX button to hear the composition.

I stumbled across a FREE online editor to create loops-based music. The site provides a large number of Midi-loop phrases, and you "paint" the loops along a timeline to indicate when each sound loop should play. After the creation is made, you can embed the music or provide an email link to friends to "remix" your creation.

James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Online Looping Music Editor

Dubstep Studio (Learning Jam001) - use the CLICK TO MIX button to hear the composition.

I stumbled across a FREE online editor to create loops-based music. The site provides a large number of Midi-loop phrases, and you "paint" the loops along a timeline to indicate when each sound loop should play. After the creation is made, you can embed the music or provide an email link to friends to "remix" your creation.

James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

The Case for Developmental Courses offered Web-Based through Customized Training

Colleges and universities which cater to open access and open enrollment are finding that more students are testing at developmental levels.

THe work-around to getting students prepared for college-level coursework is to enroll students in developmental courses at the same time the students are enrolled in program-based courses. The reason is financial; students need a full load in order to quality for full financial aid, and many students would elect not to attend if they weren't eligible for financial aid.

The problem is that "credit-based" courses have to be charged at "credit-based" tuition prices, which make the developmental classes extremely expensive to take, and even more expensive if the student gets overwhelmed (trying to do a full load of courses while being academically ill-prepared), and some students fail-out of the system. When they do fail-out, they are responsible for paying back the financial aid they have received, leaving the students in a far worse situation than before they come to the campus. Additionally, these students have marks on their transcripts which will limit their ability to be accepted by other institutions.

Developmental classes should be about a student improving their communication and math skills for their own self-benefit, as separate from a program of study. Students should be able to take their developmental courses before they are applying to a program of study -- to ensure they have the root skills which will give them the potential for success in the courses within the programs.

One Possible SolutionDevelopmental courses could be moved out of the "credit-based" side of higher education and instead be delivered as a customized-training or outreach type of course. These courses should not have a grade, but they should have regular assessments to allow students to understand where they are in their skill development and track their successes and progress.

Nothing should end up on a transcript - and students should be able to repeat the developmental courses as much as they need to develop the skills to be successful for collegiate work.

Developmental courses can be designed by a team of subject-matter experts - who are paid to create self-encapsulated learning objects which help students acquire and practice the skills they will need in their future academic programs. If the courses are developed in a careful and thoughtful manner, the course content could "run itself" -- allowing the teacher of the course to leverage his/her time to providing feedback and guidance to students, assessing their progress, and providing additional small-group study sessions online (through web-conferencing).

Students would reflect upon and assess their own progress with the assistance of the instructor. Self-assessments would help students understand where they are placing (on knowledge and skills tests), and the automatic feedback could give students suggestions on which content in the course might be useful to review.

While suggested assignments would be offered - the course has no grade, so the assignments would be optional. Students who are eager to learn will take advantage of the personalized feedback from the instructor, and students who have "life happen" will not be permanently penalized with low marks.

This requires a major mindset change from a community college being an institution which delivers degree programs to one of a college serves the learning needs of its communities.

By separating out the developmental courses "before acceptance" to the college, the side-effects will likely be better retention (students who gain success are likelier to continue), improved rigor (instructors will not feel the need to "dumb down" a course), and better results for all learners (if the instructor does not have to slow content delivery to a developmental level - then all learners can cover content in a broader and deeper manner and use more course time for problem solving and critical thinking.
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

The Case for Developmental Courses offered Web-Based through Customized Training

Colleges and universities which cater to open access and open enrollment are finding that more students are testing at developmental levels.

THe work-around to getting students prepared for college-level coursework is to enroll students in developmental courses at the same time the students are enrolled in program-based courses. The reason is financial; students need a full load in order to quality for full financial aid, and many students would elect not to attend if they weren't eligible for financial aid.

The problem is that "credit-based" courses have to be charged at "credit-based" tuition prices, which make the developmental classes extremely expensive to take, and even more expensive if the student gets overwhelmed (trying to do a full load of courses while being academically ill-prepared), and some students fail-out of the system. When they do fail-out, they are responsible for paying back the financial aid they have received, leaving the students in a far worse situation than before they come to the campus. Additionally, these students have marks on their transcripts which will limit their ability to be accepted by other institutions.

Developmental classes should be about a student improving their communication and math skills for their own self-benefit, as separate from a program of study. Students should be able to take their developmental courses before they are applying to a program of study -- to ensure they have the root skills which will give them the potential for success in the courses within the programs.

One Possible SolutionDevelopmental courses could be moved out of the "credit-based" side of higher education and instead be delivered as a customized-training or outreach type of course. These courses should not have a grade, but they should have regular assessments to allow students to understand where they are in their skill development and track their successes and progress.

Nothing should end up on a transcript - and students should be able to repeat the developmental courses as much as they need to develop the skills to be successful for collegiate work.

Developmental courses can be designed by a team of subject-matter experts - who are paid to create self-encapsulated learning objects which help students acquire and practice the skills they will need in their future academic programs. If the courses are developed in a careful and thoughtful manner, the course content could "run itself" -- allowing the teacher of the course to leverage his/her time to providing feedback and guidance to students, assessing their progress, and providing additional small-group study sessions online (through web-conferencing).

Students would reflect upon and assess their own progress with the assistance of the instructor. Self-assessments would help students understand where they are placing (on knowledge and skills tests), and the automatic feedback could give students suggestions on which content in the course might be useful to review.

While suggested assignments would be offered - the course has no grade, so the assignments would be optional. Students who are eager to learn will take advantage of the personalized feedback from the instructor, and students who have "life happen" will not be permanently penalized with low marks.

This requires a major mindset change from a community college being an institution which delivers degree programs to one of a college serves the learning needs of its communities.

By separating out the developmental courses "before acceptance" to the college, the side-effects will likely be better retention (students who gain success are likelier to continue), improved rigor (instructors will not feel the need to "dumb down" a course), and better results for all learners (if the instructor does not have to slow content delivery to a developmental level - then all learners can cover content in a broader and deeper manner and use more course time for problem solving and critical thinking.
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

Twitter as "Social Bookmarking"

The more I participate on Twitter and see how others are using it, the more I am coming to realize that the professional use of the tool is not to tell others when you are in the bathroom, or which cab you entered, but rather to share links to interesting articles and stories you've read.

This "social bookmarking" use of Twitter is something that will likely grow -- since it becomes a useful informational resource (rather than simply a "social status" tool to let your fans know "here's what I'm doing and where I'm at").

When you are following someone, you can get a quick and instant digest of the links they've been sharing. This makes it easy to catch up on your reading in a controlled and thoughtful manner.
James Falkofske - TechnologyBites.blogspot.com

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