Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Serving Up Video on YouTube

YouTube.Com is a free site that you can use to host video content for your course.

The video content is streamed out to the user in an Adobe Flash file (meaning that users cannot easily download and store your materials). There is no limitation on the number of videos that you upload, and you have the ability to delete videos any time you desire.
The limitations on file size are that videos must be less than 100MB and shorter than 10 minutes. These restrictions are not that troubling, because you can always take a longer sequence and cut it into smaller pieces.

As you post new videos, they automatically are loaded in LIFO order (last in, first out) - so that your more recent additions are at the front of the list that viewers can access.

The one frustration is that the audio and video can fall out of synchronization (synch). This is a result of the conversion to Flash; it is a known issue and not one that you can easily control. Some people find this extremely distracting (especially those who might be hard of hearing and rely upon mouth position to help discern words), but most users will not find it too bothersome.

As a demonstration, I've uploaded a couple videos (my profile site is http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=nospam4artsnet ).

You can watch one of my videos (on how to get ready for recording audio using a computer headset microphone) by going to the link at:

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mental Engineering and AdCritic

Mental Engineering

Mental Engineering episode
Studio shot - image link from MentalEngineering.com

Over the weekend, I had the honor and privilege of attending the taping of 2 episodes of the show Mental Engineering - which broadcasts on public television in about 100 markets. This show is GREAT! I was already a big fan before I had a chance to see the live recording.

John Forde (pronounced four-dee) is the host, and he brings together professors, comedians, and celebrities to discuss the psychological, social, and political aspects/impacts of nationally released television commercials.

The show runs on Channel 17 Saturdays at 9PM, and also intermittently on Channel 2 on Sundays at 11:30PM.

More information about the show is at: http://www.mentalengineering.com/index.html

Tapping some of the show's content might be a very useful activity for students in media studies, psychology, sociology, graphic design, advertising design, marketing, and entrepreneurship courses.

John also provide a "lesson plan" for graduate level students in social psychology. Information is at: http://www.mentalengineering.com/class.asp.

If you have interests in advertising or marketing, then you should definitely get involved in watching this show and telling your local public television affiliate to keep the show in its line-up. John is also looking for financial support - so if you come to love the show, consider a tax-deductible donation.

To see some low-resolution video clips from the show, you can visit YouTube.com and search for the user profile of JohnForde (http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=johnforde)


Another great site, if you are interested in advertising, is AdCritic.Com and their companion magazine Creativity. This is a paid-subscription site, and it is pricey (they have a 12-month special for $99),
but when it was a free service, I found it to be one of the BEST resources regarding advertising from across the world (print ads as well as full-clips from television ads).

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Interview with Steve Creason, MIS

This is the second interview in the podcast series.

Assistant professor Steve Creason shared his views about Management Information Systems and the changing roles of work. Our conversation was so interesting that it went much longer than expected. Therefore, you get TWO podcasts in one (each about 20 minutes).

MCpodcast_02Creason1 (streaming MP3)

  • 1:45 How much technology and how much management?
  • 2:52 You have to understand Profit and Loss!
  • 4:36 You need a lot more business education than you need technology education.
  • 5:28 Outsourcing
  • 8:10 You want to concentrate on your core business.
  • 9:15 What's important data, and what's less important data?
  • 10:35 Government makes decisions based on consensus....
  • 11:30 On the verge on a shift in the way our economy works.
  • 13:00 We need to teach managers to manage by task rather than by hour.
  • 15:30 Remote work in a team environment.
  • 17:00 Getting managers and professors to teach to the capability of the technology.

MCpodcast_02Creason2 (streaming MP3)

  • 0:45 No longer tethered to the desk.
  • 2:35 Being "on call" through technology.
  • 3:40 Managing by time causes the problem.
  • 5:30 Working class has easier.
  • 6:30 Preserving the knowledge capital with an aging population.
  • 7:30 McDonalds' expert systems
  • 9:08 Knowledge narratives
  • 10:00 Company historians.
  • 12:00 Managing a company versus managing customer expectations.
  • 17:14 No one knew what Enron did.
  • 18:30 How much does it cost to keep your customers?
  • 21:10 The biggest failure in online.
  • 22:00 What does eBay really sell?
  • 23:00 The MIS program.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Friendlier Discussion Spaces

Online discussions are often just too text-based. As one means of encouraging some creativity, I have posted a few images inside the descriptions of my discussion threads.
At the least, I hope that this will make topics easier to locate for my grading purposes (and for students wanting to post comments) - especially when I re-shuffle the order of the discussion topics throughout the term.

Moreso, I hope to encourage students to make use of images, sounds, and possibly even video links in their major projects and shared research resources.

Here is a screenshot of the entrance to my discussion area.

In D2L, you can add images into your discussion topics by using the HTML Editing Tool for composing the forum descriptions and then using the image tool to UPLOAD A NEW IMAGE (that will appear in the page).

WARNING!!! If you are using D2L, make sure that the files saved into D2L have no space characters or other punctuation symbols in their file names. Use of the ampersand (&) gets especially rough. "Just say no!"

Similar use of images can also be placed into descriptions for the Dropboxes, Grade Items, and Quiz descriptions and questions.

Please make sure that any image you are using is well captioned and/or contains appropriate ALT text in the IMG tag.

Easy Course Images

Rather than buying a $900 digital SLR camera, you can create very high resolution images for your courses by using a $70 scanner hooked up to your computer.

Place the objects that you need photographed on the scanner glass (be realistic about size and weight of objects, please).

Then scan.
Simple visual elements help make content more interesting. Use of symbolism can also aid memory in a student's investigation of the topics.


Cheap and Easy 3D for Online Courses

Do you have an object that you would like to show students in 3-dimensions?

Too hard to mail the object out for viewing?

Here is a simple yet effective optical illusion that will work for you.

Make two scans of the object.

The first scan, the object will be to the left-most position on the scanner.

The second scan, the object will be to the right-most position on the scanner.

Open both images and copy them into a new third image. The "side-views" of the object (which were originally toward the middle of the scanner) still need to appropriately point toward the center in the final composition.

Leave some blank "white space" between the objects.

Have students stare at the whitespace between the objects and slowly cross their eyes. All of a sudden, they see the 3-dimensional object in the "negative space" left behind.

Light colored empty "negative" space works best. View the sample above of what is normally a very flat MP3 player (has little dimension to begin with - but with this process, you see it "lift off" the screen).

Have fun!

Super Phone! The New Educational Toy!

It was time for an upgrade.
The old cell phone was two years old, which was just too old.
The new Motorola Q was the thinner winner. This new cell phone has a built in MP3 player, 1.3 megapixel camera, and Microsoft operating system with wireless Internet access and Bluetooth capability. You can also record video and watch video on the unit.
The built-in memory is pretty tiny, but there is a mini-SD slot that can accept 1GB memory cards for additional music and photo storage.
The camera resolution is not very high and the lens is very wide angle, but it is perfect for some quick web-sized images that are perfectly acceptable for web use.
The data package is quite pricey ($45 extra each month on top of normal cell plan package), but can be purchased on a month-by-month deal. Also - the battery life is tiny (I've purchased a AC charger for home, another for the office, and also a high current car charger).
So, why all the fuss?
This is a great tool for teaching and learning!
See something interesting while walking down the street?
Take a quick photo.
Want to do something intellectual while exercising?
Download and listen to a web podcast from your favorite news or education site.
One the run?
Check email and even surf over to your course site to see the newest postings.
The ability to carry all of this functionality in your shirt pocket is fantastic.
I'm looking forward to being able to add more image content to my courses quickly and easily, such as the photo of Ken Hess (below) taken with the new Q-cell.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Free, online webcasts from UC Berkeley


If you're wondering how podcasts can be incorporated into your course site, check out the University of California-Berkeley webcast link above. The site offers podcasts both for classes and for events that have occured on the campus. You can download individual podcasts or subscribe using an RSS feed (to iTunes or other RSS scrape).

For the events, there are also video casts (vodcasts). This site shows an appropriate use of media. The production values are modest and the media content is compressed to reasonable sizes.

The one shortcoming is the lack of text-transcripts of materials. There are still needs for academia to have access to much better speech to text translation software. IBM has completed research and is developing better speech recognition tools, including ViaScribe. Information about this development is available at: http://researchweb.watson.ibm.com/journal/sj/443/bain.html