March 24th 2009

Aviary

Aviary

Aviary is an online alternative to Photoshop and other bloated image-manipulating software.

Aviary is on a mission to make creation accessible to artists of all genres, from graphic design to audio editing. We’re a privately held company currently headquartered in Long Island, NY, with team members around the world. Our founders also created Worth1000.com, a talented community of 500,000 digital artists that participate in amazing daily contests.

Portrait.egg by mpeutz on Aviary

http://aviary.com/home

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March 23rd 2009

Jing

Jing

Here’s a new app that allows you to not only save screencaptures, but to animate onscreen activities as well.  It’s called Jing and I have yet to try it, but it seems interesting.

A few ways to use Jing:

  • collaborateCollaborate on a design project
  • share snapshotShare a snapshot of a document
  • speechNarrate your vacation photos
  • bugCapture that pesky bug in action
  • family tech supportShow Dad how to use iTunes
  • homeworkComment verbally on students’ homework
  • smileyCollect cool web designs or funny ads
  • tidbitsPost tidbits from your life on Twitter or Facebook

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March 5th 2009

Cleaning Your Inbox

Cleaning Your Inbox

In case you don’t know how the clean up those pesky emails, the New York Times has an entire article on it.

What is it about e-mail that consumes us — that invades every corner of our personal space, demands ever more sophisticated methods of organization, and makes us wish for extra hours in the day to deal with the deluge?

I’m glad the New York Times is reporting on real news for a change.

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April 7th 2008

4Cs NOLA Friday — F Session

Somehow, I started fresh Friday morning after blogging late and trying to adjust to New Orleans time. A session on Fully On-Line Instruction began at 8:00, which is 6am CA time, and I was starting to feel it.

This particular session focused on a pilot project from UCSB comparing a series of face-to-face FYC courses with totally on-line instruction. The courses were taught by three different teachers, each taking one of the on-line and one of the face-to-face courses so that assessment of pros and cons could be relatively evaluated across pedagogies. One speaker identified herself as a “not-so-tech-savvy” person who engaged the project with more skepticism than her colleagues. The others were rather more knowledgeable, but in the end, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.

The problem is that, if an instructor has read the latest research or spoken in depth with anyone working on-line, the problems and benefits are consistently in the same areas:

The positives are that

  • The responsibility for collaboration and group work is on the students
  • The technology allows more useful (timely?) feedback and more efficient distribution of course materials
  • The quantity and quality of communication increases
  • Asynchronous activities allow students to proceed with work on their own schedules
  • There are opportunities for multi-modal presentations that a classroom setting does not facilitate

The negatives include

  • Limited immediate follow-up and spontaneity in conversation and it can be difficult to provide individualized instruction
  • If you use portfolios, collecting and assessing such is difficult
  • There are inevitable technology glitches and access considerations (dial-up, etc.) that complicate things
  • Prep time is dramatically increased
  • Because the primary medium of communication is written text (rather than spoken words as in a classroom), students who read slowly and/or write slowly (or poorly) fair less well than in a regular classroom environment

So, the consensus was that on-line instruction was a mixed bag–a different mode with different advantages and weaknesses that we just need to be aware of. The panel had some recommendations on creating better on-line learning courses based on their experiences as well as their assessments of student learning outcomes.

  1. Maintain clarity of purpose in the course–be slow to introduce “new” features and instead try to maintain a stable environment around an “institutional” context, rather than a “technology” context
  2. Keep the basics of good practice in mind–peer review, drafts, etc.
  3. Be prepared to do more prep work (nearly 3 times as much at first) than in a conventional classroom

It was, in the end, an interesting enough presentation–they’d brought slides of the research and bibliographical information that situated them in the field, but I had been hoping for more practical tips for esubmissions, responding to students, maintaining real-time discussions and the like.

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