Recently I was asked to provide business analysts with a regularly refreshed feed of Blackboard data from Blackboard’s Advanced System Reporting (ASR). The goal was to give analysts an updated set of data points that enabled quick reporting and visualization.
Blackboard ASR is a statistics database that gives system administrators access to system-level data. Microsoft Power BI is a business intelligence tool that allows regular analysts to quickly put together reports and dashboards. The combination gave analysts the ability to develop and share reports with regularly refreshed data across the organization. A simple example would be a bar chart that shows courses available:
While it’s straightforward to connect Blackboard ASR to a SQL client (Blackboard recommends Dreamcoder), pulling this data into a business intelligence tool was much more challenging since documentation on the topic is sparse. After spending several hours running into dead ends, I successfully connected Blackboard ASR to Power BI. Hopefully these instructions save you time:
How to Connect to Blackboard Data
1. Open Power BI Desktop
2. Click on Get Data -> Oracle Database
3. In the Server field enter the quick connect information in this format (host name):(port number)/(service name)
October 24, 2017 Update: Office Mix is moving out of Preview and will be part of PowerPoint by default. This will still be relevant until January 2018 but you should consider following these instructions to migrate.
Okay, Power Point isn’t sexy. But we know how to use PowerPoint and at last Microsoft has provided a good reason to utilize those skills: PowerPoint Office Mix. For those looking to create a training video, demonstration, or dynamic presentation, some common options include Camtasia, Adobe Captivate, and Jing. While dedicated products like Captivate provide an impressive set of features, for many people it requires learning a complex new tool. Since so many people already have at least PowerPoint 2013, I thought it would be good to take a look at a simple new way to create high-quality, interactive screencasts and presentations with PowerPoint.
Recently Microsoft released a free add-in for PowerPoint called Office Mix. Essentially, this means that you can install the add-in and it will show up as a tab titled “Mix” in PowerPoint. All you need is PowerPoint and you can add audio and video of yourself giving your presentation, write on slides as you talk through them, insert quizzes and practice exercises, and assess how users are viewing your presentations.
What you need to get started
PowerPoint 2013 or 2016
Optional accessories: USB microphone, headphones
By the end of this blog you will be able to
Record audio or video of yourself over a presentation
Write and draw directly in PowerPoint like you would on the whiteboard
Add quizzes, online videos, and web pages to your presentation
Gauge audience understanding with real-time analysis of your mix. See which users have viewed your mix and, and if you include quiz questions, assess how they did on your quizzes
Click “Sign in” at the top right and select “Sign in with organizational account” if your organization already uses Office365 or sign in with your Google, Facebook, or Microsoft account
Once you’ve logged in, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and click on “Download Office Mix” or just go here
Now locate, launch and install the downloaded file, which will be named “OfficeMix.Setup.exe”
How to Create a PowerPoint Office Mix
Now that you’ve installed Office Mix add-on for PowerPoint, you’re ready to create a mix. First, open PowerPoint 2013
Notice that you now have a Mix tab? Click on that and check out your options:a. Use this to record you voice over a slide b. Click on Quizzes Videos Apps to add a question/quiz to a slide (note quizzes have to be on their own slide) c. Select Screen Recording if you want to record your screen and voice (screencast) d. Use Screenshot to take a picture of your desktop or an application open on your desktop e. Click on Preview to see your presentation before uploading it f. Click on Upload to automatically upload your presentation to the Office Mix server. You can easily manage this later. g. Click on Export to Video to download your presentation as a videoNote: if you use quiz questions then you must use Upload and not Export to Video
Now create some slides and try them out
How to Share Your Mix, and View Analytics
So we’ve installed the Mix add-in to PowerPoint and we’ve created and uploaded a presentation. Now what?
Click on (a) Manage and then select (b) Share. Choose who you want to share your mix with – Private, Only users from your organization or group, Anyone with a Mix link, or Public.You are given several options under the manage tab. You can edit your project’s title and description. You can share or download your mix as well as view usage reports and delete the project.
Now that you’ve shared your Mix with people, you can (c) see analytics for your Mix, which includes overview information on number of viewers per slide, average time spent on each slide, names of users viewing the slide and, if you included quiz/survey questions, assessment data for each user (e.g., responses to the questions).
With the explosion of hybrid and online courses, educators are often faced with the daunting task of not only learning a new set of digital tools but also completely re-imagining their approach to student engagement. Frequently institutions provide training on new educational technologies but best practices common to successful web design and online learning projects are neglected. The focus on platform proficiency at the expense of a coherent course design process results in courses that feel like old storage bins: folders bulging with documents, collections of unorganized links, dusty question sets, 90-minute lecture videos, discussion boards full of tumbleweeds. These courses are difficult to navigate, appear unpolished, and fail to provide consistent learner assessment. Where’s the focus on educational experience? The current course creation process is often inverted. Educators have been designing technology-centered and template-first online courses while traditional pedagogical concerns around content hierarchy, student motivation, and learning outcomes are largely displaced.
Just as web designers can’t predict what device or screen size will be popular two years from now, most instructional designers and educators aren’t in the position to choose the learning management system at their institution. Migrating from one LMS to another can take a highly functioning course and make it unusable. While it’s important to acknowledge and embrace this instability, there are ways we can better design courses for change. The solution is adaptive design. Adaptive design requires educators to take a content-first approach when creating a course. Before the design phase educators should determine:
1. Instructional Goals
Desired learning outcomes, barriers to course success, and potential instructional and administrative issues.
2. Learner Characteristics
Prior knowledge, group attributes, academic motivation, attitudes toward content or topic, attitudes toward training organization
Both of these should be done before even touching the technology (Ertmer, 117). Carefully curated and organized course content enables us to design for an optimal learning experience while standardizing the process, which makes our design responsive any container.
Embracing future-friendly course design ensures that we can fully address the current technology environment while building long-term value for stakeholders.
The Right Content in the Right Place
It’s not enough to have content to fill an online course. It has to be the right content, carefully organized. Moving course materials requires a detailed content strategy. It’s similar to moving day — everything is packed and labeled but the new house may be a different size and shape. That old bookcase no longer fits. Your favorite sofa blocks an entryway. Content strategy is the practice of planning for the creation, delivery, management, and documentation of relevant content. Effective content strategy enables more actionable, results-driven educational experiences. The goal is to create a sustainable and repeatable course design process. While content strategy is a term infrequently applied to this domain, it’s highly relevant to online course design and delivery. A good course content strategy defines
Adaptive, Content-First Course Design
Following a framework for course design and development can help structure an educator’s decision process and accelerate the course development timeline. This article examines the major instructional design models, responsive architecture approaches, and web design processes and synthesizes these into a detailed framework for adaptive course design.
Determine instructional goals
Identify learner characteristics
Develop content strategy
List and summarize course deliverables and content items (content inventory)
Analyze how content and deliverables advance the instructional goals
Arrange the content and deliverables to align with instructional goals
Decide what to eliminate and what to (re)create
Create strategic direction document
Detail page-level requirements (page table)
Sketch interaction design views
Develop visual design strategy
Create summary document of design decisions
Build or apply template
Add interaction areas (e.g., discussion board)
Create assessments and assignments
Fill with content
Test and verify
Complete formative evaluation
Create operational plan
Develop internal and external documentation
Create course roll-out plan
Complete summative evaluation
Create task list
Revise based on feedback
Steps 1-3 should occur long before an instructor or instructional designer logs into a learning management system.
Yesterday I spent a couple of hours evaluating SWIVL for potential use at the University of Houston (UH). I thought I would jot down my early impressions of the potential usability and value of SWIVL for academic institutions.
SWIVL jumped onto the scene as a Kickstarter project in December 2012 and has delivered on its promise to create a multipurpose motion and tracking platform. The company highlights the educational use cases for SWIVL for flipped classrooms, lecture capture, distance education, and collaboration. Educational institutions are the source of 75-80 percent of their business and they have received additional capital to guarantee the launch of the second generation of SWIVL devices.
There is a growing body of data highlighting the urgency for simple, effective video integrations. Over the decade represented below, students selecting distance education courses increased by 150 percent. Projections show that by the end of 2013, 18 percent of undergraduate students will receive 80 percent of their credits through distance education courses.
After conducting a few small focus groups at UH, the data pointed to a common sense conclusion: faculty, staff, and students want a hassle-free way to record and upload course-related video. While enterprise lecture capture systems still have value at large universities, we found that many users want more agile and spontaneous approaches to content creation and distribution. Using our user personas and use cases we identified several requirements for video capture:
Can the device be setup in less than five minutes by someone who has never used it before?
Whether giving a lecture or creating videos in student groups, the device must enable and even encourage movement and action. With the varied classroom layouts and differences in departmental needs, it’s also important that the device be able to function unplugged.
The bottom line is that we want to empower faculty, staff, and students to create, share, and learn using their preferred applications while giving them full control over their content. The device must be easy to integrate with the many applications and services at UH (e.g., WordPress, YouTube, Drupal, Moodle, Blackboard Learn, etc.).
In order to impact the curriculum and pedagogy, we have to actually get these devices into users’ hands. This means that the device must be affordable and require very little external support.
The device and supporting applications should be capable of supporting usage that will exceed current rates. Special care should be taken to address the challenge of maintaining efficiency while allowing flexibility.
So how did SWIVL do?
+remote activated record
+battery and AC powered
-awkward adjustment wheel
-requires iPhone or iPod Touch to use remote and microphone
-only pans, no tilt
I originally created this video for internal use only but here is the quick overview and demonstration for those of you interested in seeing the performance of SWIVL without audio or video effects with an iPhone 4S in an empty classroom:
Streaming media technologies allow real-time and asynchronous online dissemination of multimedia. Lecture capture helps deliver educational programs to improve the effectiveness of distance learning. A lingering challenge of turning instructional design and technological processes into sound pedagogical practice is the narrow focus on hardware. The benefits of a technology-rich classroom include increased social interaction, a greater attention to teaching style, and heightened student motivation (Earle, 2002; Tiene & Luft, 2001). By focusing on the interaction between learner, instructor, technology, and spatial context as a dynamic and changing system, it is possible to develop a list of best practices. Below I will focus on best practices for education video streaming.
When designing instructional material for lecture capture, the challenge is to consider the visual aspects of the medium. Presentation design and organization are key to a successful telepresence learning experience.
Instruction & Interaction
Alternate between lecture and discussion regularly during the class.
Utilize multiple forms of student interaction: polling, discussing, reading, writing.
Reinforce the concepts presented with quizzes, games, and group projects.
Engage students with direct questions and reward their contributions to the class.
How to Make Your Presentation Great
Less is more. Students need to be able to absorb both the information on the slides and the lecture. Instead of complicated single slides, create multiple slides that each contain a distinct idea or concept.
Avoid reading your lecture when possible. Talking directly to the audience is more engaging, especially when dealing with distant learners.
Hand gestures and body movements, in moderation, can also make for a more dynamic presentation.
Vary your tone of voice and the amount of eye contact with the camera.
Keep the lecture area clutter free. Book bags, coats, power cables, loose paper, and open folders can be visual distractions.
Resize, crop, and edit images and graphics in browser using pixlr.com.
Your presentation should use colors that fit the tone and content of the lecture topic. Adobe Kuler is a great color scheme planner.
Introduce yourself to classmates at your location.
Often lectures will be supplemented with additional online materials. Check your email and course site regularly for updates, class notes, and handouts.
Show up on time. Participate in class discussion.
It’s important to make the instructor and other students aware early of technical problems or learning challenges presented by the technology. For example, if the instructor or a classmate is speaking too quietly, ask them to speak up or adjust the microphone.
When you are asking or answering a question in an education video streaming environment, sometimes the audio can be heard before the video switches to your location. For this reason, you should first state your name and location (e.g., “Prof. Jones, this is Jennifer in Sugar Land, and I was wondering….”).
Cell phones, even when set to mute or vibrate, will cause audio disturbances during the lecture.
Be aware that you can be seen by everyone at the connected receive site(s) and not just the instructor.
From Order to Configurability of Books: “Distant Reading” of Foreign Titles in the Woman’s Library at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition
This site follows a collection that began as an exhibit at the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition’s Woman’s Building Library across the time dimension to its absorption into material collections and integration with the literary and national canons. The project theorizes the bibliographic fact and presents a methodology for reading forms and structures using a digital archive which can be continually configured.
Literary criticism (new criticism in particular) has developed excellent approaches and models over the past forty years that have allowed for the separation and interrogation of individual works, creating an “atomicism” of the works. This atomicism has resulted in the “destruction of any historical sense of literature as a result of its dismemberment” (Guillen, p. 578). What we are attempting with this project is to allow for a supranational ordering and reading of the texts, and a “comparatist’s search” for understanding that extends past “national differences” (Guillen, 1971). We are attempting to realize what Raymond Williams (1981) wanted to pursue when he wrote, “If I had one single ambition in literary studies it would be to rejoin [relations between language use and human physical organization] with experimental science” (p. 341). Moretti (2005) notes that a reconfiguration of literary history requires a prioritization of “explanation (understanding larger structures) over interpretation (reading of individual works).” By creating this open text from the WBL, we are helping reintegrate the “lost 99 percent of the archive” or the “Great Unread” into the “fabric of literary history” (Moretti, 2005). If, as Derrida claimed, no archive can be separated from the “outside” then this distant reading of the 1893 Women’s Library attempts to both reconfigure and resurrect.
– Paper presented at SHARP 2011 in the Library of Congress in DC with Marija Dalbello.
Weaving a New ‘Net: A Mesh-Based Solution for Democratizing Networked Communications
by Aram Sinnreich, Nathan Graham, & Aaron Trammell
Although the Internet is largely decentralized in its communication and social patterns, its technical and regulatory apparatuses are highly centralized and hierarchical. Consequently, digital communications are vulnerable to a degree of surveillance and censorship that would be unthinkable in traditional social arenas, threatening “Internet freedom” and cyberliberties in both democratic and politically repressed societies. We believe a new architecture is required in order to protect the continuance of civil liberties in networked society. In this article, we propose 10 “social specifications” describing the requirements of such a network, and outline an architecture called MondoNet that meets these specifications using ad hoc, wireless mesh networking technologies. We also address the legal and technical challenges facing the MondoNet project, and anticipate future developments in this field.
Local Interventions augments the 2011 Mobility Shifts conference by providing a digital space for presenters, organizers, and attendees to focus discussion around a daily question. These interviews, recorded on mobile devices, will spur real-world interaction, stimulate conversation, and serve as educational record. Join us!
What you need: digital video camera (smartphone, camcorder, webcam, etc), internet connection