Archive for March, 2008

The ever elusive paperless society

March 27, 2008

Ok, last post for the day — promise.  We’ve been talking in the library about the tons of paper students go through and how we could cut down on a lot of wasteful printing that eats up our budget and harms the environment.  Well, in addition to the obvious idea of installing a printer management service, I came across this site today (again from Lifehacker).  I plan to try this at home (free version), and maybe if many of us have a good experience with it on a personal level, we could make a justification for licensing the enterprise version.  Just a thought…

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Jott this down (Thing #14)

March 27, 2008

I confess — I have a real weakness for online productivity apps. I’m trying out new ones all the time (though I can’t always profess to being more productive as a result 🙂 ). So, I wanted to mention one that is a current fave of mine that did not appear on any of the sites listed under Thing 14. It’s called Jott. As they succinctly describe it on their website, “Jott converts your voice into emails, text messages, reminders, lists and appointments.” What that means is that you can be away from your computer but still easily send an (short) email to someone or put something on your calendar or to-do list. Perfect for those of us with primitive cellphones, live sans a PDA or are otherwise organizationally-challenged. If I make an appointment while I’m out and about, I just call the Jott number on my cellphone, tell it to call Google Calendar, and then say what I want put on my calendar on what day. So far, it’s worked like a charm every time. Great as a bill reminder service, too.

In the classroom, I suppose you could use it if you wanted to send your students an email or text message (you can set up the service to send to different groups of people, e.g. you could create a list of just your ENG 112 class or whaterver) even while you are away from your computer — assignment reminder, interesting tidbit you just stumbled across that you might otherwise forget to mention to them.

BTW, one of my favorite sites for staying on top of new apps (and, in fact, where I learned about Jott) is lifehacker.com.

Stick to the program (Thing #13)

March 27, 2008

postitnote.jpg

Just getting around to last week’s Thing. Which led me to create the above image. Fun, but it was a little tricky. Took me awhile to figure out that I had to right click on the image I created to save it and then upload it to the blog. I felt the instructions on the site could have been a little more user-friendly in this regard.

Let’s work together (Thing #11 & Thing #12)

March 27, 2008

(This post was composed some time ago, but I just realized it was saved as a draft and not published. Oops.)

I can see how Google Docs would be useful for some collaborative work, e.g. students in disparate locations working together on a group project could edit in real-time while chatting with each other to to discuss the document they are working on together. But, as others have pointed out, the lack of formatting options means you still have to convert the document for further revision using a more robust desktop word processing program for academic papers (for example, in order to provide footnotes). BTW, Microsoft has gotten into the game now too and offers a similar service with Office Live Workspace. And MS SharePoint has offered this for some time, but I don’t know if Marymount has a subscription. Don’t know if the new free online service offers the same palette of formatting options as Word does, but if it does, it would be a step up from GDocs.

On sharing docs, I received an invite to view a GDoc, but I was unable to access it. the invitation was sent to my work email address, not my GMail address, so I’m wondering if that is why I could not access it. If that is the case, that is another major drawback of GDocs — you should be allowed to share with anyone, not just those with Google accounts. And the people wanting to invite you should not have to remember your Gmail account if they are more accustomed to using a different account.

Other than that, I like the service for personal use; being able to access certain files from anywhere w/out having to remember to save it on a USB stick and then remember to take the USB stick with me has been very handy indeed.

Around the dial (Thing #20)

March 27, 2008

At first I was going to title this post à propos of no “Thing”, but then I looked ahead and realized this relates to Thing 20 on podcasting. One of my favorite things about the Web in general and podcasting in particular is the diversity of voices to which we now have easy access. I think it can be very instructive for students (heck, everyone) to read, listen, or watch news from non-U.S. sources. The choices for English-language broadcasting from non-U.S. media outlets is impressive. See, for example, this list compiled by the Association of College and Research Libraries. On that note, here is a shameless plug for a radio feature on Korean missionaries by an independent German reporter (who happens to be a good friend of mine 🙂 ) that was broadcast today on the Beeb (aka the BBC) and last week on German radio. You can also podcast Crossing Continents, the BBC program it comes from, to get weekly installments of the show, which presents “On the ground reporting from around the world which focuses on the human dimension of the big international stories.”

Random Acts of Blogness

March 18, 2008

Random Acts of Blogness

When I set up this blog, I expected that the only people who might be even remotely interested in looking at it would be my fellow 23 Things participants at Marymount College. Imagine then my surprise when I received a comment last week on my Trading Card post from someone outside our fine institution whom I had never heard of. He apparently found the post after Googling “flickr academic”, liked the idea and wanted to link to it, which is what I would call a random act of blogness!

(This post was published from my Gdocs account).

Biting off more than I can chew (Thing #8 & Thing #9)

March 17, 2008

I love RSS and have been using it for many years now. I’ve never been very systematic about how I go about finding sites I want to subscribe to. Usually I just end up coming across some website or blog that I decide looks interesting and click on the RSS icon. I’ve used different tools to subscribe to feeds including Windows Live Mail desktop (your feeds come in to the same application as your email) and iGoogle (a customizable homepage for Google). For the purpose of this exercise, I decided to try out Google Reader, too. Still getting used to the look and feel of it. One thing I like is that I can group blogs together into a folder and I can then view it all from my iGoogle homepage, which saves me from having to open a separate website or application to read my feeds. Here’s a screenshot of what it looks like (click on it to see it in better resolution).

screenshot-of-google-reader-in-igoogle.png

In addition to the great Blog search engines Mary mentioned, there are also customized search engines. For example, to find blogs related to libraryland, check out LisZen. There are probably lots of other niche blog search engines for other areas of the academy too. And, as I’m sure everyone’s discovered, there’s a blog just about any subject imaginable. I used Bloglines and found a discussion forum on folding bicycles which also has RSS feeds (and I learned about an upcoming charity ride of folding bike enthusiasts right here in LA – who knew?).

The big problem with RSS is keeping the number of feeds down to a manageable number.

I’ll trade you a Jefferson for a Washington and a Hamilton (Thing #7)

March 12, 2008

Haven’t had much time lately to devote to this, but wanted to get back into it before I fall too far behind. One potential academic use of Flickr I thought of was to have some fun with the Trading Card application that gave students a quick reminder of important people and their ideas. Actually, the idea comes from somebody who already created such trading cards from Theory.org.uk. Of course, it’s pretty challenging to distill a person’s accomplishments into the format provided. Here’s my effort at a card on Thomas Jefferson.

Thomas Jefferson Trading Card

(click on image to enlarge; image credit: chadh, original can be found here )

The other thing to consider is copyright for use of pictures. I searched Flickr on Thomas Jefferson and then checked the permissions granted under the Creative Commons license by the image creator. Flickr’s Advanced Search page allows you to limit by such re-usable content.