Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Here's a short how-to video on screencasting (capturing your computer screen while you narrate) using Screencast-o-matic.  I've recommended Jing in the past, but this one has some nice features that make it a great choice for you and your students:

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Embedding YouTube into PowerPoint (update 12/12)

Well, it was good while it lasted.  PowerPoint 2012 had the ability to play YouTube videos inside a presentation.  I say "had" because this required embed code from YouTube that is no longer available.  So how can you show videos during a PowerPoint?  Here are three ideas:

  1. Put a link to the video in the PowerPoint (this is what we all used to do).  The video will play in a browser, separate from PowerPoint.  You may also want to have the video queued up in a browser, so you can exit the PowerPoint and start playing immediately.
  2. Try this tool, which promises to deliver the required embed code: http://www.tools4noobs.com/online_tools/youtube_xhtml/.
  3. Don't use PowerPoint.  
    1. Google Presentations play YouTube videos very nicely (note that YouTube is owned by Google).  They don't, however play sounds.  Or...
    2. Have you checked out SlideRocket?    It's listed under "More" in our Google Apps.  SlideRocket is a professional-looking presentation tool that has some nice templates. Works with both video and sound, which Google Presentation doesn't.
    3. Prezi also works with YouTube video.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Auto grading Google forms with Flubaroo script

There are many tools available for creating quizzes that students can take online.  Moodle, for example, has a powerful quiz module that I use all the time in my class.  To be honest, the learning curve can be a bit steep, so here's another (easier) tool you can try.  It's called Flubaroo and it makes use of Google Forms.  Students submit their answers and they are checked against your key.

The tutorial below takes you through all the steps required.  One thing to note is that for "free response" questions, spelling will count.  There is an option to have particular questions not graded, however, so that you can do these manually (I use that option in Moodle not only for longer responses, but for shorter ones where students may word their answers differently).

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Computer Basics

After working with a freshman class the other day, I realized that there were certain computer concepts that we might consider basic that some of them didn't know.  This is particularly true as we see more and more use of phones and tablets. Thus, this post to remind us all (including myself) that it never hurts to review some of the basics when the students are working with computers.

Here's a partial list-- feel free to add your ideas in the comments.

  1. Save vs. Save As.

    Created a presentation in Keynote, but you need to play it on a computer that doesn't have Keynote?  Save As allows you to save a file in a format different from the standard format for the application.  You can save that Keynote as a Powerpoint, or a Word file as a PDF, or a Powerpoint as a set of images, etc.  Save As also allows you to make a version of a file without changing the original.
  2. Visibility of on-line content

    Shared a link to a Google doc with people, but they can't open it?  When you create online content (such as Prezi, YouTube, Glogsters, GoogleDocs, VoiceThreads, etc.), you have to pay attention to the visibility of that content.  To use Google Docs as an example, you don't need to individually share a doc with each person.  You can just click on Share, then change visibility to "Anyone with the link."  Copy the link and provide it on a blog, web site, e-mail, etc.
  3.  Local and network file management

    Don't just hit save and hope for the best!  At CVU, G: indicates your storage folder, while C: refers to the particular computer you are working on.  
  4. Secondary clicking (right-clicking)

    Right-clicking (on a PC), or control-clicking (on a Mac) on something typically brings up a menu of options that apply to that thing.  Want to increase the font size of a word?  Right-click it!  Need to change the color of a drawing object?  Right-click it...
  5. Creating hyperlinks

    When you enter or paste in the text of a hyperlink (a web address), some applications will automatically convert it into an active link (meaning that clicking on it will take you to that web page).  Moodle and Mahara (among others) do not always do this.  To create the hyperlink yourself, 1) select the text, 2) look for the hyperlink icon (it is typically a chain link or a globe), then 3) enter or paste in the web address.