People Trump Technology

Image of Robin Williams, 1951-2014
Robin Williams, 1951-2014

“Before the internet there was just a man running around saying, ‘I know, I know” – Robin Williams

This morning, I came into work and was glad to see Dr. Leigh Graves Wolf using our new open office working space here in Wills House. Her recent campus open office working tour has been so fun to lurk behind to find new nooks to study and collaborate. Thanks, Leigh.

So, I walk in the door and she asks me if I know anything about birds. These are my favorite kinds of delightful questions.

I know a couple things here and there just due to personal interest. I have sat in on a college ornithology course once and I have met up with our Jackson Audubon Society on random occasions over the years.

Lucky for me, she had recorded the sound of the call that was distinct to her as she was walking to our building. She played it back for me. I thought it was an Eastern Towhee possibly, but I just had to get to the bottom of it.

Black-Capped Chickadee
Black-Capped Chickadee

So, I turned to my friend, Google. After grueling seconds of not getting anywhere due to having a hard time figuring out how to identify a bird on the internet with only the call sound in my head, I realized that a much more efficient searching rout would be to call up my friend Gary Mason who I used to work with at Spring Arbor University. Gary is heavily involved in the Jackson Audubon Society and knows more about Michigan Birds and other natural wonders than anyone I know.

So, I did what anyone frustrated with the limitations of technology would do. I used an older technology of the telephone land-line to give him a ring at his desk. He not only answered right away, but was able to identify the bird immediately even with my own botched attempt at trying to make the sound over the phone.

It was the Black-Capped Chickadee.

I was way off.

samsonite-i-was-way-off-o
A funny looped scene from Dumb and Dumber where Loyd and Harry mistake the last name of the girl they are looking for with the brand of the suite case they are holding.

Google, are you losing me?

Google, are you losing me?

In the past couple weeks, I learned that Google Reader is going away and nearly cried.

After pulling myself together, I discovered that Feedly has been so much better all along and I have actually been missing out on an even better blog connection experience.

Today, I learned about Google Keep which really peaked my interest due to my near obsession with task lists. I am sorry to report that I am currently not impressed. No reordering? No connection to google calendar? Tasks don’t disappear when checked off? The search doesn’t seem to work? How was this even released without things like this addressed?

Google, are you losing me?

I hope not.

Interview of Carrie on Google Presentation Collaboration with Students

I had a great conversation today about using Google Presentations for collaborative learning with Carrie Heeter and Keesa Muhammad from LearnDAT.

I had a great conversation today about using Google Presentations for collaborative learning with Carrie Heeter and Keesa Muhammad from LearnDAT. Check it out:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l14KQzwO50]

 

[googleapps domain=”docs” dir=”document/pub” query=”id=18YYM0EB2TmYpkBL1fCfSrOhTADcS9QNsIAY38_rbVXM&embedded=true” width=”700″ height=”394″ /]

Field Trip to Menlo

Remember field trips? What ever happened to those?

Remember field trips? What ever happened to those?

Well, I am glad to report that yesterday, LearnDAT team members and some others from IT Services here at Michigan State University took part in one.

Sure, we didn’t ride in a big yellow bus and I am pretty sure none of us had to have permission forms filled out, but it sure felt like an authentic field trip none-the-less.

You see, we had the privilege of visiting our friends over at Menlo Innovations today. Richard Sheridan, CEO, founder, and chief story-teller at Menlo gave us a tour of their facilities, practices and philosophies. He began by explaining how the entire vision is premised upon building a culture of joy. Immediately, one of the attendants asked, “Did you say ‘joy’?”

Richard then went on to explain that he did, indeed, say “joy” despite Menlo being a software innovation company. The surprise at the word joy in the context of the software industry is not uncommon, but Menlo is simply not a common place. That is what makes Menlo a constant revolving door for tourists like us who have gotten wind of some amazing things happening there.

Not many places can claim that their primary tool for project management is 3×5 cards, and especially a place that builds software solutions.

Other notable culture shock experiences during the tour included the wide open floor plan, the 40 hour work-week (with no overtime or limits of when employees are “allowed” to take vacation), and seeing bikes, pets, and children all around the room. The culture of transparency and trust breeds some fascinating results that made for a very interesting tour, to say the least.

According to Sheridan, the issues and difficulties they experience as an organization are not much different than what any organization experiences except for the way in which they handle them. In fact, one of the quotes seen right on the wall stated, “make mistakes faster.” Menlo intentionally identifies managerial practices based upon fear-tactics and eradicates them so that trust is built with clients and the Menlo team alike.

As Sheridan and his team continue to demonstrate leadership and innovation, you might consider joining one of their tours. See what kinds of things you could learn and conversations that could be started as a result. I know that we are glad we did. In fact, they could take the whole field of design and technology for a trip if you ask me.

See photos from our field trip on our Facebook page

How to use google voice for extremely easy on-the-fly podcasting:

Many online course instructors use announcements to communicate on a regular basis with the learners. Some instructors create introductions to modules using video, audio, or presentation tools. Leveraging google voice for “on-the-fly” podcasts allows instructors to be able to quickly and easily record their announcments so that learners can hear the announcement coming directly from their instructor to give the course a more personalized tone.

  • See my tutorial on this here: http://bit.ly/AB3hbe
  • View/duplicate/edit/use my slides from here: How to use google voice for extremely easy on-the-fly podcasting: – Google Docs http://bit.ly/z6xUoE

Why use web conferencing with my students?

Adding a Synchronous Component to Online Courses | Faculty Focus-Annotations:

What does web conferencing bring to the classroom?

  • Interactive web conferencing increases accessibility.
  • Interactive web conferencing increases student-to-student and student-to-teacher interaction.
  • Interaction is also increased because there is a set time where the class comes together synchronously, which helps eliminate feelings of isolation or lack of interpersonal connections with classmates and the instructor that may occur in a fully asynchronous online course.
  • Interactive web conferencing promotes active learning.
  • Interactive web conferencing adds variety
  • Make sure the learning goals, and not the technology, drive the instruction.
  • Establish a protocol for how students should ask to speak or alert the instructor they are finished commenting so that passing the microphone is easier in larger groups.
  • Change initial settings so that everyone can chat with all attendees and students have ability to do everything (like annotate).
  • Add the technical support number to every invitation to a meeting.

What is some practical advice for web conferencing with a class?

  • Since we often have multiple peripheral devices connected to our computers remind your students to select the microphone and speaker source they intend to use.Remind participants to keep background noise and paper shuffling to a minimum and to mute their microphone when they do not need to speak.
  • Keep e-mail running in the background and have your phone handy in case students try and contact you when having technical difficulties.
  • Always check that students can hear you (and others) well and ask them to alert you if they are having trouble hearing.

On-The-Fly Podcasting Using Google Voice?

How to use google voice for extremely easy on-the-fly podcasting:

  1. Make sure you have a google voice account if you don’t already have one and sign into your inbox area.
  2. Call your google voice number and leave yourself a message.
  3. When the message populates in your inbox, select the “more” option and then select “Embed”:

4. Add a caption for your podcast (this is optional).

5. Copy the embed code into your computer’s clipboard (control + “c” on the P.C. & Command + “c” on the Mac)

6. Go to your course in Blackboard and select to create a new announcement.

7. Give the announcement a title and then select the “Toggle HTML Source Code” button in the rich text editor toolbar and paste in the embed code that is in your clipboard (control + “v” on the P.C. & Command + “v” on the Mac)

8. Hit the “Toggle HTML Source Code” button in the rich text editor toolbar.

9. Hit the “Toggle HTML Source Code” button in the rich text editor toolbar one more time.

10. Make sure that the “width: 100px” is changed to “width: 500px” in the embed code and then hit submit!

*This same process can be followed for a recorded phone call from google voice which can be done by using these instructions.

The end result will have a flash player embedded media player from Google Voice that the learner will see in the announcements page so that they can listen to your nifty podcast: