Feb 10th, 2015 by Rich Miller III
Want access to free textbooks? Enticing, I know…
Our first meeting of the Spring 2015 semester included a presentation by OpenStax. OpenStax is an innovative and (free!) way for students and faculty to utilize and acquire textbooks that align with most courses at the higher education level. With students spending so much on textbooks semester to semester (amongst other living expenses), this is a welcomed change to the textbook market and a way to save students a few bucks in the process. There are a few different ways to acquire the textbook including the Apple iBookstore, a PDF copy and more.
How is this possible you might ask? The initiative is lead by Rice University and continues to be made possible through philanthropic donations. The plan is not to change to a pay model at this time, so this looks like a really intriguing option and a good marketing tool as well. Click here for more information.
The requirements for creating a book have to meet a certain formula, e.g. taking into account the number of courses offered and number of students taking them. So some areas, such as Communications, are not included. But the selection is quite impressive ranging from Physics to Economics to Psychology and more.
Check out the selection by clicking here and let us know which books you find to be the most useful.
If you have interest in OpenStax, please take a look at their website, leave us some comments or contact someone in your IT area to discuss this further. You can also check out the latest news here.
In the meantime please check out this YouTube video with some further information: Open Stax
Feb 4th, 2015 by Hayden McClure
Microsoft has continued to make changes over the past few years in the way in which they deliver office to consumers. Since the introduction of Office 365 which offers the current versions to consumers in a subscription based model, there has been a push for Microsoft to make Office more mobile in the tablet age.
This past fall Microsoft rolled out the complete Office experience to iOS and these new apps match the modern look and feel of Office 2013. Furthermore, these apps now let you view and edit office documents for free. In order to use more advanced features for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, users can either make an in app purchase or redeem a license that comes in a multiple device subscription, now offered by Office 365.
For those unfamiliar, Office 365 is a yearly subscription to Office, but it includes cloud based storage and provides users with the most updated version. When used on multiple devices, this model can be a more economical option. Microsoft Office is further expanding the availability of Office beyond iPhone, iPad and PC platforms, as they will be rolling out new android versions in the coming months.
However, Microsoft’s Office Everywhere for Everyone campaign would not be complete if it did not bring the modern office experience to Mac. It has been more than four years since Office for Mac 2011 launched in 2010 making Office for Mac 2015 long overdue. The new screenshots released by Microsoft confirm that Office for Mac will match the Windows experience and aesthetics. This will no longer be a less powerful version. Additional improvements include support for SkyDrive and Retina Displays, in addition to One Note for Mac, which is available for free right now on the Mac App Store. Office for Mac 2015 is expected to launch in the later half of 2015, with a beta coming sometime in the spring.
To summarize, Microsoft is making big changes in the ways that Office is brought to consumers. They brought new apps for iPhone users in addition to updating their iPad apps. They are previewing and testing new android apps and are working to update the Office for Mac experience. However, the biggest change is there is now limited free access to such a critical tool for everyone, even if they don’t have a subscription. If you have thoughts on the new Office experience or Office 365, you can share them by commenting below. It will be interesting to see how these apps shape up in the coming year.
Jan 21st, 2015 by Hayden McClure
Welcome back as the January Intersession is now well underway. Our blog celebrates a milestone as this is our 100th published post. Once the Spring semester begins, our mobile tech meetings will resume, following the dates and times listed below.
- Tuesday, February 3rd 12:30pm-1:30pm
- Thursday, March 5th 3:30pm-4:30pm
- Tuesday, April 7th 3:30pm-4:30pm
- Thursday, May 7th 3:30pm-4:30pm
These meetings will take place in Miller 16 in Pleasantville and and E319 in New York. Everyone is welcome to attend, so we look forward to seeing you there. If you have suggestions for future meeting topics, feel free to leave a comment below.
Dec 18th, 2014 by Hayden McClure
On December 9th we had our third and final user group meeting of the semester. Heather Askildsen and Megan Burke from ITS presented Poll Everywhere, an exciting online interactive audience response system, while Jermain Smith from the School of Education showed us the “gamification” of learning by providing examples of two companies on the cutting edge of this new approach.
Heather and Megan demonstrated some premium features of Poll Everywhere and discussed how it could be implemented in an educational setting. For those unfamiliar with the tool, Poll Everywhere is a web-based application that allows presenters to create polls and have their audience respond with a smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer. The company offers a limited free version of this software, with the ability to purchase a subscription for some premium features. Heather and Megan played a short video, which provides a good overview of the tool. They provided several suggestions for the various ways in which instructors might be able to utilize this tool in the classroom. Finally, their presentation concluded with a chance for attendees to participate in a live test.
Some of the ways Heather and Megan felt that Poll Everywhere would be helpful in the classroom include:
- Taking Attendance – Professors have the option of creating a free response poll in which all posts are time stamped, so instructors know who got to class and when.
- Checking for Student Understanding – Professors can make multiple choice polls and gauge how many students feel they understand the concept. If some students are struggling to understand, then professors can use that feedback to focus the lecture better.
- Encouraging Students – Professors have controls with the software of what they want to display to the class. If they think a student posts something exceptional, they can call it out. If a student sends something that is inappropriate, they have the option to block that content.
For more information on Poll Everywhere and to play around with the free version, you can head on over to their official site and try it out for yourself. If anyone uses this tool, it would be nice to hear your thoughts and comments on this service. If you have found innovative ways to use it in the classroom, feel free to share those too.
Jermain, Director of Technology for the School of Education, presented two companies that are combining modern technology and games to improve educational experiences for students. The first company he introduced us to was Wavicle through an introductory video. This company offers game based learning solutions and can help educators build game based courses that engage students in new ways. The second company he presented was TeachLivE, which was developed in conjunction with the University of Central Florida. This technology has already been implemented within the Avatar Labs for the School of Education at Pace. This resource can be used to help train student teachers in speaking with students and classroom management skills. Essentially, prospective instructors speak to an animated classroom and the students react and perform in real time. Jermain played a video of a student teacher interacting with these avatars to help illustrate how his department was using this software.
A big thank you to Heather, Megan, and Jermain for taking the time to educate us in these exciting new technologies.
Wishing everyone a peaceful and relaxing break. We will be having our first meeting of the Spring Semester, sometime in February. Please stay tuned to the blog for the date and times for our spring meetings. As always, feel free to comment below, we would love to hear your thoughts.
Nov 14th, 2014 by Hayden McClure
The following post written by Dr. Claudia Mausner details her experience using the Glogster application in the classroom:
An Example of a Student Created Glog: Full PDF of the Glog (pictured below)
My friend calls me the technology wiz who really dislikes technology. I accepted the iPad loaner challenge, recognizing that it behooves me to join the 21st century and explore the world of tablets. I attended the monthly user group meetings and learned about the Glogster app from Education department professor Peter McDermott. My understanding was that students could use this website to create multimedia posters online. Little did I know introduction to this app would mushroom into a major class assignment!
Each semester for the last few years I have arranged a Sustainability Tour on both NYC and Pleasantville campuses for my videoconference course ENV 235, Sustainable Living in Our World. This year I would be unable to attend, as I was organizing an environmental conference in Washington, DC. I wanted to be certain that students participated in the tours despite my absence and I also wanted students to share experiences with their classmates on the “other” campus. My “aha” moment came when I realized students could create posters with Glogster and, to increase the excitement level, I could turn the assignment into a contest. One of the students needed extra credit and thus volunteered to create a Survey Monkey questionnaire allowing her classmates to rank the posters and provide evaluative comments anonymously.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned about technology, it is to expect the unexpected. The complexity of this assignment grew at every step. I hadn’t realized that Glogster required the professor to open an account, but when students couldn’t access the software I went ahead and purchased a relatively inexpensive 1-year account that provided space for 30 student posters. Only to learn after-the-fact that a more limited free version was also available. In order to post the completed glogs on Survey Monkey they would have to be in PDF format, but Glogster is designed for online use only. With guidance from the company helpline, I downloaded freeware from Bullzip to convert the glogsters into PDFs. Since the Sustainability Tour posters were beautiful and students spent far more time on the assignment than I had anticipated, I decided to have them printed. The posters were hung and admired at the new Environmental Center in Pleasantville during a recent party introducing the new Environmental Studies and Sciences Department.
All of my original goals were met, and then some. Students loved using Glogster. The full version has many exciting tools, including built-in survey software. Students did not include videos in their multimedia posters because this was not compatible with Survey Monkey, but in the future that would certainly be an option. There was 100% attendance for the tours despite my absence, and I could determine by reviewing the posters that they listened and learned. And students had an opportunity to share their experiences with classmates on the “other” campus. New technology has many challenges and can often be time-consuming . . . . but it offers incredibly rich surprises to strengthen the learning experience in wonderful ways!
Nov 7th, 2014 by Rich Miller III
Today we had our second user group of the semester. Our presenters were Devin McLaughlin from Apple and Amanda Villavicencio from ITS. Both presented on some very interesting topics.
Devin has been with us before and always gives a nice presentation. One of the very cool things that he introduced to us was the Apple iBeacon. It’s a Bluetooth enabled device that essentially provides location based information that you can access through your other iDevices. Devin gave the example of recently leaving his iBeacon in a checked bag on a flight and being able to track its exact location once he (and it) was on the plane in ‘proximity.’ Quite a cool feature and something he thinks many will start using in all sorts of different ways as far as location based offerings are concerned.
Here is some more information about the iBeacon.
Devin went on to discuss iOS 8 and the new features that it comes with. Some of the highlights include:
- Screen capture between an iOS 8 device (with a lightning connection) and your Mac (running Yosemite). Essentially you are able to perform an audio/video recording using QuickTime.
- The introduction of new 3rd party keyboards. The most popular is Swype (currently free, normally $0.99) and another is Swift Key. These are what many Android users are already used to and a welcomed addition to the standard Apple keyboard.
- Having the Continuity feature which allows you to start a task on one device, and continue/complete it on another.
- The ability to make and receive calls on your other devices (as long as your iPhone is within Bluetooth range) as well as pickup an iMessage or even SMS text message conversation on another device that you started on lets say your iPhone.
- Specific to EDU, the introduction of extensions which allows iOS 8 users to reach into another app and access documents. Also a direct connection with DropBox via iCloud drive which is very useful for lots of users of these two services.
- For managing apps, e.g. with volume licensing, there is now the option of assigning and revoking access. So this is something that may work well in the EDU field (and other fields of course) where shared iPads and apps had become quite costly.
- The Apple TV now has the ability to talk to your devices via Bluetooth instead of the complications of having to be on the same network. This could be a game changer for using this tool in higher ed spaces. The Apple TV was designed to be an at home product, but as Devin mentioned there are so many uses for it, especially in the EDU environment. With this new option it may open the door for increased usage.
There is so much more out there now with iOS 8 and the new Yosemite OSX. Please let us know if you know any other tips and tricks below.
Amanda, one of the ITS eTerns, discussed the many changes that ePortfolio just had over the past few months. There is a new option for changing your layouts and making your ePortfolio more appealing. More on the new layouts can be found by clicking here. Amanda referred to it as a “pyramid” when showing us her showcase page which started with her most current accomplishments as a Graduate student and went back through Undergraduate and High School as well which was very cool.
Some other additional features include:
- The ability to embed PDF files, not just upload them.
- A new editing menu which stays with you as you scroll down your pages for easier accessibility.
- A more responsive design for mobile editing. You no longer need to be on a computer for the this, you can now edit with your smart phone, tablet, etc.
- Badging has been introduced and is a way to show off accomplishments in a digital fashion.
- You now get a warning when you are about to delete a journal, so there won’t be anymore accidental deletions!
- There are now quick links on the dashboard page which allow you to quickly create something or share something in a simpler fashion.
Please follow the ePortfolio blog here: http://eportfolio.blogs.pace.edu/
Please contact the ITS Academic Technology Dept for any questions regarding ePortfolio: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to both Devin & Amanda for their informative presentations.
We look forward to seeing you at our last meeting of the semester on Tuesday December 9th, 2014 at 12:10pm in Miller 16 (PLV) and E319 (NYC). As always please feel free to leave comments below and if you have any ideas or would like to present at an upcoming or future meeting please email me at email@example.com
Oct 7th, 2014 by Rich Miller III
Welcome back everyone! Today was the first meeting of our Fall 2014 semester.
Our topic was Adobe EchoSign presented by yours truly. For those who have never heard of it, Adobe EchoSign is a robust e-signature platform that is entirely cloud based. It allows users to send and receive documents for signature all electronically. It has simple functionality, is efficient, and allows for document tracking and metrics.
Ever send that form to get signed and it got “lost?” Ever send something via snail mail and have it take days to get to its desired location? Or maybe the form is still sitting in a pile with a few hundred more on someones desk. EchoSign can eliminate the back log of paperwork and we hope eliminate the need to print paper forms as well. We are not only going green, but we are able to efficiently establish a new protocol for the way we do business at the University.
EchoSign allows a user to initiate a document and send it to “x” number of users to sign. Once you fill in the appropriate fields (email address, attach the document, designate locations for signatures, etc) – very similar to sending an email – the software does all the rest automatically for you. You will simply receive the signed document back once all parties have signed it.
No account? No problem. Not everyone needs an account to sign (however you do need an account to originate). If you are asked to sign something, simply follow the instructions in the email that you receive. You can sign anywhere and anytime. You can even sign on a mobile device while using your finger as a stylus.
Dyson is currently finishing a pilot of 8 months of usage. The document processing and turn around time has been exceptional and the metrics back this up. Documents that used to take days take hours…Documents that used to take weeks now take days. The difference is night and day. Once we are able to upgrade to the next level we hope to roll out this tool to other users within Dyson and ultimately the University. Stay tuned for more updates about this exciting tool and please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or wish to see a more detailed demo: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please contact us if you have any topic suggestions or would like to present at one of our upcoming meetings. See you at the next meeting on November 6th!
Aug 25th, 2014 by Rich Miller III
Below is the schedule of meetings for the Fall semester. All meetings occur in Miller 16 (Pleasantville) and E319 (New York)
- Monday October 6th 12:10pm-1:10pm
- Thursday November 6th 3:25pm-4:25pm
- Tuesday December 9th 12:10pm-1:10pm
*Please note the date change for the December meeting.*
All are welcome to attend. If you are interested in presenting on a topic please leave us a comment below. We look forward to seeing you.
Aug 18th, 2014 by Rich Miller III
The Mobile Tech User group sent out a survey to its users to gain some end of the year feedback. Thank you to all that responded. Here is some of the pertinent information that came from it. Also, we take a look at some future topics that may be presented during next semesters meetings.
The survey consisted of 12 total responses. 9 faculty and 3 staff responded.
All 9 faculty have said they have used some form of the technology we have discussed in the meetings in the classroom.
All 12 respondents felt that the meetings were at least somewhat useful (3), useful (7), or very useful (2).
8 out of the 12 respondents at least read this blog occasionally.
Reasons that respondents felt that the blog was helpful:
- Get information if they missed a meeting
- To help discover new technologies, tech trends and get ideas
- Learn how others are using technology in the classroom
- To read reviews of applications for their own potential usage
Respondents felt that this content would be helpful on the blog going forward:
- Talk about items that there wasn’t enough time for during the actual meetings
- Tech trends
- Anything regarding integration of technology
The biggest suggestion for future meetings was regarding the potential for online attendance for the user group meetings.
Some proposed topics for future meetings include:
- Top Hat
- Free versions of student engagement systems
- Gamification – tests as games, synchronous mobile applications and gaming for educational purposes.
- EchoSign – e-signature tool and app
- eTexts and OER
- Apple updates from our Pace Apple representatives
- Apple’s new operating system
- Online office hours
- Virtual science labs
The schedule for the upcoming Fall semester meetings will be posted very soon. We hope everyone is having a great summer.
Jul 7th, 2014 by Rich Miller III
Our final Spring 2014 semester meeting occurred as the semester was winding down in May. Time really does fly.
Our presentation was from Dr. Barry Morris. He is a Professor of Communication on the NYC campus. He shared with us some very creative videos that his students made in his course. They were related to a tool called Duolingo. Duolingo is something that allows you to learn new languages. The best part? It’s free and they claim it always will be. That’s always a plus; here is some more info on how that part works and keeps it free vs. a paid service. The fact that you can take it with you on the go as well as utilize offline lessons is another big plus. There was a study done to gauge its effectiveness. The results can be found here. Some pretty impressive stuff and the reviews of this tool are very solid. This is definitely a resource that I wish I had when I was in high school and college and learning a foreign language.
Click here to get more info on their website. Click here to download their app from the Apple store. Click here to download their app from the Google store.
The semester is over, but technology keeps on evolving. There are rumors of iWatches, iPhone 6′s, iPhone Airs, Android watches, iOS 8 and more. The tablet market is definitely advancing very quickly and new apps are being developed and released daily. It’s an exciting time and we hope you will stay tuned to our blog. We hope to see you at our fall meetings. More to come in an upcoming blog…Happy summer!