Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blocked in China

I leave in an hour for a week in Beijing and Tianjin, China. I will be trying to post through a proxy to this blog while I am gone, but Blogger is blocked in China currently. Maybe I'll be posting, maybe not. Depends on how strong the Great Firewall of China is these days and also how good the instructions are for getting around it. It really makes me feel like a spy (but I'm not, I swear).

I'll be travelling with the delegation from St. Cloud State in a return trip from our partnership building adventure of last year. I will be departing from that group on June 5 when I travel back to Vietnam for further discussions with them about e-learning. I will be able to post to the blog from Vietnam, so sooner or later I'll share info from the trip.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Zoho Notebook - Very Cool

Today, Zoho Notebook goes into public beta. I've been able to play with it for the past month while it was in private beta testing, and I'm impressed by the functionality and possibilities that this service provides. Here is the Zoho Blog post announcing the release. There is also an embedded video at that site.

Here is a single page example that combines text with an uploaded audio file (you can also record on the fly), an embedded video from YouTube, and a digital photograph from my Flickr account.

I am in the process of creating my Web 2.0 Whirlwind presentation materials using this new Zoho free service. Notebook allows you to combine any or all of the following on a single page: text, hyperlinks, embedded webpages, video, audio, still images, or anything in html.

Here is the link to my Whirlwind materials. This is a work-in-progress and probably always will be. You may see some mistakes which I hope to find and correct, but I've only been working on it for a couple of hours, so please cut me some slack. Just click on the title page to open the notebook and view the first content page.

The graphic at the left shows the vertical scroll bar on a notebook page. There may be scroll bars inside the page for individual embedded objects, but this is the way to scroll the entire notebook page.

The graphic on the right shows the tabs that bring you the different pages on the notebook. The example notebook linked above has many different pages and you may need to scroll using the small up and down arrows in order to see all the page tabs.

I use Zoho Writer quite a bit and will continue to do so for those things that are primarily text based. When I need to be able to mix different media types into a single page, Zoho Notebook is now my tool of choice.

Monday, May 21, 2007

IP Tip of the Week - 06

This IP Tip of the week deals with copyright protection for students works. This particular tip does not deal with the whole Turnitin issue, but more about works created by students and then used by faculty.

View full document at Scribd.

Or listen here using the player below.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Minnesota Smoking Ban

Hallelujah!! Even though I live in Wisconsin, I can't wait for the smoking ban to take effect in Minnesota (Oct. 1). First of all, I work in Minnesota. In fact my paycheck comes from the Minnesota state government. Secondly, I go to restaurants in Minneota more often than I do in Wisconsin and this means that I will spend even more time in the Minnesota establishments and less time (and money) in Wisconsin.

There is a huge difference of opinion(s) on this issue. Many people are crying in their beers over this one. "We're going to go out of business." "The sky is falling." "Don't tell me what to do." "How can they do this when smoking is legal?"

It is that last comment that gets my dander up a bit. The most common defense that I hear against the smoking ban is that smoking is a legal activity, therefore we should be able to do it anywhere we please.

Huh?? Since when is that logical??

Example 1: It is legal to drive a car as long as you have a driver's license and follow certain rules. NOTE: "as long as you follow certain rules!!" Can you drive your car down a sidewalk? No! In court can you plead innocence because "Hey, driving a car is a legal activity!!" No, you can't. Those rules are especially intended to keep you from harming other people.

Example 2: Sexual relations between two consenting adults is generally a legal activity. Always? NO!! Can you engage in sexual conduct in a public place in plain sight? NO! Is it going to be your defense that you were both consenting adults and therefore sexual relations are okay? No, it is only okay under certain conditions .... if you follow the rules, both written and unwritten. Those rules are especially intended to keep you from harming other people.

Example 3: Drinking alcohol can be a legal activity, but can you do it anywhere, anytime, and engage in any other activity that you want at the same time (like driving)? NO!! There are rules about that. Those rules are especially intended to keep you from harming other people.

How is this any different, except that it came along 25-30 years too late? They aren't saying that you CANNOT smoke. They are saying that you can only smoke under certain circumstances, in other words, if you follow the rules. Those rules are especially intended to keep you from harming other people. Get over it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

IP Tip of the Week 05

The intellectual property tip this week deals with the showing of movies in classrooms for educational purposes. It also considers the difference between showing a movie in a F2F class as compared to an online class.

Full text available here.

Or you can listen to the IP Tip-o-the-Week with the embedded player below.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

More Podcast Options

Continuing with the post from last week, here are two of the same short book readings embedded in the page using two different services. DivShare was a good recommendation from my friend Willem in the Netherlands, and WildVoice was one that I struggled with but received excellent help and support from Michael at

DivShare example


WildVoice embed


Both of these have great promise for easy ways to upload, embed a player, and share your podcasts with others.

Monday, May 14, 2007

PoducateMe, PoducateU

A new website and well-written guide can be found at PoducateMe dot com.

The guide is 186 pages long, but has a nice table of contents that allows you to jump around easily, and the pages are also rather short so it is not an overwhelmingly long document. This guide is pretty thorough and contains lots of good information.

Much of what they include in the guide is platform independent, as I had hoped. However, when you get into their software recommendations I see two problems: 1) It is very much Apple-based with a majority of the recommended titles being Mac-only, and 2) they don't really cover the free podcast hosting solutions that are out there in great numbers and instead compare them to the free Internet Service Provders of days gone by and predict their doom.

The Apple thing is something that has bothered me greatly since the podcast movement started. Sure there's some good software that runs on a Mac that makes podcasting easy. However, the last thing I want is for several hundred faculty to think that they now need the school to buy them an Apple computer because they want to start producing podcasts. That's one reason that I created a new conference and workshop presentation titled "Podcasting without Fruit." It's important for Windows users to know that there are solutions (inlcuding many free ones) out there that don't require a Mac. Almost every podcasting workshop I've attended in the past two years has had an Apple focus, and most of them have been conducted by Apple employees.

Check out PoducateMe, you'll learn something.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Free Podcast Services

Performance has been a bit spotty at Odeo lately so I've been experimenting with other free services for uploading and creating popdcasts and also having the ability to easily embed a podcast player into a blog post or other webpage. One of the problems I've had with the Odeo player is its tendency to choke while using IE as the browser. It works fine in Firefox, Flock, and a few other browsers that I have tried. I don't use IE much myself, but about 50% of my blog readers do use it, so I don't want them to go away without listening. I haven't tried to figure out whether the problem is on the Odeo side of things or not, but for some reason I feel like they (Odeo) might not be long for the world, so I'm looking for alternatives.

All that I'm looking for is a service that is 1) free, 2) allows uploads of podcasts created on my computer, 3) has an easy to embed podcast player that works in Blogger AND WordPress, and doesn't have major annoyances such as intrusive advertising. Two that I've tried with less than successful results were WildVoice and SwitchPod. I still have hope for WildVoice and have received communications from them about how I can get the embedded player to work in Blogger, but haven't got it to work just yet.

To see how these different players render in a blog post, I made four short recordings while reading from Richard Florida’s book “The Rise of the Creative Class.” Those four recordings/players are shown below for you to compare and contrast.

Richard Florida - Part 1 on Gcast


Richard Florida - Part 2 on Odeo

powered by ODEO

Richard Florida - Part 3 on Podomatic
Barry's podcast


Richard Florida - Part 4 on Clickcaster

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NWA Going Down the Drain

Right now I'm sitting at the gate at the Duluth airport waiting to board a plane for KC for the USDLA conference. There are five Northwest Airlines flight attendants sitting at the gate complaining LOUDLY about their jobs, their pay, their company, the concessions they made a few years ago, and just about anything else related to NWA.

During the past year I've seen a steady deterioration in the service at Northwest, but it has been noticeably worse during the past two months. Flight delays because they don't have enough flight crew available, delays because there aren't enough ground personnel to get people checked in, etc, etc.

I just checked to see that their stock price (NWACQ) closed at 15 cents per share yesterday. Two words sum it all up: PAH - THETIC!!