Jun 072012
 

Boomerang Calendar, a gmail addin, looks for date/time information in your incoming gmail messages, compares them against your Google Calendar entries, and lets you know if you’re free or not, and then lets you schedule a time. It also allows you to easily propose meeting times to individuals or groups.

I sent this message to my gmail account.

This is what it looked like when I opened it in gmail.

Boomerang Calendar identified date/time information, and looked at those time slots in my Google Calendar. Green means I’m free, yellow means that the time is bumping up against another appointment, and red means I’m already booked at that time.

If I mouse over those times, Boomerang Calendar gives me a little popup showing the proposed time in the context of whatever else my Google Calendar says I have going on that day. From here I can open Boomerang Calendar by clicking the “Show Calendar” button or add the appointment directly to my Google Calendar by clicking “Add This Event”. (The “Cancel” button seems unnecessary because the popup disappears when you move the mouse off the popup.)

When I click on “at 10am” Boomerang Calendar generates this popup, the same that’s generated if I were to click on “Show Calendar” in the mouse-over popup above. In the bottom left corner are the times it extracted from the email message. The 10am time, the time I clicked, shows up in orange and purple. The other proposed times are in orange and yellow.


Since the email I received suggested a time when I’m available, I’ll go ahead and schedule that by clicking on that orange and purple appointment time. Boomerang Calendar gives me another popup. It automatically enters “Meeting with Sue Frantz” by pulling the name off the email message of the sender, in this case, me. It defaults to an hour-long appointment, but I can change the length. The note field is prepopulated with the email message contents of the sender leaving space for me at the top to add any additional notes. Using the checkboxes, I can remind myself or others of the meeting, and I can use Google Calendar Invite if I’d like. At the very top of the popup Boomerang Calendar selected my Google Calendar named “Sue Frantz” because that’s what I told it to use by default. Using the dropdown menu, I can select from my other Google Calendars. Finally, I click “Add event” to add the appointment to my calendar.

I still have to email the sender back to confirm the time when we’re meeting, however. Just because it’s on my calendar doesn’t mean that they know it’s on my calendar.

Note: Boomerang Calendar does a very good job at guessing the dates/times meant in the email, but it’s not perfect. Double check Boomerang Calendar’s dates/times against what was written in the email.

Propose alternate times.

But let’s say that I don’t like any of the proposed times. I can click anywhere in my calendar, in this case 11am on Tuesday and 10am on Wednesday. Boomerang Calendar defaults to half-hour appointments but I expanded these by grabbing the white equals sign at the bottom of the appointment times and dragging them down so that each appointment is an hour long. In the bottom right corner, I can see the proposed times, and now I’m going to generate an email message with the “Generate email response” button.

And here is the automatically-generated gmail response that I am, of course, free to edit before hitting send.

But what if I want to be the first to propose times to meet?

Compose a new email message, and click “Suggest Times to Meet.”

Now I can click on any times in my calendar I’d like (shown in dark green).


If I click “location” and start typing, Google Maps helps me out.


When I click “Generate Email Template” Boomerang Calendar drafts this gmail message for me.

And, yes, if the recipient of the email clicks on “Starbucks” Google Maps will load showing the meeting location.

Group events.

Boomerang Calendar sits in the top right corner of the gmail window. Clicking its icon allows you to change settings, which, at this writing, are limited to which of your Google Calendars you want Boomerang Calendar to reference when identifying when you’re free/busy and which calendar you want Boomerang Calendar to add appointments to. Also in this menu is “Plan a Group Event.”


Enter the information requested…


And your invitees will get a message.

Unfortunately Boomerang Calendar doesn’t note those time slots in Google Calendar. You’ll have to enter them yourself as tentative appointments if you want to be sure not to schedule anything else at those times.

Each recipient notes when they are available, and they can do it directly from the email message or go to the Boomerang Calendar website by following the “click here” link in the email. If a recipient wants to change their responses, they can just open this email again, and re-enter their availability.

After each response I get an email that updates me on who is available when.

When I’m ready to schedule it, I click the appropriate “Choose Time and Notify Recipients” button. This email reply is generated in gmail. Edit it and hit send. Done.

Conclusion.

If you use gmail and Google Calendar, this is a powerful and easy-to-use scheduling tool worth having in your toolbox.

Boomerang Calendar as of this writing is only available by invitation code. Go to their website, scroll down to where the invitation code box is, and try iuseboomerang. If that doesn’t work, tweet or email per the instructions on that page.

Mar 042012
 

A group of psychological scientists have identified 25 principles of learning. Of those 25, this group identified 9 to explore in greater depth as they relate to instruction. In this series of posts, I’ll look at each in turn, discussing some of the relevant technologies that can be used to take advantage of those principles.

The first in the list: “The single most important variable in promoting long-term retention and transfer is ‘practice at retrieval’—learners generate responses, with minimal retrieval cues, repeatedly, over time.” In short, if students are going to be able to retrieve what they learned later they have to practice retrieving now (the testing effect), and they have to space out that retrieval (the spacing effect). Practicing retrieval for 4 hours straight is not as effective as spacing those 4 hours out over the course of a couple weeks or more.

The authors make 4 recommendations.

  1. “During lectures, ask students questions to elicit responses that reflect understanding of previously introduced course material. This serves the dual purpose of probing students’ knowledge, so that misconceptions can be directly and immediately addressed in the lecture.”

    Ways to do this.

    1. 4-question technique. Dietz-Uhler and Lanter (2009) found improvement in quiz scores by asking students four questions following an in-class activity.
      1. “Identify one important concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology that you learned while completing this activity.”
      2. “Why do you believe that this concept, research finding, theory, or idea in psychology is important?”
      3. “Apply what you have learned from this activity to some aspect of your life.”
      4. “What question(s) has the activity raised for you? What are you still wondering about?”
    2. Fill-in-the-blank, content-based questions. Gier and Kreiner (2009) found improvement on exam scores when students were periodically asked to respond to fill-in-the-blank questions over course material during class.
    3. End-of-class questions. Lyle and Crawford (2011) found improvement on exam scores in a stats class when their students were asked to respond, unassisted, to a few questions over the day’s material at the end of class.


    Useful tech tools.

    1. Pen and paper. There is nothing wrong with this old school technology. Depending on the size of your class and how often your class meets, you could be wrangling a lot of paper.
    2. Student response systems. If you don’t currently use a system. Try Socrative (max 50 students, free). This tool is easy to use and allows both multiple choice and short answer questions. The data is downloadable via an Excel spreadsheet.
    3. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). Give students the URL to the form via a link on a website or in your course management system, a shortened URL (I recommend goo.gl), or a QR code for your mobile users (read more about QR codes). Students enter their names, their email addresses, their class time, and then whatever questions you’d like them to answer about the course material. The data is dumped into a spreadsheet that you can download from Google Docs. When I do this, I add a column for my comments and a column for my grade. Then I create a form letter in Word, link it to my spreadsheet, and do a mail merge to send my feedback to students (read more about mail merge here).

       

  2. “On homework assignments, have students retrieve key information from lectures and readings. Chapter summaries, for instance, may include study questions that ask students to recall major points or conclusions to be drawn from the reading.”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Forms in Google Docs (read more about how to use this feature). For each reading assignment, I ask students to answer four questions. The first two questions cover the content. Question 3 asks what was the most difficult part of the reading and what questions they may have. Question 4 asks what was the most interesting thing they read. I use the mail merge procedure discussed above to send my feedback to students. This is my first quarter using this approach. On the first exam, I saw no difference in exam scores compared to last quarter. I saw a statistically significant jump in exam scores on the second exam – a full letter grade. In my perception, students wrote more and wrote better responses during the second section of the course leading up to the second exam. That may be due to my feedback, to my asking better content questions that require more synthesis of information, or to something else entirely.
    2. Word documents. If your students submit assignments by attaching them to email messages that you get in Outlook, I highly recommend SimplyFile, an Outlook add-in (read more here), to quickly file the messages in a folder so they’re out of your inbox. And then use EZDetach, another Outlook add-in (read more here), to save all of the attachments with student email address and student name appended to the filename to your “grade these” folder.

       

  3. “Encourage group studying in which students actively discuss course topics. In these groups, students have an opportunity to explain difficult course concepts to one and another, engaging in ‘practice at retrieval.'”

    Useful tech tools.

    1. Doodle (read more here). A lot of students say they’d like to form study groups, but they don’t quite know how to do it. Create a Doodle poll that asks students to mark the times they’re available for a study group. Students can see who is available when they’re available. Let the students take the initiative to contact those other students.
    2. TitanPad (read more here). For students whose schedule or location makes it difficult to get together, they could use this tool to explain concepts in their own words or provide their own examples. Groups of students can work together on the same ‘pad’. With the time slider feature, you can easily see who contributed what and when if you’d like to assign a participation grade.
    3. Google+ hangouts with video or Skype. These are good tools for students who’d like to get together to study at a particular time, but are unable to be in the same place.

  4. “As with probing questions during lectures, test questions offer another opportunity for ‘practice at retrieval,’ thus, potentially enhancing knowledge of the material being tested. Ideally tests should be cumulative and test items should probe for understanding of the material.”

     

    In terms of test performance, it doesn’t matter if you give a paper-and-pencil test or a computer-based test (Frein, 2011). Whichever you use, I encourage you to look at how your students perform on each question. If a lot of students missed the question, what incorrect answer did they choose? This will give you valuable information about common misconceptions.

Whatever changes you decide to make in your course, I strongly encourage you to track the impact your changes have made on student learning, however it is you choose to measure it. Your institution may be interested for their assessment reports to their accreditors, and I encourage you submit your results for publication in a peer-reviewed journal or a conference that’s interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning (SoTL). This site provides some resources for locating those journals and conferences.

 

References

Dietz-Uhler, B. & Lanter, J. R. (2009). Using the four-questions technique to enhance learning. Teaching of Psychology, 36(1), 38-41. doi:10.1080/00986280802529327

Frein, S.T. (2011). Comparing in-class and out-of-class computer-based tests to traditional paper-and-pencil tests in Introductory Psychology courses. Teaching of Psychology, 38(4), 282-287). doi: 10.1177/0098628311421331

Giers, V. S. & Kreiner, D. S. (2009). Incorporating active learning with powerpoint-based lectures using content-based questions. Teaching of Psychology, 36(2), 134-139. doi:10.1080/00986280902739792

Lyle, K.B. & Crawford, N.A. (2011). Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams. Teaching of Psychology, 38(2), 94-97. doi:
10.1177/0098628311401587

Feb 102012
 

[Update 2/29/2012: The folks at Fiesta.cc announced that someone else will be taking over maintenance of the service.]

In this earlier blog post, I recommended using Fiesta.cc as a tool for collaboration. It was a quick and easy way to create email distribution lists. Unfortunately Fiesta.cc just announced that they’re closing down effective March 1st, 2012. They are open to a buyer, so if someone is looking for a business opportunity…

Looking for an alternative? Try Google Groups. You can create a private group just for your class. I’ll write more about how Google Groups work in a future blog post.

Dec 152011
 

12/15/2011

11:46am

The presentation has moved into the Q&A session, so I’m going to wrap up here. Be sure to check out the report and the 2011 study infographic. As we slide into the winter break, I hope to have time to read the report myself and write about some of their findings in this blog.

___________

11:41am PT

Where do students say they learn the most?


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:34am PT

Basically, students don’t think instructors are using technology effectively. How can we make better use of the technology we have?


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:29am PT

What do students want instructors to use more often? The top three.

Email: 39%

Course management system: 32%

Ebooks/etextbooks: 31%

Interestingly, Facebook: 15%.

___________

11:26am PT

How are students using their smartphones?

How about registering for courses? 22% have. Does your institution have a mobile-friendly registration process?


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:24am PT

The most valuable technologies for the students in the survey sample?

Word processors: 76%

Presentation software: 66%

College library website: 45%

Skipping down the list…

Ebooks or etextbooks: 25%

Online forums: 16%

___________

11:20 am PT


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:18am PT

How many of these devices do you have?

(“Susan Grajek, EDUCAUSE: It is uneven. As you’ll see later, more students at masters and doctorals use mobile devices; more at community colleges use desktops”)


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:14am PT


Source: EDUCAUSE Live Presentation, 12/15/2011

___________

11:11 am PT

Check out the 2011 study infographic.

___________

11:08am PT

Two studies conducted in 2011: Traditional study with 145 institutions participating and a “national sample of undergraduates drawn from a consumer panel.”

___________

11:03am PT

Read the report here.

___________

11am PT

“In this free hour-long session, “ECAR National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology, 2011,” Susan Grajek and Eden Dahlstrom will discuss the groundbreaking year for the EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research’s annual National Study of Undergraduates and Information Technology and plans for 2012.”

Oct 162011
 

The theme for the last week on this blog has been email management. This morning I ran across a LifeHacker blog post that was talking about the same thing. See “Top 10 Tricks for Dealing with Email Overload.”

That post reminded me that I’ve been wanting to show you how to turn off Outlook 2010 email notifications – that little popup box that appears in the lower right corner of your screen when a new email comes in.

If you’re like my colleague Deb M., you are able to completely tune it out and ignore it. If you’re like me, you see it, and if it’s more interesting that the task you’re currently working on, you click the popup and read the message. And then spend the next half hour crafting the perfect response to it, gleefully ignoring the less interesting task while still feeling like you’re working.

I finally just turned it off the notification.

In Outlook 2010, click “File”, then “Options”. Click “Mail” to bring up this screen:

In the message arrival section, uncheck the “Display a Desktop Alert” box. Done. If you want to get rid of the little envelope icon that appears in your taskbar (the row of icons in the lower right part of your screen), then uncheck the box right above that one, “Show and envelope icon in the taskbar.”

Oct 102011
 

I’ve left Firefox. It was using up a massive amount of RAM (Firefox 6) and had slowed to a crawl. I started looking at my add-ons to see what might be slowing it down as I did with previous iterations of Firefox. And then I stopped. I thought, “Using a web browser shouldn’t be this hard.” I had tried Chrome before, but I had Firefox set up exactly as I wanted with the add-ons that I wanted. Then the scales tipped. I didn’t have many add-ons left that worked, and Chrome had many more add-ons available. I’ve been happily, and speedily, cruising the web with Chrome. Now, in all fairness, Firefox 7 is supposed to be faster than 6, so I just did the download, and its speed certainly appears to be on par with Chrome’s. But I’m a little gun-shy. Chrome, for now, is my primary browser.

And I’m not the only one. New data shows that Chrome’s global market share has grown 9 percentage points since January. It’s expected to slip into the second spot behind Internet Explorer by the end of the year. “As of Wednesday [9/28/2011], Chrome’s global average user share for September [2011] was 23.6%, while Firefox’s stood at 26.8%. IE, meanwhile, was at 41.7%” (Computer World, 9/29/11).

Speaking of market share, according to ComShare Android continues to eat it up jumping 5.6 percentage points between May and August. My original Motorola Droid is starting to feel like a Commodore 64 in comparison to the newest products on the market. I was considering moving to the Droid Bionic on Verizon’s 4G network, but with the Droid Prime rumored to be available in November, I think I’ll wait.

And the last Google product on my mind is Gmail. In an earlier blog post I suggested that you unplug yourself from your email. That advice still holds, but with one more addition. IBM Research found that filing email in folders may be a waste of time. If you use your email’s search function, it takes an average of 17 seconds to find an email. If you dig through your folders to find it, it takes an average of 58 seconds to find it. (See this LifeHacker blog post for the summary and a link to a pdf of the original study.)

When Gmail was first introduced a number of people panicked. “No folders?! How can I find what I need if there are no folders?!” You search your email for it.

I don’t know that I’ll be able to let my Outlook folders go. When I’m looking for a particular email message, I usually just use Xobni to search for it. But I am inspired. Perhaps I will get rid of my folders as they currently exist, but create new ones that are specific to tasks. For example, I already have a “grade these” folder for the assignments my students submit electronically. There’s no reason I can’t create new folders that serve a similar purpose.

How do you manage your email? Does it work for you?

Oct 062011
 

Feeling harried?  The latest edition of Faculty Focus encourages you to take back your time.

We know that humans don’t multitask.  Instead, we switch from one task to another, and in the process we lose time during that switch as we try to refocus.  The author suggests scheduling “like with like”.  Do similar tasks together to minimize losing time to refocus.

The author also suggests scheduling your tasks.  Block time off in your calendar to get stuff done.  During that time, focus on that task.  Sometimes we get so caught up in being available for our students we forget to take care of ourselves. It’s your time.  You can use it however you’d like.

I was just talking with a colleague, Kaddee L., who has decided that she doesn’t need work email sent to her phone between 6pm and 8am on weekdays or at all on weekends.  Walking around with our work email being delivered to us 24/7 wherever we might be makes it hard to let our brains take a break from work.  Taking a page from Kaddee’s book, I just turned off push notification to my phone during those times.  (Android users: Check out the email program Touchdown; $20, but worth it.  Thanks to Rich B. that tip!) 

Having a hard time turning away from your email?  You know what?  It’s not life or death.  It’s just education.  Email can wait.

Are you frequently distracted by email?  It’s okay to close your email program while you work on that concentration-heavy task.  Really, it’s okay.

The author also suggests zipping through email quickly.  Read a message and decide what to do with it.  Delete it if it’s not relevant to you.  If you think it might be at some future point, file it away.  Reply if a reply is warranted.  (Another colleague, Ruth F., finds the conversation view in Outlook very helpful. On Outlook’s ‘View’ tab, check ‘Show as Conversations.’ Click on ‘Conversation Settings’ to tweak how it looks. Try different combinations until you find the one that works for you.)

If a particular email is not something you want to deal with right now, there are a number of options for getting it out of your inbox so you can focus only on what needs to be dealt with now.

Outlook: Use the follow-up feature in Outlook to be pinged with a reminder.  There are standard times, but you can also customize for any date or time.

Followup.cc: Forward the message to, say, tomorrow@followup.cc, and tomorrow morning at 7am, followup.cc will send you that message back. (No attachments, though.)  Nothing special about ‘tomorrow.’ Choose any future date or time.  Still not ready for it?  Click the embedded snooze link for the time you want to see it again. (See this blog post for more info: http://suefrantz.com/2010/12/10/followup-cc-remind-yourself/)

Simplyfile: This is a little program that integrates with Outlook.  It lets you quickly file email messages into folders.  By quickly, I mean one mouse click or one keyboard shortcut.  It also has a “snooze it” function.  Any message you ‘snooze’ gets dropped into a ‘snooze’ folder.  You assign a date and time for that message to be returned to your inbox.  It will reappear at the date and time if was originally from, so only use this if you can keep your inbox uncluttered.  (See this blog post for more info: http://suefrantz.com/2009/08/11/simplyfile-an-outlook-addin/)

One last bit of psychological research for productivity.  Minimize barriers.  Whatever you want to get done, remove as many barriers as you can between you and the task.  If I need to grade electronic assignments, I open them on my computer.  Even if I don’t grade them then, they will be ready to go when the mood strikes.  Want to go to the gym tomorrow?  Pack up your stuff and set it by the front door the night before.  It works the other way, too.  Want to reduce the amount that you snack?  Put the snacks in the back of a cupboard – in the garage – of your friend – who lives on the other side of town. 

Now, take a deep breath.  Close your email.  And get to work on that project that’s been nagging you.

Jul 082011
 

There’s a lot to be said for a good old-fashioned email list. One address emails a bunch of people. Fiesta.cc makes it easy to create an email list and makes it easy to manage it.

I use an email list for each of my classes. I live inside of my email, so it’s easy for me to send an email to all the students in a class, and easy for them to respond. While most course management systems have the same functionality, you have to log into it to send an email.

The email list software I have been using is hosted by my college, and it comes with the ability to customize every which way you could possible want. Most of it I don’t need.

Enter fiesta.cc. I’ll be using this with my classes come fall quarter.

I just spent 2 minutes creating an email list.

To create a list, you can visit fiesta.cc. Or you can just send an email to everyone you’d like to include in your list, and cc listname@fiesta.cc where listname is what you want to call your list. Done. Seriously, that’s it. Here’s what creating an email list called tech@fiesta.cc might look like.

Don’t worry about whether or not someone else is using the listname you’ve chosen. It’s fine if they do. That’s one of the nifty things about this (free) service. Each list is private and tied to your email address. For example, I created a list called tech@fiesta.cc. When I email that list using the email address I used when I created it, fiesta.cc knows it’s me, and so knows who else the email needs to be sent to. If your email is associated with this list, when you email the list using that address, fiesta.cc knows who to send your email to.

Each person you add gets this email message. (For the purpose of this blog, I just added another of my email addresses to this list. That’s why there’s only one person, me, listed as being a member.)

By logging in at fiesta.cc, participants can change the name of the list, but it will only change for that person. For example, let’s say that I added you to my tech@fiesta.cc list, but you wanted to call it something else, like BestTechToolsEver@fiesta.cc. Great! Log in to your account at fiesta.cc and change the name. I email tech@fiesta.cc and you email BestTechToolsEver@fiesta.cc; our emails will go to the same people.

With fiesta.cc, there is no list owner. Everyone who’s a member of the list can add more participants or remove participants. If they do, everyone else receives an email to that effect.

Fiesta.cc email lists come with plus tag functionality. This allows you all kinds of control just using your email. For example, if I wanted to add someone new to my tech@fiesta.cc list, instead of logging in at fiesta.cc, I can send an email to tech+add@fiesta.cc and add the person’s email address in the cc box. Alternatively, I can send an email to tech@fiesta.cc, put the person’s email address in the cc box, and put +add at the end of the subject line. Either way. Whichever you prefer works.

One quick tip. If I’m on the NY Times website, and I want to share an article with my tech@fiesta.cc list, it won’t work to type tech@fiesta.cc into the box on the website. Fiesta.cc wouldn’t know which tech@fiesta.cc list to send it to. To email a list, the message has to come from an email address associated with the list. Instead, I need to compose a new email message where I paste the NY Times URL into the body of my message.

Visit https://fiesta.cc/learn to read more about fiesta.cc’s functionality, including additional tips for use, and more plus tags.

Nov 282010
 

One of the nice things about living in a digital world is the amount of contact we can have with other people via email. Of course that’s one of the bad things about living in a digital world as well. How much of your work day is spent writing, reading, filing, deleting, or searching for email? In previous posts, I’ve suggested some tools that can help with this (see Subtextual, SimplyFile, Phrase Express, Xobni). In this post I want to talk about some of the built-in power that comes with Outlook. Specifically, I’m going to talk about how to set up rules so that at least some of your email is filed automatically.

Setting up rules

I’m on a few listservs, a couple of which are high-volume. I don’t want to have to deal with messages from those listservs as soon as they come in. Instead, I have Outlook file them into a folder in my inbox when they arrive, and then I read them later at my leisure.

If you don’t already have a folder set up for filing such messages, create one. Right click on ‘Inbox’ folder, and select ‘New Folder.’ Name your new folder whatever you’d like. For this post, I’m going to be filing messages from the PsychTeacher listserv, so I created a folder called ‘PsychTeach.’ Clever, I know. (You can also create folders inside of other folders if you are so inclined.)

When email arrives from this listserv, I want Outlook to immediately file it in this new PsychTeach folder. I chose one of the messages that came from that listserv, and I right-clicked on it. I selected ‘Rules,’ then ‘Create Rule.’

That generates this pop-up window. I checked ‘Sent to,’ and ‘Move the item to folder,’ and clicked ‘Select Folder’ to locate the PsychTeach folder I created.

That’s it. Now any time a message arrives from that email address, it will be filed in the folder I designated. If you want to get really elaborate, click the ‘Advanced Options’ button. But in this post, I’m keeping it simple.

If there are unread messages in the folder, the name of the folder will be bolded and the number of unread messages will appear in parentheses next to the folder name.

When you visit the folder and click on the unread messages, the number disappears and the bold print returns to normal.

Set up a few rules, and you’ll spend less time sorting email and more time doing what needs to be done.

Nov 112010
 

For those who worry about being misunderstood in email, how about video recording your message instead? The cleverly named Eyejot provides an easy web-based user interface for recording and emailing video. They also provide a bookmarklet, a small program that runs inside your web browser, for attaching your own video commentary to web pages. Their bookmarklet is called “Eyejot This!” You just drag the bookmark to your browser’s bookmarks toolbar. Surf to any website, click the “Eyejot This!” bookmark. This window will appear – with your face on the screen, if your webcam is working. Hopefully you won’t see my face on your screen. That would just be creepy.

Click the red record button. Say what you’d like to say. Hit the square black stop button. Type in the email address of who you’d like to send it to. Send a copy to yourself if you’d like the URL. Eyejot keeps your old videos in your online Eyejot account; you can forward or delete previously recorded videos.

I used the Eyejot bookmarklet to record a video. I then emailed it to myself using Eyejot‘s interface. This is what the email looks like:

The text of the email reads “click on the image below or here to watch video.” When you click the link, this is where you’re sent. Check it out.

Of course you don’t have to tie your video recording to a website. You can record a stand-alone video. When I log in to Eyejot, this is what I see:

My inbox holds Eyejot videos others have sent to me. As you can see that’s empty. The sent tab shows my recordings. The deleted tab is more like the recycling bin. When I delete a video, it goes to that tab until I go in there and REALLY delete it. To record a new message, click “compose new message.” That turns on my webcam and launches this popup window:

When I’m done recording, I type in an appropriate subject line, the email addresses of my recipients, add any written commentary I’d like to add, and include an attachment if I’d like. Click “send eyejot,” and that’s it. To cancel a message, click the X in the top right corner of the video recording screen.

Before the beginning of a new term, I email my students with a link to my course website. Next term, I think I’ll add a little video commentary for a more personal touch. Eyejot is free for users who are fine limiting their recordings to one minute. If you’re on the wordy side, $29.95/year gets you five minutes of camera time.

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