Nov 142011
 

My personal laptop was no longer as useful as it had once been, so I took the plunge this weekend and bought a new one. Of course it’s never that easy. Oh, the purchasing was easy enough, it was the deciding what to buy part was hard. After much investigation, I found the one I wanted. With that out of the way, I steeled myself for the onerous process of setting it up according to my preferences. Turned out not to be onerous at all.


I’ve been using this password manager for several months now, and it has made my life so much easier. One password gives me access to all of my passwords. I use the Chrome extension, so I installed it in Chrome on the new laptop, and bam! All of my passwords at my fingertips.


Speaking of Chrome, I moved to this browser after my frustrations with Firefox 7. I haven’t had any reason to look back. I used the Chrome sync tool to synchronize all my bookmarks, extensions, etc. from my work laptop with my new laptop. Once everything got moved over, I turned synching off so I can add stuff on my personal computer without screwing up the settings in my work laptop’s browser.


And speaking of bookmarks, most of my bookmarks aren’t in my browser. I have them in Delicious (now accessible via d.me) where they’re tagged with key terms. I’ve even created a ‘stack’ where all of the web-based videos I use in teaching one of my courses are grouped together. See that stack here.


I installed Dropbox on my new laptop, entered my login info, and soon my 4 GB of files from my work laptop were there. What could be cooler than that? Wait, I know.


For keyboard shortcuts; works in any Windows program. (Read this blog post from 2009 on PhraseExpress; Mac users try TextExpander.) I use it for my most-commonly typed phrases, including entire paragraphs. Very handy for grading papers and emailing students who ask for extra credit after the term is over. PhraseExpress uses a file called phrases.pxp to store all of one’s shortcuts. Within PhraseExpress [v.8] on my work laptop I went to File -> Save as and saved the file to my Dropbox folder. Now that’s the file my work laptop’s PhraseExpress uses. I installed PhraseExpress on my new laptop, then went File -> Open, navigated to the phrases.pxp file in Dropbox, and just like that, all of the phrases I created on my work laptop are now usable on my personal laptop. And now whenever I add a phrase on one laptop, it will be available on the other one.

[Updated 1/21/2013: In PhraseExpress v.9, go to File ->New File -> Dropbox file. Navigate to where you want to save your phrases.  If you’ve upgraded to PhraseExpress v.9 from an earlier version, navigate to where your PhraseExpress file is located.]

 

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Apr 282011
 

As many of you know, I’ve been a fan of Delicious social bookmarks for quite a while. (See this post from two years ago.) Its future came into question recently when Yahoo, who bought Delicious in 2004, decided to yank the staff it had devoted to it. The blogosphere exploded with the suggestions for other social bookmarking sites. I had tried some of those sites before, others I hadn’t heard of. After dancing amongst them, I decided that Delicious was the best choice for me, so I decided to ride it out and see what happened.

Imagine my pleasant surprise when I received this email last night:

I followed the link and gave my permission. If you have Delicious bookmarks, you have until July 2011 to give your permission, otherwise you lose access to your account.

Yahoo didn’t do much with Delicious after its purchase in 2004, so I’m very interested in seeing when AVOS’ plans are for what is already a rich tool.

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Jan 012011
 

Yesterday I gave you a tour of the main page of my website. Today I want to give you a tour of my Psych 100 course site.

  1. The link to my syllabus will download a pdf of it. The first page of the syllabus contains two QR codes for students who want to use their smartphones to quickly bookmark my website or have a copy of the syllabus on their phones. (See this post on QR codes.)

  2. I created a Google calendar for my course. This is brand new for Winter 2011. Following the link opens the Psych 100 calendar, which I created as a public calendar. Students who use Google Calendar can click the “+Google Calendar” button to add it to their list of calendars. (See this post on using Google Calendar for your courses.)
  3. Also new this term, I’m having my students upload their assignments directly to my Dropbox using a service called DropItTo.Me. Previously I had students email me their assignments and used the EZDetach Outlook add-in to save the files to my computer. I’m thinking that uploading directly to my Dropbox may be easier for both me and my students, but there’s one thing that’s making me nervous. I’m asking students to include their name when they name the file. Based on the comments I’ve heard from faculty when I’ve told them about EZDetach, which automatically appends the student’s name and email address to the file name, I’m not confident that DropItTo.Me is going to work quite like I’d like. But the only way to know is to try it. (See these posts for more information about Dropbox, DropItTo.Me, and EZDetach.)
  4. Elluminate is a web-based web-conferencing service. The Washington State Board for Community Technical Colleges has a contract with Elluminate that allows faculty and staff at member colleges to use it as often as we’d like. It was meant, I believe, to be used as an addition to distance learning courses, but I use it for my face-to-face classes. Most of the time I use it to hold test reviews or an hour the Sunday night before an exam. The sessions are recorded for the students who can’t make it. The interface is pretty intuitive, so students learn how to use it very quickly with minimal instruction from me. (“Click the button at the bottom of the screen to turn your mic on and off.”) I’ve also used it when work travel was going to cause me to miss too many classes. Just before Thanksgiving, the Pacific Northwest got nailed with a snowstorm that turned everything to ice. Campus was closed for 2 and a half days. I used Elluminate to make up missed class time.

    If your institution doesn’t have a contract with Elluminate or another web-conferencing provider, and you’re looking for a free meeting space, check out ScribLink. (See this post.)

  5. These are the 20 most recent Delicious bookmarks that I’ve tagged with psychology-related tags. Whenever I add a new bookmark with such a tag, it’s automatically added to the top of the list and the bottom one rotates off. Scroll down and you’ll see the tag cloud. Clicking on, say, “learning” will call up all of the bookmarks I’ve tagged with learning. The size of the font gives you a sense of how many bookmarks there are in each category; the bigger the font, the more bookmarks are there. (See this post on Delicious.)

    This New York Times article comes with some good study advice based on psychological research. Follow the link, and a video of me speaking will start playing. Eyejot allows you to record a video and attach it to a webpage. (See this post on Eyejot). Scrolling down farther, I’ve boxed some text and added a note using MarkUp.io. (See this post on MarkUp.io.) Actually, the sequence was reversed. I used MarkUp.io first because it gives me a new URL, one that goes to their website where the annotations are stored. Then I attached my Eyejot video to that new URL.

    I make my lecture outlines available to my students. I have a tendency to speak quickly (I blame it on my east coast upbringing, but I promise I’m working on it – the quick speaking, not the east coast upbringing), and I have a large number of students for whom English is not their first language. Not a good combination. Many students will print out the lecture outlines and bring them to class to make class easier to follow. Add the bottom of each outline is a Delicious bookmarks tag cloud that’s specifically relevant to that topic area.

    For example, on the Sensation and Perception lecture outline page, at the bottom you will see this. Only bookmarks tagged with “sensation” or “perception” will appear here.

    Finally, I recommend some books in the “Further Reading” section. Each hyperlink takes you to a different Google Bookshelf. Google Books allows you to save book titles to your own library. Each book can then be saved to one or more virtual bookshelves. On the left, you can see the bookshelves I’ve created and the number of titles on each shelf. On the right, you see each title and book information.

    Clicking on a title provides a more detailed description, more review information, and on the right, ways to get the book, including using WorldCat finding it in your public or college library.

    Conclusion

    The thing to remember about websites is that they are never really done. Mine has been evolving since the mid-90s. If you want to add some of these elements to your own website (or course management system), don’t feel like you have to do it all at once. If you have students who often ask for book recommendations, start by slowing building a Google library. When you have some titles, direct students to them.

    As you website builds, check in with your students. Do they find the content useful? Can they find what they’re looking for? Is there something they’d like to see added?

    If you have a feature on your website that you really works for you, I’d love to hear what you’re doing!

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Dec 142010
 

Last month I wrote about BridgeURL, a service that lets you bundle links together into one URL. Controls appear on either side of your browser window that allow you to cycle through the links. Here’s an example of a BridgeURL link. For those of you who are fans of bit.ly, the URL shortener service, they’ve recently added the ability to bundle URLs together.

Log in to your bit.ly account. Check the boxes next to the links you’d like to bundle together, and click ‘Bundle.’

Clicking ‘Bundle’ generates this page where you can add links to your newly created bundle. In this screenshot, you only see the first link. The other two are below it. You can revisit this bundle at any time to add links.

I’m going to change the title and give a description of the bundle.

This is what it now looks like.

When I click the ‘Share’ button, I get the screen below. If I click ‘Copy,’ the URL for my bundle is copied to my clipboard, and I can paste it anywhere I’d like. If I click customize, I can name the link anything that isn’t already taken. For instance, I customized this bundle to this: http://bit.ly/Correlations. If you’re giving links to students in paper form, customizing is the way to go. It’s easier for students to type in that URL than to type in random letters.

Once your bundle’s created, you can add links, remove links, and rearrange links. Go back into your bit.ly account, and click on the bundle. Or just follow the link that you created.

To add links, copy and paste your link into the box and click ‘Add to bundle.’ To edit your title or description, click on the title to change the title; click on the description to change the description. To delete or rearrange links, click the box directly above the ‘Add to bundle’ button. That will collapse all of your links so you’ll only see the titles. Click the garbage can to delete a link. To rearrange the links, mouse over a link, grab it with the hand that appears, and drag it to where you want it to go. That’s it. It’s automatically saved, and your previous customized URL will still work.

If you send your students out to the web to visit a number of sites, bundling makes it easier on you and your students. By editing your bundle, you can easily change an assignment without changing the URL you give to your students.

And for those of you have become QR code aficionados, point your smartphone here to go to this bit.ly bundle.

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Nov 132010
 

BridgeURL lets you save multiple web addresses in one web address. Send your students to one URL, and they can flip through them in a slideshow. BridgeURL is a brand new tool, and they are continuing to add features.

To create a BridgeURL, visit the BridgeURL website, create a title for your link, then enter your web addresses.

Click “Create Link.”

Here’s the link I created: http://bridgeurl.com/Sue-s-Favorite-Email-Tools. Follow this to see the links in ‘slideshow’ view. This is what it looks like in my browser. When I took this screenshot, I had my mouse hovering over the right side of the screen. Clicking ‘next’ will take you to the second URL I entered. Mouse over the right side of the screen to go to the previous URL, in this case it would be the fifth URL I had entered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quirks:

It uses your title to create the URL. If that title is already in use, BridgeURL won’t generate a new URL, but it also won’t give you an error message. The page just sits there, staring at you blankly.

Websites that don’t allow the use of IFrames (like Facebook) won’t display in the slideshow view. BridgeURL has an ‘all’ option. Just add “all” to the end of your BridgeURL to get this view (for example, http://bridgeurl.com/Sue-s-Favorite-Email-Tools/all ). Click on the URLs individually, or if you click “open all links at once,” all of the links will open in your browser, each one opening in a new tab.

Bonus tip:

If you want your students to visit several websites, such as NY Times articles, this is a terrific way to package them all together. Use this service in combination with MarkUp.io, WebNotes, or Eyejot. Add your annotations to a website using one of those services, then take those created URLs and add them to BridgeURL to create one URL. Keep in mind that students will be viewing the websites in whatever order you choose.

[Thanks to Mashable for posting information about this resource! http://mashable.com/2010/11/09/bridgeurl]

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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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Oct 302010
 

I have an assignment where I ask students to read a NY Times article on what constitutes good study habits. I ask students to identify the recommendations in the article and then evaluate their own study habits, noting any changes they intend to make. Since this is for an intro psych course, I also ask students to identify the independent variable and dependent variable in one of the studies described in the article. Right now I just let students pick from the few studies that are reported. If I wanted students to identify the variables in a particular study, I would have to describe the study in the instructions for the assignment.

Enter Markup.io. Here I drew a box around the description of the study, then I added some text and an arrow.

There’s no service to sign up for. There’s nothing to download. You just mark up a webpage, click the publish button, and Markup generates a new web address. You can visit the webpage I marked up here: http://markup.io/v/fc6jmvrcft14.

Here’s how it works. Visit Markup.io. In the bottom right corner of that page, there’s a black box with white lettering that reads “drag to bookmarks bar.” Do that. Click there and drag it to your bookmarks toolbar in your web browser. This is what it looks like in my browser:

[At this point, I strongly encourage you to visit Markup.io, add the bookmark to your toolbar and follow along as I describe how Markup works. It’s much easier than I am able to convey in this post.]

Visit any webpage that you like. I’ll visit the study habits article. Click on Markup in your bookmarks toolbar. In the top right corner of your webpage, Markup will load this toolbar:

The first icon is a pencil. See the little tiny triangle at the bottom right of that icon? That tells you that that icon has other tools available. Clicking the pencil icon generates this dropdown menu.

The pencil lets you draw freeform. The arrow, square, circle, and line tools provide a more constrained image. They’re just like working with shapes in MS Word.

The Tt icon is for text. Click that icon, then click anywhere on the webpage where you would like to add text. While you can’t see a text box, it is like working with text boxes in MS Word.

Click the red box icon to see the color palette. Click a different color to change colors.

The next icon is a line-thickness control. Want a thicker line? Grab the gray arrow and slide it to the right.

 

Tips.

When you’re working with a particular image on the screen, say a box that you’ve just created, the box will sort of glow. It’s a subtle difference.

Box deselected.

 

Box selected

 

 

Click on a box to select it. It will glow to confirm that you did indeed select it. Now you can grab and move it. You can delete it, by just hitting the delete key on your keyboard. You can change the width of the lines with the slider tool, and you can change the color by using the color palette. You cannot resize it, though. If you need it to be a different size, just delete it and draw a new one.

After you’ve added some text with the Tt icon, click on the drawing (pencil) icon. Now when you mouse over the text, you can see the box around the text, and you can grab and move it wherever you’d like. As long as the text box is highlighted, you can change the font size by using the slider (move the slide to the right to increase the size of the font) and the font color by using the color palette.

 

Ready to publish.

You’ve finished marking up the page and are ready to make it publicly available to your students. Click the i icon.

That will generate this pop-up window.

Grab the green arrow and drag it to the right. If you’re not ready to publish, click the x in the top left corner to cancel.

 

Sliding to publish will generate this pop-up.

Highlight the URL, and copy it. (To copy, CTRL-C, or right click on it and select copy.) Click the x in the top left corner to close the pop-up.

 

 

 

Sharing the URL.

Give your students the Markup URL that was generated for your marked up page. When they visit the page, Markup loads a toolbar in the top right corner of the page.

Clicking “respond” will let visitors to the page add their own comments and drawings. It generates this pop-up window.

“Keep Marks” lets visitors add to your mark up. “Start Fresh,” unsurprisingly, erases your marks. In either case, visitors to your page then get the original Markup toolbar that you used to create your marks. When they publish, they’ll get a new URL. Your original URL will still take people to your marked up page.

Important note. Markup works by taking a screenshot of the webpage. That means that the hyperlinks no longer work. Clicking I in either the original or the respond toolbars will give the option to return to the original webpage.

As always, if you try it out, let me know how it works for you!

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Apr 182009
 

You’re sitting at home, and you come across an amazing website that you think is perfect for your students.  How do you get it out to them?

  1. I wait and tell them in class.
  2. I email them.
  3. I add an announcement to my course management system.
  4. I add a link to my website.
  5. I just bookmark it and let Delicious do the rest.

I mentioned in an earlier post that cloud computing is taking content off your computer and moving it up into the internet ‘cloud.’ You can take your bookmarks out of your browser and move them to where you can access them from any computer. (You’re already thinking how great it would be to have the same bookmarks on your home and office computer, aren’t you?) You can also decide which of those bookmarks you would like your students to have access to, and you can automatically post those bookmark updates to your website or your course management system.

And, yes, you can designate whether you’d like a particular bookmark to be public or private. Just because you can share doesn’t mean you have to!

Viewing bookmarks.

If you visit my Delicious bookmarks, where my online moniker is ripley32, this is pretty much what you would see. Because these are my bookmarks, I have the option to do things like edit and delete bookmarks that obviously visitors don’t have.

Here you can see my bookmarks, organized by date with the most recent at the top. The numbers in the blue boxes tell me how many other Delicious users have bookmarked that site. Three of these links have descriptions; I added those when I bookmarked them. Each also has ‘tags’ that I typed in on my own at the time I made the bookmark. On the far right you can see my tags. Tags just make for easy searching.


Let’s say that you were only interested in seeing the videos that I have bookmarked. Clicking the ‘video’ tag gives you just the 46 bookmarks that I tagged ‘video.’

Now I see just those ‘video’ bookmarks, and on the right I now get ‘related’ tags. I can see that 5 bookmarks that carry the video tag also carry the cognition tag. Clicking on ‘cognition’ will give me just those 5 videos that I said relate to cognition. If you did that, we’d go down one more level where you’d see that of the videos that are tagged video and cognition, there are 2 that are tagged ‘language.’ Clicking that tag would just give you those 2.


If you didn’t share your bookmarks with another soul, Delicious is incredibly valuable for organizing the dozens and dozens of bookmarks you have. Now is probably a good time to mention that Delicious makes it easy to move your bookmarks off your computer and into your Delicious account. After logging in, go to ‘Settings,’ and then upload your bookmarks. You can also download your bookmarks to your browser if you’re so inclined.


The social part of social bookmarking.

Do you have your RSS feed reader set up? (For more on RSS feed readers, see this blog post.) Let’s say that you’ve found my bookmarks so interesting that you want to know when I add something new. Scroll to the bottom of my bookmarks page and click ‘RSS feed for these bookmarks.’ Any bookmark I add will be sent to your RSS feed reader. If you’re only interested in hearing about new videos I bookmark, click on the ‘video’ tag, then scroll to the bottom of that page and click the RSS feed link. You’ll only hear about my new bookmarks that I’ve tagged ‘video.’ If you’re only interested in new video bookmarks that are cognition-related, click on ‘cognition’ under ‘related tags,’ then… you get the idea.

Saving new bookmarks.

Delicious makes it easy for you to save new bookmarks.


When you download the Delicious toolbar for Firefox or IE, two new icons are added to your navigation toolbar, just left of the URL. The blue one with the white stripe that looks like a bookmark takes you to your bookmarks. The other tag is for creating new bookmarks. Visit the page you want to bookmark, then click the ‘TAG’ button. A box pops up with the page URL and the page title pre-entered, the latter of which you are free to change. Add any notes you’d like to include, type in your tags, and click the ‘do not share’ box if you’d like to keep this bookmark private so only you can see it. Click ‘Save,’ and you’re done.

Posting bookmarks to your website or course management system.

This is a snapshot taken of my Intro to Psych main webpage. My Delicious bookmarks (not the ones designated as private) show up as a ‘link roll,’ the term used for ‘rolling links.’ Although you can only see 2 links here, there are 15 on the actual page. When I add a new bookmark to Delicious, the bookmark pops in at the top of the list and the bottom one rolls off. The descriptions for each bookmark are what I added in the ‘notes’ field when I created the tag; you can edit that whenever you’d like. If you visit the page, clicking on the title will take you to my Delicious bookmarks. Clicking a bookmark will take you to the bookmarked website.


You can also create link rolls based on tags. For instance, I post pages that contain my lecture outlines as well as other content my students might find helpful or interesting. On these pages I’ve added link rolls specifically related to that content. Here’s an example from my neuroscience page where the only links that appear are the ones I have tagged ‘brain.’


To create a link roll, go to ‘Settings.’


Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on ‘Link Rolls.’ On that page, choose your ‘display options,’ such as title and the tags you want (if you choose video and cognition, it will just give you the bookmarks that have both tags). How the link roll will look is displayed on the right. Once it’s configured to your liking, scroll to the top of the page and copy the html code. Go to wherever you edit your webpage, put the cursor where you’d like the link roll to appear, switch to html view, and paste the html code.

Tag Rolls

Instead of posting the link titles, you can just post your tags as a ‘cloud.’ The tags with the most bookmarks are bigger. Visitors can click on a tag to see all of the bookmarks for that particular tag. You can add this to your website in the same way you added link rolls. Visit ‘Settings,’ scroll to the bottom, and click ‘Tag Rolls.’ Select the parameters you’d like, then copy the code. Edit the webpage where you would like to include the tag roll, switch to html view, and paste the code.


Mmmmm…. Delicious!



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