August 29, 2006

Distance-learning tools

It's the start of the semester, and I've given up on using CMap's collaborative concept-mapping in my online class this semester. Ah, well. I've at least figured out a package of cool tools to use instead. USF uses Blackboard, which would be a very clunky tool indeed except for a few other side apps. One is Respondus's offline quiz-creation program, which USF has a site-license for. My reaction several years ago to that: whew!

Last year I used a variety of tools, largely Microsoft's MovieMaker, to turn Powerpoint presentations into very bulky files. Bad Sherman, by this year's standards. Huge WMV files are so 2005, along with Social Security destruction reform, Katrina, and heckuva job. This year, smaller footprint is the watchword (or watchphrase), and for that I can thank the eLearning XHTML Editor that creates SCORM-compliant packages that I can upload to Blackboard; SWiSH Presenter, which is like Camtasia and Articulate Presenter in converting PowerPoints to Flash except that the educational license is US$50 instead of much more; and Audacity, which allows me to create narrations that are noise-filtered, normalized, and have all the breath intakes and ums deleted. That deletion of my mistakes takes just a little more effort than the filtering and normalization, but that's because I breathe a lot; my academic-year resolution is to breathe less and thus save time in audio editing.

I've recorded the narration for the first-unit lecture for the online course and am about halfway through the editing. I should finish sometime late tomorrow morning, and then there's the first live chat tomorrow evening. I just hope our tech gurus on campus have discovered the security certification for the chat facility by then!  Oh, yes, and finish filling in holes of chapter 1 of Accountability Frankenstein, because I have brilliantly decided to give my students chapter drafts. That means, um, er, that I have to finish them.

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Posted in Teaching on August 29, 2006 7:48 PM |