Catching up to Dick Tracy

Wed Feb 3 23:00:52 2016 EDT (-0400 GMT)

Wikipedia on Pebble TimeTonight as we got ready for bed my 5 year old had a question for me about the Northwest Passage. He’s a Stan Rogers fan and a rail fan and wanted to know the difference between the Ontario Northlander rail service and the Northwest Passage.

I tried to explain about the Franklin Expedition, but I realized as I explained it that Franklin is also a turtle in Canadian children’s story series. So I tried to also explain that Franklin was the captain’s last name, and the horrible thing that happend to him and his crew was over 150 years ago and all the ways we travel today are much safer. But, I didn’t think there was too much of a distinction made between the two Franklins and that time line was a guess.

A good question for Siri (we ask her a lot of things) but we’re in PJs (no pockets). It occurred to ask the Wikipedia app on my Pebble smart watch, and sure enough, my watch Bluetooth’ed its way to my phone, on to Wikipedia, and returned a summary of the Franklin Expedition.

That was pretty cool.

It’s the kind of thing Google Now and Siri can easily do (and the Apple Watch), but there was something even cooler with the the answer coming from something strapped to my wrist that’s there when I do the dishes or change the tires on my car. The largest general reference work ever strapped to my wrist, and nowhere near as precious of anything else I’d accessed it from before.

Definitely one of those “the future is now” moments.

An App Store for Web-Based Instruction

Tue May 27 0:21:00 2014 EDT (-0400 GMT)

LTI Connections from LMS to other nodes
Do what you do best, and link to the rest. A lesson of the web learnt quickly by those who’s success depends on being creative online.

The latest released version of Sakai, version 2.9.3, improves on the existing features that allows for the connection of Sakai courses to external tools. The forthcoming version of Sakai, Sakai 10, takes this provision even further.

The biggest improvement is institutionalizing the configuration process to allow approved external tools to appear as peers to Sakai’s own tools when instructors choose what they would like to add to their course site, especially in Sakai 10.

The Sakai tool and the specification that supports the connection is the Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) specification.

Presently, in the Brock University context, instructors need to know that the Brock University service, web-based tool or Publisher they are interested in integrating into their course: exists, supports LTI specification and that Isaak/Sakai can be connected through LTI. The instructor then must contact administrators to have the connection added to his/her course. The connection is only made once the proposed integration has met Brock University’s technical and privacy standards. This new model of pre-approved tools and their listing alongside other Sakai tools now only requires the instructors interest – prompted from any source, including students previous experience.

This ability to add tools alongside Sakai’s current listing of possible tools also provides an opportunity for university services to tightly integrate with courses in addition to making instructors aware that they exist.

The following posting discusses (in too much depth at times) the current status, the Sakai tool and LTI specification, examples of tools that could be integrated and a framework for the selection of tools to be added to this “App Store for Instructors”.

Notes on Clickers

Mon Jan 13 23:21:25 2014 EDT (-0400 GMT)

Clickers

Some notes on physical and virtual classroom “clickers” that I’ve maintained in Evernote over the years and shared a few times. Seemed like a good thing to blog about.

Phone-based:

  • Turning Technologies has physical clickers and smart-phone clickers

    www.turningtechnologies.ca/

    If you are using a textbook from Nelson or Pearson there might be a chance that you could get the software and base for free from them — but the students would have to pay. ITS’ AV Services also have around 50 of these for sign-out.

  • Top Hat Monocle

    www.tophatmonocle.com/

    Uses phones, laptops, etc. and they are always keen to do a demo.

  • Poll Everywhere

    www.polleverywhere.com

    Is free for under 40 people but gets expensive as numbers are added.

iOS-based:

  • Socrative http://www.socrative.com/
  • Flexible and free. Waiting for other shoe to drop. What Mr. Clare Sr. uses.

Web/Smart-phone based:

  • Mentimeter https://www.mentimeter.com/
    It is new and promises to be free, but I have not used it.
  • mqlicker www.mqlicker.com/
    is new and promises to be free, but I have not used it.
    A Brock University Economics prof really liked this option
  • Not free at all is:

Also:

Then the Chronicle of Higher Ed. has some quick idea for low-tech clickers:

chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/low-tech-alternatives-to-clickers/34184

Live classroom interaction, polling, chat…

  • Piazza https://piazza.com/

    Piazza allows for large groups to ask questions and vote up the important ones. It is a very interesting way to get feedback in a large class. It is free and has an LTI integration that the CPI can add to any Isaak/Sakai site.  It surprises me how often instructors interested in “simple” polling like the realtime feedback Piazza gives.

  • More survey & marketing style http://www.signalhq.com/
    Signal – good buzz (possibly for the API) with a free trial

Rally of the Tall Pines 2013

Sun Dec 1 23:00:21 2013 EDT (-0400 GMT)


Rally of the Tall Pines 2013, a set on Flickr.

Some great weather at a great location.

Chair of Sakai Accessibility Working Group

Mon Jul 29 0:12:34 2013 EDT (-0400 GMT)

Sakai Accessibility Working Group

I recently accepted the lead of the Sakai Accessibility Working Group.  It’s an honour and a challenge and I’m going to make the most of it.

At Brock University we use Isaak as our learning management system, which is based on the Sakai CLE.  In Ontario Canada we’re operating under the increasingly more stringent Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) which wisely cites the various levels of the WCAG 2 as its own standards.  Because of this and because its the responsible and technologically ideal way to proceed: web accessibility is important to me.

I’m a big believer that there’s a lot that can be done to improve web accessibility if more people just had a little more knowledge about the issue and the solutions and were able to apply that knowledge at the correct time.

To that end I’m coordinating conference calls about Sakai accessibility every other Thursday at 2:00 eastern (all are welcome – Add the next meeting directly to your calendar.).  What we do as an accessibility working group is review general issues and trends in the Sakai CLE (sometimes there’s an OAS), set goals, offer advice, and slog through the JIRA tickets (bugs in the bug tracker) and offer to add a solution, advice or other wisdom as needed.  We’re also trying to spread critical web accessibility information in the Sakai community and beyond.

Projects in the Sakai community include ongoing information sharing and canvasing (even, blogging) about the need to get more people involved, and reaching out to other upstream projects, like CKEditor and JQuery UI to both pass feedback to them and to apply their latest and greatest solutions to Sakai.

I don’t claim to be an accessibility expert, but I do understand the standards and I’ve been writing HTML so long I the two platforms I originally had to test on were a 486 Compaq and an Amiga A2000HD. More importantly, I care.