Tiger TechnoBabble

Instructional Technology Newsletter / Cowley College
February 2011 Volume 1 Issue 7
Cowley Westside Center, 8821 W. 21st St., Wichita, KS, 67205 www.cowley.edu rorabaughj@cowley.edu 316.721.7103

Fabulous February!
Julie Rorabaugh – Director of Instructional Technology INSIDE THIS ISSUE 1 1 2 3 4
Fabulous February! ITC eLearning 2011 Faculty Focus – Stephani Johns-Hines and Voki Guest Geek – Chris Cannon and Dropbox Cool Tools!

So, you might be thinking, “What‟s so „fabulous‟ about February?” Well, we had two blizzards and three “Snow Days,” a record low temperature of -17 degrees in Wichita one morning, and the renowned groundhog did NOT see his shadow on February 2nd, thereby predicting an early spring. (Yay, Punxsutawney Phil!) The weather alone, plus ½ price Valentine‟s Day candy on the 15th, made the whole month noteworthy! On a personal note, February was fabulous for ME as we had a new arrival to the Rorabaugh house…a brand, spankin‟ new Verizon iPhone4. Oh yeah, and I got to present a session at a fantastic conference (see below) in the sunny climes of Florida. Spring Break is almost here… Babble On ~ Julie

Proof that I wasn’t on the beach the whole time

ITC eLearning 2011-St.Pete Beach, FL
Rule to remember when choosing conferences to attend: February in Florida is ALWAYS a good choice! So is attending any conference hosted by the Instructional Technology Council (ITC). The eLearning conference has always had the reputation as one of the most comprehensive (and friendliest!) gatherings of elearning professionals around. The educators here are technically-minded and savvy, and also excited to share and learn new educational strategies, especially targeted to teaching at a distance. I‟m still digesting much of the information that I gathered at the conference. The general sessions were thought-provoking (four in number!) and the “Grand Debate: Resolved: Master Courses Squash Individuality and Creativity” was lively and entertaining – and thoroughly relevant to every college that has seen its online program registration skyrocket in the past few years. If you would like to view the general session, and the debate, ITC has made them available at this link.

Julie presenting AVATAR!
Thanks to J.J.Johnson from Pierce College Military Program in Washington for the picture

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Tiger TechnoBabble

Faculty Focus Stephani Johns-Hines and Voki
Regular readers of Tiger TechnoBabble know that I LOVE to give away fabulous prizes! This month the receiver of the riches is Stephani JohnsHines. Stephani‟s a true “Renaissance Woman.” Her diverse background allows her to teach a variety of courses as an adjunct instructor for Cowley. Always an innovator, Stephani has taught online for over eight years, and has been a valuable asset as the online program has grown and developed. Thank you, Stephani, for sharing one of your techie teaching tools with us! How did you discover Voki?
As part of a graduate cohort this last fall, I interacted with educators across the U.S. and in Japan. One of my cohort members used a Voki avatar to introduce himself and I loved it! Like any good cohort, we readily shared resources, so I was able to make my own Voki right away.

What makes it easy to use?
Voki provides a very clear, step-by-step process. Avatars are created by simply clicking on the buttons provided for choosing characters, clothing, backgrounds and themes. Voki has also made giving your avatar a voice a breeze by offering options such as typed speech and voice recorded by microphone. Voki has even provided a feature that will call you and record your voice by phone! The "Newbie's Corner" is also available in the event new users have additional questions.

Stephani Johns-Hines Virtual and Actual

What features do you really like?
Obviously the ease of use is a big draw, as well as the diversity of the available characters and backgrounds. Instructors and students can create content relevant avatars in a matter of minutes. The interactivity of the avatars is also very appealing. In addition, I appreciate that my finished creations can be accessed by linking to my Voki account or having the option to embed them.

What is appeal of having an animated avatar? http://www.voki.com/Vo ki_for_education.php A FREE service that allows you to create personalized speaking avatars. Sign up for an account…it’s a fun way to connect with your students.

Voki creations are interactive in a way most other avatars are not, in that the eyes and head follow user mouse movement, making them even more "eyecatching". When embedded into content, users quickly notice the movement, making the avatar an ideal vehicle for introductions.

Have you had any feedback from students?
My students and peers have been fascinated by my avatar and are very quick to inquire how it was done. Students love "playing" with Voki for creating personal introductions and discussion responses and feedback, while other instructors find it an ingenious way to add a "human" element to online content.

Would you recommend that other instructors try it? ABSOLUTELY! Voki has recently added "Voki for Education" that provides even more avatar options in addition to a Lesson Plan Database to inspire you!

Tiger TechnoBabble

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Guest Geek - Chris Cannon Dropbox 101
-orHow I Learned to Love the Cloud I love Dropbox. There, I said it out loud. I use Dropbox multiple times each day to get things done, and I‟m not real sure how I survived without it. It has completely changed how I manage files, to the point that I no longer even carry a flash drive. Dropbox is a cloud (web) based application that allows you to access your files from any computer or device with web access. There are two ways to access your files after you create a Dropbox account: You can log in to their website from any web browser, or you can download a local client to your computer. The local client creates a Dropbox folder on your computer that is synchronized to your web account and across all of your devices that have Dropbox installed. All you have to do is place your files in the folder, and they are automatically synced across all devices. Cool! You get 2 gigabytes of storage for free when you sign up for a basic Dropbox account. I use the heck out of my account, and I‟m only up to about 4% usage. Granted, I don‟t place music, pictures, or other multimedia files in my Dropbox folder; this would cause me to run out of space very quickly. Instead, I use the folder to keep my in-progress files in sync. I mainly have Word, Excel and PowerPoint files that I‟m actively working on in my folder. Dropbox does utilize the https:// protocol, so all web transmissions are secure. Dropbox also allows you to collaborate and share files with other Dropbox users if you wish. Simply click on the “Sharing” tab on the Dropbox website, and you can make select files and folders available to others. This has been extremely handy recently, as Deryk Ruddle (a fellow EMS faculty member) and I have been working on an accreditation document. Instead of emailing copies of the file back and forth, we are simply utilizing a shared Dropbox folder to make sure we both have access to the most current file. To earn my love, an app has to fulfill several requirements: Reliability – It has to work every time. Period. Simplicity – I don‟t have to mess around with complex user interfaces or learn new operating systems. Portability – It must work on my mobile devices. Compatibility – It must work on ALL of my devices. Dropbox fulfills all of these requirements with ease. It is rock steady reliable (I‟ve never had an issue with down time – ever). It is as simple
Please see Guest Geek page 4

Note from Julie: There are just a few people in the Cowley-verse who can out “geek” me, and I can say without a doubt that Chris is one of them! His gleeful posting on Facebook when he ordered his iPhone4, let alone when he received it, was truly chuckleworthy! Anyway, I was thrilled when he asked if he could submit an article. When Chris recommends something, I know that it will meet his stringent list of requirements (see article) and that it’s worth checking out. If he’s intrigued you by listing the possibilities of using Dropbox, and you’d like to sign up for a FREE account, please use this link: http://db.tt/GmhjSdf The good folks at Dropbox will show Chris some “love” by adding some extra storage space to his account. Yes, it’s a “Tip” jar! Thank you, Chris, for sharing your enthusiasm and passion. And for allowing me to have a bit of fun with your picture!

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Guest Geek from page 3

Tiger TechnoBabble

Cool Tools!
Comics. They‟re not just the funny pages anymore! Many educators are beginning to see the value of alternative learning assessments, and frankly, I think some of you might just be bored to DEATH with student PowerPoint presentations! Why not let your students be creative, and perhaps give you and their classmates a chuckle or two, while demonstrating their mastery of a subject? Here are three online cartoon and comic strip creators to try out. No drawing talent is required, and this method may just get those reluctant writers doing what you want them to do…write! MakeBeliefsComix.com http://www.makebeliefscomix.com/ Witty Comics http://www.wittycomics.com/ Strip Generator http://stripgenerator.com/ Wow! Where is the time going? March will be a short month, as Spring Break is 3/21 through 3/25! (As if you could forget, right?) I’m very thankful to those who have written me and expressed their appreciation for Tiger TechnoBabble. Believe it or not, I’ve even got some long distance readers who have picked up TTB on Twitter and various list-servs! Amazing! I’d like to ask YOU to give me some feedback. Here’s a link to a short (two questions) survey about what you like and what you’d like to see in TTB. I’ve also included comment boxes. Feel free to suggest topics that are of interest to you.

to use as placing a file in a folder. And finally, it works on ALL of my devices, from my Windowsbased desktops and laptops, to my iPad and iPhone, and to my wife‟s Android-based Smartphone. I can‟t recommend this application highly enough. It has truly simplified the way that I handle file access and synchronization. Gone are the days of emailing files back-and-forth between work and home, having multiple copies of one file on my flash drive/desktop/home computer, and having to remotely access my work computer every night. Dropbox has simplified and streamlined my work process, and I think it could be beneficial to everyone who regularly uses a computer. And it‟s FREE! Please use the following link to sign up for a Dropbox account: http://db.tt/GmhjSdf Thanks, and email me with any questions. cannon@cowley.edu

Chris Cannon is the Allied Health Department Chair and Director of EMS Education at Cowley College. He is an avid consumer of all things technical, and lives by the Lifehacker.com motto: Don’t live to geek; geek to live.

Julie Rorabaugh
Director of Instructional Technology Cowley College
316.721.7103 rorabaughj@cowley.edu

SURVEY: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/KP6D9GS
Cheers! Julie

rorabaughj

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