Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Classroom Response System - Home - Top Hat Monocle

Yesterday, a few professors and I participated in an online demonstration of the Top Hat Monocle classroom response systems. I was impressed.  Currently we are using the i>clicker systems here at MRU and we are quite happy with it, but the Top Hat "clickers" offer some very interesting advantages. If you are shopping around, you may want to consider them.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sharing Content on

I signed up for a account yesterday so I can explore if we can use this web app with instructors to help them post their slideshows and documents for their students to access.  Before checking further, I thought this was just like the other Slidedeck sharing sites, which are many, but I was pleasantly surprised that you can add an audio narration to the powerpoint slides, if you wish. You do this by uploading a MP3 file with your narration and then adjust your slides to synchronize on the time line.  I haven't actually tried this yet but it is very promising.

You can also add other documents to your account and distribute them to others, while tracking the number of accesses.

This is a free service that has a Pro level of server that is a for-fee service. They claim to be the largest sharing site for presentations.

I did notice that they are using Flash technology, which is becoming old and obsolete, especially since Apple mobile devices can not open them.

 Check it out at 

If you are using this, please share your comments about it.

Improvements to, formerly has just made some improvements to their service:

  • New course tools: They recently redesigned Lore's course management tools—discussion, calendar, library, and gradebook—for the fall. They've continued to refine the product to help turn your class into a community.
  • Academic profile: You and your students all have profiles showing your background, aspirations, and courses. You can follow them and they can follow you. We've added a few other things too. 
  • Academic groups: You and your students can now create academic groups, which have most of the same functionality as a course. You can create one with your department or colleagues at other schools.
And here is a link to an article posted in the Economist about the story of Check it out at 

I find it interesting that their business model to patterned after Facebook's, achieve critical mass the money will follow.  Or will they just go until their $6Million runs out. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

MOOCs at

MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) seem to be the buzz this summer and I just found a very interesting Ted Talk about the MOOCs that are available at   You can go to to the Ted Talk at  Daphne Koller is the speaker.

But then go over to and check out the free, university level online classes that you can take. I found three intriguing ones, two about designing online courses and an intro to Logic that I signed up for just because it starts next month and I want to see what these are all about, and how they manage to design them so that they work.

The two education courses that look very appealing are eLearning and Digital Cultures   and
Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application

If you would like a crash course in MOOCs go to and sign up for a MOOC about MOOC's that starts next week (Aug 12) or just read the article at that explains what MOOC are. I signed up for that on, too. So I may see you online.

If you know of any good MOOCs, please share.

Nexus 7

Last week my Nexus 7 Tablet arrived. I ordered the 16 GB model for the Google Play site. I really like this device. I have worked with many mobile devices to compare this to including the Asus Transformer Prime and iPad but this one is the best of them all in my experience. And that is not taking into account that it cost less than half of the other two tablets mentioned.   And the 8GB model is the same price as the 8GB iPod Touch.

Last term I explored using a brand new EdTech tool call that was a free online alternative to Blackboard. I was teaching two sections of my Creativity in the Workplace class and I put both sections on it, after asking the students if they were game to test it out.  It went well.

It was brand new and still a little rough around the edges but the feedback from the students was that they liked it better than Blackboard, which they are all familiar with because it is heavily used at MRU. Coursekit is interesting because it is free to use, well supported and developed by university students. It was the last characteristic to attracted my attention the most. I was intrigued with how university students would design a better LMS.

This summer Coursekit was renamed to and received a significant facelift.  It is very student and community centred. Not unlike Facebook. I found it the most useful to get the students to share with each other, which is not easy to do in Blackboard.

You need to check it out if you are looking for an alternative to your institutionally provided LMS.  What is great about is that it is designed to be adopted at the instructor level so you don't have to try to talk your institution into adopting it.   And your students can use their Facebook logins to log in to so they don't have to manage another login.

I don't think I will be using it this year because now that we have Google Apps for Education, I am going to be designing our course sites using Google Sites and Groups. These are more mobile device friendly, too.

If you have used, post a comment about it.

Reviving this Blog

A while ago, I thought it would be a good idea to move my blogging activities over to a different blog system. I used the WordPress site at MRU for a while and then thought I would use Posterous after an inspiring conference workshop on how great it is.  But instead, I fell into the world of microblogging on Twitter and how much easier it is to post a short blog post than it is a longer in-depth one like this one. Long story short, I have been away from this blog for a long time, as you can see in the chronology of posts.

But, I am back. I have no idea if this blog will pick up any readers but then that what blogging is about. I am also back to Blogger, because Mount Royal University, the institution where I work, is just now adopting Google Apps for Education for all of its students this Fall, and Blogger is one of the apps that is now available to our community of students and faculty.  And Blogger has evolved since I was last on it so I will be blogging here again. I have come back.

From the explorations that I made on the other blogging tools, I still find Blogger to be the easiest blogging tool to use. That said, I haven't had a chance to try some of the newer ones but I do hope to try them and post reviews on them here.

Feel free to post comments on what blogging tool you find useful and why.

Rod Corbett