education, technology, and everything else

Archive for the ‘tools’ Category


Posted by Miranda on November 15, 2009

I’ve been getting into Tiddlywikis lately. I remember seeing one in use a couple of years ago but it’s only lately that I’ve been using them myself. It took me a little while to get the hang of the structure (and I’m still not sure about a lot of things) but I’m finding them very useful.

I’m keeping one with notes of what I need to do with KUAPress, things like- “Upgrade PHP over the break” and notes like – “How can we get students more involved? Is faculty use of the Press the kiss of death?” as well as links to support documents and time spent on things – you name it, it’s in there.

Then I have another that contains household hints (we define that loosely). I am compiling this for my son for a graduation present.
This tiddlywiki contains hints like how to easily clean saucepans that have had food burn in them (Put in a dollop of baking soda, cover with cold water, boil until its all foaming up everywhere and then let it cool. The scorched stuff will just flake right off) or how to cook a chicken or how to keep peeled potatoes from turning brown all organized into three sections: Cooking, Cleaning, Finance. I’ll probably add another section called Love.

A tiddlywiki is a personal wiki , one html document, that lives locally on your hard drive or, in the case of Chris’ Household Hints, on the USB drive on my keychain. It is billed as a “personal, non-linear web notebook” and that’s what it is. They are great for keeping track of small pieces of information. Here are a couple in action

An Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything
A Guide to Bolivian Politics
music and culture site (Portuguese)

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faculty workshops

Posted by Miranda on October 31, 2009

There’s been a big push on to get faculty thinking about possible distance learning tools in the light of the H1N1 virus. We’ve all been asked to think about how we’d deal with either faculty or students being isolated for a period of time.
Our school website incorporates most of the things they would need to communicate class requirements like assignments, schedule. They can post links, upload documents and so forth, even embed audio and video. It does lack interactivity for the students – it’s all one way.

My colleague Steve and I have been doing workshops all the last week and a half and that’s been a LOT of fun. He’s done the ones on WordPress and I’ve been doing wikis and Moodle. We have a Moodle install on campus – we were actually planning on retiring it. It is enjoying a brief rennaissance. Why wikis, WordPress and Moodle? We have local installs of Moodle and WordPress and we were asked to do something on wikis. More to come if I have anything to say about it.

I think I learn more at these things than the teachers do sometimes.
I had a really interesting project this morning – A teaching intern in the science department set up a wiki and then wanted to embed a spreadsheet of environmental data that students could update.

They are studying Blow Me Down Brook, a local stream, and its corresponding watershed. The obvious to me answer was to keep the spreadsheet in Google Docs, I could get that far.

That meant a quick tutorial on Google Docs (which I have used sometimes but really am not that familiar with). Then he had to set up an account at Google, and upload a spreadsheet (he could have created a new one there of course) into his brand new Google Docs account.
Then we shared the document. We ran into a snag here because as test students we were getting prompted to log in to Google to edit the embedded sheet. We didn’t want them to have to log in of course.
With a little tinkering with permissions, now all his students can edit the spreadsheet and have the embedded sheet update dynamically. Very cool! I started telling the teaching intern how his students could work with google maps to add markers to the Google map of the watershed area they are studying, with photographs, overlays and all the rest.. He said I was making his brain explode and we would have to talk about it later.

Oh, I love this stuff!

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Putting Hartford, VT on the map

Posted by Miranda on June 9, 2009

I read with great interest an article in the local paper, the Valley News today Creating Hartford on the Web about a course at a local high school

Designed and co-taught by social studies teachers Mike Hathorn and Woody Rothe, the course marries the Internet and cutting-edge online mapping technology with more traditional research and communication skills.

View the result at Creating A History of Hartford
This is very very impressive! Imagine how these students feel having their imagery and research integrated into Google Earth. This is the kind of result schools can get when they are not afraid of letting students engage with the world audience available.

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Posted by Miranda on May 20, 2009 Introduces VideoPress for users

Posted using ShareThis
On the way down to lunch I had a curbside discussion with one of the faculty on the subject of our video server, KUtube, and our new WordPressMU install, KUAPress and we were asking ourselves – why can’t one platform do everything?

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Posted by Miranda on May 16, 2009

Interesting take on the search engine: spezify still in beta.
Searching for nile monitor +florida (after reading this fascinating article in the New Yorker (print version)

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Teacher’s Domain

Posted by Miranda on March 25, 2009

I seem to be on the mailing list for eSchool News, which in a idle moment led me to Teacher’s Domain “Digital Media for the Classroom and Professional Development”.

Teachers’ Domain, a library of free digital resources and fee-based professional development courses developed by Boston public television station WGBH, has added a new section called “Inspiring Middle School Literacy: Reading and Writing in Science and History.”

Some good stuff in here, in the environmental section for instance I found Alaska Native Pilots a video on how pilots use native knowledge to predict the weather. Looks like all sorts of good stuff free to download and share with registration.

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caught my eye this morning

Posted by Miranda on March 15, 2009

What caught my eye this morning was this Guide to Most Useful Bookmarklets for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc. from the Digital Inspiration Technology Blog.
Readability of course is in there, but also things like :

PrintWhatYouLike – A brilliant bookmarklet that helps you format web pages for printing. You can save changes locally as a PDF file (more ways to reduce printing costs).


Short URL – This is too obvious but still a must-have bookmarklet. It lets you create short URLs for any site using, a service that is far better than TinyURL as it offers real-time click statistics.

Many of these bookmarklets look like things I’ll be using daily

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GoView : screencasting tool

Posted by Miranda on March 11, 2009

Now here’s a tool I’ll be looking at further : GoView. One of our courses is being reorganized for next year and the instructors plan to have a lot of materials online. (That was one of the thoughts behind KUAPress, although really I just wanted to see if I could get it going. I wanted to play!)
This might come in useful for them though. One of the science teachers is using Jing but that only saves in swf, a real drawback.

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Posted by Miranda on March 11, 2009

Adds a Reload button to the footer so you can get links back and adds to the effectiveness, now works on over 90% of pages (they say)

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WordPress MU

Posted by Miranda on March 10, 2009

After attending a WordCamp back in February with a young colleague we both became pretty excited about the idea of setting up our own multi-user WordPress blog site here on campus. (same as Harvard uses, whoop-t-doo!) Or fo that matter.
As of a couple of days ago I finally have it working, although it wasn’t what you’d call exactly “plug and play”. For one thing we can’t spend any money on it and for another we weren’t setting it up on a UNIX box.

I used VMServer (free) to set up a 30 GB virtual server. Installed windows XP Pro SP3 and Symantec Antivirus corporate edition.
Installed Instant Rails to this virtual server. Installation is pretty simple just extract the zipped file to a directory at the root of your server. Start the Instant Rails manager. Mod rewrite was already enabled in Apache but we did have to change the directive and configure the VirtualHost section (Items 2 and 3 in the WordPress MU ReadMe file)
I set up a database using Configure > Database(viaPHPMyAdmin) in the Instant Rails Manager
I then extracted the WordPressMU files to a directory inside the www directory that Instant Rails had set up. I ran the install.php file as directed and all went well until I tried to log in as admin to my shiny new install.
I just kept getting redirected back to the login after entering the password. See:
Too frustrating!
Finally this post:
pointed me in the right direction. I added a line to my Apache configuration, put an entry in the hosts file of the virtual server – for windows XP that is c:\\windows\system32\drivers\etc\hosts and added two alias entries to my dns server, one for and the other for * (so that new blogs would work on a subdomain)
Then I edited wp-config.php to define the server:
and changed the path of the directory for content (also in wp-config) so that I could store the data on our SAN. Now we are cooking with gas and I hope that students and faculty will soon be using our install and setting up sites to their hearts content. I’d like to see digital portfolios where students could showcase their work for colleges, class sites, discussions using the CommentPress theme, autobiographical sites , newsletters…. How about it? Do you have any ideas how we could use this?


A big Thank You! to Will Norris

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