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What’s a TAPoR?

What’s a TAPoR?

Photo of a TapirA TAPoR is a South American pig-like mammal.  No, that’s a Tapir!

TAPoR, recently mentioned in a NITLE-IT webinar offering, is an online resource for text mining tools.

A couple of things first:

What is ‘text mining’?  Text mining is the search for the prevalence of words or phrases to identify patterns and other correlations to assist in a deeper interpretation of written works.  Text mining is done by using a digital copy of a specific text or texts (either scanned and then OCRed so that the document can be searched or an existing searchable text document).  Once the document is searchable, it can be put into various software programs which, depending on the software, will display the text patterns in different ways.  These software programs can pull chunks of words, phrases, etc. from the reading and display it in a visual manner which allows readers to identify how these patterns might contribute to an author’s purpose, message or other more in-depth analyses of written work.

How does text mining help teaching and learning?  Before text mining tools, we used highlighters, pens and pencils to write in the margins and identify concepts and phrases.  Text mining streamlines this process and also allows instructors to expand a discussion or analysis of a reading due to the speed with which words and phrases or concepts can be found.  Students can be broken up into groups and work with specific kinds of searches or tools to share multiple perspectives based on their text mining research.

Key among the reasons individuals use text mining is to be able to see words in a more visual sense.  Seeing the prevalence of various words or concepts based on their size and distribution in relationship to their use and the use of other common words in a text help students to think more critically about word choice and its implications.  It may also be useful for students to make observations that were formerly more difficult to see and can create their own theories to explore and research.

Text mining can even be useful for students to analyze their own writing to search for over-use of words.

TAPoR provides a slew of text mining resources for different purposes.  Text mining activities can range from simple to complex and isn’t for everyone or for every reading of a written work.  If this is your first attempt at text mining, check in with your EdTech for recommendations on tools and best practices.

Tapir image courtesy of

Puget Sound faculty featured in The Chronicle!

Puget Sound faculty featured in The Chronicle!

Just after publishing our last post about tips on flipping, I was sent a fantastic article from The Chronicle of Higher Education written by the University of Puget Sound’s own chemistry professor, Steven Neshyba!

In It’s a Flipping Revolution, Neshyba talks about the journey and observations he’s made throughout his first semester of flipping his chemistry courses and how its made an impact on his teaching and student learning by using technology as a vehicle for content delivery outside of class.

A key takeaway from this article is Neshyba’s point “…about how technology, in tandem with innovations in pedagogy and the evolving nature of our students, is driving changes even at traditional private liberal-arts colleges like [his].”

A big congratulations on this excellent article!Clip from "It's a Flipping Revolution" by Steven Neshyba

Critical questions regarding ‘flipping’

Critical questions regarding ‘flipping’

BMX bikers doing a flip off of a rampTechnology is exciting.  Technology is innovative.  It makes us think.  It makes us do!  It can change and enhance the way we teach and learn, as long as it is used thoughtfully and with a primary focus on teaching and learning goals.

Recently, we posted about ‘flipping the classroom’ and have spoken about this to many folks interested in this methodology on-campus.  As new methods and tools emerge, it’s always important to periodically reflect on your goals and practices and how those are impacting learning in the classroom–especially when technology is in the mix.

Flipping can certainly prove to be a great solution for some individuals and content areas (students and faculty), let’s take a look at some key questions raised in an article written by Kevin Makice:  Flipping the Classroom Requires More Than Video.

Some critical takeaways:

When flipping, it is imperative to be continually aware of what your pedagogical objectives are as well as the ways in which information is disseminated to the students.

Cautions also include staying in-tune with the balance of online components and the out of class time that students are required to devote to content that was formerly done in-class.

Something to remember:  blended courses on other campuses (courses which meet less frequently face-to-face and supplement online components for the reduced face-to-face meetings) are usually structured using a variety of instructional design methods to facilitate student learning in more efficient ways while employing technologies to do so.

Makice cites Richard Taylor’s (CMO for Echo360) caveat to be wary that “If you structure your class exactly the same way you have always done but employ it flipped…effectively what you have done is added an extra hour of class for every hour of class the student has.”

Good tips:

“Flipped” lectures/videos should be short clips (typically about 10 minutes or less of content).

In-class time is for collaborative work, project-based learning, and to practice and work on homework problems/concepts in order to allow them to learn from one another or ask for additional assistance from the instructor.

Out of class time should remain the same amount of work/time commitment as any other face-to-face class that was not being ‘flipped’.  Typically, out of class time is for lecture content, but is not for homework (e.g., attempting math problems that were introduced in the video lecture watched at home).

Have questions about ‘flipping’?  Contact EdTech!

Image courtesy of morgueFile:

Swivl sets are here!

Swivl sets are here!

Educational Technology is pleased to announce that the Swivl personal recording devices as well as their accompanying iPods are here and ready for checkout by faculty for 1 week intervals.  We currently have two Swivls with iPods.

This is a pilot period where we will loan out these devices to interested faculty for one week and ask for a brief summary of its performance and usefulness to help us guide future tech purchases!

Swivl with iPod 5th generation. Remote (foreground) is worn by the presenter and has a built in microphone that integrates with your iDevice when the Swivl app is installed and the iDevice is plugged into the Swivl base. NOTE: Not compatible with all iDevices (see Media Services for details).
Swivl with iPod 5th generation. Remote (foreground) is worn by the presenter and has a built in microphone that integrates with your iDevice when the Swivl app is installed and the iDevice is plugged into the Swivl base. NOTE: Not compatible with all iDevices (see EdTech for details). 

If you prefer to use your own iDevice (iPad, iPod or iPhone), let us know prior to checkout to make sure that it will be compatible with the Swivl system.*  Also note that new iDevices will require a 30-pin to lightning adapter (contact your EdTech for additional information on compatibility or questions to help you get started right away).

If you missed our earlier post about Swivl, read the post and watch the video to learn more!

*Compatible with the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, and iPod Touch (4th Generation). Also iPhone 5, iPad Mini, iPod Touch 5th Gen with Apple Lightning adapter and in landscape mode only. Not compatible with iPhone 3GS or older, iPod (non-camera versions), or original iPad.

To checkout these devices, contact your Educational Technologist!

5th generation iPod.
5th generation iPod. 

Do you Mahara? Changes are coming…

Do you Mahara? Changes are coming…

Mahara scribe logoMahara will be undergoing an upgrade this spring to reflect some new theme-ing as well as minor functionality changes.

Never heard of Mahara?  Mahara is our ePortfolio system, an open source platform that supports student documentation and reflection of their work over time at the university.  This is a program developed out of New Zealand.  The name “Mahara” is a Maori word meaning “to think,” “think,” or “thought.”

ePortfolios are widely popular in Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand and have been gaining popularity for their pedagogical value in The States and other universities across the country for several years now.

With all the talk about online learning and what it means for small liberal arts settings, ePortfolios could be the ticket to differentiating the types of learning that take place here versus larger institutions.  Much of the focus of online learning, MOOCs and the like have pointed to a shift in the way we think about our teaching by using strategies such as ‘flipping’ or other methodologies that facilitate students taking a more active role in their learning.  To quote John Fischman, author of a Chronicle of Higher Education blog post:  Electronic Portfolios:  a Path to the Future of Learning, “If we truly want to advance from a focus on teaching to a focus on student learning, then a strategy involving something like electronic student portfolios, or ePortfolios, is essential.”

In 2009, Fischman’s post commented on the work of two researchers’: Randy Bass and Bret Eynon.  Fischman relayed the importance and value behind ePortfolios.  According to Fischman, Bass and Eynon believe that:  “At the moment, ePortfolios represent perhaps the most promising strategy for responding to calls for accountability and at the same time nurturing a culture of experimentation with new forms of learning.”

Want your students to begin taking ownership of their learning, reflecting and actively thinking about your course?  Contact your EdTech and get started with Mahara!

Another tech tool to put in your pocket

Another tech tool to put in your pocket

How often do you find a program that transitions easily from mobile device to browser to Screen Shot 2013-03-27 at 9.56.09 AMdesktop/laptop?  It’s rare to discover a decent one that allows all the same compatibility and functionality.

During Professional Development Week in January 2013, EdTech introduced Pocket (formerly Read It Later) at an iPad user group session.

Pocket is a program that allows you to save articles, Tweets and several other content types into a list for reading at a later date.  This is a cloud-based app and is compatible on a variety of devices (mobile devices, Mac, PC, or browser-based) and from within other consumption-based apps (such as Flipboard and Zite).

The app now allows for different display layouts to make the content you save more enticing.  Some setup is needed to link Pocket to the apps on your mobile devices, but once this is complete, using Pocket is a snap!

Traditional list view:

The Pocket app can display your saved content in two formats. This image shows a list format.
The Pocket app can display your saved content in two formats. This image shows a list format. 

Tile view:

The Pocket app can display your saved content in two formats. This image shows a tile format.
The Pocket app can display your saved content in two formats. This image shows a tile format. 


Everyone’s reading about “Digital Pepa-gogy”

Everyone’s reading about “Digital Pepa-gogy”

Pepa Lago-Graña, a longtime technology user, was our featured faculty in Technology Services’ Spring 2013 edition of TechNews, a quarterly publication that discusses the latest news and exciting happenings regarding technology at the University of Puget Sound.  The newsletter includes a page about educational technology and what various faculty are doing to incorporate technology into their courses.

Read the article written by Educational Technologist, Kyle Cramer, and be on the lookout for TechNews in your campus mailbox or online.

For information on what you can do to use technology in your teaching, contact Educational Technology.

Image from Spring 2013's TechNews featuring Pepa Lago-Graña seated in her office using her laptop.
Image from Spring 2013’s TechNews featuring Pepa Lago-Graña seated in her office using her laptop.

Create an iOS dream team with SlideShark

Create an iOS dream team with SlideShark

During our last LinkEd, I experimented with an app called SlideShark.  I’ve had SlideShark on the iPad for a while now, but never really had the need to delve into it too much.

I painstakingly created my PowerPoint and then wished I had a better way to transport the content other than lugging the laptop.  SlideShark allows iOS users (iPhone & iPad) to create PowerPoints, upload them to SlideShark online, download them and present them from their mobile Apple device.

My experiment was to use the iPad as the device showing the presentation on-screen with a VGA adapter and to use my iPhone as a remote to control the progression of the slides (see image).

iPad 2 and iPhone 4S with SlideShark app installed. The iPhone is acting as the remote control to advance the slides that are displayed on the iPad.
iPad 2 and iPhone 4S with SlideShark app installed. The iPhone is acting as the remote control to advance the slides that are displayed on the iPad.

It was flawless.  And that’s saying quite a bit because I’m notorious for breaking technology or at least having to do the hokey pokey repeatedly in order for something to function properly right out of the box.

The remote feature with the iPhone allows you to swipe left or right to advance slides and a swipe upwards to bring up the slides and select a specific one to jump to.  A reassuring vibration setting gives the presenter notification that a command has been sent to the presentation device (the iPad in my case).

SlideShark was easy, quick and didn’t require too much setup.  They also give you the option to share or keep your slideshows private.

Using Skype in the classroom or office

Using Skype in the classroom or office

Media Services has been flooded with Skype support requests quite frequently over the last few months.  They’ve been working hard to accommodate all of our users as quickly as possible, but there are important steps users can take to prepare in advance of a scheduled Skype call.

Do the following well in advance of the actual Skype call:

  1. Schedule an install of the software ahead of time by contacting Media Services (Skype is not a standard software in our labs/classrooms or faculty/staff computers).
  2. Create a Skype account and learn the software before using it in class (if you need a training or support for learning Skype, please contact Media Services).
  3. For the best results, schedule a TEST CALL with the other party you will be connecting with in advance (using the same computer you will be using for the actual call).  Many times, potential road blocks can be anticipated ahead of time by initiating a test call with the other participant.

Best of luck and happy Skyping!