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  • August 2022
    M T W T F S S

QR Code with Logo

I played around with adding a semi-transparent layer to the QR code for my business, Excellence in e-Education. It works for me, but I’m curious whether it the logo messes up the ability of some scanners to read the code. I use both the Barcode Scanner and QuickMark apps on the Droid to scan QR codes. Works with both of them. If you make the logo too dark, it won’t work. If you make the logo too light, you won’t see it. Sort of trial-and-error to get it just right.


Faster Adoption? Yes. Better? Not Yet.

Here’s a chart that compares the speed of adoption of the new big 3: Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus (G+).

There are things to like about G+, but it’s way too early to predict is will be a Twitter-killer, or a Facebook-killer. For me, it’s currently getting populated by the same people who are in my Twitter and Facebook networks, with a few new additions in the mix. The last thing I need is for a third network to splinter the professional conversations that are already splintered between Twitter and Facebook. I might have a different opinion a month or two from now if it truly does become easier to filter messages to and from different groups of people (via G+ Circles), and still communicate with all the right people. Right now it feels like there are 9.9 million experimenters with G+, and .1 million true adopters. (Chart from Gadgetsteria)

Zoho Apps Interface in Zoho Mail

While preparing for an upcoming presentation, I stumbled onto something in Zoho that I didn’t know existed. I’ve been a Zoho fanboy for several years, but never really felt the need to use their mail program – mainly because I already have 4 or 5 different email accounts for different purposes. Not using the mail program means that I missed this feature when they rolled it out in the business version of their Mail client.

I find this to be incredibly convenient. Zoho continues to beat Google Apps (by a long shot) when it comes to innovation, performance, and functionality.

FERPA and Social Media in Education

Was really wishing that I could have been in attendance at this session at #ELI2011 in Washington D .C. today. Titled: “Bag It and Tag It”: Implementing a Course-Level Learning Portfolio Using CMS-Based Tools to Document Student Learning When Teaching in Wild, Open Spaces with Cloud-Based Tools,” by Kelvin Thompson of UCF.

A couple of tweets drew my attention to the session:

bwatwoodFERPA = dark cloud over using blogs w students #eli2011

tedcurran: why NOT teach in the free cloud? 1) can’t preserve the work! 2) FERPA3) Socialmediaphobia #cmsfolio #eli2011

Based on the session description, it appears that Thompson was providing ways of using Web 2.0 and social media tools in a “FERPA-friendly” way. Hallelujah for that. There’s been way too much FUD surrounding how these things impact upon FERPA.

The single best piece of writing that I’ve seen on this topic comes from John Orlando in a Faculty Focus article titled: “FERPA and Social Media.” I highly recommend that you check it out. Here’s an excerpt.

“FERPA is one of the most misunderstood regulations in education. It is commonly assumed that FERPA requires all student coursework to be kept private at all times, and thus prevents the use of social media in the classroom, but this is wrong. FERPA does not prevent instructors from assigning students to create public content as part of their course requirements.”

My Top 10 Tools for 2010

I have contributed to Jane Hart’s Lists of Top Tools for Learning for several years now. Her 2010 list was finalizedJane Hart on October 17 with contributions from me and 544 other people.  Listed below is my newest Top 10 list of tools, with short descriptions of why they made the list.

  1. Twitter. Simply the most valuable online tool I’ve ever used. But it’s not about the tool, it’s about the network of educators that I was able to build with the tool. Connect that same network into a different tool, then that tool will be #1 on my list.
  2. Flickr. I get so much value out of storing and sharing my photos here. 4,131, items as of Oct. 2010. This is one of the few tools that I pay for the pro version ($25 a year) because it is so valuable to me.
  3. WordPress. I use WordPress.com for my main blog at http://barrydahl.com and we also run the open source WPMU at my campus for all students and employees to use.
  4. YouTube. Not only do I post more and more of my own videos here, but I continue to find an amazingly rich resource for all kinds of content, including educational videos.  I also use a few other video tools, but YouTube stays on the list.
  5. Zoho Notebook. There still is no rival for this tool when it comes to easily mashing together all kinds of multimedia content into a website of pages, all custom designed by you.
  6. DimDim. After using the free version for a couple of years, we licensed the Enterprise version for use at the college. It works very well and allows for starting webcasts on the fly without downloads or installs.
  7. Toondoo. I make comic strips fairly often and encourage educators to include more of them in their teaching and learning. Jaws usually drop when people see the creation interface for the first time, and Toonbooks are very cool.
  8. Facebook. My main value here is reconnecting with old friends and college buddies. Find the events tools and similar apps to be very useful. Right now it’s less of a tool for learning than the others, but it still has potential to become more of a learning tool if I was to decide to use it in that manner.
  9. Picnik. I keep coming back to this super easy-to-use photo editor that integrates so nicely with my Flickr account. Another one of the few tools that I pay to get the premium service.
  10. Android OS & Apps. This could have been higher on my list. I love my Droid, but mainly for all the things that Android and the plethora of useful (& mostly free) apps can do for me. First time I’ve felt like I have a computer in my pocket.

    Without giving the descriptions, here’s the rest of the top 25:
  11. TweetDeck
  12. SlideShare
  13. Mindomo
  14. Delicious
  15. Google Reader
  16. Zoho Creator
  17. Skype
  18. Poll Everywhere
  19. Meebo instant messenger
  20. Google Voice
  21. Zoho Writer
  22. Netvibes
  23. PBworks
  24. Prezi
  25. Livestream

Check out my PLE page for more of the tools that I have used often enough to at least have formed an opinion about them. To finish this off for another year, below is Jane’s SlideShare embed of the Top 100 tools.

In analyzing how the Top 100 has changed over the past four years, Jane came up with this summary of four key trends:

  1. The increasing consumerization of IT
  2. Learning, working and personal tools are merging
  3. Social tools predominate
  4. Personal (informal) learning is under the control of the learner

She describes these trends in a recent post. Read that post here.

Who the hell is Brian Lamb?

This video helps answer two burning questions:

  1. Who the hell is Brian Lamb?
  2. Why is he saying all these terrible things about Learning Objects?

Brian is one of my favorite EdTech speakers and thought leaders. He was the closing keynote speaker at the recently concluded WCET conference in Denver. My flight was scheduled to leave at about the same time that Brian’s address was scheduled to begin. I even tried to pay extra to get a seat on a later flight, but alas, none were available so I was destined to miss this event.

As luck (and good planning) would have it, Brian agreed to spend an hour with the Catalyst CAMP attendees on the day prior to his keynote. I was one of the CAMP Rangers (my cabin group was known as the Tweetarondaks) and so was able to be part of the group that spent an hour with Brian in a more informal session. He agreed to let me shoot some video during the chat and this is the first one that I’d like to share.

In this 10 minute video you’ll learn about how Brian got started working in education, and how his first job at UBC was essentially to help them build a closed-system Learning Object Repository with all the SCORM and IMS guidelines and requirements, and all that jazz. Not surprisingly, Brian tells the tale of how open-ness and simple technologies can be used much more effectively for those who truly want to share.

BTW, Brian started this session by asking the question in the title of this post, and wondered why we should care what he had to say. We cared.

(Post edited 3/20/13)

Happy Holidays from all the Dahls

Here’s a quick little Animoto slideshow to wish you a Merry Christmas, or any other happy holiday that you choose to celebrate.

Click image and video will play in new window.

Twitter instead of Blogging?

One reason that I haven’t been posting much to my blog lately is that I spend most of my time on Twitter. Microblogging really does take the place of “real blogging,” at least most of the time. So, I’ve posted my last 80 tweets below just so you can get a sense about what I’m tweeting about. Clearly, most of these things would never make it into a regular blog post, but taken as a whole, they probably equal the content of a normal blog post.

I’ve got 6 people ready to eat this tonight. Corn dog w/fries.http://tinyurl.com/3fycrv 
 Two hours to kill in Seoul before going to the Fulbright office for overview of Korean Ed System and Korean Agents for recruitment. 
Bought unique eel skin wallets in Itaewon shopping district of Seoul. Now off 2 bed. Visiting US Embassy, then Fulbright office on Monday. 
The little 250ML can of Dew is about 8.5 ounces. Hell, I usually buy the 1 liter bottle back home. Of course that one is diet, this one isnt 
Finally a Dew in Asia. Vietnam has none, but Seoul does. No need to update my avatar pic from last year – me and Korean Dew still works 
Frustrating. None of the TinyURLs that I click on will open, but regular links in Twitter do open. What’s up with that? 
Allergic to something here in Korea. Major sneeze fest since getting off the plane. Did I bring drugs? 
Just checked into hotel in Seoul. Heading to sportsline.com to check out college football and MLB scores, then need a power nap. Itaewon l8r 
Wish I was going home instead of Seoul. I’m tired and want to sleep in my own bed. Did buy some funky shoes today tho, they’re cool. 
Waiting at airport for flight from Hanoi to Seoul. How much did I save with this overnight flight? Will it be worth all the bother? 
Taxi drivers in Hanoi try to rip you off for 4-5 times more than taxis in Saigon. We took 4 rides today, and was taken for a ride each time. 
Will spend Saturday touring around Hanoi. Then fly 2 Seoul, but not until late night. Hanoi Horison Hotel is sort of nice, but service sucks 
Just finished the first ever AACC fair in Hanoi. Only about 200 students today, but that was HCMC two years ago. This year HCMC had over 700 
@john_st_clair I compare hybrid to F2F, not to online, since hybrid is an alternative to F2F but it is NOT an alternative to online for most 
@ajwms Only 5% use proctored exams. Seems to be a stable number, or slightly decreasing. 
I must be following like-minded people. Tweets from twits I follow were running about 5 to 1 against Palin. Yea. Do I need more diversity? 
Missed the last half of the debate to attend a scheduled visit to a high school in Hanoi. Four pages of Tweets helped me catch up. Thanks. 
This isn’t a debate! This is where she takes her time to talk about what she wants to – regardless of the question being asked. 
We have John McCain to thank. Usually when you say “thanks for the warning,” it is said in jest. So thanks John. Thanks for the warning. 
JF. Won’t the hair spray going into her left eye cause her to go blind? 
Wow, millions of small business make over $250,000? Really Sarah? Do you know the difference between revenues and profits? 
soccer game reference by Palin in first two sentences of debate 
@cburell Clay, do you still want to get together when I’m in Seoul? I arrive this Sunday. Sun&Mon nights open, booked Tue PM. Leave Wed morn 
Has anyone read the book titled Now is Gone? I was expecting great things, but not so much so far. Primer on New Media for Execs & Entrepren 
Seems to be a fair amount of buzz about the VP debate here in Vietnam. I find that odd, but U.S. news gets a great deal of attention here. 
Finally a blog post. What I was reading today. http://tinyurl.com/43fnpj 
@BryanAlexander For presentation content – Michael Wesch. For presentation style – tough call, most of them need more panache (incl.me)
Let me clarify. If you were facilitating the meeting that you were calling, wouldn’t you be able to attend on ALL of your proposed dates? 
I like MeetingWizard, but if you were calling a meeting, wouldn’t you be able to attend more than 3 out of the 7 dates you proposed? WTF? 
Still get a bit disturbed when my food is looking at me. That’s why I didn’t order this at a Saigon restaurant. http://blog.lsc.edu/signs/ 
Visited the US Embassy in Hanoi this afternoon for the first time. Not nearly as locked down as the one in Beijing. That surprised me 
While flying from Saigon to Hanoi I finished reading Presentation Zen. Finally the motivation to push me over to a new presentation approach 
Baseball playoffs!! Finally something other than soccer on ESPN here in Vietnam. Not even one rugby game this year, which I love to watch. 
@doolittlen Hi Nancy. Are you jumping back in the Twitterverse? 
Can’t find my entry/exit card for Vietnam. That could make leaving the country a huge problem. Today I’m off to Hanoi,so I don’t need it yet 
Community College recruitment fair concluded in Saigon. Acceptance (awareness) of online learning is better this time. Enrollments?We’ll see 
65-yr-old Chinese lady sentenced to death in Vietnam court for a counterfeit banknote scam she ran in several southern provinces. Severe. 
@javabeanboy Kids definitely aren’t coddled over here as in the U.S. But still, a little bit of safety precaution can go a long way. 
New helmet law in Saigon. Only applies to adults on scooters or motorbikes. Kids can ride w/out helmet (an do). Does that seem backwards? 
1/2 page ad in Saigon Times Daily. Fly to Manila for $19 US. Subtract $5 if traveling w/out check-in baggage. Dinner in Manila sounds good. 
Wondering why the staff at the Majestic Hotel think that my Do Not Disturb sign does not apply to them. Who else could I be talking to? 
Should have used UStream for my session with 5th graders today. Skype is too flaky. Everything worked well when tested 10 min ago on UStream 
@wcgaskins click PBwiki settings, users: then you’ll see “If your students don’t have email addresses, create accounts for your students.” 
WebCamMax and Skype kept crashing my computer – blue screen of death while trying to have conversation with my son’s classroom from Saigon. 
In 30 min. Skype call from Saigon into my son’s fifth grade classroom in Superior, WI. I’m ready with photos, video, and Vietnam fun facts. 
About 70% of Vietnamese student visas to study in the U.S. were for students headed for community colleges in the states. Big change from B4 
28% current inflation rate – yet my beer, dinner, hotel room and knock-off watches (same-same) cost the same as they did two years ago. 
Other Vietnam data. Only 10-15% of the population who are college eligible can attend in country. Not enough supply (seats) for the demand. 
Fun Facts from Education USA meeting in Saigon today. 70% of population is under 35. Per capita income = $835 US, but many are nouveau rich 
Off to Education USA and IIE office in Saigon for morning meeting with the higher education ground forces here in the country. 
Just finished welcome dinner for the American Assoc of Community Colleges hosted by the Vietnamese Assoc of CC. Good people, good fun & food 
A few hours left before we meet up with AACC group for the rest of the Asia tour for recruiting int’l students. Dinner tonight with VACC. 
Left comment on Tim Stahmer’s post about teaching keyboarding in grade school. Feel blog post comin on. http://www.assortedstuff.co… 
Wow -live game updates on NFL.com only available in North America. Oh well.all my teams lost today. 
Beautiful Monday morning here in Saigon. Looks like a nice day after a major 3-hour deluge yesterday afternoon. Rainy season is no joke. 
My hotel in Saigon must have fast connection. No time lag on Skype calls home. Audio sucks, but that is coming from USA. Fine here to there. 
Having much better luck with Google Chrome these days. Much more quick now and hasn’t crashed in days. This is what others were talkin ’bout 
Guessing that all my friends in Tennessee are pretty happy about the big 4-0 start by the Titans. Surprisingly impressive w/K.Collins at QB? 
Up in the middle of the night in Saigon to follow the NFL. My two teams (Broncs and Vikes, in that order) are losing. Second half comebacks? 
Sunday is not nearly as busy here in Saigon. Hustle and bustle is only 75% of a normal day. Off to the market. 
@jth and Puck’s girlfriend(s) 
Have verbal agreement with three agents in Vietnam to send students our way for e-learning. Now the hard part – contract approval by legal. 
Checking American college football scores online – nothing on tube here in Vietnam. All you can eat of other football (soccer). No thanks. 
Another big rainstorm 2nite in Saigon. Will be even more humid tomorrow, if that’s possible. Very hot-it will suck when I wear a suit Monday 
@austindeb2003 Hi Deb, and welcome to Twitter. Did you go to Gruene Hall for a singer? JJW is my all-time fav, although REK is now my #1. 🙂 
Today in Saigon I can get to all the sites that wouldn’t load yesterday. Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and Ning, for example. Very odd. 
Twins are losing their mojo. Glad that Sox are also losing. Since my Padres stunk this year, I gotta pull for my #2 team – GO TWINS!! 
Just finished breakfast on the roof of the Saigon Majestic Hotel. Return to room to see McCain-Obama on CNN. Did I miss McCain’s war story? 
Will McCain continue to bitch about Obama not joining him for town hall meetings? Did anybody really think that was an issue? 
Uninstalled TOR after last China trip. Looks like I might need to get it back. If they block websites here, wouldn’t they block TOR, too? 
Wow, can’t get to Flickr, Facebook, Ning, or YouTube here in Vietnam. Never happened to me previously. Great Firewall of Vietnam? Huh? What? 
Watched Iron Man on the long flight to Asia. Enjoyed it much more than I expected (yes, low expectations) and now want to own it. Thumbs up 
I haven’t seen blocked sites before in Vietnam, but I can’t get to YouTube even though other sites are working fine. Are they blocking? 
Meeting with an agent (study abroad headhunter) in a couple of hours to see if we can do business together. First of several such meetings 
31 hours in travel status. Now checked in and unpacked at Hotel Majestic Saigon. This was my least fun travel day to Asia. LAX really sucked 
@Goamick That STARlink wireless network is available now, they just won’t any of us access it yet. They keep saying … soon, soon! Sure. 
Last day in the states for a while. Crazy busy tying up loose ends. I need to get to the bank. They won’t accept tattered bills in Asia. 
@bwatwood PPT slides (using clicker q’s again) will be up sometime soon, but the wiki link is already here: https://barrydahl.com/resour… 
@maryn OMG! That eSchoolNews article is crap. Here is the real story:http://tinyurl.com/6kkbyw Their lack of research is appalling. 

Web 2.0 Inside D2L – Videos Page Added

At the top of the blog page you’ll see a new tab with a link to some of my Web 2.0 materials where I will be adding my content (from old blog) about my Web 2.0 Hall of Fame and other things about the web-based tools that I use every day both professionally and personally. On that page is also a link to another page that contains embedded screencast videos that illustrate some of the things I demonstrate in workshops about using Web 2.0 tools within Desire2Learn. This is mainly an effort to make my stuff more find-able.

Point #1: all of the things illustrated in those videos can also be done outside of Desire2Learn. They are shown inside D2L as way of directing the students to the tools in an easy manner.

Point #2: all of the things that are shown inside D2L should also work in other VLEs if you so desire. I have personanly tested most of these items in both Angel and Moodle without any problems. The same should hold true for other platforms.

Dissecting the Backchannel

I participated in a panel discussion during the Desire2Learn FUSION Conference during July in Memphis (FUSION08D2L). The other panelists were Robbie Melton, Stephen Downes, and Michael Feldstein. Our topic was “What would you like to see happen in the future of e-Learning?” Each panelist took approx 5 minutes to share some thoughts with the lunch-time audience about one topic that was near and dear to them regarding the future of e-Learning. After those opening comments, the floor was opened to the audience to either ask questions of the panelists or make comments about the opening remarks.

Pie chart of backchannel usage

Pie chart of backchannel usage

We used Stephen’s chat function from his website to create a backchannel that was displayed on two large screens, one on each side of the front of the hall where the panelists were seated. Out of curiosity, I decided to take a look at the chat archives and analyze the types of entries that were made. Although there were a couple of premature postings, I started counting at 12:27:21 PM which is when posts started coming in for the panelists even though the opening comments were still being completed. For my analysis, the first posting was by Hiro Sheridan of Oral Roberts University. The last posting was at 13:16:21 by the ever-popular Anymouse (Stephen’s default username for those who don’t enter one). Altogether, I counted 167 posts from point A to point B.

This presentation was also being streamed live on the Internet using UStream.tv (archive here). There were only a few questions that were asked by audience members using the two microphones that were available in the room, and of course there is no archive of those questions except for what you can hear on the UStream recording. Of the 167 posts in the backchannel, it is impossible to know how many of them came from people in the room with us and how many came from the 50+ people who were viewing the Ustream feed (which could have also included people in the room who opened the streaming video page on their laptops). In other words, questions and comments probably did come from anyone and anywhere.

I arbitrarily categorized the backchannel posts into one of the following six categories:

  1. Panel questions: these were specific questions that were asked of the panel members that appeared to be serious in nature. There were a total of 32 of these questions. Examples:
    • How will MUVEs like Second Life impact education in the next five years?
    • Do you know of any study where K-12 online students were surveyed to see if they would be interested in an online degree environment?
  2. On-topic comment: here an audience member was making a comment about something that had been discussed by the panelists, or related to one of the questions asked by other audience members. It was deemed to be on-topic if it related to the future of e-Learning. There were 20 of these comments. Examples:
    • I would like to see truly adaptive eLearning systems — different paths for different learning styles … and a system that supports this well.
    • Laggards have just started to waste epic amounts of time and money on my campus and they do not care and not interested in learning…UGH
  3. Off-topic comment: this was the largest category and included many comments about the nature of the panel discussion and the use of the backchannel, as well as where to get the best BBQ in Memphis, and other idle chatter. There were 55 of these comments. Examples:
    • Wow, this is why we don’t want students having laptops in classrooms I guess
    • To really wreck a panel put up a backchannel
    • The Net gen student works this way ALLLLL the time…three windows and listening…the speaker has to “join in”
  4. Humor attempt: there were 40 posts that I categorized as (mostly) lame attempts at humor. Keep in mind that this was a room full of education professionals, not high school kids trying to impress their friends. Examples:
    • Play Freebird
    • I am going to get a patent on “Anymouse” tomorrow! And sue Stephen the next day.
    • Can someone please bring toilet paper to stall 3 in the men’s room?
  5. Shots @ D2L: a few people decided that it was an opportune time to direct some sort of put-down at D2L. Most of these could have easily fallen into category 4 (humorous), and overall I think D2L was very much NOT bothered by the shots across the bow, but I felt that given the nature of a D2L-hosted event that these comments needed to have a category of their own. There were 9 such comments. Examples:
    • Did D2L open their API yet?
    • API, what’s an API? –signed, John Baker
    • john baker, who’s john baker?
  6. The last category is sort of an Other for those empty posts or those that were clearly just testing to see how the backchannel system worked. There were 11 of these posts. Examples:
    • does html work in this thing
    • I guess HTML does work in this thing

According to my (admittedly subjective) analysis, only about 31% of the backchannel entries were productive. In my opinion, only the first two categories listed above can be considered productive. I was not at all bothered by the use of the backchannel, in fact I was rather intrigued by the whole thing. So much so that I probably spoke a whole lot less than I am usually inclined to do since I was rather busy watching everything else that was going on. I was also able to see the chat postings on Stephen’s site as they were coming in, which was often a bit prior to the ten seconds that each message was displayed on the screen. In other words, I was oftentimes reading ahead and not paying attention to the task at hand.

One additional observation has to do with the progression of the posts during the approx. 50 minutes that posts were being made to the backchannel. During the first 20 minutes, there were only 6 posts, 5 of which were productive (related to the presentation topic). During the third ten minute period, there were 26 productive posts and 22 non-productive posts. During the fourth ten minute period, there were 12 productive posts and 44 non-productive posts. During the last ten minute segment there were 9 productive posts and 47 non-productive posts. As my six-year-old might say, “I see a patteren” (sic) there.

I hope you weren’t expecting a brilliant conclusion to this piece, because there isn’t one. I’m not going to make suggestions about how a backchannel could be used more productively, although I would appreciate some comments that might give other perspectives on this use of a backchannel or others that you are familiar with. Was this a train wreck, or more like a game of bumper cars?