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Embedded Videos with Different Start Time

Sometimes you find that shareable video that includes some stuff at the beginning or the end that you really aren’t all that interested in. No problemo. Just append a little bit of code and you’ll be able to have the video start at whatever point you like.

In this example below of a great CCR song, they have about 12 seconds of crap at the beginning. If you want the video to start right when the song starts, use this code:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZhM75aGMg#t=0m13s

It’s the “#t=0m13s”  (o minutes, 13 seconds from the beginning) at the end of the video ID that makes that work. Here’s the embedded version of that video.

NOTE: for a WordPress embed, use this version: (&start=number-of-seconds)
[ youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqZhM75aGMg&start=13 ]

Why would you do this? Well, that’s pretty simple: you get to edit the length of the video without really editing the video. I have used this technique several times, especially during presentations where you only want to show a snippet of a video and you don’t want to fool around during the presentation with starting the video right where you need it.

At the time of this post (May 2011), you cannot also have a video stop playing at a certain point just by altering the YouTube code. There appears to be many requests for this feature, but for now you need to use a service such as splicd.com or something similar.

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.

New Version of DimDim Released

At Lake Superior College, we have our own licensed rooms (tech plan update) for using the DimDim webcast service. This is the first semester we’ve made it available to the college community and quite a few faculty and some staff members have expressed an interest in using it, and a few have already started using it during the first week of the semester.

DimDim released a new version over the past weekend with lots of changes and several additions to the features and functions. The four minute screencast below (click it to open in a new window) shows some of these new features.

Some of the new features include:

  • Application and/or region screen sharing – which means that you can share your entire desktop, or a portion of the desktop, or a single application running on your desktop.
  • They did away with the rather lame feature of “Share a URL” which could be used to share a webpage, but only one at a time. I much preferred screen sharing where I could easily click through different tabs on the browser, which is still the recommended way for using websites in your webcast.
  • Document library – finally the ability to upload documents into a library where they will be available the next time you hold a webcast without uploading again. You can upload up to 2GBs of docs before, during, and after your meetings.
  • Document file types: the “Share Presentation” app (should be called Share Documents) previously was limited to only PowerPoint (PPT and PPTX) and PDF files. The new version adds to that list with the following: .doc,  .docx,  .docm,  .dotx,  .dotm,  .xls,  .xlsx,  .xlsm,  .xltw,  .xlsb  (or virtually all versions of Word docs and Excel spreadsheets).
  • Instant polls. Although limited to a single type of poll question (multiple choice with single select), this could still be useful in a pinch.
  • Web mashups – you can paste any YouTube URL, and Picasa URL (really? Picasa? Huh?). or any embed code for any web app that you might like – such as SlideShare, Vimeo, Blip.tv, a Twitter widget, a music player, photo slideshow, screencast video, Google map, or whatever as long as it has an embed code.
  • Four-way video chat – allowing you to see more people with webcams with a  new fullscreen mode for video.

Unfortunately, there appears to be no improvement in the recording functionality of DimDim after the update. Most of the sessions that I have recorded for future playback result in corrupted or empty files. This has been an ongoing problem. Sometimes you get lucky, but overall I have found that you CANNOT rely on the recording function to work properly.

Other than the recording issue, our experience thus far with DimDim has been positive. More to come.

A Week of Workshops in the UAE

Barry Dahl in Fujairah workshop

Photo courtesy of Alan Nambiar - Fujairah Colleges

I’m trying to wrap my brain around the week I’ve just concluded with the fine people of the Fujairah Colleges in the United Arab Emirates. The workshops were held at the Fujairah Women’s College but also included faculty from the Fujairah Men’s College as they immersed themselves into a week of professional development activities during Independent Learning Week (sort of like Spring Break, except that the students work on individual projects and the faculty are not on leave – so really not like Spring Break at all).

In the computer lab

Photo courtesy of Alan Nambiar - Fujairah Colleges

Much of the time was used looking at how Web 2.0 tools can be used by faculty to create engaging content for their courses as well as possible uses for student assignments or group projects that are facilitated through the use of web-based technologies. I spent much of the time with the same cohort of faculty who are working on the development of a laptop program at the college. A few other sessions were open to various other interested parties at the colleges.

Fujairah is located on the Gulf of Oman and is about a 90-minute drive from Dubai which is located to the east on the Persian Gulf. Fujairah is mostly mountainous, and quite beautiful. One of the most amazing experiences for me was finding that the city is an incredible melting pot of people from all over the world. At the Fujairah Colleges alone, the faculty come from more than 30 different countries. I spent quite a bit of time getting to know Andrew Scholtz who is from South Africa and Peter Hatherley-Greene who hails from New Zealand. Talk about global education – here you live it!

Entrance to Fujairah Women's College

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Mark Johnson, Director (aka President) of the Fujairah Colleges. He contacted me several months ago about the possibility of coming to the UAE to provide this professional development for his faculty and staff. Mark and I got to know each other when we were colleagues in Minnesota. He was the CIO at MSU Mankato

At Fujairah Colleges. Andrew, Barry, and Mark

L-R: Andrew, Barry, and Mark

and decided to leave Minnesota back in 2006 and move his family to the Emirates (story here). The accomplishments that Mark and his staff have achieved at these colleges are very impressive and he will undoubtedly be missed here in Fujairah when he returns to Minnesota at the end of the academic year.

This trip far exceeded my wildest dreams. The workshops were fun, seeing a new culture and country was fun, but by far the best part was all the great people I met here during the week. Really outstanding.

Two Days in Billings

I spent an enjoyable two days in Billings, Montana (May 6-7, 2009) for a series of faculty development workshops at Montana State University Billings. Tim Tirrell, Director of e-Learning at MSUB brought in Corinne Hoisington (books authored) and myself to work with about 40 faculty members and instructional designers over the two full days. Corinne and I started things off with a shared plenary session that was intended to set the stage for the breakout sessions that we would lead over the next day and a half. The theme for the workshop was using free or low-cost technologies to create content for use within Desire2Learn. MSUB switched to D2L only recently and many faculty were looking for new ways that they could add content and create engaging assignments and projects for their students using Web 2.0 tools and similar technologies. (CC Photo: “Breakfast at Stella’s” in Billings byMike Willis)

Corinne and I work well together because we have complimentary but very different presentation styles and because we each are evangelists for complementary but different tools that can be used effectively in education. Corinne is a proponent of many Microsoft tools as well as several other very useful free tools that primarily fall into the Web 2.0 category – if there is such a thing. I definitely concentrate on how Web 2.0 tools can be used (and are being used) effectively in education settings. After the morning plenary session on day one, we spent that afternoon in two separate three-hour breakout sessions. Corinne led a group through a hands-on demo of several “hot technologies” including Poll Everywhere, Cuil, ChaCha, Slideshare, Google Translate/Latitude/Maps, Newseum, LinkedIn, OneNote screenshots, and more. At the same time I was leading a group through their paces using several tools from my PLE that can be useful for faculty members to provide engaging course content for their online classes, including mindmaps with Mindomo, customized feeds shared through Google Reader and adding RSS feeds into D2L widgets, Delicious and Diigo bookmarking tools, videos and digital photos including several Flickr tools and add-ons. screen capture videos using Screencastle and similar services, and finished with Netvibes as a way to bring all sorts of content together in a single place for student access.

On day two, there were again two separate hands-on, three-hour breakout sessions for participants to choose from. Corrine concentrated on using multimedia to engage students such as OneNote 2007, UStream, Screencast-o-matic, Flip cams, Media Converter and much more audio and video goodness. During the same three-hour time slot I spent most of my time on collaboration and communications tools such as blogs and wikis, Zoho suite of collaborative tools for web office functions, as well as Zoho Creator and Zoho Notebook (both crowd favorites) and Toondoo which is always an eye opener. After lunch, we finished off with a final three-hour tour and allowed the participants to select which session Corrine should repeat and which session I should repeat. That allowed people who missed one of the breakouts (because they were attending the other) to catch up on some of what they missed earlier. That worked out pretty well.

This workshop was coordinated through Innovations in e-Education, a new service from my employer, Lake Superior College. It was basically our first experience of the concept we are calling “Conference Comes to You.” The main difference is that normally the Innovations group does most of the event planning and handles registrations and similar tasks. In this case Tim Tirrell and his MSUB staff took on those tasks since he already knew what he wanted to see happen and had made most of the needed plans.

For the same cost as this two day mini-conference, MSUB could have sent three people to a national technology conference where they could have had a similar experience. Instead this is what occurred:

  • 40 faculty and staff were engaged, including three people from other MSU schools.
  • Attendees spent much more time on task, rather than rushing from one 50 minute breakout session to another.
  • Attendees still had some choices about which sessions to attend.
  • Attendees had a preview of what the sessions would cover so that they could make informed selections.
  • No out-of-state travel concerns.
  • Efficient use of limited professional development funds.
  • Better opportunities for future contact compared to most national conferences.

Next time maybe the conference will come to you. Whaddya think?

Five Quick Picks from my PLE

Desperately searching for a blog post. How about this one? Here are five tools from my Personal Learning Environment toolkit that seem to be either little known, fairly new, or both.

  1. Now that I am using a Mac part-time, I have started using Nambu as my Twitter client. I like it a lot. Since I typically use two screens, I am able to have one screen filled with at least four columns of Twitter goodness – such as a) my Twitter home page (messages from those I follow), b) Tweets where I am mentioned by others, including replies, c) direct tweets that are sent to me privately, and d) those messages I have sent, or my favorites, or a search column, or anything I want in that last column.
  2. I continue to use and am increasingly impressed by the DimDim web conferencing service. We briefly installed the open source version on campus but took it down since we didn’t have time to make it fully operational. I’m hoping to get that back up fairly soon. In the meantime, using the service from their site works very well. They keep turning out enhanced features and their commitment to open source makes them a company that I very much choose to deal with.
  3. I wrote a post recently over at Desire2Blog about Screencastle, a new free, web-based, screen recording tool. It juts works. I like it and recommend it. You don’t even need to create an account – in fact, you can’t.
  4. The more I get to know Prezi, the more I like it. It is a web-based presentation tool that allows for non-linear data representation and all kinds of cool stuff. Because it is so NOT-PowerPoint, it does take a while to break your thinking out of the confines of traditional slideware. Here is a sample presentation where I turned my bio info into a Prezi. You’ll notice that it is still somewhat linear – I’m working on that.
  5. My Mindomo map of Web 2.0 tools has become increasingly valuable to me when making presentations about Web 2.0 goodness. Here is that mindmap – click  on the plus signs to expeand each section. Then there are either further expansions possible or links to the tool websites and examples.

My Web 2.0 Quotient

I used the Web 2.0 Quotient calculator created by Manish Mohan and came with a score of 100. It appears to me that you can score a maximum of 116 if you are at the max on every category.

After calculating my score, I took the time to update my list of free web-based tools on my PLE page. I now have accounts to use 128 different Web 2.0 tools.

CC photo by tobiaseigen

Cill Creel at ITC09

Gill Creel presented a great session at ITC09 titled: Cool Idea, But How Did It Really Work?

Description: In Fall 2008 two instructors revamped their online American literature course from print, static Web pages, and a limited learning management system to Web 2.0. They threw out the textbook and went to the Web to provide all of the content and interaction. They tried to strong arm the LMS into acting like a Web 2.0 application. The presenters will discuss integrating Web 2.0 tools – such as Google gadgets, Google Calendar, Blogger, Trailfire, Pbwiki, Survey Monkey, Zoho Creator, WebEX, Adobe Captivate, and Diigo – into an online course from a pedagogical and technical perspective. They will show some “how-to” and explain “how-they-do” by offering a faculty level report on their successes and failures. What did they learn? Did the technology help or hinder? What didn’t work due to the technology, due to the personnel? What will they keep? What will they jettison?
Here’s the tools he talked about.

Tools I Use

Audacity
Blogger
Desire2Learn
Diigo
Flickr Creative Commons
Google Calendar
PBWiki
SimpleRSS Google Gadget
SurveyMonkey *
Trailfire
Vimeo *
WebEx
Zoho Creator

(Sorry Gill, but that’s the best pic that I got. Ouch)

ITC09 – Portland – Bryan Alexander Keynote

Bryan Alexander was the keynote speaker for the Sunday morning “sermon” at ITC09, the eLearning 2009 conference in Portland, OR. Heads were exploding throughout the nearly 90 minute session. Really great stuff. I shot some video snippets and will try to get it posted soon. Lots of talk about Web 2.0, Web 3.0, and gaming (and about 20 other topics). Hope to post more later.

Twitter Friends

This is a mosaic of the people I follow on Twitter. This group has quickly become the most important source of my day-to-day learning about technology uses in education. Thanks a hat tip to Britt for pointing me to the Twitter mosaic maker.