August 2007 e-Notes

e-Learning Center e-Notes

VOL. 2, ISSUE 3, AUGUST 2007

THE HYPE ABOUT FREE SOFTWARE

What is the idea behind free software? The Free Software Foundation, a free software think tank, says “Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software.” They continue, “When talking about free software, it is best to avoid using terms like ‘give away’’ or ‘for free’, because those terms imply that the issue is about price, not freedom.” Instead they suggest that you think of free software as “freedom to make modifications and use them privately in your own work or play, without even mentioning that they exist.” Huh?

Put it this way. Free software is an alternative to software that is heavily trademarked, copyrighted, licensed, and/or patented. Now let’s explore some free software solutions you can use.

GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/) – GIMP is free software that allows you to process digital photographs with many features commonly found in Adobe Photoshop. You can save images as .jpg, .tiff, .gif, and other common image file formats.

Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) - if you are looking for a free audio recorder and editor, Audacity is the solution for you. With the LAME MP3 encoder (also available for free), you can even export audacity sound files in the common .mp3 file format.

Google Documents and Spreadsheets (http://docs.google.com/) – if you have you ever wanted to share a document with others easily and effortlessly or wanted to exchange ideas inside a common document with someone at a distance, then Google Docs and Spreadsheets is a useful tool. With a Google account (free, of course), you will have automatic access to this software, as well as other free Google tools.

There is one caveat. NAU’s Solution Center does not support free software. But if you are feeling adventurous or simply just looking for an alternative, explore these and other free software solutions. For a comprehensive list, visit our website.

WHAT’S HAPPENING

Fall Showcase: “Blackboard Vista and Beyond...”

You are invited to the Fall 2007 e-Learning Showcase on November 8th from 10:00am - 3:00pm at the Cline Library, Room 200. This e-Learning Showcase will spotlight faculty’s effective use of Bb Vista and other instructional technologies. Faculty members who would like to present a topic should contact Sharon.Gorman@nau.edu.

e-Learning Fellows’ Findings Round Table: Teaching Practices at NAU

Come join us for the first annual e-Learning Fellows’ Findings Round Table at Gardner Auditorium in the W. A. Franke College of Business on October 11th from 2:30pm - 5:00pm. Faculty fellows appointed by the e-Learning Center in 2006 conducted research studies that reveal teaching trends and practices at NAU. Research topics include the following:

  • Pedagogies and Practice: Susana Rivera Mills, Modern Languages, and Laura Umphrey, Communication
  • Implementing Technology: JeanAnn Foley, Education, and Cecilia Ojeda, Modern Languages
  • Addressing the Needs of All Learners: Bill Huffman, Education, Ann Huffman, Business and Psychology, Joyce DeVoss, Education, and Catherine Marshall, Education
  • Collaborative Learning and Emerging Tools: Collaborative Learning and Emerging Tools: Alan Lew, Geography, Mary Reid, Jim Sample, and Mark Manone, Geology, and Hong Zhan, Education

WHAT’S NEW

e-Learning Institute Media

You can now view a selection of the recorded sessions from the 2007 e-Learning Institute on our website. Additional recorded sessions, identified by the green spherical icon in the schedule, will be uploaded upon request.

e-Learning Center Grants

Faculty Mentor Grants: Facilitate the effective use of instructional technology in your department or school while receiving stipend support at the same time.

Mini Grants: These grants award funds to faculty who teach large enrollment freshman classes, who want to add technology enhanced activities to in-person courses, or who are redesigning degrees or developing new certificate programs.

RFPs will be available on our website under Grants. Proposals will be reviewed in September.

DIRECTOR’S NOTE

Don Carter, Director of the e-Learning Ceter

Welcome to a new academic year! At our first annual Fellows’ Findings Round Table on October 11th, e-Learning faculty fellows will share findings about trends and teaching practices at NAU. Some of their findings are surprising while others confirm what we already know. We will soon be accepting applications for Faculty Mentors and Mini Grants. Visit our website for more information.

E-LEARNING TIDBITS

Tech Buddy Program in COE and SBS satellite offices

During the 2007 Summer Session II, student faculty support technicians from the e-Learning Center, “Tech Buddies,” staffed Room 216 at the Eastburn Education Building for 10-15 hours per week. This pilot program was focused on assisting instructors in person with Bb Vista and other instructional technologies supported by the e-Learning Center. During the Fall 2007 semester, the ELC intends to expand the Tech Buddy program to other satellite offices on campus, including SBS West on South Campus. This program is designed to supplement, not replace, e-Learning Center support for faculty and course development. The Faculty Help Line is also available during regularly scheduled hours via phone and email.

Course Preview Page

Have you wished that your students could view textbook information before your class begins or that you could tell potential students what kind of work your class entails before they enroll? Your wishes are answered with the Course Preview Page.

You can create a document or web page and set it as a Course Preview Page to present information about your course, making it available to all current and potential students at NAU. This allows students to find out more about your course before enrolling or starting the class. Students can view the Course Preview Pages at Classes.nau.edu, which captures information about all NAU classes and links to any Course Preview Pages used in Bb Vista classes.

To learn more about setting up a Course Preview Page visit the tutorials on our website.

RECOGNITION

Kevin Mackett, Multimedia Media Specialist, relocated to Denver with his family this past summer. Kevin’s contributions to the e-Learning Center were many. Kevin proved time and time again his uncanny ability to problem solve with great professionalism and creativity. Plus, he could brew a mean pot of coffee.

Instructional Designer, Joyce Kincannon, left NAU this summer. Joyce’s commitment to faculty and her connection to solid instructional design practices contributed greatly to successful online courses. She will be relocating to Tucson.

We miss you, Kevin and Joyce!

IN MEMORY

Martha Portree, reference librarian at Cline, died on July 7th. Martha, who contributed to many e-Learning Center projects, events, and courses with dedication and kindness, will be greatly missed. Our deepest sympathies go out to the entire Cline Library team.