Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Saving a YouTube Video

YouTube contains a lot of great educational videos, but it's hard to rely on them to stay there indefinitely to be used as course content. So what can you do?  If you follow these steps, you can download a YouTube video without violating copyright so you always have it.
  1. Request permission from the person who posted the video.  You need a YouTube account to do this.  Click on the name of the person who uploaded the video (top left of the video) to get to their channel page.  Then there should be an option to "Send Message" below the video on the left. Compliment the video (optional :) and ask if you can use it for non-profit educational purposes. Tell him/her that will be available only to students through the university's server.
  2. If you receive a positive response, you are clearly good to go.  If you receive no response, we consider this an adequate attempt at getting permission and you can download it.  If you receive a negative response, of course, you cannot download it but you can continue linking to it on the YouTube site.
  3. So how do you download it?  There are a few sites such as Free File Converter, Media Converter, or KeepVid. I've found KeepVid to be the best and most consistent but it does not do wmv files which are needed for the current UWEC media server. Free File Converter does wmv but I've found quality to be poor in my limited experience.  Media Converter seems to work inconsistently.
  4. Do not reupload it to YouTube!  UWEC has a streaming media server where you can store it. (Streaming means the students view it online and do not download it to their computer. Streaming video is highly recommended.) We are in the process of setting up a new server, which will be like our own UWEC YouTube site.  It will be great!  However, it may not be ready until spring 2012.  In the mean time, we have a more "homegrown" server that requires some effort to use, which is named Desi (like Lucy & Desi).  
  5. What I recommend is downloading the video as mp4 (assuming you receive a positive or no response from the creator), saving it somewhere (let me know if you need more info on this), and uploading it to the new streaming server when it's ready.  In the mean time, continue linking to YouTube. If you need to use the video asap, talk to me or Craig Ernst about getting access and training on how to use the current server. 
If you don't like showing videos on YouTube because of all the ads and recommendations around them, there are sites such as View Pure where you can enter the URL of the video and it "purifies" it to get rid of all that junk and have a white background. Then you can share the purified URL or show it in class. 

Please note these instructions apply exclusively to YouTube.  Sending an email to the Discovery Channel, HBO, PBS, or other commercial channels and going ahead with downloading a video when you get no response is a bit different.  If you have any questions, let me know and I can try to help.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Wacom Intuos vs HP Digital Sketch

HP Digital Sketch
Wacom Intuos

Recently a co-worker heard that Hewlett-Packard had a new wireless Digital Sketch that they were willing to let us try.  After about an hour of messing around, I was unable to get it to connect to my Dell laptop.  I had my student try it for about another 2 hours.  Then I found another student who did get it to work, after about another 2 hours.  I didn't really understand how he got it to work.  So, I was then excited to try it out.  This was the result:

After all that effort, this was it?  I have nice handwriting, so it should have looked a lot better than this. I was a bit irritated.

I also have a Wacom Bamboo Pen and I worked with a graphic designer who had a high end Wacom monitor, so I've learned that Wacom creates excellent tablets. I decided to look for their wireless option, which is the Intuos.  First, I tried it on my Dell laptop. I saw the images on the box that said I should install the software and then connect the Intuos to the computer with the cord (image provided), so I did that.
I love instructions like these but in the case of the Intuos, more info was needed.

I was a little confused when it didn't work after installation, so I decided to actually read the instructions and found that I needed to remove a tag from the battery compartment and turn it on, so I did that and it worked just fine.  The pen tools in Word 2010 were excellent.  Here is a sample of my writing:

The text at the top is a result of handwriting recognition, a handy little tool included with the Wacom software. I write in a combination of cursive and print and was surprised that when I wrote just like I normally do, the program deciphered it perfectly.

Unfortunately the Dell did not have Bluetooth to try it wirelessly, so I will look into ordering a dongle and decided try it on the Mac in the mean time. Installation was super easy, especially since I had just done it, but I had to figure out the Bluetooth part now.  I think the last time I used Bluetooth for anything was about 4 years ago on a Windows machine.  Regardless, I quickly found the Bluetooth area under System Preferences, turned it on, and saw that there was a discoverable mouse but I didn't see the tablet.  Again I was forced to read instructions.  Turns out the mouse I was seeing actually was the Intuos.  For some reason, it comes up as a mouse called PTK-540WL. So it paired just fine and I was able to use it on the other side of my office.  Unfortunately Word 2011 for Mac does not have pen tools (yes, really!), so I tried it on a site called Scriblink and it worked well.

Here are the criteria upon which I judged these tablets:
  • Legibility of handwriting: clearly Wacom wins
  • Ease of installation: Wacom again
  • Price: Well, the HP is $209 and the Wacom is $329, but this is a situation where you get what you pay for and I still vote Wacom.  $329 is not bad. 
  • Does it work on a Mac?  Of course the HP does not.  Wacom it is!  
One other thing: If someone already has an iPad2 and wants to annotate the web, presentations, just draw, etc. in a face-to-face setting with a projector (which is the intended use of the HP and a possible use of the Intuos), I'd recommend looking into the available apps for that rather than buying a tablet like these.  Doceri is one I just learned about today.  I have not yet personally explored it but hope to do so soon.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Social Media & FERPA

In the hybrid teaching workshops offered in June, some participants wondered whether using publicly-available social media in class was a violation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). I did some online research and contacted the registrar, who is also the UWEC FERPA representative. I am not a lawyer. That said, here is what I learned about FERPA and social media: 
  • "FERPA requires schools and school officials maintain confidential control over student records"(Fryer). These records include grades, medical information, and Social Security numbers.      
  • Social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc.) are not controlled by the University, so FERPA does not apply to content on these sites (Orlando, 2011).
  • FERPA does not require that all student work be kept private at all times, whether online or face-to-face. For instance, having students review each other’s assignments is not a FERPA violation. Films or digital stories created by students can be posted on the internet and student art created for classes can be viewed at art shows. Intellectual property rights are important, but not covered by FERPA. 

Practical Suggestions: 
  • Never require that students post personal information publicly (addresses, medical information, courses taken, etc.).
  • If students choose to post their coursework publicly with their name and/or UWEC affiliation, that is ok because it is their choice. Make sure they know they have a choice and have an alternative available. Alternatives could include use of a pseudonym and adjusted privacy settings. Google Blogger has a lot of options for privacy.
  • Never post grades or evaluative judgment publicly. However, students can evaluate each other’s work publicly (ACE, 2008, as cited in Orlando). This is good, since students commenting on each other’s blogs is an important part of blogging.  It is important to provide expectations for the comments and civility guidelines. 
  • Explicitly state in the syllabus that the posts are public and are not institutional property (Barrett). 
  • Students should not be identifiable as UW-Eau Claire attendees  
    •  Advise students not to indicate their relationship to the University in their posting (Barrett). 
    • Avoid using the name of the University or course or UWEC images.    

Blogs: Instead of naming a blog “UWEC Nursing 144 Class Blog,” call it N144 Blog, or give it an arbitrary number or name (Kelly, Angela, and Roxie’s Blog) to keep it nonspecific.    

Twitter: Don’t use overly descriptive hashtags. For instance, you could use s420 to categorize tweets for UWEC Spanish 420.  Or, you could just use a random set of numbers or letters not already taken (search for the hashtag first to see if it has some meaning you haven’t thought of).  

Facebook: Consider using a closed group so that only those you’ve given access can view the content.  Still use a nondescript, non-UWEC name for the group - maybe an acronym or term related to the course.

It’s important to remain flexible while implementing new technologies and do a temperature check with the students to find out how it’s going.  If you need a modification or alternative, I’d be happy to help.
Fryer, W. (n. d.) Unmasking the digital divide.
Orlando, J. (2011, Feb 7). FERPA and social media.
Barrett, J. (UWEC Registrar), personal email communication.
Thanks to Kate Conerton for editing this and to Jim Barrett for reviewing it.