August 2007 Archives

Foxy Tunes - The plugin and the mashup

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I've been lagging behind in finding cool new Web toys, but I did discover the Firefox plugin Foxy Tunes (it comes alone or bundled with Firefox Campus Edition.

It incorporates a set of player controls at the bottom of your Firefox window (yes I can now control iTunes from Firefox), but more importantly it comes with new buttons which link you to different informational sites related to the current track including Amazon.com and the Foxy Tunes music mashup page.

Here's the page for Björk's "Come to Me"
http://www.foxytunes.com/artist/bjork#/track/come_to_me

As you can see it links to YouTube, Pandora, LyricWiki, Rhapsody, Google and HypeMachine.

My only complaint is that HypeMachine apparently can't handle the umlauted-o (ö) in Björk's name...

Instructor: Teach Thyself

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I'm prepping for a course (along with many other of my ITS collegues) and I'm noticing with a certain amount of chagrin how hard it is for me to break free of the old lecture model. If I'm an instructional designer and am stuck in this mind set, how hard is it for other instructors to move beyond the lecture model they grew up with?

But I am starting to rethink my methods

* At one point I was trying to figure out to explain a bunch of new vocabulary terms for students, some of which are actually categories. And then I remembered this thing called the CONCEPT MAP which lets you show relations between different items (such as categories). This is the semester I finally opened Omni Graffle and created a concept map for a class I teach. I even did it twice!

* Then I was trying to explain different tongue positions for different sounds (it's a linguistics course). I had done these images for a homework assignment last time, but what about INCLUDING IMAGES IN THE LECTURES? Oh my goodness, that might actually help student visualize the concepts.

* And last night, I was fretting that my lecture notes on dialect differences and was so long, I might not be able to have my students do some practice readings from some cool phonetic transcripts I found. But then it occurred to me...why don't I skip some of the details in class and jump into the practice exercises and discuss features as we encounter them. Maybe it would put the information in context. Maybe the students could read the rest before or after class. Could this be JUST IN TIME LEARNING or AUTHENTIC LEARNING?

This last one I am curious about since many students prefer a structured presentation, but I think the reading weird accents aloud might be more entertaining than my usual lecture.

This instructional design stuff is really very exciting when you think about it. I hope the students appreciate it as much as I do.

Penn State Sample Blogs

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I've been asked if there are any good example blogs? Now that the Blogs at Penn State have been in production a few months, I can say there are some good samples out there.

COURSES
Amigos Hispanos (D. Gill) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/djg25/blogs/amigos/

Information Technology in Landscape Contracting (M. Reinert) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/mer6/blogs/LandscapeIT/

PHIL 83 Course Blog (C. Long) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/cpl2/blogs/PHIL083/

White Pine Forestry (P. Linehan) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/pel2/blogs/WhitePine/

PORTFOLIO
Christopher Long's Portfolio - http://www.personal.psu.edu/cpl2/blogs/cplportfolio/

Professional Portfolio (A. Gyorke)- http://www.personal.psu.edu/asg102/blogs/portfolio/

David Stong (design) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/drs18/blogs/davidstong/

OTHER PROFESSIONAL
Library Science CFP (D. Fidishun) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/dxf19/blogs/WEBLOG-NAME/

Library Technology (E. Cahoy) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/esc10/blogs/E-Tech/

Instrictional Design Outreach (T. Clark) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/tkc3/blogs/ids/

Clickers Blog (M. Test) - http://www.personal.psu.edu/dmt155/blogs/clickers/

Changing from .docx to .doc in Word 2007

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For those of you running into compatibility problems with the new .docx format of Word 2007, you can set the default format back to .doc (Word 2003)

http://www.ejabs.com/blog/2007/03/change-word-2007-default-saving-format-to-compatibility-mode/

You will have to scroll past the complaints against Microsoft.

Fractions in CSS

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If you want to use fractions (e.g. "1/2") the "number slash number" solution is usually fine for most documents, but you can use CSS to make prettier smaller scale fractions...but is a wee cumbersome.

Note: This solution was originally developed by Lars Bruzileus

First you have to shrink the numerator and the denominator to something like 75% - the slash stays at 100%. Then you have to raise the numerator up slightly (by .5 ex). You can also adjust the letter spacing depending on your font.

.den {font-size: 75%;}
.num {font-size: 75%; vertical-align:.5ex}

In the HTML the code looks like this:

<span class="num">1</span>/<span class="den">7</span>

And here's what it looks like:

1/7

Although I didn't like CSS for superscripts, I do think they are just the trick for vulgar fractions.