February 2008 Archives

I just ran into the site German GROW, a site with cultural links for German teachers at http://www.aatg.org/content/view/255/ It's run by the AATG (American Association of German Teachers).

Like the icons? It looks very Web 1.0. But click each link and it actually takes you to a del.icio.us page that the AATG has set up. For instance the Musik link goes to http://del.icio.us/GermanGROW/Musik As you can see, the AATG has established their own folders within del.icio.us.

This is an interesting design which I like because the interface is intuitive to a Web 1.0 educator audience, but actually leverages Web 2.0 technology. If you do understand del.icio.us, you can go directly to http://del.icio.us/GermanGROW/ and even suck in the RSS feed. You can even add your own resources if you know how to tag.

But if you haven't had a chance to get acquainted with tagging yet (and many instructors are still in this position), the Web 1.0 interface will still let you get to that content without learning a new set of terms. As my colleague Tim Perry noted recently, "RSS remains an elusive concept."

I can't believe I just used the <u> (underline) tag!

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OK we're not supposed to the <u> (underline) tag because it confuses readers who might think an item is a link when it's not. But surprisingly...it still has it's uses.

For instance, I use the <cite> tag for book titles like Gone with the Wind. Normally the <cite> tag produces italics, but I used CSS to make my <cite> tag both bold and italicized (as in Gone with the Wind) for increased legibility (good functional reasoning here).

But suppose I need to highlight one word within the title for emphasis (e.g. It's Gone with the Wind, not Went with the Wind).

Visually I know that <cite> is already and bold and italic, but now I need to add a third visual element. My choices are 1) Use underline or 2) hack into my stylesheet for the blog and create some sort of custom <em> class or whatever (and add some serious bytes to my file). I confess I took the easy way out.

P.S. Be careful about including "<u>" in Blog titles though. You might want to use "&lt;u&gt;" instead.

The Organization is still in the URL

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One issue we keep wrestling with in ITS is how do we hide our organizational structure so that our Web presence can be more seamless to the non-ITS savvy user.

An interesting case is Studio 204. I must say it is a well-designed site and nowhere does it mention that it's tied to ETS, TLT or even ITS. It just says it's a video studio any student or instructor can access.

However...in order to access the site, I MUST know it's a part of TLT because of the URL http://studio204.tlt.psu.edu/ (see that little "tlt" between "studio204" and "psu.edu"?). My first guess was "studio204.psu.edu", but alas I got a 404 error.

I'm really not trying not to play a blame game here (in fact I can hear some of you grinding your teeth an muttering "I know I know"). I also know that you do have to go through "channels" to get a URL like "studio204.psu.edu" - although I also know that it's not especially burdensome.

But if you're ever wondering why people can't find our valuable resources - maybe it's because we've made some of our URL's more exotic than people can digest.

Portraits of "Famous People" from Library of Congress

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I'm trying to track down images of key historical figures from U.S. history and I just found this site from the Library of Congress which lists peoples across the different collections.

But I have to be honest here and admit that one of the best tools I've found recently is Wikipedia (which does track sources of most uploaded photos). Ironically many of them ARE from the Library of Congress, but sometimes using Wikipedia is actually slightly more efficient than trying to navigate the LOC.

Web 2.0 in linguā latinā

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Yes there is now a community hub with everything in Latin at http://schola.ning.com/ Actually, I think there has been a Latin community for every form of Internet technology, but it's interesting to see how a relatively small user community (Latin Language enthusiasts) is able to migrate and adopt new technologies.