Before turning in your iPads

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On Thursday, we will be returning your iPads. Before Thursday, please complete the following tasks. On Thursday, bring 1) your iPad, 2) its case, 3) the keyboard, 4) the USB cord, and 5) the connection piece to an outlet to class.

There is no need to wipe your iPads or erase any material. We are hopeful that you will leave content on the iPad as it is, so that we can see what sorts of activities you all engaged in before we wipe the iPads after the term is over. We will respect your privacy and take an inventory of what all is on the iPad without attaching the data to your name. We are interested in use in the aggregate -- that is, compiling data to get an overall picture -- not how you as an individual used it.

1. Sync your iPad.

Connect your iPad to your computer and sync it. This has the benefits of having your iPad material on your computer, should you own or purchase an iPad, an iPhone, or an iPod Touch. If you do own one of these devices, you can get any material from your iPad onto your other device (except that apps meant solely for the iPad won't work on the iPhone or iPod). For as long as you have the same hard drive, this material will be accessible to you.

If you downloaded any iBooks, these will also be backed up. They won't be available to read if they are DRM-coded (like our textbook), but if they were free or from another service, they will be readable in other ebook reading applications.

2. Make sure you back up any documents you have on Notes, Pages, iAnnotate, or other apps.

There are various ways to do this, but the best way, I suggest, is to open the apps and email the documents to your email and download them to your computer. 

3. Make sure your email is backed up so you won't lose any important email.

If you are using IMAP email, your email should be available online (say, in your online Gmail account). If you are using POP, or have a folder you've saved emails to on the iPad using IMAP, your email may not be available. Go through your email online and make sure you have a copy of any emails you will need to access in the future.

4. Turn off wireless in the Settings.

This will ensure that when we look at the iPads, we don't accidentally download your email or trigger another online activity.

5. Turn off the passcode in Settings.

To do this, go to Settings --> General --> Pascode Lock. Enter your passcode. Tap "Turn Passcode Off."

6. Bring your iPad and other materials to class Thursday.

This includes your iPad, its case, the keyboard, the USB cord, and the adaptor for the wall outlet.

If for some reason you will not be in class on Thursday, you must make an appointment with me to return your iPad and other materials.

7. After the term is over, get back ups of any SugarSync files you have in the course or individual shared folders.

On Monday of Finals Week, I will un-share SugarSync folders (in order to save space on our SugarSync systems). If there are any documents you are only accessing through these shared folders, go to and download them onto your personal computer or another space where you can access them later.

using alt tags for accessibility

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As we design websites and web pages, we want them to be accessible to as many visitors as possible. This means that we want to take into consideration blind readers, readers with poor sites, readers who may have slow Internet connections, and readers who may be deaf or hard of hearing. Some things you might consider as you create your e-portfolio include:
  • Using images that aren't too large, or using a thumbnail version of an image that links to its full size version
  • Using only video that has captions, or providing your own transcription
  • Not relying on color too heavily to mark the purpose of text
  • Ensuring that any audio you include has volume controls
  • Using alt tags on images
Of course, these are just a few small things you can do when creating a website. And of course, our semester is short with a lot to cover, so I can't and won't expect you to do all of these things. 

The one requirement for our e-portfolio, though, is to use alt tags. Alt tags have many benefits:
  1. Google searches for text, not images, so this increases the likelihood your image and site will be found through Google searches.
  2. Text-to-voice readers will be able to read images as text.
  3. The text shows up before the image when the page is loading, so visitors with sight can preview an image before it loads.

Here is how to go about inserting an alt tag:

Option A: When inserting a new image into the post. The easiest way to do this is through the WYSIWYG interface, by clicking the image icon and uploading and inserting an image into your text.

When you are in the dialogue box for inserting the image, there is a "Name" box. Changing this will change the alt text that someone will hear when they use a text-to-voice reader. Give this a name that will be helpful to someone who can't see the image.

Note: When you insert an image, it's best to choose a "thumbnail" size that's going to fit inside the post. For instance, the original of the image below is 800 pixels wide, which is wider than the post. I chose to make this image 400 pixels wide.

Option B: You already have an image in your post, but want to change the alt tag. 

First, switch over to the html editor. This is done by clicking the icon <A>.

Find the source code for the image. It will look something like this (this is the code for the image below):

<img alt="blueprints from Flickr (this is an example of an alt tag)" src="" width="400" height="178" class="mt-image-center" style="text-align: center; display: block; margin: 0 auto 20px;" /></a>

The text in the quotation marks is the alt text. You can simply change that text (make sure to keep the quotation marks in place) to change the alt text.

blueprints from Flickr (this is an example of an alt tag)

A Note on Browsers:

Web browsers used to all show the "alt" text as pop-up text when you hovered over an image. Now some browsers never show the "alt" text once the image is loaded, but instead show the "title" text. If you want text to pop-up when a user hovers over an image, you can add a "title" attribute within your html, like this:

<img alt="blueprints from Flickr (this is an example of an alt tag)" title="blueprints from Flickr (this is an example of a title tag)" src="" width="400" height="178" class="mt-image-center" style="text-align: center; display: block; margin: 0 auto 20px;" /></a>

Other resource:

iPad ios 4.2 update

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Hi everyone,

I hope you're having a wonderful break. I am writing because Apple released their ios 4.2 update for the iPad a few days ago. This new update allows for many new features, including multitasking, wireless printing, the use of folders, a new game system, a search for text feature in Safari, changing fonts in the Notes app, and many many other updates.

To install the update, you must first update your iTunes to the newest version, and then plug in and sync your iPad. It might ask you to update immediately, or you might have to go to the "search for updates" feature on the "summary" section of your iPad in iTunes. Installing the update will probably take about a half-hour.

This update is not required, so if your'e not interested or not comfortable, it's not necessary. However, a number of us have been frustrated with the lack of multitasking and some other features, and it might be useful to know how some of the features work if your'e writing about them in the iPad Report (or to continue to explore the device over the next two weeks).

NOTE: I was confused how to multitask after installing the update, so I'm going to explain it here. When you have an app open, you just double tap the home button, and a little menu at the bottom opens up. It shows the apps that you've opened recently and are still running in the background. This won't work with all apps (some don't support the feature yet), but should work with most.

Again, hope break is going well for y'all!

EDIT: This page currently discusses some of the features of the update.

last blogging prompt

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For our last blog post this term, I'd like you to consider what type of blog post might be the most appropriate to be seen as the most recent blog post in your e-portfolio. Though you are free to keep blogging on your site after the term is over, I imagine many of you will not, so consider what type of blog post might be best to appear at the top of your blog when a potential employer visits your site.

Some possible ideas:
  • Reflect on the course and how it went for you.
  • Reflect on the term as it is winding down.
  • Discuss some aspect of your field or recent development in your field or possible career.
  • Discuss a recent news development related to your career interests.
  • Discuss some aspect of technical writing that relates to your career plans.
Of course, your post is not limited to these prompts.

Blog Assignment for Week 13

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For this week, instead of writing a new blog post, please comment on three classmates' blog posts. If you go to the course blog posts, aggregated by our tag Engl202c_ipad, you can see recent posts from the class. You might scroll through the last few weeks and find a few that are interesting.

As a receiver of comments, you will get email notifications letting you know that someone commented. You'll need to approve these comments, which you can do in your dashboard at Go to "Manage" --> "Comments," where you can select and approve comments. (Remember, if you get a malicious, off-topic, or spam comment from someone, you are free to delete it.) You need to approve classmates' comments so they can get credit for their work.

Helpful links as you create your e-portfolio

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Here are some helpful links as you create and work on your e-portfolio:

Getting Started:

Webspace quiz: the quiz you need to take before you can access your PSU webspace

Blogs at PSU: where you can log-in, create your e-portfolio, and manage your content

Getting Started with PSU Blogs: provides a downloadable PDF that can help you get started, and has a very helpful screencast where you can increase your online space limit and manage online files

Information on e-Portfolios:

Creating a Successful Online Portfolio by Sean Hodge: a great read on some suggestions for improving e-portfolios

E-Portfolios at Penn State: This Penn State resource has some information and rationales for e-portfolios. If you click on "gallery" in the navigation bar, there are some screenshots from sample e-portfolios.

Creating your Banner Image:

Screencast: a helpful screencast on how to upload your banner image

Flickr's advanced image search: a search engine that allows you to find creative commons images that you can alter (select Creative Commons and images you can adapt toward the bottom of the page). When you use images from here, make sure you attribute them (link to the page) from your homepage.

PSU Media Commons portal of free media: a great resource of free images (and other media) that might also be useful

Using Preview on a Mac to crop images: scroll down to point 4 for some useful tips on using Preview on a Mac to crop an image

Redirecting your PSU homepage to your personal blog:

Making a video in the blogs platform:

Kaltura in Blogs at Penn State: This page explains how to set up your blogging platform to allow you to capture video from your computer's webcam.

Introduction to Kaltura in Blogs: This page has a screencast that shows you how to create a video in the blogs platform.

Sample e-portfolios:

Erin Long's e-portfolio (Erin is in Educational Technology Services)

Robin Smail's e-portfolio (Robin is in Educational Technology Services)

Colleen DeFruscio's e-portfolio (Colleen is a senior in English and Communications Arts and Sciences)

Sarah Donnenberg's e-portfolio (Sarah is a graduate in advertising)

Steven Murray's e-portfolio (Steven is a business student)

Understanding Copyright:

Copyright Perspectives: a resource from Penn State

Creative Commons: explains various creative common licenses


ITS Knowledge Base: This is a searchable knowledge base about a variety of Penn State information technology resources.

Contacting PSU blogs: Fill out this form to ask questions about the blogs environment

Prompt for Week 12 Blog Post: Begin drafting the iPad Report

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In preparation for the final assignment, I'd like you to use this blog post to begin drafting the iPad Report. While the report isn't due for a few more weeks, this is a good opportunity to begin drafting and moving from the planning worksheet to some content.

In this post, include 1) a draft of at least one paragraph that might wind up in the final report, and 2) drafts of at least two sentence-level definitions that might wind up in the final report.

We will be reading about definitions and descriptions over the weekend. Refer to the textbook for sentence-level definitions, which generally follow the format: [term] is a [category] that [distinguishing characteristics].

For this post, I would suggest having a short introduction that is clear what the post is about (for readers who may visit your blog post but not be aware of the prompt).

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

prompt for week 11 blog post

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In a post of roughly 300 words (or more), address one of the following questions. Use BlogPress to write and/or publish your post if possible. (You need only address one question.)

1. Now that you are over halfway through this pilot project, what stands out to you about your experience using the iPad?

2. Describe your writing practices with the iPad.

3. Describe your strategies for note taking on the iPad.

4. How has our textbook been adapted for the iPad environment? What do you like about the adaptation? What have you found challenging?

5. Describe and evaluate your experiences using the iPad for peer review.

Using another web browser on the iPad

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As we've been using the iPad for over two months now, a number of us have had complaints about web browsing. The two major complaints that I've heard are the lack of tabs (though most of us can adapt easily to Safari's interface) and the fact that ANGEL doesn't work on the iPad. It doesn't scroll properly (though changing to PDA style fixes some of that) and you can't email through it.

I recently came across this blog post on Atomic Web, a web browser for the iPad. The post overviews some of the features, so I don't do that here, but it's a tab-based browser that lets you set it read websites like Safari for Mac, Safari for iPad, Firefox 3, and a few other browsers.

I bought it and used it briefly, and I'm pretty impressed with it so far. For instance, I tried out ANGEL. I still couldn't scroll, but when I hit the PDA button in the lower left-hand corner, the website worked pretty well. I could even go to a course page, select "quick message," and compose a message and select recipients. It takes a bit of finesse (the "send" button is only partially visible), but it seems to work.

If you're okay with spending 99 cents for an app you can only use for another month and a half, it might be worth the purchase. If you're reading this on your iPad, you can click here and go straight to the app in iTunes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Prompt for Week 10 Blog Post: Instruction Sets

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For this blog post, find a set of instructions online (this could be for a task similar to the one you are writing about, or a completely different task), link to the instructions, explain what the instructions are for, and analyze how effective they are. These instructions could be on something that you are knowledgeable about (making you an authority on what's right or wrong), or something that you're new to (making you an authority on how helpful they might be). Consider concepts from class on writing instructions, on document design, and on coherent documents.

There are a variety of websites with instructional sets, including company's websites and online collections of instructions, such as WikiHow. Unlike the instructions we are writing for this class, which will be static pages, instructions online come in a variety of different forms: static pages, videos, wikis (where a variety of people edit and change the instructions), sites with user comments or other metadata (likes, favorites, hits, etc). Any set of instructions will do for this post. You might consider how the format of the instructions assists or harms the effectiveness of the instructions.

If you haven't yet used BlogPress to write a post, I encourage you to use this app for this post.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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