Basic PowerPoint Animation Basics

Microsoft PowerPoint Icon

A PowerPoint slide-deck is a speaker’s aid, used as a backdrop to the presenter, and as such should not often be the focus of audience attention. (After all, if you’re at a Broadway show and your focus is on the flats, I’d guess it is not a very compelling play.) But at times it is important to focus the eyes of your audience on the slide, or even on a particular portion of the slide. That’s when it is time for an Animation. Continue reading “Basic PowerPoint Animation Basics”

Palomar Streaming Video and Chrome

Chrome icon

Users of Google’s Chrome browser who are trying to play back videos from Palomar’s streaming video system are in for a treat… and by treat I mean an error message indicating that Silverlight is not installed. Diligent users go load up the newest version of Silverlight, only to be told that Silverlight is not installed. Continue reading “Palomar Streaming Video and Chrome”

Free Office 365 for all Palomarites

Yes I am serious, and no this is not a scam. All students and employees of Palomar College are already licensed to use Office 365 for free. In fact, we are licensed to have up to five copies of Office installed on our computers, as well as full access to the full-featured versions of all the online Office applications. Oh, plus 1024 Gb of storage space on the OneDrive cloud storage system.

For free. Continue reading “Free Office 365 for all Palomarites”

Bb Student app for iOS and Android phones

Bb Student logo

Not sure how many Palomar students have tried out the Blackboard Mobile app for accessing Blackboard courses, but recently the Blackboard company launched another phone app which may be of interest. Called “Bb Student,” the app is for iOS and Android phones. Continue reading “Bb Student app for iOS and Android phones”

Personalizing Blackboard Content

Blackboard logo

I’m certain you’ve received bulk messages, either on paper through the mail or (often as spam) though email. Often those messages use a function known as “mail merge” to modify the content of the message to show personalized information. Although that sort of function can be awkward if used poorly, Blackboard has limited options to get a “mail merge” effect out of your Blackboard content.

This function was originally intended for developers to be able to list personal details, but these “tokens” will work for students and instructors within Blackboard courses as well. Most of the tokens available are fairly useless (for details see the complete list), but there are three that you may get some use out of: Full Name, Username, and Course Name.

Whenever you are posting content using the Content Editor within Blackboard, including where students post to discussion boards, you can simply put these place-holders, and when viewed the correct information will display.

Data Token Sample
Full Name @X@user.full_name@X@ David Gray
Username @X@user.id@X@ 012345678
Course Name @X@course.course_name@X@ 2014 Fall DEMO 100 Demonstration Course 79999

Using these tokens, I could post a piece of content like:

@X@user.full_name@X@ (@X@user.id@X@), welcome to @X@course.course_name@X@.

Which, after submission, would display like this:

David Gray (012345678), welcome to 2014 Fall DEMO 100 Demonstration Course 79999.

Sadly there is not a token for “only first name” so the full user’s name is the best you could hope to use for personalizing. These tokens should also work when using Blackboard to send email or post announcements, but I do recommend testing to be certain you have the code correct before blasting out a message to everybody in the course.