Palomar College Learning For Success

Academic Technology Resources Centers

Enhancing teaching and learning for students and faculty of Palomar College


Category: General

Moving Beyond the Classroom: Using TEACH ACT Checklist to Facilitate Streaming for Distance Education (DE)

The TEACH Act “redefines the terms and conditions on which accredited, nonprofit educational institutions throughout the U.S. may use copyright protected materials in distance education including on websites and by other digital means without permission from the copyright owner and payment of royalties” (Crews, 2002). In order for us to use and digitize copyrighted materials for distance education, we are using the TEACH Act requirements checklist. In this update, I would like to highlight our successful journey in establishing a streaming server for DE using Kaltura and share some statistics.

Use of Copyrighted Material

Usage of Images and other copyrighted material on websites is subject to Palomar College’s copyright policy and the US Copyright Office’s Title 17. In addition, the following Palomar board policies contain institutional specifics: BP 3710 Securing of Copyright; BP 3715 Intellectual Property; and BP 3720 Computer and Network Use. That said, before using an image or other material that complies with Palomar College’s Access and Use Guidelines, the user should ask:

Generating Boilerplate Content within Word

Perhaps you’ve been in this situation: Need to work on the formatting of a document, but the author hasn’t provided the text yet. What you really need is some sample text in your Word document, but you don’t want to go out and find some text online, possibly for fear of getting interested in some new topic. (Or is that just me?)

Microsoft Word actually has a function just for this purpose. Actually, I lie, it has two functions just for this purpose.

To see this in action, fire up Word, open up a new document and type (without the quote marks, of course) “=lorem(5,8)” and then hit Enter. You should be looking at five paragraphs of eight sentences each, filled with that psuedo-Latin “Lorem ipsum” text. Naturally you can change the numbers in that, with the first controlling number of paragraphs and the second controlling number of sentences, so “=lorem(71,3)” would result in many short paragraphs.

But what if you want some boilerplate text, but want something that will be readable English? In that case, type in “=rand(5,3)” (or whatever numbers of paragraphs and sentences you want), and hit Enter. Text will appear, drawn from Microsoft help files. (At one time it used to iterate “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog.” But this changed to somewhat meaningful text around Word 2007.)

So there you have it, two functions to generate some throw-away text. Now you can get to testing font styles, preparing the locations of images, anything else to beautify the document, all without waiting for the author to get the text to you.

New Faculty Technology-related Cheat Sheet

One frustration for new faculty here at Palomar is simply remembering which systems are supported by which departments, and where the various resources are. (Honestly, that’s pretty frustrating for ME still, as I approach two decades at Palomar.) So here’s a short cheat sheet to answer the question “who you gonna’ call?” Hint: the answer, sadly, is not “Ghostbusters.”

Palomar E-mail will take you to a webmail interface for Palomar’s Exchange email system. Also, knowing we use Exchange may help you in configuring a mobile device to check your Palomar email.

Faculty eServices will take you to the faculty login screen for the eServices enrollment system. Given that the actual address of that page is quite lengthy, you may just want to go to the main Palomar web site, click eServices, then click the Faculty tab.

Both email and eServices are supported by the Information Services department. They also do the support on the office desktop computers and classroom workstations and projectors. You can reach the Information Services helpdesk by email at, or by phoning X2140 on campus.

Blackboard will take you to Palomar’s course management system. Alternately, if you’re putting the address in print, you may want to put

WordPress will allow you to log into the Palomar WordPress system, to make changes to your own website on our servers. If you’ve never logged in before, simply logging in will create a site for you.

Both Blackboard and WordPress are supported by the Academic Technology department. We also have two classroom computer labs which can be reserved for classes to use, as well as a variety of other services. You can reach Academic Technology using the ATRC helpdesk, by emailing, or by phoning X2862 on campus.

Disability Resource Center will take you to information, mostly geared towards students, on what accommodations may be made for students with disabilities. So should you have students who need it, you can contact our experts in the DRC by phoning X2375 on campus.

Hey, worst case scenario, if you don’t know who to ask for help with a particular problem… ask anyone. If nothing else, we should all be able to point you in the right direction to get whatever help you need.

Have iPad, Will Travel

I’ve just got back into the office today, after taking a nearly five week vacation. (Yes, I really can accumulate a LOT of vacation time.) I lumped in a good deal of time staying around home, taking care of yardwork and such, and spending quality family time too. However, I also took a thirteen day road trip out to Saint Louis alone, and that made for an interesting experience that I wished to share.

Preparing for my trip, I made what is for me a momentous decision: I would not bring a laptop with me on my travels.

I’ve lugged laptops with me on flights before, so deciding against bringing a portable computer with me on a car trip where space was not at a premium was very out of the ordinary. I wanted to see if I could live entirely out of my smart phone and iPad. Short answer? Yes, I could, and I felt good about the experience.

Naturally I didn’t have much call for computing resources on the three days drive out to Missouri, nor on the two days drive home from there. But each night in my hotels during the trip, wireless network was no problem, and my iPad was fully able to keep me in touch with my personal email, Facebook news, Twitter feed, and even work emails. (When I got back to the office this morning, I actually had zero unread messages. How sad is that? I hope you don’t let work eat up your off time attention as much as I do.)

My smart phone did a bang-up job of keeping me in touch with my family on my travels as well. I’m currently using Sprint, and with the exception of right around the border of Arizona and New Mexico on the I-40, I always had good cell coverage. And, as I said, wireless network in the actual hotels, as well as the convention center I visited during my stay in Saint Louis, was plentiful and free.

The only thing that didn’t work perfectly for me was typing on the iPad. This is no surprise, as I did not bring a bluetooth keyboard or keyboard case – I was just using the iPad itself. Even then, the virtual keyboard was sufficient for the amount of typing I did need. However, if I’d been in the position of doing this over again, I think I may have gone ahead and used a keyboard case.

Now, why do I think this is worth sharing with the faculty here? Well, I’ve now vaulted from the ranks of “it should work okay” to “it works just fine” when talking about travel without a laptop. And, with the inline Assignment grading available soon in Blackboard, I could even have been marking up student papers if I’d needed to. (Sadly, the Blackboard Grade Center still does not play nice with tablet browsers, on either the iPad or other devices. That problem point really has to do with the way the independently scrollable grade grid is nested within a scrollable web page, and that problem does still remain.) Recent improvements in the way the iPad allows browser access to files in Dropbox even allow for uploading content if needed… although if I truly needed to compose a new document on my travels, I’d have stopped by a hotel business center to use a real computer for that part of the work. (However, I did use the Scanner Pro app on the iPad to scan to PDF my receipts, which worked very well. Direct upload the PDFs to Dropbox automatically, and I didn’t need to keep the paper receipts around cluttering up my car.)

So if you’re contemplating a trip this summer, and trying to decide if you need to bring your laptop or if you can just get away with an iPad… leave the laptop. I did, and it was marvelous.

5 Reasons You Should Be Using Evernote

For many, Evernote is an indispensable tool. If you are not yet an Evernote user, here are five reasons that you should consider becoming one:

Capture Anything

Evernote allows you to capture almost anything and store it for later use. Notes can be text that you type in directly, a voice recording you make with a mobile device, or a photo from your smartphone. If you come across a webpage that you want to save the Evernote Web Clipper makes it as easy as clicking one button. Evernote is also a great place to store important files that you may need quick access to such as user manuals or research articles.

Access Notes Anywhere

Be it a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you will be able to access and update Evernote. There are clients for Windows and Mac OS X if you want to use it on desktop and laptop computers. For mobile access, apps are available for iOS, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone 7. If all else fails, there is a web based app that can be accessed from almost any modern browser.

Find Things Fast

The search and filtering capabilities in Evernote are incredible. Searches can be based on keywords, tags, dates,  or note types (such as images, audio, PDF, etc.). With a small amount of planning in how you use notebooks and tags it is possible to find exactly what you are looking for, whether it was created yesterday or 4 years ago. If you subscribe to Evernote premium ($5/month or $45/year), any PDF documents that you attach will be searchable as well.

Share with Friends and Colleagues

Evernote lets you share your notebooks with whoever you want. Notebooks can be made public via a link that can be posted on a webpage or included in an email. If security is important a notebook can be shared with only specific Evernote accounts. The premium version of Evernote lets you give others permission to edit shared notes for true collaboration.

Go Paperless

All of the combined features of Evernote make it possible to go almost completely paperless. Instead of printing an article from a webpage, just send it to Evernote and read it on your mobile device. The built in PDF functionality make it easy to scan a document, save it to Evernote, and find it whenever or wherever you need it.

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