Academic Technology @ Palomar College

Blackboard Adventure Time

Blackboard Adventure Time
Hi, this is David the human, and today I’ll be telling you a bit about my adventure last week in Las Vegas, at the BbWorld 2013 convention. (Okay, technically I attended both Blackboard’s Developer’s Conference, DevCon, and the main BbWorld conference, but the content from DevCon is uniformly tech in nature so likely nobody here cares.) Some of the BbWorld sessions were about esoteric topics, such as how to optimize the integration of data from the Palomar eServices system into Blackboard, or how to crawl around in the databases looking for diagnostic information to help make the...
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PowerPoint 2013: Slide Layouts

PowerPoint 2013: Slide Layouts
Before moving on to consider adding pictures and other graphics to slides, I would like to touch on a couple of basic concepts that I have not posted on before.  In this post I will review slide layouts. Slide layouts are slides that have positioning placeholders on them that you can use to add content.  They may also contain content placeholders.  The number of layouts in your presentation will vary depending on the design theme you have chosen.  Some have as few as 11 (The Office them, for example) and some have as many as 17 (the Main Event theme).  You can also create custom slide layouts of your...
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PowerPoint 2013: Tables

PowerPoint 2013: Tables
There are at least four ways to place tables on a PowerPoint 2013 slide.  They are: Click the table content placeholder on the standard title & content slide layout, and manually define the number of rows and columns your table is to contain; Use the Insert > Table command and drag over a tabular grid pattern to define your table; Paste a copied table from Word or Excel (with an embed option discussed below); Draw your table with the Draw Table tool. Before creating, or copying in a table, consider replacing it with a chart with, if necessary, data point labels.  Charts on a slide can have much...
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PowerPoint 2013: Bullets

PowerPoint 2013: Bullets
I’m not one to encourage the use of bulleted items, but let’s face it, many PowerPoint presentations are nothing but slide after slide of bulleted items.  If, therefore, you are faced with the task of changing the bullet style on some or all slides in a presentation, here’s how.  (Remember, if you make this change on the Slide Master it will automatically change all bullets on all slides in your presentation.  If you make it in normal view, it will only affect the slide on which you are working). If you wish to change the style on one on a single slide, select the text of all of the...
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PowerPoint 2013: WordArt

PowerPoint 2013: WordArt
An advanced form of text editing in PowerPoint is called WordArt.  Some truly spectacular textual effects can be achieved with WordArt, while the text retains its characteristics as text (can be spell checked, font sizes can be changed, case can be changed, new text inserted, etc.).  Nevertheless, these effects don’t have much of a place in a well designed, professional presentation.  They should be used sparingly, and only for special emphasis.  This post will in brief review where the WordArt settings and controls can be found and applied.  We will get to a discussion of shape effects—which...
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World War II on the iPad

World War II on the iPad
A search on World War II (world war ii, world war 2, ww2, etc.) at the app store will yield scores of apps over several app categories, only two of which, in my opinion, are worthwhile. First the categories:  By far the category leader is games.  You will find game titles like “World Conqueror,” “Little Commander,” “Fighter Pilot Killer Air Combat,” “World War 2 Assault,” “Commando Global Assassin,” and on and on.  Stop wasting time and money on this nonsense.  Sit down with your kids and explain why war, and especially this cataclysmic war...
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PowerPoint 2013: Basic Text Editing

PowerPoint 2013: Basic Text Editing
As mentioned in previous posts, if you are going to edit text in a PowerPoint presentation, it is better that the editing be done on the slide master, so that 1) your edits will propagate through the entire presentation.  Sometimes this is just not possible, especially with reference to text in text boxes.  You may want to color a single word in a text box differently than the rest of the words, or bold or underline a word, or expand character spacing for a group of words, or whatever the case may be.  This post discusses these basic text edits, which are common Word text formatting tasks also.  It is...
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PowerPoint 2013: Embedded Fonts

PowerPoint 2013: Embedded Fonts
To wrap up our discussion of fonts, let’s try to decide whether we should embed fonts within our presentation when we save.  You may want to present on another computer than the one you used to develop the PowerPoint presentation, and each computer’s font set may be different.  To be sure you will have the correct fonts so that your presentation will look as expected on another computer, embedding may be necessary.  Before launching into the discussion, however, you need to know that you can only embed TrueType fonts in a PowerPoint presentation (.ttf) and that embedded fonts in a Windows...
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PowerPoint 2013: The Replace Fonts Command

PowerPoint 2013: The Replace Fonts Command
Here is a practical tip that can help you redeem a presentation when someone (not you, of course) has used an outlandish font in text boxes or even in bulleted lists.  Remember, your goal in placing words on a PowerPoint slide is to communicate a point, and to do so the text you use must be legible.  Therefore, weird, hard-to-read fonts should be avoided at all costs.  Unfortunately, humans being what they are, many people seem drawn to cursive, fantasy, gothic, or otherwise nearly illegible fonts.  PowerPoint provides a quick remedy for this, however.  It’s called the Replace Font command....
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Blackboard Thing of the Week: Tour a Sample Course Structure

Blackboard Thing of the Week: Tour a Sample Course Structure
Way back in May of 2012, I posted on a new addition to Blackboard, Course Structures. However, I haven’t seen any faculty really putting these to use, so I wanted to showcase at least one structure. In the video below I use the organization by Chapter (which, for any class based around the textbook, works fairly well), and show off a bit of the sample content and my thoughts on the mindset behind the structure. In particular, points I like in the structure are: The default entry point is a module page optimized for student use. The syllabus information is not a single linked document, but...
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