Day 28: Podcasting Upgrade

28 10 2009

Today was my birthday; if you’ll look closely at the iPhone in the picture, you’ll notice that it is actually a birthday cake (from Nobody got me a birthday cake quite this fancy, however I was able to celebrate by spending all day in a computer lab while the seniors from my other two classes took an exit exam. Happy birthday to me!

However, my students in the connected learning class did not suffer too terribly from my absence (I’d like to think that they missed my stunning good looks and my rapier wit, but these are both doubtful as well). Read the rest of this entry »


Day 17: Pay for Play??

30 09 2009

Okay, being a business professor I decided to solve my attendance-checking problem by appealing to the most fundamental of human instincts: greed. I offered any student in my class $100 if they could come up with a plan. Their solution had to allow me to check roll for 70 students in less than two minutes. It could use technology, but did not have to. And it had to input the data automatically. In short, I decided to outsource my problem. Plus, I like seeing their eyes light up when I say the words “$100 cash.”. I give this 1 chance in 4 of working, but why not try it? Immediately afterward several showed up to suggest things like sign-in sheets (too easy to cheat) or having students check each other (too easy to cheat) or an honor system (too easy to cheat).

One suggested using “Bump” to let them all log in as they walked into class; in theory this is great, but Bump only promises that data is exchanged in 10 seconds or less, which makes roll-check a 12 minute exercise in my large section. One suggested magnetic card swipes, but didn’t know about the expense involved or how to integrate it with my system. He said he’d get back to me. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 16: Forms, etc.

28 09 2009

Today we tried another new solution for paperless quizzes. As I shared with you last Monday, our experience with surveygizmo ( was outstanding, a massive improvement over the Blackboard interface. Today we tried a unique product, Exzact. Exzact’s product consists of a small client package you download to your iPhone (the Lite version, which we used, is free), and a form which asks the questions and collects the data.

Exzact’s product was originally created for firms which need to collect data in the field and have it uploaded whenever a connection is available. To accomplish this, the product actually runs a “client” on the device, which simply means that it can do more than just display questions and let you submit answers. In practical terms, it means that as soon as a student syncs his phone with their server, the entire quiz is downloaded, but he can’t open it until I provide a passcode. Further, once the quiz is complete, the client stores it until it gets a solid connection, then uploads to the server. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 15: What’s up Doc?

25 09 2009

My old method of taking attendance was an EPIC FAIL! Okay, that’s an exaggeration—it was perfectly functional, but a major pain to administer.  I had the students send an email to a drop box I set up on gmail (like or something) and include a subject line I gave them in class. What I had visualized was that my student worker could open the Gmail account, sort the messages by sender, and quickly find which ones were missing. Alas, in reality you can’t easily sort a column of messages in Gmail (at least I can’t) so it winds up being a manual seek-and-find to locate the ones who weren’t in the list. Workable, but not at all smooth or efficient. Time for roll-checking, part deux. Read the rest of this entry »

Day 8: Mr. Data

9 09 2009

dataDay 8 was our first round of data collection and the results were eye-opening. You can read the details of this first survey here (link later), but first things first: how did we get informed consent? As you may know, informed consent is a formal statement which tells the student important things like, “You can choose to participate or not participate in this research,” and “If you drop out, we won’t lower your grade,” and “We promise not to inject you with an eerie luminescent substance which might turn you into the Incredible Hulk.” Actually you only have to include that last one if you’re doing medical research.

Informed consent is a really good idea; it came about back in the 70’s when a fair number of psychology researchers were abusing undergrads for research purposes. So now all our research has to be approved before we can do it. Smart for the students, smart for the university.  The traditional way to do it involves paper (see my discussion here about “paper vs plastic”), so you wind up with a pile of papers signed by students. Read the rest of this entry »