Monthly Archives: April 2008

Summit summary

So I didn’t actually post anything from the conference, but I did make some notes while I was attending the Sungard Summit. This is the annual convention put on by Sungard, the people who make our Portal software, the Banner software that underpins just about every administrative function at IWU, our Content Management system, and the Advance software we use in Development. 

The conference is a huge event with people from all walks of Higher Ed in attendance. I was in the “Technical Community” which meant I was walking and talking with webmasters, instructional designers, etc. I stuck almost entirely with the Luminis Content Management product throughout the conference since that is the product I most closely support here at work. Here are a couple of interesting things I heard about:

  •  modifying the Site Studio interface using Javascript or AJAX to make the user interface much looser for content contributors. This means that certain page elements could be moved around, or that some options could be hidden or revealed as needed. These enhancements added some layout and design freedom to users that we do not currently provide. They also can be one way to integrate LCMS with existing systems (a database to track keywords, or a photo gallery app).
  • fixing the LCMS workflow system using a little bit of Java code so that it doesn’t spam content managers with incomprehensible e-mail messages.
  • there is a very easy way to integrate iTunes U with our campus portal to provide single sign-on access to shared media on Apple’s servers

Of course each of these items requires some scripting or programming, but thankfully the people who gave these presentations were quite friendly and would be willing to offer advice or help if we follow in their footsteps. 

I also learned quite a bit about the new LCMS version 3.3 which is now available. The enhancements to navigation will be quite an improvement, and I hope to see improvement for our Mac clients as well.  

I am also interested in learning a little bit about the underlying LCMS technology to see if I can make the Role Management system do a little more. After talking to one of the LCMS programmers I think it might be pretty easy…we’ll see how easy! 

More Moodle

Last time I posted about Moodle I mentioned my plans to test a third-party quiz application, and to try out the “database” activity within my fake Moodle class. I did both of these things and will now provide a brief recap.

Hot Potatoes is a quiz application that is probably mostly used in elementary and secondary ed. It generates quizzes and exercises of different formats. I tried making a crossword about potatoes.

Spud Crossword

This worked out nicely after I figured out the right format to save the crossword. The Hot Potatoes app doesn’t automatically plug in to Moodle, so I had to export as a SCORM package (SCORM is a standard e-learning specification). From there it was easy to get it into Moodle. I need to add more words next time – people seemed to think it was too hard since there weren’t a lot of words crossing.

I also created a “Database” in my Moodle course. This is really just a customizeable construct for your class. I created fields like Title, Genre, Picture, Date, and Description. Then each student enrolled in the class could add a record comprising all or some of these fields. In other words, this tool could easily be used to hand in complex assignments. Databases also allow the class to post comments on each record. This means the Database can also function much like a blog.

So far everything about Moodle suggests that it will provide an excellent set of tools to our Faculty for managing their courses. We still need to make progress in integrating Moodle with our Banner database, especially in order to synchronize class rosters.

I’ll be gone next week at a conference learning more about Luminis Content Management. I’ll try to post some interesting tidbits about LCMS while I’m there.

iPhone Test Update

Traveling with the iPhoneThe iPhone came back around to me after being evaluated by a couple other IT staff members just in time for a little traveling.  The first thing I did in preparing for my travels with the iPhone was to download a couple TV shows and some music from iTunes.  Syncing the iPhone with iTunes is straight forward and works just like an iPod sync.  The iPhone has a setting called Airplane Mode that is turned on when stewardess asks that all electronic devices must be turned off.  The Airplane Mode turns off the phone and bluetooth, allowing the other iPhone functions to work normally.  Once in the air, I turned on the iPhone and enjoyed the shows and music I had downloaded.  I also used the camera function on the plane, taking several shots out of the window.  I actually used the camera throughout my travels, easily emailing pictures of the sun and sand back to cold and gloomy Illinois just to rub it in a little.  E-mailing a photo is very simple, you can also add a message along with the photo.  Using the iPhone for Internet access was great to check on flight schedules, the weather, etc.  I used the iPhone to keep up with my IWU e-mail while I was away, so I did not have to spend a day catching up when returning to work. Another feature that I use more and more, and used while traveling, is text messaging.  I find sending a text message with the full keyboard much easier than on a standard cell phone.  With the iPhone I can easily send text messages using correct spelling and full punctuation that is usually not done when texting on a standard cell phone.  (U no what i m talking about if u send texts 2 others)

Vacation So, the iPhone worked very well for me while traveling, and it allowed me to travel without the laptop computer I normally drag along. The iPhone provided me with all of the communication and computer functionality I needed.  With all of the positives, the iPhone does not yet work with the IWU wireless network. The other down side is that the iPhone is not supported by our shared calendaring system.  These are two significant support issues for campus use.  If you are currently looking for a wonderful and easy to used mobile device for your personal use, I can highly recommend the iPhone. Integration with campus services should improve as upgrades to both the iPhone and campus systems are rolled out.