New Features in Google+

Not sure what Google+ is? Find out more here and here.

After three months of field testing, Google recently announced new features to enhance its Google+ social networking site. The biggest change may be that the service is now open to all users without needing an invitation. Users just need a Google account (Gmail address) to connect to other Google+ users.Google Plus Logo

Want to sign up? You can do it here.

Currently, membership in the service stands at 25 million, well under Facebook’s 800 million user base. Yet the combination of contextual relationships (your network can consist of relationships that aren’t limited to just “friends”) and video communication/sharing capability may make Google+ a better alternative as a classroom utility. So what’s new?

Share Circles

In Google+, each user has control over who sees the information they share by grouping people in Circles. For example, Circles can be created for co-workers, classmates (even separate Circles for each class), close friends, relatives, etc.

One of the biggest issues new users found with Google+ was the inability to share Circles. Until now, users were left to create their own groupings; in situations where Google+ is used for collaboration, this created the possibility of inconsistent Circles (members are included in some Circles, but not all).

Now, users can easily share their curated groups with others. It’s an easy way for an instructor or TA to create a list of students, then share with everyone in the class. After you receive a shared Circle, you’re free to make edits, deleting from the list or adding members to additional Circles.Sharing Circles on Google+

From the Circles page, simply choose which Circle you’d like to share. You’ll see the option to share, along with editing or deleting the Circle. You’ll be prompted to add the names of Google+ users to share with, and any additional comments to send.

Improvements to Hangouts

Hangouts are the Google+ version of video conferencing. Up to ten users can share a chat session, with options to mute others in the chat and share/comment on videos. A brief overview of some educational uses of Hangouts can be found here. Recent additions to this feature enhance the collaborative experience:

  • Access Hangouts on mobile

    If your mobile device has a front-facing camera and is equipped with Android version 2.3 and up (iOS support coming soon), you can start and join Hangouts anywhere you have service.

  • Broadcast Hangouts

    “Hangouts on Air” allow users to reach larger audiences by broadcasting their webcam video publicly. Up to nine users can join the Hangout, but there’s no limit to the number of viewers. Students can view live lectures or presentations online while communicating through chat. This feature is currently available to a limited number of users, but anyone can tune in to a Hangout broadcast.

  • Hangout Extras

    While still “under construction” and requiring users to opt-in, these four additions appear to be the most useful improvements. CNDLS staff members tested out the services and found them to be intuitive and responsive, offering practical ways to work with others online.

    • ScreensharingMembers in a Hangout can share their screen, choosing which window others in the Hangout will be able to view. This is especially useful when trying to work through technical issues (e.g., “how do I log into my blog?”)
    • SketchpadHave you ever wanted the ability to draw something online to explain the idea? Users have that now with Sketchpad, a shared space for Hangout members to digitally doodle. Tools like shapes, lines, and image embedding give users the capacity to creatively render pictures in a real-time, cooperative setting.
    • Google Docs IntegrationGoogle Docs users have long been aware of the convenience and value of collaborative document editing. Add the ability to see and hear the people you’re working with, and the experience becomes even richer. While seeing what others are typing into a document is useful, being able to communicate “face-to-face” during the process eliminates ambiguity and allows for immediate feedback.
    • Named HangoutsNaming your Hangout provides an easy way to join or find Hangouts around a specific interest. Making your Hangout public makes it easy for your students, and even anyone else interested in the topic, to observe and learn.

Search Google+

In addition to searching Google, you can now search within Google+. The main difference is that instead of returning links to websites and pages, Google+ search will return relevant people (including those outside of your Circles) and their posts, providing an extra layer of context to your search.

Search using Google+For example, performing a Google+ search on “blogging” brought back a crowdsourced question from blogging expert Darren Rowse about choosing why to blog (responses included), a link to the most popular free blogging apps for the iPad, and a post on blogging and trust in universities from an educational technologist. You can experiment with searching between Google’s regular search and Google+ search to find out which might be more effective for your queries.

Tip: How to mention people in Google+

Google+ at Georgetown

TLT Fellow Betsy Sigman, a Distinguished Teaching Professor at the McDonough School of Business, is experimenting with Google+ in her Development and Management of Databases class. She wanted to create a communication backchannel for her students to share news about database companies, with their activity to count toward class participation. Faced with the decision between Twitter and Google+, she chose the latter based on the fact that most of her students already had Gmail accounts. She welcomed the new collaborative features, noting that they worked “amazingly well.”

As you can read in her blog, Prof. Sigman is using several technologies this semester, and we plan to report back later with details of her experiences.

Are you using Google+ in your teaching, or are you considering using it? Please let us know in the comments!

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Update from Team Nancy

Nancy Crego (NHS) has been hard at work on her TLT project! Here’s an update:

Nancy’s Project
Students in Nancy’s pediatric nursing courses play the roles of nurses and parents in patient-care scenarios set in the high-tech Simulation Center in St. Mary’s. This has proven to be an extremely valuable learning experience for the students.

Nancy debriefs with the students after the simulations, but has found that there isn’t really enough time for them to reflect on what they have learned. So she’s decided to film the simulations and ask the students to write ungraded reflections after viewing the videos. This will officially start in the spring semester.

Barrinton, Brian, and I visited the Sim Center so that we could see the setup first-hand.

Brian Boston (CNDLS) practices listening to the patient's heartbeat, with guidance from Nancy.

Barrinton Baynes (GNMC) offers a second opinion.










We also met some of Nancy’s colleagues from NHS, including Justin Owen, Director of Medical Technologies, and Wendy Thomson, Director for Simulation Education. We discovered that there are a number of technical and logistical challenges to recording the simulations.

  • The angle can be tricky — sometimes the students stand in front of the patient simulator, blocking the view of what they are doing. (This is particularly problematic with the smallest member of the patient simulator family, Neo-Nate!)
  • Privacy and security of the videos are important. Because the students often make mistakes in the simulations, Nancy’s motto is “what happens in simulation stays in simulation.” It’s crucial that the videos won’t be reposted or viewed by students in other groups.
  • Nancy is quite busy in the control room of the sim center, running the simulation, providing the voice of the patient simulator, AND controlling the camera! Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with the students as they move around and make sure that the action is captured on film.

Possible Solutions

  • Barrinton Baynes (GNMC) is researching video hardware that would combine the feeds from the various cameras in the sim center. (Currently, the feeds are recorded separately.) These feeds could also include the monitor that shows the patient’s vital signs, freeing Nancy from having to zoom in and read these when needed.
  • We are looking into various options for storing the videos – for example, they could be stored on Blackboard and viewed through Sharestream, which would enable Nancy to restrict access to each video to the appropriate students.

It looks like we have some decisions to make… meanwhile, Nancy is planning to pilot the filming process with some of her students this semester in order to test things out.

Stay tuned for updates on this exciting project!

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Pertinent for team Sylvia for Gallaudet collaboration

WaPo article on the culture shift at Gallaudet as more students arrive who aren’t signers.  Interesting on several levels but I’m thinking particularly of “team sylvia” and the upcoming work they have with Gallaudet.

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Mapping Character Development Across Time with Prezi Meeting

Collaborative PreziWhile Prezi has gained reputation as an alternative presentation tool to PowerPoint, the addition of the real-time group editing functionality of Prezi Meeting allows for users to collaboratively create exhibits like concept maps and timelines. Recently, CNDLS worked with Sociology professor Sarah Stiles to use the online presentation tool in one of her summer classes.

In a post earlier this year, Derek Bruff of Vanderbilt University detailed his use of Prezi Meeting to have his students create a debate map, demonstrating an alternative use for the tool. As Professor Bruff explained, “Prezi Meeting is a feature within every Prezi that allows you to invite others to edit your Prezi. You send them an URL, and they click on that URL to get full edit access to your Prezi. What’s more, Prezi Meeting allows you and your friend to edit your Prezi at the same time, much like Google Docs allows multiple people to edit a word processing or spreadsheet document together in real time.”

The Request

Students of Professor Stiles’s Contemporary City class were studying achievement ideology and social reproduction theory through the reading of Ain’t No Makin’ It: Aspirations and Attainment in a Low-income Neighborhood by Jay McLeod. The text follows the lives of youth in two groups — the Hallway Hangers and the Brothers — growing up in the Clarendon Heights area during the 1980s-90s. Professor Stiles wanted her students to be able to work collaboratively in the creation of a document that would track the events of both groups during the time period. and relationships between the various events and characters.

Why Prezi?

Two things were to be represented: the connections between the characters in the text, and the events they encountered over a common course of time. While Professor Stiles was originally considering a wiki for this project, CNDLS staff thought of ideas to show both elements, such as the use of tag clouds on a Georgetown Commons blog and Dipity, an online timeline representation application.

Prezi was chosen for being able to fulfill both representations while at the same time allowing for collaborative creation. Making this use of Prezi even more interesting was that despite being known as a presentation tool, the process of creating the visual took precedent over the final product, an emphasis that made the activity of creation more meaningful.

How was it used?

Students worked in two groups, with one editor for each group. In a previous session, they were each assigned a character from the text and asked to create a Prezi on that character to gain experience with the app. One student demonstrated her character presentation before groups started working, and her use of imagery and humor to create a simple yet interesting character sketch helped ease the apprehension felt by many students unfamiliar and unsure of the tool.Students collaborate with Prezi Meeting

Before they started group editing, Professor Stiles shared a link to the main Prezi, where she had inserted a timeline image that was to be used as a common reference for both groups. The Hallway Hangers created their presentation above the timeline, the Brothers below.

While only one person edited for each group, other members took turns providing images (either by emailing them to the editor, or providing links) and descriptions that were formatted into the Prezi.

Prezi Meeting allows users to “follow” each other during the course of editing, meaning that one user can view the actions of another user in real time. Following users is as simple as clicking on user icons, a utility that has obvious benefits for instructors to track progress during a session.

You can watch snippets of their work in the video below.

What did we learn?

As with any new technology, there were a few flaws. The most frequent required editors to reload the page, a byproduct of having multiple users logged into the same session. While Prezi Meeting supports ten simultaneous users, CNDLS staff tested with eight prior to the class and experienced small issues like delays in seeing updates from other users, inconsistencies in formatting, and general growing pains with learning how to use the application. During the class, there were five accounts interacting with the presentation, including the two editors, Professor Stiles, and two accounts we used to record the work of the editors.

After the class, I asked the students a few questions about the experience.

The experience was new to most, and as a result, many had not planned a structure/format for their presentations. Despite this, we witnessed creativity on the fly — many of the character trees were created intuitively and with little debate in how they would be displayed, highlighting one of the best aspects of Prezi: its focus on laying out ideas in relation to one another rather than in a linear fashion. This is truly what allows Prezi’s use to expand beyond simply a presentation tool, and why it makes such an excellent space for laying out ideas, both in individual and collaborative use.

Editors worked in groups to create the PreziThe format of having a minimum number of editors seemed to help the process as well. Many students agreed that it created less confusion, and the application seemed to run with reduced “bugginess” when working with a smaller number. The idea behind having the students create their own Prezis before class time was a good one, as they all had an idea of the limitations and features of the tool.

The main complaint voiced by multiple students was the lack of an erase feature. While there is an “undo” feature, the visually abundant presentations required the manipulation of multiple images, and navigating through those images can be tedious at times.

Despite the occasional inconsistencies, students said they enjoyed the experience and found the tool easy to learn and use. This gentle learning curve combined with the flexibility and collaborative nature of the tool made it an excellent and productive choice. When asked, the students said that they were excited to have been exposed to this novel tool and would definitely make use of it for future projects and presentations, extending its benefits outside of this single course.

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Diane Apostolos-Cappadona Meeting Minutes, 9/9

Diane Apostolos-Cappadona Meeting Minutes, 9/9
Present: Diane, Beth, Ed and Rob

  1. Music in Omeka?
    music not critical.  might have a student that would want to include music of mary.  It is possible in Omeka to include music, but is unusual to have music in the background in a website.  we can incorporate music as items to be in Omeka collections.  Could create an exhibit on music.
  2. Since this project deals with images we have full rights to display, how much about Fair use and creative commons should be covered this Monday?
    Copyright and fair use in a nutshell.  when use copyrighted work need to get permissions or use a reasonable portion.
  3. any other anticipated dig assets (beyond images and possible music) – NO
  4. *is omeka site going to be open to the public?
    Yes.  Since limiting to GU images and following fair use and copyright guidelines.
  5. Roster will be ready at 5pm today and Diane will send to Rob so that he can get the accounts set up in Omeka.
  6. Requests for Omeka support will go through the GNMC Consultation form and Rob will be contacted as needed.
  7. Dublin Core Metadata – minimal is required.

Student Session, September 12

Special Collections 6:30-7:15

Gelardin 7:30-8:15
1) Tour of facilities, policies for reserving space (10)
2) Overview of equipment (10 min)
3) scanning basics, image resolution (10)
4) Fair Use basics with focus on the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Online Video (5 min)
5) how to get more training and schedule time with him (5 min)

Omeka 8:15-9:00

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Pecha Kucha Presentations

Yesterday, Dana and I were talking about the pecha kucha format for presentations, and I thought I would share some links for those of you who might be interested in finding out more. Pecha kucha is a rigorous format that restricts presenters to 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide.  Mark Sample, who assigned his students to create them for a class on graphic novels, found that students’ presentations in this format were more focused and rehearsed than past versions; as he puts it, “the formal constraints paradoxically unleash creativity.”

Jason Jones (Central Connecticut State University) wrote about pecha kucha for ProfHacker.
Mark Sample described his experience with pecha kucha (among other technologies) on his blog, and wrote about an additional rule for student presentations here.

Let us know if you’ve had any experiences with pecha kucha or with other unorthodox student presentation assignments!

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New tool to make videos interactive

i just signed up for a free account to Videobix. the first 1000 mashable readers get pro accounts for 60 days (could be especially useful for TLT folks)!

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Preparing students for a world that isn’t

Great piece from the NYtimes, about the new book, “Now You See It,” by Cathy N. Davidson, co-director of the annual MacArthur Foundation Digital Media and Learning Competitions.

some bits…

“Pundits may be asking if the Internet is bad for our children’s mental development, but the better question is whether the form of learning and knowledge-making we are instilling in our children is useful to their future.” -Davidson

And from the piece, written by Virginia Hefferman:

When we criticize students for making digital videos instead of reading “Gravity’s Rainbow,” or squabbling on instead of watching “The Candidate,” we are blinding ourselves to the world as it is. And then we’re punishing students for our blindness. Those hallowed artifacts — the Thomas Pynchon novel and the Michael Ritchie film — had a place in earlier social environments. While they may one day resurface as relevant, they are now chiefly of interest to cultural historians. But digital video and Web politics are intellectually robust and stimulating, profitable and even pleasurable.

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End of Summer Fun

Camp CNDLS partyCamp CNDLS on Saturday August 27th!

frog & tadpoles

the farm frog (with tadpoles) who rules the koi pond

Please join in the fun with CNDLS as we celebrate summer.

We’ll gather 2ish and spend the afternoon enjoying the pool, the pond, the courts, the ~120 acres of possibilities!

Then we’ll have a potluck cookout perhaps culminating with s’mores at the fire pit. Mmmmm…

RSVP and sign up for a potluck dish and other stuff and then prepare for fun!

Location: 25214 Peach Tree Road Clarksburg Maryland (30 miles from the door of the car barn).

Time: 2ish onward…

Families and friends welcome–it’s a great space for kids and all.  But please leave pets at home so the resident animals can relax too!

Worried about whether you’ll have fun? Want to further assess the situation?  Ask Mindy! She’s had fun on the farm…

mindy with chailey

Mindy and Chailey enjoy the hammock while Clara watches

Tennis anyone? Marie cleans up on the court…

marie on tennis court

Marie enjoys a spot of tennis at the farm








There is a pond and you can fish it but if you want to swim best to stick with the pool…

goose familyKaili at the pool











There’s plenty of space for walking about or if that is too taxing you can lie about…

hay in field














You’ll find something fun to do–just come on out and join us.  See you there!


Fun at previous Camp CNDLS

Fun All Day

Want to pack your day before coming to the farm? Some ideas…

Sugarloaf Mountain–very close to farm and has hiking, top roping, black bears, mountain biking (though this is allowed at odd times so check).

Little Bennett Regional Park–this place is HUGE and if you are smart about your route you won’t have to see anyone while you hike, bike, or ride.  This is where Wims Baseball Field is–the homefield of the first organized African American baseball team in Montgomery County.

ruins of tobacco barn on "tobacco barn trail" in Little Bennett Regional Park

ruins of tobacco barn on "tobacco barn trail" in Little Bennett Regional Park

Sugarloaf Mountain Vineyard–a small but interesting (usually) farmer’s market is here on Saturday’s.  You can hit it after your hike on the mountain and on your way to the farm for Camp CNDLS.

Frederick, Maryland–historic area with a downtown full of little local shops and the amazing farm to table restaurant, Volt (where maybe you can get in for lunch).
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Three articles to help our thinking about maps/mapping/place

as we ramp up our GIS/mapping aspirations, some articles to read…

The map of his dreams
Cuban American makes new map, from…The Washington Post, July 26, 2011 Tuesday, STYLE; Pg. C01, 1548 words, David Montgomery

The cyber-hunt for Genghis Khan: ‘Citizen scientists’ help search for tomb of Genghis Khan via photos of Mongolia

Hand-to-hand combat
new apps for the civil war.  this article is about bull run but there is one for gettysburg.  i wonder if we should take a field trip (or, send joselyn on recon for us)? The Washington Post, July 14, 2011 Thursday, METRO; Pg. B01, 650 words, Michael E. Ruane

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