Other Technology Tools

While Webcourses delivers a powerful package of tools all by itself to use in an online course, you may wish to explore still other technologies for content delivery, assimilation, and application. Many students use these emerging technologies themselves and may be more comfortable in the "Web 2.0" environment than in Webcourses proper.

PowerPoint as Video

Instructors can make videos of their PowerPoint presentations, including their own voiceover, and then deliver them to students via Webcourses or another website. In addition to PowerPoint, you'll need to download free software called AuthorPoint Lite. Our tutorial explains the process.

Wikis

From the Hawaiian word for 'quick', Wikis may be summarized as a webpage that any user can update without logging in or needing special server access. If they can browse or surf to the page, then they can update it. The most famous example of a wiki is Wikipedia.org, the online encyclopedia created and updated by users. Our tutorial explains ideas and suggested sites for creating wikis.

Blogs

Blogs (short for 'weblogs') are often used by individuals as a kind of public diary or for commentary on current events. Many are politically oriented for this reason. Often written with short articles of a single paragraph or half a page, blogs are usually updated frequently, sometimes even several times per day. Viewers of blogs can surf in the usual fashion to that webpage, but many receive the blog update in a 'subscription' format, called RSS. Our tutorial explains the process and lists suggested sites, including Twitter, a micro-blogging site.

Podcasts

"Podcasting" refers to publishing a sound file on the Internet for streaming (broadcasting) or download. The term is a misnomer in that it does not refer specifically to iPods, nor does a user even require a handheld mp3 player to hear the file; these mp3 files can be heard directly on the computer when double-clicked. From the instructor point of view, podcasting could be considered simply making audio files available for download in the highly-compressed mp3 file format. Podcasting is often used as an ancillary to content-based courses but may also be employed to great effect to replace handwritten comments on student essays. Our tutorial offers suggestions for how to get started.

Social Networks and Social Bookmarking

Sites such as Facebook and MySpace are called social networks, since they exist primarily for people to find other people and provide easy tools for interacting with each other. Related sites include ones that harness the power of crowds for assigning bookmarks to interesting/important content around the web, and these "social bookmarking" sites like digg.com and del.icio.us offer unique ways to find information on the Internet. In essence, the content of the Internet is organizing itself rather than depending upon an outside agency to organize and categorize it.

Screen Capture Video

Programs such as Captivate and Camtasia allow users to make video files of the action on the screen, including movements of the mouse, combined with the instructor's voiceover. This kind of video can be ideal for capturing the process when using software applications, or for performing tasks in programs like MS-Excel or databases. For distance students, this may be the only way to see how a process is meant to be performed. These programs are not available for free, but they can be used free of cost at a studio in the Faculty Center.

YouTube

This popular site for posting, hosting, and viewing online videos has grown so large that most academic disciplines are likely to find relevant material after only a quick search. Instructors of online courses may wish to seek out several such videos in advance, and provide links to those videos for their online students. A similar site with videos only about teaching can be found at www.teachertube.com, though selection is more limited.

iTunesU

UCF has partnered with iTunes to host a private section of iTunes that only UCF students can reach. Faculty can upload mp3 files or video files to iTunes, and students can use the interface, which is familiar to many of them, to download the electronic content for consuming on their own. If interested in pursuing iTunesU for your classes, contact the Faculty Center or Center for Distributed Learning for more information.

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