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Tag: web service

Spotlight Q/A with Barbara Pearson: Redesign of the University Life Café

The University Life Café originated at K-State to support the mental well-being of K-State students. It was launched in February 2009. Eight months after its launch, it went through a redesign based on user needs — to make the contents more accessible and engaging. The layout of the site changed along with the navigational structure. The site was also re-branded for more of a K-State “look-and-feel.”


Original design of UniversityLifeCafe.org


New design of UniversityLifeCafe.org

Question: What is the purpose of the University Life Cafe? For students and for faculty/staff?

Barbara Pearson: The University Life Café is a Web 2.0-based site created by and for K-State students to promote emotional wellness, and academic success leading to increased academic retention. Primary goals of the website are raising awareness of personal well-being as a factor of academic success and de-stigmatizing help-seeking.

UniversityLifeCafe.org is a K-State virtual community where all students can connect and contribute by posting photos, pictures, artwork, articles, and information, and interacting with peers and K-State Counseling Services professionals through the online discussion board.

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Smart.fm, a cool learning tool

Smart.fm is a neat, free learning website from Tokyo. It was created as a learning platform that adapts to each learner’s style. One of the cool features about Smart.fm is the ability for individuals to create their own learning modules to share with folks.

Smart.fm currently hosts modules ranging from language learning to animal identification. For those who prefer to do their learning on the go, a free iPhone and iPod Touch application is available. All you need is a network connection, cellular or WiFi, and you should be good to go. Visit www.smart.fm and learn something new today.

Building course packs with help from online companies

Some online companies support the building of course packs of readings for students without faculty members having to do the legwork of pursuing intellectual property (copyright) releases themselves.

One such is University Readers, which offers an online library of readings that instructors may choose from. The staff will also help faculty who have their own preferred lists of contents by pursuing the copyright releases and then packaging the copyright-release costs into the costs of the course packs. University Readers may be accessed at www.universityreaders.com. University Readers also creates digital packs and text books.


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ZAP Reader, a web-based speed-reading tool

ZAP Reader (www.zapreader.com) is a web-based “speed-reading program that can change the way you read on your computer,” says the website. “Current beta testers report reading twice as much in half the time — that’s a 300 percent increase in reading speed, without any loss in comprehension! There is nothing to install, it works with most popular browsers, and it’s totally free.”

Watch the quick, two-minute Zap Reader Tutorial on YouTube for how to use ZAP Reader.

Acronym Finder, a web-based reference tool

Some sites offer value not in sophisticated technologies but in how people come together to share knowledge. One of those sites offers fast references to acronyms. Acronym Finder may be accessed at www.acronymfinder.com.

Acronym Finder website

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Education resources: Chatzy (free, private chat area) and free e-book

Screen shot 2009-10-19 at 8.12.23 AM Chatzy ( www.chatzy.com) is a neat little website that I tried out in my summer class. According to the website, Chatzy provides a fast way to start your own private chat area. You can name your chat area, choose your privacy settings (even password-protect it), and then invite friends and family to start chatting. Instead of sending out invitations, you could just post the link to your chat area in K-State Online.

1. Applications for education

According to the Oct. 16, 2009, Chatzy article at www.freetech4teachers.com, “Chatzy is a nice alternative to Tiny Chat because you can restrict access to it. Chatzy could be used to hold an after-school tutorial session, host a discussion about a book or article, or use it as a back-channel during a class lecture.”

If students were all contributing information to the Chatzy area during class, there would be a very robust set of notes for each class lecture.

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Beyond Google: Other options for searching the Web

At a recent teaching and learning conference, the audience was asked to identify the first search tool they use when looking for information on the Web. Overwhelmingly, the audience listed Google…and was further challenged to consider other search options, including the following:

bingBing is the recently unveiled Microsoft search engine. Check out the map features that might show a crystal-clear picture of your home or your vacation spot. The video-search tool allows you to mouse over a video and view a short excerpt before viewing the entire video.

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Social bookmarking with Diigo

tagcloudSocial bookmarking is the process of users storing and organizing webpages and web content in an open and public fashion. The end result of this is something called a folksonomy. Where a taxonomy is a strict categorization of the formal structure of a given thing, a folksonomy is a categorization and organization of the structure of a given entity by the common people (“folks”) who choose to help organize the information.

This organizational schema is created by individual users “tagging” bookmarks with keywords that the user think can be attributed to the content (and is usually expressed using a “tag cloud” — see image above). Different from the concepts of folders, tagging allows any individual piece of information to be attributed with a countless number of keywords or “tags”.

More than a subtle shift, the development of social bookmarking — which helped reconceptualize organizing information through the use of tags instead of folders and resulted in the creation of a human-powered folksonomy — is one of the foundational elements to the current dynamic and ultra-networked Web (2.0).

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Customize your RSS feeds with Yahoo Pipes

yahoo-pipesHave you ever had a bunch of RSS feeds that were very similar and that you wished were just one aggregate feed? For instance, many sites publish a number of feeds for different parts of their content, and it would often be more useful to have all that content in one feed so you don’t have to check multiple sources for the content.

Or, have you ever had a bunch of feeds that share a certain topic and that you’d rather be in one feed rather than separated?

Yahoo Pipes offers a simple way to aggregate feeds. Yahoo Pipes is a service that has a wide range of applications and can be used for some fairly complex tasks. For this example, we will use it to easily perform three tasks:

  1. Retrieve a number of RSS feeds
  2. Aggregate and sort the feeds
  3. Republish the feeds as a single RSS feed

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Share large files via YouSendIt.com website

Ever have to handle 100-megabyte files? YouSendIt.com provides a free service that helps people exchange files up to 100MB in size. These may be photo collections, videos, e-learning modules, or other large-size files. To access the free part of the service, go to www.yousendit.com. Continue reading “Share large files via YouSendIt.com website”