Microsoft Mix for Students

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The recent post regarding Microsoft Mix (and subsequent posting of it on my work intranet D.A.V.E) ended up with me discussing with a colleague the great advantages of rapid development (or should that be rapid redevelopment) using MS Mix and inevitably the flipped classroom scenario of “present away” & “apply with us” and the conversation found itself flipping not only our established methods of delivery and the industries need to gear up in response to the FELTAG report but then so do our own learners. Inevitably we cannot expect our learners to remain in a perpetual state with all the technical revolution around them.

So how about that next presentation captured as a MS Mix recorded in studios, bedrooms and classrooms. Okay so studios might be a bit of a stretch (a quite space), bedrooms might need to be cleaned up (a plus as far as Mum and Dads are concerned) and the classrooms might be difficult to record within in their current setup so might our classroom spaces see an overhaul in the near future (funds permitted), well tomorrow I am off to the Microsoft Showcase Classrooms in London with which I will have this post in mind!

 

Update [26/04/2015]: found a YouTube video here – https://youtu.be/1YeCc6QqHDY 

 

Andy

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Microsoft Mix (for PowerPoint)

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At last “Microsoft Producer” is reborn! A long loved add-on that was dropped some year ago (last developed for PowerPoint 2010) that was dropped all-so-quietly about 3 years ago, not that it was marketed all that loud! What Producer allowed you to do was to either record alongside a PowerPoint presentation, or upload a pre-recorded video, and it would synchronise the timings of the video with the presentation. Meaning that it would play the necessary video portion relation to, say, slide 2. It would then pause, and continue only as you progressed to the next slide. It also allowed a small range of “templates”. I missed this and thought that it was great free plugin that wo0uld benefit so many resources, especially in light of FELTAG and online learning, certainly it would have reduced the complaints of re-inventing the wheel!

But oh so quietly (have you heard of it?) they have re-imagined it. Gone are the templates (not such a bad thing given how dated they did look) but the functionality that it offers in return are great:

  • Recording of video (and closed captioning!!!!! [ see here ])
  • Video controls for play and pause
  • In-built volume control
  • HD video
  • Audio (you don’t have to have video!)
  • Annotation
    • line thickness
    • line colour
    • entire annotation delete [restart?]
  • Screen capture – selectable area
    • desktop video
    • desktop screen capture
  • Interactivity through apps
    • open question
    • multiple choice
    • poll
    • true/false
  • Insert pre-existing video/audio
  • Export
    • Video (no interactivity)
    • SCORM package for
    • Upload to MS MIX Server

Now although this seems great there are a few wrinkles…

  1. You cannot wipe out individual annotations (although you can manually wipe them out if you have a plain background to your slide in one of the annotation colours!)
  2. You cannot have a video on the same slide as an interactive quiz or a screen captured video
  3. SCORM is not fully functioning, certainly it is not working with Moodle, although MS are now working with Moodle on a Plugin! [ see here ]
  4. It does not seem to like it when you try to annotate using just audio & inking or just inking – seems unstable. Fine when using video throughout
  5. The inking lends itself more to touchscreen than mouse

Now when I say fully functioning as a SCORM if your not using the interactive quiz functions its fine as you can just upload as a presentation anyway. But if you are then you are going to want to upload to the MS MIX server… as you get analytics! oh and a discussion board, oh you can also open to the public and class a distributable and editable under creative commons!

So want to see my first effort? be kind! [ find it here ]

So you want it for yourself? [ go here ] or if you work for the same organisation as I do (if your reading this on DAVE then you do) then you can find it from the….. (it is easier than it looks)

  • START BUTTON > ALL PROGRAMS > MICROSOFT SYSTEM CENTRE 2012 R2 > CONFIGURATION MANAGER > SOFTWARE CENTER.
  • Select “find additional applications from the applications catalog”, located top right under the search bar
  • Select “learning technologies” from the webpage on the right-hand-side
  • Select “office mix” from the list
  • select Install at the bottom on the right

Are you brave enough to let me see you first attempt?

An upcoming post is likely on “things I have learnt when videoing myself” including “holiday stubble!” 🙂

Andy

 

Fill-able PDF

 

Recently I wanted to convert a simple questionnaire into an fill-able PDF. The benfeit of this is that the questionaire or form will remain intact and not suffer from element shift and will also restrict what goes into the document (as well as the ability to protect it some-what). Well adobe pro is costly and most solutions online will either cost you a small amount or will watermark the final document in someway. Well did you know that you can use open office to create an editable PDF? so its free, it works and no watermarks 🙂 Find Open Office Here.

I found the following YouTube videos to be really useful:

  1. Create a Fillable PDF Document – #1 Tutorial – Description, getting started and text boxes
  2. Create a Fillable PDF Document – #2 Tutorial – Check Boxes and Option Buttons
  3. Create a Fillable PDF Document – #3 Tutorial – Line up check boxes and other items

Andy

Macrium Reflect Imaging Software

Many moons ago I used to clean my desktop every other year over the summer, get rid of those junk files. Ensure that everything was running smoothly, and also because I am a nerd! I had the process down to about two hours pretty much and used Norton Ghost. Now I haven’t needed to do anything to my current machine which is some 6 years old, a quad core windows 7 3Ghz, since I bought it. But I have recently run into trouble – it wont play ball with anything beyond “DOT NET V3.5” now up till now this has not been a problem until the last few months where my new printer (a shiny Canon Pixma IP7250) software required it, not a problem – I just could not use the additional “My Image Garden” software (I am always wary of rubbish sounding software anyway)  it came with. But I really wanted to try out some new presentation/productivity software that could really make my life easier, if it was anything as I expected, and yes it required greater than v3.5.

As I was going to end up with a nice clean version of windows 7, and if the rumors are to be believed, and a forthcoming free version of windows 10 then now was the opportunity to ghost/backup my main drive. My copy of Norton Ghost was way outdated and certainly it does not offer a recent alternative so I hunted for the possibility of a free alternative. I found one! Macrium Reflect – find it here … http://www.macrium.com/reflectfree.aspx

I don’t have much more to say other than it was free, easy to install and certainly was not a complicated process – identify partitions, locate a save locations and bingo! hopefully there will not be a follow up post anytime soon, but I am pleased to report I am not using Dot Net v4.5

 

Andy

Chrome Remote Desktop

Now this is a great app, it’s free, allowing access to your PC from others or remotely.  Install the app into chrome and your good to go! Your PC has a passcode set that you will need when accessing remotely.

The key thing for me is that I run my main PC at home as a server for all my files and on a number of occasions I need to either start a service or reboot and I can do this from my iPhone tablet easily. Although you loose connection during the reboot you regain once rebooted – unlike other systems you do not need to be logged onto your profile for the app to work.

I have even accessed my pc, attached a file to an email, and sent it email to myself at work!

Quick video here on YouTube

 

Andy

Storage Solutions

No this is not a post about the famous Swedish home furnishing store (however nice the meatballs are) but about a question posed regarding digital resource storage solutions available today. Formats have not necessarily expanded but have become readable by more than their proprietary systems, such as open office reading MS office docs. Some have been superseded for newer and wider adopted standards (the beloved Xvid & DivX seems to have made way for MP4). YouTube has now adopted HTML 5 as its main playback format over the long established Flash format.

It wasn’t so long ago that you choices were limited to local hard-drive, network drive (server), USB memory sticks or websites themselves. Those options have exploded in recent years and I started to reel of a list of options and soon found the list growing out of all-proportions. As a matter of documenting please see below (and it is not exhaustive):

  • Local Hard-drive
  • External drives (traditional drives 2.5″ or 3.5″”)
  • Memory Sticks – reaching capacities as great as 256GB
  • Solid state memory as in phone memory (i.e. iPhone)
  • Classic server/network drives
  • VLE or CMS (Virtual Learning Environments, Content management Systems)
  • ePortfolios (Mahara)
  • Cloud Services – dropbox, box, pogoplug, icloud
  • Temporary cloud services such as filedropper
  • Websites, both traditional and newer user content driven (web 2.0) that move beyond the forums. Such as this blog!
  • Web services e.g. Poll Everywhere, Socrative, Popplet, Padlet
  • Apps (built in info)
  • Social Networking (these can hold images, website addresses) Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, delicious

A number of these crossover more than one category. have I missed a category? any of your resources stored that do not fit in the above list?

 

Andy

Alternatives to iTunes Podcasting Directory

Recently I looked to expand beyond iTunes to potential expand my podcasts audience. Surprisingly there are few alternatives to iTunes for podcasting subscriptions and compared to iTunes traffic it if often reported as less than 5% and it certainly is muddy waters.

  • WindowsPhone 7/8 (Formally Zune Marketplace) – A growing market that can only grow on the success of Windows based phones. Certainly going through some changes currently at time of post.
  • Stitcher – a popular directory but one that streams the podcasts, potentially using up the user bandwidth when not on free wifi connectivity (there exists some commentary of them using advertising to pay for the service – potentially coming into conflict with an advertising within the podcasts themselves?)
  • TuneIn Radio – another streaming option but one that is more widely spread to the tablet users
  • The Podcast Source – LybSyns directory/app for Windows 8 and Windows phone 8 (already on this one! as I am hosted upon LybSyn)  – app here
  • Miro – open source and growing, allowing for downloads and one that allows Android users an iTunesesque [sic] experience.
  • Blackberry Podcasts – now defunct

Online Directories

  • directory.libsyn.com – LybSyns own web based directory (already on this one!)
  • Podcastdirectory.com – a web based searchable directory (also in this field is
  • podcast411.com – rough around the edges but well though of! at time of the post it was being overrun by spammers and search/submit options suspended!

There are other systems that pull from other directories such as Overcast: podcast player  (for iOS) that pulls from iTunes. But for me I think that Miro  is the one that is worthy of interest particulaly as it will open up the android market for the podcast (and even windows platforms) followed by the podcastdirectory.com

 

Update:

  • Windows – looks like you have to go through BING and add an XML feed to your podcasts – did not pursue this one!
  • Miro – You will not be able to access the ‘Submit Show’ option from the sub-navigation bar (from your username on the right hand side in chrome) show is now submitted
  • Stitcher takes you through an approval process. It took a few day, required a link to stitcher on the website before approval.
  • Tunein approval took a full week

 

Andy

Volume OSD – 3RVX

My keyboard has died, and my spare does not like the fact that my current desktop, for some obstinate reason, will not install any dot net framework from Microsoft since v4.0 despite my best efforts. This has resulted in the lose of my volume OSD (On-Screen-Display), and do I miss it!

It did not even cross my mind to look for an alternative for a few week, however much I missed the OSD to my annoyance. Then I stumble on 3RVX, from Matthew Malensek, a highly customisable solution. Happiness restored.

If you have never had a volume OSD you must try this (I am running v2.5 whilst v3 is in final development), you’ll wonder why you have been checking the system tray all this time!
http://matthew.malensek.net/projects/3RVX/ 

Andy

Podcasting Software

Podcast

Software for my desktop PC is already sorted with the trusty Audacity and I have my Logitech Pro 9000 to currently suffice.

I have nailed down four IOS apps (having downloaded and played with a whole host of apps that have been disregarded due to anything from lack of features, buggy, restrictions. The following apps are worthy of use in order of preference:

  1. Garage Band: fully featured perfect if a bit of a learning curve. Good price especially the go you have it free as part of a recent IOS device purchase
  2. Opinion: simple interface minimal learning curve. Fun. recording, splitting, rearranging and audio import. Free version is limited to 10 minutes. £2.99 lifts this limitation. This app has just been updated to allow exporting to a wide range of other apps such as Dropbox and VLC player. I instantly purchased the ability to record longer than 20 minutes as I’m not limited by having to email and keep with 25meg.
  3. Rode Rec LE: great for simple recordings and records digital input. No frill. No editing. Use if you going to edit elsewhere such as on the PC. Great ability to download file by using browser window.
  4.  Wavepad Sound Editor (Special mention): this at first look like it is really flexible. However the app is buggy in parts. One to keep an eye on.

For what editing I might do in the move or away from my main PC I am going to use Garage Band. Things to bear in mind when creating a new file is to click the + in the top right and corner, select section A and select automatic. when returned to the main screen deselect the metronome, you are now ready to record your audio. I do like the fact you can add files to the app in iTunes, this is where I have kept my into and outro clips.

On completion of editing the final file can be sent via email or sent to Dropbox or iCloud. I choose to send mine to VLC player for final review and access the file through iTunes to move onto my desktop.

Andy

Anti-Virus on the Surface RT

A colleague asked a question as to ether they needed to install anti-virus upon their surface RT:

Windows 8 includes Windows Defender, a replacement for Microsoft Security Essentials, as the stock anti-virus on the Surface RT. As the Surface RT also utilises and RT version of windows, effectively only allowing “signed” applications to be installed (of which there are very few and these are all official such as office 2013), the chances of you becoming infected are extremely rare.

Besides unless it was an anti-virus App you would not be able to install it anyway due to the Windows RT restrictions!

Andy