Solutions

A representation of interesting applications of technology and educational approaches rooted in real-world examples of classroom practice.

Putting it All Together: Medical School Course Integrates Pedagogical Techniques

Professors Rachel Gordon and Stephen Canfield worked with educational technologists at CCNMTL to adopt a number of new pedagogical approaches for their Body, Health, and Disease course.

MIT's NB Is Collaborative Reading Done Right

NB, an online annotation tool developed at MIT, has many of the same attributes as other annotation tools. However, NB excels at how it integrates these otherwise common features.

Keeping Alive A Digital Repository of Medieval Letters

One of CCNMTL’s longest running projects, an online collection of letters from the Middle Ages, just turned fourteen. Keeping a digital project alive and well that long is not as simple as it may seem.

Flipping the Biochemistry Classroom: Making Room for Real-World Problem Solving

Columbia University Professor Brent Stockwell came to the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL) in the summer of 2013, wanting to talk about his biochemistry course, and what could be done to improve it. His undergraduate course,...

Beyond the Lab Coat: Crafting a Visual Identity for a Public Health Initiative

In crafting a visual identity for The New York City, Long Island, and Lower Tri-County Public Health Training Center (recently described in CCNMTL News), our goal was to design something that could quickly telegraph its mission—to help hard-working public health...

Coggle in the Classroom: Clean, Easy Concept Mapping

We've used many concept mapping tools like VUE and Mindmeister in the past, but we recently discovered Coggle and were able to recommend it to TC Professor Patricia Martinez-Alvarez for a systemic network exercise in her course Language and Science....

Building a Wiki Template for Reoccurring Classes

A wiki is a flexible tool for creating and organizing online information that reflects teaching goals, classroom topics, and student learning. CCNMTL offers each Columbia course a wiki environment through the Wikispaces service. Many instructors use Wikispaces as a replacement...

Sharing a Screen Simplifies Support

Over the years CCNMTL staff have assisted many instructors using course websites and tools. One of the most effective ways to help faculty members has been to sit down with individuals at a computer in our Faculty Support Lab (in...

Increase the Upload Limit on Your YouTube Channel

YouTube is arguably the easiest platform for sharing video online. But for some time, YouTube has limited the length of video that is allowed on its site to fifteen minutes or less. This restriction is partly in place to deter...

In-Page Audio for Sakai

Columbia University Anthropology professor John Pemberton uses New CourseWorks/Sakai to house hundreds of audio files in his course Listening: An Ethnography of Sound. These files, usually MP3 audio tracks, are stored in folders within the Files & Resources section of...

CourseWorks: Out with the Old, In with the New

At CCNMTL, we get a lot of questions from faculty who want to know about the differences they will see when their courses move from CourseWorks to New CourseWorks. Many instructors have already made the switch from the older system...

Use "Contributor" Role for Gated Publishing Workflow (EdBlogs)

Columbia's EdBlogs system turns the blogging concept on its head (or at least on its side). Rather than one author with many commenters, EdBlogs sites are normally set up with each student in the role of "author." This allows any...

New iTunes U App and Course Manager Released

Last week, Apple announced a major redesign of iTunes U with the launch of two new products. The first product is a dedicated iOS app, iTunes U, that provides access to the existing iTunes U content and to new content...

Preventing Simultaneous Editing Conflicts in Wikispaces

One problem students might encounter when working in Wikispaces sites is overwriting each others' work with editing simultaneously. This is most likely to happen on a page where many students are expected to contribute before a specific deadline. A simply...

Simplifying Office Hours Scheduling

It's a fact of life that faculty need to arrange meeting times with students outside of class, which can be a real challenge. Following are four solutions that we've used with faculty over the years to help schedule office hours...

Piazza for Class-based Question and Answer

Frontiers of Science (the core science course at Columbia) is now using Piazza as a way to post questions and quickly get student- and faculty-provided answers. At the heart of the system is a question and answer interface with three...

Swiffy Converts SWF to HTML5

Swiffy is a Google-labs produced utility that converts SWF (Shockwave Flash) files to HTML5. HTML5 will run on many mobile devices (that won't run flash at all) and in current browsers without plugins. A tool like Swiffy can be particularly...

Google Forms as Clicker Alternative

We've written about Audience Response Systems (a.k.a. "Clickers") from time to time, but this novel use of Google Docs as a Clicker Alternative got us thinking about it again. Follow this example to get started with a Google-forms-based Clicker solution:...

Wikispaces Adds Inline Comments

Columbia's Wikispaces and Wikischolars wikis now have a new annotation feature called "comments." This new feature is the equivalent of using a Post-it note on a page. It allows for inline, contextual feedback within a page without changing the content...

More Help for Assessing Student Work in EdBlogs

Assessing student work in a course blog can be challenging for instructors, especially for large classes. Earlier, we posted an article about a feature we added to Edblogs called the "participant's page." This open-source WordPress plug-in creates a page for...

QGIS: A Free, Open-Source GIS Tool

There are many graphic information system software packages on the market. Quantum GIS (QGIS) is a free, open source option which can run on multiple operating systems and has many of the same features as "enterprise" solutions that can cost...

Screencasts for Student Training

Marcus Lam, Adjunct Lecturer at the School of Social Work, wanted his students to learn how to use Quantum GIS to analyze data in his "Community Development and Practice" course, SOCWT7124. He used Screenflow, a Mac-only screencasting tool, to develop...

Using Google Docs to OCR Scanned Text

Files of many types can be uploaded to Google Docs for storage in the cloud. Some files can be converted to corresponding Google Doc formats upon upload. For example, a PowerPoint file can be converted to a Google Docs presentation...

Student, Heal Thyself with Turnitin

Traditionally, tools like Turnitin have been used to sniff out plagiarism and provide faculty and administrators with evidence for disciplinary action against students. However, Turnitin can also be used in a more benign fashion as a writing guide for students...

Turn Your iPhone Into a Simple PA System

There are times when being able to amplify your voice is beneficial in a classroom or in a video conference scenario. An iPhone app that uses the phone built-in mic and creates a pass-through to the phone output may do...

Library Databases Search Widgets - Bringing Search to Your Students

A few weeks ago we wrote a short article about how to embed widgets into your course web site. A particularly useful category of embeddable widgets is "library database search tools". Example: Pre-Defined, Single Service Search Many of Columbia's database...

Embedding Widgets in Columbia's Learning Management Systems

Many Web services offer "widgets" (a.k.a. tools that allow the service to be used in other sites). Examples of embeddable Web services abound. They include: weather updates stock tickers news updates via RSS feeds video chat windows search widgets maps...

Lynda.com Columbia Subscription Enabled on IPhones

Back in July 2009, we wrote about the Columbia subscription for lynda.com. Many in the Columbia community have taken advantage of their excellent video tutorials. Unfortunately, these were not accessible from the iPhone app using the Columbia subscription till now....

Evaluating Student Work in WikiSpaces - Redux

We recently wrote an article about evaluating student work in a wiki environment, in which we noted some of the challenges that wikis can pose because of their inherent weak structures and hierarchies. Apply Some Structure: You Needn't Use Tags...

Evaluating Student Work in a Blog

The Chronicle of Higher Education's ProfHacker column released an article about rubrics for evaluating student blogs. It's important to be clear with students about how their work will be evaluated, especially if that evaluation happens in a "public" forum (even...

Lecture Capture on a Budget

We have written before about the benefits of lecture capture, but most classrooms on Columbia's campus do not have built in hardware to record and publish lectures. At the same time, the cost of hand-held video recorders and flash memory...

FeedWordPress: The Syndicated Course EdBlog

Concept Behind the Syndicated Course Blog Many faculty have blogs in which they write about their scholarship, research, or teaching. These personal/professional blogs might be hosted at a number of third-party services (e.g. CUIT Blogs, Pressible, WordPress.com, or Blogger.com to...

Using Phones Smarter: As Mobile Lab

The past few months many of us at CCNMTL have been thinking a lot about the educational possibilities around mobile computing. Some of our Triangle Initiative projects and Earth Institute-related development efforts have leveraged mobile technologies for social impact. Mobileactive...

Delivering Video For Self-Analysis: An Update

Instructors have been using video recordings to assign self-evaluation exercises for many years. Video recordings of performances, clinical interventions, role-playing exercises, and presentations offer useful material for analysis and self-critique. To carry out these assignments on the web, videos must...

Drawing Tool Added to Google Apps

Google Docs now includes a web-based drawing tool, which is perfect for collaboratively authoring diagrams, concept maps, and flow charts. Of course, the Google Docs drawing tool is also excellent for solo work. Collaborating on visualizations is typically impractical because...

Videoconferencing Classroom Scenarios

Using video to have a live conversation with a distant party once required expensive, dedicated videoconferencing equipment. While such systems continue to offer the highest-quality video and audio available, recent developments have brought videoconferencing to the masses. Today, just about...

Collect Locations Using Google Doc Map Widget

Back in June 2009 we mentioned that you could use Google Docs' spreadsheets to collect data via a Web form. This can be taken one step further. Namely, the form/spreadsheet can be used as a mechanism to directly collect and...

Create YouTube Clips Using MPEG Streamclip

[Editor's note, May 17, 2010: MPEG Streamclip is once again working for YouTube media with updated version.] [Editor's note, April 5, 2010: YouTube disabled downloading in a recent change to their system.] Many instructors use streaming videos from YouTube to...

Tagging Sakai Assets

The Sakai course management system handles files, resources, and links really well, but the system does not support tagging. So, if you do want to sort or sift your files on numerous axes, you have to use a tool outside...

Wikispaces.com Adds New Theme Tools

For faculty who like Wikispaces, but prefer a more "dashing" color palate and layout, wikispaces.com has just added new tools to the service that facilitate simple theme and color-scheme customizations. If you would like to give it a try in...

How To Set Up an Academic Guest UNI for CourseWorks

Many instructors invite guest lecturers or students to participate in their courses. In most cases, this is a straightforward affair: the faculty member simply accesses the course management system's control panel and adds the guest's UNI (Columbia University Network ID)...

Using New CourseWorks Features

There are a few important changes to CourseWorks (Columbia's current learning management system) and Sakai (the system that is slated to replace CourseWorks in the future) for the spring 2010 that help streamline the use of both systems. CourseWorks has...

A Look at YouTube's Automatic Captioning Features

The Columbia on YouTube EDU channel was selected as one of a limited set of partner channels to feature YouTube's new automatic captioning services. See our news posting announcing this release. These new features are Automatic Captions & Automatic Timing....

DIY eBooks

More and more people are carrying portable media players or smartphones with them wherever they go. Two-thirds of all undergraduates own (or plan to own within the next twelve months) a Web-enabled device (according to this ECAR report). If you...

Dropbox: Simple Cloud Storage

Dropbox is quickly becoming a "must have" online storage service. In a few minutes, you can set up a Dropbox account and start synchronizing files among multiple computers and mobile devices. Offering a free 2GB of storage, Dropbox is an...

Embedding iTunes U Media

Note: In principle, most of this still works, but with the new versions of iTunes U, it is hard to obtain the actual ID of a particular track. The example at the end has been updated to work, but the...

Create URL Examples with Example.com

When needing to create a sample web link or URL for any kind of documentation use the set of domain names have been reserved for documentation purposes by the Internet Engineering Task Force. These are example.com, example.net, and example.org. These...

Meta-Lib Offers Custom Multi-Database Searches

The Columbia Libraries' research and subject guides generally list a number of pertinent databases. Searching across these disparate databases (a federated search) is now possible using a tool called MetaLib. When MetaLib receives a search request, it will provide a...

Cloning Your Columbia Email

Back in February, the entry Cloning Your Gmail Address explained how to use a little-known Gmail feature that allows for multiple forms of your email address by using the syntax: username+keyword@gmail.com. Well, it turns out that you can do the...

SimplyMap Marries Maps and Data

SimplyMap is an online mapping application that allows users to view and interact with complex demographic, business, and marketing data. Census and other data can be overlaid onto a map of the United States, thus enabling the user to craft...

Using Visual Understanding Environment (VUE) as a Concept Mapping Tool

A concept map is a way of visualizing and graphically representing relationships between ideas, images, and words. It is an umbrella term that encompasses many diagramming approaches also known as knowledge maps, systems maps, or mind maps. In general,...

EmbedIt.in: Document Viewer for Web Pages

The web service EmbedIt.in from Increo allows you to embed files or URLs into any existing web page. The service is simple, free and entirely web-hosted. Embedit.in supports most common file types: * Documents: doc, docx, xls, xlsx, ppt, pptx,...

Readability: Making Web Pages Easier to Read

The folks at Arc90 have released a fabulous bookmarklet for those that do a lot of on-screen reading. It is perfect for those that typically use a web page's print version not to print but to remove the clutter that...

Cloning Your Gmail Address

A little known Gmail feature can be used to organize your incoming email. For example, this trick can be used to track emails from students in different courses by providing a different email contact for each course. When you obtain...

Setting Google Scholar to Columbia

A feature of Google Scholar is its Library Links Program which allows each participating library to include a link for its patrons facilitating access to its resources. Columbia is a participating member. These special links, appearing in the search results,...

Clickers in the Chemistry Classroom

This fall, General Chemistry students experienced a new method for participating during their lectures. The Chemistry Department, led by Professors Nick Turro and Ged Parkin, extended their use of an audience response system (ARS), also known as "clickers," that began...

Drop.io: Sharing Files Privately

A new free service from Drop.io offers a private space (called a drop) to share files privately. There are no accounts, email addresses or registrations necessary to create a drop. Each drop has a URL, such as this sample created...

Google Chart API Front-End

The Google Chart API has been discussed before in this site. The map "chart" is an interesting feature, but it is very challenging to format correctly. This solution provides a simple, javascript-based front end that will build a customized world-...

HTML Generator for Embedding Media

Different video and audio players can be embedded into HTML pages, but each has its intricacies. The Center for Instructional Technology at University of California at San Francisco has put together this helpful web form, to generate the requisite HTML...

Using Google Docs (Spreadsheets) to Collect Data

Google Docs are a great way to share and edit online text or datasets. There is a new feature that allows spreadsheets to be filled out using a form. You start by creating a spreadsheet; then click on the "share"...

Blogging Services for Educators

There are many free blogging services on the web. Below is a short list of some of the more popular services that can serve instructors and students well. Blogger.com: Blogger is owned by Google, so if you have a Gmail...

The Google Chart API

The Google Chart API lets you dynamically generate charts for inclusion into any Web page. The chart below is created by taking the number of entries in each of the three main categories from the EnhancED site on the date...

Using Social Bookmarking Tools to Create Research Guides

Compiling and publishing research guides can be an onerous task, but can be simplified by using social bookmarking tools such as del.icio.us.

Barix InStreamer Helps Simplifying Lecture Recordings

As demand from CUMC students grew for recording course lectures, it was clear that the handheld recorders being used were not going to handle the increased load. After some research, two classrooms at CUMC where outfitted with Barix InStreamer devices....

Podcasting Basics

What is podcasting? Podcasting is a form of media delivery in which audio files are published to the Internet for users to download to their personal computers or portable media players. When new files are added to the podcast, users...

Understanding Podcasting Icons

Problem: You want to subscribe to a podcast, but you are unsure of which of the subscription icons you should choose. Here is a rundown of the typical icons used by most podcasters. Podcast RSS The RSS icon designates an...

AAC Versus MP3 for Podcasts

Podcasters have to decide which audio encoding format to use for their podcast. There are two main options, MP3 or AAC. At CCNMTL, we have chosen the AAC format. There is much debate on the merits of each format --...

Social Software: A CCNMTL Case Study

[Ed. Note: Originally part of Musings blog, a precursor to EnhancED.] A review of social software with examples of their use at the Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning and how they affect the culture of the department...