Tuesday, May 3, 2016

AirServer by Alfred Hart and Mark Valenti

The proliferation of apps available for iOS devices such as iPads and iPhones puts a treasure trove of tools into the hands of instructors and students. Previously, sharing that information on the big screen with the entire class has been a struggle requiring being tethered via cables to the lectern.

ITS is piloting a new solution in the classroom utilizing AirServer.  AirServer will beam your iOS device wirelessly with full mirroring to the installed PC or Mac in the classroom, which is already connected to the in room projector, SMARTboard, or HDTV.  It is as simple as launching AirServer on the computer, scanning the displayed QR code with your free AirServer application, and accepting the connection on the computer and because AirServer supports multiple simultaneous connections, you can allow students to connect to share ideas and collaborate. 

Checkout all of the AirServer features on their website http://www.airserver.com/.  If interested, please email ITS_ClassroomDE@uwlax.edu so we may setup and test in your classroom. 

Submitted by Alfred Hart and Mark Valenti,

Information Technology Services

SoundCloud By Brian Udermann

A few years ago I was looking for a relatively easy way to create announcements for a course I was teaching. I wanted the announcements to be audio based only and a colleague suggested I use SoundCloud – I’ve been using it every since!

SoundCloud is an audio distribution platform that was initially created to allow musicians to share recordings with each other. In order to use SoundCloud you need to create an account, which allows registered users to listen to unlimited content and upload 180 minutes of audio. There are pro ($63 a year) and pro unlimited ($135 a year) versions available as well with additional functionality. I use the free version. I use SoundCloud to create podcasts when I want to create audio announcements for courses I am teaching or workshops I am facilitating.

I’ve found SoundCloud to be very easy to use, after creating an audio file with SoundCloud, users are giving an embed code that can be used to share the audio file in a course, on a blog, or on social media networks such as Twitter or Facebook.

I know a number of individuals who use SoundCloud to create podcasts for their courses and one feature they really like is that SoundCloud visually presents the audio files in a waveform graphic and allows listeners to click on a segment of the waveform and leave comments. These comments appear while a particular segment of the podcast is playing.

More information about SoundCloud can be found at www.soundcloud.com.

Submitted by Brian Udermann, Director of Online Education

Google Fusion Tables by Gargi Chaudhuri

Google Fusion Tables, first launched in June 2009, is an experimental data visualization web application used to gather, visualize, and share data tables. This technology is open-source, cloud-based, and easy to use. Currently, it is an experimental app, therefore still in the beta stage. Google Fusion Tables, or Fusion Tables, has been heavily popular within teaching and research for data visualization using graphs, charts, and maps. You can use your own data, or you use can use free data available online without downloading to your computer.

For example, you want to map the Top 10 coffee exporting countries of the world and color them according to their amount of production. Your data is in a data table within Excel. You upload the data table to the Fusion Table website, assign which column holds location information, import a free map file from the Internet, and join the location column of your table with location column of the imported map. You can further customize each country (Fig. 1). A finished data table can be downloaded to your computer, shared with your own community and/or published online. 

Figure 1: Top 10 Coffee Producing Countries in 2012

It’s unique because it allows you to create maps with locational data very easily. In the Geography and Earth Science department, we use various software for map making, but learning any new software is a daunting task for students new in this field or outsiders. If you are someone who just wants to create a map for some specific purpose and do not aim to became a map-maker or spatial data analyst, then Google Fusion Table is a great app to bridge the gap. That ease makes it very useful in the non-map gen-ed courses I teach for hands-on assignments.

When I showcased this with a demonstration in the IT technology talk, the audience was quite excited and saw themselves using it for their own purposes. Since this web application is an experimental app and still in beta stage, it works seamlessly well most of the time.

More information about Google Fusion Tables can be found at https://support.google.com/fusiontables/answer/2571232?hl=en.

Submitted by Dr. Gargi Chaudhuri, 
Dept. of Geography and Earth Science