Monthly Archives: June 2009

Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Online Meetings

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. πŸ™‚

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’re going to talk about meeting online. Many of us have jobs that necessitate travel every so often in order to conduct meetings with colleagues state or even nation wide. Many of us have been turning to online meeting software that enables a group of people to meet online for little or no cost. Admittedly, the tool we will talk about today has a free version that is unfortunately pretty small for the needs of most groups, forcing the purchase of an upgrade account. But the site warrants a look, since it is innovative and dynamic.

Let’s take a look at Fuze Meeting.

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From the site: “Fuze Meeting, developed by CallWave, enables seamless high-definition online collaboration between mobile and desktop users. Fuze Meeting takes online collaboration beyond the desktop, enabling users on virtually any device to experience high-definition synchronized content, high-fidelity audio conferencing, online media storage, integrated presence and secure, persistent chat – all in one easy-to-use web application.”

The site itself was very easy to sign up for. Little more than an confirmation email grants you access to the site. Once you have logged in you will be looking at your dashboard- which will display information concerning past and future meetings, uploaded documents, and other relevant information.

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In order to view any of the documents connected to a meeting, the meeting must be live. As the creator of the meeting, you can enter into any of the meetings at any time in order to change, upload, or delete documents, videos and PowerPoints. Uploading documents is relatively easy.

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I found that once uploaded, documents did take awhile to appear in your meeting queue. Just be patient, and the messages should show up without a problem.

The two options you have are to start a meeting now, or to invite users to a meeting at a future time.

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The invite process is extremely simple, and can be edited any time. All you need to do is enter an email address and click send, and your chosen participant will receive an invitation with all of the pertinent information (time of the meeting, date, etc.).

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Just a side note- once your invited participant has accepted the invitation, you will receive confirmation via email.

When you have finished inviting people, and have opened the meeting you will have the opportunity to share your desktop, upload and view a file for annotation, or to invite more people. Users other than the host of the meeting will not have edit capabilities unless given by the host.

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Fuze Meeting has a call-in feature so people can join the meeting by telephone. There is also a chat feature which users can use to type up their conversations.

The pricing of Fuze Meeting is as follows:

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One of the frustrating things about finding decent online meeting software is the pricing. I noticed that there was an option to “Pay as You Go.” The pricing guide does say that the pay-as-you-go option is rated at 0.06 per minute. I don’t know if the costs would rise if document sharing or other band-width issues are in play at the same time.

Fuze Meeting would definitely be a viable solution to some of my own problems. However, not being able to easily anticipate the cost overhead makes it difficult to use.

But if you have the money to spend, I would take a look at Fuze Meeting. One of the features that drew me in immediately was iPhone access.

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Blackberry and other smartphone users will also be able to use Fuze Meeting. Mobile meeting is not something I have ever participated in, but with the possibilities of the iPhone, I would certainly give it a try.

In closing, I think that Fuze Meeting has a lot of potential. I am disappointed about the cost issues, but I realize that there has to be a way for these sites to make some money. I am constantly on the look out for a free platform that provides the kind of ease of access and document sharing that Fuze Meeting provides.

In my own life, meetings are happening more and more onlline. And from the experiences I’ve had, the software has a long way to go. There is something lost in a virtual meeting, but sites like Fuze Meeting are getting closer and closer to what we need as users insofar as having a productive meeting.

As always, comments and thoughts are encouraged and welcomed.

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Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Future Students (at any collegiate level).

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. πŸ™‚

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’re going to be talking about a tool anyone interested in further schooling can use. I am particularly interested in this tool because I am thinking about pursuing a second masters or a doctorate. The tool we’re looking at today will help prospective students locate a school by chosen major, zipcode, or greater geographical area. Let’s talk about Campus Explorer:

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From the site: ” Whether it’s a two- or four-year school, a career college or an online program, we have figured out everything from tuition to average temperature. We also have a personalized search function that allows you to set your wish list and explore from there. We even have direct partnerships with schools to put you in touch with admissions officers. Our database today contains information on more than 6,000 schools, and counting. It’s accurate. It’s easy to use. It’s the most comprehensive directory devoted to higher education you’ll find anywhere on the web. And it’s free!”

Signing up for Campus Explorer is as easy as entering your email address and choosing a password. It was quick and easy. It should be noted that you can search the site without signing up for an account. What an account will give you, however, is the ability to save schools you have looked at and might be interested in. Otherwise, the information is still right there and accessible.

Setting up your profile is just as easy. If you’re like me, and interested in a higher level of education, you have the option to choose that from a drop down menu. If you’re getting out of high school soon there’s a section available to fill out relevant test scores like SATs and ACTs. Your profile will look something like this:

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I might have to double check, but I don’t think that this site has a social web feature to it. I didn’t notice a “view my profile” button, just the ability to update it. This could indicate that the profile of any user is meant to be private and aid in the search process by adding criteria. As with most social sites, there is no link to “add friends” or search from people you may know.

Searching Campus Explorer will be the same, whether you create an account or not. I would like to walk you through the basic searching paths provided by the site. The first one that’s apparent when you click on the site is a geographic search. All searches can be launched from the homepage or from the search box in the upper right hand corner.

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In the above example I conducted a search by zip code. The results are listed similarly to the results of a search engine.

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You’ll notice that all types of schools are brought back in the results field. Use the drop down menu on the upper left of the screen to narrow your result by school type (i.e. 4 year, 2 year, etc.). If you would prefer to conduct your search on a larger scale, you can choose to search by geographical region.

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The results will come back as they did before. One of the things that I really like about this site is the map display on the left side of the screen. You can visually associate the search results with the map. I think that this will help the search process. You can click on the map, another screen will open, and you can click on the map pegs to see which school is indicated.

Moving back to the home page, let’s talk about the other prominent search path you can take in order to locate your idea college or university. Searching by degree will help you discover schools that advertise that the specialize in a specific degree program. You’ll be able to choose from schools across the country, as long as they feature the degree program you have specified. For instance, I choose to look for Archaeology degrees, but as a testament to being careful as to what search terms you use, “archaeology” came back with zero results. I then chose to spell it conventionally, and I received results. So, watch your spelling.

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The results will display in the same fashion as before.

If you have created an account, you have the ability to save chosen results. I chose to save Harvard as an example, and it appears on my “My Schools” tab.

If you are just searching, though, you can click on any of the options in order to explore the university in more depth. The page will have a profile of the school, as well as the pertinent information that you will need when making your decision. You can scroll through pictures, get an overview of the institution, as well as contact the admissions department using the links found on the school page.

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Scrolling down the page will provide you with “Quick Facts” and other useful pieces of information.

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If you think that you are qualified to get into the school, or you would like to receive information in the mail, links and contacts are provided.

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A wonderful feature of the site is the comparison option. Once you have chosen schools that you’re interested in, you can compare them. In fact, you can compare up to four schools side-by-side.

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In closing, I thought that this site was extremely easy to navigate. I thought that the search paths were straight forward, and I thought that the information provided on the school pages would all be useful in making the decision as to what school you would like to attend.

Often it’s very difficult to discover the best school for your needs. While Campus Explorer seems to be very good at searching geographically and by degree, a search to identify schools with the best online options would also be useful.

I would likely share this with any student that approached the reference desk with questions about searching for schools. It strikes me as a site that the student could explore with little help, and would provide a vast amount of information.

As always, comments and thoughts are encouraged and welcomed.

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Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Future Geneticists, Students and Professors of Science.

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. πŸ™‚

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we are going to take a look at a tool geared towards future geneticists. Though that might scare the layperson off, the site is really geared towards the undergraduate students, and therefor has a very understandable content. A person with a basic question can use the tool to get trusted information, and can hope to understand it. Let’s take a look at Scitable.

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From the site: “A free science library and personal learning tool brought to you by Nature Publishing Group, the world’s leading publisher of science. Scitable currently concentrates ongenetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms. As you cultivate your understanding of modern genetics on Scitable, you will explore not only what we know about genetics and the ways it impacts our society, but also the data and evidence that supports our knowledge.”

Scitable acts like an online research library and classroom, providing the user with several points of contact for experts and other interested learners. Site navigation is very easy and clear, and a free account offers you the opportunity to follow learning paths, bookmark articles, and join group discussions. Sign up for Scitable is relatively easy, and I was happy to find that their requirements for password acceptability is quite stringent.

Once you have signed up, your homepage will be the base of your navigation.

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Notice that on this page you will find all of your saved articles, group information, discussions, friends, messages, and calendar.

From the home page, you have several choices to proceed through the site. There is a tool bar on the top of the page that provides site destinations, and is a good place to begin.

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The link “Topics” is a browse by topic link. This would be useful if you are interested in a variety of things, or want to take a look at an overview of topics on the site. I found it interesting that the topics page reminded me of science class because it is organized into groups and sub-groups. You choose the overall topic:

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And then you choose a more specific part of that topic by click on “show all,” starting at the beginning, or choosing at will.

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Once you have selected a sub-topic, you will be led to the article, explaining the topic you have chosen.

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The next link in the over all navigation bar is “People.” This link will help you network with other Scitable users, be them professors or other students. You can either search for people giving specific peramitors:

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Or you can browse the people who have already joined the Scitable network.

As with any social networking aspect of a website, gathering a friend group can help you navigate the site as well as find trusted experts to answer questions.

The next link in your navigation bar is “Groups.

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Joining a group on Scitable gives you access to discussion topics geared towards a special interest. Though this aspect of the site will likely only be for serious students of genetics, I think that reading the topics could be beneficial to anyone interested in a specific topic.

The last thing we’re going to discuss is the “Learning Paths” link.

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I found that the Learning Paths could be quite useful. They’re created similar to an online class you might find on other sites. You must be a member of Scitable to view a learning path. You can choose the topic you would like to learn about from a list of given paths. Once you have done that you will be brought into the learning path, and your progress will be saved on your homepage.

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This will give you a more in-depth tour of a group of topics to help you understand the overall meaning.

One of the things I appreciated the most about this site is the availability of experts to answer your questions.

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Clicking on “Students” will bring you to the Study Center, where you can ask questions regarding genetics to experts that are associated with the site. As a librarian, I appreciate this aspect of the site. Finding a source of trusted information on the open web is definitely something to remember.

The searching aspect of this site is pretty straight forward. Enter your term into the search box on the upper right hand side of the page, and you will be given a list of results to choose from. A basic search result will look like this:

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One notable aspect of the searching function is that a search for a topic word like “genome” will also bring back results in “people” and “groups,” so you can explore the topic socially and find other users that are interested in the topic.

Any article has a share function, and you have the ability to bookmark the article within the website if you are logged in.

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In closing, I have to admit I was extremely impressed with this site. As a layperson myself in the sciences, I felt that I could use this site easily and understand the information therein. I also felt that if I had a question, the network available would provide me with an answer.

I realize that the overall topic of this website is geared towards a specific group of science students, and has a pointed research topic. However, the science of genetics has a huge impact on our lives, be it in the cure of diseases or the discovery of the Human Genome. Genetics impacts science as well as culture, and I felt that this site did an admirable job explaining that impact.

As always, you thoughts and comments are welcome.

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Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Managers and Employees.

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. πŸ™‚

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’ll be talking about something I wish I had known about when I was a manger. One of the first things I did was institute a blog in order to facilitate communication across hours, since the departments I managed spanned from 7:30 in the morning until 2am the following morning. We needed to be able to post documents and talk when physical meeting was not an option.

Todays topic would have facilitated that quite nicely. In the vein of Twitter, let’s take a look at Co-Op.

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From the site: “Co-op makes it easy to stay connected with your co-workers without disrupting them. Your team can use it to post updates, ask questions, share links, and track time. Quickly share your daily agenda with your co-workers. Quickly scan your co-workers’ agendas. Then cancel your daily status meetings! As each team member updates status and tracks time, Co-op automatically records the transcript. You can go back in time to see what your team has accomplished each day.”

Signing up for Co-Op is extremely easy and fast. They will send you a confirmation email immediately, and once you have approved your account you’re in. The first thing you’re asked to do is either create a network or join one.

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The set up for your network is also quite easy. Pick a name, invite members, and choose a time zone, and you’re virtually done.

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Once you have finished these basic functions, your workplace social network has been set up. You will be looking at a screen similar to Twitter or any other instant messaging service you may have used before. You can update your status to let the rest of your coworkers know what you’re doing.

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On the sidebar, each member of their team can type in their daily agenda or send a group announcement. The sidebar also displays everyone elses online status.

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Take a look at the example provided by Co-Op:

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Updating your profile is simple, but I also found it frustrating. Co-Op seems to have strict limits as to the size of picture you can use, so make sure it’s 200×200 pixels before you upload it.

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The next few screen shots I am going to walk you through are from the site and show a more populated social network.

The most prominent feature of Co-Op is the “Work Stream.” Here you will see the updates of all of your cowokers in one “stream,” similar to what you would find on your Twitter stream.

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Co-Op would also like that the stream be used socially, where workers should feel free to post links or videos that are not work related. They call this feature the “Water Cooler.” Also, Co-Op includes time stamps so that you can see when people are posting their updates.

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And that’s it to set up a social network for your coworkers on Co-Op. It was so easy and fast, I was really impressed.

There are some tings that this site made me think about, and the main was was that terrifying word: MICRO-MANAGER! Constant updates by your coworkers or employees might lead a manger to become more controlling in their subordinates professional lives. That said, it might also boost a sense of competition which will lead to increased productivity.

When I did manage a small department, knowing what my employees were doing was key to our operation. At the time the private blog sufficed, but I can see the potential for an application like Co-Op. It’s possible this site could be used between professionals in a group, who do not necessarily work for the same institution. If there is a common project that has to be worked on, then having constant updates from the participants can’t be a bad thing.

If I were to come into another department as a manager now, I would likely try something like this. As with anything, though, I worry about overload and the old mantra of “yet another site” people have to look at. But if you make something a vital piece of your work flow, it could be beneficial.

As always, your thoughts are welcome.

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Tuesday Two.Oh! Tools for Learning.

Tuesday Two.Oh! is not meant as an endorsement, but as an exploration of the tools that are out there. Click at your own risk. πŸ™‚

Today on Tuesday Two.Oh! we’re going to talk about the classic lecture. Now, I know what you’re thinking: are we talking about the kind of lecture where some dusty old professor stands at the front of a lecture hall and talks at you for 50 minutes? Well, sort of. Think, YouTube for academics.

Many people like to think of education as a human right: no matter your background you deserve to have access to knowledge. But with the cost of many colleges and universities skyrocketing, that reality might be hard to attain for some of us. But the Internet age seems to be changing all of that. Universities are starting to make their lectures freely accessible. For example, Stanford University is making its’ educational content available on iTunes.

Let’s take a look at AcademicEarth:

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From the site: “Academic Earth is an organization founded with the goal of giving everyone on earth access to a world-class education. As more and more high quality educational content becomes available online for free, we ask ourselves, what are the real barriers to achieving a world class education? At Academic Earth, we are working to identify these barriers and find innovative ways to use technology to increase the ease of learning. We are building a user-friendly educational ecosystem that will give internet users around the world the ability to easily find, interact with, and learn from full video courses and lectures from the world’s leading scholars.”

The site is relatively easy to navigate- and registration is not required (though you can mark lectures are “favorites,” as well as rate lectures after you have watched them). Keep in mind that the site has been developed to reflect the academic environment, meaning the “lecture” is a sub-category of the “Course.” AcademicEarth allows for guest lectures without an overall “course,” but they do offer entire courses on the site.

There is a bar at the top of the screen to guide your navigation:

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Clicking on any of the above links will carry you through the site. The first link, “subjects” will take you to a page of clickable subject links. Here you can browse by topic in order to find the lecture you’re interested in watching.

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The second link for navigation is “Universities.” This link will show you the participating universities that are recording their lectures and uploading them to the site. If you’re interested in listening to a lecture from a particular, your choices are impressive:

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The third link, “Instructors,” is an alphabetical list of the speakers. This page will definitely be useful in finding specific lecturers.

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The last link, “playlists,” is a list of lectures collected into “topics.” This means that the editors of the site collected lectures on AcademicEarth about a specific topic, for instance:

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The playlists will not be given by a specific speaker, but a collection of any speakers on a given topic. It’s a great way to introduce yourself to a topic, at the same time maintaining objectivity by hearing varying viewpoints.

Once you have chosen a lecture to watch, you will be looking at a screen that has the video of the lecture, a description of the lecture and course, and various related videos. The video will look something like this:

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As a librarian, one of my favorite features of the site is their citation tool. It can be found just below the video. You will want to make sure that you check the citation type against your professors needs and desires. It looks like this:

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In the same tool bar there are also options to download the video, share it, embed it, and add it to your favorites if you have created an account. I’ve embeded a video on the post below in order to give you an idea of what that might look like.

If you set up an account, you will be able to rate the videos using a grading system of A, B, C, D, and F.

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By looking at these grades you can also tell which lectures are the most admired.

The last thing we’re going to look at is the search function. I have to admit, some of the search terms I tried came back with no hits, or with very few. This is probably a function of the relatively small collection of universities donating lectures: a broad scope of topics has yet to be accomplished. But to give you an idea, a search on AcademicEarth will look like this:

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In closing, the mission of this site is a lofty one. Much content on the web is from dubious sources which must be evaluated in order to detect bias. Of course, watching these videos will not result in a “Harvard Education” per se, but will result in you widening your own horizons. There is no grading or credit given, even though some of the lectures come with related assignments. These are done at the students lesiure, for no real academic reward in the form of a diploma.

However, knowledge as a right is what we’re talking about here. AcademicEarth assumes that even though the site offers no diploma or grading system, the student will want to better themselves for free.

And, after all, who said you couldn’t get a free Harvard education?

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Academic Earth – Embeded Video Example

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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