See below for important updates to this posting.
An impressive number of open access initiatives have recently come from the federal and California government. These efforts have the potential to significantly broaden public access to government-funded research publications. On February 13, 2013, the Fair Access to Science & Technology Act (FASTR) was introduced with bipartisan support in both the U.S. House of Representatives (H.R. 708) and Senate (S. 350). FASTR would require federal agencies with an annual extramural research budget of at least $100 million to provide free online access to published articles resulting from the funds, no later than six months after publication. Affected agencies include (among others) the Department of Health and Human Services (including the NIH), the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Department of Education.
FASTR is the successor to the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which did not make it out of committee in the 112th Congress (2012). UCSF scientists are familiar with the NIH Public Access Policy, which stipulates public access no later than twelve months after publication. FASTR would not only shorten that period to six months, but it also stipulates that the article versions deposited in repositories be distributed “in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.” (bill, 4.b.5) This type of usage addresses current research needs beyond simply reading articles to mine large amounts of data.
Then, on February 22, the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy (OSTP) directed federal agencies with at least $100 million in research & development expenditures to develop plans to make the results of federally-funded research publicly available, free of charge, within 12 months after original publication. Obama’s directive was a response, in part, to a We the People petition signed by over 65,000 people asking the government to make all publicly funded research results free.
While having FASTR and the Obama directive at the same time might seem duplicative, the two efforts complement and strengthen each other. If FASTR passes, it would become the law and could not be overturned as could a future presidential directive. It would reduce the public access embargo period from 12 to six months. The White House directive also specifies that data associated with an article must be made open access. Both efforts call for green open access, whereby authors publish in the journal of their choosing and then deposit a final version of their article in an open access repository. These U.S. initiatives contrast with the United Kingdom’s approach decided by the Research Councils UK, mandating paid, immediate (gold) open access to funded research.
At the same time, California Assemblyman Brian Nestande introduced a similar measure for state-funded research publications to be made open access within six months after publication. The California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act (AB-609) would mandate public access to articles funded through California state agencies and universities, and through the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). The California State Library would host the articles.
Will FASTR and the California Act pass? Nobody knows for sure, though legislator and public support for such legislation continues to increase. Meanwhile, the American Association of Publishers (AAP) has predictably come out against FASTR. What’s certain is that the Obama initiative requires a plan to be in place by August 2013. Some say that the White House hasn’t gone far enough to broaden access, however it is difficult to argue against it being progress toward opening access to research publications.
Update, April 12, 2013: California bill AB-609 (California Access to Publicly Funded Research Act) will have its first hearing on April 17. To voice your opinion on this bill, contact Assemblyman Nestande’s staff. For more information, contact Anneliese at the Library.
Update, April 16, 2013: The hearing for CA AB-609 has been moved to May 1st at Assemblyman Nestande’s request to allow for supporters to be present at the hearing by the Assembly Accountability & Administrative Review Committee. The University of California Office of the President (UCOP) requested two amendments to the bill, which the author has agreed to. See the UC letter of support.
Update, May 14, 2013: CA AB-609 cleared the hearing by the Accountability & Administrative Review Committee on May 1 and is headed for review by the Appropriations Committee. The hearing received seven votes in favor and three against the bill. See a summary here. It’s not too late to provide feedback to the CA Assembly.
Are you a hardcore Gmail user? The kind with multiple Gmail accounts, who compulsively archives, stars, and labels, and who relies on priority inbox and search to find your important messages? If you use an Android device, then you’re probably content. But if you’re a power Gmail user with an iPhone or iPad, then you might consider switching from Apple’s built-in Mail app to the Gmail app for iOS.
Overview of Gmail 2.0 for iOS
- Search through all of your mail with the aid of text predictions
- Easily archive, label, star, report spam, or delete messages
- Switch between up to 5 accounts
- Receive notifications of new emails quickly
- See profile pictures and read your mail in threaded conversations
- Auto-complete contact names as you type from your Google contacts or your phone
- Respond to Google Calendar invites and Google+ posts right from the app
Sounds great, right? The app does a good job of capturing the key functions — as well as the look and feel — of Gmail in the web browser. For the most part, any Gmail fan should appreciate the features listed above, all which work well…that is, if you can forgive the app’s sluggish speed. Although the email notifications come through quickly, loading the actual messages can be painfully slow.
In addition to its clunky speed, the Gmail app has some design issues to work out. There is no “next” button, so you can’t easily switch between messages; you have to return to the inbox to access a new email. And when you pinch and zoom, email text doesn’t reflow as it should.
Is it worth switching from Mail to Gmail for iOS?
You should consider switching to Gmail if:
- you regularly search your archived emails in Gmail
- you heavily rely on Gmail’s advanced features — labels, priority inbox, undo actions, and the option to archive or delete a particular message
- you receive a lot of Google calendar invitations through your email account
- you want the familiarity of Gmail on your mobile device
You should stick to the Mail app if:
- you dislike waiting for incoming messages to load (Gmail for iOS can be frustratingly slow, especially in low reception areas)
- you need email text to flow properly when you pinch and zoom
- you want to quickly flip between emails in your inbox (Gmail offers no “next” button and its offline caching is unreliable)
For me, it comes down to having a seamless experience between my desktop computer and my mobile device, and so I choose the Gmail app. But I definitely look forward to future enhancements that address the problems listed above.
Have you tried Gmail for iOS? If so, what did you think?
Update: As of March 27, 2013, the Gmail app for iOS allows users to flip between messages within the inbox. For details, see the Gmail blog.
This is part three of a three part series of Convergence blog posts on Moodle 2 Activities.
UCSF faculty have long taken advantage of online quizzing in the CLE, not just for graded exams like midterms and finals, but also for ungraded activities like self-assessments or practice quizzes. Moodle 2 includes several improvements that make the quizzing activity easier to use for instructors and students alike. This post covers the most compelling improvements: quiz navigation and flagging, overriding quiz settings for a subset of students, and reviewing and grading student responses.
Navigation and Flagging
Some of the biggest improvements to quizzes in Moodle 2 are geared towards students. A new quiz navigation block sits in the corner of the screen and provides several pieces of information to a student during their quiz attempt. Using this new feature, a student can:
- see how many questions are in the quiz (in the above example, 7 questions)
- determine which questions they have answered (gray background) or not answered (white background)
- determine which questions they previously flagged for later review (small red triangle at the top of box 2), and click to jump to that question.
- monitor how much time is left in the quiz in an unobtrusive way (under certain circumstances, the Moodle 1.9 time clock could block a student’s view of quiz content).
- click the “Finish attempt” link to review their progress and submit the quiz.
These improvements should help prevent confusion during what is already a stressful time for many students.
Faculty members who needed to provide accommodations to students on quizzes in Moodle 1.9 knew that the process for doing so was cumbersome at best. In Moodle 2, an instructor can make exceptions to a number of quiz settings for an individual or group or students. For example, if the time limit for a quiz is 30 minutes, a student who needs time-and-a-half can be given a 45 minute time limit (as shown in the image above). This can be done quickly, easily, and securely, without having to create duplicate copies of a quiz. Other overrides an instructor can make in this way include the start or end date of a quiz, the number of attempts an individual student can make, or the password that student can use to access the quiz.
Reviewing and Grading Student Responses
Moodle’s quiz activity provides a number of different question types, including multiple choice, true/false, short answer, and essay questions. Many of these question types can be automatically graded by the system because there are distinctly correct and incorrect answers to each question. Essay responses, though, must be graded manually by a person.
Moodle 1.9 provided instructors with the ability to download grade information for individual students in a quiz (i.e. how many points they earned on each question), but not the actual text of the responses. The only way to see these responses was to be logged into the system, and to click into each student’s attempt one at a time. Moodle 2 now allows instructors to view a table containing the text of the questions as well as the actual responses entered by a student or selected students — but also to download this table to an Excel spreadsheet for offline access or storage. This should make it much easier and more convenient for instructors to grade essay questions, sort student quiz results based on their response to a particular question, and also keep a backup copy of results offline for future review.
Ready to get started in Moodle 2?
Faculty who are interested in taking advantage of the new quizzing improvements can begin teaching their courses in Moodle 2 as early as the Spring term. For information about joining the Moodle 2 Pilot, contact the Learning Technologies Group. We’ll be happy to meet with you, review the contents of your existing courses, and discuss the migration services the LTG can provide.
A previous post outlined one procedure for capturing bibliographic information for a Web page using EndNote/EndNote Web. It’s a little easier for RefWorks users since you can download the RefGrab-It plugin that’s specifically designed to do this. You download it from the Tools menu in your RefWorks account:
RefGrab-It is available in two versions: as a bookmarklet that works with either Internet Explorer or Firefox, or as downloadable plug-ins for Internet Explorer and Firefox. Say you want to reference the following CDC page:
You select RefGrab-It and it captures the basic bibliographic information:
You then import this into a RefWorks folder:
Note that in some cases RefGrab-It can look up standard numbers such as an ISSN or DOI to retrieve more complete records about the content you are viewing, which is why it works particularly well with PubMed and Amazon records. However, in most instances citation information captured using RefGrab-It is not as complete as records exported from databases such as PubMed, so you may have to do a little bit of editing.
Complete information for installing and using RefGrab-It is available in the online help section of your RefWorks account.
For an online tutorial click here.
When was the last time you went to a seminar and didn’t sit through at least one boring presentation? I suspect it’s been a while. Slide after slide of charts, and scatter graphs, and bullet points, all delivered in a monotone voice by a talking suit, right after lunch… I’m getting exhausted just thinking about it. Well you’re in luck, because I’ve found the perfect solution to combat this boredom, and it’s called Seminar Bingo. Enjoy!
Image originally posted on PHDcomics.com, here: http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=847
The move from print to online copies of books continues as the UCSF Library expands its collection of ebooks and our annual purchase of ebook titles starts to outstrip print titles. Already UCSF faculty and students often request ebooks in favor of print.
As with print books, the best way to find whether we have access to an ebook is to search the Library Catalog. And as with ejournals, users must be on the campus network or logged into VPN to get to the full-text. And that’s where the similarities end. Navigating the various publisher and content-host provider platforms for printing, downloading, and reading offline is varied, and, in some cases, a little challenging.
Susan Boone, the UCSF Library’s E-Resources Specialist, has developed an Electronic Books at UCSF LibGuide subject guide for the ebook collections. This is a great way to get an idea of what’s available, and get quick directions for access, printing, and downloading of the Library’s most heavily used ebooks.
This is part two of a three part series of Convergence blog posts on Moodle 2 Activities.
The Lesson activity may not be new to the Moodle learning management system, but it is new for most faculty and students at UCSF. The Lesson activity is used infrequently in the UCSF CLE, so why not showcase this valuable activity during the transition to Moodle 2? Like the Workshop activity, the Lesson is not for the Moodle neophyte.
What is a Lesson in Moodle and why would you create one in a CLE course? Lessons allow faculty to deliver content in a new and engaging way. Think of Lessons as a series of web pages that can be used to create a ‘choose your own adventure’ type of learning activity. Students may be prompted with a question and are then directed to another series of questions or content pages depending on their response. This is done through branching and has obvious potential for many types of simulation and other instructional exercises.
Here is the Cliff Notes version of how it works:
- Outline the Lesson using pen and paper, including flow and any branching
- Create Lesson and set parameters in the CLE (grading, flow control and availability)
- Combine Content Pages, Questions, Branches and Clusters to create pages that will make up the Lesson
- Make the Lesson available to students
And below is a list of the pros and cons of using Lessons in the UCSF CLE:
- Self-directed learning opportunities for students
- Scenario or simulation/decision-making exercises
- Allows faculty to teach to different learning styles (Example: Give students the choice to read an article, watch video or listen to podcast all covering the same instructional content)
- Use images, videos and other multimedia in Lessons via HTML or rich-text editor
- Requires advanced planning and storyboarding
- Not immediately intuitive to create
Let’s take a closer look at the steps involved in creating a Lesson activity. For this example, I will create a mock Lesson for a UCSF course.
Step 1 Plan and Storyboard: Due to the non-linear nature of most Lessons, it is highly recommended that you plan out your Lesson well in advance of creating in the CLE. Sketch out the content pages, questions and general learning path for your Lesson using pen and paper. This will drastically reduce the time spent building Lessons and will also minimize confusion and frustration for users participating in the Lesson activity.
Step 2 Create Lesson Parameters: Lessons are created just like any other Moodle activity; with editing turned on in the CLE course. A list of the more important Lesson settings is included below:
Practice Lesson: Set to ‘No’ if you want to report quiz question scores to the gradebook. A practice Lesson does not appear in the gradebook.
Re-Takes Allowed: If enabled, students can attempt the Lesson more than once. This is a good option if you have created a long Lesson that students may complete in a number of attempts.
Progress Bar: If enabled, a bar is displayed at the bottom of Lesson pages showing approximate percentage of completion. By default the Progress Bar is turned off.
Display Ongoing Score: If enabled, each page will display students’ current points earned out of the total possible thus far. By default the ‘Display ongoing score’ is turned off for Lessons.
Dependent On: Allows access to the Lesson to be dependent upon students’ performance in another Lesson in the same CLE course. Any combination of time spent, completed status or ‘grade better than’ may be used as requirements for moving on to the next Lesson.
Step 3 Create Content Pages, Questions: Once a Lesson has been set up in the CLE, you are ready to begin populating with content pages and questions. LTG discourages the use of Microsoft Word when writing the copy for content and question pages. Instead, use a simple text editor and copy and paste into Moodle. Included below are descriptions of the main components for a Lesson activity:
Content Pages: Contains text, multimedia and ‘jump’ buttons that students can use to navigate. Most commonly used page in Lessons.
Questions: Multiple Choice, T/F, matching, and essay-style questions that can assess student learning and are recorded in the gradebook.
The workflow for populating both content and question pages are similar. When designing content pages, use any combination of text, images, links or embedded videos. The use of tables helps with formatting pages and maintaining a clean look and feel. When creating question pages, you will go through the process of assigning correct and incorrect answers, redirecting students and relative scoring. LTG recommends creating all content and question page shells first and then go back and populate the pages with content. This will help set up the navigation for the Lesson and is a more effective workflow for faculty.
Step 4 Set Up Branching and Clusters: Branches consist of a series of content pages. Students will typically “branch” off a Lesson path from a missed question and visit a series of pages for review before they are returned to the main Lesson path.
Clusters: A group of questions that can be offered in a randomized order to students as they work through the Lesson.
Faculty create branches and clusters under the ‘Edit’ tab after all content and question pages have been created. This is also where previously created content and question pages can be edited or deleted.
Step 5 Review: Click the ‘Preview’ tab to review the Lesson before making it available to students.
Step 6 Deploy: Let the non-linear learning commence!
Overall, Lessons have the potential to engage learners more than a traditional, linear PowerPoint presentation. Quizzes and Books created in Moodle 1.9 can also be combined to create a single Lesson in Moodle 2. Expect to spend 8 hours working in the Lesson activity to learn how to incorporate all features. To learn more about Lessons, please visit the resources identified by LTG staff listed below:
If you want to be a well respected blogger with a contingent of loyal followers, you need to be entertaining and relevant, and you also need to back up your posts with legitimate data and references. Taking my own advice, and not to be outdone by my peers, I decided to do some serious research for this post. I wanted to find proof that PowerPoint is the driving force behind a number of trends in higher education… trends that adversely affects a student’s ability to learn. So naturally, I bought a time machine on eBay, and traveled 50 years into the future to witness the results of these trends with my own eyes. What I saw was frightening, yet predictable. Here is an excerpt from my time travel journal:
March 6, 2063 ~ Textbooks are officially dead, and word on the street is that they were killed off systematically and without mercy by well-placed PowerPoint bullet points and stylish clip art. Student are building bonfires Ray Bradbury style. White board markers are outlawed in universities across the nation, and instructors are required to use government-issued PowerPoint templates and laser pointers when lecturing. I have been hiding out with a small contingent of outcasts who call themselves Citizens Against PowerPoint Abuse (CAPPA for short). They organize regular demonstrations against PowerPoint and advocate for a return to the good ‘ol days of group projects and learning games. In their eyes, the world is coming to end, and on the day of reckoning, it will look like this:
But seriously folks [insert laugh track], it is 2013 and PowerPoint is already changing the way instructors teach and students learn. Some of these trends are good, but many are not. In this post, I’d like to highlight a few of the more prominent trends, and then pose a few ideas for reversing them… before it’s too late!
Trend #1 – PowerPoint slides are the primary source of study.
- Description: Before or after class, instructors provide students with copies of the PowerPoint slides that are used during class. In the weeks that follow, students pour over those slides meticulously, searching for clues to solve the classic mystery, “what’s going to be on the next exam?” In some cases, an instructor’s entire curriculum is provided to students via PowerPoint.
- Issues: A PowerPoint slide deck can either function as the backdrop for a well-executed presentation (synchronous), or as a useful study tool that is consumed in solitary study (asynchronous), but not both. Presentations that contain too much detail can overwhelm and confuse an audience, and handouts that don’t contain enough detail are not very useful for study.
- Ideas: The strategy that I recommend is a two-step process. First, create detailed handouts that contain prose (paragraphs and sentences), data, and complex images that can be studied methodically. When the handout is complete, transfer only the most important elements to PowerPoint, and represent those elements with direct, bold, and simple imagery.
- Question: If we can all agree that scanning an entire page out of a textbook and pasting it into PowerPoint is bad practice, then why isn’t the same true for replacing textbook pages with PowerPoint slides?
- Additional Resources: Standardized testing is our educational system’s primary method for assessing student progress, and those tests rely heavily on multiple-choice questions. We are finally beginning to realize that this method is, at best, flawed. PowerPoint is the perfect compliment to this flawed strategy because it allows instructors to quickly and easily create a series of giant flash cards that explain the “what” but not the “how” or “why” of a topic. For more on the subject, check out this interesting article from The CaliforniaReport: The end of d) all of the above?”
Trend #2 – Lectures are information dumps.
- Description: Classroom lectures provide the instructor with an open-ended opportunity to share everything they know about a topic. The only limiting factors are the clock and the rate at which they press the forward button on the presenter remote. Slides are filled wall-to-wall with text and data. The instructor operates under the assumption that more slides are better than less. Some students may even doubt an instructor’s abilities if the PowerPoint presentations are not lengthy and complex.
- Issues: When an instructor chooses quantity over quality, they are setting everyone up for failure. Presentations that aren’t targeted at the audience, don’t provide context, and lack insight are not memorable. This issue is even more common in scientific talks given by researchers. We all want to impress and win the approval of our peers (and even our subordinates), so we may compensate by over-explaining things. Rather than spoon-feed our audience with tasty, memorable morsels of information that leave them begging for more, we cram the entire plate down their throats all at once! PowerPoint encourages this tendency by making it all-too-easy to just plop down slide after cookie-cutter slide with the click of a button.
- Ideas: There are many ways to combat this trend, and one way is with another trend! Have you heard of “flipping” a classroom?” The buzz-word is new but the concept is not. Essentially, a flipped classroom is one that requires students to complete passive learning activities before class (viewing recorded lectures, reading assigned material), and then uses class time for active learning activities that reinforce important concepts (group work, discussions, game-based learning, role playing, practice). If you are interested in flipping your classroom, we can help you choose a strategy for recording lectures. And let’s not forget that the key to delivering a truly insightful presentation is to simply spend more time on development. Yeah I said it! Begin by taking a step back from the details of your presentation to identify the message you’re trying to convey. Purify that message until its easily stated in one sentence, and in plain English. Now you can put your PowerPoint presentation on a diet until it’s lean and mean. Extra details that don’t directly support your message get trimmed off, important points are highlighted, and then end result is a presentation that is targeted, highly visual, and easy for the audience to digest. (What’s with all the food metaphors?!)
- Question: What makes a presentation truly memorable?
- Additional Resources: This is a great article from a faculty member in Stanford University’s School of Medicine, calling attention to this issue as it affects research presentations: Opinion: Communication Crisis in Research. And for some more info on the idea of Flipping, you can start here.
Trend #3 – Class time is scripted.
- Description: Most higher-ed classes follow the same pattern. The students walk in, grab their usual seat, pull out a notepad/iPad, and gaze up at the projector screen just in time for the instructor to begin unleashing a full-frontal assault of PowerPoint slides chocked full of bullet points, tables, charts and images. The information keeps coming, too, only slowing on occasion to allow for questions, until the scheduled end of the class period. Rinse and repeat.
- Issues: PowerPoint, by design, practically forces linear movement through a topic. Slides are created and presented one-by-one, and in order. This structure of predictability can easily suck the life out of a room, and places too much emphasis on the need to “get through all the slides” (I actually die a little inside every time I hear an instructor say those words), instead of placing the emphasis on ensuring the audience’s comprehension of the subject, by whatever means necessary.
- Ideas: I challenge all instructors to conduct at least one class per semester without PowerPoint or a laptop. This forces you and the students to get creative, and the change of pace can be refreshing. You can also mix things up and continue to use PowerPoint. For example, you can simulate branching in your presentation through the use of hyperlinked text or buttons, allowing you to move on a non-linear path that is dictated by the student’s needs. If you want to get a little crazy, skip PowerPoint and use Prezi, which completely debunks the idea of linearity by allowing you to create one, giant canvas of objects that can be freely explored in any direction. Another interesting idea is to completely replace informational slides with slides that pose questions to the audience, encouraging a discussion and discovery of the answer. This technique also serves to creating a pause in the action to allow for thought, and absorption. And don’t be afraid to abandon your PowerPoint completely to attack a question head-on with a white board and marker (“B” key to black-out the screen, “W” to white it out, these keyboard shortcuts works in PowerPoint and Keynote).
- Question: Learning doesn’t occur in a straight line. Instead, learning happens on a series of simultaneously-occurring tangents (say that three times fast) that include questions, answers, experimentation and in the end discovery. If this is true, then why do we discourage these tangents in the classroom?
- Additional Resources: In the 21st century, is the “factory model of teaching” really the best we can do? Check out this interesting article from Ken Carroll: Linear and Non-Linear Learning
So, now that I’ve thrown down the gauntlet and systematically blamed everyone and everything for ruining the fragile minds of our youth (sorry about that), I want to know what you think! Are you an instructor, or a student? How do you feel about these trends? Are there other trends that you’ve seen? Do agree or disagree with the points presented in this article? How do YOU think PowerPoint should be used in higher education?
You can now download the EndNote for iPad application from iTunes if you want to try it out. It’s on sale until February 11 by the way:
Watch a short video: EndNote on iPad: EndNoteSync, PDFs, and Groups
Battery life is something you can never get enough of. Every click, swipe, tweet and song draws life from an ever-diminishing pool of watts in your pocket or bag. Here’s a handful of ways you can extend the usable time of your gadgets.Laptop Upgrade your hard drive to a SSD
You can replace your laptop’s hard drive or make sure your next laptop is equipped with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which use a negligible amount of power and are much faster. Regular hard drives are like a record player: they use a motor to keep a physical disk spinning nearly all the time. As a result, a hard drive uses more power and generates more heat than a SSD, which is like a gigantic, lightning-fast USB flash drive. The faster response time also means you’re wasting less time and battery power waiting for the computer to process tasks. The main drawback is the cost: ~$1/GB for a SSD, compared to ~$0.15/GB for a hard drive. If you’re upgrading your existing laptop, you’ll need to reinstall the OS & applications and transfer your data as well.
Runtime gain: Moderate
You can buy extended and/or “slice” batteries for many PC laptops, which can more than double the battery capacity. Unfortunately they also significantly increase the weight of the laptop and add to the size. Most extended batteries protrude past the edge of the laptop, and “slice” batteries cover the bottom of the laptop and increase the overall thickness.
Runtime gain: High
Most laptop manufacturers set their laptops to continuously charge the battery while plugged in to AC power, even when the battery is at 100%. A rechargeable battery’s capacity will naturally decrease with age and use, but continuous charging can drastically hasten the aging process. It doesn’t affect day-to-day battery use, but it can make a big difference when your battery can only hold half of it’s original charge after a year. This provides the manufacturer a chance to sell you a replacement battery or a battery warranty. Notable exceptions to this are Lenovo and Apple, which started optimizing for battery lifespan once they switched to non-removable batteries. If your battery is at 100% and you plan on using it near an AC outlet for a while, you can remove the battery to stop charging. Just be sure to save your work frequently and don’t pull the power cable out!
Runtime gain: Low
Screen brightness is usually the single largest draw of power on a laptop. You can reduce it to the minimum that is comfortable to minimize the power usage.
Runtime gain: Moderate
You can purchase a travel/compact charger for most laptops, which are usually far easier to carry with you on a day-to-day basis. You also get the added convenience of not having to unplug the regular charger every time you go out. Some have a cigarette-lighter attachment so you can charge your laptop while you drive. You can typically find a travel/compact charger from your laptop manufacturer’s website, and they’re around $60-$90.
Runtime gain: High (if you are near AC outlets)
The Parnassus Library has a set of laptop lockers in CL240. Each locker drawer has 2 AC outlets. Just bring your laptop, charger, and a padlock. You can charge your laptop (or other mobile device) securely while you eat lunch, go to the gym, or run errands.
Runtime gain: High
For times when you don’t need to use the internet – for instance if you are taking notes or working on a paper – turn off wifi. Wifi is a relatively small drain on power, but it adds up over time. You can always turn it on briefly if you need to look something up, plus it’s a small discouragement against distractions like Facebook, Twitter, or cuteoverload.com
Runtime gain: Low
If your laptop has a removable DVD drive, you can remove it for slight reductions in power drain and weight . On some laptops (such as the Dell Latitude or Lenovo Thinkpad series) you can swap the DVD drive for an extra battery, which adds a moderate amount of battery capacity for a minor increase in weight.
Runtime gain: Low (DVD removal) / Moderate (battery replacement)
Cost: Free (DVD removal) / Moderate (battery replacement)
You can buy pocket-sized USB chargers and extra USB cables for less than $5 each. Amazon.com and Monoprice.com are good sources for both. Most non-Apple smartphones use a Micro USB cable, and third-party Apple charging cables work just the same as the official ones.The brand of mobile device doesn’t need to match the charger, as pretty much all USB chargers are interchangeable. If possible, get a charger that will put out 2A (amps), which is 4x the power a regular computer USB port provides. Even if you aren’t near an AC outlet, the spare USB cable will let you charge your phone from your laptop in a pinch.
Runtime gain: High
When you’re on campus, you can turn on wifi and use UCSFwpa instead of your cellular data service. Most 4G phones released prior to 2012 have less efficient 4G radios (the HTC Thunderbolt is a notable example), and wifi uses less power than 3G/4G cellular data. The UCSFwpa wifi network is also much faster, so you will waste less time and power waiting for things to load.
On an iPhone, you can turn cellular data on/off in Settings > General > Celluar
Runtime gain: Moderate
Some apps stay running when you aren’t actively using them – mapping apps are one usual culprit because they tend to keep the GPS system on.
- You can end apps on an iPhone by double-clicking the home button and then tapping the on an app.
- On Android 4.0 and later you can hold the Home key or tap the button to show a list of all apps, and then swipe them left or right to close them.
Automatic task-killing apps aren’t really necessary with Android 4.0 and later due to improved application management and in some cases can actually reduce battery life. Some Android phones come with apps that you can’t uninstall; if you never use them, you can disable them in Settings > Application manager.
Runtime gain: Low to Moderate
Just as with laptops, the screen backlight is usually the largest single consumer of battery power on a smartphone and this is even more pronounced on tablets. You can turn the brightness down to the minimum you need to conserve battery power.
Runtime gain: Moderate
For phones with removable batteries, a spare or extended battery can extend your run time by double or more. To simplify the recharging process, you can also purchase a separate battery charger (as opposed to a device charger) so you can charge your spare battery separately from the one in your phone. You can also buy an external battery pack, which is helpful for devices with non-removable batteries. Some provide you with a USB charging slot and you can also find external batteries molded into an iPhone case, like those made by morphie.
Runtime gain: High
I use a free Android app called Battery Mix to keep an eye on estimated run time and also see which apps are using the most power. It also will give you an estimate of how much run time you have left, how long a full charge will take, and the power usage of individual apps or processes.
Runtime gain: Moderate
There are 3 basic ways to get more life out of your gadgets: make them faster, reduce the battery “burn rate”, and charge them whenever you can. If you’ve got a tip for getting more use out of your gadget, please share it in the comments below. Likewise, let us know if you try any of these tips and see a noticeable gain in useful life of your device.
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This is part one of a three part series of Convergence blog posts on Moodle 2 Activities.
Moodle 2 has a slew of new features and enhancements that improve on the experience from version 1.9. Among these new features is the Workshop activity, which functions as an extension of the Assignment activity and adds peer assessment capabilities into the mix. The Workshop activity is very useful and engaging for both the instructor and students, but be warned, it’s definitely an advanced feature best implemented by seasoned Moodle instructors.
Here is the Cliff Notes version of how it works:
- The instructor builds the activity.
- Students complete and submit their assignment.
- Instructor assesses student submissions.
- Students assess their classmate’s submissions.
- Students receive two grades in the gradebook.
- One score for their submission.
- One score for their assessment of their classmates’ submissions.
The instructor can control which students assess which other student’s submissions, or allow the system to randomly select the pairings.
The tricky part to this whole equation, is understanding the grading process, and it’s not what you would expect. Let’s start with the score that each student gets on their own submission. This is calculated (with default settings in place) as the average of all assessments received, including the instructors. This final scores can be weighted or overridden by the instructor, however. The score that students get for assessing other student’s work is based on how close they are to the mean. Another words, if Tommy gives Suzy a 32/100, and everyone else gives Suzy an 80 or 90, then Tommy will get a poor grade for his assessment, because he deviated substantially from the mean.
This is an excellent explanation of the Workshop activity and its grading process:
Moodle Workshop 2.0 – a (simplified) explanation, by Mark Drechsler
Complexities aside, the Workshop activity is very interesting, because it provides students with another perspective on the assessment process, and also encourages interaction between students. Furthermore, the activity can be altered to allow self-assessment, and you can even restrict peer assessments to comments only (i.e. to lower the stakes and make it full-credit-for-participating).
If you want to spice things up in an otherwise passive CLE course, this is definitely a good way to do it!
Members of the Learning Technologies Group have been busy preparing for the transition to Moodle 2. We have been learning about what is new in the Moodle 2 learning management system and preparing to support the system through a combination of monthly workshops and consultations.
In preparation for the move to Moodle 2, we are dedicating the month of February to showcasing three exciting Moodle 2 activities. By now most people are aware of some of the great new features, including drag and drop file upload capabilities and conditional release. These are enough to get most Moodle 1.9 users excited about the transition, but there is much more included under the hood!
Throughout the month of February we are going to highlight the following three activities in Moodle 2:
Workshop Activity: The workshop activity allows for the collection, review and peer assessment of students’ work. Students obtain two grades in a workshop activity – a grade for their submission and a grade for their assessment of their peers’ submissions. This is an exciting new way to assess students’ learning in Moodle 2.
Lesson Activity: The lesson activity allows faculty to deliver content in interesting and flexible ways. Faculty can use the lesson to create a linear set of content pages or instructional activities that offer a variety of paths for the learner. Think of the lesson as a ‘choose your own adventure’ type activity.
Quiz Activity: Many UCSF faculty, staff and students are familiar with the quiz activity in the CLE. LTG staff are excited to highlight some of the new quizzing functionality included in Moodle 2. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Quiz navigation improvements for students
- Ability for students to flag questions during a quiz for later review
- Easy duplication of quizzes for redeployment
- Easily grant additional time for individuals needing time accommodations
We hope you come back and visit the Convergence blog during the month of February to learn more about these three Moodle 2 activities!
If you have any immediate questions about the Moodle 2 Pilot, please contact the Learning Technologies Group or register for the UCSF Library Workshop: Building Online Courses on the CLE with Moodle 2.
Image Credit: Erin Hayes, Moodle Trust