by Karen Nichols

Photos have become such an integral part of Twitter and now they can be accessible to the visually-impaired.  Earlier this week, Twitter added the capability of including descriptions of your photos (you may know the feature as alt text).  This is a great way to reach more people and this new feature serves as a reminder that we should always use "alt text" when we post photos.

Here's how to enable this feature on your Twitter account:

"Enable this feature by using the compose image descriptions option in the Twitter app’s accessibility settings. The next time you add an image to a Tweet, each thumbnail in the composer will have an add description button. Tap it to add a description to the image. People who are visually impaired will have access to the description via their assistive technology (e.g., screen readers and braille displays). Descriptions can be up to 420 characters." https://blog.twitter.com/2016/accessible-images-for-everyone

So don't forget the alt text the next time you include an image in your tweet!

Two bluebirds conversing
Two bluebirds conversing

by Karen Nichols

Happy New Year! During this time we are bombarded with lists of the best (and worse) from 2015 as we attempt to summarize what last year was all about. Well, I'm adding to this assortment a list from Faculty Focus' Top 15 Teaching and Learning Articles of 2015*, in order to see what topics interest the faculty.

If two of the articles focused on "flipped" classrooms, then we can gauge the continuing interest in this technique.  Two of the top articles pertain to effective discussions, in the classroom and online.  The Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Faculty Development has posted several blogs on discussions (such as The Ultimate Guide to Discussion Boards! and  Improve Online Discussions using ABCs) plus hosted a workshop, but it may be a good idea to keep in mind the need to continuously improve in this area.

And what is Faculty Focus' number one article of last year?  More Evidence That Active Learning Trumps Lecturing

This is actually reflected on our campus as well as we have given presentations and workshops on metacognition and active learning for several individual departments in addition to a general offering to all faculty.

Here's a four minute YouTube video, "What is Active Learning?"

Please feel free to contact us for more information on metacognition and active learning.

*According to Faculty Focus, "each article’s ranking is based on a combination of factors, including e-newsletter open and click rates, social shares, reader comments, web traffic, reprint requests, and other reader engagement metrics."

by Karen Nichols
The University of London and the Dublin Institute of Technology both launched on 1 December their respective 12 Apps of Christmas. It's not too late to sign up. These are free online courses, aimed at students and instructors of all ages who are interested in learning more about integrating mobile learning technologies into their studies or classes. I have to admit that I was disappointed on December 1st when the University of London revealed the first app--Google Translate. I thought I knew all about this app, but I was surely wrong! Their presentation was easy to follow and well-illustrated. I truly had no idea that sound files would work on Google translate. Each app includes educational applications and actual activities for you to try of which there are several for Google translate. So check out the site and see if you may be interested in participating in reviewing the apps and these mini-courses and providing feedback. 15-20 minutes a day are kindly requested for you to give feedback to them. Here's the link:
http://www.openeducationeuropa.eu/en/news/new-edition-successful-12-apps-christmas-online-courses-students-and-teachers

And here's a demonstration of Google translate and the song LaBamba!

by Karen Nichols

I attended a presentation on using social media to engage underrepresented students at the most recent Online Learning Consortium in Orlando.  Several apps were discussed and Twitcam was one of them.  I decided to investigate it for myself.  If you go to the twitcam website:  http://twitcam.livestream.com/ the directions say you can begin in three easy steps.  Well, that wasn't quite my experience, but it was still pretty easy just the same.

So, from the Twitcam homepage, I was told that Flash needed to be installed.

Then I was told to set up my webcam.  Fortunately, mine is built in.

Next I have to log into Twitter.  But wait, there is no sign of Twitcam inside my Twitter.  What they should say is to "scroll down to the bottom of the Twitcam page and click on Broadcast Live.  THEN you'll be taken to Twitter where you can log in and see Twitcam.

Once there, you must "allow" Twitcam to access your webcam and microphone and then it really is easy to follow their directions.  You will be tweeting live which could be a really wonderful learning experience for various concepts you're teaching.

When finished, click on stop recording and you'll be asked if you want to archive your video.  So not only could you reach students as you streamed your video live, you can provide the link to the video for anyone who missed it or who would like to replay it later.

So here's just a quick example of a twitcam video I made.  Because this is a free service, you'll have to view all or part of an ad before the video will play.  Since you can tweet as you're videotaping, you can add the text of what you're saying to make it accessible since I don't see any way to add captions, or add something else like an assignment.  You can provide a link to the archived video or embed it.

http://twitcam.com/giovj

I'm really interested to know if you think you may like to try something like this and create a video tweet spree for your students.  If you do, please share!

Last week CAT's own Bart Everson gave an invited talk at Xavier's long-running series on Across the Curriculum Thinking.

Watch Social Media, Social Justice on Vimeo

(See our wiki for related resources and credits.)

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by Janice Florent

image showing social media icons

Social media has evolved into more than a simple tool to stay in touch with friends or to share vacation pictures. Educators are finding interesting ways to use social media in their teaching and learning. Benefits to using social media in teaching and learning include putting concepts into context, keeping course content up-to-date, and fostering a sense of community both in and out of the classroom.

Facebook and Twitter may be ubiquitous, but there are many other social media tools out there that can enhance teaching and learning.

Facebook and Twitter are social media tools that are familiar to most people. Here are a few other social media tools that are being used in education:

You can read more about how three educators are using these social media tools in the Campus Technology article, 6 Alternative Social Media Tools for Teaching and Learning.

CAT was fortunate to be able to co-sponsor the sixth annual Rising Tide conference last weekend. It was a great success by most every measure, with programming on a diverse variety of topics.

One panel of particular interest was "Social Media, Social Justice," examining the intersection and interaction of social network services with the struggle for a more just and humane society. (Perhaps I'm prejudiced because I helped put this one together.) Here's the video.

Xavier's Kimberly Joy Chandler (Communications) moderates; other panelists are Jordan Flaherty, James Huck and Stephen Ostertag. Sadly Cherri Foytlin was stranded in Charlotte by Hurricane Irene so she does not appear, but thanks to Mary Joyce for filling in on short notice.

Twitter Pickles

Do you have any stereotypes in mind about users of social media? If popular culture is any indication, the common view would seem to be that people who use Facebook, Twitter and the like are narcissistic, superficial, self-involved, self-important and just plain silly. And of course, it's mainly the younger generation that is perceived as having a social media problem. The consequences for public life, for an educated and engaged citizenry, would seem to be quite dire.

Do we view our students this way?

If so, it might be worth taking a look at the Pew Internet & American Life Project's recent report, Social networking sites and our lives.

Among the findings, there is evidence that many may find surprising. For example, social media users are more "politically engaged" than the general population.

Furthermore:

There is no evidence that [social networking site] users, including those who use Facebook, are any more likely than others to cocoon themselves in social networks of like-minded and similar people, as some have feared.

This is the first national survey of its kind, and worth a quick look — if you don't mind challenging those amusing stereotypes.

PS: If you're interested in this sort of thing, you might want to check out the "Social Media, Social Justice" panel at Rising Tide 6.

Last week I offered a workshop titled "Social Bookmarking: Using Delicious." I recorded the audio live, so for those who couldn't make it, here's a slidecast of the entire 55 minute presentation.
...continue reading "Social Bookmarking Presentation"

There's a story that's been making the rounds lately. I think the Telegraph might have been the first major media venue to give it coverage: Facebook 'enhances intelligence' but Twitter 'diminishes it', claims psychologist.

But what's the science behind the hype? After scrounging though these articles for data (without success) I went to the presumed source, Tracy Alloway's personal website. Unfortunately the only reference there to either Twitter or Facebook seems to be a collection of links, which point to the articles cited above.

At this point I'm beginning to feel like I'm running in circles.