Drive Logo

In a big win for Xavier faculty, ITC recently "opened up" Google Drive for global collaboration.

What does this mean?

As you may know, Google Drive is a service for storing, syncing and sharing files. When Xavier adopted G Suite (formerly Google Apps), all Xavier users got an account allowing them store files in Google Drive. You can access your files at drive.google.com.

However, files stored in Google Drive could only be shared with other Xavier users — until now. Now you can share your files with colleagues at other institutions around the world. (Please note that the new policy applies only to faculty at this time.) We anticipate this will greatly aid in your efforts at scholarly collaboration.

What's the benefit?

Instead of emailing files back and forth, you can share a file in Google Drive. If you grant editing access to others, they can make changes; Google keeps the file in sync. You are less likely to run into the confusion that commonly arises when different versions of a document are edited by multiple contributors.

How to do it?

Sharing files with Google Drive is pretty easy, but not entirely goof-proof.

First, naturally enough, you have to have some files in Google Drive to share! I'm going to assume you already do; if that's not the case, a basic tutorial is available.

Second, navigate to the file you want to share in the Google Drive web interface. Remember, you can access your files at drive.google.com.

Finally, click the share icon for that file. (It looks like a little person with a plus sign next to their head.) You'll be prompted to enter the names or email addresses of the people you want to share with. (Names will generally only work for others in the Xavier system. For anyone outside Xavier, you'll need to use their email address.) You'll also want to specify the level of sharing. Do you want them to be able to view the file only, or to make comments, or to make edits? It's up to you.

But what about security?

Files uploaded to Google Drive are stored in the Cloud — on servers controlled by Google. You may have some concerns about what this means.

According to Google, your files are located in "secure data centers." There are some clear advantages. If your computer (or other device) is damaged or misplaced, you don't lose your data. You can get still get to your files once you get your hands on a new device.

Google also stipulates that "your files are private unless you share them."

When using Google Drive for collaboration, you'll want to observe the same common sense guidelines that you use when sharing information with anyone. If the data is sensitive, think twice before sharing it.

How can I learn more?

  • Learn more online.
  • Keep an eye out for ITC workshops.
  • CAT+FD has a workshop on collaborative authoring planned for Thursday, 16 March 2017; stay tuned!

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by Bart Everson

Embrace Keyboard Shortcuts

Everyone know that I am a hug(e) advocate of keyboard shortcuts. They are easy to learn and will give your productivity a boost. If you really enjoy sitting in front of your computer, and want to spend more time doing that every day while getting less done, then by all means ignore them — but the rest of us will want to memorize our keyboard shortcuts.

Everyone also knows that I do not use PowerPoint, have never used it, and generally avoid Microsoft products as if I was afflicted with a life-threatening allergy.

So that's why you've never heard me talk about keyboard shortcuts for PowerPoint.

Fortunately Scott Schwertly, famed presentation expert, has compiled a list for you. These are keyboard shortcuts you can use when actually presenting with PowerPoint. Extremely handy, if you ever do that. Check it out.

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.)

In this season of gift-giving, I thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to a couple of gadgets that can positively impact people who are in emergency situations such as the recent typhoon in the Philippines.

Gravity Light (from Deciwatt.org) generates light from gravity. Using a sandbag for three seconds gives 25 minutes of light and the procedure can be repeated over and over. Imagine the uses during the nights after a severe storm when one knows electricity will not be available for days or weeks.

Another fun and practical solution is SOCCKET, a useable soccer ball that is a portable generator. You build power by playing with the ball and then you use it as a light source. So kids affected by the typhoon can enjoy a few moments of being a child again while storing up light for the family to see by.

If you know of any other projects of this type, please feel free to share and I wish everyone a very Happy New Year!

P.S. Thanks to lesliefisher.com for the great sessions at LACUE, including one on gadgets. More to follow. KNN

Sue Frantz

Today CAT welcomes Sue Frantz who will be showcasing some essential technology in The Academic's Toolbox. We're learning plenty which we'll be sure to share in the weeks and months ahead.

Download Conversation #18

Dave Yearwood

A conversation with Dave Yearwood of University of North Dakota, on teaching, learning and online engagement.

The one thing I'm really cautious about is making sure these technologies are not used as souped-up dump trucks. Meaning you load them up with content and you just drive it to where students are and you drop off the content and say to students, "Now you work with it." That's the one thing I try to stress that we have to be careful about not doing with our students.

Links for this episode:

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W i K I S

I've been looking at wikis — lots of wikis — in order to find a few of the most interesting to present at a hands-off technology workshop next week. (Won't you please join us?) Of course interest is highly subjective, but I hope you find these projects intriguing, stimulating, and otherwise though-provoking.

First let me mention the elephant in the room. In my opinion, Wikipedia is one of the most interesting projects in the history of humanity. But we all know about Wikipedia. My goal here is to show that Wikipedia is not the only wiki on the planet. Onward!

  1. What if Hitler won World War II? That's one of the most common scenarios when imagining alternate histories. The Alternate History Wiki goes much further, with contributors speculating on thousands of other possible timelines that might have unfolded. What if Robert Kennedy had not been assassinated? What if a virus had devastated the Mayans in the 9th century? What if the earth was tilted 90º so the North Pole was off the coast of Africa? (In a similar speculative-imaginative vein, see also Galaxiki, which bills itself as a fictional galaxy anyone can edit.)
  2. As the name suggests, Appropedia is structured much like an encyclopedia. Because wikis can be sprawling in their scope, this is a common and sensible form. Appropedia is notable not merely for its admirable focus (on sustainability, appropriate technology and poverty reduction) but also for the quality of its engagement, which includes a substantial service learning component.
  3. There's a type of wiki known as a "city wiki," focusing on a single urban locality. Examples abound, but one of the weirdest and most wonderful is surely Davis Wiki, dedicated to the city of Davis, California. What makes this one stand out, besides its prodigious size, is that it's not as serious and straight-laced as many others. The wiki provides a wealth of serious content where appropriate, but also has room for a listing of the bathrooms at UC Davis — ranked by cleanliness or lack thereof.
  4. The Internet Movie Firearms Database is dedicated to figuring out just what guns were used in every scene of every movie ever made. As you can imagine, that's a lot of guns. I'm not a gun nut, but to me this is an intriguing proof-of-concept, demonstrating how a data-set can be developed with collaborative tools.
  5. The most interesting wiki I discovered was undoubtedly TV Tropes. A trope is a commonly recurring device or motif, not necessarily cliché, found in writing of all sorts. This site aims to catalog such tropes, initially stating with television (and apparently involving more than a few script writers) and eventually branching out to other forms such as film, radio, comics, theater, literature and more. Note that this analysis is very different from the encyclopedic approach. According to the site itself, you "can probably gain more info on the what of (for example) Star Trek from [Wikipedia] than you can from actually watching the show, and that's nice. Here? Here, you can get a glimmering of why the show is like that." Fascinating stuff — to me, anyhow. Your mileage may vary.

In recognition of the fact that interests vary, I've compiled a further listing of wikis that may be interesting to other people — perhaps one of them will be interesting to you.

  1. For those who are interested in the U.S. political process, OpenCongress Wiki, Ballotpedia & Judgepedia may be worth a look.
  2. SourceWatch, run by the Center for Media and Democracy, "aims to produce a directory of public relations firms, think tanks, industry-funded organizations and industry-friendly experts that work to influence public opinion and public policy on behalf of corporations, governments and special interest groups." (See also CoalSwarm, a sub-project.)
  3. I hesitate to post a link to Metapedia. It's a multilingual white nationalist and white supremacist, extreme right-wing encyclopedia. The perspective represented here is morally repugnant to me personally, and I expect to the Xavier community as well. And yet, I think access to this site presents obvious educational possibilities for creative teachers interested in history, politics, race relations, ethics and morality — to say nothing of critical thinking.
  4. Given Xavier's stake in the life sciences, the following may be useful: MedPedia is an open access online medical wiki encyclopedia, and MetaBase is a user-contributed database of biological databases.
  5. NotePub is an online notepad. You can write private, public, and shared notes. Extremely simple, easy-to-use and possibly quite handy.
  6. OpenStreetMap is quite impressive. Compare to Google Maps, but note this is published under the Open Database License. I think this is more of a tool for web developers to build upon but the potential is inspiring.
  7. Scholarpedia is kind of like an open access online journal in a wiki format. The articles are written by invited expert authors and are subject to peer review.
  8. Uncyclopedia & Encyclopedia Dramatica are satirical. The former is a direct parody of Wikipedia and feels a bit safe, while the latter is focused more on net culture and is not for the faint of heart.
  9. Wikitravel is a travel guide. Nuff said.
  10. Sensei's Library is a wiki about the game Go. It may be the most extensive Go resource on the web.
  11. Wookieepedia is an example of a fannish wiki. It's all about Star Wars, not just the movie but every aspect of the franchise. Any popular culture phenomenon with a dedicated cult is likely fodder for a wiki. I cite Wookieepedia because it's one of the biggest and most popular of such wikis, and provides an excellent example of the form.
  12. If you don't find any of the above even vaguely interesting, then Meatball Wiki is surely not for you. It's a wiki about wikis. Not a mere list of extant wikis, it "contains technical analyses of indexing schemes, wiki architecture, and inter-wiki protocol design. Yet it also philosophizes about the nature of hypertext, government, and identity, not to mention detailing user interfaces, community building, and conflict resolution."

If you're interested in learning more about using wikis, let me know. I'm happy to work with you. And don't forget to come to our workshop.

Photo credit: Various letters by Chris / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0/

Download Conversation #7

Eszter Hargittai

A conversation with Dr. Eszter Hargittai of Northwestern University on teaching, learning, and digital inequalities.

The idea behind introducing the term digital inequality... is that it's really a spectrum of differences even after people go online. So even once people get connected, it's wrong to think of them as all equally accessing all that the internet has to offer, because people will do so in very different ways and in different contexts and with different implications for what benefits they can reap from their access and use.

Links referenced in this episode:

...continue reading "Conversation #7: Digital Inequalities"

A conversation with Dr. Suzie Baker of James Madison University about teaching, learning and technology.

Download Conversation #1

Links referenced in this episode: