Useful Software

Useful programs for online office hours and creation of web-based content

While many methods exist to create documents and audio or video files, I am recommending the following because of the ease of use of the programs and easy-to-medium level learning curve. Consider as well the information provided in the Podcasting and Profcasting section as you decide how to develop and deliver content online.

Software/services for online office hours

Call and Confer and Office Hours are useful offerings from CCC Confer for conducting meetings with individuals or groups. Attached are the common Telephone Features for Call and Confer/Office Hours. To set up a meeting, complete the request form at the following link: http://www.cccconfer.org/CCCC/MeetingLaunch.aspx

After the meeting is set, two emails (one for the presenter and the other for the participants) will be sent to the presenter explaining how participants access the meeting.

Google+ Hangouts

Video chats with 10 people + options for sharing each other's desktops and sharing files. Video sessions can be archived within a Youtube account as well as streamed live. Caption options are available via Youtube as well. Links to these services can be easily placed within a webpage/website. To learn more, go to the Google+ Hangout Learn More page

Join.me

Allows for easy screen-sharing between multiple people. The interface is simple and easy to understand and large buttons/short drop-down menus allow the presenter or viewer(s) to send or request access to a desktop screen. The following directions are easy to follow: Join.me handout. This can be combined with a Skype session as well for effective demos and office hours. For additional information, go to the Join.me FAQ.

Facebook app: Airtime. While currently plagued with connection/network problems, it's compelling only because it is part of Facebook. For more information, see the Airtime FAQ page

Skype 

Skype provides an easy and reliable way to conduct a video chat - whether for student meetings or committee work. The sound and video quality are good, the account setup is easy, and additional features like file sharing, text-based chat, and screen-sharing exist as well.

Photo editing, computer-screen capturing, and video-oriented programs

Camtasia and Snapz Pro X

These programs allow a user to record and narrate most programs being used on a computer as well as the narration of that activity. For example, the Profcast Tutorials were recorded with Snapz Pro X and saved as a Quicktime Movie file and then converted to a Flash .swf file.

Jing Project

Jing, like Camtasia and Snapz Pro X, instantly captures and shares images and video from your computer. It has limitations in that the single output is Flash's swf file type, a 10-frames per second setting, and a limit of 5 minutes of recording per session. On the upside, it is free and offers to host 2 gigs of storage for you, providing a link from which it streams the video.

Photoshop.com

Adobe has a website for editing, storing, and sharing photos - photoshop.com. While it currently provides 2 gigs for free, additional space is available for a price. Users can also store and share videos and set permissions on photos and videos.

YouTube

Tutorial: How to caption videos using YouTube's video options 

YouTube allow you to upload videos (as well through Google+ Hangouts (see above)) and allows for easy captioning. While the accuracy rate is about 50%-70%, it's easy to edit the time-stamped file.

Additional resources

Blackboard 9.1 CourseSites

CourseSites is a free, hosted online course management system from Blackboard in which you can load content and publisher epacks -- especially if a publisher only makes an epack for Blackboard. Students will have to register for the site by creating an account, and each instructor can create 5 courses per login. This is a great resource!

Macs - The mac laptops and iMacs come with cameras which can be used to create images and video, but also used for video conferencing. Photobooth, a program on the mac, allows a user to capture images and video with only a single button, and the program has artistic filters and presets more for amusement than practicality. If interested, stop into Staff Development (AB 217) and click on the Photobooth icon. To begin recording or to take a picture, click on the red button.

Profcast

Please see the page for Podcasting and Profcast.

Dropbox is a free service which allows for easy web-based storage of files. These can be accessed through the web and, with the Dropbox software installed on multiple machines, can sync your files between multiple locations. This makes for a seamless workflow between home and office.

Google Docs

Please see the following links for information on this very useful and easy-to-use web-based word processing suite (for documents, spreadsheets, presentations). All that is needed is a gmail account (http://docs.google.com). While individuals can use these web-based programs, groups can also collaborate online on the same document as well:

Google's Explanation Video - Quick explanation of why to use Google Docs

Wikipedia Explanation - Summary of the features and limitations of the systems (i.e., file storage. But, know that Google Docs have very small file sizes in comparison to Microsoft, and that one can share a Google Doc as an email attachment that is saved in RTF or Odt format (both small) and then open it in MS Word.

Google Docs for smartphones and iPads - if you have a smartphone or iPad (or your students do), this is one more way to access, create, and edit a document, but the difference is that a Google Doc starts as a web-based document and can be easily added to a website/WebCT/email to display as a webpage or url. This makes it easier to access and edit and more flexible than a file. Students will likely appreciate this as well.

Google Form example - Here's a link to a form created with Google Forms which contains a number of the options available (while you can use a text box, I did not for this form) when creating the questions on the form.

Komposer

Do you need a simple and free html editor? If so, the Komposer html editor fits that need and html code can be easily copied and pasted into other familiar webpages and websites: WebCT, Voyager sites, and DVC's Faculty/Staff Bio-Pages.

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