Monday, May 29, 2006

Students, Images and Courses

This fall we have three freshmen seminar courses where all students in each course, about 16, will be provided with free digital cameras. Right now, our "camera selection team" has settled on the Nikon Coolpix P2.

We are studying the best way for the students to share/distribute/present their images. A lot, of course, will depend on the faculty member's preferences. All we can do is provide choices, and be ready to support them.

There are free (or almost free) "social software" web-based solutions.

Blogger, example at
You could then create a podcast or RSS feed with feedburner

Or Flickr, and connect the two? You could also use Flickr by itself, without a blog.
Other choices are PowerPoint, WebCT image database (my team is shying away from this), Photoshop Web Photo Gallery (uploaded to WebCT).

There is also the wiki. I wrote up a tutorial for uploading images to a wiki we support (in Help)
but no students uploaded images. They were not required to, which may be one reason they didn't.

The students will use Photoshop Elements for editing the images, this is installed in all our computer labs and Keyserved.

The camera also can shoot short QuickTime movies, with audio, and there is an interesting debate on our team regarding how much this will be used.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Image upload test

I was wondering how well blogs would work for image uploading for a student project, so this is a test.
It is an 800 x 550 pixel image, 72 dpi, 76 kb jpeg. Uploaded using the "small thumbnail", center image. This is the maximum size that fits in a MediaWiki page, displaying on a 1024x768 monitor.

This also gets also in the issue of how to best present students' images for the purpose of class assignment, in a linear fashion (PowerPoint, blog), or image-set (Flickr, wiki). I don't think there is a mature image-display-collection tool out there yet, that can be hosted locally at an institution, without a lot of time or expense, that has all the features we want.

Gallery2 seems a good "home-brew" flickr candidate, but I have not heard of many higher-ed institutions adopting it, and there is a bit of the "herd instinct" at work in higher ed. Having bucked it enough times, I'm not in the mood now...

Looking ahead to video, I want to analyze the code to this
We can host the videos on one of our servers, and just link to them from our blogs.

My first post

Ok, I've started a few test blogs with Apple's Weblog Server, included in OSX Server. Seems great for creating podcasts, but not many features for just a blog. So, am testing Blogger. I'm wondering right now about these features:
1. Is it free to use without any ads showing up?
2. Can images be easily loaded (a bit of a bear in Weblog Server)
3. How about video and audio clips? Formats, size limitations?
4. How does the blog transfer to a podcast?
5. Can I edit my posts at a later time?
6. Comment moderation? Getting spammed?
7. Suitability for instruction. Jean-Claude Bradley at Drexel University seems to use it pretty well.