Got Social?

Article for IIE on Virtual Worlds

I was recently invited to contribute a small piece (a magazine half-page) for the Institute for International Education.  I’ve only just sent in my draft and am awaiting editorial response.  This exercise made me re-think why I believe virtual worlds can provide a unique and unparalleled educational experience for the right content.  It also made me look hard at what has stopped virtual worlds from becoming more main stream and why the fanfare of 2007-2010 went bust.  Sad thing is, not much has changed since I was at all actively involved.

Go, Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go has been all the rage.  This type of augmented reality is not new – I saw stuff like this 2 years ago.  What IS new is that this game captured an audience with a viral use-case.  This cracked the ceiling, if you ask me.  The acceptance of augmented reality will change – it’s not on the public’s radar.  Futurist saw the use a while back, and the bleeding-edge were playing with it not that long ago.  But now that Pikachu is roaming our streets, with folks chasing it around – let’s see who steps up next to try to built on this success.

Looking for research

Looking for recommendations of articles that discuss:

* the issue of “no significant different” when it comes to f2f vs. hybrid/online learning
* when one section of a course is taught hybrid/online and the other f2f – if a comparison is made
* what type of student takes online courses at a traditionally brick/mortar institution, and why

Any leads greatly appreciated.

Share your screen live with Screenleap

Screenleap allows you to share your desktop with one or more people, over the Internet, in real time.  There are many applications for this in a variety of fields, but I’ll focus on education for this brief entry.

Imagine you are teaching a hybrid or online statistics class and you wanted to show your students how to do something in real time using SPSS or some other statistics program.  You could have the students visit a web site address that Screenleap provides you and anyone you give that URL to will be able to see all or part of your desktop.  All you have to do is click the big green SHARE YOUR SCREEN NOW button (seen in the image above).

The next thing you might see is a pop up letting you know that certain things might need to be configured on your computer and it provides you with the instructions on how to move forward.  Depending on how your computer is configured, you may not see the notices this pop-up refers to.  For instance, since I’d followed similar instructions in the past, and also have my computer all patched and up to date on the software versions, I did not have to follow the instructions.

The next screen you see is the important one.  You will see a small pop up with a drop down option and two buttons.  The two buttons allow you to pause or stop sharing your desktop, so you remain in control of what others see all the time.  The drop down allows you to share a portion of your screen or your entire screen.

As you can see in the picture above, I’ve chosen to share only part of the screen, which is within the green frame on the screen.  You can adjust the size of the frame height alone, by dragging on the top or bottom line, width along, by dragging on the left or right line, or equally on all sides by dragging on any corner.  This way if you don’t want your viewers to see your entire desktop, but only the part you are showing – the SPSS window in my example above, you – again – can control that.

What I’ve shown in the picture above is what you will see when you are ready to start screen sharing.  You can either give your students the URL that Screenleap provides you or you can have them enter the code provided if they go to the Screenleap web site.

This is a very simple way to share your screen with one or more.

Scratch Pad

One of the most amazing things has been to see support for people’s countries come up in their updates, at least in Facebook – I don’t really regularly monitor my other social networks.  Guess that says a lot.

In thinking more about that I decided to take a closer look at Google +

Twitter I’ve little hope in.  The other day someone suggested that engagement happens around hashtags.  Of course, when I asked my network, the responses I got back were people saying they follow people and not hashtags.  Of course they do, which is why they saw my post.  If they followed hashtags, and I didn’t tag it, they wouldn’t have seen it.  I started my own hashtag, #helpaj, but most of the people who replied neglected to use it and so I found myself retweeting things.  Perhaps I’ll next look at the hashtags I see other individuals use, but first I decided it would be easier to start with Google +

I took all of those who I had in various circles and put them in one circle I called “Never Posted”.  I then went through the “Never Posted” circle and put people into one of three folders: Recent 6Mos,  6 to 1, and 1 Plus.  Let’s see if this works better, because it was not effective at all before.

It’ll also make it easier for me to decide what to post to Google + and to which folders.

Just FYI – of the 180 I have in circles, 104 are in Recent 6Mos, 36 are in Never Posted, 31 are in 6 to 1, and 7 are in 1 Plus.


Writing Apps and Styli

Back on June 14th I posted the following question to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

“A colleague is using Penultimate (iPad handwriting app), anyone else have suggestions?  How about stylus suggestions?”

This blog posting has a dual purpose, first to continue my ongoing war with social media and two to compare different writing apps for the iPad and styli so I can decided which to get.

By way of refresher, even though it appears in the last post, here are my stats with the social media in question.

  • Google+ - I have 181 unique profiles in 13 circles and 244 people have me in their circles.
  • Facebook – I have 283 friends.
  • Twitter – I follow 525 and am followed by 974.

Of all of my recent postings, this one got the best response and across a broad spectrum, so lets look at both the number (first) and then the details.

  • Two (2) people responded on Google+, representing 0.8% of those who have me in their circles (although I made the post public as well)
  • Three (3) people responded on Facebook, representing 1.1% of my Friends list
  • Three (3) people responded on Twitter, representing 0.3% of those who follow me

Once again, Facebook had the best response rate (and most in-depth conversation), followed by Google+, with Twitter bringing up the rear, again.  The interesting news in this is that there were even any response from Twitter, which is a change.

Now, to the content, and I’ll not differentiate where it came from.

Three people mentioned PenUltimate.  One said s/he used it along with Evernote, the other two said they used others but had tried it out.

Two recommended Noteshelf, both very highly.  One of whom said he also liked Notability because you could add audio but it was Noteshelf’s organization he liked.

One recommended NotesPlus but said he also liked Noteablity and PenUltimate.

As for styli (I supposed I could write styluses, which some dictionaries list as acceptable, but the correct form is styli) – Bamboo got two recommendations.

Ayl Slim got one (its slimmer than all others), Boxwave got one (a glowing one in fact), and Motive Stylus got one, but it came from the vendor via Twitter, so, I’ll have to take that one with a grain of salt.

I decided to look online for comparisons.  I’m certain Mashable has done something (in fact, they’d not – at least not that I can find easily).  I’m sure there are others, also.  As I don’t want this to turn into a lit review, I’m just going to post some links here, you’re welcome to read them if you want.  I don’t vouch for any of them and, in fact, I’ve not read them prior to posting this.  I just did a Google Search and added the ones I thought, at quick glance, looked useful.

Once I’ve decided which one I’m going with, in each category, I’ll report back.

Writing App Reviews



Latest in AJ’s War on Social Media

I’ve had this ongoing war with social networks, and you can read about it here, here, here, and here.

The latest update is as follows.  At 18:53 Eastern Time on Wednesday, July 18th, I posted the following message

“Is the Roku the best devices of its type or is there something else to consider?”

to Facebook, Twitter, Google +, and LinkedIN.

Since was taken over by Seesmic, I’ve not made the switch.  I can still post via Ping from my iPhone but from work I use a service that sends stuff to Facebook and Twitter when I post to Google+.  If I wanted to add any more networks, I’d need the paid service.  So I decided to post the above directly to each service.  I also wanted to eliminate the opportunity for something not to get posted or posted properly.

The goal is to see if and how many responses come to/from each and what the quality is of each response.

  • To Google + I posted it to all of my circles, my extended circles, and the public.  I have 181 unique profiles in 13 circles and 244 people have me in their circles.
  • To Facebook I posted as a status update, which means only those I’ve “friended” will see it.  I current have 283 friends.
  • I posted it to Twitter via Hootsuite.  I follow 525 and am followed by 974.
  • LinkedIn, which is a newcomer to the “war”, was posted as a status update.  I’ve not included LinkedIn in the past because I was reaching it via, and figured if I didn’t get an email I didn’t get any responses.  I have 236 connections on LinkedIn.

It’s been over two days and I had five responses from Facebook, or 1.8%.  There were no responses from Twitter, Google+ or LinkedIn.

Earlier today I posted a question about a Keurig Coffee Maker.  This time I only posted it to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Since its not a question about my profession, I didn’t post to LinkedIn.

“Is Keurig really THAT much better than some of the other single-cup pod-using brewers?”

No responses from Twitter, which has become the norm.  Someone on Google+ posted that they thought it was a good question and looked forward to the responses, but no others came.  Facebook was a different story.

So far, and the conversation is still going on, 7 people have responded, or 2.5%, but it generated 25 comments.  More than half of the people posting were involved in an entire conversation, not just responding to me but responding to each other (and they don’t even know each other!)  Links to comparison web sites were shared and there was a immersive feel to the whole thing.  It felt most like we were having the kind of conversation we might have if we were in person.  THAT is something that no other social network has been able to duplicate and until they do, Facebook will still be king.

I’m told by an “industry” colleague that I need to be the one setting the pace, I need to be the leader, that if I move, others will follow.  And to that, I call bullshit.  I’m posting to Google+, the next closest competitor, and there is NO conversastion going on there.  And its not like I don’t have a lot of people in my “circles” or I’m in a lot of circles.  In fact, according to my numbers above, I have a broader “eyeball” reach on Google+, even broader still on Twitter.  But its just not happening there for me.

I’ve had not one but two people tell me that it must be me with regard to Twitter, that they have “conversations” all the time, with many folks in a broad community.  And they do.  I’ve seen it.  And I don’t know why it doesn’t happen for me, but it doesn’t. To me, Twitter is a giant echo chamber, and people are just shouting into it to hear their own voice, or to hear the voice of others, but not so much to engage with them.  It is much more voyeuristic.

Back in June, on the 14th, I posted something to all three but never wrote about it.  I am gathering information about writing apps and styluses (or styli, to be completely accurate) for the iPad.  It does tie to this, because there are stats on response rate, but I’ll save that for another post, which I’m going to write up now under a separate posting.

Gamifying Education

I think you should watch the following…

…and then come back here to add as a comment about what you thought.

There’s 100XP for the first person to do it and 25XP for everyone after.  An addition 10XP if someone comments on your comment on it.


I’ll start a leader board as my next post.




An interesting side thought. My good friend Chris Alvino “liked” my Facebook post directing people to this blog. On Facebook, Twitter, and in Google Plus I wrote “Connect Penny Arcade and Gamifying Education. Ready. Go.”

So Facebook people can “like” or “share” my post. Should they go on the leader board? Someone on Twitter can reply or retweet. Should they go on the leader board? Those on Google + can +1 or Share what I posted there, should they go on the leader board?  I say yes  Should the credit be the same for everything?  I guess, for now.  Should a “like” be worth more than a “tweet”?  No.  Should something posted on Facebook be worth more than something on Google +? No.

iBooks Community

On February 22nd the ADP Center and the Emerging & Instructional Technology unit co-sponsored a roundtable discussion called “Apple’s iBooks and iTunes: It’s Complicated!”.

The meeting was a great success and the UStream recording can be found here.

As promised during the meeting, here is the information about the community that the ADP Center was gracious enough to create and host for us.  In fact, Gregg Festa has already posted a very interesting info graphic.

I hope you’ll all consider signing up and contributing.  I also hope you’ll consider forwarding the information below to your colleagues so we can create a vibrate and engaged community around these issues.

To join the group, go to and join the site.  Membership is moderated (to help avoid sp*mmers), but once you get the notice that its been approved, go to GROUPS and click on iBOOKS/iTUNES PILOT PROJECT and click JOIN in the upper right-hand corner.

Anyone can follow the discussion but you need to join the site and the group to participate.

You’ll also notice a Twitter feed there which is based on the hashtag #msuibooks.  If you’re on Twitter, make sure to add your Twitter name to the Comment Board.  When you post to Twitter, about the topic, make sure to include #msuibooks in your tweet.