Friday, December 19, 2008

Wikipedia is now a primary source for research!

Wikipedia. For academics you either love it or you hate it. One of the people on Twitter that I follow alerted me to a blog post by Frederic Lardinois on ReadWriteWeb that describes a first for a refereed academic journal. The scientific journal, RNA Biology, will now require all authors that submit a paper for review to the journal to also submit a summary of the article to Wikipedia. The Wikipedia summary is reviewed as part of the submission; however, once the paper is accepted for publication and the Wikipedia page is posted, anyone in the world can edit the contents of the Wikipedia entry.

I love it! RNA Biology is now feeding original cutting edge research into Wikipedia. That is primary source material – not simply secondary source material. I just love it. How do you feel about it? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Note: image credit here.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Live classroom polling without clickers?

Almost everybody these days has a cellphone - especially students! So a company called Poll Everywhere has decided to deploy an Audience Response System (aka, clickers) by using text messaging on a cellphone instead of a wireless clicker transmitter. A colleague of mine (thanks Katia!) first let me know about this company by a comment she left on one of my blog posts. Today I spent some time trying it out and my initial assessment is that this is GREAT! It really works.

  • It's fast. When I send a txt msg it takes about 2-3 seconds for the vote to be captured in the resulting graph

  • It's easy for students to participate. As easy as sending a conventional text message and they do not have to buy a 'clicker' they can use their personal cell phone.

  • It's easy for instructors. No longer must the presentation room be equipped with a receiver to capture the signal from the clickers. All you need is an internet connection to capture the data from the live graph.

  • You can embed the 'live' graph as a PowerPoint slide into your classroom presentation. No need to minimize PowerPoint to go to a website to view the results.

  • It's cheap! In fact, you can try it for free with a maximum of 30 votes per question. For larger numbers of votes you can subscribe to the system for a monthly fee.

  • Web-voting is enabled. If you have students without a cellphone but with a laptop... then they can still vote by going to a specific link the instructor provides.

Want to try it? Here's a poll that I created below

Try it! Vote! If you want to vote by cell phone then here's how to do it:
  1. As the poll says, write a text message to this number: 32075 (Note: this is a text message short code - it is used like a telephone number for text messages.)

  2. In the text message you will place your vote. The format of your text message is specific: "Cast xxxxx". Where 'xxxxx' is a unique number associated with the option you wish to vote for.

  3. For example, in this poll, if you want to vote for Desire2Learn then write a text message to 32075 which contains this text "cast 29368". 2-3 seconds later you will see the graph change to incorporate your result. Note: Once 30 votes are tallied the poll closes so I will try to reset this poll once in awhile so that people can continue to try it.

Note: Poll Everywhere only works in some countries. Check their list.

If you want to try the web-based voting, then you can vote here.

I think this is great and I am definitely going to use it in class. What do you think?