Category Archives: Learning Management Systems

Cross Platform Learning- Opinion

Last semester, my Moodle looked a little barren. Only two of my classes actually had Moodle pages. This would be okay if only 2 of my classes had websites. But all of them did. In fact, most of the classes I took had multiple websites that I was expected to check, and memorize, and be a part of throughout the semester. This is the story of how I kept up with:

  1. courses.umass.edu
  2. people.umass.edu
  3. moodle.umass.edu
  4. owl.oit.umass.edu
  5. piazza.com
  6. Flat World Learn On
  7. SimNet
  8. TopHat
  9. Investopedia
  10. Class Capture

 

The Beginning

At the beginning of the semester it was impossible to make a calendar. My syllabi (which weren’t given out in class) were difficult to find. Because I didn’t have a syllabus from which I could look at the link to the teacher’s page, I had to remember the individual links to each professor’s class. This was a total waste of my time. I couldn’t just give up either because that syllabus is where the class textbook was. I felt trapped by the learning curve of new URLs that were being slung at me. I had moments were I questioned my ability to use computers. Was I so bad that I couldn’t handle a few new websites? Has technology already left me in the past?


The Semester

One of the classes I am taking is on technology integration into various parts of your life. The class is an introductory business class with a tech focus. This class is the biggest culprit of too many websites. For homework we need website A, for class we use website B, for lab we use website C, the tests are based on the information from website D, and everything is poorly managed by website E.

Another class is completely a pen on paper note taking class. In the middle of lecture, my professor will reference something on the website and then quickly go back to dictating notes. Reflecting on it, this teaching had a method to using online resources that I enjoyed. Everything I needed to learn for the tests was given to me in class and if I didn’t understand a concept, there were in depth help on the website.

One class has updates on Moodle that just directs me toward the online OWL course. This wasn’t terrible. I am ok with classes that give me a Moodle dashboard so I have one place to start my search for homework and text books. The OWL course described also had the textbook. This was really nice. One stop shopping for one class.

My last class (I know, I am a slacker that only took 4 classes this semester) never used the online resource which meant I never got practice using it. This was a problem when I needed to use it.


The End

I got over the learning curve of the 10 websites for 4 classes I was taking. But next semester I will just have to go through the same thing. I wish that professors at UMass all had a Moodle page that would at least have the syllabus and a link to their preferred website. But they don’t do that.

So You Want To Learn HTML? (Part 1: What IS HTML?)

Hi there! If you’ve clicked on this article, there is a non zero chance you want to learn HTML.

Today, I will be going over some of the basics of HTML. But first we must answer the question:

What IS HTML?

HTML Stands for HyperText Markup Language, and it provides the backbone for the code that makes up most web pages you visit on a daily basis. HTML code is usually written and modified using a variety of tags, styles and scripts.

  • Tags are the backbone of HTML, providing a basic structure for web pages.
  • Styles allow a web developer to modify the layout of a webpage but modifying attributes like the positioning, color, or size of elements on the webpage.
  • Scripts allow a web developer to create ways for users to interact with webpages in a variety of ways.

Today, we will be creating a basic HTML document. To begin, open up A simple text editor. The most common/easy to use for this exercise are Notepad (Windows) or TextEdit (Mac).

notepad-blank.bb647ae001a4fc7d168c240e01088787[1]

This is where we’ll begin. As previously stated, tags are the backbone of an HTML document, and are what we’ll be using to create a very basic text page. Every tag has an opening tag and closing tag. Text is then placed in between these tags.

Let’s run through a quick example: To create a full header tag, one would simply type the opening tag for a header: <h1>, followed by some text, and finally, the closing header tag: </h1>. Altogether, it would look something like this:

<h1> This is what a header looks like! </h1>?

Got that? To break it down one last time:

<h1> is our opening tag. It tells the document, “hey, I’m about to start a header tag. The stuff to follow is going to make a header for my page!”

</h1> tells the document, “I’m done writing the header now. Close it up!”

On a very basic level, this is all it takes to write a line of HTML code. Now, let’s dive into a few of the basic tag types.

Tag Types

Today we will be going over two very basic HTML tags to help give you a taste of writing HTML code.

Header

The header tag is a very important one, usually used to format the title of a webpage. We worked with it a bit up above, but there’s an extra part about headers that is important to know, for formatting purposes. The number that comes after the “h” in the header tag ranges from 1-6. These numbers rank the “importance” of each header in a given HTML document. Each rank, from <h1> all the way to <h6>, produce a progressively smaller header.

Consider the following block of code:

<h1> This is what an h1 header looks like! </h1>
<h2> This is what an h2 header looks like! </h2>
<h3> This is what an h3 header looks like! </h3>
<h4> This is what an h4 header looks like! </h4>
<h5> This is what an h5 header looks like! </h5>
<h6> This is what an h6 header looks like! </h6>

This code, when saved and viewed as an HTML document, looks like this:

headers

As we can see, each successive “rank” in our headers produces a smaller and smaller line, with the last couple of lines ending up quite small. This allows you to create “sub headers” to rank and organize items on your page by importance.

Paragraph

The paragraph tag is a simple and elegant way of “wrapping” text in your document, so that it doesn’t all stay together on one, long line. To represent a paragraph, use the following structure:

<p> This is my paragraph! By using this tag, it will wrap all of the text that I’m typing inside of it to make it much nicer to look at and read in my HTML document. Thanks <p> tag! </p>

Now that we’ve learned a couple of HTML tags, let’s use them to whip up your own HTML document!

  1. Open up Notepad, TextEdit, or similar text program.
  2. Type the following on the first line: <h1> This is my first HTML Document!</h1>
  3. On the next line, copy and paste the following: <p> The paragraph tag allows me to input text into my document, and format it to make it readable!</p>
  4. Finally type an <h2> header, with your name, and the date. Don’t forget to close the tag!
  5. Save the file as an HTML document. To do this, when naming the file, type ‘.html’ after the file name (for example: MyFirstHTML.html). Save it somewhere on your computer that is easily accessible.

Your final code should look something like this:

<h1> This is my first HTML Document!</h1>
<p> The paragraph tag allows me to input text into my document,  and format it to make it readable!</p>
<h2> First Name Last Name, October 4, 2016 </h2>

When you try to open up the HTML document, it should look like this:

headers

Congratulations! This article provides a very basic overview of HTML, and teaches you the basics of creating your first HTML document. Next time, we will discuss some more basic structural tags, as well as begin discussing styles, which will allow us to further modify the layout and color, as well as other features of our web page.

Digital Education

ibooks_itunesu_ios7-600x300In today’s world, it seems that we have an application for everything. We have apps for managing our schedule, listening to music, and creating and editing video. We have apps for helping us watch what we eat and making sure we get enough exercise. We have apps for entertainment and we have apps for productivity. Within an application market filled to the brim with apps to make our lives easier and more enjoyable, it would just make sense to have an application dedicated to education. As of right now, this market resides as a largely untapped resource. Many of our readers have probably owned an iPhone at one point, and many of these owners have probably noticed an application called “iTunes U”, which they have probably ignored, myself included. iTunes U is Apple’s attempt at an app dedicated to education – populated with courses and integrated with iBooks and the cloud, iTunes U is a work in progress that has the potential to kick start the digital education market, and help revolutionize how we learn in this day and age.

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Collaborative Tools at UMass Amherst

You don’t need to keep track of emails, attachments with revisions, and addresses when you collaborate with Google Apps at UMass Amherst.

When you’re ready to share a document or presentation, just click File>Share… and start typing your classmate’s name in the search box. The UMass directory is built into Drive, so just select the right name and click “Share & Save.” The document will appear in that user’s drive right away, and you can start working on the same document in real-time. Continue reading

Go!

photo

 

UMass Amherst has a new portal for students to use, Go – All the information from UMass that you’d want in one, convenient location. Students can log on with their UMass netID and see the classes that they have in Moodle, athletic news, emergency phone numbers, and more. There are a few choice areas that students might find particularly helpful, all accessible from the Go homepage.

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