dan lasota's masters in education portfolio for online innovation and design


Limited Features with Google Docs Spreadsheets »

8 August 2012 ed431

Working with the spreadsheet tool in google docs has been a little frustrating. There are limited embedding options (compared with a service like YouTube). Here are three versions of the same pie chart.

Below is the embedded chart picture from a spreadsheet in my google account. I cannot change the size and the color options for the chart are very limited. Worst of all, I lose the interactive nature of the google chart object. This is just a picture. That's it.

What should be an interactive chart (below), is merely a red line which reads "Pie chart should have a first column of type string". It seems to be able to produce an image correctly in the first example, and in the sheet within the google doc itself, but not here. I was not able to find a fix to this even after using the google...

Finally I downloaded a PNG file from the google doc and have uploaded that into this WordPress Blog's media library. It is the same size as the embedded picture. I'm not sure why google selected 600 pixels as a width for this, but that's what you see, since there are no options to change it.

iTeach Post Training Survey »

5 August 2012 ed431

As part of my ED 431 class, I have constructed a survey using google apps. The survey has some relevance to my work life as an Instructional Designer at UAF eLearning, but also to many of the topics covered in ED 431.

If you have taken an iTeach training please respond as if you had just completed the training. If you are here just trying to help me out with my ED 431 class, pretend that you are a faculty member who teaches face to face, and has taken an iTeach training in order to start teaching online.


Laptop Purchase Programs at Select Universities »

4 August 2012 ed431

I was curious about what efforts universities are undertaking to get laptops into the hands of students. Several schools include laptops as part of tuition, some require students to have one (and leave the purchase up to them), some require students to purchase specific brands which come pre-loaded with software. Here are some examples:

  • Villanova University – laptop cost is included in full time tuition. Students return laptop at the end of sophomore year and are issued a new laptop for their junior and senior years which they then keep.
  • Clemson – Requires students to have a laptop. There are some hardware requirements needed to receive technical support from the campus computing support offices. There are purchase programs in place with recommended models from a few vendors.
  • Milwaukee School of Engineering – students are provided a laptop and are charged a tuition fee.
  • Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute – students are required to purchase a specific laptop which comes with standard software used in the curriculum
  • Northern Michigan University – full time students are provided a laptop
  • Ithaca College – Students of the School of Business and School of Communications are required to have a laptop with standard business apps. A purchase program is provided for all students.
  • DePauw University – incoming freshmen required to purchase laptops, hardware purchase program with several vendors available
  • Harrisburg University of Science and Technology – Students are required to have a laptop that meets specific requirements
  • Ball State University Teachers College – students are required to purchase a specific brand of laptop before enrollment
  • Indiana State University – students must have a laptop as incoming freshmen
  • University of North Carolina Greenboro – students must have a laptop meeting certain hardware specifications, a hardware purchase program is available

From this brief survey I have learned that there are several approaches to laptop programs. Some schools like RPI have very specific software that are used in the curriculum. To standardize support and ability to use the curriculum software a particular laptop is used. It seems that this is very analogous to being required to purchase a certain textbook (although more pricey).

Some schools only have requirements to use certain kinds of software and the specific hardware is not important. Some of the schools above provide options for students in terms of which brand and features they want with a new machine.

I liked the program at Villanova because the laptop is rolled into the cost of the tuition and spread over four years. There is also a midway upgrade so that the laptop the student leaves campus with upon matriculation is somewhat current.

It’s notable that some institutions acknowledge that students will already have laptops and provide for the possibility that the students will want to continue using their own machines. Rather than say which approach is best I think this short survey points to different possibilities. Some of the schools above serve different degree programs and their laptop efforts reflect this intent to support their different missions.

ED431 Mobile Research Jumpstart »

8 July 2012 ed431 onid

One silver lining item to being late on a mobile assignment is that I can see what my cohorts have done for research. I went through my cohorts Diigo Libraries and looked for items they had tagged as onidmobile. The ones that interested me are now saved in my library with the original curators tags and my additional onidcohort tag.

Later tonight I will round out my Diigo Library with items that I have found. It is nice to be part of a learning cohort!

What Does an Apache Web Log Look Like? »

3 July 2012 ed431 onid

A typical Apache Web Server log looks line many many lines of text; Each line contains information about a request for information and the result of the web server trying to fulfill that request. I took this from my web server and asked for the last 50 requests. The first entry is the IP number of the machine/device/person requesting it. 137.229.whatever are University of Alaska numbers. Then there is the time/date stamp. Followed by the actual http request, usually a GET, but sometimes a POST. In most cases there are path names to images, articles, etc that are on the web server. The last two numbers are the result code (200 is ok, 404 is not there, etc), the last number is the size of the resource in bytes.

I posted this because of the discussion on digital footprints in ED 431. This is what my server, which runs Apache, tracks. The majority of web servers in the world track similar information. Most web servers, mine included, do not keep these logs forever. Mine is set to delete logs older than 30 days. Some servers keep them around for longer.

This is by no means the only part of one’s digital foot print. The reason I am calling attention to it, however, is that its an example of an ephemeral piece of data. Two things to mention about it: One, there is no personal information associated with it. My server only knows the IP number, the Internet address, of the machine asking for the page information. Two, this information is only kept on my server for about 30 days. By today’s standards this is relatively low tech. Most websites are able to capture a lot more information which generally serves the purpose of letting the people running the web site know if they are serving visitors well. Web site authors and administrators can determine the kind of browser used, the size of the visitor’s display window in pixels, the user’s operating system and a few more tidbits. This is all done with javascript, if the user allows it. A lot of web admin people use Google Analytics which helps determine who is visiting a web site and what they do once they are there.

Some web sites do track a lot more. But not every web site tracks or is even interested in who you are. Only the most basic information is kept, and only for a short while. This would fall into Allison’s description of foot prints in the sand rather than those cast in concrete. But Allison does make a good point about the growing lack of privacy and the blurred lines between what some companies think is user experience and what becomes profit motive. We must pay attention to who tracks what, by understanding it we can chose to opt-in or out as the case may be, or abandon or refuse to participate in some social networks.

Web Presence Page »

21 June 2012 ed431 onid

I have placed first draft of my web presence assignment under the ED 431 section. It’s actually placed on a page type object, but I intend on making the various revisions to it available for review, so I think the WordPress page works for the intended purpose of the assignment, better than the WordPress post object.
I’m looking forward to hearing from cohorts, please leave your comments on the reflection page itself. I’m going to head over and see what the rest of your thoughts on this assignment are.

WordPress Plays Slightly Better with Twitter »

18 June 2012 ed431

The team at WordPress released version 3.4 code named “Green” today. One of the new features is the ability to embed individual tweets by inserting URLs directly in a post or page. It would be nice to extend this ability to a feed, without using plugins. Perhaps this ability exists? In any case, here’s an example of an embedded tweet, complete with media coming through from Twitter:




Introduction »

7 June 2012 ed431 onid

I’m Dan and this portfolio represents the major works from each of the classes in my graduate program of study. It is my hope that the style and functionality of the site will convey some sense of my design philosophy as well. I’m very eager to study the area of Instructional Design, where technology and pedagogy intersect.

My immediate goals for this ONID program have already partially been met. I wanted to improve my working and practical knowledge of pedagogy especially as it relates to online course design. I am an instructional designer at UAF eLearning and Distance Education. I was very happy that my first class, Online Pedagogy, had such a strong theory based foundation, but also provided opportunities apply that knowledge in real situations. I was able to draw upon experiences from work in class, but was also able to use new skills in the design of classes that will be offered in the semesters ahead at UAF.

My long term goals for my program involve replicating some of the work done in Germany at the University of Technology Kaiserslautern in relation to the use of remotely controlled laboratories (RCLs). I first read about RCLs in one of my article reviews for Online Pedagogy. I would like to create such a resource at the University of Alaska Fairbanks first in Physics, but then in Chemistry.

Dan LaSota
Twitter: @danlasota

Progress »

4 June 2012 ed431 onid

What started as transferring a UA Google site over to a personal, external Google Site turned into a much larger exercise. Google Sites has a lot going for it, my favorite is the page content editor. It is quite adaptable in taking pasted content from word processors and giving WYSIWIG control of table manipulation directly in its editor. But it is lacking in so many ways. In order to streamline the process of web design, many customizations are not possible.

I desired more. Perhaps foolishly, but still. Part of this ONID degree is about online design, is it not?

So, I grabbed some WordPress code (nearly from scratch), made a new theme, revamped an old server with Apache, MySQL and php current versions and went to it. Along the way I learned quite a bit about fonts, layout and got a refresher on several aspects of CSS.

The big chunk of work involved moving my ED 655 content over to this blog. Much of the formatting had gotten mangled between original composition and multiple edits on Google Sites. I had to clean most of the pages up so my writing would satisfy APA 6 style.

There is more to do, I need to enable comments, design a more proper front page, deal with page file attachments and get a better dynamic sidebar.