eLearning Technology Blog

A Few Good Tweets

by WSU Online 7. February 2014 13:14

This year WSU Global Campus Connections is incorporating the rather wily beast known as Twitter into our programming.  Social media is often touted as an untapped gold-mine in established institutions, and with the constant barrage of praise that Twitter receives; it’s hard to ignore the inkling that perhaps it could be an asset to any student engagement program. We’re going to Twitter to get students and faculty talking about the Common Reading text, Being Wrong.

Participating in the Common Reading Twitter book club is quite simple – use #WSUCR (short for hashtag Washington State University Common Reading) at the end of each tweet you write containing content or ideas about this year's book.  One could even tweet about the Common Reading events this semester and the amazing faculty who will be presenting on a huge array of topics from brains and chemicals to travel.

To read the entire conversation, type #WSUCR into the search bar at the top of the Twitter interface and you can see what everyone else is saying in regards. You can click ‘respond’ underneath their post, or re-tweet to share what others have said.  

The Twitter Book Club, like many conversations on Twitter, is essentially driven by the use of the hashtag.  Twitter claims that hashtags “organically” developed by Twitter users themselves as a way to topically group conversations. “Hashtags were widely used before Twitter, but caught on within Twitter in 2010 when Twitter introduced ‘Trending Topics’ which was a main page feature displaying popular hashtags of the moment”  (see the Lightbug's article in Light Span Digital, "How to Use a Hashtag.")

Of course, more dubious social-media gurus, like Samantha Matt of Huffington Post states, “hashtags were originally created as a way to promote content in Tweets. Once you put a # in front of a word, it automatically becomes a link that takes you to a page where other people have hash tagged the same thing.” Taken from Matt's article, "How to Properly Use a Hashtag."

Hashtags are indeed curious creatures. Despite having been widely parodied, they hold a surprising rhetorical complexity.  The hashtag can indicate authenticity – such as revealing an embarrassing or surprising fact. For example, “I can’t stand studying anymore! Going out for coffee #dyslexiasucks”.  They can also contain humor or imply sarcasm.  Such as, “I love my roommates new music  #hurtsmyears.”  These are mediocre examples at best, but if you’re interested, poke around online. You’ll find some very entertaining examples.

Regardless of how one uses a hashtag, the fact remains they are powerful, capable of tracking and cataloging entire conversations.  I certainly can’t think of a better way to harness such power than to engage in an interactive cross-disciplinary conversation about a great, challenging book.

Rebecca Stull

Information Gathering for Fast Tech Help

by WSU Online 22. January 2014 15:09

As tech support, much of what I do involves instructing individuals on how to carry out various tasks or troubleshoot computer problems. This post is not meant to be an article on how to become a computer expert nor is it meant to replace individual assistance. Instead, this article is an introduction to troubleshooting, and more specifically how to troubleshoot Angel related problems.  It will hopefully provide enough insight to troubleshoot problems when time is of the essence, or when help is not readily available.

The first step in resolving a computer problem is information gathering. Information may provide insight into what is causing the problem and possibly provide a solution, the more information that can be gathered, the more insight will be garnered. It may be hard to determine what information is relevant, so I have provided a list of some helpful questions to ask yourself.

How long has the problem been around?
o    Is the problem persistent or intermittent?
o    Has the computer recently been updated?
Is the software I am using up to date?
o    In this case of an Angel problem, is the web browser up to date?
o    Does the problem persist across all web browsers?

I often ask the above questions when first responding to a tech ticket, so even if you are not able to resolve an Angel problem, the more information you are able to provide in submitting a tech ticket, the more quickly the solution will be resolved. Tips for gathering information:

The first set of questions from above can be answered by observation/estimation (e.g. , the problem has been around for about five weeks and is intermittent).
Most software has an “about us” options under one of the file menus that will list the version number as well as any possible updates.

o    Checking for updates in Google Chrome: https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95414?hl=en
o    Checking for updates in Internet Explore:  http://windows.micro

o    Checking for updates in Firefox: https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/find-what-version-firefox-you-are-using
Information gathering is helpful, but it is only one aspect to resolving computer problems. Knowing which resources are available when faced with a computer problem is just as important as the ability to gather information.  Here are some great resources to check when faced with an Angel technical problem:

Announcements: http://news.wsu.edu/announcements/
o    An announcement may be sent out if there is an outage or an Angel problem that appears to be affecting the whole system.
o    You may subscribe to receive announcements through email at http://lists.wsu.edu/join.phpf

WSU email, again an email may be sent out if there is a widespread problem.

The home page of Angel, http://lms.wsu.edu/, before logging into a course will often contain announcements about recent bugs related to web browser and possible workarounds.

The training and tutorials section of the online teach website, http://teach.wsu.edu/training_resources/, is a great resource for learning how to work with angel.

Below are few suggested options to try out if information gathering and resource checking do not present a solution. The most common short term solution for resolving Angel or web based problems is switching web browsers. Switching web browsers may not be a long term solution, but if it resolves the problem, then it helps tech support determine that the problem is browser related. Therefore, it may be a suitable short term solution when time is running out. Credit: Kyle Cossairt

If you are using Internet Explorer try enabling compatibility mode.
o    http://teach.wsu.edu/training_resources/tutorials/IE_CompatibilityMode.aspx

If you are using Firefox make sure “mixed content” is not being blocked:
o    https://support.mozilla.org/en-US/kb/how-does-content-isnt-secure-affect-my-safety

Lastly, switch web browser to see if the problem persists across all browsers.
o    Google Chrome: http://www.google.com/chrome
o    Mozilla Firefox: http://www.firefox.com
o    Internet Explorer (Usually preinstalled on Window machines).
Of course if a long term solution is not discovered, feel free to contact technical support. The IT helpdesk, helpdesk@wsu.edu or 509-335-4357, is a great place to start and if the problem is Angel specific then they will pass the issue onto the angel specific helpdesk.

Derek Worthen

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