Friday, November 16, 2007

Week Twelve - 22. Second Life

Since its launch in 2003, Second Life has been gathering momentum across the globe. Although not yet as popular in Australia as in other countries, it is a fascinating Web 2.0 application.

Developed by Linden Research, Second Life is a 3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its Residents (users). Echoing the "real world", in Second Life, you can own land (islands), trade goods and services, engage with the artistic community and participate in educational activities.

Residents are represented in Second Life by avatars which are human in appearance but may be of either sex and have a wide variety of humanoid of other forms. Avatars communicate through two main methods of text communication: local chat and "instant messaging" (IM).

Some interesting facts about Second Life:

  • There are 9,112,551 residents (as at 27/8/07).
  • 9,195 islands were added during July 2007.
  • The currency of Second Life, the Linden Dollar, can be converted to US dollars at several Linden Dollar exchanges (sparking the interest of various Taxation Departments and Internal Revenue Services across the globe).
  • The Maldives was the first country to open an embassy in Second Life.

Many international universities and libraries have bought islands in Second Life. The way these universities and libraries use the land is unique (check discovery resources below). Some use it as a marketing tool, others use it as a new way for people to attend university in the virtual world. Deakin University has bought an island on Second Life, but it is just that, an island. It is currently in an experimental stage. Only restricted users are allowed onto the island and there are no buildings, no classes taking place and no virtual campus life apparent.

For more information on Second Life, go to:

Discovery Resources

Videos

Other resources

Tasks

View some of the videos and articles under the Discovery Resources link. Write on your blog page about the following:

  1. Second Life trends in education.
  2. How can your own university library use Second Life?
  3. Is this the future of learning at a University level?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Week Eleven - 21. Find and listen to a Podcast or two

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What is a podcast?

The word "podcast" comes from joining Portable On Demand (pod, like iPod) and "cast" from broadcast. Get it? Podcast!

A podcast is an audio (or maybe video) file that is distributed over the internet using syndication feeds (like RSS) and can be played on portable media players (eg. MP3s) or a personal computer.

Podcasting means that listeners can "time shift" their favourite programs by listening when it suits them. What makes podcasts different is the ability to "subscribe" to a feed, and when a new episode become available it will be automatically downloaded to the user's computer or player. You can then choose to listen to an episode when you want. Or delete the file if you don't!

You can also download or stream programs without subscribing.

Your task

  • Find a podcast that interests you using Google or a directory such as Podcast.net or PodcastAlley.com or from the links in the Discovery Resources section above.
  • Subscribe to it in your feed reader and listen to an audio file or two.

Resources

Week Ten - 20. Watch YouTube videos people have made about libraries

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YouTube has scores of videos that people have made, covering just about every topic you can imagine, ranging from very amateur to professionally produced.

Your task

Have a look around YouTube and see if you can find some interesting videos about libraries or librarians, or perhaps new web technologies.

YouTube makes it easy to do a search, and then to find similar videos to one you have already watched. You may find a funny video clip or maybe something more informative.

Post about your YouTube experience on your blog. If you're feeling adventurous, you may like to insert a YouTube video into your blog so others can see it! Also, share your interesting youtube videos via the comments section of this post for everyone to see.

Resources

Friday, November 2, 2007

Week Ten - 19. Put a photo of your pet on the Wiki

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A wiki is a type of web site which is edited collaboratively. That is, anyone with access can edit any page of a wiki, and add new pages. It's great for sharing information between staff of an organisation, or for developing documentation. Wikis keep a record of all edits made to a page, so it's possible to see who added what, and even to reverse edits.

The most notable wiki is WikiPedia, an online encyclopedia. However, wikis can be used for a number of purposes. Today you'll learn how to resize and save a photo for the web, and how to edit the staff wiki. You'll then put a photo onto the wiki 'pet's page'.

Preparing your photo

When preparing an image for the web, it's important that you save it in the correct format, and at an appropriate size. Otherwise, someone may not be able to view it, or it may take too long to download on a home internet connection. The photos out of a digital camera or scanner will usually be too high a resolution for a web page, so they'll require shrinking.

First, you'll need to find a digital photo of your pet (or someone else's, if you don't have one). If you have a digital camera, you can simply use a photo from that. If you have a printed photo, you'll need to scan it instead. Scanners are available at the library.

Open your favourite photo editing software. I recommend Fireworks, because it's available to all Deakin Staff.

Installing Fireworks

If you don't have it already, you can install it easily and you shouldn't even need to call ITSD.

  1. Fireworks is part of the Deakin University Software Cataogue, which is available under Start => All programs => Phoenix Software Catalogue.
  2. To install, wait for Phoenix Software Catalogue to load up and then scroll down to Macromedia Fireworks, right click and left click install software
  3. Once it is installed, you should find Macromedia Fireworks under Start => All programs => Macromedia.

Resize your image

  1. Open the photo you want to resize. Using the menu, use Modify => Canvas => Image size to change the size of the image. A web page is around 72 to 96 dots per inch, so you should resize the image so that it is only around 200 to 600 pixels wide, depending on your preferences. Never resize the image more than once, or you'll lose quality. Always go back to the original and try again.
  2. Now save your image using File => Export. This will allow you to save the image as a JPEG file (the filename should end in .jpg). JPEG is the format you must use for websites, if the image is a photo (there are other formats for simpler line-drawings, etc). Save it as a separate file. Keep the original file too.

Upload your picture to the wiki

  1. The Upload File link on the library wiki allows you to add a photo to the wiki. It's on the left hand side of the page once you've logged in.
    Under Source Filename click Browse and locate the resized version of the photo you just saved, and upload it by following the instructions.

Add it to a wiki page

  1. Locate the Pets page on the library wiki by searching for Pets and edit the page using 'Edit'. You should be able to follow the example of the photos that are already there, and add your image using code similar to the following:

  2. [[Image:filename.jpg|thumb|left|150px|Description for your image]]

  3. This code ensures that the photo is a thumbnail, aligned left on the page (like the other images), and 150 pixels wide, the same size as the other photos.

What's next?

Other wikis

If you're adventurous, try contributing to WikiPedia on a topic you know a lot about or are prepared to research. Like other wikis, anyone can edit or add pages. With WikiPedia, you don't even need an account to do so.

You may also like to look at the first ever Wiki, WikiWikiWeb. It's mainly about computer programming, and its software works differently to other wikis you may be familiar with. All page titles on WikiWikiWeb had to have a one word (run together) title with capital letters and lowercase letters, like 'WelcomeVisitors'.

Resources