Academic Technology is on the move!

Actually, it’s more like “We’re Moving!”

Over this summer Academic Technology, the Faculty Media Lab, and the SMU STAR Program will be moving to our new location in Fondren Library East. Not only will we be in a more visible location in the Information Commons, but will be sharing space and resources with the Student Multimedia Center and the new Mobile Learning Lab.

Great things are happening. Check back soon for further news.

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New Opportunities for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism

FemaleStudentStudying.jpgAs we begin this new semester, we also begin a period of learning the writing styles of our new students. During this time, some of our more tech savvy and ethically-challenged students may take this opportunity to sneak one or two things by us. Then again, some might not even know they are doing it or that it’s even wrong… Though, they should have taken the Academic Honesty Tutorial by now.

To help with this, Richard Byrne, author of the Free Technology for Teachers blog has put together 7 Resources for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism.

The first thing I do when I want to check a student’s work for plagiarism is to do a quick search on Google. If you notice that a student has strung together some phrases that you don’t think they’ve written, put the suspected phrase inside quotation marks and search. You may want to search on Google as well as on Google Scholar.

Richard Bryne also suggest using Plagiarism Checker, a web tool created as a project for the University of Maryland, an easy-to-use site for detecting plagiarism. Other free services are also highlighted. You can read the full list of 7 Resources for Detecting and Preventing Plagiarism on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers, at

I would also like to remind you about the availability of SafeAssign by BlackBoard. SafeAssign is a free plagiarism prevention tool integrated with Blackboard, our Learning Management System. SafeAssign does have some limitations that makes using it not as intuitive as just typing something into Google. If you need help, our would like to learn more, please contact Steve Snider, our Learning Management System Specialist.

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The Future of Textbooks is in Using a Tablet

tabletWith all the rumors of an Apple branded tablet device, some textbook publishers have produced a demo video of how they would like to use the device. The video is created by Coursesmart, a joint venture of five textbook publishers and the makers of the “eTextbooks for the iPhone” App [iTunes link], and demonstrates how students might use tablet-based textbooks. Of course, as no one has seen the famed Apple Tablet or iSlate, everything is based on Coursesmart’s renderings and not any specific applications being developed in conjunction with Apple.

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Faculty Technology Grants 2009 Last Day

Today is the last day for submissions in the Provost’s 2009 Faculty Technology Grants.

As you know, the Office of the Provost encourages SMU faculty to explore meaningful and innovative use of instructional technology. These grants provide faculty members with funds to improve teaching and learning through the use of technology. Over 85 Instructional Technology Grants have been awarded since 1992. This year, one maybe awarded to you.

Grants are awarded in the Fall with funding available this semester. The work outlined in your grant must be completed no later than Fall 2010. The maximum amount of an individual grant is $5,000.

Read more at Click the link for (Faculty Technology Grants 2009 Announcement)

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College Textbooks Now Available on the iPhone & iPod touch.

College students can now argue that the iPhone is required for college.

CourseSmart-iPhone.jpgCourseSmart, a revolutionary online subscription service for textbooks, has released a new iPhone app. The “eTextbooks for the iPhone,” allows users to access more than 7,000 titles from it’s CourseSmart library covering over 900 course areas across 113 disciplines. According to CourseSmart, “When you purchase eTextbooks from CourseSmart you will have access from any computer with Internet access as well as the iPhone application. Study the way that fits your schedule, whether that’s viewing text in the screen, printing out pages to read, or copy and pasting important passages into study guides.”

Beyond the benefit of having your textbook always with you, many of the eTextbooks are 60 to 75 percent of the cost of their physical cousins. Nice for an app that is free from Apple’s App Store.

Check out the app for yourself or read more about it.

Also, Todd R. Weiss of PC World has a nice write up of the app, including some questions that faculty may need to answer. The Todd R. Weiss article is available at

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Your Digital Lockers Are Here

locker.smu.eduDuring the past few months, we have quietly rolled out a really interesting and versatile Web 2.0 tool for everyone on campus to use, and you need to know much more about it. It is called Digital Locker and it is a web-based digital archive, where you can drag and drop all of the digital stuff you want to keep, make accessible to yourself on the Web, and share selectively with anyone you wish, anywhere in the world. Brought to you by Xythos, a company recently purchased by Blackboard, Inc., your SMU Digital Locker will enable you to provide large files to customers without sending bulky email attachments, organize and describe important documents and presentations, share research results and notes with colleagues, archive old but still useful websites, distribute photo web galleries, and deliver large video files, and much, much more. In fact, the content system on Blackboard, also a shared digital repository, works pretty much the same way.


The SMU Digital Locker is your own private web-based digital repository – kind of like your high school locker, except much better. With Locker, you can easily create folders to organize, store, and distribute digital files, anything at all from text to video to web. Most importantly, you can share some or all of the files with anyone on campus or off. So, individual files and/or entire directories can be shared with anyone in the world – and you control their level of access. These collaborators can be limited to just reading, reading and writing, or administering your files. But, you are always in control and can change that access at any time. You can’t do that with your shared network drives.
To access your Digital Locker, open a web browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Chrome), and navigate to Log in with your email alias (the name before the @ in your SMU email address) as the username and your normal network password for the password, hit enter, and you are in. Your SMU Digital Locker can be accessed by you anywhere, anytime, as long as you have access to a computer and an Internet connection. SMU Digital Lockers are available now for SMU students, staff, and faculty. Lockers can also be set up for organizations on campus as well. Just call the help desk at 8-HELP to get that simple process started.


Your Digital Locker is designed to be a single space where you can manage all of your important files and share them with others in several different ways. To help you do this, Digital Locker has many Web 2.0 collaborative features, such as RSS, Wikis, content tagging, version control, and commenting. Here’s a short list of what is possible:

  • Email – Your Locker works together seamlessly with your SMU email. When you add or change content in your Locker, you can easily send secure email notifications right from your Locker to your customers, friends, students, or colleagues.
  • Library Services – Digital Locker has a complete set of library services, including file check-in, check-out, version control, audit history, and comments. This service allows you to monitor what goes in and out of your Locker as well as keep track of all of the previous versions of a document authored by several people at the same time.
  • Integrated Wikis – You can quickly set up and host a Wiki (or several) on your Locker to share information and resources to whomever you wish. Your Wiki could be used, for example, to organize and selectively share ePortfolios with your academic advisor, professors, parents, or prospective employers.
  • RSS – This feature allows users to subscribe to any folder, document or Wiki through the Digital Locker RSS system and receive automatic updates when content is added or changed. Using this feature, for example, will enable automatic email notifications to be sent to you, whenever your students submit assignments to your locker.
  • Secure File Sharing – Digital Locker eliminates problems and risks created by email file attachments. It replaces attachments with secure file links (a URL or Web address) that allow users to safely share content with people on campus or off. This feature allows you to share important documents and other kinds of digital resources with your peers and colleagues in other organizations, research centers, and universities worldwide.

To get started using your SMU Digital Locker, login to, set up your Locker, and begin to use it right away. It’s free, it’s easy, and it works!


Locker.SMU login page

Windows users – Adding Digital Locker to your network place:

Basic operating instructions for Digital Locker

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Record Video Clips from DVDs with VLC 1.0

The VLC application iconWe frequently get asked by faculty about getting clips from DVDs to use in their classes. For most of them, it just too much hassle. With the release of VLC 1.0 (available at, it is now as easy as clicking a button.

I could spend all day discussing the ethical and Fair Use issues that arise from this, but to save time, I will just cover the technical part.

First, if you haven’t already, download the new version of VLC. To enable recording, in the menu bar select View -> Advanced Controls. Click the record button to start saving the video, and when you have reached the end of the clip, click the record button again to stop. The video clip will be saved in MPEG format within your Documents folder.

For illustrated instructions, please visit the How-To Geek for the instructions of How To Copy a DVD with VLC 1.0.

This, sadly, does not work with the OS X version of VLC. 🙁

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Is The College Bubble Next?

From The Chronicle Review:

Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst?

The public has become all too aware of the term “bubble” to describe an asset that is irrationally and artificially overvalued and cannot be sustained. The dot-com bubble burst by 2000. More recently the overextended housing market collapsed, helping to trigger a credit meltdown. The stock market has declined more than 30 percent in the past year, as companies once considered flagship investments have withered in value.

Is it possible that higher education might be the next bubble to burst? Some early warnings suggest that it could be…

Read the full article

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What plagiarism looks like

From the blog ORANGE CRATE ART:

Michael Leddy of Orange Crate Art writes:

Some enterprising readers (faculty? student-journalists?) have gone through the dissertations of Carl Boening and William Meehan, highlighting every passage in Meehan’s that can be found, word for word, in Boening’s. Neither the University of Alabama (which granted Boening and Meehan their doctorates) nor Jacksonville State University, where Meehan is president, has chosen to take up the obvious questions about plagiarism that Meehan’s dissertation presents. As another recent story suggests, plagiarism seems to be governed by a sliding scale, with consequences lessening as the wrongdoer’s status rises.

What plagiarism looks like

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Cobocards Is an Impressive, Collaborative Flash Card Webapp

From LifeHacker

Cobocards screenshotCobocards is a free, web-based flash card application with an emphasis on collaboration, so you can create and study a set of flash cards alongside your friends or fellow students.

We’ve covered several flash card apps in the past, but Cobocards sets itself apart with an impressive feature set. Not only does it do all the basics, like tracking your progress as you study, but it also sports several useful features we haven’t always seen from its competition, such as several printable templates, an activity feed and message board for keeping track of your friends’ and collaborators’ activity (like if they’ve added new cards to a deck), and, of course the collaboration itself.

For a fuller understanding of how it works, hit up the video demonstration on the homepage. If you’ve already got a preferred study companion for this sort of work, let’s hear about it in the comments.


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