InforMedia Services (IMS)

Technology Instruction for St. Cloud State University

Archive for the 'information technology' Category

why necessary to know how to code

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 20th May 2015

Why People Are Obsessed With Teaching Kids How To Code

http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/12/05/why-people-are-obsessed-with-teaching-kids-how-to-code

Computers and the software they run are not magic. Nor should they be perceived as such.
Learning to code is not valuable because everyone needs to program computers, but because such an integral part of modern life needs to be understood at a basic, comprehensible level.

https://www.quora.com/Why-is-it-important-to-know-how-to-code

More on coding and education in this blog:

http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/?s=coding

Posted in digital identity, Digital literacy, digital naitives, information technology, Millennials, Project Based Learning, technology literacy | No Comments »

Bluepulse

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 11th May 2015

I am including a couple whitepapers you can review and forward to all staff who may be curious about our teaching and learning tool and would be attending the demo on May 11th at 1.00pm

Please see the go to meeting instructions for our Bluepulse v1.5 walkthrough.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/822849653

United States: +1 (312) 757-3126

Access Code: 822-849-653

As you mentioned faculty may be very interested in using Bluepulse, I wanted to include the link for our instructor video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XgdpQT3jkBQ&feature=youtu.be

If you have any questions about the integration, training or implementation, please do not hesitate to email or call and as always I am more than happy to help.

Warm regards,

Nick Sankar

Bluepulse Account Manager

MY NOTES:

http://www.explorance.com/

harvest students; feedback – anonymous way to ask questions. D2L surveys offer already this opportunity; Twitter and other the free options for polling apps give the same option, e.g. Polleverywhere gives a word cloud option

the follow up q/n as demonstrated is limited to 160 characters. Why?

i like that it compartmentalize the anonymity but I really ask myself: would SCSU faculty go to such length?

presumptions: non-tenured faculty is interested in the top layers students and wants to find out what works for them best. this loaded, since, if there ARE different learning styles, then what worked for the top layer might be exactly what did not work for the bottom layer, but this approach will gave the faculty a justification to keep stratifying students, instead of thinking of diverse ways to approach all layers. this part of sale, not pedagogy. sorry.

weakness; the entire presentation is trying to sell a product, which might be good for different campus, but not for SCSU, where faculty are overworked, the class load is so great that going to such details might be questionable.

exporting CSV for data massaging is not big deal. indeed the easy of this particular software is admirable, but if the faculty has time to go into such details, they can export the data from D2L or Google Forms and open it in SPSS

Greg’s question: mobility.

libraries and services. pole users without being tied to course. again, that all can be done with other services in the library. if the library cares about it at all.

Posted in announcement, information technology, instructional technology, mobile devices | No Comments »

educational resources

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 11th May 2015

Guide to the Best Homeschooling and Unschooling Resources

http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2014/06/17/guide-to-the-best-homeschooling-and-unschooling-resources/

* Khanacademy.org

* Hippocampus.org

* Free online college courses can be found on many sites, with directories available at sites like MIT’s Open Coursework Consortium. Big players in the open-educational resources movement include Coursera and EdX, which offer MOOCs. FutureLearn is UK-based, with free online courses from UK and international universities. More information about these can be found in MindShift’s guide to free quality higher education, plusprevious collections of open educational sites and resources.

* iTunes University

* Audiobooks Free public-domain audiobooks, read by volunteers, can be found at librivox.org. (Print versions of public-domain books are available at Project Gutenberg.)

 

 

 

Posted in Digital literacy, distance learning, distributive learning, e-learning, ebook, hybrid learning, information technology, instructional technology, mobile learning, student-centered learning | No Comments »

Anniversary of Allies march in Germany

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 6th May 2015

The Day of the Century: how Germans experienced World War II

http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/world-war-ii-in-cologne-delusion-a-1032115.html
(please go to the site for a full show)

 

http://twistedsifter.com/videos/remarkable-hd-footage-of-berlin-from-july-1945/

 

Posted in digital storytelling, information technology, Project Based Learning, student-centered learning, video | No Comments »

Displaynote

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 6th May 2015

DisplayNote

http://displaynote.com/

is an interactive tool that allows participants in a meeting or students in a classroom to share and view documents and notes on the screens of all participating PCs or tablets. Compatible with multiple operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS, Android, and iOS.

More on interactive presentations and wifi presentations in this IMS blog:

http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/?s=doceri

Posted in Digital literacy, information technology, instructional technology | No Comments »

LodeStar

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 30th April 2015

LodeStar

free to download: http://lodestarlearning.com/downloads/lodeStar7.2/en/LodeStar-7.0.exe

From: Robert “Bob” Bilyk [mailto:Robert.Bilyk@LodeStarLearning.com]

I would choose LodeStar if I wanted to do decision-making scenarios or branched interactions that included visuals and, optionally, voice. I would choose LodeStar if I wanted to mash up html presentations with a dozen activity types and have it all come out in an html 5 compliant fashion.

Having written that, LodeStar was redesigned from the ground up on a framework that will allow more media control in the future. The next step for LodeStar 7 is to restore vector graphics editing and the opportunity to link graphics with interactive properties such as assembling machine parts or maps or a science experiment. LodeStar was redesigned on a platform that allows vector graphics to be first class citizens along with components. That work will take another six months. After that, I may revisit the synchronization of visuals with voice-over. We’ll see.

Incidentally, the recent move of LodeStar to a new look and feel has left vestiges of wonkiness with the dialog box fonts. I can see that in your screen capture. The purpose of the audio dialog is simple — but made unclear by the oversized fonts. Currently, you select an audio file to match the page. Currently, because of an IP issue that got resolved for the browser companies, you can select MP3 and it will run everywhere. The purpose of the .wav file was for a fall back. That is no longer necessary. IE, Firefox, Opera, Chrome, and Safari now natively support MP3. The instructor also has the choice of the audio running automatically or displaying a control that enables the student

to start and stop audio. One page, one audio file.   Instructors, especially language instructors, use this successfully.

Robert “Bob” Bilyk

LodeStar Learning Corporation

http://www.LodeStarLearning.com

Follow us on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/LodeStarLearn

Related IMS blog entries:

http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/2015/04/28/voice-over-presentation-solutions/

Posted in announcement, Digital literacy, e-learning, information technology, instructional technology, technology literacy | No Comments »

drones and privacy

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 28th April 2015

Weighing in on drone privacy rules

http://fcw.com/articles/2015/04/27/drone-privacy-rules.aspx

National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s “multi-stakeholder process” to develop privacy policies for commercial and private use of unmanned aircraft systems.

The Future of Privacy Forum said privacy threats aren’t equal and a lot can depend on exactly what technologies a given UAS is carrying.

More on drones in this blog:
http://blog.stcloudstate.edu/ims/?s=drones

 

Posted in Drones, information technology, instructional technology, technology literacy | No Comments »

Creating a Library App

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 20th April 2015

Creating a Library App: Things to Know Before You Go Mobile
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 11AM-12PM PDT
Registration link: http://www.cla-net.org/?861

Mobile apps are a popular topic in libraries. But what does it take to create one and what kind of programming can you do with apps? Is an app the right solution, or should you create a responsive website? What is the process like, and what resources are needed? How do you manage privacy, security, and legal concerns? Who do you need to get the job done, and what skills should they have?

These are all important questions that should be asked (and answered) before you think about creating a mobile app. Learn from expert panelists from libraries and nonprofits who have created, developed, and managed mobile apps for their organizations. Panelists will share practical advice and information based on experience, as well as helpful tools and resources.

Participants will learn:

  • The difference between a mobile app, a mobile site, and a responsive site
  • Three important considerations when deciding whether or not to create a mobile app.
  • Five tips for approaching the design of a mobile app, mobile site, or responsive site.

About the Presenters

  • Stacey Watson is the Senior Librarian and certified scrum Master in the Digital User Experience Department at the Denver Public Library.  She oversees the user experience and content strategy for the library’s websites, online catalog, and digital services. Most recently she and her team developed Volume, a responsive website featuring hand selected albums by local artists.
  • Anna Jaeger and her team at Caravan Studios create mobile apps that are designed in partnership with nonprofit and community-focused organizations to meet the needs of their constituents. Anna has been a frequent speaker on nonprofit and environmental technology since 2007. Prior to her work with Caravan Studios, Ms. Jaeger was a founder and co-director of TechSoup Global’s GreenTech initiative and the director of TechSoup Global’s IT Engineering department.
  • Ani Boyadjian has been a working librarian since 1990. An LAPL staffer since 1996, she is now Research & Special Collections Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library, where she also oversees the Library’s Digitization efforts. She most recently spearheaded the development of the ARchive LAPL app in a partnership with USC and app developers Neon Roots, to use augmented reality to tell stories about the historic Central Library.

Posted in announcement, Digital literacy, e-learning, gamification, gaming, information literacy, information technology, instructional technology, interactive apps, Library and information science, media literacy, social media, technology, technology literacy | No Comments »

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 16th April 2015

A new LITA webinar focused on Youth Programs:

Technology and Youth Services Programs: Early Literacy Apps and More

Tuesday May 20, 2015
1:00 pm – 2:00 pm Central Time
Register now for this webinar

A brand new LITA Webinar on youth and technology.

In this digital age it has become increasingly important for libraries to infuse technology into their programs and services. Youth services librarians are faced with many technology routes to consider and app options to evaluate and explore. Join Claire Moore from the Darien Public Library to discuss innovative and effective ways the library can create opportunities for children, parents and caregivers to explore new technologies.

Claire Moore

Posted in announcement, Digital literacy, information technology, instructional technology, Library and information science, technology literacy | No Comments »

IPython notebook

Posted by Plamen Miltenoff on 11th April 2015

Library Juice Academy

course_intro

I also encourage students to download and install Python on their own systems. Python is a
mature and robust language with a great many third party distributions and versions, such as Ipython.
One I recommend is Active State Python. Active State produces refined and well supported
distributions with easy to use installers. Their basic, individual distribution is free. You can find it at
http://www.activestate.com/activepython/downloads
  • Integers: A signed or unsigned whole number running from -32,768 to 32,768 or from 0 to 65,535 if not signed. Integers are used anytime something needs to be counted.
  • Long Integer: Any whole number outside the above range. Python doesn’t distinguish between the two though many languages do. Practically, Python’s integers range from −2,147,483,648 to 2,147,483,648 or 0 to 0 to 4,294,967,295. Most of us will be very happy with this many whole numbers to choose from.
  • Real and Floating Point Numbers: Real numbers are signed or unsigned numbers including decimals. The numbers 2,3,4 are Integers and Real Numbers. The numbers 2.1, 2.9,3.9 are Real Numbers, but not Integers. Real Numbers can include representations of irrational numbers such as pi. Real numbers must be rational, that is a decimal number that terminates after a finite number of decimals. You will sometimes encounter the term Floating Point Numbers. This is a technical term referring to the way that large Real Numbers are represented in a computer. Python hides this detail from you so Real and Floating Point are used intercangeably in this language.
  • Binary Numbers: And Octal and Hexadecimal. These are numbers used internally by computers. You will run into these values fairly often. For instance, when you see color values in HTML such as “FFFFFF” or “0000FF”,
Hexadecimal and Octal are used because humans can read them without too much trouble and they are compromise between what computers process and what we can read. Any time you see something in Octal or Hexadecimal, you are looking at something that interfaces with the lower levels of a computer. You will most commonly use Hexadecimal numbers when dealing with Unicode character encodings. Python will interpret any number which begins with a leading zero as binary unless formatting commands have been used.
Numbers such as 7i are referred to as complex. They have a real part, the 7, and an imaginary part, i. Chance are you won’t use complex numbers unless you’re working with scientific data.
A String consists of a sequence of characters. The term String refers to how this data type is represented internally. You store text in Strings. Text can by anything, letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, numbers, just about anything.
Lists are close cousins to Strings, though you may never need to think of them that way. A list is just that, a list of things. Lists may contain any number of numbers or any number of strings. List may even contain any number of other lists. Lists are compared to arrays, but they are not the same thing. In most uses, the function the same so the difference, for our purposes, is moot. Strings are like lists in that, internally, the computer works with strings in an identical manner to lists. This is why the operations on Strings are so different from numbers.
The last main data type in the Python programming language is the dictionary. Dictionaries are map types, known in other languages as hashes, and in computer science as Associative Arrays. The best way to think of what the dictionary does is to consider a Library of Congress Call Number(something this audience is familiar with). The call number is what’s called a Key. It connects to a record which contains information about a book. The combination of keys and records, called values, comprises a dictionary. A single key will connect to a discrete group of values such as the items in this record. Dictionaries will be touched on in the next lesson in some detail in the next course. These are fairly advanced data structures and require a solid understanding a programming fundamentals in order to be used properly.

Statements, an Overview

Programs consist of statements. A statement is a unit of executable code. Think of a statement like a sentence. In a nutshell, statements are how you do things in a program. Writing a program consists of breaking down a problem you want to solve into smaller pieces that you can represent as mathematical propositions and then solve. The statement is where this process gets played out. Statements themselves consist of some number of expressions involving data. Let’s see how this works.

An expression would be something like 2+2=4. This expression, however is not a complete statements. Ask Python to evaluate it and you will get the error “SyntaxError: can’t assign to operator”. What’s going on here? Basically we didn’t provide a complete statement. If we want to see the sum of 2+2 we have to write a complete statement that tells the interpreter what to do and what to do it with. The verb here is ‘print’ and the object is ‘2+2′. Ask Python to evaluate ‘print 2+2′ and it will show ‘4’. We could also throw in subject and do something a bit more detailed: ‘Sum=2+2′. In this case we are assigning the value of 2+2 to the variable, Sum. We can then do all sorts of things with Sum. We can print it. We can add other numbers to it, hand it off to a function and so on. For instance, might want to know the root of Sum. In which case we might write something like ‘print sqrt(sum)’ which will display ‘2’.

A shell is essentially a user interface that provides you access to a system’s features. Normally, this means access to an Operating System. In cases like this, the shell provides you access to the Python programming environment.

Anything preceed by a “#” is not interpreted or executed by the programming shell. Comments are used widely to document programs. One school of programming holds that code should be so clear that comments are uncessary.

Operations on Numbers

Expressions are discrete statements in programming that do something. They typically occupy one line of code, though programmers will sometimes squeeze more in. This is generally bad form and can really make your program a mess. Expressions consist of operations and data or rather data and operations on them. So, what can you do with numbers? Here is a concise list of the basic operations for integers and real numbers of all types:

Arithemetic:

  • Addition: z= x + y
  • Subtraction: z = x – y
  • Multiplication: z = x * y. Here the asterisk serves as the ‘X’ multiplication symbol from grade school.
  • Division: z = x/y. Division.
  • Exponents: z = x ** y or xy, x to the y power.

Operations have an order of precedence which follows the algebraic order of precedence. The order can be remembered by the old Algebra mnenomic, Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally which is remeinds you that the order of operations is:

  1. Parentheses
  2. Exponents
  3. Multiplication
  4. Division
  5. Addition
  6. Subtraction

Operations on Strings

Strings are strange creatures as I’ve noted before. They have their own operations and the arithmetic operations you saw earlier don’t behave the same way with strings.

Putting Expressions Together to Make Statements

As I noted earlier, all computer languages, and natural languages, possess pragmatics, larger scale structures which reduce ambiguity by providing context. This is a fancy way of saying just as sentences posses rules of syntax to make able to be comprehended, larger documents have similar rules. Computer Programs are no different. Here’s a break down of the structure of programs in Python, in a general sense.

  1. Programs consist of one or more modules.
  2. Modules consist of one or more statements.
  3. Statements consist of one or more expressions.
  4. Expressions create and/or manipulate objects(and variables of all kinds).

Modules and Programs are for the next class in the series, though we will survey these larger structures next lesson. For now, we’ll focus on statements and expressions. Actually, we’ve already started with expressions above. In Python, statements can do three things.

  • Assign a variable
  • Change a variable
  • Take an action

Variable Names and Reserved Words

Now that we’ve seen some variable assignments, let’s talk about best practices. First off, aside from reserved words, variable names can be almost any combination of letters, numbers and punctuation marks. You, however, should never ever, use the following punctuation marks in variable names:

      • +
      • -
      • !
      • @
      • ^
      • %
      • (
      • )
      • .
      • ?
      • /
      • :
      • ;

*

These punctuation marks tends to be operators and characters that have special meanings in most computer languages. The other issue is reserved words. What are “reserved words”? They are words that Python interprets as commands. Pythons reservers the following words.:

  • True: A special value set aside for boolean values
  • False: The other special value set aside for boolean vaules
  • None: The logical equivalent of 0
  • and: a way of combining logical conditions
  • as: describes how modules are imported
  • assert: a way of forcing something to take on a certain value. Used in debugging of large programs
  • break: breaks out of a loop and goes on with the rest of the program
  • class: declares a class for object oriented design. For now, just remember not to use this variable name
  • continue: returns to the top of the loop and keeps on going again
  • def: declares functions which allow you to modularize your code.
  • elif: else if, a cotnrol structure we’ll see next lesson
  • else: as above
  • except: another control structure
  • finally: a loop control structure
  • for: a loop control structure
  • from: used to import modules
  • global: a scoping statement
  • if: a control structure/li>
  • in: used in for each loops
  • is: a logical operator
  • lamda: like def, but weird. It defines a function in a single line. I will not teach this becuase it is icky. If you ever learn Perl you will see this sort of thing a lot and you will hate it, but that’s just my personal opinion.
  • nonlocal: a scoping command
  • not: a logical operator
  • or: another logical operator
  • pass: does nothing. Used as placeholder
  • raise: raises an error. This is used to write custom error messages. Your programs may have conditions which would be considered invalid based on our business situation. The interpreter may not consider them errors, but you might not want your user to do something so you ‘raise’ an exception and stop the program.
  • return: tells a function to return a value
  • try: this is part of an error testing statement
  • while: starts a while loop
  • with: a context manager. This will be covered in the course after the next one in this series
  • yield: works like return
Variable names should be meaningful. Let’s say I have to track a person’s driver license number. explanatory names like ‘driverLicenseNumber’.

  • Use case to make your variable names readable. Python is case sensitive, meaning a variable named ‘cat’ is different from named ‘Cat’. If you use more than one word to name variable, start of lower case the change case on the second word. For instance “bigCats = [‘Tiger’,’Lion’,’Cougar’, ‘Desmond’]”. The common practice used by programmers in many settings is that variables start with lowercase and functions(methods and so on) start with upper case. This is called “Camel Case” for its lumpy, the humpy appearance. Now, as it happens, there is something of a religious debate over this. Many Python programmers prefer to keep everything lower case and join words in a name by underscores such as “big_cats”. Use whichever is easiest or looks the nicest to you.
  • Variable names should be unique. Do not reuse names. This will cause confusion later on.
  • Python conventions. Python, as with any other programming language, has culture built up around it. That means there are some conventions surrounding variable naming. Two leading underscores, __X, denote system variables which have special meaning to the interpreter. So avoid using this for your own variables. There may be a time and place, but that’s for an advanced prorgramming course. A single underscore _X indicates to other programmers that this a fundamental variable and that they mess with it at their own peril.
  • Avoid starting variable names with a number. This may or may not return an error. It can also mislead anyone reading your program.
  • “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. But not to programming minds. Consistency helps the readability of code a great deal. Once you start a system, stick with it.

Statement Syntax

Putting together valid statements can be a little hard at first. There’s a grammar to them. Thus far, we’ve mainly been workign with expressions such as “x = x+1″. You can think of expression as nouns. We’ve clearly defined x, but how do we look inside? For that we need to give it a verb, the print command. We would then write “print x”. However we can skip the middle statement and print an expression such as “print x + 1″. The interpreter evaluates this per the order of operations I laid out earlier. However, once that expression is evaluated, it then applies the verb, “print”, to that expression.

Print is a function that comes with the Python distribution. There are many more and you can create your own. We’ll cover that a bit in next lesson. Let’s look at little more at the grammar of a statement. Consider:

x = sin(b)

Assume that b has been defined elsewhere. x is the subject, b is the object and sin is the verb. Python will go to the right side of the equal sign first. It will then go to the inside of the function and evaluate what’s there first. It then evaluates the value of the function and finishes by setting x to that value. What about something like this?

x=sin(x+3/y)

Python evaluates from the inside out according to the rules of operation. Very complex statements can be built up this way.

x = sin(log((x + 3)/(e**2)))
Regardless of what this expression evaluates to (I don’t actually know), Python starts with the innermost parentheses, then works through the value of e squared then adds 3 to x and divides the result by e squared. With that worked out, it takes the logarithm of the result and takessthe sine of that before setting x to the final result.What you cannot do is execute more than one statement on a line. No more than one verb on a line. In this context, a verb is an assignment, or a command acting on an expression
markdown cell
code cell

Call up your copy of Think Python or go to the website at http://www.greenteapress.com/thinkpython/html/. Read Chapter 2. This will reiterate much of what I’ve presnted here, but this will help cement the content into you minds. Skip section 2.6 because IPython treats everything as script mode. IPyton provides you with the illusion of interactive, but everything happens asynchronously. This means that any action you type in will not instantaneously resolve as it would if you were running Python interactively on your computer. You will have to use print statements to see the results of your work.

Your assignment consists of the following:

  • Exercise 1 from Chapter 2 of Think Python. If you type an integer with a leading zero, you might get a confusing error:
    <<< zipcode = 02492

    SyntaxError: invalid token
    Other numbers seem to work, but the results are bizarre:
    <<< zipcode = 02132
    <<< zipcode
    1114
    Can you figure out what is going on? Hint: display the values 01, 010, 0100 and 01000.

  • Exercise 3 from Chapter 2 of Think Python.Assume that we execute the following assignment statements:
    width = 17
    height = 12.0
    delimiter = ‘.’
    For each of the following expressions, write the value of the expression and the type (of the value of the expression).

    width/2
    width/2.0
    height/3
    1 + 2 5
    delimiter
    5

  • Exercise 4 from Capter 2 of Think Python. Practice using the Python interpreter as a calculator:
    1. The volume of a sphere with radius r is 4/3 π r3. What is the volume of a sphere with radius 5? Hint: 392.7 is wrong!
    2. Suppose the cover price of a book is $24.95, but bookstores get a 40% discount. Shipping costs $3 for the first copy and 75 cents for each additional copy. What is the total wholesale cost for 60 copies?
    3/ If I leave my house at 6:52 am and run 1 mile at an easy pace (8:15 per mile), then 3 miles at tempo (7:12 per mile) and 1 mile at easy pace again, what time do I get home for breakfast?

In your IPython notebook Create a markdown cell and write up your exercise in there. Just copy it from the textbook or from the above write up. Next ceate a code cell and do your work in there. Please, comment your work thoroughly. You cannot provide too many comments. Use print statements to see the outcome of your work.

Posted in information technology | No Comments »