Weeks Five and Six in CSC 442 Section B at UIS Transcript

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Todays podcast is about Weeks 5 and 6 in CSC 442 Section B at the University of Illinois at Springfield.  For more information, visit the blog at csc442b.blogspot.com.

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Well, welcome back!  This is Burks Oakley, and today is Sunday, February 23rd, 2014.  I'm speaking to you from my home office in Champaign, Illinois.  That's right - unfortunately, I'm home in Champaign.  I had some health issues this past Thursday evening, and I ended up in the ER at a hospital in Naples at 1 am Friday morning. They did a CT scan, saw some things they didn't like, and recommended additional tests.  So I decided to return early to Champaign so that I could see my personal physician and have the tests done at our clinic in Champaign.  I packed up the car as soon as I got out of the ER, and by early Saturday afternoon, I was home in Champaign.  I have an appointment to see my physician tomorrow afternoon.  The good news is that the acute pain I had been experiencing has subsided. I have to say that it is really tough to have to leave beautiful Naples early and return to the snow and cold of east-central Illinois.

OK, now, on with the podcast.  This past week, in Week Five of our course, we discussed the general topic of mobile access to the Internet and the myriad gadgets that many Americans use to go online from anywhere.

We discussed all of the different applications, or apps as they are called, that have been developed for smartphones, such as the iPhone or the Android.  One of the students in this class last semester wrote one of the most complete lists of apps that I have ever seen, so I'm going to quote it directly.  He wrote "Honestly I use my iPhone for pretty much everything.  Here's a short list:  Email, web surfing, video conferencing, tracking sales and returns of our product at work, software development, translating languages, a remote control, mp3 player, streaming music, Netflix, checking the weather, mobile banking, scheduling and calendars for work and personal, voice recorder, language translator [well, I think he said that before], presentation pointer, fantasy sports, sports, monitoring stocks, dongling to my laptop for wifi access anywhere, playing games, sleep sounds (which is a really great app), looking for new jobs (career builder), Facebook, twitter, blackboard, scheduling my DVR, opening the garage and unlocking doors at a client's house (special development we did for an investor), selling on ebay, [and] buying on ebay."  Wow, what an amazing list!  He certainly is a power user of his iPhone.

I posted some examples of how I was starting to use my new Android smartphone - the Samsung Galaxy Mega with a 6.3" diagonal screen - really a phablet - a cross between a phone and a tablet.  I'm now using its camera to take digital pictures and videos, I'm using various apps to access Twitter and Facebook, I'm using the GPS to find my location and figure out driving directions, I'm downloading and listening to mp3 audio files, and so on.  But certainly no where near as extensive a list as my former student wrote.


This past week, we looked at a wide variety of topics related to mobile computing and mobile phones.  We examined the advantages and disadvantages of notebook and desktop computers.  We looked newer technologies, such as the iPad from Apple and the Windows 8 tablet from Microsoft, which many of you thought was the way to go in the future.  It seems that a number of you are hoping to move up to one of these portable tablets in the future.

A number of students discussed how they had given up their landline telephones and now only used their cellular phones. 
Of course, several students mentioned how distracting cell phones can be in the traditional classroom, and even at the dinner table.  And there was a general consensus that it is rude to text with your friends while hanging out with a different group of friends - and especially while on a date.

Another interesting topic in Week Five of our class was e-readers, such as the Kindle and the Barnes&Noble Nook. 
Several students commented that they really like their Kindles, and that they are able to get almost all of their textbooks as e-books on the Kindle, which not only saves money, but also made it much more convenient to be able to access these texts at any time and any place.  And it seems that at least one student in the class likes to be able to check-out e-books at the public library using her Kindle.  I know that this is something that is quite useful - I can get e-books from the Champaign Public Library on my iPad - even while living in Naples, FL, during the wintertime.

A few more topics that come to mind from this past week's discussion included wireless printers, people who update their Facebook status from their smartphones all too often, and all of the gadgets related to games, such as the xBox and the Wii, and how some students even access the web through their gaming consoles.

Finally, we discussed the whole area of mobile access to the web.  I personally use my notebook computer to connect to Wi-Fi networks when I'm out of the house - and in fact, when I'm in the house.  I especially like it that McDonald's restaurants now have free Wi-Fi - so really, I can get online from any of these fast-food restaurants while traveling.  And I'm sure I'll make great use of this in the next few weeks.

I'm impressed with how a number of you are participating in the weekly discussions, and it is especially nice to see all the postings that bring in new information - with links to online sources that expand our knowledge of a topic.  But unfortunately, as I say almost every week, I'm disappointed that there are students who are putting so little effort into our course.  I wish I knew how to get them more motivated to start participating in the discussions.

At any rate, this coming week, in Week Six of our course, well be looking in greater detail at the impact of the Internet on education.  Well be looking at two reports from the Pew Internet and American Life Project that deal with the Internet and education - and these reports are:  The Digital Revolution and Higher Education and The Future of Higher Education.  We'll also be looking at UIS Prof. Ray Schroeder's award-winning blog, Online Learning Update I'm sure that you all have experiences to share about the use of the Internet in school - in fact, several of you are writing your first paper for our class on this topic.  As for Prof. Schroeder's Online Learning Update blog - well, if you go to Google and search on the two words: online learning, Ray's blog consistently shows up on the first page of results - out of more than 1.2 billion hits.  Hopefully you will find some interesting articles about online learning posted in this blog.

Im looking forward to another week of interesting discussions with all of you -- to learn from your perspectives and your experiences.  I know that each of you has something to contribute that is relevant to one or more of the weekly readings.  Remember that a few well thought out postings that go into depth, contribute much more than a larger number of brief, superficial ones.  I'd like to say one other thing about writing a discussion question.  If your question includes the phrase "How do you feel about...?" - well, then I suggest that you re-think what you are asking.  The best discussion questions require some FACTS to answer well - not just a short statement about the respondent's feelings.  I find that the best postings include a hyperlink to a relevant source - a posting that can teach us all something new - not just a posting that expresses an opinion that isn't backed up by facts.

Finally, let me remind you once again that your first paper is due on March 14th, which is less than three weeks away now.  And that you have to participate in the "Phase One" discussions as part of this assignment.  Recall that I recorded a special podcast about the Paper One assignment earlier in the semester - I hope that you took the time to listen to it.  If you have any questions or concerns about your first paper, please don't hesitate to contact me.

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Well, that wraps up this podcast.  So until next time, this is Burks, signing off.

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