Design, development and

IT support by Peter Batchelor        

This is an archive of some of the notes, handouts and presentations I have made over the years. Please note that many of them have not been updated to reflect changes in both the technology and my ideas since they were written.

Video and audio editing has particularly come a long way in the last decade, and while much of the information in my articles will still be valid, it is now hopelessly outdated. Processing power of computers has dramatically expanded, and what was once a complex task requiring special (and expensive) software can now be completed using applications that come free of charge with both Windows and Apple computers. Video conferencing has become commonplace, using applications such as Skype or FaceTime, or Elluminate (for education settings), and for most people "just works" without need for any special technical expertise.

Website creation is another area where the landscape has changed significantly. Cascading style sheets are far more useful, and important, now than when I wrote the article on CSS, and Dreamweaver has undergone extensive changes, making it a much more useful editing tool. Database-driven content management systems (CMS) have now become the norm for maintaining large websites, and open source systems such as Joomla! and Word Press have made using a CMS an attractive alternative to a commercial editor.

For now, many of these articles will be a walk down memory lane for some. I do intend to update the information in many of these articles over the coming months...

Peter Batchelor, January 2012.

using smil in online professional learningIn June 2013 I gave a talk on how a W3C standard called Synchronized Multimedia Integration Language (SMIL) is being used by a number of my clients, mainly teaching associations in Victoria. For these clients I've been turning PowerPoint slides into SMIL presentations that includes the recorded audio from the session, and the PowerPoint slides as images. My talk also touched on how SMIL presentations like this can be used in Joomla!, in congunction with Community Builder and CB Subs, to set up a system that allows you to grant access to particular subscribers, for a particular amount of time.

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The following Italian WebQuests will give you some resources to use in your own classes, and hopefully inspire you to create your own WebQuests.

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The information here includes the basic details of my previous article on WebQuests, and gives examples of WebQuests suitable for Business and Legal Studies classes.

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MAGpie is a tool used to improve the accessibility of audio and video presentations, by adding captions to video and audio files, and audio descriptions to video files.

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  • Do you know how useful your site is to the people who visit it?
  • Do you know how often they use your site?
  • How often is a particular document downloaded?
  • Where do viewers go when they leave your site?
  • Is there a way for users of your site to make comments to you and to other users of the site?

These sorts of questions should concern you, because they can help you develop a site which is specifically addresses the needs of the people who use your website.

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The World Wide Web has evolved rapidly. Ten years ago, a few people, headed by Tim Berners-Lee, were taking their first tentative steps with this new media, putting text documents on web servers. Now we can add pictures, sound, animations and video to our web pages, and websites can now even be created in 3D! With the increased richness of media has come an increasingly technical set of commands to control how content is displayed within web pages and a bewildering array of gadgetry invented to assist us in the development of that content.

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The World Wide Web has not really lived up to the promise of being a wonderful tool for educators. In part this has been because of the difficulties of getting the technology working on a home computer, but also because much of the content available has been of dubious quality. Other parts of the Internet have certainly become very useful. As an example, email is now an invaluable part of many teachers' lives.

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What happens when you change Internet Service Providers?

When you move to a new URL, how do you ensure that your users are still able to find you?

These tips will help you make the transition painlessly.

There are several things that you can do to make moving a relatively easy task. Changing over websites takes a certain amount of planning and a lot of time contacting people. It is also a good time to consider the structure and content of your site. Following these guidelines will ensure that your new site, and all your extra effort, doesn't disappear, never to be seen again.

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Individuals, associations and businesses are increasingly turning to the Internet for delivery of material to friends, business associates and association members. Some are starting to experiment with conducting meetings online as well, using Net Meeting, CU-SeeMe, ICQ and others. Eventually, many will use the Internet for voice and video communication, but for many people, in the short term, text-based systems remain the best option.

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Please note: this article was written in 1998, and much has changed since it was published. For example, Google is only mentioned in passing, and Youtube and social media like Facebook and Twitter are not mentioned at all, let alone the concept of streaming serivces like Netflix or Stan. I've left it up as a reminder of how things were, back when the best Internet connection most could afford was a 56K dialup modem...

If you were to read the press releases from Microsoft or Netscape/AOL, or many of the articles in the popular press, you could be forgiven for thinking that the Internet is a recent invention, created chiefly by Bill Gates or Marc Andreesen (or perhaps by Al Gore). This is not the case and the Internet has actually been in existence for quite a long time. Originally used as a means of keeping communication channels open between military bases in various parts of the United States of America, it was at that stage a small network of slow modems connected to mainframe computers. The network was extended by connecting computers from universities around America and it was not long before university staff were using the system to send messages to each other. The idea was used in other countries and it was not long before countries started connecting their networks to one another and. From these beginnings in the mid-1960s the Internet has grown to include a number of methods, or protocols, for communicating via computer.

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How do you ensure that your site is easily found by your potential audience?

Links to your site from other similar sites will help, but the common wisdom on the net is that Search Engines and Directories are still by far the most common way for users to find what they are looking for.

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The new version of the program by Macromedia is a very good all-round site management tool. While it does take a while to get used to, it is extraordinarily powerful and allows even fairly naive users to create very sophisticated web pages.

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Using a computer to create and edit video is not difficult, but setting up a computer system for video editing often is. The information below will give you an idea of what is needed if you want to use your computer to edit video. This is intended purely as an introduction, and advice on the best software and hardware for your computer should be sought from an expert before you start purchasing equipment.

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CU-SeeMe is desktop videoconferencing software originally developed by Tim Dorcey and Cornell University. It works on both Macs and PCs. It allows up to eight people to talk to one another, and to see each other if they have cameras attached to their computers. There is also a text chat window available for computers without sound capability. Microsoft's NetMeeting is probably the other widely used piece of software which has video capability.

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Cascading Style Sheets are a great tool for web designers. They should be used far more than is currently the case, as they give designers much more control over how a website looks to users, but have suffered from a lack of support from the major browsers. This situation is now much improved, and will continue to improve as new versions of the major browsers are released. Learning how to develop a Cascading Style Sheet isn't difficult and there are now tools available which will actually do most of the work for you.

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It is easy to infringe copyright on the web. The tools we have at our disposal, in the form of web browsers, such as Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator, and site copying programs like Web Whacker and Anawave WebSnake allow us to save pages or whole sites onto our computers with ease. Even email can be unwittingly used to breach copyright laws.

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A number of associations have recently been in the unfortunate position of losing vital data as a result of inadvertently erased files or hard drive crashes. The cost involved in recreating all the important files on your computer can be quite high, as well as being quite time consuming. To ensure that you do not find yourself in the same predicament I recommend that you establish a backup procedure that makes copies of your vital files on a regular basis.

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Do you own the images you want to display? If not, don't use them until you have obtained permission from the owner. Copyright on the WWW is going to be a big issue over the next few years.

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Peter Batchelor has developed a Dreamweaver metadata extension to manage the inclusion and revision of metadata in webpages. This metadata editor operates as an extension to Dreamweaver (versions 3, 4 and MX, on Macs and PCs), so it requires pages to be edited using this application.

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A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity where much of the information used by students will be found on the World Wide Web. The model was developed in 1995 by Bernie Dodge and Tom March, at San Diego State University. Based on the ideas of inquiry based learning and constructivism, WebQuests focus on using information rather than looking for it, and promote analysis, synthesis and evaluation.

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This paper describes a process for using content stored on a local CD-ROM in a remote, live website. The relationship between such websites and discs is described as a Web/CD symbiosis, as it is an interdependent relationship, allowing designers to create sites using high quality content without the problems of delivery across a slow network. An online professional development project using this technique is discussed and some of the software used to create content for such a disc is detailed.

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Accessibility is an important part of the development of any new site. Your content should be viewable by your entire audience, and it is a mistake to think that everyone will be using the same technologies and software that you use.

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Website design isn't rocket science! It is actually quite easy to design a good site which contains all the key information you want to make available online, and publish it to the web in only a few hours, particularly if you have the information already available in electronic form.

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Historically, PCs are more vulnerable to infection by worms and viruses than Macintosh computers. For this reasonwe recommend that all PC users should have up to date antivirus software installed on their computer. We use and strongly recommend AVG Anti-Virus. Listed below are some of the tools available to help rid your computer of any infections that have slipped through your security net.

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Please note!

This is an archive of some of the notes, handouts and presentations I have made over the years. Many of them have not been updated to reflect changes in both the technology and my ideas since they were written.

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