New Google search feature — The Knowledge Graph

Google is announcing a new tool in search: The Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph adds new results to your search. You will see panels on the right side of the search results page with additional, factual, information about the search topic. This will have more relevant, factual information about your search (like historical, biographical, news, etc.) and list related topics.

According to the official Google blog, this is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do. It will enable you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query.

Three main ways that the Knowledge Graph enhnaces Google search are: helping you find the right thing; getting the best summary information; and going deeper into your search results and. perhaps, learning something unexpected.

A YouTube video from Google explains this new feature and it will be rolled out to all users over the next few days.

Happy searching!

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Learning Certificate Series continued…

The Certificate Series of professional development workshops for Spring 2012 will continue beginning Monday April 16. Each series consists of multiple, related sessions targeted to specific areas that faculty have requested. Dates and additional information are included in the brochure and are listed on the Academic Computing website calendar

It is recommended that you attend all sessions to get the most from each series but we all have many demands on our time. Therefore, anyone who participates in a majority of any particular series will receive a Learning Certificate attesting to your accomplishment.

Our previous topics– Multimedia Certificate and Web 2.0 Certificate — were well received and we are happy to offer the following new topics:
 
Microsoft Office series:
Word 2010:
     Features of the INSERT tab – April 16 and 17
     Collaboration and Review – April 23 and 24
     Mail Merge and Tables — April 16 and 17
 
Excel 2010:
     Basics for beginners — April 18 and 20
     Sorting and Filtering — April 25 and 27
 
Publisher 2010:
     Basics for beginners– April 19 and 20
 
Please plan to attend as many of these sessions as possible. Collaboration and sharing problems, solutions and ideas with your colleagues stimulates everyone’s creative juices. So bring someone along! All sessions will be held in B2-26.
 
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Learning Certificate Series

Academic Computing is pleased to announce a Certificate Series of professional development workshops for Spring 2012. Each series consists of multiple, related sessions targeted to specific areas that faculty have requested. Dates and additional information are included in the brochure and are listed on the Academic Computing website calendar.

It is recommended that you attend all sessions to get the most from each series but we all have many demands on our time. Therefore, anyone who participates in a majority of any particular series will receive a Learning Certificate attesting to your accomplishment.

 
Topics for Spring 2012:
Multimedia Certificate – February 20 – March 2
Web 2.0 Certificate – February 22 – March 1
PowerPoint Certificate – post Spring break
Screen Capture Certificate – post Spring break
Microsoft Office series: Word, Excel, PowerPoint – post Spring break

Please plan to attend as many of these sessions as possible. Collaboration and sharing problems, solutions and ideas with your colleagues stimulates everyone’s creative juices. So bring someone along! All sessions will be held in B2-26.

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New wireless access for students and faculty!

We are pleased to announce that the College’s range of wireless access has recently expanded! Newly installed access points now broadcast our wireless signal on the 2nd floor of the Bonnell building. This signal will allow students in B2 spaces such as the Learning Lab, Student Academic Computing Center, and classrooms to use their wireless devices to access the Internet. Also, all of the faculty offices on B2 receive this signal so wireless tablets, e-readers, telephones, and laptops can all access the Internet. Please note that instructions for authenticating to our wireless network can be found on the opening page of MyCCP. Students will see this information at the top-center of their Student tab and Faculty/Staff should look to the General Links channel located on the right side of the Employee tab.

Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact either the HelpDesk at extension 6000 (215-496-6000 from off campus) or Arnold DiBlasi, Academic Computing in B2-26 at extension 8545.

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Do you talk to your computer?

At times, everyone gets frustrated with the technology that is supposed to make our lives easier and our work more efficient! So, it is natural to mutter, talk, or cajole your mouse and keyboard to do the things you would like it do!

But, that is not the type of talking we are considering right now. Did you know that the Windows operating system (both Vista and the newer version 7) contains software that allows the user to control the computer using your voice? This component is called “Speech Recognition”. Speech control, sometimes referred to as “voice recognition”, has been discussed and experimented with since at least 1952. Popular software names like Dragon Dictate have permeated the technology field for a number of years and must be purchased and installed separately on your computer.

Microsoft included a version of speech recognition primarily for dictating word processing documents with is Office XP (version 2002 and 2003) and that particular software application has been discontinued from the Office products. In its place, Microsoft has incorporated speech recognition into the operating system rather than the Office suite of products. This was an attempt to mainstream the concept of voice control of the entire computer—not simply dictating work processed documents. While it is not as feature-rich as the stand alone Nuance Dragon Dictate it is very easy to use and quite accurate. Oh, and did I mention FREE?!

If you have Microsoft Vista or Windows 7 as your operating system this piece of software is already installed and waiting, like a sleeping giant, to be awakened by you and put through its paces. What do you need besides the correct version of the operating system? Recommended would be a good quality, headset microphone. Even though you can use a desktop microphone, having a headset on allows the mic to be closer to your mouth enabling the computer to better interpret your speech. The headset also allows you to listen to any prompts the computer will give you to assist you in controlling your PC. The following bullets are from the Microsoft website:

“Before you can start using Windows Speech Recognition, you need to set up a microphone. For specific information about installing your particular microphone, check the information that came with it or go to the manufacturer’s website.

  1. Make sure the microphone and speakers are properly connected to your computer.
  2. Open Speech Recognition by clicking the Start button , clicking Control Panel, clicking Ease of Access, and then clicking Speech Recognition.
  3. Click Set up microphone.
  4. Follow the instructions in the wizard.”

For best results, you should also go through and read the various text paragraphs that Microsoft supplies for “training” the speech recognition module. This is necessary since everyone speaks slightly different. By having standard text read by the intended user the PC can “learn” your particular inflections and increase its accuracy.

Now that your microphone and computer are “in synch” what types of tasks can you accomplish with speech?  You can control your computer—have in Open windows or programs, save, print, or close documents, have the mouse “click’ on any item, and lots more! You can also dictate and edit text in all of the Office suite of programs and you will be amazed at how accurate the software can interpret. For example, the following sentence typed flawlessly when I dictated it into Word: “They’re over there playing with their toys.” Each instance of the word “there” was typed contextually correct.

So, if you have speech recognition available on your particular operating system, give it a try!

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Have you “heard” about podcasts?

As part of our summer workshop series, Academic Computing is offering a hands-on workshop for anyone interested in producing a podcast or video podcast.

This simple and effective technique enables you to add some audio content to either your Distance course or place it in MyCourses to enhance a face-to-face class. We also have webcams available if you would like to add some video and, of course, this can all be added together using some screen capture software such as Jing (also one of our workshop topics this summer!) The best part of this is that everything you need will probably already be found on your PC or can be downloaded for free. The one thing you need to purchase is an inexpensive microphone but you can also use the ones we have in the Academic Computing TechTank!

The best way to hear about podcasts, though, would be to listen to one. So, turn on your speakers or plug in your headphones and click this link!

We hope to see you at the podcast workshop. Check out our calendar and plan to attend!

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Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of…..workshops!

poolWith the end of our spring semester and the start of summer break, some thoughts turn to winding down our hectic schedules and relaxing near the pool or on the beach. However, Academic Computing offers an amazing array of professional development workshops as the alternative to ‘summer loss’!

It can be difficult to focus on teaching your classes and keeping up with all of the usual day-to-day activities in the regular semester and also find the time to explore new technologies. The summer offers a great opportunity to get back to basics and invest some time in the 3 R’s: Relax, Research, and Rejuvenate!

Relax in B2-26! Come into our TechTank  and investigate some of those technologies that you keep hearing about from colleagues and students. How can you use some advanced features of Word to connect with your students? What are those “Consolidated Courses” and how can they make your workload less formidable from semester to semester?

Research with your colleagues! B2-26—our TechTank—is open every work day from 8:30 AM – 5:30 PM. View our list of workshops on the college-wide Professional Development calendar and pick the days, times, and topics that suit your schedule. If you have a topic one that you would like to learn more about, send us an e-mail and we can try to put some information together for you.

Rejuvenate your teaching! Classroom technology is not a panacea nor is it appropriate for every class in every discipline. However, there are many simple, yet elegant, ideas that may make your classroom experience fresh and exciting!

Spend some time this summer in the TechTank and explore! Come on in…the water’s fine!

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