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Does it allow for Audio Narration?

Yes, but there are limited capabilities to edit the audio track once it is inserted.

Does it allow for auto-advance?

Yes, it can advance based on mouse click, on a set timer, or on the completion of an audio/video track.

Does it allow for animations?

Yes, but limited in scope and compared to PowerPoint. Has similar timing mechanism as Presenter for associating animation triggers with audio cues.

Does it allow for video? Talking-heads? Web-video?

It allows for video, included embedded web-video from sources like YouTube. Supports .flv, .mp4, .mov, .avi, .wmv, .mpg, .mpeg, .asf, .3gp, .m4v, and .vob formats for uploaded videos.

Does not allow for traditional talking-heads, but could be reproduced through embedded video on the slide.

Is the final presentation accessible?

No, the presentations are not 508 compliant.

What are the available formats for the final presentation?

Online Flash streaming, proprietary online players for Windows and Mac, PowerPoint presentation, Adobe PDF.

How can the presentation be distributed?

Streams online from proper, or can be embedded within any webpage. Offline delivery through proprietary players.

Does it allow for quizzes? If so, are they SCORM compliant?

No. It has polling, but no quizzing.

Is the UI similar to/integrated with PowerPoint, or is it different in significant ways?

It is similar to PowerPoint. Menus are different, but the core capabilities and metaphors are similar.

Licensing: business/education or individual?

Enterprise and individual. Discounts for K-12, but higher education discounts must be negotiated.


Individual: $24/month, $240 annual

Enterprise: K/12 $999/year for 501-1000 students with 50GB storage( )

No documented higher education prices.

myBrainshark ( is a free, fully Web-based, online service that gives you a user-friendly way to create, share and track on-demand multi-media presentations. Advanced versions of Brainshark for Professionals and Trainers, (not covered here) are available for a monthly fee. Essentially, myBrainshark, the free version, is a browser-based Web application which allows you to assemble a group of slides into a presentation, stored on and delivered from, a server in the cloud. Each slide itself may be interactive, contain animation, and be of varied duration, depending on the content presented. You can upload slides created as PowerPoint presentations, photos and videos in many formats, as well as URL slides and document slides. You can add audio to any slide by telephone, microphone or MP3. A control at the bottom allows you to pause and start up again during the presentation, if you wish. You can insert interactive survey and poll questions as slides, share links to presentations and track viewing. myBrainshark actually creates a Flash movie, and alongside it, a parallel MP4 movie, so that if Flash is not available, such as in mobile use, it uses the HTML5 video tag to play an MP4 movie. In author mode, you can edit the order of slides, and insert and delete slides, but you cannot edit the content of the slides online. (You prepare content with your desktop software, such as PowerPoint, Photoshop, etc.). You can edit some of the metadata online, however. You can import a PowerPoint slide into the system, but you can't export it back out. Once you finish and activate your completed presentation, it becomes part of a useful online library of resources, in the manner of any other unrestricted URL, available to anyone. (Privacy and password management are available in the Pro version only.) There is a special iOS universal native app that remembers your login and has a cleaner look than when used in Mobile Safari, since the native app doesn't have an address bar. I tested the native app successfully on the iPad2. In addition, myBrainshark worked fine when I tried it using the Safari browser on the iPad, iPad2 and iPod Touch. Currently, a facility for offline use is not implemented.


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The iClass Interactive Class Response System was developed by teachers and students at the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at the University of Hong Kong. It is a tool that provides interactivity in the classroom in support of instruction, collaboration, and peer interaction. Its major features include a notepad module, a drawing module, and a student response capability. iClass Mobile supports mobile devices for the Android and iOS platforms. The lecturer app/server is downloadable to a Windows machine. The student app is downloadable from the Web site for the Android version, and from iTunes for the iOS version. A user manual is also available for download at the Web site:

Many of the people and organizations I follow on Twitter point me in the direction of news about emerging technologies and practices. Some of those people are: Eszter Hargittai, Larry Lessig, Glenda Morgan, Bryan Alexander, danah boyd and Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of the recently released The Googlization of Everything (And Why We Should Worry). I also follow googlepublicpolicy, EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Nieman Lab (Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard), Copyright Law, Privacy Law. I follow a lot of people here at the U, including Nancy Sims and Eli Sagor.

When I look into specific educational technologies, I search the Educause website as one of my first steps but of course conduct the usual searches on library databases. I regularly check publishers such as MIT Press for new books on technology and related topics. MIT publishes the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning, which you can either purchase or download free of charge. I also read the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed.

I love Boing Boing, which often features science fiction and "science factual" from the past, present and future. Reading about technology in this way gives me perspective and helps me imagine the possibilities.

In my regular surfing habits, I don't have a go-to source for information about academic technology. Instead, I try to connect the dots from various sources about design, typography, content, code, branding, and usability. Here are three of my favorites.

When university development teams go through a major redesign, they're often featured here.

This blog goes beyond featuring examples to write about web, marketing and public relations in higher education.

Data, as a topic, is hard to categorize. So is this blog. It's run by a Ph.D. candidate in statistics and it looks at how data visualization affects our lives.

The author of this blog attempted to rethink the mouse with his 10/GUI project. Today he presents articles about the conventions of modern interface design and the assumptions that come with them.

Brain Traffic
This company is just up the road from us. Their topics center around their argument that it's impossible to design a good user experience for bad content.

Boxes and Arrows
This blog gets into the nuts and bolts of building technology to make great user experiences.

UX Magazine
User experience is a cross-disciplinary mode of thinking. This blog covers some of the fresh thinking on design, strategy, technology and their influence on modern life.

UX Booth
Yep, it's another blog by and for the user experience community. Topics discussed here could, like a lot of given topics, be applied to the classroom.

Weekly Discussion Topic for Feb. 14, 2011 to Feb. 20, 2011

What roles do we think social media should play in the formal communications that take place at the University of Minnesota, and why?

Some places we might want to take this:

  • Publicly available services vs. internal services
  • University wide profiles: yes, no, what would they look like
  • Integration with other University services
  • Relationship to existing communication services at the university -- e.g. email, listservs

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