Yes, Blackboard is broken, but with some mental reframing, spit, and bubblegum, anyone can smash it into a different direction. Also, who’s sick of calling this making-do business a “hack”? Let’s go back to jury-rigging or MacGuyvering. Also, your mileage on these so-called hacks may vary depending on your institution’s implementation of Blackboard. The easiest way to get Blackboard working is to give up on it. Stop trying to make it do what you want (like display a leaderboard), and instead embrace the simple principle that Blackboard is JUST A GRADEBOOK. Then, pretend Blackboard is just like an old spiral gradebook, take some sparkle glueRead More →

The Blackboard app sucks more than Blackboard itself. The mobile app is teacher unfriendly. In fact, it’s downright teacher-hostile. Remember, the medium is the message. Since Blackboard has yet to master mobile-responsive design, the mismatch between the website and mobile app causes users to get mixed messages. This is a huge headache for teachers and students alike. Additionally, instructors cannot access the grade center, or grade anything, which renders Blackboard Mobile pointless for teachers.  The app is just an added burden for instructors to address in course design, without much payoff. What the app is useful for 1. Uploading docs at the last minute. 2.Read More →

Which company will become Skynet? Will it be Google or Amazon? Although Google has a neural net cast over the entire world, giving it a head start in the race toward Skynet dominance, Amazon is building drones. Drones are only a step away from Terminators. Google has turned its back on its “Don’t Be Evil” corporate ethos, but Amazon’s labor practices are, well, evil. If these two companies have babies, we’re all a step away from getting Terminated. So, uhhh, yeah, I have a drone. My household now has an Echo from Amazon. (Note: I am not the one who purchased it.) Echo is aRead More →

Scare cam proves what everyone’s saying about us – we are all turning into a bunch of narcissistic sociopaths. Our ability to empathize is eroding daily. Most folks attribute this to desensitization from new media technology, but the blame is elsewhere. “Point and shoot” scare cams emphasize that the thing pointing doesn’t kill people, people kill people. Scare cams are a symptom of something bigger, of lost contact. You can fall in love via technology just as easily as you can bully through it; technology can mediate love as much as it can mediate bullying. So the problem isn’t technology. Maybe in the end OctaviaRead More →

Blackboard continues to suck. I’m at a new institution, and I have learned that admin regulation of features accounts for only a small amount of Blackboard’s suckage. My current school has foregone some convenient features, but adopted other nifty ones. In the end this just illustrates that Blackboard’s suckitude and lack thereof amounts to installing car mats, electric windows, and an awesome stereo inside a poor-performing but market-dominating car. Blackboard is gobbling up the learning tech market, and now that it’s the big gorilla, it’s defining the industry with its suckage. Here is why Blackboard continues to suck: 1. Still cannot mass edit exam questions.Read More →

Scramble with Friends

I play Scramble with Friends, the only phone game for me. My score drops precipitously without regular play, but more significantly, my self esteem drops too. Scramble with Friends is the best life coach and personal cheerleader ever. Although Zynga games don’t deserve free advertising, I highly recommend playing this one because of the audio rewards when you score. A voice shouts: “Excellent!!” “Amazing!!” “Excellent!!” “Amazing!!” “Good!!” The soundtrack is better than the game. In fact, people should say these things to the friends and loved ones in their lives in the course of a conversation throughout the day at random moments. Picture it! ThatRead More →

(In no particular order) 1. Droid I bought my Droid in November 2009 and it has changed how I interact with people, sometime for the worse, but usually for the better. On the one hand, even though I’m a technophile, I really don’t like the 24/7 culture of new communication technology. I used my first cell phone only to call out and for emergencies. On the other, the convenience and entertainment value of a smart phone make me wonder why I went so long without one. I still have a bad habit of leaving my ringer off, missing calls, and forgetting all about the phone’sRead More →

We have arrived in Tokyo. The time adjustment is crazy, but the logistics are smoother than predicted. All the little things that you take for granted are up for grabs when traveling in a non-English speaking country, and I was predicting doom and disaster for the most minor needs and requirements.  The greatest concern was getting lost.  Other concerns were bizarre bathrooms and money conversion. So far, due to the Droid’s superpower capabilities, I have been victorious over these challenges. Of course, this is only Day 1. 1. Money – A nifty money conversion app solves switching from Yen to USD and back.  I haveRead More →

Why I haet Blackboard Learn: 1. There is no mass edit. 2. It’s sticky as all hell. When you create something new (an announcement, test, file, module, -anything-), you get a dashboard with a box for a title and then a box for the text. Sometimes, you try to type in one of the boxes and you simply can’t. It hangs. The only way to work with this is to click in whatever is the opposite box until it un-sticks. So if you’re in the title box, click on the text area and wait for the page to unstick. What utter effing b.s. 3. ItRead More →

1. Add your home as a venue. 2. Become mayor of your home. 3. Add your work as a venue. 4. Become mayor of your job. 5. Add places that are clearly not venues like THE BEACH. The beach is not a venue. 6. Become mayor of the beach. 7. Lie. 8. Lie a lot. Note: I have done none of these things. Update: 12/1/12 In the world of cheaters, monetizers, gamers, and people who need external motivation, do things for gold, XP, and badges, and those who seek only to level up, NONE of these 4Sq ethics seem to matter. Hence, the “Commission toRead More →