Category Archives: USF

USF, iPad and the Cloud

The college of education at the University of South Florida recently launched an initiative to advance pre-service teachers knowledge of emerging technologies in the classroom. The iteach initiative recently focusing on Apple products, has provided it’s students with workshops from Apple certified educators focusing on multimedia creation and optimizing lessons for consumption on the iPad. Workshops provided hands on experience using Apple’s iLife suite and Dashcode as well as other educational technologies. At the university level USF has made decisions to benefit the students as a whole but also benefits students who are iPad users or are thinking of buying an iPad.

One of these changes that USF IT has made is providing students access to an apps portal. Now students can access a wide array of popular programs such as Adobe CS5 Master Collection, Atlas T.I., Maya 2010, Mathimatica 7 and many others from any computer with an Internet connection. The university uses a citrix system that students can connect to by pointing their web browser to

Directions to connect to the Apps Portal

A benefit of using the apps portal, besides access to expensive software, students can begin working on projects on a machine on campus and still access their same project at home on their personal machines. Imagine you begin building a website for your communications class while on a campus machine and being able to finish your project at home. Or say you begin qualitative analysis project in Atlas T.I., which you couldn’t afford to buy, you can finish it anywhere anytime you are connected to the apps portal.

All of the applications available on the USF Apps Portal can also be accessed on the students iPad. Click the link below to configure your iPad to use the apps portal.

How to connect your iPad to the USF Portal

Some applications do not lend themselves to working nicely on the iPad. You may not want to create complex vector graphics in Adobe Illustrator thru the portal, but you can easily edit your documents, write programs, or analyze data on the iPad.

The apps portal is essentially just allowing students the ability to screen share to a server to access the applications. You will want to have a reliable and fast Internet connection to use the portal. The university provides storage space for students to save their files on the server. Students can have up to 4GB of storage space to save their files and create websites. USF has also been a Google University for the past few years. Now that Google has opened up Google Docs to editing on the iPad, this also provides students another avenue to create and share content on their iPad.


Managing Group Projects Online with Google Docs and

Many  times in academia students are asked to work in groups to finish an assignment such as a research paper, video, or other project. While  many educators advocate group projects in education, how often are students not provided the necessary tools to coordinate and manage their group projects?  Businesses use project management tools to coordinate their tasks, efforts and documents all the time.  Why shouldn’t students in college regardless of them being in Business degree program or not?

At the University of South Florida, students’ emails are now powered by Google Apps. The university has provided students the collaboration tools by becoming a Google University. Here students can work together on papers, presentations, websites, and even conversation with Google talk while being in different parts of the state or country.   Google Docs allows the students the access to this type of collaboration, but in itself does not handle the management of meetings, tasks, milestones, Due dates and features that are used in business to manage group projects.


Many Moon dot com Home Page provides many project management tools with in its online environment. Another great feature is students can login into with their  USF student email address (i.e. and use the service for free!  Students just need to choose Google Apps from the login menu.

Choose Google Apps

In the next box the student types in their USF email address.  The next window will ask for permission to use their email account with

sign in with student email address

After students have logged in to the system, they will have the ability to create projects.  Once the project has been created, other students can be invited by email, tasks and milestones can be created, and Google Docs can be created or attached to the new project.

Create a Task

Links in Manymoon such as  Documents, members, events, calendars Students are presented with a project dashboard, which provides easy access to many of the features of

The Many Moon service is free for with storage limitations and some features are not included. Branding, Customizability, More Storage, Email features, and other extra features that are more like “Nice to Haves” are apart of Many Moon paid for features. Click the image below to learn more about the upgrade options of Many Moon. 

The University of South Florida is adding to its collection of technology tools to benefits students in their course work. The addition of Google Apps and Many Moon is just an example of this forward thinking Research One University.

iUSF is now live

The University of South Florida recently released a new mobile app for iPhone and iPod Touch. The app will provide students with access to the following services:

Directory: campus directory with contact information for all USF System faculty and staff

Athletics: news stories from USF Athletics

Events: major university events pulled from the USF Events Calendar

Courses: course information from Blackboard

Maps: campus maps for all institutions and campuses within the USF System

News: news stories from the USF System

Emergency: emergency and non-emergency numbers for the USF System

Bullrunner: bus tracking and routes for the USF Bullrunner Shuttle System

Help: basic help information

Your iPhone or iPod Touch will need to run iOS 4 to download it directly to your device from the Apple Store. Below is a screenshot of the new application.

With this app students will be able to quickly look up information about their classes. The app will even show them on a map where their class is on a campus map. Students can even see the contact information of the professor of the class as well. This app shows the location of the bull runner buses as well as whether they are stopped or moving. Keeping up with events on campus, upcoming sporting events and past scores is easy to do as well. The app makes calls to emergency services on each campus as well.

Aviary: Online Imaging Editing Suite

In K-12 education finding tools to teach 21st Century Skills can be expensive. There is buying the software, keeping up with minor updates, and the pressure of staying up-to-date every year or so when a new version is released. Even if you are able to obtain a computer lab with a site license of your favorite image manipulation software, what happens when students return home from school each day and do not have access to these tools?

Aviary Tools

Aviary Tools

A startup company has created Aviary is an online suite of tools for artist and photo imaging enthusiasts. The Aviary Suite contains tools for editing images, screen capture, creating and editing vector images, creating visual image effects, image markups, color swatch editor, music creator, and audio editor.  All of the tools are accessed via an online account. A gallery is also provided  for users to proudly post their art for others to see.  For educators this may not be ideal as students may stumble across images that may be considered to provocative or controversial for the classroom.  This one reason why Aviary has an education version of its site.

Aviary Education ( provides educators a safe environment to allow their students to freely create, edit and peruse other students’ digital art work.

The website states it provides educators the ability to:

• Create private student accounts
• Manage assignments and projects
• Use the image editor, vector editor, audio editor & music creator
• All content and images are 100% school safe”.

Currently Aviary Education is a free beta program that a teacher would have to request access to for her class to enjoy the the benefits it has to offer.

Recently the creators of Aviary have teamed up with Google to provide access to the aviary tools via your Google Login.  Gmail users who use Google Docs to collaborate with peers and colleagues can take advantage of the image and audio editing tools, sharing their creations via Google Docs.  Now students can work together on visual projects or audio mixes.

Schools who have signed up for Google Apps access can choose to have Aviary added to their Google Docs. The University of South Florida is one university that has provided access for its students to these tools.  Aviary can be accessed by signing into your USF Mail account and clicking on the More link at the top.

The Aviary Tool Set (from

Aviary Tool Set

What Can Gaming Do for You?

With the advancement of electronic devices gaming on these devices are increasing. There are many different types of games on different platforms and devices. There are games aimed at the casual gamer to games for the very serious gamer.  Games vary in the continuum of collaboration from no collaboration in single player games to very collaborative games such as MMOs (massive multiplayer online) games, i.e. World of Warcraft.  Gamers across the world spend/waste/invest (depending on your view) billions of hours weekly playing in the virtual worlds trying to solve a mission, complete a task, or WIN!  These gamers enjoy playing the games so much that they do not even realize many times how much time is passed. And gamers all have the same goal: to be successful at the task.

Recently on, Jane McGonigal (Twitter page), a game designer, recently presented a talk of how Gaming can make a better world.  In it she talks about the emotions that gaming does and does NOT produce.  She also wants to develop away to take the emotions real people have while seriously playing collaborative games and apply them to the real world. Her them seems to be: if the energy, emotion, and sticktuitiveness of gamers in the virtual world could be applied to real world, real life issues and events, then the world could be a better place. You can view the video below.

Now apply that to education. Ms. McGonigal points out in the video that the average gamer in a strong gaming culture will have logged 10,000 hours or more by the age of 21. She states that is approximately the amount of face time teachers will have with students from 5th grade till high school graduation in the United States. During that time frame adolescent gamers are spending almost the same amount of time playing video games. Imagine if educators could tap into that extra time.

The University of South Florida (USF) is trying to do just that. How can educators harness virtual worlds to educate the k-12 students?  USF has created a website of lesson plans, resources, and case studies related to education and gaming platforms. You can find these resources on the USF website. The project is called Worlds of Education and it focuses on using virtual worlds to enhance or distribute education. The two gaming environments primarily used in the project are the World of Warcraft game by Blizzard and SecondLife.  The website also has a small but growing resource of lesson plans grouped by subject area.

Should gaming be used in education?

Atomic Learning available for USF Students!

Have you ever enrolled into a class at school only to find out that you had to learn a new software program. Or have you been working in excel and do not know how to create list headers for columns?  The University of South Florida has provided a possible solution to these kinds of tech worries. According to the USF learning commons blog, USF has purchased the services of Atomic Learning for its students.  Atomic Learning is a website for educators and students learn about new software and technology that may be used in education. The company, founded by educators has been in existence for the past decade providing step by step screencast tutorials. Teachers and students can find videos that are tutorials, project based, grouped by workshop type (blogging, searching the web, etc.) or by state standards and subjects.

Professors and students can access the Atomic Learning Resources via their Blackboard page. After logging into Blackboard, you must add the module to your page.

Add Module button

Click add module

You will then be presented with a list of modules that can be added to the page for easy access to their content. Find the Atomic Learning module and check it off. Click the Submit button to confirm the changes.

Module List

Check the Atomic Learning box

The module should now appear on your front page. Clicking the link will sign you into the university’s account and provide you access to the tutorials and workshops on the atomic learning website.

Atomic Learning link on Blackboard

Click Atomic Learning, Now Available

Once you are in the website you can begin searching for tutorials and workshops to increase your knowledge of a program or application, or you can choose workshops for ideas of technology that you can include in your classes and lessons.

Atomic Learning Categories: Tutorials, Project-based, Workshops

This is a resource for the students and faculty wishing to learn more about educational technology and specific applications.  USF also purchased the assistive technology package which includes programs such as Boardmaker 6, JAWS 9, Overboard, WordQ, SpeakQ, and IntelliKeys.  There are also programs for the developing researcher such as Atlas T.I and SPSS(v.14). This is a place to find tutorials for the most common resources used in education.

While this site does have a lot of programs it does not have everything that can be used in education or the tutorials are a little dated. For example it provides tutorials on Atlas T.I.(v.5) which is good for data collection and analysis of qualitative research but does not have tutorials on SAS or the latest SPSS which are used in quantitative research as well as some other programs that may be used in other colleges and departments on campus. There are even tutorials on a few free resources such as Audacity (audio editing software) and Picasa (photo managing software). Remember when browsing the collection, it is meant to teach and train educators, thus not every latest and greatest application will be taught since they are not relevant to education.

Supporting Literacy through Podcasts

The University of South Florida has added a new resource to their iTunes U store for literacy, language, literature teachers and other educators. Through the collaboration efforts of The University and the Florida Department of Education a resource for supporting the learning and teaching of literacy was developed.

Lit2Go iTunes U Store

Lit2Go iTunes U Store

Lit2Go provides access to audio formats (MP3) of many  historically and culturally significant poems and  stories. A website has also been developed to accompany the Lit2Go iTunes U store.  The website ( also provides a print out of the stories and poems. The collection includes famous classical authors such as Poe, Twain, and Shakespeare.

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, which is housed within the University of South Florida, has headed the production/and development of the materials. The Center hired talented voice actors to record the numerous stories and poems available on the iTunes Store and website.  The website provides a search by author or story to make it easier to find specific stories or poems to incorporate into your lesson plan.  The iTunes store makes it really easy to download the stories and poems to your mp3 player for easy offline access. You will need to have iTunes downloaded to your computer to use the iTunes U store.  iTunes can be downloaded from the apple website (

Blackboard 9 is now launched at USF!

If you have logged into your account (blackboard), you will be greeted with a completely new design.

Not only did USF upgrade to Blackboard 9, the media innovation team (MIT) also branded the system with USF colors and unique icon sets. This version of blackboard is suppose to be more user friendly and a lot less clicks.

USF Blackboard 9 Welcome Tab

The new blackboard has a web 2.0 feel, similar to using a website such as Facebook. Even the look of Blackboard can be changed by clicking on the Personalize Page button. The content boxes on each page, also known as modules, can be easily rearranged by click and dragging the top of the box. The navigation has been redesigned to provide easier access to commonly used sections of the blackboard system. Instead of having a long myUSF page, related content is grouped together on separate pages, such as News, Games, and Academics.


Games within the Blackboard System

The system has also provided a My Places link at the top of every page. This will allow quick access to any course or organization the student or faculty is a member. Here a photo can also be uploaded as well as few personal options changed.

My Places

My Places, where you can quickly access a course or organization

The Library tab was completely redesigned for the better in my opinion. Now everyone can see the general locations of each USF library, including corresponding contact information. Clicking on the name of the library will take you to the corresponding newly redesigned library site.

Choose your Library


It seems MIT was trying to design MyUSF with a edgy and  hip feel, and I think they accomplished that feat.  Many tasks with in blackboard are done with less clicks and waiting, but it will probably take faculty and staff time to learn the workflow for the new system. MIT is creating training videos that will be hosted on their website. The TIPS site will also have quick tips for blackboard hosted on its site as well. For more information concerning the upgrade process of Blackboard you can also visit the myUSF news Blog.

Enjoy your break and we will see you back in the spring!

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