Monthly Archives: June 2016

Augmented reality – transform own hands

Have you seen images created using the Augmented Hand Series?

This real-time interactive software system that presents playful, dreamlike and very strange transformations of a visitor’s hands was developed by Golan Levin, Chris Surgrue and Kyle McDonald.  The visitor inserts his or her hand in a box, and the screen does strange things afterwards as if the hand has been transformed.

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The system uses the real-time posture of a real hand as a moment-tomoment baseline for its transformations. About twelve transformations are available (for more detail check this link, from where I am sharing this information.

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If this happens to my hand, I will have to fight myself not to remove it as quickly as possible from the box. Just to confirm that it as just a game and not a real transformation. What would I do with so many extra hands as extensions from fingers and not extra arms?

Especially if the transformations move as I move my own hands.



For more information, go to their website.




PebblePad e-portfolio system

PebblePad provides a personal learning space used by learners, teachers and assessors.


With regard to higher education, PebblePad advertises itself as a trusted system used for:

  • personalised feedback
  • advanced assessment
  • versatile
  • external assessors
  • simple licensing
  • lifelong learning learning without limited
  • flexible eportfolios


Features include:

  • interactive workbook
  • customisable templates
  • e-portfolio design tools
  • in-build frameworks
  • activity logs and collections
  • external services

It supports LTI and of the shelf integration with blackboard and Moodle and can connect with existing information systems.

Tools for assessment include:

  • auto-submission
  • reporting and analytics
  • feedback collections
  • flexible permissions
  • grading and archiving
  • collaboration

Tools for tutoring, mentoring and coaching include:

  • milestones & pathways
  • feedback aggregation
  • notifications & alerts
  • grade aggregation
  • templates and workbooks
  • reporting

After graduation, the e-portfolio can be moved to a free personal learning space to support learning without limits:

  • e-portfolio design tools
  • in-built frameworks
  • customisable
  • CV builder
  • secure

Personal accounts are also available at a cost (20 pounds p/a, 45 per three years hosting:

  • framework to support development
  • connect to Dropbox, Google Drive and Onedrive accounts
  • email support
  • secure, personalised learning space
  • create, share and publish portfolios freely
  • storage for uploaded files
  • upgrades when PebblePad upgrades

I will test this system as soon as I got feedback from them, they said they will provide feedback within the next 24-48 hours, so let us see what happens.

According to them they host more than 5.4 million learning assets currently. Case studies of Universities using PebblePad include:



  • Based on the case studies, we need to know if it will be able to support large groups of students.
  • A letter found on the website indicating that various features have been removed between versions (such as badges) and a problem with features that cannot be used in newer versions.



Rcampus e-portfolios: Student’s perspective

Rcampus provides various options for e-portfolio usage.

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Three types of solutions are provided.

The limited solution is free of charge, and the following are included:

  • one showcasing e-portfolio consisting of 5 pages with basic slides.

The advanced solution costs $25 per year. It can become expensive, but it includes:

  • the opportunity to build unlimited learning and assessment e-portfolios with 30 pages per e-portfolio and advanced sliding tiles.
  •  structured matrices
  • guided learning
  • multiple evaluators
  • self- and peer assessment
  • rubric assessment
  • performance monitoring

The pricing for the enterprise solution need to be discussed with them. This solution includes all features mentioned under advanced option but add the following affordances:

  • standards and outcomes management systems
  • integration with SIS and other systems
  • institutional administration

Creating a free version

Creating a free version was quite easy. After signing up as an individual student and confirming my email address, I could log in. To create an e-portfolio, you click on ePortfolios, then on Build, and the you complete the form.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.03.57 AM


My example

I have used Test 101 (title) and test101 (Access code). The code can be shared with others who need access to the -e-portfolio.

I got the message that the e-portfolio was created successfully and that it was available an the web address was provided. The following information was also provided.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.10.47 AM


Build Your Home page

When I clicked on Build your home page, I was taken to this page.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.13.24 AM

The parts of the page that could be edited were clearly indicated ( see red comment blocks). Instructions and tutorials were available ( see the previous figure). Please note that the layout of the free solution cannot be changed and tiles cannot be deleted or added.

Ease of editing menus

The top and side menus can be easily modified after clicking on ‘edit menus’. The top menu allows visitors to access other areas of Rcampus without leaving the webpage (e-portfolio).

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.24.43 AM

General options include access to:

  • e-Portfolio home
  • classroom
  • eCommunities
  • study groups
  • private groups
  • faculty groups
  • the student’s account
  • tutors
  • book exchange
  • e-Portfolios
  • matrices
  • rubrics
  • voices and
  • manage

Students have to click on each of these to allow or deny access. They can also allow members to access their own items when they are logged in, namely:

  • organiser
  • messages
  • documents

If access to documents were clicked, they provide access to the member’s documents and not the student’s documents.

The side menu can also be edited. The labels and order can be changed. For the purpose of this test, I regarded the following pages as important components of my e-portfolio:

  • Profile
  • About me
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Task Calender
  • Goals
  • Accomplishments
  • Shared Docs
  • Artifacts
  • Reflections
  • Discussions
  • Join my Webfolio


Ease of add and editing content 

Access to pages is available from the side menu. It is quite easy to edit the pages (side menu). Click on the page (I have clicked on Profile, and click on the red EDIT PAGE button).

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.40.07 PM


You can choose to activate the tiles (pages filled with artifacts) and you can edit the content of the page.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.42.26 PM


I have decided to add the slides (artifacts) only on the artifacts and reflection pages.

The following options are available for pages:

  • Three types of layout formats

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 12.46.35 PM


With regard to content, the following options are avialable:

  • change font (few options), size and colour of text
  • add hyperlinks
  • change size of headings
  • add page breaks
  • upload images ( a process to be taught)
  • links to videos and podcasts, it does not display on the page

Ease of adding content

Adding multimedia content is not easy, therefore students need to be guided. Videos cannot be embedded. When pages are edited, the changes are immediate.

On each page, five slides (blocks) can be used to organise content. The free version does not allow users to use less than 5 or more than five. However, when editing pages, the slides can be hided.

Collaboration opportunities

Students can start discussions within their e-portfolios, therefore peers and lecturers can be asked to provide feedback

Sharing options

If used as individual, e-portfolios can be shared via a email. Individual pages can also be shared via email. Others can be invited to look at the portfolio and it can be submitted for course assessment.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 2.38.00 PM

See my example.

If you are unable to see it, please follow the instructions below.

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 2.50.00 PM

E-portfolios can be easily managed. 

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 10.45.07 AM



The following features could not be tested, it is restricted to the paid version:

  • rubrics and matrices
  • self and peer assessment
  • performance monitoring
  • standards and outcomes management
  • Integration with SIS and other systems
  • Institutional admin
  • Guided learning
  • multiple evaluators


Based on the quality of the e-portfolio created via the free solution, I believe that there are better options available. Furthermore, the fact that the system is hosted by another company is also a matter of concern that need to be addressed.


Examples created by others:

These examples do not use an e-portfolio to its full extend, maybe because it is quite difficult to share multimedia.


I believe we should test the paid version before making a final decision. Since rubrics are included, students will have to be guided to add content. Adding multimedia is quite difficult, therefore guidelines for using the technology have to be provided.




Microsoft HoloLens: Are we there yet?

I have been invited to attend the Empower Technical Summit of Microsoft at Gallagher Conference Centre on the 14th of June 2016. One of the new technologies that intrigued me, was Microsoft’s HoloLens.


In this video short presentation, the following uses of the HoloLens have been identified:

  • technologies are all around us
  • if we don’t, our students use it in all aspects of their lives
  • it enables us to do amazing things

But, the presenter identified even more. We can go beyond the screen to blend the digital world with the real world to create augmented realities if we use holograms. That will provide new ways to:

  • visualise our work
  • share ideas with each other
  • play
  • teach
  • learn (I love the example)
  • collaborate
  • explore the worlds we have never visited (walking on Mars)
  • create the things we imagine with a snap of a finger

According to the presenter:

If we can change the way we see the world, we can change the world we see

Therefore, I am adding a few videos to help us to see what have been done so far. In the following video a real person wears a HoloLens and wearable holograms to enter an augmented world where he has to fight holograms able to identify real objects in a real world to create strategies to fight a real person in his real world (Project X Ray).


The features of the HoloLens, its uses and potential uses are discussed in the following video.


I have also found the following video informative.


Windows 10 allows developers to develop new applications, therefore many holograms might soon be available to enrich our mode of delivery. However, the question remains:

Are we there? yet ….?



How to write more in an Excel cell

Basically, Excel caters for calculations.


Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 6.23.58 PM

Therefore, it seems if cells can only be used for a limited amount of characters, depending on the breadth of the cell, which can be enlarged to fit more characters. However, you can insert more lines in a cell by following these steps:

  • Press alt+Enter (Windows) or
  • Press Alt+Option+Enter (Mac).
  • This will automatically set Wrap Text ON for the cell where you want to add more lines of text.


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Transparent solar panel screens to charge phones

Today’s mobile devices are constantly in use, therefore battery life is problematic. Therefore researchers have investigated the affordances of solar powered mobile phones.

Sumsung developed the Samsung Crest (see full article)

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 7.15.34 PM


and Sharp developed the Solar Hybrid phones (see full article).

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 7.20.21 PM


These phones allowed users to charge their phones via solar power, but the panels were inserted in the back of the phones. Since users prefer not to place their phones face down, these phones were not popular. Therefore, since 2013, several sets of researchers are woking on the development of self-charging phone screens to be placed at the front of phones. Currently, they are working on ways to make transparent solar panels better and cheaper, therefore next year could be the year to finally get hold of them.


According to Lee Bell the Japanese electronics firm Kyocera showcased its 15-inch device at the Mobile World Conference (MWC) in Barcelona, explaining that the phone needs only 3 minutes of sunlight per day to charge 1 minute of call time! The built-in solar panel is called WYSIPS (What You See IS Photovoltaic Surface). Interesting to note is the way this panel fits into a cell phone along other panels (see article, Figure borrowed).

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 7.05.55 PM


Once on the market, these panels can invisibly collect solar power on phone and computer screens and on windows. I cannot wait to get hold of such an innovative phone. Remembering to pack the charging kit is a daunting task.







Periodic Tables updated by adding four new elements: downloadable tables

It is now official, four new elements have been added to the periodic table. This may be the event of a life time since the four new superheavy elements  complete the seventh row of the periodic table.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.14 PM

The elements were named 113, 115, 117, and 118, meaning that new elements between hydrogen (having only one proton in its nucleus) and element 118 (having 118 protons) have been discovered.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.28 PM

These elements were known since end of 2015 as ununtrium (Uut), Uup (ununpentium), Uus (ununseptium) and Uuo (ununoctoium).

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.44.39 PM

The discovery gave the scientists naming rights. Certain rules apply, since only five categories of names are allowed, namely:

  • mythological concepts or character
  • mineral or substance
  • place or geographic region
  • a property of the element
  • scientist

The names selected were announced in June 2016, namely Nihonium, Moscovium, Tennesine and Oganesson.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 3.56.26 PM


  • Nihonium (Nh) – 113, since this element was discovered by scientists at the Riken Nishina Center for Accelerated Science in Japan
  • Moscovium (Mc) – 115, since this element was discovered at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, near Moscow
  • Tennessine (Ts) – 117, since this name acknowledges scientific contributions from Tennessee, home of the Oak Ridge National Labatory, Vanderbilt University and the University of Tennessee at Knoxvile
  • Oganesson (Og) – 118, since this element was discovered by collaborating teams of Russia in the city of Dubna and Americans at the Lawrence Livermore national Laboratory in California.

The names of these new superheavy, radioactive elements were for five years up for public comment.

The following links can be followed to get access to printable periodic tables:

  1. Colour-coded periodic table
  2. Black & white periodic table
  3. Shiny periodic table
  4. PDF with transparent background
  5. Interactive periodic table

Please note: You can use it as you please, but you are not allowed to publish it on your websites.





Digication (add on e-portfolio)

Digication is a add on e-portfolio tool.


Examples of e-portfolios created with Digication:




  • Navigation to content seems to be good (top menu)
  • Each page can have more pages with content (side menu)
  • Can add resume
  • Can add contact form for interaction
  • Can personalise
  • Supports multimedia (embed videos)



  • It seems if this system is worthwhile, but I could not test it due to cost.
  • I could not test the assessment – says can do rubric assessments
  • I could not create own examples




Chalk & Wire e-portfolios

Chalk & Wire is a web-based e-portfolio system, not hosted on campus, that supports students in creating e-porfolios.

Affordances of Chalk & Wire


The company provided the following examples of e-portfolios created via this system:


Based on these examples, Chalk & Wire provides a system that allows users to create accessible e-portfolios. After graduation, the e-portfolios are not deleted. Graduates can buy access to their e-portfolios.

Institutes for higher education using Chalk & Wire includes:

And many more.


Possible challenges

  • Up to 3000 student accounts, can request more, therefore it is important to request more information
  • I do not have access to this e-portfolio system, therefore I cannot test it to investigate if it can fit the needs of an institution.
  • I do not have access to the administration, reporting or assessment sections of this e-portfolio system. Will need access to write an informed report.



Categories of ePortfolio tools

Currently, many e-portfolio tools and systems are available to support individuals and institutions in the quest for meaningful assessment.


Helen Barret (2007) developed a useful framework for grouping these tools and systems according to their affordances. Since then, new tools have been developed, therefore, or old ones developed new affordances. The aim of this blog post is to group tools and systems based on their current affordances in order to assist in the selection of an effective tool or system.

images (2)


  • Level of personal expression and creativity decreases to bottom of list.
  • Level of interactivity increases down the list



Offline authoring tools

Offline authoring tools can be used to author portfolios, but require web server space to be published. No interactivity. Tools that can be used to create offline portfolios are:

  • Mozilla SeaMonkey
  • Dreamweaver
  • Apple’s iWeb
  • nVu
  • Frontpage
  • Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint)
  • Leshare Pro
  • adobe acrobat
  • MovieMaker2
  • PhotoStory 3
  • iMovie (or any other video editing tools)


Static Web Services

Individuals and institutions can use the following tools to create and publish presentation portfolios. Little or no interactivity. Tools that can be used include:

  • eFolio Minnesota
  • Tripod
  • KEEP Toolkit (Merlot)
  • Weebly (incluedes blog)
  • Yola (includes blog)


Interactive Web services

These dynamic web services can be used to create and publish presentation portfolios. They allow interactivity. Tools that can be used include:

  • WordPress (blog) (reported high costs due to hacking)
  • Blogger
  • WikiSpaces
  • PBworks
  • GoogleDocs
  • Google Sites
  • ZOHO writer
  • Mobile tools (for collection and reflection)
  • foliospaces
  • Myeport
  • Zunal
  • Rcampus
  • Teacher portfolio


Software – server required

These systems can be hosted on own services to provide a space where e-portfolios can be created and published. They provide interactivity, but no data management systems. Data management systems allow the collection of evaluation data about e-portfolios and and can produce reports aggregating quantitative data.

  • Userland’s manilla
  • Mahara (self hosted)
  • Blackboard
  • Elgg
  • OSPI
  • ePearl (K12)
  • SPDS Moofolio (embedded in Moodle)
  • myStuff (UK)
  • Plone
  • Drupal
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Karuta (cannot login, help needed with installation)
  • dotFOLIO
  • Simple Portfolio (Moodle)
  • MyStuff (Moodle)
  • Exabis (Moodle)


Hosted services

These systems can be adopted (no server required) to host portfolios. Usually supports interactivity, but no data management or reporting services. Tools include:

  • myVentive’s iWebfolio
  • PubblePad (UK)
  • Epsilen (not available any more)
  • my eCoach
  • Google apps for education


Assessment systems (Hosted services)

These hosted services can be adopted (no server required) to host e-portfolios, facilitating interactivity and include data management and a reporting system for assessment. Tools include:


I will test a few of these systems during the course of this year. If possible, I will create examples based on theoretical perspectives on learning in higher education. As soon as one is ready, the title will change to a hyperlink in order to allow you to explore the example.

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