Monday, January 25, 2010

Personal Bibliographic Manager Software: Endnote? Zotero? or Both?

I was reading an article this morning that provided an analogy that the use of technology is like learning to ride a bicycle with no training wheels.  How true, especially for those who are uncomfortable using technology.  Switching from using hand-written notecards to store reference information to a software solution can be an adjustment.  I have been teaching students how to use EndNote ( for several years now.  I began teaching undergraduate students to use Zotero ( a couple of years ago.  My colleague, Karen, said that she attempted to use Zotero with graduate students and had all sorts of problems.  She has decided to switch back to requiring EndNote, but accept Zotero for students who cannot affort to purchase EndNote.

One of my students is writing a paper about the use of Zotero and inadvertently nudged me to learn something new :)!  She had downloaded the beta version of Zotero that allows for sharing of references and synching the reference library with the Zotero server.  Wow, did that get my attention!!  Why?   I now will begin to use the sharing aspect of the references with students in courses that I teach.  I really like the way that I can grab info from web sites in Zotero and attach any associated PDF file with a click of the mouse.  I  also like the way that I can use EndNote to search for articles in PubMed and also search for PDF copies of the references.  Because the two software packages have different strengths, I have decided to use a combination of the two.  I can export references from EndNote into Zotero so that the file can be synched and shared.  To learn more about the beta version of Zotero, go to

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Screen Capture and Video Software - Snag-it, Jing, and OneNote

A colleague mentioned that she was going to visit a nursing program that is using Jing and Snag-it software.  Jing and Snag-it are developed by TechSmith, the same company that produces Camtasia.  Jing is free. With the really scarce resources for many of us, free software is good.

Snag-it ( ) is used for screen capture.  The software is available for a 30-day free trial.  It is much better than the Print Screen function that we all have with our computer keyboards because you can choose exactly what you want to capture.  I use Microsoft OneNote ( ) software, which is similar.  OneNote is available for a 60-day trial. The reason that I like it better, is that the software runs in the background, so all I have to do is to tap the Window+S keys to do a screen capture.  I also like the way that OneNote keeps automatic notes about the screen captures, for example, the day, time, and source (if it is a URL) of the capture.  OneNote allows me to store the screen captures in a workbook.  Those features are really helpful when designing online course content.

Jing ( provides the ability to record video of on-screen action and it also can be used for screen capture.  The free version of the software is available for both the PC and the Mac.  It includes tutorials and is easy to use.  The on-screen action video is very helpful for that "teaching moment" assistance.  As an example, a couple of years ago I was running into roadblock using a software to access my web site.  One of our fantastic support people in the GCSU Web Enhanced Resource (WER) group figured out a work around. He created a short video of the on-screen action and emailed it to me. 

If you need a way to capture a part of a computer screen or capture screen action, consider trying Snag-it, OneNote, and/or Jing. All are very easy to use.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Using Web Folders (WebDav)

I remember the first time that I heard the term WebDav, I thought that it was a Geek term and something that I would never need or want to do.  Was I wrong or what!  I am a huge fan of WebDav!  WebDav is a term that indicates that it is possible to have a shortcut to a folder on a remote computer.  The shortcut, located in My Network Places, allows you to synchronize files from your personal computer and the remote computer with using drag and drop. 

When might it be useful?  It depends....  Do you have a wiki, a personal web site, or are you an instructor using a learning management system?  If you have a web site where you must log in and need to upload and download files, check to see if the site supports WebDav. 

As an instructor, WebDav has saved me hours of tedious labor!  That is the good news. 

The caveat (there is always one) is that if you have Windows Vista or Windows 7 operating system the setup may be problematic. 

I use the Blackboard learning management system, Windows XP, and Internet Explorer 7.  I was able to "map" to the WebDav folder using my home office computer with Vista OS.  My colleague, who has Windows 7 on her personal computer has been unsuccessful.  I created screenshots for creating a WebDav folder with one of my courses.  You are welcome to download it from

If you are using Windows 7, you might want to look at the following post to see if it is helpful.  If you have a solution to the problem, please post! 

The old adage, "you can't miss what you never had", is true for the WebDav function.  I never want to return to the time consuming, tedious way of building and editing online courses.