Tuesday, February 26, 2013

FileMaker Pro vs Access Update

I am working on a second tutorial for the eBook I am writing about using spreadsheets and databases for data analysis.  The FileMaker Pro database I have created has only two tables and four layouts, but it is over 500 MB in file size.  The comparisons I have thus far are:

  • Access allows you to easily format text as zip codes and phone numbers, but FileMaker Pro does not
  • Access allows you to do a Compact and Repair, but FileMaker does not have that feature in the menu
  • Creating a button to open a URL was very easy with FileMaker
  • Creating list features with Value Lists in FileMaker is child's play - so easy!
  • FileMaker Pro works on the Mac and Windows computers and provides a 30-day free preview, but Access works only on Windows computers
  • After you create a database with FileMaker Pro, you can sync it to your iPad or iPhone FileMake Go app.  Once it is synced, you can edit the database and enter data (a real plus!).  FileMaker Pro has settings for themes that work best on the iPad and iPhone.
  • Calculating an age is more complex calculation in FileMaker (although may be more accurate) than using Access.
  • If/then and other mathematical calculations are basically the same in both database software packages.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Sloan-C Blended Learning Conference & Workshop Deadline Extended

EDAS is down but the Blended Learning Conference & Workshop Call For Papers deadline was midnight tonight.  Therefore, Sloan-C staff are extending the deadline through Friday, March 1 @ midnight (ET). See http://sloanconsortium.org/conference/2013/blended/welcome for more information.

7 Principle of Good Practice for Teaching

I have used the Chickering and Gamson's Seven Principles of Good Practice for both face-face and online instruction for many years.  Although the original work is 25 years old and focused on undergraduate students, it is seminal work because it applied to graduate students and online instruction.  Oliver Dreon has written an excellent in Faculty Focus at http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/applying-the-seven-principles-for-good-practice-to-the-online-classroom/

In summary the seven principles are:

  • Encourage contact between students and faculty.  I encourage all students I teach or advise to use text, email, or the phone to contact me.  Collaborative online strategies include Blackboard Collaborate, JoinMe (http://join.me), and Skype.
  • Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students.  Online discussion postings where students share their research on a given topic, or design questions over learning content for other students, and using polling software embedded in the online lesson can foster interaction among students, as well with the faculty.  Anonymous discussion responses for expressing opinions in a safe way also contribute to interaction and cooperation.
  • Encourage active learning.  the discussion postings where students select and topic related to the learning content, explore, and share it with other students has been very popular with the students.  The use of synthesis projects, such as creating a patient education brochure that addresses readability and the use of online resources is another example of active learning.
  • Give prompt feedback.  If I had to order these principles, this principle would be number one!  Students really appreciate feedback!
  • Emphasize time on task.  It is important to recognize the the classes we teach are often one of several others.  Thoughtful construction of learning content can make a difference in student learning outcomes.
  • Communicate high expectations.  I often say to students that if the learning was really easy, they did not need to take the course.  Rubrics are very useful to communicate expectations of excellent work.
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of working.  Whenever possible, I attempt to integrate interaction in online lesson, such as using embedded quizzes, mouse-over definitions for words, online video, and gaming.  I use SoftChalk for designing lessons, but most of the gaming activities I design are created with StudyMate Author.  

The Problems with Transitioning to an Electronic Health Record

There was an interesting article in Healthcare IT news about users on user dissatisfaction with the electronic health record at

The article brings to light the importance of healthcare providers having essential informatics knowledge.  The two problems identified were:
  • Providers not having enough knowledge to make decisions on purchase of a system
  • Software developers not meeting the needs of practice settings
 It is a tragic situation because electronic systems are very expensive and implementation is time intensive. In addition, healthcare is very complex.  We have much work to accomplish as we work to develop an information exchange system.

Friday, February 22, 2013

New Issue of MERLOT JOLT - Journal of Online Learning and Teaching Available

Mark Lee, the Editor for JOLT (Journal for Online Learning and Teaching) posted an email notice about the latest issue.  The email notification is below.

Vol. 8, No. 3 of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT at http://jolt.merlot.org/) has been published and is available online. The papers in this issue are listed below. Vol. 8, No. 4 is expected to be released in the coming weeks, and on-time publication of the journal will resume with Vol. 9. No. 1 in March 2013. 

As you may already know, Vol. 9, No. 2, the June 2013 issue, will be a themed special issue on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The guest editors for that special issue are George Siemens (Athabasca University), Valerie Irvine (University of Victoria), and Jillianne Code (University of Victoria).


Research Papers

Student Moderators in Asynchronous Online Discussion: A Question of Questions
Daniel Zingaro

Online MBA Asynchronous Discussion Workload and Value Perceptions for Instructors and Learners: Working Toward an Integrated Educational Model for Professional Adults
Zvi Goldman

Evaluating Program Effectiveness for an Online Elementary Education Cohort
Cindy A. Dell

Student Assessment in Online Learning: Challenges and Effective Practices
Lorna R. Kearns

Case Studies

How a Mobile Social Media Game Can Enhance the Educational Experience
Salvatore Parise and Eliana Crosina

An Exploratory Study on the Use of VoiceThread in a Business Policy Course
Marjorie Chan and Prasanthi Pallapu

Position Paper

It's Showtime: Using Movies to Teach Leadership in Online Courses
Maureen Hannay and Rosemary Venne

Windows 8 and Java

I had dinner with a couple of nursing students this week.  One shared that she was not able to use Collaborate webinar software to hear teacher lectures because her new laptop with Windows 8 was not compatible with Java.  I did a search and found, Tips for Using Java on Windows 8, at http://www.java.com/en/download/faq/win8_faq.xml

It apparently worked, because I received an email from the student sharing that she now has Java on her laptop with Windows 8. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Spam in Blog Comments

I truly appreciate the comments that I get on posted blogs, but comments with spam are problems.  I humbly ask my readers to not post any replies with advertisements for services or websites. 

Previewing Files in Google Drive

There was a Google Blog this week about a new feature in Google Drive - the ability to preview 30 different file types in Google Drive.  The blog is online at http://googledrive.blogspot.com/2013/02/preview-files-in-google-drive.html

I had to try out the feature.  The first thing I did was to go to Google Drive using a web browser.  The instructions to right-click and choose Preview did not work.  I did notice, however, that there was an eye icon in the Google Drive menu and checkboxes by each file.  Sure enough, when I clicked on the checkbox and then the Preview eye button, I was able to preview the file.

It did not make sense that I was unable to follow the instructions on the Google Blog!  So I figured that it might pertain to the Google Drive that I downloaded to the Mac and Windows computers.  I opened the Google Drive app, and the directions to right-click and select preview worked.  

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Office 2013 - Changes and Work-Arounds

I have been using Office 2013 with Windows 7 for almost a week now.  The changes are not radical, but can be annoying.  For example, when you open a document that is "not editable," such as one attached to an email or downloaded from a learning management system, it opens in "reading mode" with arrows horizontally like a magazine.  PC World has a nice article that identifies work-arounds for the changes, 12 Infuriating Office 2013 Flaws (And How to Fix Them) at http://www.pcworld.com/article/2028412/12-infuriating-office-2013-flaws-and-how-to-fix-them-.html

I do not agree with the PC World term "flaws," but I appreciate the information on how to customize the functions of Office 2013.  When I view the few 2013 Office features, I think of the new iTunes menu, which BTW I changed to look like the original view.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Google Docs Sharing Issue

A couple of Google docs sharing advertisements prompted me to reflect on an issue that I experienced Wednesday.  Flor and I were working on writing a manuscript we plan to submit for publication.  I had created a Google word processing document from Word, which we were both editing.  The Google doc was in my Google Drive folder.

All of a sudden, I could not edit.  What happened is that my key presses were typing the wrong letters. We were sitting side-by-side, so she could see what was happening.  We had used Google sharing a few years ago.  The problems at that time related to the time lag.  Time lag was not a problem this time.  The inability to type correct letters was.  I need to "Google" the issue to explore further.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free Webinar - 6th Annual Sloan-C/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium (ET4Online)

Join a free webinar on February 27th at 3pm (ET) to learn about the full complement of 60 presentations offered for virtual attendees during the 6th Annual Sloan-C/MERLOT Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium (ET4Online). The webinar will include an overview of the conference, program content for sessions being streamed live from the onsite conference in Las Vegas, registration information, and an overview of how to access the live stream sessions plus view the on-demand recordings post-conference.bit.ly/WJr2es 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Updates to Informatics and Nursing Website

Updates to the Informatics and Nursing Website at http://dlthede.net/informatics/Informatics.html

Chapter 5: If accessing Facebook from a public WiFi such as in a restaurant or hotel, text "opt" to 32665 to receive a one time password to your account (http://dlthede.net/informatics/Chap05ProfNetworking/chap5.html#socnet )

Chapter 18: Rand Objective Analysis Effective Solutions: Electronic Medical Records. This site contains links to current published articles that look realistically at EMRs. Some articles are freely available and others require a subscrition to the publishing journal. If you have access to online journals through your hospital or educational institution you may have free access from those sources.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Microsoft Office 2013 Insights

I began using Microsoft Office 2013 yesterday.  My experience validates what I have been reading - meaning the most significant change is the link for using cloud computing.  When you open an application, such as Word or Excel, you are prompted to sign into SkyDrive. Once you have signed into SkyDrive, all of the cloud files are available, just like those on the hard drive.

The startup menu looks more like Word or Excel for the Mac - which by the way looks more like other Apple Pages and Numbers.  In other words, you have colorful full size templates and links to recent files from which to choose.

Other notable differences include new icons for the Office apps.  Outlook was significantly easier to set up, even though I use an Microsoft Exchange server.  Outlook finally got some much needed attention.  It has a cleaner look.  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Video and iBooks Author

I continue to work on my eBook about data analysis using spreadsheet and database software every day.  Last week I finished writing two chapters with short tutorials for Excel.  After I finish the tutorials for FileMaker Pro, I will be creating supporting video for the iBooks Author eBook.  Fortunately, Frank Lowney is a member of our university's ePublishing faculty learning community.  Frank posted a blog on how to easily incorporate external video into iBooks Author at http://frank-lowney.blogspot.com/2013/02/how-to-easily-incorporate-exterbak.html with a HTML (hypertext mark-up language) widget.

He makes the point that if the video is embedded in the eBook, file size is an issue.  External video mitigates the problem; however, the user must have the ability to connect to the Internet.  Frank's blog includes a supporting video as well as screenshots with call-outs. I look forward to creating videos to support the eBook chapters.  Use of external video is certainly an option to explore.

iOS Tricks

MacWorld has a very good article, 33 Expert Tips and Tricks for the iOS 6 at http://www.macworld.com/article/2027220/33-expert-tips-and-tricks-for-ios-6.html

I had not considered having text messaging to "speak" to me with emoji icons.  I played a message from my husband and heard Siri say "western person, sporty vehicle, office building."  Too funny!

There were several useful tricks - some already discussed in this blog.  One interesting one was about the ability to take still photos while shooting video.  I you are using the iOS 6, take a moment to read Dan and Lex's article. 

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Microsoft SkyDrive Updates

I received an email this morning with Microsoft SkyDrive updates.  The first thing I noticed is that when you edit a document with another person, there is no sign-in required.  That feature is one that Google has had for some time.  Other SkyDrive features include:

  • Chat
  • Drag and drop
  • Sharing using social networking apps such as Facebook and Twitter
  • A desktop app (similar to Google Drive) that allow you to upload files up to 2 GB
If you are using SkyDrive as one or more of your cloud storage resources, consider exploring the new features.

Informatics and Nursing Textbook Update

When working on the eBook I am writing about data analysis, I noticed another error in the 4th edition of the Informatics and Nursing textbook.  On page 141, 2nd paragraph the symbol for equals sign is incorrect.  It should appear as (=).  While many might recognize the error, new learners might find the symbol confusing.  On page 148, the names of the pie charts should have been changed to % instead of #.  The data in the spreadsheet were numbers, but pie charts are used to display percentages.  Therefore the column header # Falls should be been % Falls when that column is used for a pie chart.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Setting Up Email on the Mac

Chris Breen has a new post, Setting Up Email on the Mac, available from MacWorld.  If you are using an iPad or iPhone the instructions for the Mac should be somewhat intuitive.  The main difference is the you lauch system Preferences on the Mac, whereas, you launch Setting on the iPhone and iPad.  You can read more at http://www.macworld.com/article/2027270/setting-up-email-on-your-mac.html

Thursday, February 7, 2013

2013 Horizon Report Available

The 2013 Horizon Report from New Media Consortium (NMC) and Educause was just released.  You can download it from http://www.nmc.org/publications/2013-horizon-report-higher-ed . The visionary report reviews changes in technology that we can expect over the next 1-5 years.  The topics discussed are:
  • 1 year or less time 
    • Massively open online courses (MOOCs)  There will be a special issue of JOLT on MOOCs
    • Tablet computing
  • 2-3 years
    • Game and gamification (application of game mechanics, such as Foursquare) based learning
    • Learning analytics
  • 4-5 years
    • 3-D printing
    • Wearable technology
The Horizon Report is always an exciting read!

Text Messaging with Pictures

I read an online article, Panda, Gun, Gift: Why Emojis are Everywhere, at http://www.hlntv.com/article/2013/01/24/emojis-taking-over-why-now-iphone-ios.  Had to smile when reading it because I use emoji images all the time when texting to someone who also has an iPhone or iPad.  In fact, my husband uses emojis almost exclusively to tell me that he has arrived at his office or on the way home.

He did confuse me one time when he was flying on a business trip.  The text message showed a jet icon and 3 mice.  I interpreted the message to indicate that there were mice on the plane!  He laughed and told me he meant to tell me that the plane had landed in Orlando, Florida where Disney World and the Mickey Mouse family are located.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, are you using emoji?  If not, try it because it is FUN! Emoji is a keyboard.  Go to Settings > General > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard... > Emoji.

After you have activated the keyboard, you will see a world icon on the bottom left corner of the keyboard you use to write text messages.  Click on it to find the pictures you want to use in your message. The most commonly used one will appear on the icon that looks like a clock face to the right of the world icon.

Smile, text away, and enjoy!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Google Drive Forms and Shared Collaboration

Google Drive forms now allows for collaborative development!  When you first open the form with the new feature the window shown below pops up.  You can click on the Learn more button for help or go to http://support.google.com/drive/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=87809&topic=1360904&ctx=topic
 Google forms is a serious contender with database software because creating a form is so intuitive and the output of the form is stored in a spreadsheet or comma separated value file.   Google forms provides seven  types of text entry without having to use database tools or the necessity of creating lookup tables as noted below:

  • Text — respondents provide short answers
  • Paragraph text — respondents provide longer answers
  • Multiple choice — respondents select one option from among several
  • Check boxes — respondents select as many options as they’d like
  • Choose from a list — respondents select one option from a drop-down menu
  • Scale — respondents rank something along a scale of numbers (e.g., from 1 to 5)
  • Grid — respondents select a point from a two-dimensional grid
    Just as in other Google Drive apps, you can share the URL with specified others or make visible to everyone.

    Google Drive Forms may be a solution that nurses use when working on research and transformation projects that require users to complete a questionnaire. Since the output is stored in a spreadsheet the data can be prepared for statistical analysis.

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Dartmouth Medical Atlas

    The Dartmouth interactive medical atlas at http://www.dartmouthatlas.org  provides an outstanding  way to depict data.  Working with a graduate student this morning on her end-of-life and ICU research paper prompted me to explore the website again. The embedded picture below shows percent of deaths associated with ICU admission by area in the country.  You can mouse over any of the sites to see the average percent of deaths.

    The data can be downloaded into PowerPoint or an Excel spreadsheet, too. 

    Friday, February 1, 2013

    History of Database Software

    Databases originated in the 1960’s with the development of computers designed to manage large business data sets.  The term “data base” was used in the 1960’s until the single word, database, became popular in the 1970’s (The Linux Information Project, 2006).  The concept of a desktop computer database did not develop until after the 1970’s with the development of personal computers.  A personal computer (PC) was a term used to differentiate a computer designed for use of an individual, rather than a business organization. 

    Early Relational Database Development

    Two early PC relational databases were dBase and FoxPro.  dBase was developed in 1978 by Wayne Ratliff, a programming contractor at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California (Martel, n.d.). Ratliff developed the database to win the office football pool (Unarchived, 2012). He ran the program on his kit-built home computer. Early PCs were kit-built for users as a hobby. Later, Ratliff collaborated with George Tate to create a company and market the software.  dBase was very popular during the 1980’s and later sold to Borland in 1993. dBase began to lose popularity as competition database software was released to the marketplace.  However, dBase is still available today from http://www.dbase.com/. 

    Two other early PC database programs were FoxPro and Paradox. FoxPro was developed in 1984 by Fox Software and was acquired by Microsoft in 1992 (Wikipedia Authors, 2012a).  Richard Schwartz and Robert Shostak developed Paradox for DOS in 1985.  Their company was Ansa Software and later purchased by Borland in 1987.  Like dBase, dBase and Paradox were designed for developers with programming knowledge rather than home users (Wikipedia Authors, 2012b).  

    The development of Windows with a graphical user interface (GUI) forced developers to redesign software.  In the early 1990’s all developers were scrambling to use GUI.  Paradox was designed for Windows by a different team of programmers.  Paradox for Windows was released in 1993 two months after the release of Microsoft Access, which had already had taken hold in the marketplace.

    Two prevalent commercial personal databases used today are FileMaker Pro and Microsoft Access.  An historical view of the development for the two applications provides an understanding of the differences noted in the products used today.  Microsoft Access is available only for the Microsoft Windows operating system (OS). In contrast, FileMaker Pro is available for Microsoft Windows OS, Mac OS X, and the Apple iPad.

    FileMaker Pro

    The origin of FileMaker was the early 1980’s. The developers were Spec Bowers, Alan Albert, Dan Chadwick and Jega Arulpragasam, employees of Wang Labs in Lowell, Massachusetts (Koenig, 2004).  They designed their first database application, Nutshell, to provide an efficient user interface.  Leading Edge, a company that manufactured and sold PC clones, marketed the software.  About the same time, Apple introduced Macintosh computers to the marketplace.  Leading Edge would not sell to Mac market, so the developers redesigned Nutshell for the Mac computers, naming it FileMaker (Koenig, 2004).  Later, Claris, a subsidiary of Apple, purchased FileMaker. Claris redesigned, FileMaker to work with Microsoft Windows.  Afterwards, Apple dissolved Claris and established FileMaker as a separate company.  FileMaker, Inc., a subsidiary of Apple, markets FileMaker Pro software today.

    Microsoft Access

    Microsoft Access was first released in 1992 (the same year FoxPro was purchased) for the Windows OS (Beitler, 2010).  In 1993, a second version was released to be more compatible with Microsoft Office.  Microsoft released additional versions of Access to be compatible with newer iterations of Windows operating systems.  Access was a component of Microsoft Office Professional. Access 2010 is the most recent version of the relational database software, although 2013 is scheduled for release in 2013.  The target audience for the software continues to be small and medium-sized businesses. 


    Database software development has mirrored the development of personal computers and mobile devices since the 1960’s.  The early databases were designed and used by computer programmers.  When desktop database solutions were marketed to small business owners, the software design began to change so that programming knowledge was not required.  Two popular desktop database solutions used today are Microsoft Access and FileMaker Pro.