An Open Letter of Warning

Respected fellow teachers,

Read the articles below and then come back. And I don’t want any of those  tl;dr bullshit excuses. This is your life, your real and holy life, I am talking about.

As part of academia, I read the articles above not with a growing sense of dread, but with a sense that what they describe is entirely possible. In fact that what they describe is already happening.

I am not asking you in your official capacity to lead any kind of uprising, but I am asking that perhaps as colleagues we need to be preparing for the worst.  The speed at which power is being consolidated and police force is being manifest is way faster than most reasonable folk thought possible.

I hope I don’t sound crazy alarmist, but I am crazy alarmed. Along with black, trans, Latino, and gay communities you have to add academics as a vulnerable class. Governors could be the local vectors for financial browbeating (read performance funding), local student groups/clubs/organization could be vectors for outside agitprop, local communities could give vent to immigrant fears by cracking down on sanctuary wherever it is given.

Of course, I could just be a hennypenny.  If so and when this national nightmare is over, I can buy you a drink and we can have a good laugh.  Whew, dodged that one, yes?  But I live with the precariat out here in the country. I live with them among the part-time and adjunctified.  I am damned worried that the new Civilian Conservation Corp will be a euphemism for the American Brown Shirts. Their job? To round up those guilty of insubservience and put them in the border camps. All for four years of paid service AND the forgiveness of their student loans.


Terry Elliott

Hypershoot & Text2VoiceOver: Tools to Use?

I have been fiddling about with a couple of tools of late, Hypershoot and Text2VoiceOver.  Why?  Because they looked promising as ways to do differently what I already do.

For example, Hypershoot touts its ability to take a full-paged shapshot of webpage and put it into a designated “board”. OK, that makes it Pinterest with some extra tools including collaboration, Slack integration, nesting of ‘child’ boards within ‘parent’ boards, and commenting. You can’t take advantage of most of these features without paying.

Here is a board I created for my students as a preview of the tech tools they will be using during our Spring Semester.

15 euros a month for all the bells and whistles.  It has a few curatorial bells and whistles than products akin to it like Pinterest, but is intended more for web development teams hence the Slack integration.  For teachers and learners there are simpler tools that are free including Symbaloo or other very old school start pages like AllMyFavs or  It was interesting exploring this, but the freemium model only allows three boards and not much else.

But these kinds of explorations are worth making if only to remind us of how damned good we have it in the the realm of tech tools.  It really is a golden age.

The other tool, Text2VoiceOver is really odd.  I got the feeling that this one could open up some adjacencies, maybe a mashup with screencasting or animated gifs?  I get ahead of myself.

What this tool does is allows you to create text annotations on a video that are computer generate voices.  I create a video and an image of whiteboard writing that I do during class for students unable to attend.  This might prove very valuable annotate what is otherwise a silent video.  I could do the voiceover while I am making the video, but that might be a production bridge too far.

I prepared a text voiceover (a nice British lady) and then submitted the video to generate the final product.  And I wait…at least this time is created all the voiceovers with no problems.  Here is the message I get:

I will give you an update as to how it goes.  Actually, this is usually how it goes as I test new stuff.  Most folks say life is too short to be putting up with this crap, but I find much of interest as I do what amounts to free user testing.  And that’s OK.  I learn a lot as I do this.  I get to think, for example, about the nature of the learner’s experience.  If I can make this work, I get to imagine how it might be helpful to my own learning as I make it and then how it might help someone else learn.  I get a kick out of that.

I wrote support for help.  Updates later.




Hidden Gems: Roku Channels

Roku Overlooked Channels

Roku General Information

Roku | Streaming TV & Media Player

Roku provides the simplest way to stream entertainment to your TV. On your terms. With more channels than any other streaming player.

Roku “Gems”