September 2010 Archives

1st-Year Students - Sign up for CLA

As part of a study of learning outcomes, we are inviting first-year students to participate in the Collegiate Learning Assessment. Participating students will receive $20 on RUExpress cards after completing the 90-minute test.

Only a limited number of seats are available on a first-come, first-serve basis. To register you must be a first-year student at Rutgers. 

Dates, times, locations and additional information re available on our CLA registration page:

Training for online and hybrid courses

OIRT (the Office of Instructional and Research Technology) has begun a series of workshops on teaching online courses and "hybrid" courses (hybrid courses use online course tools to reduce - but not eliminate - face-to-face classroom meetings). OIRT is the office that runs Sakai, and their training  will focus on using Sakai but should still be useful to people using other environments such as eCompanion and Blackboard.

The series of workshops is titled the "Practical Pedagogy Seminar Series"; dates, times and locations are listed on the OIRT registration page.

The Division of Continuing Studies also offers training on the subject of hybrid and online courses, usually focusing on the eCompanion system. Their schedule of workshops and other resources are listed at

Oct 5 - "Matlab" training offered by OIT

"Matlab" is a high-end mathematical and statistical processing software, widely used in many disciplines. Faculty and students who are interested in learning more about using Matlab may be want to attend or view the following training offered by the Office of Information Technology

Matlab Training (Oct 5th, RU-iptv's RULive, & VoD)

The following Matlab training sessions will be held in Center Hall on October 5th in the Busch Campus Center. It will also be available via RU-iptv's RULive Channel on October 5th as well as RU-iptv's VoD (Video on Demand). In preparation for live viewing, test RU-iptv by pointing your browser at and verify that multicast is working for you. For more information, contact

Morning:  9am - 11:30am

Data Analysis Using MATLAB
 * Accessing data from many sources, including different file formats
 * Visualizing and analyzing data
 * Sharing results: creating reports
 * Building and deploying GUI-based applications
 * Parallel computing

Afternoon 1:30pm - 3:30pm

Using MATLAB for Bioimaging, Bioinformatics, and Systems Biology

Data Acquisition and Import
 * Supported file types
 * Importing data from Excel
 * Filtering Tumor data--Pulling data from databases, building SQL statements

Overview of Bioinformatics & SimBiology
 * Sequence analysis
 * Connectivity to different data sources
 * Microarray and Mass Spectrometry
 * Advanced topics- Graph Theory, Gene Ontology, and Machine Learning
 * Modeling and simulating biochemical pathways
 * Advanced analysis tasks, such as parameter estimation and sensitivity analysis

Fall 2010 SIRS - paper survey changes

Some changes are being put into place for the Student Instructional Ratings Survey (SIRS) this year.  At present, about 65% of the sections of courses in the university use the online SIRS. This system has been very successful, lowering costs for departments and for CTAAR, with the results distributed to the faculty and departments within days after the end of the term. 

Due to budget reductions the paper system will still be available for AY 2010-2011 but with some significant changes:

  1. Any department using paper forms for Fall 2010 should not expect their results until June 2011. We will process the Fall 2010 and Spring 2011 paper forms at the same time, and distribute those results in June. 
  2. We ask all departments, whether using the online system or the paper system, to fill in instructor information in an Excel templates template and return it to us by October 22nd. We will email the Excel template in mid-September. For those of you who previously used the online system this will already be familiar. For those of you still using paper surveys, the data that we collect in the templates will help us improve the accuracy of the SIRS reports and reduce processing time. 
  3. If you wish to begin using the online survey,  the department chair should please notify us of the decision in writing (email or paper).  

Please refer to our procedures for the online SIRS system, and the online SIRS frequently asked questions, and general information about the Student Instructional Rating Survey

Change to Test Scanning

As previously announced, we have replaced the test scanning equipment with a new "Apperson Benchmark 3000" scanner.

The old scanner forms will not fit in the new scanner. Do not use the old forms.

Please purchase a Benchmark 3000 compatible form,  we recommend form #29240 "100 MC A-E 10 DIGIT/6 DIGIT TEST ID". We have a small supply of forms for instructors who need them quickly, call (732) 932-7466 to inquire about obtaining forms.

Please read the Test Scanning page for more information and instructions on using the Benchmark 3000 scanner.
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Sept 8 - Monday Course Schedule

To compensate for courses that did not meet on the Labor Day holiday, Monday's courses will meet on Wednesday, September 8 instead. Courses normally scheduled for Wednesday will resume as usual on September 15. 

Please see the academic calendar on the scheduling web site for more details.
Teaching Online vs. F2F: 15 Differences That Affect Learning
September 16, 2010
12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
Busch Student Center, Room 174

The Center for Teaching Advancement and Assessment Research, together with the TA Project, the Office of Information Technology, the Office of Instructional and Research Technology, and the Division of Continuing Education and Outreach are partnering to provide faculty with a series of presentations, webinars, panels and discussions on the issues of teaching in an online environment. Teaching online can be either in a "hybrid course" where some face-to-face classes are held or a "fully online course." 

The University Senate passed a resolution last year, concluding that, "The hybrid format is a pedagogically valid mode of instruction that may appeal to many students. While its usage at Rutgers is likely to expand, the hybrid model should not be seen as something destined to replace all traditional face-to-face instruction."

In his response to the University Senate's recommendations, President McCormick urged "that units conduct careful evaluations of the effectiveness of hybrid courses in comparison to more traditional ones, and to examine in particular their use by students with different levels of preparation and academic qualifications. It may very well be that hybrid courses are more effective when taken by some students than by others or when used to deliver certain kinds or levels of course material." 

 Questions to be addressed during the Sept 16 webminar include: 
  • What are the main pedagogical challenges of teaching online? 
  • Which differences are most significant in making the transition from face-to-face to online instruction? 
  • How can teaching online enhance face-to-face instruction and vice versa? 
  • How might this online seminar affect the way instructors view online teaching? 

eBooks for Course Packs

With the rise in popularity of eBook readers like the Kindle, the Nook, the Sony eReader, the Kobo and many others - most of all the iPad - there may be some benefit to formatting course reading materials as eBooks.

Fortunately most eBook devices use the same format, known as "ePub" (one important exception is the Kindle, which uses its own proprietary "mobipocket" format). Even better, an ePub document is essentially a web page formatted in a particular way, so if you have already been posting your reading material online, you may be closer to creating ePub files than you think. 

Many eBook readers also display PDF documents, but there are important differences between "ePub" and "PDF" documents. PDFs are significantly more difficult to read on some devices. Apple Computer has posted some information on when to choose which format but it boils down to choose ePub when the text is most important, and choose PDF when the page layout is most important.

Here are a few tools for creating or converting ePub documents from other files. 
  • Calibre (free for Mac, Windows and Linux): Calibre is meant as an eBook manager for organizing your own eBooks (similar to iTunes), however it also easily converts files to eBooks and will convert ePub to the Kindle "mobi" format. To create an eBook with Calibre add a document to your library, then click the "convert" button and choose the desired "output format" ("mobi" for Kindle, "ePub" for just about everything else). You can add ePub files, PDF files, and "RTF" files among others. To convert a Word document to an eBook, first "save as..." in Word and choose "Rich Text" as the file format, then add the RTF document to Calibre. 
  • Apple Pages (part of iWork, Macintosh only): Apple released an update to Pages in late August that adds the ability to export a Pages document in the ePub format. To create ePubs, first make sure you have the latest version of iWork (click "Software Update..." under the Apple menu or in System Preferences), then download the sample template. Replace the text in the template with your own content, and use the provide "styles" to mark the parts of the document  (view the "style drawer" to see them). Apple has additional instructions on their web site.
  • Adobe InDesign (part of the "Creative Suite" for Macintosh or Windows): InDesign is a high-end (and very expensive) page layout program used for professional magazine, book and newspaper production. If you are already familiar with using InDesign you may want to use its eBook features. Most people will be better off using the free or inexpensive (and easier) tools above. 
  • Sigil (free for Mac, Windows, and Linux): Sigil is an open-source ePub editor that gives you more control over the document, it also allows you to edit existing eBooks. It can be difficult to use, and it helps to have some technical xHTML experience. 
For more resources, the Lexcycle "How to Create eBooks" has a list of software and web sites that either create or convert eBook documents. The MobileRead Wiki also has a page on eBook Conversion.

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This page is an archive of entries from September 2010 listed from newest to oldest.

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