Archive for June, 2012

How to do successful Moodle-Kaltura webcam recording assignments

Kaltura turned out to have a number of limitations, and we have some of our own in the LRC. Both required some debugging and finding of workarounds, which you can benefit of if you follow carefully our step-by-step guides for teachers or for students.


Yes, Chrome, you too can display my RSS feeds nicely…

… if you install this extension made by Google themselves (who, I think,  should include this RSS feed display extension in the default Chrome distribution):



No comparison with Internet-Explorer’s feed display, but much legible than the XML code display Chrome defaults to:


Does Pinyinput reset the default input language to Chinese?

2012/06/29 3 comments
  1. Update: We are in the process of switching from Pinyinput (for other reasons), but I have a new suspicion what may cause the input language switch to Chinese on our teacher computer: Sanako Study 1200 tutor?
  2. Problem: We observe that the default input language on a computer (Windows XP service pack 3, numerous input languages, US international is supposed to be the default)gets reset to Chinese whenever we log on. Numerous attempts to reset the default input language have not had any effect, despite the computer not being frozen.
  3. Possible cause:
    1. There was no configuration change that I can remember was done immediately before this behavior cropped up. Other computers that have the same base configuration but are deepfrozen do not display this behavior.
    2. However, here is a wild guess for a cause: We have Pinyinput installed, a keyboard layout to facilitate typing Pinyin tone marks. It is advised to be installed under US-English input language since installing it under Chinese causes some [edit: only font display, I was reminded by the developer] problems with MS-Word.
  4. Possible workarounds to be tested:
    1. Is this admonition that Pinyinput should not be installed under input language Chinese still up to date with Windows 7, Office 2010 and the current version of pinyinput? If not, try installing Pinyinput under Chinese in Windows 7?
    2. Freeze the computer while it does not display this behavior.

LRC Calendars setup, documentation and training

I have written dozens of posts on the MS-Exchange/Outlook/OWA/Ninermail calendaring system that I set up for room reservation, equipment circulation, and staff timetabling in the LRC, the most recent 50 of which you also can view here – which should display like below in Firefox feed display. If you use Internet Explorer which has a nicer RSS feed display, you get to a list of articles where you cannot only browse, but search within the search results:

calendaring-articles-rss-Thomas_ Work Space » calendaring_1340999370087

Making audio cues for model imitation/question-response oral exams with Sanako Study 1200

We can easily record and post-process audio files in the LRC for use with the Sanako Study 1200 oral exam activities.

This can work not only  for outcome exams (course- or chapter-wise), but also or formative assessment:

Think converting your textbook-based “drills” into Sanako, like repetitively recapitulating the newly acquired vocabulary item “donut” with different cues:

Example: “What can you do with [student can enter her favorite new vocabulary item for the current class] on [teacher can ask for one social web service after the other that her students likely are familiar with]?”. In response, student has to practice vocabularry item by forming sentences that fit the vocabulary item that fit like in the whiteboard example.

We can add to these recordings the features explained in the slide below.


I’d be happy to play you examples from this slide – and more – in the LRC (not to be published here so that the exam files can be reused).

How the LRC supports Second Language Acquisition (all 4 skills) and testing using computers, and provides requisite documentation and training

Table of contents for 2 screencasts of a presentation, left screen slides/no audio, right screen/speaker audio – best viewed side-by-side.

Time in LRC-report-speaker

Time in LRC-report-slides




Overview of LRC activities



SLA reading



SLA writing


high-stakes quiz screencast:


Movie caption exercise generation using NLP



SLA listening

Text-to-speech Deskbot



example of time-stretched audio



SLA speaking

Moodle Kaltura for webcam recordings homework assignments


Sanako oral exams


Example of oral exam material



Classroom management systems


Outlook: LRC as proficiency assessment/testing center, outreach/service to high schools


Example of oral proficiency exam


Needed additions: video streaming to students, video recordings from students


Question period


LRC media repositories


Infrastructure work:



Year2:LRC calendars (room reservation, equipment circulation, staff timetabling)


Outlook: things that need to be fixed in LRC calendars




LRC Blog


Querying tags and categories


tags, categories, RSS feeds displayed in internet explorer tag display,


Using tags/categories searches of the LRC blog in training teachers and students


Q:TOEFL, AP exams and other oral proficiency assessment –


Webcape placement exams and other written exam in the LRC


Q:Concurrent exam scheduling

Sanako has no scheduling system to allow a limited number of users to take an exam simultaneously (but it prevents users beyond the licensing seats to use the Sanako, including for exams), Scheduling plug-ins seem to be available for Moodle.


Outlook: Need more licenses for the Sanako to match the UNCC class size

How to secure headphones on Lab PC

An LRC classic: In an attempt to improve, students will unplug/reseat and/or break headphone connectors, and render the LRC computers useless for even basic audio listening/recording use. In our attempt to prevent this and protect student users from themselves, here is what we have to work with on the rear of Dell Optiplex 760 (mini form factor): .
Cables tied to one another seems to be not stable neough. Maybe try, on top of the old (loop-headphone-cable-through-)washer-trick, a cable-tie looped through the rear grate openings which are closer and more accessible than the already installed lock?

How to request minor hardware and office supplies for the LRC using 49ermart

  1. Go to, log in with your NINERNET account.
  2. Search the approved providers, like CDW or Staples for minor hardware and office supplies.
  3. Put items in your shopping cart.
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  5. Follow these steps to request the item:
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