Take a Trip Down Memory Lane

We change a lot around here at EduGeek Journal, so I decided to create a page for archiving the old looks.  See the Memory Lane link under the header banner to relive or greatest hits and misses.  Some of the functions on the v1.0 archive still need to be repaired, and not every link works, but you can get general ideas in this archive.  Other new pages and features are coming in the future, but probably after the Christmas break.

Speaking of which – Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the EduGeeks!  We’ll probably be back after the holidays…  depending on how much eggnog we consume….

Welcome to the Brand New EduGeek Journal 3.0!

Now powered by WordPress!  Moodle is a great tool for delivering online courses, but they really don’t do much with their blog feature.  We needed some more flexibility, so I have spent the last month or so transferring everything over to this new WordPress.  All that and a spiffy new theme, based on the Fervens – C Theme.  Most of the posts and comments have been migrated over – if you see anything missing, please let me know.  I migrated most users over that had at least 2 comments or recent (non-spam) activity.  You should be able to go in and request a password reset for your old username to get a new password (because the passwords wouldn’t transfer over).  If not, you can create a new account or contact me to transfer your old account over.

Old RSS feeds and permalinks should work just fine.  The RSS feed is the same, and there is a script that forwards old permalinks to the new permalink system.

This is just the first stage of some changes, with the basic old stuff being transgferred over.  You should see some new stuff in the side bars popping up soon, as well as some new pages being added to the top.  Also, hopefully I can coax the non-active EduGeeks out of hibernation and get some more activity here other than my own.  That may be hoping too much – but it is the season of miracles, right?  :)

Chegg.com Busted For Questionable Student Testimonials

We have all wondered about reading those customer-submitted testimonials online. Anyone can sign up and post, so are those for real… or are they just plants by the company? I had try to give companies the benefit of the doubt – hoping that they were keeping their nose out of anything shady. It seems like my benefits may have be misplaced. We here at EGJ have busted Chegg.com for questionable student testimonials.

It all started off with a post about textbook rentals by Katrina. She wrote about several textbook rental companies that she had heard of. In less than a day we had received three testimonials by students for one particular site – Chegg.com. This is a little odd, because we don’t really target students. Or instructors for that matter. Heck, we don’t really even reach that many people that we do target: EdTech professionals (which, of course, may include instructors and possibly even some student grad assistants). So I logged in as the admin and decided to see who these students were. It turns out that Chance Jackson had registered with an email the started out with “abbey.holton“. Kind of odd – why would Abbe pretend to be a different person? That does happen, so just out of curiosity I Google that name and didn’t get much at all. If this was a real student online – wouldn’t there at least be one MySpace page, or FaceBook page, or something? But one search result caught my eye:

Student Testimonial Page at Chegg.com (link to Archive.org capture)

If you scroll to the bottom, you’ll see that Abbe Holton is one of the testimonials on the site. Weird coincidence? I think not. So I checked the IP addresses on Chance, Stan Liu, and Ana Romero. They all came from the exact same IP address in Fremont, CA – just down the road from Santa Clara, CA – home of Chegg.com. Not anywhere near Washington State or Florida State for sure. Too weird. So we checked our visitor logs from FeedBurner, and there were NO hits on our site from any search engine results for “Chegg” or “textbook rentals.” However, there were 4 (now 5) hits from “http://mail.chegg.com/zimbra/mail.” All too suspicious.

So, I posted all of this as a comment. The next day, surprise, surprise – we magically get one visitor from a search for “has anyone used chegg.com” and another “testimonial” that traced back to Pakistan. According to the Chegg.com website, “Currently, Chegg is only available to U.S. residents”- so that testimonial was just deleted as being suspect. Questionable student testimonials and hiring people from Pakistan to do the same? Tsk, Tsk.

The thing is, we have gotten comments from companies that we have blogged about. They identified themselves as working for that company. And we dialogue with them. That is totally cool with us – if we blog about your site, feel free to plug your stuff in a comment. But don’t do suspicious stuff like this. That’s just uncool.

Or at least pick a more popular blog that doesn’t have time to check up on suspect comments :)

[Note: after this post made it into some student groups, I had to close the comments section due to an overwhelming amount of spam. I did vet the comments we got and approved the ones that seemed the most authentic.]

Update: I edited this post on February 8, 2021 to update some dead links, as well as remove some ablest language.

Become a Fan of EduGeek Journal on FaceBook

Or tell us how much we stink! Some of our attempts at becoming an actual “online community” have pretty much tanked (ahem… that Ning site of ours… has anyone actually had any real success using Ning? I hope so – it’s pretty cool). Katrina brought up how there is no EGJ page on FaceBook – so we started one! Join us for discussions, post on our wall, upload a video or picture or just add us to the millions of groups of pages you might already have on FaceBook!

Click on the “Network” tab above, the FaceBook badge in the side bar, or this link:

EduGeek Journal on FaceBook

EduGeekJournal.com Repairs Are Under Way

Boy – shouldn’t have pressed that button! Issues with permalinks and archives not working have now been repaired. The comments problem is going to be fixed soon. Sorry for the three people that tried to comment and couldn’t… we upgraded to php 5 here and apparently weren’t ready. Guess we loose some Geek cred for that one….

Where in the World is Darren Crone?

We know the whereabouts of Katrina and Erin. Erin just finished up a Master’s thesis and Katrina is on maternity leave. But what has happened to Darren? Since his favorite team suffered a crushing defeat with the Super Bowl (by not even making it there), all things EduGeeky and Darren-related have been quiet. I told him that his scathing post comparing Blackboard to Galactus might have some repercussions, but I didn’t think disappearance was one of them!

Please leave a comment if you have any proof of the where-abouts of the elusive being known as “Darren“. Due to the high number of comments that we receive (at least, I don’t know, 4 per month?), we request that photo evidence accompany any responses.

In other totally unrelated news, I updated the EduGeek look a little. The main deal was that I wanted to use an original banner image instead of a stock photo. I have found that you might have to do a ctrl-refresh to see the new image.

The EduGeek Journal Social Network is Launched

If you are like me, you get random emails, IMs, Jaiku/Twitter notices, etc from random people about random cool Ed Tech stuff. You try to pass them on to as many people as possible, but you inevitably leave someone out. Then, you remember the people you forgot and can’t find the original message anymore. Wouldn’t it be great to have a central spot for every one to gather together and share stuff? One that can be searched, tagged, and easy to navigate?

Well, I decided to do something about that, at least with my small circle of friends. Thanks to Ning, I start a social network specifically for Ed Tech people. Of course, there is a discussion board for sharing new ideas and discussing stuff (attachments allowed). But you can also stream photos from a Flickr account into the site (or upload straight to the site). You can add a YouTube (or any other online video service) video – or upload one straight to the site. All of this can be tagged and commented on. Plus all of the other features of social networking. RSS feeds are everywhere, including the latest updates list – so you don’t have to constantly hit the site to see if there is anything new.

Click here to go to the EduGeek Journal social network.

If you want to join the site, I recommend first going to the main Ning site and getting a Ning ID. Doing this will let you join other Ning social networks, too.

You’ll also notice that there is an EduGeek Journal Jaiku Channel. Anyone with a Jaiku account can join the channel and send micro-blogs to the channel. Jaiku isn’t currently accepting new accounts, unfortunately, as they were just bought by Google. I wanted to put off announcing the channel until new accounts were allowed, but that is taking a while. But for those of you that like to micro-blog but not social network, this is another avenue to add ideas to the EduGeek Journal network.

Upcoming EduGeek Events

Not only do the EduGeeks keep a vigilant eye on the cutting edge of Ed Tech news, but we also break free from our computers every once and a while and interact with the real world. If you happen to be at any of the upcoming events, feel free to stop by and say “Hi.”  Here are some recent and upcoming events:

Katrina has been the busiest of all, getting ready to welcome a new EduGeek into the world.  She also recently presented on Second Life at the T-BUG 2007 conference.

Darren recently had an article (“10 Tips to Extend the Shelf Life of your Course”) published in the Online Classroom journal. He also presented on the “Educational Applications of Second Life” at WCET 2007 conference.  His article and presentations can be found on the presentations page of his personal site.  Coming up in 2008 for Darren:

  • March 2008: presenting on “SACS & Online Learning” at TxDLA 2008

Erin has been busy finishing up a Masters degree and getting several presentations ready for 2008:

  • February 2008: presenting on “Second Life for Administrators” at the E-Learning Conference with the Dallas County Community College District.
  • March 2008: presenting on “Second Life for Administrators” at TxDLA 2008, also with DCCCD.
  • March 2008: presenting on Second Life at DCCCD Conference Day.

Matt was recently interviewed by Online Classroom.  He answered some questions about the differences between blogs and discussion boards in online learning.  He also seems to start a new blog about every two months.  Coming up in 2008 for Matt:

  • March 2008: hands-on presentation at TxDLA 2008: “Effective Instructional Design Techniques in Moodle and Second Life.”
  • June 2008: presenting on “The Future of the Internet – Web 3.0 and 3-D Web” at NUTN 2008.
  • Finishing up his first book: “Everything I Ever Learned in Life I Posted on a Blog Somewhere: Confessions of an Online Publishing Addict.

The First EduGeek Gathering

Beautiful things can happen when people actually start to use social networking tools. For example the first annual (or monthly, or bi-monthly, or whatever it becomes) EduGeek Gathering. It all started with this comment on Katrina’s Jaiku:

“I just touched an iPhone!”

The jealously that poured forth from those of us that haven’t seen one turned into an educational focus group to examine the educational uses of the iPhone. And to eat some good Thai food. All through social networking tools. The whole gang will be there.

Anyway, in preparation for tomorrow’s Gathering of the minds, I decided to unleash the new EGJ theme. And – there are new features! See the tabs up top for what is coming. Who knows – maybe something from The Gathering will make it in there…

Also – guests can now comment! it’s so much cooler to create an account and post that way. But if you really don’t want an account – you can still add comments. I’ll be posting on other features in the future.

Welcome to EduGeek Journal

EduGeek Journal: the place to dream and share ideas about Educational Technology. This post is the first of many to come. So, if you are reading this, I guess we need to get on the ball and post some more stuff. Or you are searching through the archives and have hit the very end of the journey.

So far, we have three contributors signed on to add their unique perspectives to this site. Our goal is to have at least five regular contributors to the blog, and a legion of people throwing around ideas like crazy in the discussion area. If you poke around on the links on the site, you will see that we have other, bigger plans. Some really crazy plans.

Also, we aren’t going to pretend to ignore the history of EdTech up to this point. Several of our posts may actually highlight ideas or tools that have been around for a while. I, for one, have at least the next 10 posts lined up in my head. I know one of our contributors, Katrina, has been telling me for weeks that she has a tons of ideas for posts to this blog. So, let the games begin….