Moving Day

Tonight I decided to move one of my blogs from the Blogs at PSU that I have stopped using over here to my main space. The blog I wanted to move is my iPhone blog that I set up during our investigation of the iPhone. There are a couple reasons I wanted to move it — getting the content in one location and to see how easy it is to leave the Blogs at Penn State. BTW, all my iPhone related posts are all under the category “iPhone” and can be accessed here.

I have been writing quite a bit about ePortfolio at the University and much of my thinking has centered on the Blogs at PSU as the primary tool for them. One of the questions I get asked a lot is how can students take their content with them when they leave. One of the things we talk about is that since the Blogs at PSU publish static pages into a directory the whole directory could be downloaded and burned to a CD. I haven’t tested that and while I think it would work, I am guessing it would take some tweaks to get the paths right for media and for the CSS. That method would also keep someone from updating their portfolio.

There are a number of commercial blog hosting spaces out there — and Live Journal are two of them. I wanted to see what would happen if I took my MovableType powered blog and simply chose to export it and import into a WordPress blog. The long story short is that it just worked. In the Blogs at PSU dashboard I was able to select export and it kicked out a downloaded .txt file that had my posts and all the comments in it.


Then in WP I was able to jsut go to the Options > Import screen and browse for the file.


From there all I did was select a user name for the files to be imported under. At that point I could easily edit the posts, add categories to them, or anything. Everything was preserved. I also just tested it out over at the free and it worked perfectly! So we do have an easy to use solution to let people take it with them when it is time to go.

The iTunes U Ecosystem

I have spent the last week in Seattle at Educause. During the week I have had several chances to meet and talk to colleagues at other institutions and from the companies I work with. It has been a fun, rewarding, and thought provoking week — total exhaustion aside, I think it was one of my more productive trips. I’ll save my overall Educause thoughts for a different post … this one is about the emerging opportunities I see on the horizon for content delivery to mobile devices for teaching and learning.

One of the short demos I went to at the Apple Booth was given by one of my good friends at Apple … he shared some amazing stories of how different Universities are using iTunes U for content, outreach, and campus news. Some really good stuff — although ETS Talk didn’t make the cut. The second half of the presentation focused on the mobile side of the equation … how the iPod (in its various forms) create an ecosystem of sorts for managing and delivering mobile content … it got me thinking about it more.

One of the neat things you can do in Seattle with an iPod Touch or iPhone is walk into a Starbucks (you may have heard of those things … coffee shops I think) and get instantly connected to what seems like a location aware network. Once connected a new opportunity on the device emerges — a commerce opportunity. In this case the fact that my device knows I am in a certain place, the network lets me in, and I am presented with an opportunity to acquire content is a very cool thing. I am not one to frequent the old Starbucks at home, opting instead for the local shops but this is an interesting model for us to consider in the delivery of podcasted material.


Another very cool feature to mention is when I am in an open WIFI zone my iPhone gives me the opportunity to purchase content from the Apple Music Store. They even let me look at what is hot, the top 10, and other ways to browse music in multiple genres. Again, this is great but for this to be valuable to me in an academic sense I need to authenticate into my Universities’ iTunes U space. Think of the potential — as these devices hit our campuses students can gain access to learning materials in a true anytime, anywhere fashion. Imagine being a faculty member and creating a podcast two hours before class on a relevant (late-breaking) topic and publishing it to your iTunes U space. What if when you do that you could instantly send an SMS, eMail, and an update to your FaceBook entry that new content is available … students receive the update and can (with their Touch or iPhone) grab that content out of the air. Just in time mobile content delivery is only one option … there are dozens of scenarios — tours, travel updates, and so much more — especially if you can rely on some sort of location aware technologies.

It all seems to rely on the fact that your device knows your identity and can make that connection. Well, guess what? When you buy an iPod or iPhone the first thing you have to do is sync it with iTunes … when this happens, why not use the local iTunes U space to create a connection? Let the iTunes U space on your campus take part in the activation process … when you log in with our school identity all sorts of great things can happen — auto-synced University bookmarks, account information, University wide calendar events, and more. One of those things is a pairing of the device with your iTunes U access. Seems easy enough to me and it paints a really powerful end-to-end picture of the way iTunes U could sit in the middle of so much more than content management.

Managing Media on the iPhone

Not sure that title says what is should, but I have been ultra frustrated with one piece to my iPhone world — the small amount of storage. I am used to having a solid 80 GB of space to take my media with me wherever I go, but since the iPhone landed in my hand I am having to learn how to manage a mere 8 GB. I know that still sounds like a lot — if you are like me, you recall computing in the days of 128K of RAM, 400K floppies, and when you did have a hard drive it was 5 MB. So 8 GB should be enough … and it is when I am just running around town. I keep a handful of playlists, three podcasts (with the three most recent), and really only a movie I have been trying to watch. But when I hit the road, I like to have enough media to keep me occupied during flights … that becomes very challenging especially if what I am after are several episodes of a TV show — in my case the Sopranos.

What is so frustrating is how hard it is to regulate what shows up on the iPhone — I have had the same problem with my Apple TV. I finally figured out how to get the 5 most recent episodes on my iPhone in the right order — what was happening is that I would get the 5 episodes at the end of the season … in other words, instead of episodes 1-5 I would get 6-11. It was driving me crazy. The following solution is the only way I have been able to reliably get what I want.

I start by heading to the Info tab of the iPhone when it is connected to iTunes. I check the “only sync checked music and video” checkbox.


Next I head over to my video area of iTunes and locate my show … I uncheck the episodes I do not want to see synced to my iPhone.


I then have to go back into the iPhone area of iTunes and set the pull down to only grab the 5 most recently unwatched episodes.


May not seem like all that much, but it sure took me ages to figure it out. Sorry if this seems obvious … one thing that I should mention is that Apple has the best UI people in the World, they should refine this feature in iTunes.

iPod Touch and iPhone

I just wrote about what I think will be the tipping point for mobile devices on our campus over at Learning and Innovation … already a couple of interesting comments. We shall see how it all shakes down.

This morning I came across a little something from SixApart, the people behind Movable Type — they make the blogging software we are using for the Blogs at Penn State. They’ve released a plugin that provides an iPhone/Touch specific template for authoring your blog. I still think once people on campus (a) get blogs, (b) realize all they can be used for, and (c) embrace these new devices we’ll see a whole lot more mobile blogging.

We should have MT 4 running soon. Just a matter of time until students’ thumbs will be tapping out posts.

iPhone is for Grown Ups

I noticed a couple of weeks ago that the iPhone allows you to use curse words while typing. I didn’t give it much thought until this morning when I bumped into this post over at the “” blog space. Apple has allowed us grown up people to use bad words within our emails and doesn’t treat us like idiots telling us they are misspellings. Most systems want to flag curse words — I guess to encourage you to change them. I just thought it was interesting.

Long Time

It has been a very long time since I posted to the iPhone blog … lots of stuff has been going on, but I haven’t discovered anything all that new with the iPhone. I have been asked to take part in an Apple UEF working group looking at the iPhone in the higher education space and will be reporting on that as it unfolds. We had our first kickoff meeting last week, but didn’t get into the primary issues with the iPhone. We will, it will just be in a few weeks.

The only other thing to really report is that the iPhone Community Hub is starting to take shape. It can be found at … it is designed to provide a single point of reference to all iPhone related content floating around the PSU web. Right now, most of hte content is being aggregated in from multiple sources, but will eventually contain original content in form of help, getting started, and trouble shooting documents. If you have a Penn State or Friends of PSU account head over and post your comments or thoughts.