I’ve been asked for a cookbook of SQL to deal with issues in [WebCT / Blackboard] Vista. This seems like a daunting task.

Organizationally, I guess I lean towards “everything is miscellaneous”. Just about everything starts with a few SQL statements I’ve come to memorize. Outside of that, every request has a number of nuances which make saying, “Run x, then y, then z,” useless. Figuring out how to coach someone else in what to use in which situation is a supervisor / expert skillset. I’m so new at the SQL skillset it surprises me others would wish for my advice.

Part of it is most requests are different enough that I have to build together something to mine the data for what is sought. Over the year or so I’ve been at it, I’ve come to understand what I can get out of several tables. However, I have dozens of tables to go and many are not even used.

So I’ll do it. If anything it will be a good exercise in meta-congnition. I’ll know what I know so that I can look into what I ought to learn.

Blue Chicago

I am at the 2006 WebCT Users Conference. It has been a blast! Wow!

I love Chicago. I should have arranged to stay a couple weeks. 🙁 Though, I understand the hotel is about $430 a night? A little too rich for me.

I have pictures. Some semi-incriminating and most benign. I just need to download them off the camera. Pictures are up! I have a few minutes before breakfast, so I am importing the music off the “These Kind of Blues!” by The Matthew Skoller Band. They were great last night at the Blue Chicago.

Cheating in an Information Technology Era

Some quotes from an article in the NYT on cheating. This recently came up on a WebCT Users list (usually at least once every year). Maybe the timing is right because the academic year at many schools just ended? Test administrators are usually one step behind the cheaters. There are lots of technologies that have found a niche in increasing the control of the testing environment to prevent cheating. Usually such technologies lock down the computer to prevent the use of other programs and Internet access.

Then there are the anti-technologists who want to go to pen and paper. Ick….

My brain is not wired well for cheating. Rote memorization is very difficult for me. Songs I have listened to a hundred times are still 10% outside my grasp. Quotes longer than a short sentence are pretty fuzzy. The only way I can remember things is through mneumonics that associate items or concepts with items already in my head. I can’t recall all of it; however recognition works pretty well. I can pick which is the right one. So the killer test for me was the complete two essays and ten short answer questions.

Right before I left my last job, one of my “projects” was to convert a student worker from her cramming mentality to a lifetime learner. I viewed the classes I took in school as ways to enrich my understanding of the world and tests as a necessary evil for teachers placed in a difficult position by administrators. The SAT and ITBS were scarily enough kind of fun? The questions were challenging and gave me an opportunity see that I am not as smart as I could be. For several, I wanted to go home a research how they worked…. too bad my memorization sucks. However, my former student worker sees just the classes she takes as the way to get her degree. Tests are in the way between her and the ultimate goal. So she spends long hours the night before cramming for the exam to stick every piece of information she can into her brain and hopefully be better prepared for the test. Later in the term, I asked her a question relevant to the class she was taking and watch her face get concerned as she could not recall it. I explained that she needs to pursue more long term learning techniques. She will find everything she learns useful later in life; so cramming and forgetting is really a waste of her time.

Colleges Chase as Cheats Shift to Higher Tech – New York Times

In a survey of nearly 62,000 undergraduates on 96 campuses over the past four years, two-thirds of the students admitted to cheating.

“One of the things that we’re going to be paying close attention to as time goes on is the use of iPods,” Professor Carlisle added, pointing out that with a wireless earpiece, these would be hard to detect.

Several professors said they tried to write exams on which it was hard to cheat, posing questions that outside resources would not help answer. And at many institutions, officials said that they rely on campus honor codes.

WebCT DevNet

I have not created any PowerLinks. However, maybe just maybe some of the needs we have could be made into a one?

WebCT DevNet

The WebCT Vista Developers Network is an online community of developers that are using the WebCT PowerLinks SDK to extend and integrate the WebCT Vista e-learning platform.The WebCT Vista Developers Network is open to members of institutions with a WebCT Vista Enterprise license, or to CE 6 customers who have purchased the PowerLinks SDK module.

Something to Get Off My Chest

Back in December, I applied for a position in Enterprise Application Services – Technical Services in the Office of Information and Instructional Technology in the University System of Georgia. The title is the same as mine. The job duties would be one of three Database and Application Administrators for the WebCT Vista system at USG. Considering I help administrate the WebCT VIsta system here and have pioneered resolving some of the issues before the USG had to deal with them, I hope I will be a successful candidate.

I have told some people about this over the past couple weeks. Most recently my boss and his boss have both been told. So it is no longer a “secret”.

Well, I had a phone interview that went pretty well, I think. I am on the “short list”. So unless someone better comes along, I think they might offer me the job.

That would start the painful process of figuring out how to leave without everything coming crashing down around me.

Blackboard and WebCT Merger

The threats to switch to Moodle are a little premature over the announcment of the Blackboard and WebCT merger. Moodle seems more like a content management system than a learning management system. Some thoughts

  • Support for WebCT’s existing products is not going away in the near term.
  • Products currently in development probably will finish.
  • Blackboard has excellent design concepts WebCT can use and vice versa. A combination of the two could be the best of both worlds.

Cognitive Itch

I guess if people really knew what they wanted, then it could be given to them, huh?

Ever had a cognitive itch?

Research in the US has found that songs get stuck in our heads because they create a “brain itch” that can only be scratched by repeating the tune over and over.In Germany, this type of song is known as an “ohrwurm” – an earworm – and typically has a high, upbeat melody and repetitive lyrics that verge between catchy and annoying.

Songs such as the Village People’s YMCA, Los Del Rio’s Macarena, and the Baha Men’s Who Let The Dogs Out owe their success to their ability to create a “cognitive itch,” according to Professor James Kellaris, of the University of Cincinnati College of Business Administration.

“A cognitive itch is a kind of metaphor that explains how these songs get stuck in our head,” Professor Kellaris told BBC World Service’s Outlook programme.

“Certain songs have properties that are analogous to histamines that make our brain itch.

“The only way to scratch a cognitive itch is to repeat the offending melody in our minds.”


Gotta help my family look for a present for my mom. A book? A pond plant? Will think of something.

An NBC worker got Anthrax through the skin. If I were paranoid you would see me in a gas mask 24/7 and handling my mail only with gloves.Thankfully, I am a low-life and a third-tier university so I don’t have to worry about being a target. Well, maybe by copycat, disgruntled students who have problems accessing WebCT?

Something about Caterina’s site grabbed me. I like it.

Hmmmmmmmmmm… that is a kewl idea for a web page. My favorite books and movies.