Hangout on Air discontinued on 12th of September 2016

Google’s Hangout on Air discontinued on the 12th of September 2016. Users have to use Youtube Live to handle their live streaming needs. It is much easier to start a live steaming via Youtube Live.

You still have two options, namely to:

  • start streaming immediately or
  • create an event and invite an audience before streaming.

The chat feature is still available, but the following features are no longer available:

  • questions and answers
  • showcasing
  • applause

Users of Hangouts on Air will still have access to content created before, but the link will be in read-only format in the Activity Log. The recorded events are still available on YouTube.

Google created Hangout in 2011, and Hangout on Air the following year (2012). When YouTube Live rolled out live streaming in 2013, live streaming found a more natural fit under YouTube’s wings. Instead of competing with YouTube, Google discontinued Hangouts on Air in favour of Youtube Live.

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Meaningful integration of eportfolios in distance education.

I have asked one of my students to create a video, reflecting on her eportfolio.

Based on Vicki’s reflection on her eportfolio, eportfolios are high impact educational practices. In July 2016, eportfolios were added as an 11th high impact practice recognised by the American Association of Colleges and Universities. However, not all eportfolios can be regarded as high-impact practices. I have developed the following learning-oriented framework for integrating eportfolios in a post-graduation module in distance education (see Figure).


The framework is described in two recently published papers, namely:

van Staden, C.J. 2016. ‘n Leergeoriënteerde raamwerk vir eportefeuljeontwikkeling in afstandonderwys. Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie, 35(1), online version.

Van Staden, C.J. 2016. A learning-oriented framework for integrating eportfolios in a post-graduate module in distance education. AAEEBL ePortfolio Review, volume 1(1), pp. 36-52.

(208 visits)

ePortfolios in ODeL settings

During my year at Unisa as post-doctoral fellow, I was asked to assist with one of the post-graduate modules until a new lecturer could be appointed since the previous lecturer passed away. This temporarily arrangement took up 10 months of the year.
During that time, I was responsible for the 2014 group, who wrote formal examinations, and the implementation of eportfolios (2015 cohort).

I have designed a Learning-oriented approach to integrate eportfolios into the curriculum and guided the students through the first five months of the year. The new lecturer took over end of May 2015. I believed it would be a mammoth task in distance education, therefore I created various extra learning opportunities.

I did not complete the journey formally, but informally I have acted as mentor for the students who contacted me for assistance and guidance until final submission. After graduation, one student shared her eportfolios with me and it was heart warming to see how the framework guided her towards compiling an eportfolio that can be regarded as a high impact practice. So, I have asked her to make a video-clip taking us through with her while she reflects on her eportfolio. In the email she wrote:

I hope it doesn’t sound boastful, but I feel proud of my portfolio. Last year, I was a bit tired of everything by the end. But after looking at it with fresh eyes, I can see that I came a long way. My first assignments were a lot weaker than the improved versions. I don’t think about old essays as much once they’re done, but with the eportfolio I reflect, revise, and improve at every step.

After watching the video, I realised that this amazing learning journey need to be shared. That open distance higher education can take a leading role in higher education if our graduates can walk away like this student. No examination can do justice to the learning that happened while she compiled her eportfolio. I love her closing remarks.

(69 visits)

Interactive images – a new way of teaching content

Tired of trying to discuss an image? Then you should try the new tools that can be used to create interactive images.

FLDraw ($99)

You can draw floor plans as well, with interactive images, text to display sizes, etc.

iiCreator ($139)

Add markers, labels, draw lines, create editable regions, image map legends.

Thinglink ($20/month)

Create beautiful infographics, expensive. Free version does not offer much.

Visme (from $15 p/month.)

(Free version, only 3 images.


The free version offers all features and it can be downloaded. It also offers a non-profit version for



(90 visits)

Comparison between e-portfolio systems

I have tested a few e-portfolio systems. Based on my own idea of an effective e-portfolio system, the following structures was used to create sample e-portfolios.

  • Home page – or brag pag
  • About me – if needed
  • Add videos – ease of use
  • Add text and images – ease of use
  • Add tables – possible?
  • Add links and documents – link to document? or PDF can be read online in space
  • Add sections – add sections to pages / portfolios
  • Add mathematical symbols – for maths
  • Add slide show – possibilities
  • Extras – listed on one page with links to the extras – what extras are available on one page.

The following systems were used to create e-portfolios;

  • rCampus
  • Digication
  • Mahara
  • Pebblepad
  • Karuta
  • Taskstream
  • Chalk and Wire

My examples

r-Campus Mahara Chalk & Wire Pebblepad Task-


Licence/host Licence, host and cloud options Self-hosting Hosted Hosted option Hosted option
Pricing Cost organisation

Cost Students

FREE 22$, down to 12$ depending on amount of students that will use e-portfolios 20 pounds individual accounts

10 pounds / 1000 (bulk option)

20$-42$per student, staff FREE


Does not matter Big difference 1 hour after us No big difference
Assessment Rubrics Rubrics Rubrics


SIS Public API


Please check

Graded assessment

Blind assessment

Double blind assessment

Rubric assessment

Reporting comprehensive

Quick monitoring

LMS Integrated LMS Moodle


Sakai (?)

Integrate with LMs Integrates with Sakai Integrated LMS
Features See example See example See example See example

Templated for all extras

Can create own

See example
Support Have not contacted them Community I struggled to get access, their support people reacts quickly Best I have encountered

Interactive short videos for every feature

Quick responses

Free – include student support, institution does not have to worry about support
Turnitin No No YES YES No
Personalise Not free version Limited Yes Various options Various options
Comments Not in Portfolio Each page of ePortfolio Yes Side of pages

Comments on request, can switch off

Not in ePortfolio
Collaboration Discussions






Discussions Groups
Sharing Yes, via email as well Yes, via secure links as well Yes Via email


For assessment

Yes, via link as well
Workbook/easy e-portfolios None None None Can be created to guide the students throughout the year

Assessment easy and can follow their journey

Graded and rubric assessment

Afterwards Lifelong, can be free Can download Can be renewed Keep for life, free of charge, can edit afterwards
Feedback Rubrics Rubrics


Yes Comments

Feedback forms



More examples Chemistry


Examples Example Examples for a university shared with me

Kameron Giacchero

Kathryn Guertin-Davis

Cheri Boteilho

Sonja Taylor

Emily Ford

Demo Have not requested No On request to showcase assessment tools On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

On request

To demonstrate the assessment tools as well

Overall Difficult to add images, have to Not for assessment and grading Assessment tool Assessment tool Assessment tool
Contact details None None Geoff Irvine Dr. John Couperthwaite

Ben Coulter

All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios. There are a number of important points to note, based on the review of the above systems:

  • Some e-portfolios only allow the sharing of links to videos, while others can be used to embed videos to create effective multimedia presentations.
  • The drag-and-drop functions of Mahara and Pebblepad provide an easy method to upload multimedia.
  • Mahara allows for comments on each page of an e-portfolio, a feature that can assist collaboration and assessment in various ways.
  • All systems could be used to create structured, multi-page e-portfolios, therefore it is suggested that the academics evaluate each of the systems based on their own requirements in order to identify an e-portfolio system to be implemented.

I have not tested the assessment tools since it is not possible if I am not an institution. However, Pebblepad, Taskstream and Chalk & Wire offer online demonstrations. I found it extremely worthwhile, therefore, I can recommend asking for online demonstrations.

The quality of the final products varied since not all of them can be regarded as multi-media presentations. Therefore, it is recommended that the final choice should not be based purely on assessment tools, but also on the quality of the multi-media presentations created to showcase achievement towards both subject specific outcomes and the critical cross-field outcomes all South African higher education should aspire to.



(285 visits)

Use Google to create icebreakers

I came across this video showing amazing things you can do to catch the attention of your students and audiences. I believe it can serve as icebreakers. So have fun!

I love number 10.


Did you also enjoy the way this author communicates with his audience?



(259 visits)

Prioritise your Gmail inbox

Are you also frustrated with a gmail inbox cluttered with emails?  And you do need to go through a pile of emails to find the right ones?

I have tried to solve that problem by having more than one gmail address, but in the process I have missed a few important emails. Until I have discovered gmail’s affordances. One of these is to prioritise your inbox.

  • Click on the gear (far right)

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.31.55 AM

  • Cllck on settings (instellings)
  • Click on inbox (Inkassie)

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.33.47 AM

  • Click on Inbox type and change to priority first

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.35.15 AM

  • Click on save settings
  • and enjoy!

Your inbox will first show important messages, and all other messages will be shown after a section break. You can also add more sections of important messages if you have created folders, and your life is sorted. Quick and easily.

Google uses machine learning to learn which messages are important, and which are not. It acts on signals to learn what you regard as important, so, this is how you can help Google to know what to be prioritised:

  • respond on important emails
  • use keywords in subject area and emails
  • Click on the important marker (star) next to messages

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.44.49 AM

  • If Google makes a mistake, click on the yellow importance marker next to the name of the sender to mark it as not important

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 9.44.59 AM

It made my life much easier, so I can start to use only one account. Or, maybe not. I will keep two. One to be shared with people I trust, and one to all other who might turn out to be sellers of private emails. That is the only explanation I have for receiving thousands or trash I do not even read, but wastes a lot of time when I have to delete them to get to the important stuff.





(155 visits)

Use Google to spell check Afrikaans

You probably know that you can use Google to translate text. But, did you know that you can change the language of an individual document written in Afrikaans to remove red lines indicating spelling errors?

Follow these steps:

  • Open the document
  • Click on file (leêr) if you have changed language to Afrikaans
  • Click on language (just look at the use of Afrikaans in the screenshot) and chose Afrikaans

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.52.33 AM

And now you can use Afrikaans to create and edit documents.



(1,290 visits)

Google in Afrikaans?


Google relies on machine learning to be Afrikaans as well. In order to assist Google in this regard, follow these steps to change the language of your drive to Afrikaans:

  • Click on the waffle next to your profile pic and click on Drive

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.32.19 AM

  • Click on settings (little gear far right beneath your profile pic) when you are in your drive

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.31.58 AM

  • Click on settings, under general, select languages, and click on Change language settings
  • Click on ADD ANOTHER LANGUAGE and type AFRIKAANS in the search box
  • Click on the arrow to change Afrikaans to the default language


Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.39.12 AM

Your drive will be Afrikaans!

Screen Shot 2016-07-13 at 7.41.04 AM


I am quite impressed with the way Afrikaans is used!



(1,690 visits)

Search Google using your voice

Did you know that you can use your voice to search on Google?

Just say: ‘Ok, Google’ or choose the microphone icon to search using your voice.



(54 visits)