AgingCurious DavidRetirementTime

Vita Brevis: Tempus Fugit

New office

“There is something wrong with you! You have no sense of urgency about time!” I was recently admonished while sitting in my chair reflecting upon Patricia Hampfl’s delightful book of essays entitled The Art of the Wasted Day. Don’t retire, accelerate advises Bracken Darrell, Head of Logitech, in a recent LinkedIn blog piece.

Here are some of my previous thoughts about time:

A canceled meeting! How best to make use of that unexpected 50 minutes—that gift of time.  Maybe catch up on Profhacker blog pieces sitting on my RSS feed? Here are five of them:

  1. When the technology changes on you? Seems germane.
  2. Slowing down and learning about “deep listening”?  I should also turn off my twitter feed that tempts me with messages from some of my favorite thought leaders.  I am so easily distracted.
  3. Hints for teaching a large online course. I may try this when I leave Carroll.
  4. Making a WordPress Site Multi-lingual: Lately I’ve been exploring translation and language software.
  5. Exploring “gamification“: I’m still somewhat chary of moving in this direction, but intrigued by the creative writing/ gaming applications of English Professor Colleague BJ Best.

TIME was the campus -wide theme for Carroll University (Waukesha, WI, USA) during the 2014-2015 academic year. Across my years of teaching, I have enjoyed creating special courses (‘Why War?” “Happiness” “Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools”) when I have been allowed time and total control over the course. Had I offered a course on this theme of time, I would have include the following as required reading and videos:

Time to walk with the Dog!

 

 

Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

First Year – Last Year Carroll Reflections

Above: Computer Rendering of My New Office

Even after more than 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral exam component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at The Ohio State University. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing as excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes, too, I whistle a happy tune!

These academic first days-of-the-semester pressures are primarily situational nuisances: making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails. An added challenge this year is having the contents of last year’s temporary office moved into a brand new office which I have never seen on August 20.  The move will occur while I am vacationing in Canada. No doubt a good part of on campus non teaching time in September will be consumed by sorting through the several hundred boxes of my stored materials as I both unpack and pack up again in preparation for leaving Carroll at the end of the academic year. Looks like I might need another bookshelf:) though I have contacted some graduates about taking any books they might want.

Bookwhacked

For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building  — for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for students and for me. This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs).  Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni  “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course.

With the able assistance of my student research assistants, I shall continue to focus research and writing time on the topics of aging, brain health, and brain fitness training. I applied to become an APS Wikipedia Fellow with an interest in brain fitness training. And I do plan to participate again in the SharpBrains 2018 Virtual Summit.

 

AgingCurious David

Reflections on “The End of Old Age”

Were I to teach a course on brain health, aging, or brain fitness, I definitely would include Marc E. Agronin’s engaging, thought-provoking, and well-written recent (2018) book The End of Old Age: Living a Longer, More Purposeful Life.He asks three fundamental questions – Why age? (to grow in wisdom). Why survive? (to realize a purpose). Why thrive? (to create something new.)  He argues persuasively that aging can and should be seen not as a disease but as a life enhancing opportunity for developing strengths of wisdom, purpose, and creativity. His arguments are well supported both by germane case studies and by detailed chapter end notes. The author makes wonderful and creative use of metaphor and clever turns of phrase, provides useful chapter summaries and even gives the reader an action plan for redefining and “re-aging.” This book definitely deserves careful reading and heeding by readers interested in a balanced, refreshing positive perspective about aging. Below are some resources I plan to further explore gleaned from the book.

Resources drawn from reading Agronin’s provocative book:

  1. Marc Agronin Web site:
  2. Audrey de Grey’s Research to End Aging.
  3. Margaret Morganroth Gulette: On Ending Ageism
  4. Becca Levy’s Stereotype Embodiment Research
  5. Ellen Langer’s Power Of Possibility.
  6. MIDUS: University of Wisconsin Longitudinal Study of How Americans Age   
  7. Paul Baltes’ Model of Wisdom
  8. Carol Ryff’s research on positive aging
  9. Ezekiel Emmanuel: “Why I Hope to Die at 75.
  10. Barbera Myerhoff’s Number Our Days

Here are some of my earlier blog pieces about the aging process:

  1. Ten Brain-enriching Resources
  2. Ruminations about Memory Loss
  3. Brain Fitness Software: Brain-boosting or Bloated Claims?
  4. Obsessing about Forgetting:
  5. Promising Research or Wishful Thinking?
  6. Sharpening My brain at the Summit:
  7. Brain Fitness Training: Fact and Fiction
  8. Pieces of the Puzzle:
  9. Retraining My Old Brain
  10. Reflections on the Myth of Multi-tasking

 

Agingbook-writingbrain fitnessCurious DavidSelf Publishing

Five Courses I’d Like to Create, Teach, or Take in the Next Few Years

I learn best and most by creating and then teaching courses. Here are five courses for which I have done extensive background preparation and that I may develope to fruition in the next few years.  Even if I never offer them at Carroll, there are so many venues for continuing teaching (e.g. via LinkedIn, Coursera, etc.) that it seems a waste not to complete and share these thoughts —and others.

  1. Self-Publishing Tools (e.g. Designrr, CreateSpace, Pressbooks; Lulu) 
  2. Brain Health and Aging
  3. History of Waukesha’s Carroll: 1977 – 2019
  4. Memory and Literature
  5. Internet Learning Tools

Which should I complete during my last year teaching at Carroll?

 

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsJane Hart's Top Tools for Learning

Curious David Redux: To Tweet or Not to Tweet?

I notice that Twitter is number 5 among the Top Learning Tools of 2017 identified by Jane Hart. A number of years ago I was quite hesitant to use Twitter. My student assistants found little value in using  it. They failed to see differences between it and, say,  the “update function” of Facebook. I read two books about it, consulted several Carroll alumni who DO use it (thanks Chris G,  Lori S, and Fred K.), and studied fellow academics’ twittering experiences documented in publications which I closely read and value.  I objected to the Procrustean process of having  my thoughts, ideas, and communications reduced to 140 characters or less (“thought bytes”). Also, I was petrified at my inability to decrease or at least slow down my communication and information acquisition activities. I very much need and treasure having time to reflect, to read, to assimilate, and to create. I am amused to see that I myself have tweeted more than 2100 times!

Since then, however, I have reconsidered Twitter as a learning tool. “To Twit or not to Twit?” for me is no longer the appropriate way to frame the issue. Rather, the questions for me are:

  • Under what circumstances might Twitter give me more successful ways of teaching?
  •  How can I use Twitter to improve my ability to find answers to questions I am investigating?
  • How can I minimize the costs to me (time away from other things; wheat to chaff ratio) of my using Twitter?
  • How can I best manage the tool?

Today Twitter is an invaluable personal learning and communication resource that I have fine-tuned for my particular needs. Currently I choose to follow 78 “thought leaders” whom I very much admire.   I am in the process of comparing  several  Twitter-management apps (e.g.Tweetbot) which show promise to help me optimize the efficiency of my use of the tool.  Now I need to consider implementing more these Advanced Twitter Tips I encountered.

@professorDavidS

As I systematically revisit Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools List, I must confess that (like Adam Grant) I continue to discover new ways to maximize Twitter’s usefulness for me as a learning tool. Though I have no interest in becoming a Twitter Ninja:), I am delighted by the capabilities, for example, of creating lists of experts who regularly stream invaluable and current information on topics important to me (right now those topics are technology learning tools and global education).

I’m monitoring my Twitter feed as I write this blog piece and find 10 ideas, resources, and thought-leaders worth following. The dross is outweighed by the nuggets as I refine my Twitter filters and make better use of Twitter applications. I still am not quite ready to explore Twitter Chats. Just because a technology learning tool HAS capabilities, doesn’t mean that I need them –or that I should change my teaching to accommodate them.

Thank you Teri Johnson and Jane Hart for firmly but gently nudging me into exploring the use of Twitter.

Here are some tweets that informed me or guided my personal learning.

  1. I see that Maria Konnikova has a new book out  She writes so well about psychology and pseudo science. I preorder the book and send her a brief note. Thank you, Maria, for your clear thinking, your lucid writing, and your thought-provoking ideas.
  2. Alec Couros recommends a Ted Talk about “Where Good Ideas Come From.” If I can find time, I’ll take a look at that before teaching my research Seminar. Thank you, Alec, for the inspiration.
  3. The indefatigable Richard Byrne alerts me to some free Technology Tools for Teachers.
  4. While I am data mining resources from K-12 I take a quick glance at my Edutopia feed.
  5. A colleague on LinkedIn suggests reposts an article about skills every young professional should have. I see value in sharing this with my advisees.  Thank you, Rebecca!
  6. I see a Mac 911 MacWorld piece about how to incorporate special characters into documents. I’ll need this as I try blog pieces in different language.
  7. I glance at recent posts from LifeHacker—always fun to read and read one about how there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Favorite Apps and Learning Tools Revisited

As I continue my review of Jane Hart’s tools I become increasingly aware of the tremendous indebtedness I am to her in alerting me to a wealth of learning resources. I also owe a tremendous debt to my student research assistants across the years as we have leaned (and laughed) together.  With reflection, I am much more cognizant of how my learning needs have changed across the last four decades of my teaching and how those needs may change in the near future.

I notice that Google Drive and Google Docs were listed among the top ten learning tools identified by Jane Hart in 2017. Looking forward to next year I see tremendous value in my investing time mastering the gamut of Google apps and making better use of Google Drive (which my students have used more than I).

Here is a recent screencast draft I made and stored on the Google Drive account I shall be using after next year. Here is an introduction to how my students have used Google Drive.

Over the past few years I have asked my student research assistants what apps and learning tools they most use. I  recognize that what may be considered essential for a nineteen-year-old may differ from that chosen by a sexagenarian! Here are some of their recommendations.

As a first step I asked my first-year assistant, Kristen R. to share with me her favorite iPhone apps. This advice has been helpful as I transition to a new IPhone 8.

Favorite Apps

Twitter

Most of the time, I use Twitter as an entertainment. From funny videos to relatable posts, this app never fails in making me laugh. My friends and I love sharing this funny content by easily tagging each other on these posts. Although Twitter can be quite entertaining, it can also be used as a source of current worldwide news. On this app, I follow many reliable accounts (news networks) that provide the same information one would see on TV. I can also follow different individuals, like Elon Musk, who are posting updates on how they are changing history.

Grammarly

Whenever I write an email or post something on social media, I want to be perceived as a professional individual. This app gives me the ability to do this by checking over my grammar. This gives me the opportunity to correctly revise my written work and apply it to my future pieces.

Mr. Number

Before I had this app, I was receiving countless spam phone calls every day from all over the world. It seemed like a never-ending nightmare. However, when I downloaded this free app, this problem drastically decreased. This is due to Mr. Number frequently updating; providing current protection from evolving spam. It also provides features that include caller ID, ability to block, and reveals the amount of reported spam on that certain number.

The Weather Channel

Although my phone already has this kind of application, Wisconsin’s weather is always unpredictable. The Weather Channel app provides this in-depth of view of the current predicted weather. It has features that include, but not limited to, the radar, wind-chill, temperature, hourly and daily predictions, and health and activity reports. Due to all of these features, I frequently use this app more than the one my phone provided for me.

The Guides Axiom

When I am not constantly on social media, I am trying to solve this difficult puzzle. The Guides Axiom is an app that consists of challenging intertwined levels that lead to solving one big puzzle (the whole app). The levels, however, do not go in order which makes it even more difficult to solve the app. It can be frustrating at times; however, I enjoy testing my problem-solving skills.

What Ipad Apps should all college and university students be familiar with? I posed that question to my student research team a few years ago and here are the responses they shared with me on Google Drive. What MUST-HAVE apps are they missing? Which apps in your experience are most useful for College/University students? What makes them useful to enhancing student success? Are these tools equally useful to faculty?

Here is the wisdom of one of my seniors, Lizzy,  (shared when she was a junior).

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Apps I use as a College Student – Lizzy Hoehnke

Pinterest:

Pros: Allows one to find new and creative recipes, crafts, fashion ideas, hair ideas, make up tutorials, cleaning ideas, etc. They offer the websites and allows one to save it to their profile and in a certain sub category for future use. In addition, it helps someone find deals on items that could be costly, such as bridesmaid dresses, shoes, flowers, craft supplies, etc. People are able to connect with others as well as that; they may or may not know and be able to see their pages (if not on a privacy setting) for ideas and to see their interest.

Con: Some of the posts that are still up on the site are not available anymore for others to use or have become extinct.

Snapchat:

Pros: There are different filters that one is able to use on their photos to show more colors, in black and white, or add where they are from, the time, etc. Snapchat allows people to add filters on their faces of possibly being a dog, a hamster, an old person, with a flower crown, with a lot of makeup, etc. One is able to use these filters with friends as well. People are able to message each other over the app as well as send past pictures they have taken and video chat each other. Another feature, is that Snapchat has a memories folder at the bottom of the app that saves all the pictures or videos you have taken on the app. One is able to delete the memory if they wish or save it to their pictures on their phone settings. Also, if a person wants to screen shot a picture on someone else’s story of them and that friend so they are able to keep it for themselves, they are able to do so.

Cons: Past messages people send to others will delete instantly, so if one forgets what they had said then they will have to ask the other person what they had said or try to remember. In addition, the video chat aspect of the app is difficult to work and takes time to understand it.

Facebook:

Pros: People are able to make many connection with others, get news updates on what is going on in the world, see stories of what is happening in people’s personal lives, see photos and updates as well as add your own photos and updates. One is able to post on people’s profiles, comment on people’s post, like, love, laugh, cry, etc. at other people’s videos and pictures. Able to connect with people from their past as well as people from across the world. Allowed to tag people in a post that makes you think of somebody.

Con: have to upload another app that allows one to message people. It takes up space on your phone, which causes you to have less storage for other apps.

Instagram:

Pros: People are able to cross-reference their post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Instagram allows people to add more filters on their pictures and update the lighting, color contrast, etc. Able to tag people in photos as well as others. Are able to add websites onto your pictures and add stories that allow people to swipe up and go to a different page, such as YouTube. Able to message others and cross-reference a picture on Instagram or a meme.

Cons: Are only able to upload pictures.

Associated Mobile Banking:

Pros: Do not have to go to the bank to check my balance, able to make transfers on my phone, able to call customer care right away and are able to deposit checks off the app, and paying your credit card balance.

Cons: are not able to deposit money on the app, so still have to go to the bank or an ATM of theirs now to deposit cash.

Marcus Movie App:

Pros: Allows me to see what movies are out for the next few days, see the pre sales of the movie before driving all the way there and finding out it is sold out, seeing what the movie times are for the day to plan accordingly with your day, and are able to buy the tickets online if needed.

Cons: are not able to use special passes through the app if you have a free movie pass or something of that source.

Yahoo Mail App:

Pros: Allows me to see my emails right away without logging in to the website. Able to delete emails or star emails right away that I need. Able to move my emails to folders very easily and see updates if needed.

Cons: Slow when deleting emails and sometimes will not refresh.

Too many APPS. Too little time to master them. I’ve struggled with this issue before.

Here (read me) and here and here and here:). I decided to consult with some members of what Howard Gardiner referred to as the “APP Generation”. Here is what several of my other student assistants told me over the past couple of years are “must-have” apps for college/university students.

Tia writes :

As a college student, having access to multiple apps on my smart phone helps make me a more efficient learner by staying organized. The apps I use academically are Gmail, Safari, Notepad, and Calendar. Each of these apps helps me stay on top of all my homework with the heavy course load I have this semester. I use my Gmail frequently on my smart phone because it is faster to check my email from here rather than logging on to my laptop and waiting for the slow Carroll wifi to start up. Instead of a five to seven minute process, I can have my email checked within seconds of opening the app. When I am not able to use my laptop, the Safari app is very convenient when I need to Google a quick question I have. Also, I use the Notepad app when I do not have a pencil or my agenda book to write down my assignments or meetings I have with my professors. This helps me to remain organized and on top of all my assignments, especially now with a month left in the semester. Lastly, I use the Calendar app to put in important dates such as exam dates, final exam dates, or study sessions for a certain course. All of these keep me organized, and I always have them in the palm of my hand.

As a college student, the social life is just as important as the academic life. Some apps I use when I am not studying are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. All of these apps help me stay connected with my friends from other schools, my friends at Carroll, as well as my family members all over the United States. Having multiple forms of staying in contact with these people helps with maintaining social supports, which is extremely important towards the end of the semester when stress is at an all time high. One more app I use is Two-Dots, which is just a random game. It’s a puzzle game kind of like Candy Crush. I play this game in between studying different material to give my mind a little break.

All in all, these are the apps I use on a day to day basis to stay caught up with my social life as well as staying organized academically.

Arianna tells me:

Much like most 20 year olds, I have a smartphone. With a smartphone comes several apps, but which of those apps are a must have? And which must have apps are we missing out on, requiring us to download?

Well, in my opinion, there are eight must have apps. Those apps include Gmail, Reminders, Notes, Safari, Calculator, Find iPhone, Maps, and Camera. As a college student having my Gmail and student email linked straight to my cell phone is a necessity. It allows me to easily stay in contact with professors and students, never showing up to a canceled class, easily noting changes to the syllabus, or getting missed information. Reminders and Notes have saved my life on a number of occasions. I tend to forget things rather often, and rather quickly, thus, being able to set a reminder for a day, a week, or a month from now and being able to create to do lists or grocery lists right on my cell phone has changed my life. I doubt I am alone when I say there are times I cannot think of a word or need information quickly but am on the run, well, that is where Safari comes in use. Being able to quickly surf the internet wherever I am has brought ease to my day to day life. I am able to quickly google anything I would like, especially useful when I am doing my homework far from a computer and need to research a topic or look up an unfamiliar word. The fifth App I find to be a must have is the Calculator. Although most of us can do basic mathematical operations, it is very nice to take the lazy route and calculate out things such as tip money, how much money you will be making this month, or the discounted price that will be applied to the bill you have from shopping online. Find iPhone is an app I have not yet had to use, knock on wood, but I see the potential it has. Should someone be missing, should someone’s iOS device/Mac be stolen, or should you just have misplaced your iPhone, Find iPhone uses remote location-tracking to locate them. Maps, much like the Calculator, is not entirely necessary if you prefer the old school way of paper maps. However, unfamiliar with such resources, I whole heartedly approved of the Maps app. In fact, my first few times driving to and from Carroll University I had to use Maps in order to ensure I would not get lost. In my opinion, if you are alone, Maps is a safer way to travel than a paper map, as Siri will tell you exactly when to turn, which exits to take, and so on, without you ever having to take your eyes off of the road. The last app I find to fall under the “must have” category is the Camera. Recently I traveled to Italy and, of course, I brought my cell phone. Having a feature like the Camera directly on my cell phone made it so I had one less thing to carry on all of my excursions, rather nice when you are backpacking for 10+ miles a day.

For me, these are must have apps, but, depending on the person and his or her day to day life, must have apps could vary wildly. So what are your must-haves?

 

Curious David

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: PowerPoint Revisited

Although I see that PowerPoint continues to be among the top ten learning tools identified by Jane Hart, it has never played a major role for me in teaching, learning, or communication. A number of my objections to this presentation tool (or documentation of its abuse) have been well expressed by others across the years.

    1. In the Harvard Business Review.
    2. In Edward Tufte’s original thesis that Power Point is Evil
    3. In Don McMillan’s YouTube classic Life After Death by PowerPoint:
    4. I am not sure that Slideshare is any less “evil”.
    5. I’ve never found Prezi served any additional presentation needs for me.

 

Curious David

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: Google Search Revisited


I try to protect some daily time for learning something new. Surprisingly, sometimes that involves (re)discovering features of technology learning tools that I didn’t realize (or forgot) existed. Perhaps these features didn’t exist at the time I first “mastered” the tool—technology tools evolve.  Perhaps, on the other hand,  the (re)discovered features didn’t address my needs at the time—my needs change.

Google scares me (perhaps I have been listening too much to voices from my computers!). —perhaps because of my reading the dystopian novel The Circle.  So does Siri.  Still, I find myself more and more using a variety of Google apps. In fact, I am considering creating a course just addressing all the Google applications—and their weaknesses.

How well do you know how to use Google search? How well do you know how and when to use Google Scholar? Are you familiar with the support that Google itself gives? Have you discovered the excellent guides developed by Librarians? Someone is always sharing additional less well-known features that might prove useful for finding information more efficiently.

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Year 2017 Top Learning Tools: YouTube Revisited

YouTube: As I wind down my teaching career, I anticipate that YouTube may serve different needs for me in the future than when I was as a professor. Last year I wrote the following about my uses of screenshots, screencasts, and YouTube in classroom teaching situations:

“Tonight I am “rediscovering” teaching/learning tools: specifically Skitch (for screenshots and annotating screenshots, Screenflow for screencasting, and YouTube).

How do you use YouTube? How might it serve as a learning resource in your job? What are its unrecognized or under-utilized capabilities? Here is what student research assistant Lizzy (recently accepted into graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater) wrote when I asked her how she used it.

Uses of YouTube

YouTube is an internet source that has multiple uses. Personally, I use YouTube a lot when I am working at Dr. Simpson’s office for background music. YouTube does not only have music on their site, but educational videos, silly videos, podcasts, etc. Since my time being here at Carroll University, I have had multiple professors’ post YouTube links in their slide shows and assign YouTube videos as assignments for student’s to watch at home. When I struggle using a certain software, I am able to go to YouTube and search what I am looking for in the search bar. Multiple videos will pop up on the screen that go through step-by-step instructions on how to do the task I am looking for.

YouTube is useful for posting videos as well. Dr. Simpson has posted videos in the past with his student research assistants and discussing certain issues. I have had to watch podcast of others on YouTube that are discussing a certain issue we are dealing with in class or about a certain software we are trying to use, such as SPSS. In class presentations, 90% of the time students are required to post a visual image or video in their slides. YouTube is very useful in this circumstance. One is able to find certain media coverage of an issue on YouTube as well as scenes from past TV shows, news broadcasts, radio shows, etc. A great example of how YouTube is useful in my field, psychology, is research. YouTube has multiple videos of famous studies that have been done in the past, such as Pavlov’s, Little Albert, and the Bobo Doll study. All these videos are accessible to people, like us, on YouTube.

YouTube is a great source, not only for education, but also for others to express themselves. There are many podcasts on YouTube of people’s life stories. Some of them involve people dealing with issues such as cancer and mental health problems. However, there are podcasts of people discussing their experience sky diving, cliff jumping, in a different city, making covers of songs, etc. People in the 21st century are becoming “YouTube famous” because of their podcasts on YouTube. Many famous singers like, Justin Bieber, became famous by starting on YouTube and working their way up. In addition, people will post weekly podcast updates of their lives on YouTube and have millions of fans because of this method. An example is a couple named, Cole and Savannah, who have a YouTube channel and post videos every other week of what is happening in their lives.

YouTube is an amazing media source. YouTube allows one to find what music they are interested in, express talents that they want to show the world, show others their life stories, gives education to people, helps people stay up to date on certain issues going on in the world, etc. I would highly recommend YouTube as a source that everyone should look into and explore the different options that it has to offer the public.”

Most recently I have used YouTube for guidance in learning how to fly a drone given to me as a birthday present! And I can use it as a tool for enjoying the wonderful singing of my grand nephew, Cole and his talented Mom, Sara!
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Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Jane Hart’s Top Learning Tools

I see that Jane Hart has announced the deadline for recommending top learning tools for 2018.  I’m going to try and revisit all the 2017 tools this summer and identify those which I have found to be of most value to me. I’m hoping that in the fall my students and I can put together an ebook describing the tools they see as best serving their needs.

Here is the 2017 list:

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious David

“What will you DO when you retire?” I am asked more and more frequently.

“What will you DO when you retire?” I am asked more and more frequently—especially as I am a year away from seventy years of age. My answer is both simple and complicated – in part depending upon who is asking, why I think they are asking me, and when I am asked.

It is easier to answer what I shall NOT do! I don’t plan to grade any exams! Or to answer the question of what will happen to “David-in-Carroll-land.com.” It WILL retire or be transformed.

If my past behavior predicts my future behavior as it has in the past I shall not return to campus after next year’s commencement. Such was my behavior upon graduating from Howland High School in 1967 (though I was tempted by the Facebook contacts of classmates inviting me to our 50th reunion), graduating from Oberlin College in 1971, and my completing my graduate work at The Ohio State University in 1979. I’ve never been back. I treasure the richness of experiences and relationships which occurred but I look forward to having the time to focus on new or neglected aspects of life.

Consider the many meanings of commencement; start, genesis, infancy, first step, unveiling, creation. It’s been fun and rewarding being a professor, and I look forward to one more academic year before commencing. Still, it clearly also is time to move on.

 

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Journaling

Delighted today to learn on LinkedIn of Jane Hart’s well-deserved recognition as a Modern Learning Pioneer.  As I plan my last year in CarrolLand, I’m revisiting a number of journal entries I have made across the years. I just invested a five-year journal that allows me to compare my thoughts across the past five years. Most edifying.

 

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While cleaning the office  I came across my journal notes from when I still was a graduate student at Ohio State.  I had just returned from a two-day job interview at then-named Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Much has changed since then! I continue working against changing too much too quickly.

cufacts-2

I still use and keep journals now–some paper and pencil— though I now do most journaling using software dedicated to that function. Though I have explored the utility of many apps, my personal preference at the moment is DayOne.

onenote-vs-dayone-google-docs

I particularly use journaling to follow the recommendations of Jane Hart on the value (I would argue, the necessity) of reflecting on my work day accomplishments and failures and for short and long-term goal setting. This was one of many lessons I learned from Jane.  I encourage my students and clients to build into their day regular times for written reflection.

What journaling software do you use? Why?

 

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Booked for the Summer

Home Study Book Shelf # 1

Christine Smallwood has a thoughtful review in the June 9 & 16 2014 New Yorker “Ghosts in the Stacks” of Phyllis Rose’s The Shelf: From LEQ to LES.

Smallwood raises some issues about reading books which is of considerable interest to me:

  • how we choose books today has been dramatically changed by technology (our preferences and reading habits are monitored and curated
  • what scholars read and how they read has changed (a distinction is made between close reading and surface reading)

I was appropriately admonished by her last paragraph:

And what about the books right in front of you that were published, even purchased, but, for all you know, might as well not have existed? My own bookshelves are filled with books I haven’t read, and books I read so long ago that they look at me like strangers. Can you have FOMO about your own life?…The alphabet is great, but there is nothing quite as arbitrary as one’s own past choices. Reading more books begins at home.”

Timeout on buying new books to read until I review what is filling my home office bookshelves. This is also a wonderful opportunity to use my LibrarianPro app.

Hmm—32 books in shelf # 1 beginning with father-in-law’s 1927 copy of the Best Known Works of Edgar Allan Poe and ending with Philip Tetlock’s Expert Political Judgment. How delightful!

Summer is a time for reading, reflecting, re-energizing, refocusing, and rejoicing about the beauty of living.

 

 

 

 

 

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACommencementCurious DavidGraduation

Dear 2018 Carroll University Graduate…

Dear 2018 Carroll University Graduate…

Now is a good time to gather together some last thoughts about and for you while i am proctoring my last final exam of the 2017 – 2018 academic year. This year for the first time since I came here Commencement will be Saturday morning rather than on Mothers’ Day afternoon. Because of my age seniority length of time at Carroll and my rank of Full Professor, I march at the front of the line at Commencement. That gives me an ideal seating position for seeing and hearing speakers, but forces me to be on my best behavior — awake, disconnected from my Ipad, and resisting wearing my Brewers’ or Carroll College hats. I even got a hair cut!

For those of you I have met, I have done my best to teach you well but alas I am only human. Each student I teach is different, special, and always teaches me.  You have enriched my life, and I welcome the opportunity as you become alumni to continue and perhaps to even expand upon our relationships.  That happens a lot!

Thanks for the many lessons you have taught me.

Many people (family, staff, faculty, administrators, and trustees)  have worked very hard, in addition to you, to try to provide you with the best education that Carroll can provide both within and outside of the classroom. I often think that we ought to set aside a time for recognizing those unsung “guardian angels” who have done their best to make Carroll a caring community and a better place.

I urge that as time and circumstances allow you join them in giving back (without expectation of receiving “convocation points”) your time, wisdom, networking resources, prospective student recommendations, and examples of skills or values developed here at Carroll that have served you well. Carroll for me has always been a Caring Place.

Give Carroll its due credit when it has earned it, but I also encourage you to offer constructive criticism when the institution has failed to meet your expectations or deviates from its values which you value. Be appropriately skeptical of bland, branding platitudes. Seek out opportunities to do “a” right thing. Use your mind to think carefully and critically, but don’t forget that there are indeed many times when it is appropriate to follow one’s heart.

I envy your youth and the many opportunities that lie ahead or you as you share your talents and to make the world a better place. Stay in touch. Oh, yes… Here is a final exam.

With many fond memories,

David Simpson, Professor of Psychology and fellow, flawed human being.

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on the Purpose and Value of Final Exams

“How long have you taught at Carroll?” I am often asked. I now tend to give the answer that my father-in-law, Golden Pioneer Walter G. Schmidt,  gave when I once asked him how long he had been married. With a twinkle in his eye he retorted “forever.” Suffice it to say that when I came here senior faculty looked older to me and students at that time seemed much more my age! And, according to an online quiz my student assistant alerted me to my personality is most like Thanos!

I presently am proctoring my first final exam as I attempt to bring this academic year to a close. By my calculation I have made, given and graded more than 500 final exams since 1977. I am amused by some of my prior rants reflections (below) about the value of giving finals, the challenges of disciplining oneself to complete the task of grading, and the distractions (most self-induced) that temporarily knock me off course winding down. Somehow putting the semester to bed always gets done in time, with integrity, and with a sense of accomplishment.

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Grading.

Two books to read laid out before me: David Pogue’s Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Show You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life and Jocelyn K. Glei’s Unsubscribe: How to Kill email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real work Done. Each lends themselves to reading and learning when one has short “down times” for learning.

I should be finishing the grading of the exam I gave yesterday while I proctor the exam I am now giving. Yesterday Leo the Grading Dog and I devoted five hours to the uncompleted task–and decided that we needed sleep to continue. I playfully attempted to engage former students on Facebook in a crowdsourcing grading “experiment.” Alas, a lot of LOL’s. About as successful as my tabled crowdfunding proposal:)

Instead, I am reviewing all my past WordPress posts, Tweets, and Facebook Photos as I plan for major projects next semester. I am contemplating pulling all that material together in a “Best of Curious David” e-book. I hope to engage in extensive self-publishing with students, teach a research seminar dealing with “brain fitness/training” apps and interventions, and pull together 40 years of Carroll-related archival documents that really should not be forgotten. My physical office environment could be challenging as the Rankin Hall reconstruction begins–necessitating a moving from the office.

Here are some previous (unedited–I have not checked the links’ viability) musings about final exams. Clearly the fact that I pondered these questions before suggests that I still haven’t come up with a clear answer–yet I see value comprehensive, multifaceted finals despite the costs of time to grade them.

Final Reflections on Final Exams  Dec 20, 2009

The last final exam has been graded–the grades submitted electronically.

Final exams began on Thursday this year, but my finals were the following Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Moreover, I chose to do something new within each final exam. These innovations resulted in my not having exams (newly made) ready until the day before I administered them. Such are academic opportunity costs!

This semester I introduced innovations in each of my classes, some common across each class and others unique to each course. Common to each class, I chose to complete the formal part of instruction a week before the end of the semester. I used the remaining scheduled class time for review and for preparing students for the final exam.

For each class, I wrote a blog about the class and invited students to respond to the blog. My primary goal in that assignment was not to increase “hit rate” on my blog site! Rather, I’d like to increase the likelihood that students subsequently might recognize how easy it is to comment responsibly to something “published” on the web. Though it is too early to say whether that goal was met, I was very pleased by the thoughtful comments from my PSY101 students.

Unique to PSY101, I also asked students in my Introductory Psychology class to visit a psychology podcast site and critique for me two episodes. Since I am exploring whether (video) podcasting is something I wish to do (is Audacity the answer?), I found their feedback quite helpful. Their final exam was the easiest to produce (50 multiple choice questions covering the fundamental concepts I cover in the course and 50 points of terminology questions)–and easiest to grade –in part because they provided  compelling evidence that they knew the material. They were a fun group to teach and to learn with!

Unique to PSY205, I invited the students (once they had completed their 13 page, cumulative final exam —50 multiple choice, 30 points of terminology, 20 problems requiring students to indicate what data analysis was appropriate—to accept the Robin the Christmas Newf extra credit challenge.

Page_1

Though I don’t believe in giving extra credit (it undermines intrinsic motivation), I was curious about their abilities to recognize flaws in published articles (the same article I gave my PSY303 class to critique for their final) and poorly designed surveys (the same survey administered to a sample of Carroll employees last week to assess the quality of the workplace). Though only one student (almost) identified the published data analysis error–and none recognized that the response scales of the survey had categories which were not mutually exclusive (and hence potentially invalidate most statistical break-downs), I was pleased that several students rose up to the challenge. And, more importantly to me, a number of students from this class clearly have a mastery of which data analysis to use. But will they have that same degree of mastery the next time I see them–or will they be singing this swan song again?

Unique to PSY303, I gave students in my Experimental Social Psychology course in advance two published journal articles. I also gave them a sense of the kinds of questions I would be asking them about the “Scrooge Effect” and God is Watching You articles. I elected to assess students this way (rather than over course content—e.g. names, terminology, theories, concepts) since a major emphasis of this course involved thoughtfully reading and critiquing published research through weekly student presentations and discussion. I was most impressed by the thoughtful, reflective, insightful responses of almost every student–though none noticed the data analysis flaw.

Why bother giving final exams? Aren’t the 3 to 5 regular exams I give throughout the semester enough? It surely would be so much easier for me to give all multiple-choice questions which students respond to on a computer readable form. However, choosing the easy route would eliminate my opportunity to both assess and to teach during final examination period.

How odd it is that course evaluations occur before final exams are given. Wouldn’t a fairer evaluation of a course (and of the instructor) require that students have taken and received feedback from their final examinations?  How frustrating it is not to be able to go over the final with my students and get from them suggestions for improvement in a timely fashion.

Maybe finals should be the last week of class and feedback should be during finals week. Alternatively, maybe a component of course evaluations should be a reflective writing piece the first day of classes.  Maybe the first day of classes should be an exam covering the course prerequisites!

Too much grading leads me to think like this and hallucinate about Sugar Plums.

Sugar Plums

Happy Holidays from Curious David!

December 2014 Musings about Final Exams

The Newf

It was a foggy 5:30 a.m. morning when I let the Newf out for her morning “duties.” One of many good reasons for driving carefully to Carroll this Saturday morning at 6:30 a.m. I surely would NOT like to hit another deer–nor would Santa or my car.

Deer Me

I can still see fog outside my Rankin classroom. Thirty-seven years ago I was in this very building giving a sample lecture illustrating how I teach as part of my two-day job interview to become a faculty member at then-called Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. I still have a copy of that presentation–and I remain at my first and only job for better or for worse. So much has changed–buildings, enrollment, technology, the institution’s name, the organizational structure.  I feel obligated to protect traditions and overriding institutional historical values, but there are fewer and fewer here that remember them. So many of my former mentoring faculty and staff friends have moved on through retirement or from life. I miss their wisdom but try to preserve their gifts to Carroll.

Ghosts of Christmas's Past

And here I sit proctoring an 8:00 a.m.Saturday morning final exam covering “Statistics and Experimental Design” taken by students several of whose relatives (aunts, uncles, mothers, fathers, brothers, and sisters) were former students or advisees of mine. An_Outline_of_Basic__Cover_for_Kindle

There are times when they look and behave very young and I recognize that I am 65-years old. Many other times Assistantsthey keep me young with their energy, willingness to learn, and playfulness. I feel that way especially in the present of my student research assistants–four of whom are graduating this year.

It has been a rough semester. I continue to find challenging teaching three consecutive seventy-minute courses in a row with 10 minute breaks even when two of the courses are the same. And this year I am co-chairing the Planning and Budget Committee (with a delightful colleague and poet BJ Best).

It has been the Dickens of a task: The Wurst of Times and the Best of Times. Younger colleagues like BJ, though, and the fewer and fewer remaining colleagues from my past reinforce my willingness to remain here and make a difference before departing.

Best of Times, the Wurst of Times

The chimes just sounded. 10:00 a.m. Eight students remaining. Very good students among which several, should they wish, might join Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood as student research assistants.

Carroll’s 2014-2015 theme is “Time.” I just finished reading David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks. Time to start grading so that I can finishing reading The Book of Strange New Things.

CommunityCurious David

Reflections on Community, Our Town, and Precious Moments

I am still emotionally drained reflecting on the life lessons from the Milwaukee Rep’s performance of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town that Debbie and I enjoyed last Sunday. As a high school student and undergraduate, I used to keep journals documenting how literature and the arts impacted me. Thornton Wilder was born on my sister’s birthday and attended my alma mater Oberlin College.

Precious Moments: The entrance to this world by a new grand-nephew, Finn William O’Connor. Welcome!

Precious Moments: Quality time with Debbie, Dog, and Friends.

Precious Moments: Playfully being crowned the Once and Future King.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Precious Moments: Thoughtful, playful students who stop by and enrich my day.

Precious Moments: Exploring ways to enhance how and what I teach.

Vita brevis.  Kruse control over 1440 minutes? I give thanks.

 

alumniCurious David

Fiat Lux: Things they didn’t teach me in graduate school …

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is no “typical” day at Camp Carroll!

What to do when a few minutes after beginning a 3 hour exam the lights go off? The students smile and turn on their cell phone spotlights. After I ascertain that there is no health risk (it was a campus-wide outage), they choose to finish the exam by flashlight. I am impressed by their good humor.

Fiat Lux: Let there be light (more than an hour later).

Curious DavidDesignrrebook software

Curious David Redux: Mastering Designrr

As Dr. Simpson works on revising his past blog pieces, he gave me the task of testing out different eBook software. The promises of Designrr.io (found here) intrigued us. It allows authors to easily display their written work (blog pieces, articles, etc.) and uses their URLs to combine this work into one big eBook.

Dr. Simpson suggested that I create a basic guide to Designrr.io in order to help aspiring authors in the future. Then he would attempt to use my Student Guide to Designrr to pull together an e-book from a subset of his blogs.

Here’s my first draft:

Getting Started:

Once an account has been created, one can start a project by clicking “Create A New Project” button. The author can then name their project and import their URL. After this, the author can then choose a template they desire. The author can always skip this step or choose a different template later on while creating the project.

After following these simple steps, Designrr.io should automatically create a default book of the content the author just downloaded. The author can choose to publish this eBook immediately or choose to make some minor edits.

Before the editing process begins:

This website includes a feature called that will automatically save one’s work over a period of time. To enable this feature, click on the Settings Tab, then the subcategory Auto Save, and finally the Enable AutoSave button. Below this button, one can set the autosave delay. I usually have mine set on 5 minutes; however, the time ranges from 5 minutes to an hour.

Changing Background:

To change the background image of the cover of the book, click on the Inspector Tab and then the subcategory called Background. By clicking on the Image then Media Manager box, one can either choose a picture on their computer or search for a photo. The Textures option, located right below the Media Manager box, will help the author change the rest of the pages’ backgrounds. However, make sure to select one of these textures on the desired page, not the cover page.

Editing Text, Headers, and Footers:

By double-clicking on the text of the header and footer, Designrr.io will bring up two tabs (inspector tab on the left and simplified tab located near the text). In both tabs, one can change the font’s size, color, style, and border. I found that the Inspector Tab was the easiest to follow.

Changing Font Using Inspector Tab:

Start by double-clicking on the desired text one wants to change. One should be directed to the Inspector Tab and the subcategory Text Styles.

1)    Size- Manually type in the size font by clicking on the box under the italicized box. The box one should look for should have the label px (Ex: 28px).

2)    Color- Click on the long grey rectangular box under the box one just used to change the size. Then choose or create the desired color using the color wheel.

3)    Font Style- Click on the top left-hand box, next to the G box, to look and pick the default styles Designrr.io offers. By clicking on the G box, one can view a variety of fonts from Google.

Changing the Border Using Inspector Tab:

Start by double-clicking on the desired text one wants to change. One should be directed to the Inspector Tab; however, one needs to manually click the subcategory Border. I highly suggest editing the borders in this order.

1)    Style- Click on the box that reads None in order to choose the style of the border.

2)    Color- Click on the long rectangular box next to the None box. Just like the Test Style Color box, one can either choose or create a color they desire.

3)    Size- Use the slider above the two previously mentioned boxes in order to change the thickness of the border.

Adding More Posts to A Generated Project:

To add a new post/URL onto an already generated project, one must first click the Element tab and then the subcategory Components. Click on the New Article box and drag it to the desired spot. After this, paste the URL and it will automatically generate one’s blog piece into their eBook. In this tab, one can also add new pages and create a table of contents.

After the Editing Process:

If one wants to preview their work before they publish, click on the eye box located on the bottom left-hand corner. After the author is satisfied with their work, to publish the eBook click on the box to the right of the preview box. Desginrr.io gives authors the option of converting this draft into a PDF, .mobi (Kindle), and an Epub. Click on the desired format and press the Export box. If one wants to export their work into multiple formats, they must repeat this step.

Although there is an abundance of other features on this program, the ones mentioned in this piece seemed to be the most useful in the creation of an eBook. By following these simple steps, one can successfully use Designrr.io.

Here is what Kristen and I were able to produce using the Designrr.io software. Though there is always more to learn (I would have it no other way), it may prove useful in my tool kit. (Click here). Not bad for two beginners.

Curious DavidTeaching Statistics

Curious David Redux: Musings and Swan Song about Teaching Statistics

I draw upon this material in the introductory chapter of a book I am working on.

Dec 7, 2009

As I’ve documented elsewhere, I have now taught more than seventy times a course required for the Carroll undergraduate psychology major. Can it really be that it was more than 30 years ago that my first student assistant, Larry Jost, and I proudly announced in our “journal,” Occasional Papers in Psychology, our successful translation of some 40 BASIC statistical analysis programs (obtained from a psychologist in South Africa)? We were so thrilled that we were able to introduce them into my PSY205 class using my TRS80 Model I Level II microcomputer with 16K RAM!

There exist a number of excellent resources on the Web, today, for supplementing a course like “mine.” Among my favorites is the Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics.  I also find very well done and useful for our students the online resource Research Randomizer.

I’m wondering, though, whether it is time (or past time) for me to pass along the course to someone else.  Indeed, is it perhaps time for the course to “go away” (though parting is such sweet sorrow 🙂 )— either by assuming that its content is addressed by other courses (such as are offered by my colleagues in Mathematics) or by merging it with another course, say, a two semester psychology research course. Both ideas have been proposed and discussed with faculty colleagues in recent years.

Though I think I have been unusually successful at developing rapport with students in a course whose subject matter is often anxiety-arousing, anyone teaching the same course time-and-again runs the risk of losing touch with new ways of teaching, failing to understand changes in student needs and student abilities and neglecting to capitalize on new and perhaps better ways of teaching the subject matter.

Is time to teach the course in a way more in “sync” with students of today to help students avoid choosing the wrong statistic? Should I offer the course in a totally online format? In a hybrid format ? Is there continued value in teaching a “canned” statistical package such as SPSS? Might it make more sense to teach the data analysis capabilities of open source statistical software freely available online? Should I incorporate more applications or draw more upon the work I do for Schneider Consulting which I strongly believe enriches my teaching? Should I make room for the more systematic teaching of effect sizes and statistical power?

I’d love to incorporate material on ethical issues of data analysis, provide opportunities to discover inappropriate data analyses, create opportunities for action research, and help students realize the limitations of statistics. Might it be worth my following through on my idea of a number of years ago of creating a highly trained group of undergraduate, cross-disciplinary, student data analysis consultants? Do I delude myself in thinking that my “Statistics and Experimental Design course” is the most important class that I teach?

I invite former and present students of mine who have taken this class with me to share their insights for possible new directions for this course.

Curious David

Musings While Settling Down to Write

As I attempt to bring the semester to a soft landing, I thought that I would try creating a screen cast of some of my book-writing efforts using an earlier version of some screen casting software. Odd how sometime an earlier version of software (Voila) better fits my needs than the new improved version. Forgive the lack of editing. I am burning candles at both ends today. I am probably over ambitious trying to write three books simultaneously using three different pieces of self-publishing software. Ars longa, vita brevis.

 

Global Education

Curious David Redux: Ruminations on global education

Headshot4blogs

Across the years I have been fortunate to have learned from a number of global educators. Luis Miguel Miñarro, an educator in La Mancha, Spain, shared with me how he used Animoto  to make a Carnival 2014 video. Now we interact on Linked-in.  Thank you, colleague, for helping me to discover new ways of learning and sharing my learning.
I treasure the “care package” received from educator friend, Inci Aslan, in Turkey who was the principal investigator of an Etwinning project I closely followed…
 Thank you, Inci. I hope that you are well, safe, and happy. I admire what you have done in the classroom.
Lithuanian educator Irma Milevičiūtė befriended me on Epals years ago and whetted my  interest in global communication. Heartfelt thanks, Irma–though we have lost touch, what I have learned from you and with you has been enduring
Thank you, Australian educator Julie Lindsay, for expanding my global horizons with your seminar Flat Connections Global Project . My world continues to expand as it shrinks.
How does one keep up with “the learning revolution” or Classroom 2.0? How does one keep abreast of developments in International Education?
I try to keep reasonably aware of international events through reading articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education and The Guardian.  I occasionally shadow Global Education Conferences  and follow several WordPress blogs dedicated to Global Education. And yet I remain so globally illiterate.
Here are my some of the reflections on this topic a few years ago.
 The world is open. I’ve been thinking about how to make our campus and curriculum more global. Here are some incipient thoughts about how that might de done.
  • Increase awareness and use of media such as BBC News and  Google News.
  • Incorporate Kiva into the classroom.
  • Tap into high quality online .
  • Explore other languages.
  • Capitalize on cultural universals such as musiccuisine, sports, and literature. Our international students have so much they can teach us.
  • Reading: We need to encourage faculty, staff, and students to read, discuss, and discover world literature. Ann Morgan’s blog (a “Year of Reading Around the World”) is a wonderful place to start.
  • Though no substitute for reading, excellent audio and video recordings exist of introductions to world literature, world history, travel, and world religions.
And here are even earlier reflections…..
  • What is the appropriate foundation for general education in the 21st century
  • Are we faculty appropriately educated for teaching in the 21st century?
  • What skill sets, traditions, and knowledge are as vital today as when this academic institution was founded?
  • Can we change our general education program without intentionally changing our institutional mission?
  • Should part of a general education be mastery of another language? If so, how does one define mastery— knowing the right phrases to allow one to travel within another country?
  • Should one be fluent in another culture’s history, customs, idioms, national concerns, and language?
  • Can internationalization be achieved through the 21st century equivalence of international pen pals using Skype?
  • What defines global citizenship? Global awareness?
  • How can we continually reaffirm and rediscover our common sense of humanity?
Ayuda me. I’m going postal 🙂  global!
Curious DavidMemory

Curious David Redux: Ruminations about Memory Loss

So much unfinished business forfore putting the semester to bed. I see that I have 100 drafts of unfinished blog posts. Some of the drafts ooks like their ideas are still worth developing. Other drafts I have no recall of having even of having written! Clearly it is time either to delete them or to bring the ideas to fruition. My modus operandi has always been to have a plethora of unfinished tasks.

In November 2009 I wrote this draft about the Zeigarnik effect:

“I was first introduced to the Zeigarnik effect (people typically recalling interrupted tasks better than their recalling completed ones) by my first Oberlin College Introductory Psychology professor, Celeste McCollough. My participation in her visual perception studies of the “McCollough effect” formally introduced me to the science of psychology. I remember being both amused and fascinated by Professor McCullough’s sharing an anecdote where she intentionally used the Zeigarnik phenomenon as a motivator for her to resume working on manuscripts that she was writing for publication. I find it curious how a phenomenon such as the Zeigarnik effect can be discovered, experimentally investigated, popularized, misrepresented, forgotten, and rediscovered.”

I was able to use that anecdote in a review I completed of Bob Cialdini’s newest book Pre-suasion. Equally important, I was able to use that Zeigarnik tension to motivate me to complete the revisions suggested by my editor and to successfully have the review accepted for publication.

One common theme among my unfinished work is the tensions I feel between rigorous, experimental psychological science and well-intentioned attempts to popularize psychological findings. How can one avoid avoiding overstatement and misrepresentation?  Why is there such a disconnect between what is popularized (or advertised) and what empirical evidence actually shows? Across the past fifty years I’ve seen oversimplification and misrepresentation of research investigating learning styles, mindfulness, subliminal perception, and most recently brain fitness training.

I’ve taken an increased interest lately in memory research–in part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in that area (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger). I’ve always been fascinated by the too much neglected research of Ellen Langer’s exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness–as she uses the terms. I found fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still struggling with believing its implications of age-reversal. Still, there IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging. This merits further study. Perhaps because I just recently read that the CEO of Evernote wants me to be able to remember everything, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jorge Luis Borges‘ Funes Memorius and about those Seven Sins of Memory outlined by Psychologist Daniel Schacter. One of the down-sides  joys of being liberally educated is that one sees interconnections among seemingly disparate things.

Based upon my thinking about the links above, I’m convinced that I don’t want a perfect memory—nor do I want technological tools for remembering everything. Still, as I grow older I am increasingly sensitive to issues of memory loss. I am haunted by the descriptions of  dementia so graphically and accurately described in Walter Mosley’s novel The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey. Here is an interview with the author.

There is so much hype interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  health and well-being. Try, for example, doing an online search on “brain fitness.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the results though (hopefully) be underwhelmed by the validity of the claims. The challenge is to know how to decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are truly science-based.  Consider these  Internet “tools” (none of which I am endorsing but each of which I am considering investigating with my students)  … and their promises and claims of success at improving one’s life

  1. lumosity.com
  2. happify.com
  3. learningrx.com
  4. brainhq.com
  5. neuronation.com

Which (if any) is based upon valid psychological science? Which is merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which is patently wrong? Do brain training programs really work?

A very thoughtful and thorough  scholarly review was recently completed which provides some useful caveats and preliminary answers. A shortened summary of that report can be found here and the complete article is here. A relatively recent citizen science project, the game “Stall Catchers” (found here) provides an interesting crowdsourcing avenue for conducting Alzheimer’s research.

I hope to share my answers to these questions in the near future. Hopefully these thoughts won’t merely end up in my draft pile!

 

Curious DavidEarth Day

Curious David Redux: Remembering Mother Earth

North Lake Flowers

1) Earth Day concerns should be unifying every day concerns .

2) We must do more than merely virtually explore the wonders of our precious planet.

3) Preserving, savoring, celebrating, protecting, and nurturing Mother Earth should be a super-ordinate, cross national,unifying effort of international  concern.

4) We are all earthlings.

5) So much to learn:

 

July 10

 

 

Curious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Internet Learning Tools

It’s amusing and edifying to revisit the last “Curious David” blog piece I wrote for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JSOnline) before they discontinued (terminated) their educational community bloggers. I still stay in touch with one of those community bloggers–and a number of the students who took this “Pioneering Learning Tools Course” a decade ago. They taught me much.

Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools
By David Simpson
Monday, Sep 1 2008, 09:32 AM
I’m nervous and excited. Time to take off my invisibility cloak. Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.)
I meet in person for the first time with my 20 first-year students. What an immense responsibility to be their first professor!
We’re going to explore 21rst century learning tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, virtual
worlds, and Youtube. The idea for this
course emerged from my experiences writing this Curious David
blog column. Last year’s opportunity to write for JSonline was transformative for me as I learned from elementary and
secondary school teachers, high school students, virtual school advocates, retired faculty and readers about innovations,
challenges and successes they faced promoting learning.

In this first-year seminar we shall focus on some of the 25 free learning tools described by educator Jane Hart. As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these:
1. To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning?
2. To what degree are they just cool tools?
3. Could they be used to develop critical thinking?
4. Do they improve or degrade communication skills?
5. Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding?
6. Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills?
7. What are their weaknesses or dangers? Should they complement or replace 20th century learning skills/tools?
8. How can one evaluate their effectiveness?

We shall read two books—Little Brother, a work of fiction (maybe it is fiction) and a work of nonfiction Dispatches from Blogistan. My intent is to assist students in the transition
from high school to college–and to investigate Web 2.0 learning tools which might be useful across classes and in the
workplace. I want to involve them in educational experiences that will develop and enhance abilities in reading, writing,
reflecting, presenting, thinking, and producing. Writing exercises will include papers, journals, blogs/wikis, and exams.
Presentations will be both formal and informal; individual and in small groups. Collaboration will be both with fellow
students and with me I welcome reader feedback about
this course. I’d gladly share a course syllabus in .pdf format which has many hypertext links. (Indeed, I’d welcome reassurance that I still have readers after a two month hiatus from writing!).
Still Curious,
David
email me at dsimpson@carrollu.edu.

Tomorrow’s final exam may give me some insight into what the students have learned. I received an email today from someone in Great Britain interested in the course. It is my intent to begin (renew) serious writing in a blog format starting in January. I’ll most likely use Type Pad.

I’ve learned so much — and have so much to learn.

 

Book writingbook writing with studentsbook-writingcompassionCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ruminations on Writing

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the process of writing. Yesterday I met with a friend to celebrate the publication of her first novel. Today I met with my business partner to discuss a book we are working on together. I just now received a progress report from my research assistant on some e-book publication software about which she is writing a student user’s manual. I continue to be haunted by the lyrical prose and themes of Sigrid Nunez’s novel The Friend.

Curious David Redux:

For numerous reasons, I am a slow writer. I don’t type. Though a nuanced writer I do not naturally dictate into a piece of software as my business partner Greg Schneider does so naturally. I’ve never had a secretary or administrative assistant.

I am, however, a prodigious reader. I have a stack of over two dozen books awaiting my reading this summer. Greg just suggested two to add to the stack.

I have rightfully been criticized for reading too much in order to delay my writing. I revise multiple times trying to find just the right word, the right tone, the right feeling. My novelist friend just gently admonished me to stop striving for perfection.

I self-handicap by being interested in so many different things.  I am very easily distracted from the task at hand. Yesterday I was distracted from writing by reflecting on digital doppelnamers!

I have no strong external incentive to write nor am I interested in carrots or sticks. I am tenured and intrinsically motivated. Are these excuses or reasons?

Last night I started reading a new book The Seven Sins of Psychology.  I’ll write a book review of the book after school is out. I miss having the writing outlet of the journal PsycCritiques where I published several dozen book reviews before it was discontinued by the American Psychological Association. Reading and reviewing the book may give me closure on resolving ruminations I struggled with in this piece I wrote about 6 years ago.

Curious David Redux

I am having quite a bit of difficulty writing this piece–and have had that difficulty for the past few years when my identity with my discipline of social psychology became disrupted and unsettled. When I taught Experimental Social Psychology class I shared with students a case study of the influential career of European social psychologist Diederik Stapel. May I never be so famous that

  1. my biography is regularly updated on Wikipedia,
  2. my story is featured in the New York Times,
  3. and my work is regularly condemned on Retraction Watch.

The past two years I have invited my students to share in writing their reactions to this case study. Before “publishing them” in a blog piece, I was interested in whether Diederik might be interested in seeing them. Thank you, Diederik for replying and sharing some of your experiences over the past years.

Diederik’s behavior leaves me struggling with the questions of at what point is ostracism unwarranted and forgiveness or a variant of compassion warranted. At what point does ostracism degenerate into a witch hunt? How can one both acknowledge and condemn wrong behavior (never forget) and yet not engage in wrong behavior by failing to allow an individual opportunity to show that they have learned from their wrong behavior?

I have much to ruminate about.

 

CDICLCurious DavidHumor

Curious David Redux: Something Old… Something New …

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Today is “Celebrate Carroll” day. For me it is a a day of reflection. I’m sitting in my Humphrey Art Center office awaiting any students who may come by for some help. If   When they do come, I’ll ignore the phone, close my computer screens (Dell, Mac, Ipad, Iphone) and give the students my full attention. It is my Way. Being a professor has brought me so much joy.

Right now the office and art building are quiet even though my door is open. I have taken advantage of that quiet time to rediscover the dictation capabilities of my Mac and to upgrade my Camtasia screencasting software.  I think I’ll teach its use to my research assistants since it works across both Macs and PCs.

I am more than usually sleep-deprived this morning due to a night Brewers’ game and a barking dog who feels obligated to alert me about the deer outside. Often my best ideas for writing emerge when I am in this cognitive state. But also the typos, slips of the tongue, forgetting to include email attachments, and other “oopsies” manifest themselves.

As I think about the blog pieces I hope to write next year, I see their being organized around my “wedding” to this institution. Hence there will be something old (Curious David Redux), Something new (current events in psychology, the world, or in my life), something borrowed (taking or reflecting upon the ideas of others, and my Carroll Blues!

Yesterday I had a delightful tea time with Friend and colleague Peggy Kasimatis who had just published her first novel, Not Pink. She encouraged me to publish my not-so-fictional work about Camp Carroll.  She nudges well. I enjoy wordsmiths such as she and colleague BJ Best.

Earlier today I had some delightful electronic interactions with several trustee and former trustee friends and from a dear former colleague now in the Netherlands.  Later today I’ll be having lunch with another colleague, and friend (Dave MacIntyre) whose Dad (Bruce) was one of my early mentors and role models. Such a richness of relationships have blessed my life.

I especially enjoy this year the office presence of my student research assistants. In their presence (and with their talent development) I find myself happy, productive, and more youthful. With this week’s announcement that the Rankin renovations are on schedule for my return to an office there, I am hopeful that I can expand their numbers from the three that I presently have. (I already have a waiting list of three.) I’ll have some 200 boxes of materials to retrieve from storage, peruse, use, or discard. Stay tuned.

 

Brain HealthCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Ten Brain Enriching Resources


As I continue my investigations and writing about brain health and brain training, I am interested in “vetting” resources that I think are best evidence-based, rich in fact, and readable. Here are ten current favorite resource links. Click them for details.

  1. Harvard Medical School Guide to Cognitive Fitness
  2. Alzheimer’s Association Articles
  3. Dr. Michelle Braun’s insights (also visit her Psychology Today blogs and her web page): 
  4. A recent Oprah wellness presentation
  5. National Institute of Health/ Aging Resources
  6. Preventing Cognitive Decline and Dementia: A Way Forward (2017)
  7. The Human Brain Project
  8. The Global Council on Brain Health
  9. Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
  10. Brainfacts.org
Curious David

Curious David Redux: Brain Boosting or Bloated Claims?

Please forgive any duplication of earlier blog posts as I continue my mastery of the differences between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and winnow my writings of the past 10 years before grouping them  into e-books. I am attempting to make sure that the pieces are still germane and that there are no dead links.

Curious David Redux:
For Christmas nephew Alex gave me some “brain challenging” puzzles.  For a very short while I was able to fool him (and myself!) about my mental acumen by solving two of them in a few minutes. Then my beloved, intellectually curious grand nieces and grand nephews (ages 5 through 8) exposed me and put my achievements into context. They quickly took apart the remaining two puzzles which I had avoided because I thought that they were too difficult for me!  I  still haven’t figured out how to put the puzzles back together!

Later that evening grand nephew Cole invited me to play a board game “Brain Games for Kids.” I had reason to heed the warning on the box!

 

My mind was indeed blown away as he outperformed me very quickly — answering all questions correctly and gleefully (but kindly) correcting me when I failed to know the answers.

Putting his success into context, 1) he probably had memorized all the questions and answers and 2) he is quite precocious. Still, the children taught me a number of lessons and raised a number of questions for me to ponder. Are these additional signs of changes in my aging brain?  Should I stop comparing myself to those younger than I? Are there brain fitness strategies they use which could inform me? Are there deleterious effects of their constant use of of iPads and cell phones? Is this why I focus much of my research time on the topics of brain health and aging?

In an earlier blog piece I summarized five preliminary conclusions I had reached as a result of my immersing myself with my research students  investigating the claims of brain fitness training companies. I hope to continue that research in the Fall and to build upon what I learned at a Brain Health Virtual Summit. (I also am looking forward to participating in the 2018 SharpBrains Brain Health Virtual Summit.)

  1. “Brain Training” and brain health products is a huge, lucrative and growing industry with very expensive market research reports! Alas, I did not have the $7,150 to purchase such a report. Click this link to read the abstract.
  2. There exist a number of excellent, current, well-written and understandable science-based guides to maintaining cognitive fitness and brain health (e.g. Click this link to see an example of this Harvard Medical School paper).
  3. There exist excellent scholarly reviews of the efficacy (and validity of claims made) of “brain fitness” programs. The best such review is by Daniel J. Simons et al. which can be found here: (Click this link to see it in full).

              Among the authors’ important conclusions and advice most germane to this blog piece (and the next series i am contemplating writing) are the following:

“Consumers should also consider the comparative costs and benefits of engaging in a brain-training regimen. Time spent using brain-training software could be allocated to other activities or even other forms of “brain training” (e.g., physical exercise) that might have broader benefits for health and well-being. That time might also be spent on learning things that are likely to improve your performance at school (e.g., reading; developing knowledge and skills in math, science, or the arts), on the job (e.g., updating your knowledge of content and standards in your profession), or in activities that are otherwise enjoyable. If an intervention has minimal benefits, using it means you have lost the opportunity to do something else. If you find using brain-training software enjoyable, you should factor that enjoyment into your decision to use it, but you should weigh it against other things you might do instead that would also be enjoyable, beneficial, and/or less expensive.

When evaluating the marketing claims of brain-training companies or media reports of brain-training studies, consider whether they are supported by peer-reviewed, scientific evidence from studies conducted by researchers independent of the company. As we have seen, many brain-training companies cite a large number of papers, but not all of those directly tested the effectiveness of a brain-training program against an appropriate control condition. Moreover, many of the studies tested groups of people who might not be like you. It is not clear that results from studies of people with schizophrenia will generalize to people without schizophrenia, or that benefits found in studies of college students will generalize to older adults. Finally, just because an advertisement appears in a trusted medium (e.g., National Public Radio) or is promoted by a trusted organization (e.g., AARP) does not mean that its claims are justified. Consumers should view such advertising claims with skepticism.”

4. Many cognitive training studies and brain training companies overpromise results, cite the same methodologically faulty studies, cite studies funded by their organization,  ignore best practice experimental designs (see point 2 above), and fail to take into consideration placebo effects (Here is a simple, well-designed,  study indicating how EXPECTATIONS may cause the outcome attributed to cognitive training.)

5. Many helpful insights into memory loss can be gleaned from literature such as Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and from individuals sharing first-hand experiences such as in the beautiful bogging in Sally Remembers.

 

— Still curious at age almost 69,

David

AgingBrain health supplementsCDICLCurious David

Curious David Redux: Brain Health Resources

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Today I made additional considerable progress obtaining, reading, and vetting information about brain health issues. Thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharpbrains.com for corresonding with me about the forthcoming 3rd edition of the Sharpbrains Guide to Brain Fitness. I look foward to “attending” the 2018 Sharpbrains summit in December. LinkedIn feeds are now alerting me to a number of resources about Brain Health Summits (such as this one)  and dead-ends in pharma funded research (such as this one).

Increasingly there is a need for paying attention to the good work of organizations such as the  Truth in Advertising Organization (truthinadvertising.org). Recently they did good work exposing false claims about memory enhancement supplements such as Prevagen.

I still hope to pull all this information into one place in e-book format before I leave Carroll for the summer on May 13. I have now discovered several easy ways to convert WordPress files into Word or pdf formats. Stay tuned!

 

 

alumniCurious David

Curious David Redux: Thank you, Graduating Carroll Seniors: Flashbacks and Flash Forwards

The closer I get to retirement, the more meaningful Carroll graduations, past traditions, and the relationships I have formed with students, faculty, alumni, and other members of the Carroll Community become. Carroll has changed greatly since I wrote the message to seniors below. Baccalaureate is now at 5:00 Friday evening without Faculty regalia. Commencement (no longer on Mothers’ Day) is now at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday. The physical appearance of Carroll continues to change daily with new or renovated buildings.

Carroll has a new President, Cindy Gnadinger. I have personally known five other Carroll Presidents since I arrived in February of 1978. And Carroll Emeriti, faculty, and students look younger to me every day :). Certain Carroll music triggers strong emotions.

My feelings about my overall Carroll experience haven’t changed from what I wrote years ago (or how I felt here forty years ago) so I re-share them here–with a few photos taken since then!

Curious David Redux: Reflections from a few years ago:

As is my habit of the past many years, I am sitting in my office on this graduation day morning reflecting. I drive in early to ensure getting a parking place before the proud families start arriving. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, uncles, aunts, babies, babies-soon-to-join-the world—-the campus explodes with sounds, colors, emotions, and celebratory chaos. Often I walk around campus taking photos (or accepting an invitation to be photographed).

My emotions are mixed–not unlike that of the soon-to-be-graduates. Joy–sorrow–elation–sadness–weariness–rejuvenation. At the end of a long Commencement Day  I experience some emptiness and some poignant, positive residual reminders. I often tease my graduating research assistants that upon their exit from campus I “exorcise” our shared office space to better allow me to adjust to the temporary emotional vacuum caused by their absence from “Dr. David’s Neighborhood.” You know of course that when you graduate, you remain in my memories as I have come to know you–and you remain forever at that age! Forever young.

 

 

CCEPILOT

I can hear chapel bells. Soon I’ll hear the chimes of the campus hymn and that of the alma mater.  My sitting in the front row has its liabilities as I’ll feel that I must behave in an uncharacteristically well-mannered fashion!

Each Carroll Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremony is special to me just as is each student whom I have gotten to know.  I have chosen (or been called) to teach and to learn and though they (you) may not realize it, I truly do learn so much from my students and from the challenges of trying to teach them well.

Thank you, graduating seniors past and present (and for a few ever so short more future time) for all YOU have taught me. Put to good use your many talents, your energy, your playfulness, your empathy, your resilience and your creative ideas to make the world a better place. Come to appreciate (as I did upon graduating from Oberlin College in 1971) that you have been privileged to receive a good education due not only to your own sacrifices and hard work but also due to the many members of the larger community whom you may never have met or whom you took for granted–Board Members, Administration, Staff, Faculty, Physical Plant Staff, and Alumni–who deeply care about you.

The bells call me. And I have promises to keep…

——-Simply David

Amy and David

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Carroll College CU FB Old Main

 

CDICLCurious Daviddogs

Curious David Redux: Paean to My Best Friends

A few minutes ago I finished reading Sigrid Nunez’s beautiful novel The Friend (more about it can be found here).

I still am choked up in tears from reading it. It strikes close to home, and it triggered reflections about my best past and present canine friends.

Curious David Redux: Here are some of my earlier reflections about dogs who taught me lessons. As the biped protagonist in Nunez’s novel comments to Apollo, the Great Dane, “Remember, I’m only human. I’m nowhere as sharp as you are.”

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Reflections:

Today I am “dog-tired”–it was a three dog night yesterday as we celebrated a birthday with dear friends.

Several summers ago I was humbled at how much I have yet to learn about teaching and about learning. A friend Mary directed her  beloved, devoted blind Newfoundland Ernie to “rescue” me by, on command, swimming out to a rowboat where I feigned being in distress.

Blind Ernie

I was saved as he towed me back guided only by the loving voice of Mary.

Reflections: It has been 6 months since Robin the Newf left my life. She leaves me with many fond memories and enduring lessons about patience, love, persistence, forgiveness, coping with pain, loyalty, and playfulness.

New parents

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Her successor, Leo the Great, already is reminding me of all those lessons and, in his own way, offering me new things to learn.

Leo2

 

Leo1

Reflections: Robin and Glenn the Big Dog and Mollie the Golden Retriever and Queenie and Duchess and Snapper and Freud and Leo have made me laugh and cry, exhausted and rejuvenated me, and constantly pointed out to me the frailties of being a human. My father-in-law, Walter G. Schmidt deep love of dogs was extolled in his eulogy given by the Reverend Charles Valenti-Heine:

…”And that world, for Walter, included his beloved Canines. Lucy, Canis, Oaf, Chaucer, Trollope, and Freud, the last-named because Walter was told that the companionship of a good dog was of greater worth to people than any other therapy! The one time I remember Walter speaking in church was when Trollope died, and he stood up during joys and concerns to opine: ‘If there is a place in heaven for Presbyterians, then surely there is a place for greyhounds.’

I have had many dog role models both real and fictionalized. As I child I fondly remember Mr. Peabody and his seven-year-old sidekick, Sherman. I am attracted to the nonsense of dog cartoons in the same way that my dogs are attracted to scents.  Though many of my friends claim I behave more like Scott Adams’ cartoon character Dilbert, I have often learned from the philosophies of his character  Dogbert and from Snoopy.

Rudyard Kipling  and Lord Byron have warned us of how dogs can capture your heart! Dogs continue to teach me so much! Some day soon I hope to be their full-time student.

Robin

 

Do dogs match their owners in physical appearance? in personality? There is an interesting body of research dealing with these questions. Under what circumstances does pet ownership reduce stress? increase it? Why in the world did I spend $250 tonight on pet treats? Perhaps I still am affected by my first reading of Argos‘ blind enduring faith. Robin, the patient gentle giant, knows.

Here is some anecdotal evidence provided by one of my playful students that owners like me (though there was sometimes confusion between Robin and me and, presently, Leo and me as to who is the owner) may start looking like their dogs!

Newfed

 

 

 

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Reflections on Reflections

I enjoy arriving at work by 7:15 am. It gives me time to walk around the Art building to discover the many new student and faculty works of art that are showcased in the different galleries. It will be interesting to see on April 23 the finalized versions of the sculptures which students did (including of your truly!). You can learn more about that project by clicking this link. It has been an (In)Sightful academic year for me! Thank you, Amy Cropper and Saskia de Rooy, for expanding my artistic horizons.

I look forward later today to a “check in” phone call from my consulting partner, Greg Schneider, in preparation for our meeting next week. Being a partner in Waukesha’s Schneider Consulting (here is our web page) has been invaluable in opening my eyes and horizons to corporate culture.

My partnership, long-standing friendship, and interactions with Greg and Jane Schneider always help me step back, rebalance, slow down, recenter, and put into context what I want to accomplish with the talents I have or that I  need to develop. Greg and I started working at Carroll College on the day. Here he is in 1978 with another Walter Young Center colleague!

Time to review, cull, revise, or delete more of my earlier blog writings. I’m going to focus today on pieces dealing with reflection, refocus, and redirection. Apparently I wrote at least 28 such pieces. I may ask student research assistant Kristen to pull them together into an e-book format.

From May 2017…

Two books to read laid out before me: David Pogue’s Essential Tips and Shortcuts (That No One Bothers to Show You) for Simplifying the Technology in Your Life and Jocelyn K. Glei’s Unsubscribe: How to Kill email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real work Done. Each lends themselves to reading and learning when one has short “down times” for learning.

I should be finishing the grading of the exam I gave yesterday while I proctor the exam I am now giving. Yesterday Leo the Grading Dog and I devoted five hours to the uncompleted task–and decided that we needed sleep to continue. I playfully attempted to engage former students on Facebook in a crowdsourcing grading “experiment.” Alas, a lot of LOL’s. About as successful as my tabled crowdfunding proposal:).

Instead, I am reviewing all my past WordPress posts, Tweets, and Facebook Photos as I plan for major projects next semester. I am contemplating pulling all that material together in a “Best of Curious David” e-book. I hope to engage in extensive self-publishing with students, teach a research seminar dealing with “brain fitness/training” apps and interventions, and pull together 40 years of Carroll-related archival documents that really should not be forgotten. My physical office environment could be challenging as the Rankin Hall reconstruction begins–necessitating a moving from the office.

Here are some previous (unedited–I have not checked the links’ viability) musings about final exams. Clearly the fact that I pondered these questions before suggests that I still haven’t come up with a clear answer–yet I see value comprehensive, multifaceted finals despite the costs of time to grade them.

Final Reflections on Final Exams  Dec 20, 2009 Read More

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Exploring Designrr as an Ebook Writing Tool

 

Today my new student assistant Kristen and I explored using Designrr as an ebook-writing tool.

Here is what we were able to do. It is in a pdf format. Next, we shall master Lulu, CreateSpace, and Pressbooks.

Not bad for two freshmen  (one being me!)

Click the first link to take a look at what we are able so far to do. You will download a pdf.

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e-bookScreencastingStudent research Team

Curious David Redux: Searching for the “Best” Screen Casting Software


What is the “best” screen casting software? The answer is always “it depends” on

  1. how much you are willing to spend.
  2. how much learning time you have.
  3. what your particular needs are.
  4. the operating system you are using.
  5. whether you want numerous bell and whistles.
  6. the day of the week (as software is constantly changing).

As I continue to “declutter,” refocus, and wind up and wind down, I (re)discovered over 50 screen casts my students and I made and stored on Vimeo or YouTube. At the time I just was learning about Jane Hart’s technology learning tools, and I was experimenting with screen casting as a teaching/learning tool. Below are some of my adventures and misadventures with screen-casting software and the informed opinions of my student research assistants — whose advice I always seek. The videos are also a documentation of my clearly getting older!

Here is a hodgepodge of those earlier productions that might be of interest to alumni or, especially, to former and present student assistants. I may use the footage in an e-book examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of iMovie, Capto, Screenflow, Camtasia and “TOBenamed later”.

 

Robin the Newf taught me so much—as does Leo the Great.

 

 I’m moving in the direction of trying some Facebook live broadcasting. Time to review what we’ve learned about screen casting and discover how the process has advanced since we last wrote this:

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When I am especially busy, I encourage my student research team to use their creativity to surprise me. Here is their preliminary work for an e-book we are writing that will give student guides to software we are using. I am delighted by their work. For other guides to Screencasting tools see the excellent compilation by Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers blog.

Group Photo

As a student research team for Dr. Simpson we always try to find the best software to use on the task at hand  which allows us to be most efficient and successful. Here we are going to compare three different screencasting tools we have become familiar with over the past few weeks: ScreenFlowVoila, and Camtasia. All have the same purpose, but have differences. Which screen casting tool is best for you depends on the type of screen cast you want to make.We will show you screen casting examples from each of the different softwares.

When we used Voila to create a tutorial on how to use SurveyMonkey, we realized we were missing some necessary additional software. Without the additional software we could not hear our voice recording in our video. As a work-around solution we converted our video into ScreenFlow. To resolve the problematic issue with Voila,  Tia, Arianna, and Dr. Simpson later downloaded the necessary additional software which automatically presented itself upon our request to record using a microphone. Once this software was installed we ran a trial video in order to ensure sound could be heard. Success, at last. Having discovered how to properly use Voila, Dr. Simpson asked his research team to make a video in order to compare Voila to the video made using ScreenFlow.

Voila is a great screen casting software that can be downloaded on your iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Since Evernote is getting rid of the software, Skitch, this new feature was created in place of it with more features that are very beneficial.

When using this app you are able to take a screen shot of your full home screen, or capture a certain section of your home screen with the different screen shot tools. You are also able to overlap multiple screenshots in the software as well. In addition, if you would like to record your voice or anything on the computer while using the device you are able to do a recording. After you have taken the recording, it will open up in Voila and you can trim your new video and have the recording play over the screen casting. One flaw of Voila, is that you must download an additional app to have noise with your recording. You also need to export your recording to an app like Imovie to complete and edit your recording.

Voila allows you to edit your screen shots in multiple different ways. Some really nice features that Skitch doesn’t have is that you are able to add stickers to your screen shots as well as add a spotlight to a certain part of the screen shot. The spotlight helps a section you select stand out and blur out the rest of the background of the screen shot as much as you would like. Another feature that you are able to do that Skitch can’t do is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixellated blur, and etc. Also, there are different kinds of arrows you can use in Voila to lead someone from one spot of your screen cast to another to show them instructions, like where to go from point A to point B, and etc. Voila allows you to marquee the pictures as well. This means that with any of the shapes they have or what you create, you are able to put that shape on a certain part of the screen shot and duplicate it. So that part you’ve chosen can be more bolded, or put in another screen shot. Below is an example of the different effects and borders that Voila has available to us.

Below is the video we started out by using Voila, but turned to using ScreenFlow.

ScreenFlow is one of the first screencasting tools we have used as a team since the the announcement of Skitch being discontinued.  ScreenFlow is the most simple screen casting tool out of the three when you are directly recording. When creating your screen cast, you can have as many or few screens open while you are recording. There are also options to have a window showing you creating your recording as well. ScreenFlow is primarily used for Mac users whereas Voila and Camtasia can be used on many different types of computers. The best way to start and end your videos in ScreenFlow is by using shortkeys, which holds true to Voila and Camtasia as well.

In addition, Voila has many perks to it. Instead of just creating screen casting recordings, you can also create snap shots of your screen. They have many editing options for both photos and videos. With your photos, you can edit both your screen shots as well as photos in your library. Voila has the best organization for your photos and screen casting videos you create. They have many folders you can organize your creations into with easy access to all. One cool thing you can do is while in Voila, there is a button where you can go on the web. In reality, you do not even need to leave the application to take screenshots of a certain webpage you would like to add to your screen cast, which also helps maintaining organization.

Camtasia is more similar to Voila in complexity of the software. While using Camtasia, it is more used for the video aspects of screen casting. You can add many different types of transitions or text boxes as you go. One cool thing with the different transitions is that you can have them fade in and out at any time frame in your screen cast. This helps create a more exciting and organized screen cast. One thing that Camtasia has that neither Voila or ScreenFlow has is the ability to layer both videos and pictures into one screen cast. Also, Camtasia is accessible on either Macs or PCs. Camtasia allows one to film a video using their software, which will then automatically be accessible to edit. One does not have to save the video and download it to another software to edit.

On the upper left hand side of Camtasia, there are the categories Media, Annotations, Transitions, and Animations. The Media button allows one to access all the videos filmed using Camtasia or download videos saved onto the computer. Under the Annotations tab, text bubbles, arrows, shapes, highlight, symbols, or keyboard keys are located and can be added to the video. Theses options come in multiple different colors which can be adjusted on the video to be different sizes and in different locations on the video. The Transitions tab allows one to add effects at the beginning or the end of a video. Animations can also be added to the video to zoom in or zoom out, fade in or out, tilt left or right, and even create a custom animation. As a side note, if one applies the zoom in feature, to return to the way the video was originally, a zoom out animation must be applied.

The other features that one can apply to the video are Video FX, Audio FX, Cursor FX, and Gesture FX. To change the color of the screen, add a glow to the screen, add a device frame around the video, and many more are features that are located under the Video FX tab. Audio FX allows one to change the volume of the video, the pitch, reduce the background noise, and change the speed of the clip. Cursor FX will highlight, magnify, or spotlight where the cursor is throughout the video. One can also highlight right or left clicks that are made using the computer mouse during the video. Under the Gesture FX tab, one can double tap, pinch, swipe, and tap certain areas during the video.

Each of these features can be customized to show up for different lengths and times throughout the video. Camtasia has two lines of recordings on the bottom lines to edit. The first line is the Webcam recording while the second line is the video of the screen. If you want to add an effect to the entire video, such as a transition, the effect needs to be added to both lines.

Tonight I am “rediscovering” teaching/learning tools: specifically Skitch (for screenshots and annotating screenshots, Screenflow for screencasting, and YouTube).

How do you use YouTube? How might it serve as a learning resource in your job? What are its unrecognized or under-utilized capabilities? Here is what student research assistant Lizzie wrote when I asked her how she used it.

Uses of YouTube

YouTube is an internet source that has multiple uses. Personally, I use YouTube a lot when I am working at Dr. Simpson’s office for background music. YouTube does not only have music on their site, but educational videos, silly videos, podcasts, etc. Since my time being here at Carroll University, I have had multiple professors’ post YouTube links in their slide shows and assign YouTube videos as assignments for student’s to watch at home. When I struggle using a certain software, I am able to go to YouTube and search what I am looking for in the search bar. Multiple videos will pop up on the screen that go through step-by-step instructions on how to do the task I am looking for.

YouTube is useful for posting videos as well. Dr. Simpson has posted videos in the past with his student research assistants and discussing certain issues. I have had to watch podcast of others on YouTube that are discussing a certain issue we are dealing with in class or about a certain software we are trying to use, such as SPSS. In class presentations, 90% of the time students are required to post a visual image or video in their slides. YouTube is very useful in this circumstance. One is able to find certain media coverage of an issue on YouTube as well as scenes from past TV shows, news broadcasts, radio shows, etc. A great example of how YouTube is useful in my field, psychology, is research. YouTube has multiple videos of famous studies that have been done in the past, such as Pavlov’s, Little Albert, and the Bobo Doll study. All these videos are accessible to people, like us, on YouTube.

YouTube is a great source, not only for education, but also for others to express themselves. There are many podcasts on YouTube of people’s life stories. Some of them involve people dealing with issues such as cancer and mental health problems. However, there are podcasts of people discussing their experience sky diving, cliff jumping, in a different city, making covers of songs, etc. People in the 21st century are becoming “YouTube famous” because of their podcasts on YouTube. Many famous singers like, Justin Bieber, became famous by starting on YouTube and working their way up. In addition, people will post weekly podcast updates of their lives on YouTube and have millions of fans because of this method. An example is a couple named, Cole and Savannah, who have a YouTube channel and post videos every other week of what is happening in their lives.

YouTube is an amazing media source. YouTube allows one to find what music they are interested in, express talents that they want to show the world, show others their life stories, gives education to people, helps people stay up to date on certain issues going on in the world, etc. I would highly recommend YouTube as a source that everyone should look into and explore the different options that it has to offer the public.

 

Curious DavidPSY205SPSSStatistics

Curious David Redux: Everything You Forgot from My Statistics Class


Below is a first draft of an ebook I am writing with the able assistance of some Carroll students. Each hyperlink is a “module”. Thanks to Alison, Arianna, Tia, and Lizzy for helping me create this draft. I plan to “publish it” using for the first time Pressbooks.  I share it at this time welcoming feedback.

For the past 40 years I have taught a course called Statistics and Experimental Design required of Carroll Psychology majors. Here is a brief description of HOW I teach PSY205 (click the “HOW” link).

  1. Still Looking for ways to Improve Courses After 40 Years of Teaching (Part 1 of 2)
  2. Retooling and Sharpening the Saw
  3. What data analysis should I use (you need not enter your real name or email)?
  4. Teaching Tools: SPSS, inStat, starQuiz, Camtasia and Research Randomizer.
  5. On Engaging Students (Part 2): Adventures with StarQuiz and SPSS
  6. Learning by Teaching: Alison and Lizzy’s Guide to Using SPSS Data Analysis for Simple Linear Regression
  7. Two-way Between Subjects ANOVA Using SPSS (Part 1)
  8. Review of One-way Between Subjects ANOVA using SPSS
  9. t-Time: Three Short SPSS Screencasts for PSY205
  10. Something Old and Something New: A brief Introduction to Effect Size Statistics
Curious David

Curious David Redux: Links to My Favorite Learning Tools

Photo on 9-10-15 at 11.23 AM

Caveat Lector: This blog piece is laden with hypertext links that lead you to additional thoughts I have about these learning tools!

With the deadline for responding to Jane Hart’s annual list of top learning tools not until this summer, here are my present thoughts on my top technology learning tools:

Reading: I need tools that increases the likelihood of my being able to stay abreast of current events and aware of current research findings that I then can incorporate into my classes in an ongoing basis. Driving to school today while listening to NPR I was alerted to some research dealing with “nudging” individuals to buy more healthy foods by partitioning grocery carts. When my commute was temporarily blocked by a Waukesha train, I took the time to dictate into my cell phone that I should incorporate “nudging research” into my experimental social psychology class. I later added that particular NPR stream to my RSS reader/aggregator.  Though I have tried Feedly, I am presently using Inoreader.

I do a lot of online reading, (though I am convinced by Naomi Baron that the printed book has a bright future– Lego Ergo Sum) heeding and feeding my need to learn from Twitter (where I tend to follow a selective list of individuals who share or enlarge my interests), Facebook (where I maintain relationships with former students), and LinkedIn (which has some interesting capabilities for also keeping in touch with alumnae, Board of Trustees, and professional contacts).

Writing: I enjoy writing, and have investigated all of the writing tools on Jane’s list. I also have far-too-many writing (and other) apps on my far-too-many computers which I use across the day. My favorite journaling app of the moment is Day One. Its simplicity (and beauty) intrigues me and it motivates (nags) me to write. Of the six blogging pieces of software I have investigated I continue to use WordPress . It continues to teach me, and it gives me access to a number of individuals who write better than I. It is important to me that I learn from them. As I continue to try and reach out to non-English speaking audiences I am always looking for good language translation software that improves upon Google Translate.

Arithmetic: Among the courses I teach is “Statistics and Experimental Design.” I am also a partner of a consulting firm with Gregory K. Schneider and Jane Schneider. For data analysis purposes I use (and teach) SPSS, the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences though I follow very closely  the possibility of switching to something (which is as all encompassing but more user-friendly and which is open source) such as JASP.  For conducting surveys I teach and use SurveyMonkey.

Testing/ Quizzing: I continue to search for the ideal Testing/Quizzing tool. Though I have examined ProProfs Quizmaker and Quizlet,

Screen Casting: Of the many screen casting tools I have explored, I keep coming back to using Screenflow though I am determined to give Camtasia (both Mac and PC versions) a thorough examination this academic year. I’ve been able to use such software to incorporate into my Statistics classes supplemental tutorials on the use of SPSS.  I prefer using Vimeo to YouTube as an outlet for my video productions.

What tools do you use to augment YOUR learning capabilities? WHY do you favor them? What evidence do you have of their success—-or failure?

I welcome your thoughts.

 

 

AgingBrain health supplementsCurious David

Works in Progress (Part 2): Brain Health, ebooks, Learning LinkedIn and Research Assistant Development

Today I made considerable progress obtaining, reading, and vetting information about brain health issues. Thanks to Alvaro Fernandez at Sharpbrains.com for introducing me to the Truth in Advertising Organization (truthinadvertising.org) and the good work they do exposing false claims about memory enhancement supplements such as Prevagen.

I hope to pull all this information into one place in e-book format before I leave Carroll for the summer on May 13. One challenge I face is finding an easy way to convert WordPress files into Word or pdf format. Any solutions would be welcomed.

 

 

 

I am delighted that I shall have a 2nd talented student joining my research assistant team in the Fall.  Kristen has already successfully stepped into the shoes of Tia and Lizzie who are abandoning me for a better deal — graduate school. I need to remind myself that Kristen is “only” a freshman since she handles responsibilities so conscientiously, responsibly, and capably.

Here are Kristen’s thoughts about LinkedIn:…

Being only a freshman in college, I am progressively expanding my knowledge on how to successfully use different platforms. Dr. Simpson recently introduced me to a site called LinkedIn. Although I have heard of this networking platform in the past, I previously had no use for it. However, as I start to enter into adulthood, we thought it would be wise to start my profile this year. Dr. Simpson assisted me in the creation of my profile by sending me a video series on this platform called Learning LinkedIn for Students created by Oliver Schinkten.

Throughout this video series, Schinkten goes step-by-step on how students can successfully obtain a professional profile. He gives nice examples for the viewers on certain information employers look for in these profiles. He also gives the viewer tips on how to stand out from other users. Although this information is useful, there is copious amounts of information that he suggests that seem to be too detailed. If one wants to use LinkedIn as a resume, they should keep it simple and organized. It can also be difficult, especially as a freshman, to add skills onto one’s profile. Maybe adding some examples on what senior high schooler/college freshman could have on their profile.

            Overall, I thought this video series was a good starting point for students who want to start their job networking. Schinkten gives a nice overview of the website and gives clear directions on how to add, edit, and use this platform. Even though some of the information he suggests can be quite detailed, Schinkten does give a nice overview of the platform. Not only does he give clear directions on how to use the platform, but also in how a student can successfully use this professional site for seeking future jobs.  

Curious David

Works in Progress…

With Kristen by my side evaluating evaluating Oliver Schinkten’s recent excellent LinkedIn for Students Course, I am pulling together materials for a series of articles about

  • how to evaluate “brain fitness” supplement claims (cocoanut oil anyone)?
  • brain health maintenance guidelines (e.g. the Global Council on Brain Health Guidelines documented here)
  • and reviewing all I learned from last semester’s Research seminar in case I get the enrollment I need to teach it again in the Fall.

First I need to clean my desk and sharpen some pencils!

 

AgingApp GenerationForgetting names

Oops – My Playful Memory Failed Me!

 

 

I’ve never claimed to have eidetic memory. Clearly I don’t. I committed a memory faux pas last week by sending a message on my LinkedIn account indicating my delight at seeing a former student (whom I hadn’t seen in 40 years)  at our new Carroll University President’s inauguration. Alas, the 15 seconds of reunion with the former student and the intervening hours before I took the time to look him up on LinkedIn (hmm, he looks so different from whom I talked with) resulted in this subsequent electronic exchange.

  • David Simpson sent the following message at 8:35 PM

    Thanks for saying hello today!

  • Doug Cumming sent the following message at 2:57 AM

    Professor – unfortunately that wasn’t me that said hello yesterday. I am with my family, on my way home from Rome and a little vacation. Hope you are welland thanks for the note!- Doug Cumming CC ’85

  • David Simpson sent the following messages at 8:19 PM
  • Less you think that I am completely losing it, what happened is as I was emerged from the ceremonial march, someone called out “Hello, Professor Simpson. Do you remember me, Doug C_____. He then asked about Ralph Parsons. Ordinarily I have access to all my files of all students since 1977 (hard copy) but they are in storage while Rankin Hall is refurbished. Though he did not look like you, he had indicated that we had been in touch on LinkedIn. Oops. Must be nice visiting Rome! Take Care Doug—and thanks for the correction. I may have to blog about this! DS

  • Maybe Doug Cushing…another class of 85 Pio?!?

  • David Simpson sent the following messages at 8:28 PM
  • You may be correct although I thought he said 1978. I can check eventually because I am compulsive.

Other times my memory for former students is so rich  that there is no need to consult (inaccessible paper files. Such was the case for a Soul food Reunion Dinner
with Carl Meredith.

Do keep those letters, emails, and visits coming. I enjoy your shared memories—some of which are new to me such as the one below shared with me in 2014.

 

The letter was posted out of state on April 29, 2014. It appeared in my campus mail box a few days later. I glanced at the hand-written envelope (too) quickly, guessed that it might be a (sigh, yet another) solicitation for a letter of recommendation, and didn’t have a chance to open it until the following Saturday while I was proctoring my first final exam.

Dr. Simpson,

     I hope that this letter finds you in good health and spirit. I’m not sure if you’ll remember me, but you did something for me that I’ve never forgotten.

[Alas, he’s right that I am not as good at remembering students as I once was. I suspect that some of that memory failure is age-related; some is caused, I think, by how Carroll has changed. Some by the sheer number of students I have taught in the past 40 years. And though I had no immediate recollection of the particular event he shared, nonetheless I recalled him in some detail even without going to my filing cabinet and pulling out his advisee folder.]

In 2004 ,,, I called the College to inquire about online classes. The adviser I spoke with told me that you changed one of my grades allowing me to graduate. You gave me my life and I can never begin to thank you enough. … I never contacted you because I was embarrassed, but always so thankful for it….[B]ecause of what you did I have been able to get my Masters… and have the current job I hold.  I am about to leave for Afghanistan … And just want you to know that I have never forgotten what you did for me and have always tried to earn it and will continue to. Thank you so much. Respectfully,

I have only a vague recollection of the particular circumstance alluded to (but I verified its occurrence).

A student, about to graduate fails a final exam in one of my courses. Were there personal circumstances affecting their performance? Is this part of a pattern? Is there justified reason to give them an additional chance — say, an oral exam?

A student is just a few points away from the next higher grade needed to graduate. This is easier for me to resolve, because of my extensive training in statistics and measurement error I am aware of and sensitive to the imprecision of measurement. I am quite comfortable in this situation under certain circumstances allowing some subjective (human, humane?) factors to enter into my final judgment of the student’s demonstrated abilities and likelihood of future success.

I most assuredly would change a grade if I myself had made a clerical error in assigning a grade. My vague recollection is that the latter was the case in this instance. Sometimes memory failure (or fuzziness) is a blessing!

Simple acts of kindness, even when unintentional, can have long-lasting effects. This I believe. I was overjoyed to hear from him and communicated my thankfulness for his letter and best wishes for safety while serving our country.

Curious David

Linking in to Brain Health: 5 Brain Enriching Resources


As I continue my investigations and writing about brain health and brain training, I am interested in “vetting” resources that I think are best evidence-based, rich in fact, and readable. Here are five current favorite resource links.

  1. Harvard Medical School Guide to Cognitive Fitness
  2. Alzheimer’s Association Articles
  3. Dr. Michelle Braun’s insights (also visit her Psychology Today blogs and her web page): 
  4. A recent Oprah wellness presentation
  5. National Institute of Health/ Aging Resources
AgingMCIMild Cognitive impairment

Sexagenarian Obsession: the F-Word

With aging I have become overly sensitive to the F-word—- “Forgetting.” I meant to sandwich in a chance to have my photo taken with Truman, President Gnadinger’s dog. Was it “forgetting” that resulted in my not following through with my intent — or was it the fact that I was trying to squeeze that event into a time during which I was also proctoring an exam, writing a blog piece about brain health, monitoring email, and making sure that all students had the time they needed for the exam before the next group arrived.

I am well aware that nearly everyone who lives long enough experiences some cognitive decline. I am human. I am also quite familiar with that grey area of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) — how to test for it, its relationship to dementia, how to compensate for it, and diagnostic guidelines for it (found here) .

According to Peter Rabins’ (University of California, Berkeley’s School of Public Health) 2018 White Paper on Memory (found hereit is estimated that 10 to 20% of Americans over 65 years of age have that condition with men more often affected than women and at earlier ages. Welcome, David, to your new reference group norms. Perhaps this is part of my motivation for continuing to surround myself with intellectually stimulating students — and playful, younger relatives.

In their presence I am younger. A number of studies (for example, this one: click here) suggest the preventative value of stimulating mental activities such as playing games, doing crafts, using a computer, and engaging in stimulation-rich social activities. Many studies have also found strong evidence for the value of age-appropriate strength training for global cognitive function (though not for memory). And I may have to start learning to dance ( see this link) or at least take up Tai Chi!

I have two playful partners in mind who always make me laugh when we dance or play together.

AgingApp Generation

Brain Boosting or Bloated Claims? Promising Research or Wishful Thinking? Part 1

At Christmas time one of my nephews gave me some brain challenging puzzles. For a few minutes I was able to fool him (and myself!) by being able to solve two of them in a few minutes. Then my beloved, intellectually curious grand nieces and nephews (ages 5 through 8)  proceeded to provide a context for my achievements by taking apart the remaining two puzzles which I had recognized as too difficult for me! Alas, they then lost interest and I still haven’t figured out how to put the puzzles back together!

Later I was invited by one to play a board game “Brain Games for Kids.” My mind was indeed blown away as he outperformed me very quickly. My solace was that he probably had memorized all questions and answers. Also, he had earlier shown me (on “his” computer which he had “built”) a school project he had on his Google-drive account.

Are these additional signs of effects on my aging brain? I must confess I find more of my research time focused on the topics of brain health and aging.

In an earlier blog piece I summarized five preliminary conclusions I had reached as a result of my immersing myself with my research students  investigating the claims of brain fitness training companies. I hope to continue that research in the Fall and to build upon what I learned at a Brain Health Virtual Summit.

  1. “Brain Training” and brain health products is a huge, lucrative and growing industry with very expensive market research reports! Alas, I did not have the $7,150 to purchase such a report. Click this link to read the abstract.
  2. There exist a number of excellent, current, well-written and understandable science-based guides to maintaining cognitive fitness and brain health (e.g. Click this link to see an example of this Harvard Medical School paper).
  3. There exist excellent scholarly reviews of the efficacy (and validity of claims made) of “brain fitness” programs. The best such review is by Daniel J. Simons et al. which can be found here: (Click this link to see it in full).

              Among the authors’ important conclusions and advice most germane to this blog piece (and the next series i am contemplating writing) are the following:

“Consumers should also consider the comparative costs and benefits of engaging in a brain-training regimen. Time spent using brain-training software could be allocated to other activities or even other forms of “brain training” (e.g., physical exercise) that might have broader benefits for health and well-being. That time might also be spent on learning things that are likely to improve your performance at school (e.g., reading; developing knowledge and skills in math, science, or the arts), on the job (e.g., updating your knowledge of content and standards in your profession), or in activities that are otherwise enjoyable. If an intervention has minimal benefits, using it means you have lost the opportunity to do something else. If you find using brain-training software enjoyable, you should factor that enjoyment into your decision to use it, but you should weigh it against other things you might do instead that would also be enjoyable, beneficial, and/or less expensive.

When evaluating the marketing claims of brain-training companies or media reports of brain-training studies, consider whether they are supported by peer-reviewed, scientific evidence from studies conducted by researchers independent of the company. As we have seen, many brain-training companies cite a large number of papers, but not all of those directly tested the effectiveness of a brain-training program against an appropriate control condition. Moreover, many of the studies tested groups of people who might not be like you. It is not clear that results from studies of people with schizophrenia will generalize to people without schizophrenia, or that benefits found in studies of college students will generalize to older adults. Finally, just because an advertisement appears in a trusted medium (e.g., National Public Radio) or is promoted by a trusted organization (e.g., AARP) does not mean that its claims are justified. Consumers should view such advertising claims with skepticism.”

4. Many cognitive training studies and brain training companies overpromise results, cite the same methodologically faulty studies, cite studies funded by their organization,  ignore best practice experimental designs (see point 2 above), and fail to take into consideration placebo effects (Here is a simple, well-designed,  study indicating how EXPECTATIONS may cause the outcome attributed to cognitive training.)

5. Many helpful insights into memory loss can be gleaned from literature such as Lisa Genova’s Still Alice and from individuals sharing first-hand experiences such as in the beautiful bogging in Sally Remembers.

Over the next few months I plan to focus my writing on expanding upon these points by examining recent claims. I shall take a look at products such as that pictured below that claim their products are backed by “clinical trials.” I actually still have the energy, motivation and developed cognitive skills to find, to read, to reflect upon and to evaluate such claims.

Can you train your brain to drive longer into your golden years? Such was the headline that appeared in my LinkedIn feed today that caught my interest. So I hunted down the original article (rather than trust that which was summarized) AND I contacted the author of the article asking her what she thought of the claims being made for her study.

Stay tuned…

— Still curious at age almost 69,

David

App GenerationCurious David

What are Your Favorite Apps? Why?

 

 

I am in the process of deleting apps which are merely cluttering space on my iPhone and iPads. I hope to replace them with those which my students, colleagues, and alumni friends contend are “must haves.” I recognize that what may be considered essential for a nineteen-year-old may differ from that chosen by a sexagenarian!

As a first step I asked my first-year assistant, Kristen R. to share with me her favorite iPhone apps. Here is what she taught me.

Favorite Apps

Twitter

Most of the time, I use Twitter as an entertainment. From funny videos to relatable posts, this app never fails in making me laugh. My friends and I love sharing this funny content by easily tagging each other on these posts. Although Twitter can be quite entertaining, it can also be used as a source of current worldwide news. On this app, I follow many reliable accounts (news networks) that provide the same information one would see on TV. I can also follow different individuals, like Elon Musk, who are posting updates on how they are changing history.

Grammarly

Whenever I write an email or post something on social media, I want to be perceived as a professional individual. This app gives me the ability to do this by checking over my grammar. This gives me the opportunity to correctly revise my written work and apply it to my future pieces.

Mr. Number

Before I had this app, I was receiving countless spam phone calls every day from all over the world. It seemed like a never-ending nightmare. However, when I downloaded this free app, this problem drastically decreased. This is due to Mr. Number frequently updating; providing current protection from evolving spam. It also provides features that include caller ID, ability to block, and reveals the amount of reported spam on that certain number.

The Weather Channel

Although my phone already has this kind of application, Wisconsin’s weather is always unpredictable. The Weather Channel app provides this in-depth of view of the current predicted weather. It has features that include, but not limited to, the radar, wind-chill, temperature, hourly and daily predictions, and health and activity reports. Due to all of these features, I frequently use this app more than the one my phone provided for me.

The Guides Axiom

When I am not constantly on social media, I am trying to solve this difficult puzzle. The Guides Axiom is an app that consists of challenging intertwined levels that lead to solving one big puzzle (the whole app). The levels, however, do not go in order which makes it even more difficult to solve the app. It can be frustrating at times; however, I enjoy testing my problem-solving skills.

What Ipad Apps should all college and university students be familiar with? I posed that question to my student research team a few years ago and here are the responses they shared with me on Google Drive. What MUST-HAVE apps are they missing? Which apps in your experience are most useful for College/University students? What makes them useful to enhancing student success? Are these tools equally useful to faculty?

Here is the wisdom of one of my seniors, Lizzy,  (shared when she was a junior).

image11

Apps I use as a College Student – Lizzy Hoehnke

Pinterest:

Pros: Allows one to find new and creative recipes, crafts, fashion ideas, hair ideas, make up tutorials, cleaning ideas, etc. They offer the websites and allows one to save it to their profile and in a certain sub category for future use. In addition, it helps someone find deals on items that could be costly, such as bridesmaid dresses, shoes, flowers, craft supplies, etc. People are able to connect with others as well as that; they may or may not know and be able to see their pages (if not on a privacy setting) for ideas and to see their interest.

Con: Some of the posts that are still up on the site are not available anymore for others to use or have become extinct.

Snapchat:

Pros: There are different filters that one is able to use on their photos to show more colors, in black and white, or add where they are from, the time, etc. Snapchat allows people to add filters on their faces of possibly being a dog, a hamster, an old person, with a flower crown, with a lot of makeup, etc. One is able to use these filters with friends as well. People are able to message each other over the app as well as send past pictures they have taken and video chat each other. Another feature, is that Snapchat has a memories folder at the bottom of the app that saves all the pictures or videos you have taken on the app. One is able to delete the memory if they wish or save it to their pictures on their phone settings. Also, if a person wants to screen shot a picture on someone else’s story of them and that friend so they are able to keep it for themselves, they are able to do so.

Cons: Past messages people send to others will delete instantly, so if one forgets what they had said then they will have to ask the other person what they had said or try to remember. In addition, the video chat aspect of the app is difficult to work and takes time to understand it.

Facebook:

Pros: People are able to make many connection with others, get news updates on what is going on in the world, see stories of what is happening in people’s personal lives, see photos and updates as well as add your own photos and updates. One is able to post on people’s profiles, comment on people’s post, like, love, laugh, cry, etc. at other people’s videos and pictures. Able to connect with people from their past as well as people from across the world. Allowed to tag people in a post that makes you think of somebody.

Con: have to upload another app that allows one to message people. It takes up space on your phone, which causes you to have less storage for other apps.

Instagram:

Pros: People are able to cross-reference their post from Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Instagram allows people to add more filters on their pictures and update the lighting, color contrast, etc. Able to tag people in photos as well as others. Are able to add websites onto your pictures and add stories that allow people to swipe up and go to a different page, such as YouTube. Able to message others and cross-reference a picture on Instagram or a meme.

Cons: Are only able to upload pictures.

Associated Mobile Banking:

Pros: Do not have to go to the bank to check my balance, able to make transfers on my phone, able to call customer care right away and are able to deposit checks off the app, and paying your credit card balance.

Cons: are not able to deposit money on the app, so still have to go to the bank or an ATM of theirs now to deposit cash.

Marcus Movie App:

Pros: Allows me to see what movies are out for the next few days, see the pre sales of the movie before driving all the way there and finding out it is sold out, seeing what the movie times are for the day to plan accordingly with your day, and are able to buy the tickets online if needed.

Cons: are not able to use special passes through the app if you have a free movie pass or something of that source.

Yahoo Mail App:

Pros: Allows me to see my emails right away without logging in to the website. Able to delete emails or star emails right away that I need. Able to move my emails to folders very easily and see updates if needed.

Cons: Slow when deleting emails and sometimes will not refresh.

Too many APPS. Too little time to master them. I’ve struggled with this issue before.

Here (read me) and here and here and here:). I decided to consult with some members of what Howard Gardiner referred to as the “APP Generation”. Here is what several of my other student assistants told me over the past couple of years are “must-have” apps for college/university students.

Tia writes :

As a college student, having access to multiple apps on my smart phone helps make me a more efficient learner by staying organized. The apps I use academically are Gmail, Safari, Notepad, and Calendar. Each of these apps helps me stay on top of all my homework with the heavy course load I have this semester. I use my Gmail frequently on my smart phone because it is faster to check my email from here rather than logging on to my laptop and waiting for the slow Carroll wifi to start up. Instead of a five to seven minute process, I can have my email checked within seconds of opening the app. When I am not able to use my laptop, the Safari app is very convenient when I need to Google a quick question I have. Also, I use the Notepad app when I do not have a pencil or my agenda book to write down my assignments or meetings I have with my professors. This helps me to remain organized and on top of all my assignments, especially now with a month left in the semester. Lastly, I use the Calendar app to put in important dates such as exam dates, final exam dates, or study sessions for a certain course. All of these keep me organized, and I always have them in the palm of my hand.

As a college student, the social life is just as important as the academic life. Some apps I use when I am not studying are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. All of these apps help me stay connected with my friends from other schools, my friends at Carroll, as well as my family members all over the United States. Having multiple forms of staying in contact with these people helps with maintaining social supports, which is extremely important towards the end of the semester when stress is at an all time high. One more app I use is Two-Dots, which is just a random game. It’s a puzzle game kind of like Candy Crush. I play this game in between studying different material to give my mind a little break.

All in all, these are the apps I use on a day to day basis to stay caught up with my social life as well as staying organized academically.

Arianna tells me:

Much like most 20 year olds, I have a smartphone. With a smartphone comes several apps, but which of those apps are a must have? And which must have apps are we missing out on, requiring us to download?

Well, in my opinion, there are eight must have apps. Those apps include Gmail, Reminders, Notes, Safari, Calculator, Find iPhone, Maps, and Camera. As a college student having my Gmail and student email linked straight to my cell phone is a necessity. It allows me to easily stay in contact with professors and students, never showing up to a canceled class, easily noting changes to the syllabus, or getting missed information. Reminders and Notes have saved my life on a number of occasions. I tend to forget things rather often, and rather quickly, thus, being able to set a reminder for a day, a week, or a month from now and being able to create to do lists or grocery lists right on my cell phone has changed my life. I doubt I am alone when I say there are times I cannot think of a word or need information quickly but am on the run, well, that is where Safari comes in use. Being able to quickly surf the internet wherever I am has brought ease to my day to day life. I am able to quickly google anything I would like, especially useful when I am doing my homework far from a computer and need to research a topic or look up an unfamiliar word. The fifth App I find to be a must have is the Calculator. Although most of us can do basic mathematical operations, it is very nice to take the lazy route and calculate out things such as tip money, how much money you will be making this month, or the discounted price that will be applied to the bill you have from shopping online. Find iPhone is an app I have not yet had to use, knock on wood, but I see the potential it has. Should someone be missing, should someone’s iOS device/Mac be stolen, or should you just have misplaced your iPhone, Find iPhone uses remote location-tracking to locate them. Maps, much like the Calculator, is not entirely necessary if you prefer the old school way of paper maps. However, unfamiliar with such resources, I whole heartedly approved of the Maps app. In fact, my first few times driving to and from Carroll University I had to use Maps in order to ensure I would not get lost. In my opinion, if you are alone, Maps is a safer way to travel than a paper map, as Siri will tell you exactly when to turn, which exits to take, and so on, without you ever having to take your eyes off of the road. The last app I find to fall under the “must have” category is the Camera. Recently I traveled to Italy and, of course, I brought my cell phone. Having a feature like the Camera directly on my cell phone made it so I had one less thing to carry on all of my excursions, rather nice when you are backpacking for 10+ miles a day.

For me, these are must have apps, but, depending on the person and his or her day to day life, must have apps could vary wildly. So what are your must-haves?

 

alumniCurious David

The Wisdom (and Freshness) of Freshmen

As I continue the process of winding up and winding down and sorting through 40 years of files, photos, and memories, I have rediscovered a lot of things — like a Hinakaga yearbook photo from 1984 of my two quarter-of-a-century departmental colleagues Virginia and Ralph Parsons. Thank you Ralph and Ginny for sharing your wisdom with me during my “freshman” faculty years.

 

Four years ago, I wrote the following blog piece in an open letter to the Freshman class of 2018, many of who will be graduating in less than 50 days. I shared this with one of my first-year students, Kristen (whose mother attended Carroll and whose aunt was my research assistant). Here is what I wrote four years ago:

Dear First-year Student,

I may not meet you for a while since I am not teaching first-year courses as often as I used to. I do offer you a heartfelt welcome.  You may well be the son or daughter or niece or nephew of one of my former students. That happens a lot.

First-year students have played a very important positive role in my life during my 36+ years of teaching here. You have made me smile, motivated me to learn from your enthusiasm, made me proud as I have seen you grow across your years here, and made me especially happy when we have been able to stay in touch across the years.

You sometimes have been favorably referred to as “the App Generation.” Don’t forget that your best apps are your values and your mind. You, the Class of 2018, do have very different life experiences than I. I look forward to learning from you and with you–if not directly this year, then in subsequent years. Do drop by and say hello in the interim.

Here are a few friendly suggestions I offer based on my years of teaching and learning.

Don’t be too proud to seek help or advice from faculty, staff, administrators, and older students here–especially those who know the campus and our students well.

Take advantage of opportunities to try new things, to meet new people (especially from different cultures) and to learn how to learn better. Let us become a global choir of learning.

Research suggests that the quality of relationships (e.g. with peers, with faculty)  is central to a positive, successful college experience.

Set aside some time for self-reflection.

Let  self-discipline enable you rather than imprison you, find the right balance between service and involuntary servitude, between doing a right thing and doing things right. My own freshman year at Oberlin College in 1967 was informative and formative, lonely and elating, value challenging and values affirming. I envy you the learning opportunities that are here.

The last time I taught a first-year seminar (dealing with Internet Learning tools) I asked freshmen to reflect upon their freshman year–and I returned their paper to them when they were seniors. I asked Kristen to share her experiences during her first year at Carroll. Here are her thoughts:

As I start to wrap up my freshman year at Carroll University, Dr. Simpson suggested that I take the time to step back from my busy schedule and reflect on my first year of college.

One of the main things I noticed right away about college was the improved maturity in my peers. In my first semester, I was astonished to see how everyone treated each other with kindness and respect. Not only this, but you can tell the students at this university want to engage in the subject. Even when the content is not pertaining to their major, they still take the subject seriously.

Originally, I thought that taking classes that were not pertaining to my major were a waste of time. However, after taking multiple general education classes, I realized the value of them. One of my favorite classes that I took at Carroll was called Music of the Movies. It was very insightful and focused on how movies and culture changed overtime. I can definitely see how these general education courses can help students who do not know what do to in the future. These classes have helped challenge me in becoming a better overall student and person.

Working with a professor has also challenged me in ways my classes never have. To be able to work with someone who is knowledgeable in my field of study is an incredible unique opportunity. I have not only learned more about my field of study, but I am also challenged in ways I never thought before.

I can also tell I have changed as an individual. Throughout my high school career, I was extremely shy and had a lack of confidence in myself. I would rarely ask for help from my teachers. Although I still struggle with my confidence at times, I am, however, more talkative with my peers and professors. I also contribute in more classroom conversations and never hesitate to ask for help when needed.

Throughout this first year, I have learned more about myself than ever before. Although it can be quite difficult at times to balance between education and sanity, overall, I find college to be an unexpected enlightening experience.

ArtCurious David

Shall I Visit the Netherlands – Wat stel je dat ik doe?


One of my greatest regrets is that over the past forty years teaching here at Carroll I have failed to take advantage of opportunities to take students abroad. My own such personal experiences (Spain and Portugal for a few weeks while attending Howland High School; Guanajuato, Mexico for a 6 weeks while an undergraduate at Oberlin College; 6 months in Bergen, Norway while a graduate student at The Ohio State University) were formative and informative. Fortunately I’ve been blessed with students, friends, relatives, and colleagues whose home is abroad. Hopefully upon retiring Debbie and I will do some international traveling.

Where should we travel? Our passports are in hand; we used them traveling through Canada last summer on our way to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We have friends and relatives in Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. I am of Scottish heritage and becoming increasingly interested in genealogy.

Recently the Netherlands has been sending me signals that perhaps I should visit there. I’ve already checked it out on by following a Dutch news feed!

And there are fascinating engaged friends there!

And talented artists like Saskia SE de Rooy have even come to Carroll reminding me about the beauty in life. My portrait sculpture done by the talented Carroll student artist Ashley Goetz under the tutelage of Saskia will be among those displayed in April.

Perhaps I also would attempt to visit Diederick Stapel who has given me so much to think about.

Or look at the museum pieces of the artist Godfried Schalken that Google’s app said my selfie 67% matched.

Debbie ALMOST bought some wooden shoes when we were in Holland, Michigan last summer.

Maybe we should go get the genuine article from the Netherlands.

 

We had to hurry back to attend an important tea-party at North Lake, an important annual event. North Lake living is like living in Neverland. It helps me not grow up and keeps me laughing.

 

Wat stel je dat ik doe?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Curious DavidVimeoYouTube

Experimenting with Screen Casting: 2009 – 2018

As I continue to “declutter,” refocus, and wind up and wind down, I  (re)discovered over 50 screen casts my students and I made and stored on Vimeo or YouTube. At the time I just was learning about Jane Hart’s technology learning tools, and I was experimenting with screen casting as a teaching/learning tool. Here is a hodgepodge of those earlier productions that might be of interest to alumni or, especially, to former and present student assistants. I may use the footage in an e-book examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of iMovie, Capto, Screenflow, Camtasia and “TOBenamed later”.

 

Robin the Newf taught me so much—as does Leo the Great.

 

Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Toolszeigarnik

Unfinished Business—and Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I see that I have 101 drafts of unpublished posts in my WordPress account!

 

And there are quite a few unfinished LinkedIn articles I’ve been meaning to write. And that fiction piece about a small Midwestern College.  And that neglected history of Carroll that has been too long ignored…

My Mac Desktop is (for me) relatively uncluttered with just one important reading task awaiting me  –carefully reading and putting into action the wisdom of my mentor across the Pond of 10 years Jane Hart. And I really would like to start finish those student-written guides to Internet Learning Tools whose production died when I failed to receive Crowd-funding. Perhaps I should use Kick-starter?

Having successfully winnowed my Mac apps at a faster rate than I added them, I still have far more than I actually NEED if I stay on course for when I plan to leave academe.

So much unfinished business–and miles to go before I sleep (I wouldn’t want it to be otherwise).  Still, time to prioritize my remaining precious döstädning time.

fake news

Thoughts on “Fake News”

I recently finished reading Michael Miller’s book My Social Media for Seniors. There are some interesting lessons there that merit a much wider audience.

Several of the earlier chapters deal with separating fact from fiction online and developing an ability to distinguish among “fake news,” biased news, conspiracy theories, propaganda, opinions, unsubstantiated advertising claims, satire, and outright lies. I must confess I have become incredibly gun-shy about writing satirical blog-pieces (though I have a number of them in mind).

I readily admit that I have my own “biases” or cognitive filters that have been shaped by my schooling by my family, my formal education (Oberlin College, The Ohio State University) and my occupation as a Professor of Psychology at Carroll. I listen to NPR; I read the New Yorker and the New York Times. But I also make a conscious effort to be exposed to perspectives different from mine and to think about them, before categorically rejecting them.

Miller’s book identifies interesting Pew Research Center survey research about the most-trusted news outlets. i find their “Trust-to-distrust” ratios an interesting metric and it is of interest to see how judgments of trustworthiness differ among certain self-identified groups. You can find that research here.

Here is their full report: Political polarization.

Miller offers sound advice in how to tell “real news” from “fake news” and some useful suggestions.

  1. Consider the source.
  2. Verify the source with multiple sources.
  3. Check rumors with Snopes: Here is the link.
  4. Check with Mediabiascheck.com. Here is the link.
  5. READ the article carefully and deeply before sharing it. Too often we skim and forward.
  6. Remove any false news we inadvertently have spread by failing to heed # 5 above.

The author also offers some wise suggestions about “posting etiquette” which alas, too many who post ignore.

Feedback to this post is welcome.

 

 

Carroll ReflectionsCurious David

Thoughts While Proctoring My Last Final of the Semester: My students are younger and younger—even the “nontraditional” ones!

“Have students changed since I was there?” I am often asked by alumni. Of course they are different in terms of their life experiences shaped by national and international events, what is taught and not taught in high schools and in the home–and how they learn. Still, the major differences I notice are that my students are younger and younger–even the “nontraditional” ones! To better understand why I need only look in a mirror or at my photo in 1977 when I first set foot on the campus:)

Today is a Commencement for me of sorts  I am fully situated into my new (temporary) office–other than sorting through boxes. A used bookstore is only a few steps from where I park my car in front of the Art gallery entrance. How delightful to walk past art galleries, photography labs, and beautiful creations of Carroll faculty and students. The chapel (usually empty) is peaceful. The ambiance surrounding my new office (and my new office neighbors) may well lend itself to enhancing creativity in my remaining work. In January I have agreed to be part of a  Saskia de Rooy’s insightful sculpture project: sculpture portrait project.

“Congratulations! You have been nominated to participate as a model for (in)sight: a portrait project.
 This is a campus wide project where students and faculty nominated individuals who they believed have an interesting story to tell. This means that someone at Carroll admires YOU and wants other to hear your story. Only 50 models were accepted and you are one of them! We hope you will consider participating in this exciting project.
What do models have to do?
·         Attend an art class on both January 30 and February 1 (time options below)
·         Be interviewed by a Carroll student
·         Be portrayed in a painting or sculpture
·         Have your visual and written portraits in a campus art show in April”
I wonder if the artist likes dogs?

 

 

 

 

 

30 Day Learning ChallengeBook writingCurious DavidSelf Publishing

(Mis)Adventures with LinkedIn Learning

As I get closer to showing students how to (self) publish a book, I am reviewing resources that I have used in the past. The technology and tools change so quickly. My two “bibles” for the moment (hard copy) are Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch’s APE: How to Publish a Book and Chris McMullen’s Volumes 1 and 2 A Detailed Guide to Self-publishing with Amazon and Other Online BookSellers. I have the most experience using Amazon’s CreateSpace software though now and again I am tempted to use Lulu.com –in large part because I have seen what Jane Hart has been able to do with it in publishing her Modern Professional Learners book.

Since I just finished introducing my students to LinkedIn, I thought that I should revisit its “InLearning” resource (formerly Lynda.com) to investigate what l might learn there. I was underwhelmed.

The screen cast below (7 minutes) documents my discoveries there.

Learning from this experience, I further documented needs for improvement of this resource in a LinkedIn article I wrote and posted last night.

 

 

Curious David

Book-Writing With Students

Book Promo

My students and I are in the process of writing about Brain Fitness Training. This book-writing task necessitates, among other things, considerable collaborative writing and sharing in addition to mastery of some technology learning tools which I have introduced them to. Without any instruction from me they have been using Google Drive, which according to Jane Hart’s annual survey is the top educational technology tool of 2017. Because I have not used it for a while (since I last authored a book with students),  I was contemplating writing a short piece (or screen cast) about how to use LinkedIn Learning (and five ways that it could be improved). In particular, I was going to use as an example my evaluating the many LinkedIn Learning programs that deal with Google Apps.

However, I strongly believe in the ideas of Jane Hart about the need to become a Modern Professional Learner.

It dawned on me that rather than my sitting down and watching several video lessons I could instead ask the (student) experts to mentor me. I am quite pleased by the result which Tia, one of my research assistants documented.

Here is Alex Fuhr’s 6 Minute Guide to Google Drive 

Agingbook writing with studentsbrain fitness trainingCarroll University USACurious David

Brain Fitness Training: Fact vs. Fiction

 

There is much interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  one’s health, and one’s well-being. Take a moment to conduct an online search on the topics of “brain fitness for seniors,” “brain fitness games,” “brain fitness apps, “and “brain training.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the number of results. Unfortunately the social media and advertising claims are far removed from the science upon which legitimate claims can be made. How can one decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are based upon  well-done research? Which programs are merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which claims are patently wrong? Are there some vaild brain training interventions that are appropriate and proven effective for special populations? How can one protect or improve one’s brain heath?

In part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in research involving aging and memory (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger), and in part because I am approaching the age of 70, I’ve taken an increased interest in memory research.  I’ve always been fascinated by the too much-neglected research of Harvard’s Ellen Langer exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness. I found especially fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still skeptical about its implications for age reversal. [There IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging].

A day doesn’t pass when I am not flooded with emails about  “brain fitness training opportunities” that I am implored to explore.  Brain U Online gives me a friendly reminder of the availability of a brain training session invitation.  Blinkist suggests that I read a synopsis of the book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain for Life.  I am alerted that Episode #4 (of 10) “Six ‘Brain Hacks’ to Enrich Your Brain” from a gohibrow.com course awaits my viewing.  An interesting NPR story invites me to explore the brain-enhancing benefits of bilingual education. I receive an invitation to take an AARP approved  (and United Health Care supported)Life Reimagined”  free online course on “Brain Power: How to Improve Your Brain Health” taught by Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D.  Posit Science urges me to become a “Smart Cookie” by joining their “…unique braining program … which unlike others… is backed by more than 100 published scientific papers”… I think that I’ll send them all  a copy of the recent review of brain training  research  n Psychological Science in the Public Interest (here is the link).

How does one separate the wheat from the chaff of these claims? Which avenues are promising and which are merely advertising promises? Will I really get smarter with five-minute lessons delivered to my inbox every morning? Do I want to? Would I be well-served by following my heart and attempting to (re) learn long forgotten Spanish? Would I be better served by exercising more? Learning how to play an instrument? Should I become involved in creating an Elder hostel educational experiences? So many questions. What fun to begin systematically answering them with talented students, data, and critical thinking.

Meet my Fall  2017 Carroll University student research seminar team. Jeff, Alexis, Sami, Abbey, Antonio, Nathan, Alex, Alex, and Ricky.

We have begun developing answers to questions such as these and are in the process of writing a short book sharing our findings. What questions would you like us to answer? Stay tuned!

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

alumniCurious DavidStrategic Planning Data Resources

Strategic Plan Data Mining 101

What might prove useful resources to (re)visit as Carroll begins a Strategic Planning Process? Payscale.com’s recent release College/University ROI data base (see below) reminded me of the value of being aware of such resources and of the importance of understanding their value, their assumptions, their limitations, and their potential uses and misuses. Below are a few of my favorite data resources. What have I missed?

  1.  Payscale.com’s recent release of 2017 College/University ROI data base
  2. CollegeScoreCard (click on link and try it) wonderfully introduces an important trend toward TRUE TRANSPARENCY in data sharing and a very useful interactive data base for comparing schools
  3. the UW Accountability Dashboard similarly exemplifies this healthy trend.
  4. College Results Online is  such a gem in the rough.
  5. Chronicle of .Higher Education (I pay for premium access.)

  6. AAUP Salary Data: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  7. Executive Compensation at Private Colleges: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  8. IPEDS (individual institutions and comparisons

  9. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s  data base “trove” that drives its data base.  

  10. And if you work dig deeply enough, you can even find historical data on one’s own institution

30 Day Learning ChallengeCurious David

What have you learned today?

Lots of (re)learning in my near future as I upgrade my Macs to High Sierra. More learning of an additional kind is occurring in my life as my students and I closely examine the efficacy of brain-training software. In that endeavor I am revisiting some data analysis procedures I haven’t had a need to use in a few decades! And today, while proctoring an exam, I learned from my students a feature of their calculators I did not know.

I enjoy being ignorant in the sense of the original Latin ignorare of “to not know”. Not knowing invites learning, and I find the process of learning exhilarating. Thank you, Howland High Latin teacher Mrs. Bode, for developing in me a love of words and of languages. Because of you I have become quite a wordsmith.

This is Day 5 of my 30 Day Learning Challenge created by Jane Hart. I always find “courses” created by her well-designed, making thoughtful use of materials she has collected, vetted, improved, and shared across the years. I am particularly impressed at how she somehow is able to add a personalized factor, reacting to comments and mentoring. Truly inspiring and worthy of emulation. Thank you, Jane Hart, for over a decade of teaching me. I look forward to your imminent publication of Top Learning Tools 2017.

 

 

And of course, I have the dogs as my teachers. Perhaps they can teach me their platform sailing skills.

 

 

30 Day Learning ChallengeCurious David

Choosing the Appropriate Technology Learning Tool: Thoughts from a Decade Ago

 

 

 

I am revisiting the 200 blog pieces I’ve written or co-written the past 11 years. The thoughts below still accurately reflect how I shall proceed when Jane Hart releases her Top Learning Tools list next week.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time the past few days thinking through how best and how quickly to proceed in bringing into my classroom the right balance of elearning tools. Just now I have finished examining Jane Hart’s recent overhauling, updating, and reorganizing of her 2010 Learning Tools Directory. More specifically, I have gone through Jane’s category of “instructional tools” identifying which showed promise of immediate use to me. My admittedly idiosyncratic “screening criteria” included the following:

  1. Do I already have the software? Alas in my frenzied attempt to know about such tools I have too often acquired a tool and then never deeply explored its utility.
  2. Does it have a quizzing/testing component? I want to be able better to give students prompt, reasonably personalized and reasonably detailed feedback.
  3. Is the tool free (or, if not, does the cost offset the costs of free software)? I don’t have time to spend with buggy or poorly documented software.
  4. Will, in my professional judgment, the tool truly allow me to teach better or in new ways or will it only provide students with a fun experience? Though there is a place for fun in learning, I am interested in more than entertainment.
  5. Is the tool hosted? Since I move back and forth between a Windows and a Mac environment (and because my personal machines are often more advanced than those available to employees at work) it is important that something I develop be easily portable and accessible for student use.
  6. Will I (and my students) be able to master the tool quickly and use it immediately? I want to avoid frustrating my students with a steep tool-learning curve unless I judge that frustration is a necessary or inevitable component to mastery.

 

AgingCurious David

We All have Pieces of the Puzzle—and the Potential for Making New Pieces to Create New Pictures.

I have very few spare minutes today. With aging comes an increased awareness of the fact that I no longer can successfully delude myself about my ability to multi task (see this link). Fortunately I can count upon my trustworthy student research team and student research assistants to get things done in an excellent and timely fashion. They make me look better than I am. As I learned today, I also can learn so much from my former students. As I have shared several times in articles on LinkedIn, there are a multitude of under recognized learning opportunities and resources within one’s workplace (see my thoughts by clicking this link). We all have pieces of a solution to puzzling problems.

My research team is sharpening their learning tools – and their minds— on the purported efficacy of “brain-training” programs (click here for more).  Do they work? What are appropriate indices for assessing improvements? What claims do companies make for products related to brain training? How good are the studies cited? Are there differences in effectiveness as a function of age, expectations, or health of the customer?

During our first week together we have focused on team-building, assessing current critical reading skill abilities, and identifying what technology learning skills are most likely to advance our success. My research team created a Facebook group to facilitate communication among us. I would have chosen differently based upon my familiarity with the visionary work the past decade of Jane Hart identifying Top Learning Tools (click here for more about this). But I have already learned much about the strengths and weaknesses of this Facebook as a group communication tool.Nonetheless,  I can learn much from those like my talented students whom I mentor .

Having identified several individuals knowledgable about brain-training interventions and aging (all Carroll graduates!), we soon will be drawing upon their expertise (and their generosity) via Skype interactions. (Thank you in advance, John and Michelle). Though I have used Skype in the past to communicate with educators in Lithuania and Turkey, with former students and friends in Nicaragua and England, and with a nephew and his beautiful family in Switzerland, I am well aware that Skype is an evolving tool. My learning never ends. Also, there are numerous alternative tools which can accomplish the same communication goal (click here for some examples). Also, I have Skyped across a number of machines (Mac, iPad, PC, and phone) and Skype ids! Hence, I posted on Facebook a request for help from individuals who might be willing to help me practice Skype. That you, members of my extended Carroll Facebook community.

Yesterday I practiced Skyping within my office suite with one of my research assistants (who playfully morphed into a space alien) –and I learned how to morph into a frog. Thank you, Tia! Now if I can only figure out how to turn off those camera effects:)

It dawned upon me at 5:30 this morning that there probably are excellent Skype tutorials available to me on the dramatically improved LinkedIn Premium account I have invested in (Thank you, CEO of LinkedIn Jeff W.). I was correct. However, as I was about to invest an hour of my precious time going through an excellent tutorial there, a former student—Luis (now in Virginia) reached out to me via Skype with an invitation to join him in a Skype session. We systematically reviewed and discovered capabilities of Skype I need to know.  Thank you, Luis, for providing me with just in time learning.

Today I met with a very precocious first year student whom I first met when I interviewed her two years ago. Her mother and Aunt are both Carroll alumni. She taught me a lot even in my first sustained interaction. Thank you Deborah and Meredith for sending her my way.

Learning never ends. Don’t overlook the tremendous learning resources available to you by your reaching out to your employees, former students, and colleagues. Think outside your title and and outside your role.

 

 

 

 

 

AppsCurious David

Building Student Research Teams

 

Though I failed to get the crowd funding I sought last year (described in an earlier post) I am delighted to report that I have been blessed to have 10 very bright, eager to learn students in my Research Seminar. Without doubt  their research will  advance some of the accomplishments I hope to achieve before my leaving Carroll. Some of what I am incorporating into this seminar —e.g. giving students numerous opportunities to self-publish—  is described in several earlier blogs like this one and this reflection. As we enter our 2nd week of learning together I begun introducing students to technology learning tools (e.g. WordPress, Diigo, SurveyMonkey, and Skype) and my 68-year-old thinking about memory and aging. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your introducing me to these tools 11 years ago.

My student co-researchers are responsible for taking much of the initiative in making this course successful–and for teaching me. Below is a description of Abbey S.’s and Alex F.’s creation of a Facebook Messenger group for our research team. In the next few weeks we shall be Skyping with some Carroll alumni who are knowledgable about our research topic (“Brain Training”). Do let us know if you are interested in following us, supporting our efforts, or contributing to our learning.

Effectiveness of Facebook Messenger as a Communication Tool

By Abbey Schwoerer and Alex Fuhr

In our Psychology Research Seminar this semester, we were given the task of coming up with a user-friendly, easily accessible communication tool for the class to use. What we needed was a platform that could be accessed free of charge, and allowed us to send pictures, links, and word messages. We wanted to use a tool which was generally familiar to our classmates and translated easily to different technological devices.  Our final solution to this problem was to use Facebook Messenger or simply called “Messenger”.

What is Facebook Messenger?

Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging application of Facebook.  It allows the user to have a private conversation with other Facebook users.  To use Messenger, you must have a Facebook account on facebook.com. There is a newer feature which allows you to message other Facebook users without being their friend, although the other user will need to accept your request to chat with them.  You can create one-on-one chats, or chats with multiple members called “group chats”.  It is equivalent to texting, but without having to exchange phone numbers with others.  You can access Facebook Messenger through the Facebook website or as a downloadable application on your smart phone.

Why use Facebook Messenger over other communication tools?

This versatility of the tool is what drew us to use it for classroom purposes.  Unlike most team chat applications, Messenger is free to use; even so, it still provides the most important functions that most of the paid apps have.  Messenger allows you to send word messages, voice messages, pictures, videos, polls, plans, games, locations, payments, links, emoji’s and GIF’s. The interface looks a slight bit different depending on if you are using a computer or a phone, but each allow you to perform the same functions.  It also allows you to connect to other websites to share media from them to a conversation.  Some websites include the musical application Spotify, KAYAK travel planner, and The Wall Street Journal news website.

How do you use Facebook Messenger?

To use Messenger on your computer, log in to the Facebook website and on the blue bar at the top of the screen, towards the right-hand side you will see a black and white version of the picture above.  You can also access it on the left-hand side of the page.  Click on this and it will show you all recent conversations you have had on Messenger.  You can also start a new conversation by clicking the blue words which read “New Message”.  Once you click on a conversation, it will open a chat box on the lower right portion of your screen and you can continue or begin to converse with a friend.  Other than simply messaging, you can voice call and video chat with others.  To modify the chat, you can click on the gear button labeled “options”.  You can change the color of the chat, send files, and many other functions.  If you desire to search for a picture or an article within the chat, you must enter the application through the button on the left-hand side of your home page.  This will pull up your conversations in a different format.  On the left of the new screen will be your conversations and on the right, once you click on a conversation, will be the “Search in Conversation” option.  The class may need to use this once the conversation becomes larger and longer.

To use Messenger on your phone, you need to download the Messenger application.  It will look like the picture above.  You can see all your recent message conversations when you open the application.  Once you click on a conversation, you can perform the same actions as on the computer.  To create a new message, you will click on the square with a pencil in the upper right-hand corner.  If you allow it, the application will send you notifications when you get a new message.  A downfall of using Messenger on your phone is you cannot search for an item within your conversation.

In summary, the multitude of applications this tool provides makes it a viable medium for our communication needs in Research Seminar.  We have already begun to use software and it seems to be running smoothly.  We look forward to the new possibilities this communication tool will provide for us this semester!

alumniCurious DavidDay 1

Day 1 (Professor’s Perspective) September 2017


Even after almost 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at Ohio State. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing into excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes I whistle a happy tune! Click that link and you’ll receive that sage advice from someone who sings better than I. 🙂

These academic first days of the semester pressures I feel are primarily situational nuisances : making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails. [Note the irony that I just now am posting this blog post due to first-semester busyness!].

For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building—for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for both students and for me.

This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs) and PSY492, a Research Seminar focusing on the topic of brain-training software.

Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni  “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course.  How amusing that even in that class, the one in which I am most confident and comfortable, I missed seeing the dog who was present!

Was my failure to notice canine Kia (whom I had met numerous times and who was even featured in a local newspaper story) an example of what Daniel Simons calls Inattentional blindness? Or was my attentional oversight/ blindness due to my being used to always having a canine companion near me, under me or underfoot?

 

I’m quite excited about teaching the Research Seminar PSY492. Every day we meet there will be opportunities for data analysis, critical reading, reflective writing, and discussion related to the course’s topic. Relationship building is easier here since I already know all 10 students.

Let Week Two Commence!!

AgingCognitive TrainingCurious David

Thanks for the Memories

 

I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom this week.  I’m particularly excited about what we may be able to accomplish in my research seminar with the ten students enrolled. The first two weeks will be baseline assessments of my students’ research skills. Reading (the novel, Still Alice—-and watching the movie; published journal articles–exemplary and poor research; popularized science articles), writing (blog pieces with me; self-published books; grant proposals); review (statistics and experimental design–designing DOABLE studies for every design that I teach in my book), and much development of thinking skills

Here are some earlier blogs I wrote as my thoughts began to focus on the topic I want to pursue “Brain Fitness Training Programs. I hope to tap into the knowledge of several Carroll graduates who share these interests.

Can one teach this old dog new tricks?

Is my old brain fit to be tied?

We’ll even tackle Tom Brady’s just gone public cerebral work out!

Time to discuss my plans for the course with Leo as we go for our pre-bedtime walk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

alumniApp GenerationCurious DavidResearch Seminar

Top Ten Learning Tools to Be Used in My Research Seminar

The deadline is approaching for participating in Jane Hart’s 2017 survey of Top 10 Learning Tools. My nominations this year reflect the tools I am using (or will be teaching) in a Research Seminar dealing with “Brain Fitness Training ” software.

  1. SurveyMonkey. Using SurveyMonkey I have already sent my 10 students a survey assessing their baseline familiarity with technology learning tools, their past research experience, and their career plans. I also use this tool in my consulting work with Schneider Consulting. Here are some of my earlier thoughts about SurveyMonkey.
  2. WordPress. I enjoy blogging, and I have found that my students can develop a love or respect for writing by being taught how to use this tool. Here is an example of some WordPress writing by two of my last year’s research assistants.
  3. Diigo. The research that I do with students very much requires teamwork and sharing of information. I find Diigo a handy resource for sharing bookmarks and I am impressed at how it has improved across the years. I have already created a Diigo group Brain Fitness Training: Exploring the validity of claims about brain fitness software and brain training apps and added 20 resources. Let me know if you’d like to be invited to contribute to its development.
  4. SPSS. This is still the major data analysis software I use and teach. Mastery of it has helped my students get jobs and scholarships.
  5. ScreenFlow. We may have reason to make screencasts. My students and I often use it to create lessons for other students.
  6. Quizlet. I’m going to experiment with students’ developing their own tests to assess material that they need to memorize.
  7. Google Drive. My students find this very useful for collaboration.
  8. Createspace. This is my current favorite tool for self-publication of books.
  9. Linkedin. Not all my students will (immediately) go on to graduate school. I am very impressed at recent improvements in LinkedIn.
  10. Skype. No doubt we shall need to communicate with other researchers throughout the country or the world (e.g. at the University College Groningen).

 

AgingCurious David

Reflections on How We Age

I have spent quite a bit of time the past few years thinking about aging and more specifically about brain health and brain fitness training. Two books written by geriatric psychiatrist Marc E. Agronin have very much shaped my recent thinking this summer about these topics. I shared some of my reactions to his latest book (The End of Old Age) in an earlier blog piece. NPR a few years ago provided a useful summary of Agronin’s earlier book How We Age: A Doctor’s Journey into the Hear of Growing Old.

In this earlier book Agronin acknowledges the known biology of the cellular aging process (e.g. the Hayflick Limit) and the successive shortening of telomeres with cellular divisions.  However, heavily influenced by the thinking of the late geriatric psychiatrist Gene Cohen,  Agronin persuasively and eloquently argues in this earlier book that aging is not and should not be thought of as a disease. Reading this earlier book which is enriched with detailed case studies of his patients was enlightening about my own myopic, age-centric views.