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).
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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!).
email me at email@example.com.
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.
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
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?
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.