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.
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.
- In the Harvard Business Review.
- In Edward Tufte’s original thesis that Power Point is Evil
- In Don McMillan’s YouTube classic Life After Death by PowerPoint:
- I am not sure that Slideshare is any less “evil”.
- I’ve never found Prezi served any additional presentation needs for me.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- Does it have a quizzing/testing component? I want to be able better to give students prompt, reasonably personalized and reasonably detailed feedback.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Though Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn have different original purposes, they continue to become more like each other. Still, I find that I can use them to serve complementary purposes. In the screencast that follows I try to show those similarities and differences. This is a draft of thoughts for a future student/faculty book.
Here I use Camtasia3 Mac with Iglasses and a Yeti mike. I am almost ready for a comparison of Camtasia, Screenflow, and Capto.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Apps I use as a College Student – Lizzy Hoehnke
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.
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.
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.
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?