Good recent research suggests that repeated testing enhances learning. How can I best incorporate those important findings into my courses? As a beginning, I have revisited a piece of software,StarQuiz, (originally developed by a high school student) that has proven useful and reliable since I discovered it about 10 years ago. There is something comforting about using a piece of software for almost 15 years and across many evolving operating systems without a glitch.
I am considering incorporating it into my PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design Course” —if the students can demonstrate to methat it enhances their mastery of the course’s material. I welcome student feedback—and suggestions from other readers of software they consider better.
To try it enter your name—you need not enter your email address. If a “David” has already tried it, enter a different name (e.g. Voldemoort).
Here is a link to one of the two practice tests I shared with students in my class today. I encouraged students to collaborate, use notes, and be mutually supportive of each other in the process.
Maybe it is my aging. Maybe it is a lack of motivation. Maybe it is a lack of focus on my part. Gone are the times when I used to master a new piece of software or a new computer in a few hours—exploring every drop down menu. Gone is my ability (or the time needed) to write a succinct user’s guide for the new machine and feel comfortable being a resident expert of its capabilities. Ah, my TRS 80 Level I machine—sometimes I miss you!
Fortunately now there are increasingly available excellent screencasts which clearly explain features of software. I find of special value MacMost Videos, Screencastsonline.com, and the superb presentations by David Sparks. When I am producing my own screencast I find most useful Screenflow though I am becoming impressed with Clarify‘s didactic potential.
Just downloaded the new OSX Yosemite Operating System onto one of my Mac’s. I find that it is worth the investment to purchase online tutorials that hand-hold one through the different features. I’ll have my undergraduate research assistants go through them before we install it on one of my office machines. In the interim I need to cycle through all my apps and see which ones work with the new OS, which don’t but are essential for my needs, and which ones I no longer need or have totally forgotten
Too many apps. I am on a decluttering mission. I am especially interested in keeping (cross-platform and cross browser) software that enhances my capabilities for writing, screencasting, and facilitating global communication.
First I shall revisit each application and attempt to answer these questions:
Why it is on my machine? Was it pre-installed? Perhaps it was very favorably reviewed? Am I keeping it because of nostalgia? Have I forgotten that it is there? How often have I used it? Updated it?
What needs or research interests did it address at the time I installed it? Do these needs or interests still exist? Are these needs likely to continue over the remaining years of my teaching?
How well does does the application address these needs compared to other applications that I have since “collected”?
Is it likely to work with the new Mac “Yosmite” operating system?
Too much stuff. An embarrassment of riches: Books; office supplies; projects; computers; planners for organizing my life:). Too much either wasted or neglected: space; knowledge unshared; time; opportunities; networking.
Inspired in part by the first chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s well written and thought provoking The Happiness Project and in part by my panicking that it is almost time to return to campus to teach, I’m focusing today on (again!) winnowing applications. I doubt that I can change my app-collecting habits (but, reflecting on Patrick Lindsay’s little book of self-help inspirational nudges It’s Never Too Late…172 simple acts to change your life,)—maybe I CAN change. It’s time to reconsider the ideas of “Essentialism“—with a grain of salt. I enjoy too much having many interests, many simultaneous projects, and continuous learning opportunities.
But do I REALLY need so many tools overlapping (or duplicative) in function that as a consequence of their sheer number or my changing interests I never master, I fail to update, or I forget that I possess?:)
Especially with the new Mac Operating system imminent, it’s time for some app-revisiting.
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. [Here is an updated list I would draw upon were I to teach this course again.] As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these:
To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning?
To what degree are they just “cool” tools?
Could they be used to develop critical thinking?
Do they improve or degrade communication skills?
Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding?
Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills?
What are their weaknesses or dangers?
Should they complement or replace 20th century learning skills/tools?
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 short in-class and out-of-class reaction 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.
There was a time when I kept rough drafts of everything I wrote. Now, I am no longer in that habit and am in the process of cleaning out all my files (both electronic and legal-pad format). It is amusing to (re)discover some early writings when I thought I was at the leading edge of knowing about, sharing, and using “technology learning tools”
I find interesting the existence of the Internet Wayback archive project, though I’m uneasy about such a huge amount of Internet detritus (especially my own) using up cyberspace. Recently I’ve made time to attempt to clean up my own Internet garbage (old accounts, false starts on blogs). With some amusement I rediscovered some of my first efforts to promulgate into the classroom technology tools with 25 Carroll freshmen. (I have chosen NOT to revive the dead links in this piece).
I am toying with the idea of showing what I can NOW do in some kind of class—possibly for alumni or faculty. I would draw upon my knowledge gained since 2009 about the application of technology learning tools—especially drawing upon resources like this? Anybody interested? If so, email me—or send me a message via owl.
I’m in the process of revisiting several resources that have influenced my choice of online teaching tools. This post focuses on the book by Steve Johnson (2011)—a thoughtful and concise compendium of his thinking about today’s “tech-savvy” (high school age) learners and how to prepare them for their digital future. He systematically evaluates over 30 “etools” he judges to be useful for engendering collaboration, creation, and publication across the curriculum, and offers concrete suggestions for how to get started (and how to keep up) as an instructor. Among the many tools that he recommends that I have personally found especially useful for my teaching at the college/university level are the following:
I have grown to like Animotoas a vehicle for creating and sharing video-like productions, despite its constraints of needing to use Adobe Flash and accepting only MP3 formatted music files. I have elected to have an educational account with them. Here is an example of how I have used it.
WordPress is now my blogging tool of choice and the blogging tool that I teach to students. I myself move back and forth between WordPress.com (“David in Carroll Land”) and WordPres.org (“Curious David in Carroll Land”). The latter gives me far more creative freedom (e.g. the use of plugins) but at an additional cost (both financial and time I need to devote to its higher learning-curve). Here is an example of a WordPress.com blog piece in which my student research assistants shared “sand box” activities while they explored for me the value of some beta version software which showed promise to me of eventually being useful in the classroom. Here, on the other hand, is a recent blog piece co-written with my studentsusing the WordPress.org blogging software (which I still am at an early stage of mastering). Without doubt, my best etool evaluators are my highly trained student assistants.
Google Docs is becoming an increasingly important tool for me. Indeed, I would love to devote the time to create a Google Apps course for our students. Richard Bryne, an educator thought leader whom I follow on Twitter and whose contributions I benefit from, has created a wonderful comprehensive guide to this tool.
Presently my students are more facile with this learning tool than I!. We regularly use it as a means of collaborating and sharing documents —photos, videos, journal articles, rough drafts, spreadsheets. Just today one of my senior research seminar students shared with me, on Google Drive, a wonderful video she had made of her interviewing her twelve-year-old son about his experiences with a form of Asperger syndrome. Keri and I shortly shall be incorporating this video and her insights about parenting such a special child into a blog piece as a first step in assisting her in writing a book to share her knowledge.
I’m going to miss these two student friends/students/best teachers/fellow conspirators when they depart campus on May 11 as graduates. Thanks, Phoumany and Ryan for all the laughter and learning and for making my Carroll experiences more joyful.
Things we’ve done in Dr. Simpson’s Office Over the Past Few Years: (red items added by DumbleDave)
Catalogued over 1,000 books (Dr. Simpson most likely has read them all!)
Decorated the office for his birthday.
Decorated every other holiday.
Played Temple Run.
We wrote a book!
Played nose-goes when the phone rang.
Learned how to use fountain pens.
Created and Conducted Rogers Hospital Climate Survey.
Across my 35 years of teaching at Carroll I have been blessed to have highly skilled, patient, playful student research assistants who cheerfully and ably respond to my hurried, fly-by” task assignments such as “learn how to use Movenote and report back to me its potential value”. Thank you, student friends, for your support and for your being part of Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood. Here is a result from our early explorations this year of the capabilities of Movenote – Click on the link: Angela and Amy Tutorial on Movenote.
Here is an example of what Angela learned THIS SEMESTER about how Movenote has evolved—Click on this link: Much has improved!
I have much for which to be thankful as a professor. Especially I am thankful for the delightful opportunities to learn along with students such as these!
Phoumany Phouybanhdyt (Class of 2014) ‘s thoughts:
Lucidpress is advertised as a design and layout app for anyone to make print and digital documents. Recent reviews which we examined have been favorable. Personally, I am impressed with what this application can do, although there are a few problems I encountered while learning to use it. Presently Lucidpress is still in its Beta version, so my hope is that when it transitions away from a Beta version on April 21st, 2014 , these gremlins will disappear.
To explore the features of Lucidpress, I made a sample print flyer, print invitation, and a digital newsletter. Overall, I think Lucidpress is relatively easy to use. You have the ability to work from either a template or from a blank slate. The tools and options are not difficult to maneuver.
The look of this application is very sleek and organized. When working on the digital newsletter, I was able to add a live hyperlink, embed videos, and even use a scrolling effect for the text box. Inside the digital newsletter I created, one could click a text link which redirected the user to a Facebook event in a new window. Lucidpress allows the user much room for creativity. Things I especially liked. What I love about Lucidpress is the overall sleekness of the products you can produce and how easy it is to use. Of course, I still have a lot to learn and the full capabilities are far beyond what I have explored in the hour I took to investigate its capabilities. This app essentially allows one to do what Microsoft Publisher can do, but more! Another neat feature of Lucidpress is that you can link it to Google Drive and share it with members of a team. This allows multiple users to collaborate on the same project and share comments. Moreover, one can share the finished project in multiple ways: Embedding it on a site, sharing a link, or sending it via e-mail. This application is currently free in its Beta stage when you make a free account. I would highly recommend this product.
Things in Need of Improvement. A couple problems I encountered while using Lucidpress included issues with video embedding, hyperlink embedding, and sharing the project. With the videos, I was able to get them embedded, but when I previewed the document, the videos failed to play. I had some initial issues with embedding a hyperlink, but it appears this may have been a fluke. In regards to sharing the project, I attempted to create a link and tried to copy and paste it into a new browser. I was able to get the link copied but when in a new window it refused to give me the option to paste. This issue is also apparent when trying to paste the link into a document and other locations. Sharing via e-mail appeared to go through to a Gmail account but a Microsoft Outlook account failed to receive the invitation to view. More trials will need to be done to figure this out.
Here is an example created with Lucid Press by a fellow research assistant, Angela Wong.
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