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.
Today I explored the Apps on my Mac that begin with the letter “A.”One of my favorite (but underused) apps( that I am glad I use since the advent of Heartbleed ) is 1Password. It allows me to quickly and securely access my myriad accounts and quickly find things, like this Animoto video of a year ago that I had forgotten I had made to celebrate the wonderful creative work of some of my students.
Another app I take for granted (behind the scenes but there when I need it) is Adobe Reader. But do I really need AlarmClock Pro any more?—Perhaps, if I remembered that it has a time-zone converter and an uptime recorder that can embarrass me with a record of how long I’ve been sitting at my machine!
“How many different music players do I need,” I ask myself as I rediscover my AmazonCloudPlayer? How many flashcard makers are necessary (which one best suits my needs or those of my students) as I find Anki again, untouched, and with a new version:). And, heaven forbid, there is always the temptation to visit the MAC App store especially since it is built into the Mac Mavericks Operating System.
I REALLY should learn how to use AUTOMATOR and its distant cousin, TextExpander—and their incredible capabilities for improving the efficiencies of my work flow and my commenting on student papers. To achieve that mastery I most likely shall first seek out the sage guidance of David Sparks and his incredibly well-written books, ebooks, and screencasts. Hmm, I see that he uses Vimeo for his screencasts. I’ll have to revisit it when I get to my “V'”‘s.How about—oh, the audacity of suggesting it, Audacity? I have several times attempted to master it because of an interest in creating podcasts and wanting to support open source software endeavors, but alas, because it just crashed my machine, it has been banished to the trash. Besides, if i ever reach the “W’s” among my apps, I suspect that “Wiretap Studio” will serve the same function—and better.
Though I won’t have time until this summer to deeply explore the 2014 Horizon Report which I alluded to in an earlier post, I wanted to share some initial reactions here:
I concur with the Report’s assertion of the growing ubiquity of social media. The challenge for me is to find the right balance between the kinds of deep thinking which I believe “more traditional teaching methods” correctly implemented can foster and an ability to capitalize on the enabling capabilities of social media for producing, communicating,creating, and collaborating. I don’t find that my present institution has the appropriate classroom infra-structure for leveraging these social media tools within the physical classroom and traditional class-room meeting time.
I agree with the Report’s suggestion that that it is inevitable that higher education must allow and facilitate an integration of online, hybrid, and collaborative learning.
Though I have always been interested in “adaptive” learning and personalizing the learning environment, I find the promises of “an emerging science of learning analytics” overblown, premature, and creepy in terms of degrees of invasion of privacy.
I applaud and embrace the identified trend of students as creators rather than merely as consumers though I would urge that one not lose sight of the importance of quality control of their products.
I concur that the time is ripe for university programs to support aggressively “agile, lean startup models” that promote a culture of innovation in a more wide-spread, cost-effective way as long as there are built in assessment procedures which validly document the weaknesses and strengths of these (maybe) new approaches. Too often I have seen institutions chase after the latest educational fad and fail to benefit from organizational memory of prior, similar failed ventures.
For me, online learning is a useful complement rather than a viable alternative to most forms of face-to-face learning. As I’ve written earlier, I regularly and increasingly use “nontraditional” learning tools to supplement my personal professional development and my digital literacy. I am still sorting out, however, how to embed and assess that literacy among my students. In what venues I should foster those kinds of skills and intrude them to top learning tools. I am increasing wary of a “digital divide” that ironically exists between K-12 and higher education instructors with the latter—and their students—being the more deficient!
What do you think? I’m also interested in readers’ suggestions about what I should write:
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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A fellow educator recently asked me for a recommendation of an eBook tool that could be used by high-school aged students and which is cross-platform, cross-device, allows incorporation of multimedia, and allow for collaborative and seamless editing across the world. Any suggestions? The number of ebook formats is quite overwhelming. And ebook software that meets the needs of my friend seems still very much under development (e.g. Vellum). What high calibre software exists? What are some work arounds for my friend?
Though I have explored the use of over 200 technology learning tools over the past seven years , I’ve quickly come to realize that there is no best tool. In attempting to help my (e)friend I revisited tools that came close to addressing her needs. For example, Learnist allows for some of the capabilities she desired. (My thanks to research assistant Amy Peterson for reminding me of our use of this resource in her Virtual Course creation research).
I also examined the ebooks that I have which are accessible via my Kindle Cloud Reader app. How embarrassing to discover that I have 72 books sitting there to be read. I just never have gotten comfortable reading books from a screen.
What ebook creation software do you have experience with? What led you to choose to use it over other? What others?
A typical whirlwind day. Arrive at the office by 7:15, but no time to flirt with Gert (pictured above) because I needed to establish work assignments for the student assistants before they came in. Maybe I should make time to explore the new free for teachers accounts of Basecamp. Wednesday will be the 2nd Exam in PSY205.
I had a good but too brief Skype session with Inci Aslan for updates on her Rainbow Kids project in Turkey. Must make the time for a more leisurely follow up.
I’ve been using Skype A LOT lately now that I have mastered some software (Pamela and CallNote) that lets me easily record the conversations for later study. Recently it has proven invaluable as I attempted to mentor an undergraduate at another institution seeking advice about a survey she was conducting in Argentina.
I brief follow-up regarding several students’ letters of recommendations. Two students delightfully inform me that they have been invited for interviews (at Marquette and Illinois State, respectively). Then it is (past) time to submit a PsyCRITIQUES revision of the most interesting, provocative book I have reviewed in the past seven years. Meanwhile, my Research seminar students experience first hand the purported advantages of brain training software. There are so many claims made on the Internet and in the media in general (Science News, NPR, ABC News) about such “programs like Lumosity and Positscience. Finally, I join my research students for a brief review of SPSS. Here is YOUR chance to see how much statistics and experimental design you recall from when YOU took my course:). Try me . Hee, hee.
I was generally pleased with the quality of the surveys they developed using our new Gold Survey Monkey account.
So much to teach. So much to learn. So much research which could/should be done. So much to share. But the clock is winding down…
… And now it is two days later. Time to take stock while I proctor two consecutive exams for the next five hours. The book review revision was accepted for publication and forwarded to the American Psychological Association. I hope that my citation of Jane Hart’s seminal work will introduce her to a broad audience of psychology technological learning neophytes who might benefit from all she has taught me. Thank you again, inspirational Virtual Friend and Mentor.
The Gardner and Davis book is now “required reading” for all my friends, parents of friends, and “followers.” Here is a good synopsis (not mine) for those who, alas, don’t have the time to read it:)