I had a few “extra minutes” at work today for reflection. I’m awaiting (dis)approval of seeking Crowdfunding financial support to expand my students’ capabilities to self publish books. I am also writing a few small grants to fund some modest research comparing several different “brain fitness” programs (e.g. BrainHD and Lumosity).
Just for fun I chose to document my rambling ruminations by creating a screencast. I still find Screenflow easier for me to use than Capto or Camtasia. I favor using Skitch for Screenshots from my Mac. It is indeed hard to teach an old dogged professor new tricks (or to discard old tools).
In the screen cast below I am thinking out loud as I experiment with the camera software (iglasses) and the microphone (a Yeti). I am leaning towards using both for our next Student Guides to Internet Learning Tools (if funded). The first volumes of the new works will most likely focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Screencasting tools. Oops, time to go for a walk with my canine companion!
There are buildings on campus whose cornerstone bears a date before my birth. My father-in-law walked in some of these very buildings in 1936. Voorhees Hall was a women’s dorm when Walt walked this campus.
So many memories. Some converge; some change. Some researchers argue that memories change every time that they are retrieved.
With age comes my increased interest in the inevitable aging process. At one time or another I have written over 80 blog pieces (or drafts) about relationships between aging and memory.
Here are a few: (Clicking on all the links in each and viewing their contents might be a valuable brain fitness exercise!):)
After consulting with my four student research assistants, I’ve decided to focus my Fall semester research seminar on the topic of “brain fitness”—fact and fad. I am particularly intrigued by the promises of the program “BrainHQ.” Time to don my skeptical thinking cap:
While cleaning the office today 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.
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.
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 this past year. I encourage my students and clients to create regular times for written reflection.
I have come to believe that a syllabus should be a dynamic learning tool. To that end on the first day of class I randomly select some students to download my syllabus. Using the classroom projection system, they explore in the syllabus embedded links to such things as a paper I wrote about how I teach and they begin using a tool (Research Randomizer) for drawing random samples and for randomly assigning participants to conditions.
Here is the syllabus I use in my PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design Course.”
How useful do you find these links? How might they be improved?
I am moving towards requiring that all my students demonstrate to me minimal mastery of my technology enhanced teaching and the learning tools which I introduce into the classroom.
Here is an example of a Quizlet benchmark: Example 1: Quizlet.
Here are two examples of StarQuiz benchmarks: Example 1: Starquiz and Example 2: StarQuiz.
How helpful are these links? How might they be improved?
I also am increasingly incorporating screencasts made by me (or by my students) into the class as additional instructional support—especially as I teach SPSS. Though I realize that there are an abundance of such resources on YouTube (and even on LinkedIn!), I still see some value in my personally producing them (or having my students do so).
Here are some screen casts that Simpson research assistants Tia and Ariana made for me to demonstrate their mastery of using screen casting software tools:
And here is one of my SPSS screen casts made at home with the help of Leo the Dog:
Should I continue to produce these even though their production quality may not be “professional”?
It so easy to allow pet peeves to distract one and to engender a foul mood. Let’s see if I can exorcise them by listing some recent annoyances and thinking through a resolution while I proctor an exam.
Leo the Great (pictured above) barks incessantly whenever I give Siri a command or use the dictation mode of my computers. This is also a nuisance when I proofread out loud. Solutions: Remove the dog (though he can at times be so angelic); don’t dictate; accustom him to my talking to myself:)
Faculty colleagues who teach (loudly) with their classroom door open. Solutions: Close my door; close their door; put on sound reduction headphones
Individuals who don’t differentiate between the reply and the reply all command. Solution: Send them a gentle correction: “Did you realize that you shared that slanderous reply with the entire campus community?”:)
Bombardment by Bombastic Buzzwords (I’ve twice ranted to my one reader in the blogosphere about this peeve: here and here.). Solution: Think of the buzzwords as a specialized language unique to that marketing/corporate culture; update the buzzword bingo software; create a buzzword translator.
Hmmm. Maybe I need just to lighten up or to consult Alex Blackwell’s eight step approach to dealing with pet peeves found here. Or at least to contextualize the irritation like this.
Or unwinding by playing in a pile of leaves.Or listening to a beautiful piano recital.Or snuggling up with some grand-nieces and grand-nephews.
Life is far too short to allow pet peeves to bother one disproportionately. Or as my dictation software once jabbered,”Hours longer we to bury was.” See the translation here:
In preparation for contributing my suggestions to Jane Hart for her “Top 100 Tools for Learning” list I am systematically examining (and in many cases rediscovering:)) apps on my MacBook Pro. Jane will be organizing her report into three broad categories of learning tools.
Top 100 Tools for Education – for use in schools, colleges, universities
Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – for use in training, for performance support, social collaboration, etc.
Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – for self-organized learning.
My (re)discovery for today is 1Password. It continues to serve me well, especially as I am starting to have difficulty remembering passwords!
Carroll calls me back tomorrow. Quite a changed place since I entered Carroll-land in 1977.
Below is a first draft outline of an ebook I am contemplating writing. I share it at this time welcoming feedback. I shall use this draft as part as a review for my PSY205 students. Here is a brief description of HOW I teach the course.
Each hyperlink is a “module. Thanks to Arianna, Tia, and Lizzy for helping me create this draft (while I was away from the office).
Throughout the 2015-2016 school year, we four undergraduate research assistants in “Dr. Simpson’s Neighborhood” have been familiarizing ourselves with several different learning tools described on Jane Hart’s Top 100 Learning Tools List. As we read about and played with each tool, we wrote blog posts using WordPress to let the world know more about the features, benefits, tips, and drawbacks of each learning tool based upon our personal experiences. As these blogs were being published throughout the fall semester, Dr. Simpson suggested OURwriting our own book about how the tools can facilitate learning in the classroom and business world. We responded to this challenge with both trepidation and zeal!
We took each of the blog posts previously written and compiled them into one large Microsoft Word document. Then, over the course of about two months, we carefully went through each blog post. We improved the writing, further developed ideas, updated our learnings, corrected errors, added pictures, and temporarily removed hypertext links. We divided the learning tools we examined into 5 chapters: Video Editing Software, Social Network/Interactive Networking Tools, Note Taking Tools, Data Collecting Tools, and Presentation/Sharing Tools. We added screenshots for examples and created potential cover pages for the book. We decided upon a basic layout: an introduction at the beginning of each chapter, a reasonably detailed description of each learning tool, and an explanation of how the tool is useful in business and educational settings.
(Alison Lehman) Converting our short, to the point blog posts to a book format was no small task. Creating a book took a lot of planning, coordination between team members, additional investigation into the learning tools, and large amounts of time to create, write, coordinate and edit our thoughts and experiences. Initially our idea was “simply” to convert each WordPress blog onto Google Docs so that each team member had access to the book-in-progress no matter where they were. This decision was vital to a successful workflow of communication. We could leave notes for one another on the Google sheet, see what each other had been working on, and be aware of what still needed to be completed. When the WordPress blogs were converted into the Google Doc, I had naively assumed that a lot of the information we had previously written would be easily ported into the book. However, varying writing styles and incomplete information did not easily lend themselves to a smooth transition into a book. Consequently, we chose almost to completely scrap the original posts and start anew. In hindsight this decision was a blessing in disguise because it gave us an opportunity to rethink our ideas, add important details, include updated information and impose a common, improved format from the bottom up. Since we were not producing short blogs anymore, a lot more research went into investigating how to use the tools, what the tools were most useful for, and the utility of these learning tools in the classroom and business environments. Though the discussion of each learning tool examined was primarily written by one or two individuals together, but each was then edited and read and reread by each individual of the research team. Creating a book taught us all about proper planning, how essential clear communication is between members, how to incorporate the ideas and thoughts of each member, and how to establish and maintain a realistic timeline for completing a managable task. Our ideas were continually being improved and applied to better enhance the effectiveness of our collaborative first book-writing efforts. With the final product being steps away from completion, I am proud for all time, effort, and resources that were dedicated in creating a book of this kind. I look forward to the future projects and goals the research team will accomplish together. When a great group of minds come together, there is nothing that can stand in the way of their success and ambitions.
(Arianna) Until writing our own book, I had never appreciated the time and effort that goes into writing. The need to sit down and carefully read and reread and reread again every page trying not to miss a single typo or spelling error and making sure all of the tenses match up is daunting but necessary. However, after about ten proofreads and several edits to the document, we were able to publish our hard work.
(Lizzy) Well, writing this book was definitely an eye opening experience for myself. I had never once thought I would have the opportunity to write a book, much less publish one for others to enjoy. I did not know how much work goes into writing a book until we had to be a team and work together on creating this book. We had to combine all of our different writing styles together and blogs that were almost done to blogs that needed a lot more work. We had to write about applications that seemed so basic to us, but were actually a lot more detailed than we thought. I know while writing the Excel piece that I had no idea all that could be done with this learning tool until I started to use it for some of my classes and explore the different features it has to offer. I had no idea for more than half of these applications all that they could do. Personally, I now use some of these tools on a daily basis and i can envision singing them at work, at school, and for future purposes. I have gotten so much better at writing because of Alison and her helping me have a better writing style and teaching me to watch my grammar better. Also, I have never been so open and excited to learn about internet tools that are so useful and that everyone can have access to till I started working with Alison, Arianna, and Tia. We all have come together and given each other different perspectives on our idea of the book, how to write it, what to include, how these tools can benefit others and in what ways. It was such a great experience. It took a lot of time, but was most definitely worth it for the end result and the great feeling of accomplishment all of us get to share together, including Dr. Simpson. Without Dr. Simpson helping us as a team to give us the resources, the challenges, and the time to write these blogs and experience these tools, we never would have had this great opportunity. I have made closer friendships with these beautiful ladies because of writing this book together and getting to know each other. We all have such different ways of thinking and different perspectives on how we interrupt certain situations or applications and it is really cool how we can all combine our ideas together to make our first book and for us to grow as partners in the workplace and grow a friendship outside of it. This book I believe also improved our relationship with Dr. Simpson because of the collaborating we all needed to do to get to where we are now as a team. We can only grow from here and I can not wait to experience this journey with each of my teammates!
Over the past decade I been enriched by discovering, testing, curating and using a number of “technology learning tools” identified by Jane Hart. My students and I are soon to release a series of ebooks sharing how we use these tools. The challenge is to find balance between tool use and the tools controlling the user. For a horrific example of such a dystopia I recommend your reading Dave Eggers novel The Circle.
Though I have explored every year each of the 100 learning tools, I have no “favorite” tool. Which tool I use most is very much a function of the learning/teaching task I am engaged in, the discretionary time I allow myself for being online, the audience I am working with, and the particular computer/operating system I am using. All these factors change very quickly.
This year I am using Twitter much less often than in the past. Because of an increased need for collaborative work with on campus committees, cross-national collaborations, and with my student research group and because across the course of a day I move between a desktop PC, a desk top Mac, a laptop PC, a laptop Mac, and IPads, I am now using to a far greater degree Google Docs/Drive and DropBox. Without Google Docs or a similar sharing capacity I would be plagued by not remembering upon which machine I stored information needed to be shared. My international colleagues and international friends are more facile with the use of YouTube than I. Google Search (and Google Scholar) is my search engine of choice though I grossly under-use the sophisticated and nuanced search capabilities it provides.
I intentionally under use PowerPoint and force an increased use of Airtable. Evernote, for me, has potential but is nonessential in my day-to-day activity. WordPress, Facebook, and LinkedIn play an integral role in my teaching, learning, promulgating, bridge-building and networking modus operandi as well as assorted screen casting tools.
Help me out. Help me learn. Which of these tools have you used? What am I missing in discovering their utility for teaching,learning and bridge-building? Which would be most useful in advancing my interests in cross-national cross-generational teaching and learning? Which tools develop skills that all global citizens should be familiar with?
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 and he towed me back to shore.
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.
Her successor, Leo the Great, already is reminding me of all those lessons and, in his own way, offering me new things to learn.
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 a 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 Dilbert, I have often learned from the philosophies of Dogbert and of Snoopy. Rudyard Kipling and Lord Byron have warned us ofhow dogs can capture your heart! Dogs continue to teach me so much! Some day soon I hope to be their full-time student.