Category: Carroll University USA

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Preliminary Personal Responses to the 2014 Higher Education Edition Horizon Report

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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:

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My Top 10 Personal Learning Resources—Always in Flux

A common theme I’ve encountered in a number of meetings and informal conversations with faculty, staff, students, trustees, and alumni is a growing awareness of the rapidity of change in higher education—in how we teach, in how we learn, in from whom we learn, in where we learn, and even in in what times of the day and night we learn!  These concerns are addressed well by the new learning avenues explored by the shared online learning insights of Debbie Morrison on the distinction between the creation of personal learning experiences (PLE’s)  and personal learning networks (PLN’s) . I am also increasingly influenced by the  “the learning flow” concept advanced by Jane Hart.

Even as I proctor an exam while writing this blog post I am learning online—checking my Twitter account especially for posts by

  1. Julie Lindsay,
  2. Jane Hart,
  3. Michael Sheehan,
  4. Michelle Pacansky-Brock,
  5. “brian@ieducator,”
  6. Richard Byrne,
  7. edutopia,
  8. the GlobalChronicle,
  9. the NYTimesLearningNetwork,
  10. Silvia Tolisano.

Thank you, fellow educators across the world for all you share and how you teach and inspire me. Teaching and learning clearly are not constrained to the classroom.

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Dr. David’s Neighborhood: Angela and David Explore Edynco

AngelaandDavid

Introduction to Edynco—and research assistant Angela: Click me.

Review of Edynco by Angela Wong

Things I really like: Edynco is a multi-feature learning tool for educators. Created in Slovenia two years ago, this tool provides easy-to-use templates for creating learning maps. The creators of the software are  quick to distinguish between mind maps, which are usually used for brainstorming and planning, and learning maps. Reminiscent of Prezi [which I, DS, personally find dazzlingly distracting].  Edynco’s setup is different because its learning maps allow for additional media, clarity, discussion and communication between educator and student, and numerous kinds of interaction. The blended learning method style is intended to help anyone who wants to educate others. Overall, Edynco is well-thought out with a beautiful design.

Areas in need of improvement. There are a few areas that still need improvement. Throughout the website, users will find quite a few spelling and grammatical errors.  ESL users in particular may suffer from these translation errors. Users unfamiliar with dynamic technologies may too quickly become overwhelmed. For better UI, the learning map module should integrate a “snap to grid feature” (as illustrated on Microsoft, Adobe, and LucidPress software). Lastly, the tutorial that automatically pops up every time when entering a learning map is slightly annoying, as it can be accessed anytime.

Despite these minor and relatively unimportant flaws, Edynco is incredibly sleek and promising. The user is not left wanting for a “share” feature to post on social media. Edynco also has an export to computer feature that is inaccessible to non-subscribers. The interface is dynamic, responsive, and relatively easy-to-use. In addition to the learning map software, all users have access to additional content, including micro-lectures, quizzes, videos, images, audio, and more- all of which can be seamlessly added to the user’s customizable learning map. The developers have left room for expansion to release even more educational tools and are to be praised for the present wonderful-work-in-progress.  Educators and students alike should be excited for this beta software to go live—and in the interim, to try it and to provide constructive feedback for improvement.

Here is an example of a learning map which  Angela created using Eydynco: Angela’s example of Iranian Women in Film.

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Movenote Revisited

S-TEAM

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!

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On Being “An Extinguished” Professor

David Simpson 2Recently my students and I partnered with Carroll’s Office of Alumni Engagement to conduct a survey of alumni’s awareness of a forthcoming National Day of Service. One of the survey items asked…

“What is the best way for the Office of Alumni Engagement to communicate to Carroll alumni about alumni events, such as the National Day of Service? (Choose all that apply.)”

One respondent offered the following comment that made me smile. I do not take umbrage (nor take the comment as a “flame”) nor believe that the malapropism was unintentional. In fact, it seems to be the language and Ben Franklin-like wit and sense of humor of an esteemed staff colleague of many years ago,

“How much time and effort is the particular project worth? Ask the extinguished Dr. Simpson for his best advice. Occasionally the old boy will hit the nail right on the head!”I found the respondent’s playful comments thoughtful—on the mark, and perhaps prescient!

Am I indeed an “extinguished professor”?:)

Extinguished... Snuffed out, put out, quenched, expunged; stuck out; effaced; left with no vestige; having the kabosh put upon.  Carroll has changed greatly since I began teaching thirty-five years ago—and so has the ways one can teach and learnThere are times when I have felt that I am about to become extinct. Alas, I have extinguished my candle-burning behavior, though I continue to burn a candle at both ends. And I am still haunted by the metaphors of Shakespeare words of MacBeth.

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more.”

old? Twenty-one three times over + — but still succumbing to the well-documented psychological finding of feeling younger than my chronological age—especially when surrounded by students—even those whose parents have been my students!

Old boy? hopefully boyish in the positive playful sense. Here is how I recently reflected on my teaching and why I teach one of my courses a particular way.

If you give me enough hammers and enough time might I indeed hit the nail on the head? If I blog enough might I occasionally write a thoughtful, engaging, piece?

Time will tell. Time to turn off my electric candle and head out to Miller Park.

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Where does the time go? Oh!

Gert and DavidMonday…

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…

RSEARCH SEMINAR

Wednesday…

… 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:)

David Simpson Teaching 1

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Why Blog (Redux)?

I initially made a number of  many half-hearted attempts at blogging about seven years ago but didn’t seriously start using blogging tools until I was awarded an opportunity to become an online  “community blogger” as “Curious David” for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was during that year that I  discovered the seminal technology tool dissemination work of  my “virtual” mentor the indefatigable, never seems to sleep Jane Hart.  Thank you, Jane, for your idealism, generosity, and persistence. I value your collegiality.

I was also  blessed to have a supportive editor who gave me free license to explore Web tools and to write about whatever I cared to. Given freedom to explore I rediscovered the joys and challenges of writing. The following year I was given the opportunity to teach a semester-long course on Web learning tools to 25 Carroll (then) College freshmen. Blogging was one tool I introduced to them.

One of the best books about the history of blogging I have read is Suzanne Stefanac’s dispatches from blogistan.: a travel guide for the modern blogger. Thoughtful,witty, pithy, practical,thought-provoking—it opened my mind to the value of blogging tools.

I have investigated the relative strengths and weaknesses of WordPress, TypePad, Edublogs, Blogger, and Tumblr. In part because of the beautiful and lucid book Teach Yourself Visually WordPress by Janet Majure —I find I prefer the printed copy to the Kindle version— I have decided to invest a good deal of time exploring what WordPress blogging tools allow me to do. WordPress.com itself provides so many rich learning resources.

As Suzanne Stefanac points out, some blogs are linkfests, others diaries, some serve as club houses, others as news rooms, still others as soapboxes. I blog when I feel I have something to say that might be of interest to others. I have an enduring interest in life-long learning and enjoy sharing what I learn.  I have no particular interest in having a large number of followers, but do I cross-post to Linked-in, Twitter, and Facebook because those are venues that allow me to stay in touch with friends, former students, and people I learn so much from. I welcome comments and feedback. In the past few years I’ve corresponded with  a large number of interesting individuals from acoss the world who have enriched my life and informed my teaching and learning.

Here are some topics I am thinking of exploring in the new future:

  • Time
  • Popularizing (psychological) science with integrity
  • Favorite Books–or bookmarks!
  • On the strangulating limits of (over) efficiency
  • Ten psychological findings that have impacted my life
  • On replication
  • Fraud in Psychology
  • Best Courses
  • Canine Companions
  • Creativity
  • Current topics in psychology

Pensive Robin

Robin the Newf – My Canine Confidante
*Steam
Two research assistants too-soon-to graduate
Newf Teacher
Explaining to Robin where Newfoundland is.
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“Best” Teachers

Abby

Several weeks ago I came to the realization that my concept of “best” teachers has changed dramatically. Perhaps that awareness came in part because it dawned on me that so many of my best teachers have died. But clearly my definition has broadened and become enriched rather than diminished as it has changed across the course of my lifetime.

Simpson family

Without doubt early in my life my best teachers were members of my immediate family—in fact they still are and I love and respect them dearly for how they have impacted my life. Also, I can easily identify significant high school, college, and graduate school master teachers and Carroll emeriti who nurtured my love of learning, introduced me to new ways of thinking, challenged and encouraged me, and served as role models of scholarship, intellectual curiosity, fairness, integrity, and decency.

Cole

Many of my “best” teachers, today, however, are much younger than I, or are of different species, or are scattered across the globe or, are virtual, rather than human.

I learn so much from playing with two (and almost two-year-olds) and four-year-olds in all their innocence.

*Training with Abby

Robin the Newf

Newf Teacher

Robin-the-Newf at 8 years of age continues to teach this Old Dog, if not new tricks, the value of being puppy-like.

My research assistants are always teaching me new things or by their behaviors reminding me that I am no longer nor ever will again be 21-years-of age! My new Internet International friends in Turkey and Lithuania and Spain remind me, through their teaching, of the universality of a belief in the importance of teaching and learning and of the importance of creating bridges of  learning activities across age, culture, language, and gender differences.  And, I find more and more resources available for computer-mediated professional development and self-directed learning.

Who (what) are your “best” teachers?


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MoveNote: Advice from My Student Consultants

Etwinning

This semester has been especially challenging with my teaching three consecutive 70 minute courses three days a week. I have found it quite difficult to make a smooth transition from the past 35-years of teaching in 50 minute blocks. In the past I have often had an hour between classes for regrouping, reflection, meeting with students and gathering my thoughts. I have missed very much the usual abundance of in person quality time with my student assistants. whichg is vital to my happiness.

We have often had to coordinate their work efforts for me via electronic communication. I am most fortunate to have highly skilled, patient, playful student research assistants who can respond to a hurried, fly-by query from me “learn how to use Movenote and report back to me its potential value”with a quality response like this. Thank you for your most able and cheerful support!

Here is their preliminary assessment (click on link) of this learning tool which just came to my attention. I can see this “cool” tool quickly earning a place on the Jane Hart learning tool list.

I have much for which to be thankful.