Category: Personal Learning Tools

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Workplace Learning : 8 Lessons Learned

dscn4331Reflections on what I learned from an eight-week online course with Jane Hart.

  1. I was introduced to Yammer as a learning tool–and found it lacking. Give a company Yammer and everything needs Yammering.:) You can find some of my thoughts about Yammer here.
  2. This was my first experience as a “student” with asynchronous, online learning. I found myself logging in daily to respond to (and learn from) others who were engaged in the many assigned, applied exercises at a different pace than I due to time constraints, time zones, and their job demands. Though I see the practicality of asynchronous online learning for some learners, I found it inefficient and frustrating for me personally.
  3. I came away with a better understanding of the requirements and challenges of creating, conducting, and participating this way–and very much admire and respect how Jane Hart, the workshop administrator, took the time to respond to us individually and collectively in timely fashion.
  4. I (virtually) met interacted with a number of bright, hard-working, interesting people passionate about improving the workplace learning environment from across the world–Ghana, Switzerland, Spain, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the USA. I admire their dedication to changing, expanding, and improving how individuals learn within the workplace environment. I am always humbled by the abilities of individuals, for whom English is not their native language, but who nonetheless succeed in mastering materials written in English. We learned together through sharing what we know (–and admitting what we didn’t know) and participating in guided, asynchronous learning experiences created by Jane Hart. Thanks in particular to Sharon Young, Martine Varney, Jennifer Russell, Sally Rhodes, Ivy Mawuko, Renate Aheimer, Catherine Shinners, Chris Coladonato, Carmen Ridaura, and Kristi Ivan for helping me better understand your corporate cultures, the challenges you face in championing new ways of learning, and the many times you made me think.
  5. I definitely exceeded my expected return in investment of the time and dollars I spent participating in this workshop IN LARGE PART as a function of the contributions of those people listed above.
  6. Being personally guided by Jane Hart through her Modern Workplace Learning: A Resource Book for L & D was invaluable. I look forward to the January revision—and participation in future workshops.
  7. I was introduced to or re-introduced to a number of learning tools—-among them PDFpenPro (that I used to annotate the online version of Jane’s book), Evernote (which still for me tries to do and claims to do too much), Grammarly (which allows me to circumvent SOME of the limitations of LinkedIn and Yammer), Pocket, DayOne, Dragon Professional dictation software and Blinkist.
  8. I came away with a better understanding of the challenges, opportunities, and untapped resources of workplace learning. Jane Hart continues to clarify my vision and expand my learning horizons in blog pieces like her recent contribution dealing with unlocking unused potential. I look forward to sharing these insights with my students as they enter the workforce, in LinkedIn posts,  and by my cascading this knowledge into my consulting work.

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Changes: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?

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Carroll has become a special place to me. I have been influenced greatly by its students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. By its traditions, theater productions and its music.

There are lots of changes these days occurring at Carroll. Some of them are physical, others organizational. Some things never change (read between the lines:); some things never should change.

I asked research assistants Alison and Lizzy to document some of the physical changes. Here is what they produced:

I continue to experiment with my “best” course (Statistics and Experimental Design) to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. Here is how I have taught it in the past. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students past and present as I experiment.

This semester I was influenced in what did the during the  first week of class by a Chronicle of Higher Education thought piece about making best use of the first class day.

I began the class wanting to test the sound systems so I shared this amazing tribute to David Bowie:

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Instead of calling out the class list to take attendance I give a quiz every day with immediate feedback which goes into a student portfolio. I also call upon a random group of students (selected by students using random sampling software to select the lucky students). Two students won free copies of my workbook!

Since then I have introduced them to SPSS and InStat (i.e. that the latter software exists) and to Survey Monkey.

Here is something Lizzy and Alison produced illustrating one of these tools:

I have also shown them Quizlet, started urging them to read germane articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and attempted to alert them to ethical issues about research by sharing lessons I have learned from Diederik Stapel.

To date, I seem to have highly engaged students learning and eager to learn. The first exam is February 10.

I am now invite their feedback and yours.

 

 

 

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What Do my Students Do in My Absence (Part 2): Lizzy and Tia’s Take on Voila

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Voila is a great screen casting software that can be downloaded on your iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Since Evernote is getting rid of the software, Skitch, this new feature was created in place of it with more features that are very beneficial.

When using this app you are able to take a screen shot of your full home screen, or capture a certain section of your home screen with the different screen shot tools. You are also able to overlap multiple screenshots in the software as well. In addition, if you would like to record your voice or anything on the computer while using the device you are able to do a recording. After you have taken the recording, it will open up in Voila and you can trim your new video and have the recording play over the screen casting. One flaw of Voila, is that you must download an additional app to have noise with your recording. You also need to export your recording to an app like Imovie to complete and edit your recording. Here is an example of our research team using Voila and Imovie to show people how to use Survey Monkey.

 

Voila allows you to edit your screen shots in multiple different ways. Some really nice features that Skitch doesn’t have is that you are able to add stickers to your screen shots as well as add a spotlight to a certain part of the screen shot. The spotlight helps a section you select stand out and blur out the rest of the background of the screen shot as much as you would like. Another feature that you are able to do that Skitch can’t is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixelated blur, and etc. Also, there are different kinds of arrows you can use in Voila to lead someone from one spot of your screen cast to another to show them instructions, like where to go from point A to point B, and etc. Voila allows you to marquee the pictures as well. This means that with any of the shapes they have or what you create, you are able to put that shape on a certain part of the screen shot and duplicate it. So that part you’ve chosen can be more bolded, or put in another screen shot. Below is an example of the different effects and borders that Voila has available to us.

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In Voila, you can paint the background of your screen shots so they are in a different color other then the default gray. Also, you are able to change the color of every option that you use besides the blurs. So, you can change the color of the arrows, the background, the stamps, and etc. In addition to changing the color of the background, you can change the outlining of the background. So, instead of just having a straight outline around your picture, you are able to have a different look such as dashes.

However, Voila still has the same great features Skitch does. You are still able to put a text box in different shapes on your screen shot, so that you can write something that you may want to specify. Also, you are able to change the coloring of the text if need be. If you rather not type in the text box, but still want to write on the screen shot, then you are able to use the pencil feature and use free hand on your screen shot. Voila does not have the highlighting feature, but that is why they have the new spot light feature.

In Voila you can create shapes or add certain shapes in the picture that you are able to write text in. You are able to change the coloring of the outside of them which will not change the text that you type on the inside of the text box. Also, there is a feature called, Callout. This feature is one that has more text boxes in different shapes, but it also includes certain memes that you can put in your screen cast as well.

Another fun feature Voila has is the ability to take screen shots of any website directly through the application. This is efficient to all users since you do not have to leave the application to complete your desired task. Also, you are able to import your own photos from iPhoto and edit them with Voila. Once you are done editing your desired photos, you can then import them back into your photo library. Here is an example of a screenshot taken directly through Voila, and then edited after the screenshot was taken.

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Overall, Voila has many new features and old features that Skitch once had. Voila seems to be more user friendly, as well as having more options for editing and screen casting purposes.

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Why Twitter is Rising in Importance in My Personal Learning Program

DSCN8780It’s my research day. I just helped Leo the Great Pyr onto his Central Bark Doggie Day Care bus

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and had a team meeting with Lizzy and Alison, two of my student research assistants. Before I gave them research assignments, I shared with them my Christmas ritual of opening up Jacquie Lawson’s marvelous Advent Calendar App. Thank you, Jacquie, for giving us reasons to smile and be in awe.

While we are working I receive a Facebook communication (and feedback) that Katerina and Tim Miklos, now in England, enjoyed the wedding video that Alison produced with Imovie as one of her research projects with me on Tuesday. I hope in the near future to research and develop with my students global communication tools such as Skype by communicating with Katerina in England, Ben in Hungary, Maren in Madagascar, Andrew in Switzerland, and Hersonia in Mexico. Who else abroad is willing to help us learn together?

I’m monitoring my Twitter feed as I write this blog piece and find 10 ideas, resources, and thought-leaders worth following. The dross is outweighed by the nuggets as I refine my Twitter filters and make better use of Twitter applications. I still am not quite ready to explore Twitter Chats. Just because a technology learning tool HAS capabilities, doesn’t mean that I need them –or that I should change my teaching to accommodate them.

Thank you Teri Johnson and Jane Hart for firmly but gently nudging me into exploring the use of Twitter.

Here are 10 tweets that informed me or guided my personal learning today:

  1. I see that Maria Konnikova has a new book out in January. She writes so well about psychology and pseudo science. I preorder the book and send her a brief note. Thank you, Maria, for your clear thinking, your lucid writing, and your thought-provoking ideas.
  2. Alec Couros recommends a Ted Talk about “Where Good Ideas Come From.” If I can find time, I’ll take a look at that before teaching my research Seminar. Thank you, Alec, for the inspiration.
  3. The indefatigable Richard Byrne alerts me to some free Technology Tools for Teachers.
  4. While I am data mining resources from K-12 I take a quick glance at my Edutopia feed.
  5. A colleague on LinkedIn suggests reposts an article about skills every young professional should have. I see value in sharing this with my advisees.  Thank you, Rebecca!
  6. I see a Mac 911 MacWorld piece about how to incorporate special characters into documents. I’ll need this as i try blog pieces in different language. I snag it (oops, gotta be careful. I own that App and I am starting to use my Dictation software as I write blogs).
  7. Richard Kiker’s use of Paper.li motivates me to return to exploring its utility as a curating tool. I assign that protect to Arianna.
  8. I am reminded and convinced that it is important that I incorporate thinking about climate change—and doing something about it into my life.
  9. I take a quick look at a recent EverNote blog post since I continue to struggle with most best to master its features.
  10. I glance at recent posts from LifeHacker—always fun to read and read one about how there just doesn’t seem to be enough time.

YIKES! Tempus fugit (or as Mrs. Bode, my Howland  High School Latin teacher often punned, Time fidgets!)

Time to protect myself against Internet Distractions.


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Retrospective Thinking: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?

I continue to experiment with my “best” course to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students as we “experiment.”

I just made a Screenflow screencast of what I taught in lab this week (using SPSS to create a scatterplot, calculate Pearson’s r, and do simple linear regression).

This time I published it on YouTube rather than on Vimeo.

I also, in response to student feedback, created some Quizlet study materials. Click the Quizlet link to try them.

A next step will be to involve students in the creation of such materials—rather than my doing so. That may wait until next year, however, since I want to  introduce this year’s students to instruction in using Survey Monkey survey creation software.

Please go here to evaluate the video shown above

It would be fun to teach an entire course on these topics.

 

 

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Reading, Writing, and Watching User Manuals

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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



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David’s Wayback Machine – Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools (Part 1) Jan 6, 2009

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).

Original 2009 piece follows here:

Historic First Meeting in Second Life

I’ve begun developing a presentation I’m scheduled to give on January 16 to Carroll faculty tentatively titled “Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools with Carroll Students: Educational Technology of the Future, Catching Up with What Fifth-Graders Already Know, or Another Fad? “I hope to share with interested members of the Carroll community some of the Web 2.0 learning tools and resources that I have explored this past semester(Download FYS 100 Section U Syllabus – Dr, David Simpson Labor Day Version PDF with my students (who were especially playful with their photoshop skills).

Simpson

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.

 


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Retooling and Sharpening my Technology Learning Tools – Without Injury

This is that interesting time of the academic year when I am trying to bring the semester to a soft-landing and concomitantly prepare for  the fall semester. This summer I hope to revisit several books that have especially informed me about uses of digital tools for teaching—especially  Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies, Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson’s The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching, Steve Johnson’s Digital Tools for Teaching, and Julie Lindsay and Vicki A. Davis’ inspirational Flattening Classrooms, Engaging Minds: Move to Global Collaboration One Step at a Time.

The writings of Alec Couros through his informative Becoming a Networked Learner and Curtis J. Bonk have impacted  how I teach, how I learn, and how I “reach out” to others  via social media. The challenge continues how  to find balance between tool use and being controlled or constrained rather than enabled by the tool.

I see that Jane Hart has opened nominations for her 8th annual Top-Tools-for-Learning  List.  I think I’ll withhold my vote until early this fall so that I have more time  to better answer the following critical questions:

  1. Which of these tools will enhance my research and my communication capabilities?
  2. Which of these tools do I want all my students to know how to use? (Which, on the other hand,  are better suited for my  advanced research assistants?)
  3. Which of these tools will be around in four years?
  4. Which of these tools serve me best when I am engaged in my role as partner of Schneider Consulting?
  5. Among subsets of tool types, which best serve my needs?
  6. How much learning time do I or my students need to invest to use these tools?
  7. How portable are these tools across the browsers I most frequently use?
  8. How portable are these tools across the hardware and different operating systems I most frequently use?
  9. How much of the attractiveness of these tools to me is simply due to their “wow factor” and the fun they engender?
  10. Will mastering this tool increase the likelihood of my becoming a more effective teacher or enhance my ability to learn.

 

 

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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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Movenote Revisited

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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!