Learning never ends. I am continuing to explore the value of technological learning tools to make my best course, PSY205, even better. Initial student feedback has been quite favorable.
Commencement 2014 was a month ago. I have already begun preparations for teaching in the Fall (how the years have flown by since February, 1978 when I taught my first class here).
From time to time I disconnect and disengage from my seemingly always being online and from focusing on productivity. Try it —-you may discover that you are more addicted than you think. Can you enjoy the twittering of the birds without thinking about this wonderful Twitter guide?:)
It is easier to so do during the summer, since I opt NOT to teach or to commit myself to grant work during that time. As author Naomi S. Baron acknowledges in her thoughtful book Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, one needs to be alert to the personal, cognitive, and social consequences of “24/7” connectivity.
Is Google making us “stoopid” (sic) or smarter? How can I ever find time to explore, evaluate, merge into my teaching the 2000 + learning tools which Jane Hart has alerted us to? I resolve these questions by stepping back, engaging in intense physical activity, reading widely, playing, and consulting the Newf!
I have long had a fascination with languages. In high school I studied Latin for two years and followed that with two years of Spanish. When I graduated from Oberlin College in 1971 with an A.B. in Psychology I also had studied the equivalent of a Spanish major (including credits earned at the University of Guanajuato, Mexico). While a graduate student at Ohio State University I marveled at the language fluency of foreign fellow graduate students (I spent 6 months doing research at the University of Bergen, Norway and was humbled by the challenges of learning Norwegian and by how much more about the United States Norwegians knew compared to me!). A critical component of these language learning experiences was having opportunities to be exposed to the literature, theater, art, history, and cultural contexts of these languages. It will be interesting to discover what added value such tools as Rosetta Stone software contribute to efforts to internationalize this campus. I have yet to see convincing empirical evidence that the software lives up to its heavily advertised promises. I think something like teletandem may be a more practical way to provide language immersion. I greatly admire a number of thought leaders who write well and think deeply about authentically internationalizing education. Reading two books recently, Richard E. Nisbett‘s The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently… and Why and Malcolm Gladwell’s Outlier’s: The Story of Success, has revitalized my interest in relationships between language, culture, thought, and behavior. Richard Nisbett, whom Gladwell acknowledges as a major influence on his thinking that resulted in this book, was an invited speaker at Carroll University on March 24, 2009. Books such as these shaped motivated my tracking much more regularly global issues in higher education.
Original 2009 piece follows here:
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).
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 Animoto as 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 students using 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.
- Almost got killed… multiple times.
- Utilized all furniture in the office.
- Became PC savy and MAC savy.
- Played with random trinkets.
- Conducted “Power of Ten” study.
- Researched Purple People Eater
15. Helped Evaluate Carroll University’s Alumni National Day of Service Food Drive
16. Wrote a winning grant to received IPads to develop a Virtual European Immersion course.
17. Tooled around with most of Jane Hart’s technology learning tools.
18. Made sure that Dr. Simpson ate his lunch.
19. Laughed; cried; cheered; booed.
1) Earth Day concerns should be unifying every day concerns .
2) We must do more than merely virtually explore the wonders of our precious planet.
3) Preserving, savoring, celebrating, protecting, and nurturing Mother Earth should be a super-ordinate, cross national,unifying effort of international concern.
4) We are all earthlings.
5) There is much to learn.
6) Mother Earth is fragile and the Pale Blue Dot is tiny in the cosmic scheme of things.
7) So much beauty must be shared, preserved, protected and passed on.
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:
- Which of these tools will enhance my research and my communication capabilities?
- 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?)
- Which of these tools will be around in four years?
- Which of these tools serve me best when I am engaged in my role as partner of Schneider Consulting?
- Among subsets of tool types, which best serve my needs?
- How much learning time do I or my students need to invest to use these tools?
- How portable are these tools across the browsers I most frequently use?
- How portable are these tools across the hardware and different operating systems I most frequently use?
- How much of the attractiveness of these tools to me is simply due to their “wow factor” and the fun they engender?
- Will mastering this tool increase the likelihood of my becoming a more effective teacher or enhance my ability to learn.
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:
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
- Julie Lindsay,
- Jane Hart,
- Michael Sheehan,
- Michelle Pacansky-Brock,
- Richard Byrne,
- the GlobalChronicle,
- the NYTimesLearningNetwork,
- 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.