Curious DavidDogsJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsRobin_the_Newf

Canine Ruminations: Robin the Newf Helps Me Write a Blog Post

Robin

Robin the Newf is a guest collaborator tonight. Because of her presence (at my feet) I’ve been ruminating tonight about canine companions. My father-in-law, Walter G. Schmidt,  also loved dogs. In fact his love of dogs was extolled in his 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.’

To which I add, amen!

Rudyard Kipling warned us of how dogs can capture your heart!

Do dogs match their owners in physical appearance? in personality? There is an interesting body of research dealing with these questions. Here is one citation. Here is another entire  article (Download Roy). Under what circumstances does pet ownership reduce stress? increase it? Why in the world did I spend $250 tonight on pet treats? Perhaps I still am affected by my first reading of Argos‘ blind enduring faith. Robin, the patient gentle giant, knows.

These might be questions to give my Introductory Psychology students to encourage them to conduct a scholarly literature review.  Perhaps in the process I’ll teach them about EvernoteDiigoDelicious,  Zotero, and  Google Scholar and have them help me compare the strengths and weaknesses of these tools in addition to comparing the kinds (and quality) of answers they get using Internet search engines versus library data bases.

Here is some anecdotal evidence provided by one of my playful students that owners like me (though there is a debate between Robin and me as to who is the owner) may start looking like their dogs!

Newfed

 Trivia question from Robin:

What was the name of the Newf who accompanied Lewis and Clark?

Answer is here if you fail to find out—and even if you do.

 



Curious DavidEnvironmental ProtectionGlobal Educationsocial psychologytechnology tools

Remembering Mother Earth: Reflections on Earth Day 2014.

North Lake Flowers

 

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.

July 10

 

 

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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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An APP a day… Give me an “A”!

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.

Enough, even though I hear the buzz of “B’s.”

 

 

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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!

Appsbook-writingCurious David

(E)booked!

Bookwhacked

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?

Evil Eye

Nazar Boncugu