Tag: Carroll University

alumniCurious David

The Wisdom (and Freshness) of Freshmen

As I continue the process of winding up and winding down and sorting through 40 years of files, photos, and memories, I have rediscovered a lot of things — like a Hinakaga yearbook photo from 1984 of my two quarter-of-a-century departmental colleagues Virginia and Ralph Parsons. Thank you Ralph and Ginny for sharing your wisdom with me during my “freshman” faculty years.


Four years ago, I wrote the following blog piece in an open letter to the Freshman class of 2018, many of who will be graduating in less than 50 days. I shared this with one of my first-year students, Kristen (whose mother attended Carroll and whose aunt was my research assistant). Here is what I wrote four years ago:

Dear First-year Student,

I may not meet you for a while since I am not teaching first-year courses as often as I used to. I do offer you a heartfelt welcome.  You may well be the son or daughter or niece or nephew of one of my former students. That happens a lot.

First-year students have played a very important positive role in my life during my 36+ years of teaching here. You have made me smile, motivated me to learn from your enthusiasm, made me proud as I have seen you grow across your years here, and made me especially happy when we have been able to stay in touch across the years.

You sometimes have been favorably referred to as “the App Generation.” Don’t forget that your best apps are your values and your mind. You, the Class of 2018, do have very different life experiences than I. I look forward to learning from you and with you–if not directly this year, then in subsequent years. Do drop by and say hello in the interim.

Here are a few friendly suggestions I offer based on my years of teaching and learning.

Don’t be too proud to seek help or advice from faculty, staff, administrators, and older students here–especially those who know the campus and our students well.

Take advantage of opportunities to try new things, to meet new people (especially from different cultures) and to learn how to learn better. Let us become a global choir of learning.

Research suggests that the quality of relationships (e.g. with peers, with faculty)  is central to a positive, successful college experience.

Set aside some time for self-reflection.

Let  self-discipline enable you rather than imprison you, find the right balance between service and involuntary servitude, between doing a right thing and doing things right. My own freshman year at Oberlin College in 1967 was informative and formative, lonely and elating, value challenging and values affirming. I envy you the learning opportunities that are here.

The last time I taught a first-year seminar (dealing with Internet Learning tools) I asked freshmen to reflect upon their freshman year–and I returned their paper to them when they were seniors. I asked Kristen to share her experiences during her first year at Carroll. Here are her thoughts:

As I start to wrap up my freshman year at Carroll University, Dr. Simpson suggested that I take the time to step back from my busy schedule and reflect on my first year of college.

One of the main things I noticed right away about college was the improved maturity in my peers. In my first semester, I was astonished to see how everyone treated each other with kindness and respect. Not only this, but you can tell the students at this university want to engage in the subject. Even when the content is not pertaining to their major, they still take the subject seriously.

Originally, I thought that taking classes that were not pertaining to my major were a waste of time. However, after taking multiple general education classes, I realized the value of them. One of my favorite classes that I took at Carroll was called Music of the Movies. It was very insightful and focused on how movies and culture changed overtime. I can definitely see how these general education courses can help students who do not know what do to in the future. These classes have helped challenge me in becoming a better overall student and person.

Working with a professor has also challenged me in ways my classes never have. To be able to work with someone who is knowledgeable in my field of study is an incredible unique opportunity. I have not only learned more about my field of study, but I am also challenged in ways I never thought before.

I can also tell I have changed as an individual. Throughout my high school career, I was extremely shy and had a lack of confidence in myself. I would rarely ask for help from my teachers. Although I still struggle with my confidence at times, I am, however, more talkative with my peers and professors. I also contribute in more classroom conversations and never hesitate to ask for help when needed.

Throughout this first year, I have learned more about myself than ever before. Although it can be quite difficult at times to balance between education and sanity, overall, I find college to be an unexpected enlightening experience.

ArtCurious David

Shall I Visit the Netherlands – Wat stel je dat ik doe?

One of my greatest regrets is that over the past forty years teaching here at Carroll I have failed to take advantage of opportunities to take students abroad. My own such personal experiences (Spain and Portugal for a few weeks while attending Howland High School; Guanajuato, Mexico for a 6 weeks while an undergraduate at Oberlin College; 6 months in Bergen, Norway while a graduate student at The Ohio State University) were formative and informative. Fortunately I’ve been blessed with students, friends, relatives, and colleagues whose home is abroad. Hopefully upon retiring Debbie and I will do some international traveling.

Where should we travel? Our passports are in hand; we used them traveling through Canada last summer on our way to the Cooperstown Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony. We have friends and relatives in Russia, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. I am of Scottish heritage and becoming increasingly interested in genealogy.

Recently the Netherlands has been sending me signals that perhaps I should visit there. I’ve already checked it out on by following a Dutch news feed!

And there are fascinating engaged friends there!

And talented artists like Saskia SE de Rooy have even come to Carroll reminding me about the beauty in life. My portrait sculpture done by the talented Carroll student artist Ashley Goetz under the tutelage of Saskia will be among those displayed in April.

Perhaps I also would attempt to visit Diederick Stapel who has given me so much to think about.

Or look at the museum pieces of the artist Godfried Schalken that Google’s app said my selfie 67% matched.

Debbie ALMOST bought some wooden shoes when we were in Holland, Michigan last summer.

Maybe we should go get the genuine article from the Netherlands.


We had to hurry back to attend an important tea-party at North Lake, an important annual event. North Lake living is like living in Neverland. It helps me not grow up and keeps me laughing.


Wat stel je dat ik doe?








Curious DavidVimeoYouTube

Experimenting with Screen Casting: 2009 – 2018

As I continue to “declutter,” refocus, and wind up and wind down, I  (re)discovered over 50 screen casts my students and I made and stored on Vimeo or YouTube. At the time I just was learning about Jane Hart’s technology learning tools, and I was experimenting with screen casting as a teaching/learning tool. Here is a hodgepodge of those earlier productions that might be of interest to alumni or, especially, to former and present student assistants. I may use the footage in an e-book examining the relative strengths and weaknesses of iMovie, Capto, Screenflow, Camtasia and “TOBenamed later”.


Robin the Newf taught me so much—as does Leo the Great.


Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Toolszeigarnik

Unfinished Business—and Miles to Go Before I Sleep

I see that I have 101 drafts of unpublished posts in my WordPress account!


And there are quite a few unfinished LinkedIn articles I’ve been meaning to write. And that fiction piece about a small Midwestern College.  And that neglected history of Carroll that has been too long ignored…

My Mac Desktop is (for me) relatively uncluttered with just one important reading task awaiting me  –carefully reading and putting into action the wisdom of my mentor across the Pond of 10 years Jane Hart. And I really would like to start finish those student-written guides to Internet Learning Tools whose production died when I failed to receive Crowd-funding. Perhaps I should use Kick-starter?

Having successfully winnowed my Mac apps at a faster rate than I added them, I still have far more than I actually NEED if I stay on course for when I plan to leave academe.

So much unfinished business–and miles to go before I sleep (I wouldn’t want it to be otherwise).  Still, time to prioritize my remaining precious döstädning time.

Curious David

Book-Writing With Students

Book Promo

My students and I are in the process of writing about Brain Fitness Training. This book-writing task necessitates, among other things, considerable collaborative writing and sharing in addition to mastery of some technology learning tools which I have introduced them to. Without any instruction from me they have been using Google Drive, which according to Jane Hart’s annual survey is the top educational technology tool of 2017. Because I have not used it for a while (since I last authored a book with students),  I was contemplating writing a short piece (or screen cast) about how to use LinkedIn Learning (and five ways that it could be improved). In particular, I was going to use as an example my evaluating the many LinkedIn Learning programs that deal with Google Apps.

However, I strongly believe in the ideas of Jane Hart about the need to become a Modern Professional Learner.

It dawned on me that rather than my sitting down and watching several video lessons I could instead ask the (student) experts to mentor me. I am quite pleased by the result which Tia, one of my research assistants documented.

Here is Alex Fuhr’s 6 Minute Guide to Google Drive 

Agingbook writing with studentsbrain fitness trainingCarroll University USACurious David

Brain Fitness Training: Fact vs. Fiction


There is much interest today in using technology to improve one’s brain power,  one’s health, and one’s well-being. Take a moment to conduct an online search on the topics of “brain fitness for seniors,” “brain fitness games,” “brain fitness apps, “and “brain training.” You’ll  be overwhelmed with the number of results. Unfortunately the social media and advertising claims are far removed from the science upon which legitimate claims can be made. How can one decide which claims are “snake oil,” which represent vaporware, and which are based upon  well-done research? Which programs are merely entertainment? Which make false or unverifiable claims? Which claims are patently wrong? Are there some vaild brain training interventions that are appropriate and proven effective for special populations? How can one protect or improve one’s brain heath?

In part because a number of Carroll alumni have been actively involved in research involving aging and memory (e.g. Michelle Braun, John DenBoer and Mark Klinger), and in part because I am approaching the age of 70, I’ve taken an increased interest in memory research.  I’ve always been fascinated by the too much-neglected research of Harvard’s Ellen Langer exploring concepts of mindfulness and mindlessness. I found especially fascinating her book Counterclockwise, though I am still skeptical about its implications for age reversal. [There IS empirical evidence (needful of replication and extension) that subjective perceptions of age can be affected by the mere process of measuring variables related to aging].

A day doesn’t pass when I am not flooded with emails about  “brain fitness training opportunities” that I am implored to explore.  Brain U Online gives me a friendly reminder of the availability of a brain training session invitation.  Blinkist suggests that I read a synopsis of the book Brain Maker: The Power of Gut Microbes to Heal and Protect your Brain for Life.  I am alerted that Episode #4 (of 10) “Six ‘Brain Hacks’ to Enrich Your Brain” from a gohibrow.com course awaits my viewing.  An interesting NPR story invites me to explore the brain-enhancing benefits of bilingual education. I receive an invitation to take an AARP approved  (and United Health Care supported)Life Reimagined”  free online course on “Brain Power: How to Improve Your Brain Health” taught by Wendy Suzuki, Ph.D.  Posit Science urges me to become a “Smart Cookie” by joining their “…unique braining program … which unlike others… is backed by more than 100 published scientific papers”… I think that I’ll send them all  a copy of the recent review of brain training  research  n Psychological Science in the Public Interest (here is the link).

How does one separate the wheat from the chaff of these claims? Which avenues are promising and which are merely advertising promises? Will I really get smarter with five-minute lessons delivered to my inbox every morning? Do I want to? Would I be well-served by following my heart and attempting to (re) learn long forgotten Spanish? Would I be better served by exercising more? Learning how to play an instrument? Should I become involved in creating an Elder hostel educational experiences? So many questions. What fun to begin systematically answering them with talented students, data, and critical thinking.

Meet my Fall  2017 Carroll University student research seminar team. Jeff, Alexis, Sami, Abbey, Antonio, Nathan, Alex, Alex, and Ricky.

We have begun developing answers to questions such as these and are in the process of writing a short book sharing our findings. What questions would you like us to answer? Stay tuned!









alumniCurious DavidStrategic Planning Data Resources

Strategic Plan Data Mining 101

What might prove useful resources to (re)visit as Carroll begins a Strategic Planning Process? Payscale.com’s recent release College/University ROI data base (see below) reminded me of the value of being aware of such resources and of the importance of understanding their value, their assumptions, their limitations, and their potential uses and misuses. Below are a few of my favorite data resources. What have I missed?

  1.  Payscale.com’s recent release of 2017 College/University ROI data base
  2. CollegeScoreCard (click on link and try it) wonderfully introduces an important trend toward TRUE TRANSPARENCY in data sharing and a very useful interactive data base for comparing schools
  3. the UW Accountability Dashboard similarly exemplifies this healthy trend.
  4. College Results Online is  such a gem in the rough.
  5. Chronicle of .Higher Education (I pay for premium access.)

  6. AAUP Salary Data: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  7. Executive Compensation at Private Colleges: Source: Chronicle of Higher Education

  8. IPEDS (individual institutions and comparisons

  9. Here is a link to the U.S. Department of Education’s  data base “trove” that drives its data base.  

  10. And if you work dig deeply enough, you can even find historical data on one’s own institution

30 Day Learning ChallengeCurious David

What have you learned today?

Lots of (re)learning in my near future as I upgrade my Macs to High Sierra. More learning of an additional kind is occurring in my life as my students and I closely examine the efficacy of brain-training software. In that endeavor I am revisiting some data analysis procedures I haven’t had a need to use in a few decades! And today, while proctoring an exam, I learned from my students a feature of their calculators I did not know.

I enjoy being ignorant in the sense of the original Latin ignorare of “to not know”. Not knowing invites learning, and I find the process of learning exhilarating. Thank you, Howland High Latin teacher Mrs. Bode, for developing in me a love of words and of languages. Because of you I have become quite a wordsmith.

This is Day 5 of my 30 Day Learning Challenge created by Jane Hart. I always find “courses” created by her well-designed, making thoughtful use of materials she has collected, vetted, improved, and shared across the years. I am particularly impressed at how she somehow is able to add a personalized factor, reacting to comments and mentoring. Truly inspiring and worthy of emulation. Thank you, Jane Hart, for over a decade of teaching me. I look forward to your imminent publication of Top Learning Tools 2017.



And of course, I have the dogs as my teachers. Perhaps they can teach me their platform sailing skills.



30 Day Learning ChallengeCurious David

Choosing the Appropriate Technology Learning Tool: Thoughts from a Decade Ago




I am revisiting the 200 blog pieces I’ve written or co-written the past 11 years. The thoughts below still accurately reflect how I shall proceed when Jane Hart releases her Top Learning Tools list next week.

I’ve spent quite a bit of time the past few days thinking through how best and how quickly to proceed in bringing into my classroom the right balance of elearning tools. Just now I have finished examining Jane Hart’s recent overhauling, updating, and reorganizing of her 2010 Learning Tools Directory. More specifically, I have gone through Jane’s category of “instructional tools” identifying which showed promise of immediate use to me. My admittedly idiosyncratic “screening criteria” included the following:

  1. Do I already have the software? Alas in my frenzied attempt to know about such tools I have too often acquired a tool and then never deeply explored its utility.
  2. Does it have a quizzing/testing component? I want to be able better to give students prompt, reasonably personalized and reasonably detailed feedback.
  3. Is the tool free (or, if not, does the cost offset the costs of free software)? I don’t have time to spend with buggy or poorly documented software.
  4. Will, in my professional judgment, the tool truly allow me to teach better or in new ways or will it only provide students with a fun experience? Though there is a place for fun in learning, I am interested in more than entertainment.
  5. Is the tool hosted? Since I move back and forth between a Windows and a Mac environment (and because my personal machines are often more advanced than those available to employees at work) it is important that something I develop be easily portable and accessible for student use.
  6. Will I (and my students) be able to master the tool quickly and use it immediately? I want to avoid frustrating my students with a steep tool-learning curve unless I judge that frustration is a necessary or inevitable component to mastery.


AgingCurious David

We All have Pieces of the Puzzle—and the Potential for Making New Pieces to Create New Pictures.

I have very few spare minutes today. With aging comes an increased awareness of the fact that I no longer can successfully delude myself about my ability to multi task (see this link). Fortunately I can count upon my trustworthy student research team and student research assistants to get things done in an excellent and timely fashion. They make me look better than I am. As I learned today, I also can learn so much from my former students. As I have shared several times in articles on LinkedIn, there are a multitude of under recognized learning opportunities and resources within one’s workplace (see my thoughts by clicking this link). We all have pieces of a solution to puzzling problems.

My research team is sharpening their learning tools – and their minds— on the purported efficacy of “brain-training” programs (click here for more).  Do they work? What are appropriate indices for assessing improvements? What claims do companies make for products related to brain training? How good are the studies cited? Are there differences in effectiveness as a function of age, expectations, or health of the customer?

During our first week together we have focused on team-building, assessing current critical reading skill abilities, and identifying what technology learning skills are most likely to advance our success. My research team created a Facebook group to facilitate communication among us. I would have chosen differently based upon my familiarity with the visionary work the past decade of Jane Hart identifying Top Learning Tools (click here for more about this). But I have already learned much about the strengths and weaknesses of this Facebook as a group communication tool.Nonetheless,  I can learn much from those like my talented students whom I mentor .

Having identified several individuals knowledgable about brain-training interventions and aging (all Carroll graduates!), we soon will be drawing upon their expertise (and their generosity) via Skype interactions. (Thank you in advance, John and Michelle). Though I have used Skype in the past to communicate with educators in Lithuania and Turkey, with former students and friends in Nicaragua and England, and with a nephew and his beautiful family in Switzerland, I am well aware that Skype is an evolving tool. My learning never ends. Also, there are numerous alternative tools which can accomplish the same communication goal (click here for some examples). Also, I have Skyped across a number of machines (Mac, iPad, PC, and phone) and Skype ids! Hence, I posted on Facebook a request for help from individuals who might be willing to help me practice Skype. That you, members of my extended Carroll Facebook community.

Yesterday I practiced Skyping within my office suite with one of my research assistants (who playfully morphed into a space alien) –and I learned how to morph into a frog. Thank you, Tia! Now if I can only figure out how to turn off those camera effects:)

It dawned upon me at 5:30 this morning that there probably are excellent Skype tutorials available to me on the dramatically improved LinkedIn Premium account I have invested in (Thank you, CEO of LinkedIn Jeff W.). I was correct. However, as I was about to invest an hour of my precious time going through an excellent tutorial there, a former student—Luis (now in Virginia) reached out to me via Skype with an invitation to join him in a Skype session. We systematically reviewed and discovered capabilities of Skype I need to know.  Thank you, Luis, for providing me with just in time learning.

Today I met with a very precocious first year student whom I first met when I interviewed her two years ago. Her mother and Aunt are both Carroll alumni. She taught me a lot even in my first sustained interaction. Thank you Deborah and Meredith for sending her my way.

Learning never ends. Don’t overlook the tremendous learning resources available to you by your reaching out to your employees, former students, and colleagues. Think outside your title and and outside your role.