As I get closer to showing students how to (self) publish a book, I am reviewing resources that I have used in the past. The technology and tools change so quickly. My two “bibles” for the moment (hard copy) are Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch’s APE: How to Publish a Book and Chris McMullen’s Volumes 1 and 2 A Detailed Guide to Self-publishing with Amazon and Other Online BookSellers. I have the most experience using Amazon’s CreateSpace software though now and again I am tempted to use Lulu.com –in large part because I have seen what Jane Hart has been able to do with it in publishing her Modern Professional Learners book.
Since I just finished introducing my students to LinkedIn, I thought that I should revisit its “InLearning” resource (formerly Lynda.com) to investigate what l might learn there. I was underwhelmed.
The screen cast below (7 minutes) documents my discoveries there.
Learning from this experience, I further documented needs for improvement of this resource in a LinkedIn article I wrote and posted last night.
I had a few “extra minutes” at work today for reflection. I’m awaiting (dis)approval of seeking Crowdfunding financial support to expand my students’ capabilities to self publish books. I am also writing a few small grants to fund some modest research comparing several different “brain fitness” programs (e.g. BrainHD and Lumosity).
Just for fun I chose to document my rambling ruminations by creating a screencast. I still find Screenflow easier for me to use than Capto or Camtasia. I favor using Skitch for Screenshots from my Mac. It is indeed hard to teach an old dogged professor new tricks (or to discard old tools).
In the screen cast below I am thinking out loud as I experiment with the camera software (iglasses) and the microphone (a Yeti). I am leaning towards using both for our next Student Guides to Internet Learning Tools (if funded). The first volumes of the new works will most likely focus on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Screencasting tools. Oops, time to go for a walk with my canine companion!
While cleaning the office today I came across my journal notes from when I still was a graduate student at Ohio State. I had just returned from a two-day job interview at then-named Carroll College in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Much has changed since then! I continue working against changing too much too quickly.
I still use and keep journals now–some paper and pencil— though I now do most journaling using software dedicated to that function. Though I have explored the utility of many apps, my personal preference at the moment is DayOne.
I particularly use journaling to follow the recommendations of Jane Hart on the value (I would argue, the necessity) of reflecting on my work day accomplishments and failures and for short and long-term goal setting. This was one of many lessons I learned from Jane this past year. I encourage my students and clients to create regular times for written reflection.
At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year I indicated to my Chair, Dean, and Provost that I wanted to write a lot this year—especially with students. I reaffirmed that intention (to an international audience!) in an individual learning plan I was “required” to share while participating in Jane Hart’s “Supporting Everyday Workplace Learning” workshop.
I shared eight lessons that I learned in that workshop with my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, and WordPress audiences in this blog piece.
Three individuals have had a major influence on my writing since my joining the Carroll community in 1978. Carroll colleague Jim Vopat taught a course entitled “Why Write” that I had an opportunity to visit.Thank you, Jim Vopat, for giving me direction.
An influential present Carroll colleague BJ Best continues to successfully engage students in writing both by regularly modeling it and by the creation of an online, student-centered journal, Portage Magazine. Thank you, BJ, for all you have shared—including students eager to learn. I can’t wait to entwine myself in the writing of that long threatened promised adventure stories about David in Carroll-Land.
For the past decade I have followed with interest and admiration the blogging and developments in thinking of Jane Hart about uses of technology tools to enhance learning. Motivated by her initial contributions, I created a first-year seminar course based on her top twenty-five tools. More recently, my students have begun writing and publishing books about the learning tools they found of most value. We are in the process of seeking financial support to expand that effort. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your fellowship, mentorship, and friendship across the ocean.
My introduction to blogging tools reinvigorated my personal interest in writing. It enhanced my judgment of the importance and value of including writing exercises in my classes. I am convinced that properly taught, introduced and regularly used, blogging and micro-blogging tools can enhance a student’s civic responsibilities (e.g. writing a thoughtful response to a New York Times online article or to a local paper—rather than merely clicking the “like” button). They can be used to improve students’ writing and enjoyment of writing, and can expand their knowledge about “publishing” and making the blogosphere and the world a better place.
What are your favorite technology learning tools? Now (until September 23) is a good time to send your recommendations to Jane Hart (see this link) as she for the 10th year finishes compiling recommendations made by learning professionals. Jane will be organizing her report into three broad categories of learning tools:
Top 100 Tools for Education – those used in schools, colleges, and universities
Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – those used in training, for performance support, and social collaboration.
Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – those used for self-organized learning.
In the next couple of weeks I shall be sharing my recommendations and the results of my revisiting my most useful desktop tools with particular emphasis on those that enhance my writing/ publishing/ screencasting capabilities.
I now usually also give my research assistants an opportunity to give me their recommendations. Last year they wrote and published their first book about their favorite tools. As soon as they are settle in I’ll share some of their new good work and their recommendations.
Earlier this morning I had a team meeting with two of my student research assistants before leaving for an off-campus meeting with my Schneider Consulting business partners, Jane and Greg Schneider. I gave these two student assistants three assignments (with the additional task of passing on these assignments to their remaining two team members who were scheduled to arrive at noon):
Develop for me a blog piece that evaluates the usefulness of VoiceThread for us.
Continue working on the ebooks we plan to publish in Kindle Format using Amazon’s Kindle Direct software. I am delighted that as I write this blog piece this evening all assignments were completed.
I praised them for the consistent excellence they were demonstrating in their work with me. In part, our success at working so well together is because we have developed certain habits that facilitate communication and work flow:
Saving the day’s work on Google Drive where we all share access and editing privileges.
Demonstrating the right balance between solving problems on their own with creative “workarounds” or insights and knowing when to seek my assistance.
Learning together, using what we learn, and sharing it with others.
Making time for reflection, celebration, and having fun. I’m still laughing at the delightful reading that Alison and Lizzy shared with me today via a screen cast in a draft of a blog.
When Ariana and Tia ran into a bottleneck today which they could not circumvent, they promptly communicated the problem to me via email sending a screen cast documenting which computer they were using and exactly what problem they were having. Consequently, I was not only able to recommend a solution to the problem but I was also able to share the screen cast with one of my business partners and teach her about screencasting. How lucky I am to have the opportunity to work with, develop, and learn from such talented students.
Allow me to introduce one of my consulting partners, Jane Schneider, in her screen casting debut using Voilá. Today I introduced her to WordPress and to a WordPress guide my students are developing. I hope that Jane, Greg and I from time to time can share with interested readers some of the work that our team does together.
Inspired by the release of Jane Hart’s latest 2015 Learning Tool Guidebook (well worth the purchase and careful reading), my students and I are in the process of writing Student Guides to the tools THEY find of most value at this point in their lives. Initially we’ll release them as blog posts. We welcome feedback. At the end of this semester we hope to bundle them together and post them as a Kindle-formatted e-book using a program like CreateSpace.
Proof-reading ready copy of self-published book I’ve talked about being in progress for the past 30 years!
I’m sitting on the porch attempting to complete the bulk of my Fall semester Carroll University course preparation before intentionally disconnecting from the Internet and enjoying five days of pure vacation in northern Michigan a week from tomorrow. This year I shall be teaching two sections of Psychology 205 (Statistics and Experimental Design) and one section of Psychology 303 (Experimental Social Psychology).
Tonight I am focusing on the Statistics and Experimental Design course—-a course that is particularly meaningful to me. For the past 20 years I have used a traditional textbook enhanced by my handouts. Students also have weekly labs to gain hands-on experience using SPSS (The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). I’ve been very pleased by evidence that students learn, and I have received consistent positive evaluations across the years about the course both at the course’s completion and from graduates. But, there is always room for improvement—especially improvement attempts informed by thoughtful reflection from former students. So help me out. Are the two ideas below worth pursuing?
Across the years I have repeated heard from students how much they valued handouts I have distributed. These have essentially been a succinct outline of my notes (though I must confess that I haven’t used notes in 15 years!). The handouts are replete with a congery of Carroll-specific data and data collection exercises.
I have been troubled by the high cost to students of textbooks and bothered by what I see as unnecessary inclusions in textbooks (e.g. color, study guides, constant revisions, and electronic ancillaries of dubious didactic value) which drive up costs. Therefore, I’ve been recently exploring a number of self-publishing mechanisms (especially Lulu.com and ibooks author). One of the best resources about self-publishing I have come across is Rick Smith’s (self-published!) CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass (2014 edition). I found it very useful and useable.
I’ve recently carefully examined Amazon’s CreateSpace.com. I have been very impressed by its ease of use, pricing structure, and quality of physical book production. I am holding in my hand tonight a hard-copy proof of a very physically attractive book —my book—with a glossy cover which I created using Create Space’s Cover Creator software. If I proceed, the book can be printed on demand and/or, if I choose, it can be converted relatively effortlessly to Kindle format (This i have not yet tried). I can pretty much decide the cost to readers (I’ve toyed with the idea of it being free).
Idea 1: I am tempted to give students the opportunity to buy a copy and to help me improve the book by their adding their own data collection examples. Alternatively, I hold off distribution until 2nd semester when I before which time I add information to the book (perhaps with some student/former student collaborators).
Idea 2: I am also considering building into the course this semester formal instruction in using Survey Monkey software now that I have a Carroll account in addition to my Schneider Consulting account. I envision in my last few years’ teaching creating a Carroll Student Statistical Consulting service and this would be one of the tools the use.
Phoumany Phouybanhdyt (Class of 2014) ‘s thoughts:
Lucidpress is advertised as a design and layout app for anyone to make print and digital documents. Recent reviews which we examined have been favorable. Personally, I am impressed with what this application can do, although there are a few problems I encountered while learning to use it. Presently Lucidpress is still in its Beta version, so my hope is that when it transitions away from a Beta version on April 21st, 2014 , these gremlins will disappear.
To explore the features of Lucidpress, I made a sample print flyer, print invitation, and a digital newsletter. Overall, I think Lucidpress is relatively easy to use. You have the ability to work from either a template or from a blank slate. The tools and options are not difficult to maneuver.
The look of this application is very sleek and organized. When working on the digital newsletter, I was able to add a live hyperlink, embed videos, and even use a scrolling effect for the text box. Inside the digital newsletter I created, one could click a text link which redirected the user to a Facebook event in a new window. Lucidpress allows the user much room for creativity. Things I especially liked. What I love about Lucidpress is the overall sleekness of the products you can produce and how easy it is to use. Of course, I still have a lot to learn and the full capabilities are far beyond what I have explored in the hour I took to investigate its capabilities. This app essentially allows one to do what Microsoft Publisher can do, but more! Another neat feature of Lucidpress is that you can link it to Google Drive and share it with members of a team. This allows multiple users to collaborate on the same project and share comments. Moreover, one can share the finished project in multiple ways: Embedding it on a site, sharing a link, or sending it via e-mail. This application is currently free in its Beta stage when you make a free account. I would highly recommend this product.
Things in Need of Improvement. A couple problems I encountered while using Lucidpress included issues with video embedding, hyperlink embedding, and sharing the project. With the videos, I was able to get them embedded, but when I previewed the document, the videos failed to play. I had some initial issues with embedding a hyperlink, but it appears this may have been a fluke. In regards to sharing the project, I attempted to create a link and tried to copy and paste it into a new browser. I was able to get the link copied but when in a new window it refused to give me the option to paste. This issue is also apparent when trying to paste the link into a document and other locations. Sharing via e-mail appeared to go through to a Gmail account but a Microsoft Outlook account failed to receive the invitation to view. More trials will need to be done to figure this out.
Here is an example created with Lucid Press by a fellow research assistant, Angela Wong.
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