I see that I have 101 drafts of unpublished posts in my WordPress account!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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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:
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.
Does it have a quizzing/testing component? I want to be able better to give students prompt, reasonably personalized and reasonably detailed feedback.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Though I failed to get the crowd funding I sought last year (described in an earlier post) I am delighted to report that I have been blessed to have 10 very bright, eager to learn students in my Research Seminar. Without doubt their research will advance some of the accomplishments I hope to achieve before my leaving Carroll. Some of what I am incorporating into this seminar —e.g. giving students numerous opportunities to self-publish— is described in several earlier blogs like this one and this reflection. As we enter our 2nd week of learning together I begun introducing students to technology learning tools (e.g. WordPress, Diigo, SurveyMonkey, and Skype) and my 68-year-old thinking about memory and aging. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your introducing me to these tools 11 years ago.
My student co-researchers are responsible for taking much of the initiative in making this course successful–and for teaching me. Below is a description of Abbey S.’s and Alex F.’s creation of a Facebook Messenger group for our research team. In the next few weeks we shall be Skyping with some Carroll alumni who are knowledgable about our research topic (“Brain Training”). Do let us know if you are interested in following us, supporting our efforts, or contributing to our learning.
Effectiveness of Facebook Messenger as a Communication Tool
By Abbey Schwoerer and Alex Fuhr
In our Psychology Research Seminar this semester, we were given the task of coming up with a user-friendly, easily accessible communication tool for the class to use. What we needed was a platform that could be accessed free of charge, and allowed us to send pictures, links, and word messages. We wanted to use a tool which was generally familiar to our classmates and translated easily to different technological devices. Our final solution to this problem was to use Facebook Messenger or simply called “Messenger”.
What is Facebook Messenger?
Facebook Messenger is an instant messaging application of Facebook. It allows the user to have a private conversation with other Facebook users. To use Messenger, you must have a Facebook account on facebook.com. There is a newer feature which allows you to message other Facebook users without being their friend, although the other user will need to accept your request to chat with them. You can create one-on-one chats, or chats with multiple members called “group chats”. It is equivalent to texting, but without having to exchange phone numbers with others. You can access Facebook Messenger through the Facebook website or as a downloadable application on your smart phone.
Why use Facebook Messenger over other communication tools?
This versatility of the tool is what drew us to use it for classroom purposes. Unlike most team chat applications, Messenger is free to use; even so, it still provides the most important functions that most of the paid apps have. Messenger allows you to send word messages, voice messages, pictures, videos, polls, plans, games, locations, payments, links, emoji’s and GIF’s. The interface looks a slight bit different depending on if you are using a computer or a phone, but each allow you to perform the same functions. It also allows you to connect to other websites to share media from them to a conversation. Some websites include the musical application Spotify, KAYAK travel planner, and The Wall Street Journal news website.
How do you use Facebook Messenger?
To use Messenger on your computer, log in to the Facebook website and on the blue bar at the top of the screen, towards the right-hand side you will see a black and white version of the picture above. You can also access it on the left-hand side of the page. Click on this and it will show you all recent conversations you have had on Messenger. You can also start a new conversation by clicking the blue words which read “New Message”. Once you click on a conversation, it will open a chat box on the lower right portion of your screen and you can continue or begin to converse with a friend. Other than simply messaging, you can voice call and video chat with others. To modify the chat, you can click on the gear button labeled “options”. You can change the color of the chat, send files, and many other functions. If you desire to search for a picture or an article within the chat, you must enter the application through the button on the left-hand side of your home page. This will pull up your conversations in a different format. On the left of the new screen will be your conversations and on the right, once you click on a conversation, will be the “Search in Conversation” option. The class may need to use this once the conversation becomes larger and longer.
To use Messenger on your phone, you need to download the Messenger application. It will look like the picture above. You can see all your recent message conversations when you open the application. Once you click on a conversation, you can perform the same actions as on the computer. To create a new message, you will click on the square with a pencil in the upper right-hand corner. If you allow it, the application will send you notifications when you get a new message. A downfall of using Messenger on your phone is you cannot search for an item within your conversation.
In summary, the multitude of applications this tool provides makes it a viable medium for our communication needs in Research Seminar. We have already begun to use software and it seems to be running smoothly. We look forward to the new possibilities this communication tool will provide for us this semester!
The deadline is approaching for participating in Jane Hart’s 2017 survey of Top 10 Learning Tools. My nominations this year reflect the tools I am using (or will be teaching) in a Research Seminar dealing with “Brain Fitness Training ” software.
SurveyMonkey. Using SurveyMonkey I have already sent my 10 students a survey assessing their baseline familiarity with technology learning tools, their past research experience, and their career plans. I also use this tool in my consulting work with Schneider Consulting. Here are some of my earlier thoughts about SurveyMonkey.
WordPress. I enjoy blogging, and I have found that my students can develop a love or respect for writing by being taught how to use this tool. Here is an example of some WordPress writing by two of my last year’s research assistants.
Diigo. The research that I do with students very much requires teamwork and sharing of information. I find Diigo a handy resource for sharing bookmarks and I am impressed at how it has improved across the years. I have already created a Diigo group Brain Fitness Training: Exploring the validity of claims about brain fitness software and brain training apps and added 20 resources. Let me know if you’d like to be invited to contribute to its development.
SPSS. This is still the major data analysis software I use and teach. Mastery of it has helped my students get jobs and scholarships.
ScreenFlow. We may have reason to make screencasts. My students and I often use it to create lessons for other students.
Sharpening and trying out learning tools for 2017 (tonight I tried learning Spanish with Babbel:)), I came across a blog post written by my student assistants that somehow never got posted! Tia and Lizzie will be back in a few weeks to begin their senior years at Carroll. Alison will be starting graduate school. Here is what they so well wrote.
Quizlet is a very helpful tool when it comes to studying. Quizlet has many different learning tools which can help each individual learner be successful. When you first start with Quizlet, you must create an account, which is free. As a student you have the option to create your own flash cards, or even use flashcards your professor has created. Within Quizlet, there are four main components for any teacher or student who is creating flashcards. They are the speller, learn, space race, and test options. The speller option gives you a definition and from that you must type in the correct answer. If you do not spell the term correctly, you get the flash card wrong, and it will be put back in the stack for you to try again. The learn option helps you remember the word associated with the definition and is normally done at your own pace and not timed like some of the other options. The space race option is a timed game when defining the definitions in your flash card set. The test option is a multiple choice or matching section of all your flash cards in a certain set. My personal favorite is the matching and multiple choice option because it simulates an actual exam.
When I was in high school my teacher in my College Credit Human Anatomy and Physiology class created flashcards for all her students. The flash cards that helped me the most were with pictures of certain types of cells and what they were called on the back. This really helped with lab practicals when you had to look inside the microscope and recall what the cell was called. By playing the matching game option on Quizlet, it effectively prepared me for the exam, rather than me just staring at my lab manual trying to memorize the different features of each cell. I remember more by being quizzed in part by learning from my mistakes. Quizlet identifies which flashcards you do not understand, and then you can focus on these flash cards until you master them. At Carroll, when I was taking my Anatomy and Physiology class, I reused the flashcards my professor in high school created for me. With Quizlet, you have access to any flash cards on the website as long as the publisher makes them public. Quizlet is a very useful study tool for all types of learners, as well as saves the environment by using no paper when creating these flash cards.
I agree with Tia in that Quizlet is a very helpful tool when it does come to studying for an exam, a test, or a quiz. Dr. Simpson gave us a link (an example is here) in his Statistics and Experimental Design class telling us that those were the terms we were going to need to know for our exam. I looked them over and they were very useful in the sense of not having to make my own cards, but instead using the ones on Quizlet to study the terms. The Quizlet tool helped me figure out which terms I didn’t know and which terms I really did know. Quizlet is a very useful learning tool and very convenient to use.
I have always been a big fan of using the old flashcard method for studying for my classes but slowly I have been turning my study habits over to the internet. For my Spanish classes, other students in previous Spanish classes from around the United States have posted their vocabulary, grammar, and cultural sections on Quizlet. This allows my classmates and myself the opportunity to use these Quizlet flashcards to help prepare for our tests and final exams. It is convenient because I can access these Quizlets on multiple devices any time that I may have during the day.
My nursing major friends find Quizlet convenient when preparing for large final exams. These exams usually include many nursing terms, so one of the students will make a Quizlet with all of the vocabulary and then share the Quizlet with the rest of the class. This allows all the students to benefit from having access to Quizlet to help them study for their exams.
Lizzy and Alison made two quick Quizlets to test out some of the features. One Quizlet was about the top learning tools that our research team has written about in previous blogs and the other Quizlet was about some quick facts about Carroll University. Let’s see how well YOU do!
I try to protect some daily time for learning something new. Surprisingly, sometimes that involves (re)discovering features of technology learning tools that I didn’t realize (or forgot) existed. Perhaps these features didn’t exist at the time I first “mastered” the tool—technology tools evolve. Perhaps, on the other hand, the (re)discovered features didn’t address my needs at the time—my needs change.
Google scares me—perhaps because of my reading of The Circle. But I find myself more and more using a variety of Google apps. In fact, I am considering creating a course just addressing all the Google applications—and their weaknesses.