Over the past decade I been enriched by discovering, testing, curating and using a number of “technology learning tools” identified by Jane Hart. My students and I are soon to release a series of ebooks sharing how we use these tools. The challenge is to find balance between tool use and the tools controlling the user. For a horrific example of such a dystopia I recommend your reading Dave Eggers novel The Circle.
Though I have explored every year each of the 100 learning tools, I have no “favorite” tool. Which tool I use most is very much a function of the learning/teaching task I am engaged in, the discretionary time I allow myself for being online, the audience I am working with, and the particular computer/operating system I am using. All these factors change very quickly.
This year I am using Twitter much less often than in the past. Because of an increased need for collaborative work with on campus committees, cross-national collaborations, and with my student research group and because across the course of a day I move between a desktop PC, a desk top Mac, a laptop PC, a laptop Mac, and IPads, I am now using to a far greater degree Google Docs/Drive and DropBox. Without Google Docs or a similar sharing capacity I would be plagued by not remembering upon which machine I stored information needed to be shared. My international colleagues and international friends are more facile with the use of YouTube than I. Google Search (and Google Scholar) is my search engine of choice though I grossly under-use the sophisticated and nuanced search capabilities it provides.
I intentionally under use PowerPoint and force an increased use of Airtable. Evernote, for me, has potential but is nonessential in my day-to-day activity. WordPress, Facebook, and LinkedIn play an integral role in my teaching, learning, promulgating, bridge-building and networking modus operandi as well as assorted screen casting tools.
Help me out. Help me learn. Which of these tools have you used? What am I missing in discovering their utility for teaching,learning and bridge-building? Which would be most useful in advancing my interests in cross-national cross-generational teaching and learning? Which tools develop skills that all global citizens should be familiar with?
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.
Winding up; winding down. As I shoveled cleaned out organized books, folders, software, and files in my office today I came across materials from the First-Year Seminar “Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools” I taught to 25 freshmen in the Fall of 2008. To toss or not to toss—that is the question. I ultimately rejected Marie Kondo’s advice.
It’s fascinating to see how technology tools have evolved since 2008. My electing to teach that course was based upon the positive learning experiences I had for a year blogging for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. That’s where I met you, Pamela Gustafson—once, in person! You helped me bridge the Kindergarten to Higher Education gap.
Without doubt my most formative and informative learning about blogging and internet learning tools came from someone I have never personally met but to whom I am eternally indebted—the indefatigable, ubiquitous, Friend and Colleague across the pond Jane Hart. I urge all my readers to visit her web site on a regular basis and avail yourself of the rich resources.
As I re-examine my teaching, writing, and personal professional development records across the past 1o years I time and again find ample, wide-ranging evidence of her constructive impact on what I know, how I teach, how I learn, and how I consult. Thank you, Jane Hart. My research students and I will be dedicating our student guides to you for your profound influence upon us.
and I went outside at 2:00 a.m. and awakened together at 5:00 a.m. I wish I could identify why!:)
Perhaps it is due to my having a large amount of reasonably uninterrupted time. Each interruption that occurred was a positive experience. Four students came by the office for some additional help before the exam. Four students walked away seemingly more knowledgeable and more confident. A gem of a student assistant came by to squeeze in an hour’s work,in her busy schedule, and we discussed the next steps of our book. She and the other three talented students are working so well together—- and with me–challenging and supporting each other. They continually delight, refresh, and invigorate me as we learn, laugh, and grow together.
My personal software and learning tools are for the moment working flawlessly across the many different platforms (Mac OS X 11 .3 and Windows 7) and browsers (Safari, Chrome, Firefox) that I use on a daily basis. My student research team alluded to above skillfully shares their work with me via Google Drive and I move and “sync my work across Google Drive, DropBox, EverNote, and my journaling software DayOne.
We’ve arranged for tomorrow two Skype sessions–one session with a dear friend in London (or are you in Bavaria or Kurgan at the moment???) and another in Hungary. I renewed my Skype accounts. Feel free to Skype me at professordsimpson but I need to know of your intent in advance. I still have a “day job.”
On days like this I love being a professor. I’ll miss this.
It’s past time for a more systematic global outreach by me and my students. Today I met briefly with some visitors from China. I wished them a Happy New Year of the Monkey. Then I began setting up some “Skype” dates with family and friends in London, Madagascar, Hungary, and Switzerland. I’d love to reconnect with Reidar (are you in Norway or Spain?), Inci (are you still teaching in Turkey?), Irma (we’ve lost touch since our conversations from beautiful Lithuania), Simone in Costa Rica, Anna in Kenya and Miguel Luis in La Mancha, Spain—his blog is marvelous. If you would put me in touch with your Antarctica bride’s maid friend, Emily, I would have reached out to all continents:).
Alison and Lizzy are focused on developing a student guide to Skype. Here are my latest marching orders to them:
Interesting Skype draft. Do you all have a Skype account? How does it compare with alternatives (e.g. FaceTime)? Have you ever recorded a Skype session? How many people have you Skyped with comcomitantly?
We should try a group session. Then a couple with contacts abroad.
Here is their draft in progress. How might it be improved?
Technology is continually improving and changing the way the world interacts with one another. Schools are starting to go from hard cover textbooks to textbooks that are completely online. Other resources that schools utilize are programs that allow students to continue practicing and understanding concepts through online homework and additional help online. Many schools, even at the elementary level, require students to have their own computer in the classroom. With this increase in the usage of technology, face-to-face interactions are suffering due to the ease of using email, cell phones, and social media sites to interact with one another.
Skype is a learning tool that utilizes the world of technology while also incorporating face-to-face interactions with other individuals across the world. In our scenario, Dr. Simpson has used Skype to interact with individuals from other countries for business and education purposes. Additionally, the student research team has interacted with Skype inside and outside of the classroom.
For example, Alison has used Skype in the classroom when teachers wanted to bring in guest speakers. Sometimes these speakers are unavailable to drive or fly to that specific location because they may live halfway across the world or do not have the resources to pay for the trip. By using Skype, guest speakers from Qatar, Africa, and different states were able to present and bring insightful information into the classroom.
From a business point of view, Skype can be used to hold group meetings. For example, if a group of individuals need to get together to interact about plans, presentation details, or other business related aspects, but cannot all be at the same place at the same time, Skype can provide the solution. Skype allows individuals to make group audio calls up to 25 individuals and video calls with up to 10 individuals from anywhere in the world. The video call option is limited though to 100 hours per month, 10 hours per day, and 4 hours per video chat.
Some of the platforms you can access Skype on are computers, cell phones, home phones, tablets, televisions, and video game systems. With having a free account from Skype, one can send messages to one another, simply make voice calls, or hold video chats with individuals from anywhere in the world. Also, one can use the option of screen sharing which allows one to view the other person’s screen. With the new chat feature on Skype, one is able to share files and photos. The files can also be shared while the video chatting feature is being used. With the free version of Skype, an individual can text mobile phones or call landline phones at reasonable rates. To pay for these additional rates, Skype allows one to pay through many different options that may be unique to each country.
To access more features, one can purchase Skype Business. The Skype Business rate starts at $2.00 a month per user. Some of the features of Skype Business that the free version is unable to access are that an individual can video chat with up to 250 people. Also, Skype Business allows you to schedule meetings outside of work in Outlook.
Through the technology of Skype, individuals are able to utilize Skype in the classroom, for personal use, and business.
GOTTA RUN TO GIVE MY FIRST EXAMS OF THE SEMESTER.
Anyone thoughts or experience with Skype would be much appreciated. Thank you.
When I am especially busy, I encourage my student research team to use their creativity to surprise me. Here is their preliminary work for an ebook we are writing that will give student guides to software we are using. I am delighted by their work. For other guides to Screencasting tools see the excellent compilation by Richard Byrne and his Free Technology for Teachers blog.
As a student research team for Dr. Simpson we always try to find the best software to use on the task at hand which allows us to be most efficient and successful. Here we are going to compare three different screencasting tools we have become familiar with over the past few weeks: ScreenFlow, Voila, and Camtasia. All have the same purpose, but have differences. Which screen casting tool is best for you depends on the type of screen cast you want to make.We will show you screen casting examples from each of the different softwares.
When we used Voila to create a tutorial on how to use SurveyMonkey, we realized we were missing some necessary additional software. Without the additional software we could not hear our voice recording in our video. As a work-around solution we converted our video into ScreenFlow. To resolve the problematic issue with Voila, Tia, Arianna, and Dr. Simpson later downloaded the necessary additional software which automatically presented itself upon our request to record using a microphone. Once this software was installed we ran a trial video in order to ensure sound could be heard. Success, at last. Having discovered how to properly use Voila, Dr. Simpson asked his research team to make a video in order to compare Voila to the video made using ScreenFlow.
Voila is a great screen casting software that can be downloaded on your iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Since Evernote is getting rid of the software, Skitch, this new feature was created in place of it with more features that are very beneficial.
When using this app you are able to take a screen shot of your full home screen, or capture a certain section of your home screen with the different screen shot tools. You are also able to overlap multiple screenshots in the software as well. In addition, if you would like to record your voice or anything on the computer while using the device you are able to do a recording. After you have taken the recording, it will open up in Voila and you can trim your new video and have the recording play over the screen casting. One flaw of Voila, is that you must download an additional app to have noise with your recording. You also need to export your recording to an app like Imovie to complete and edit your recording.
Voila allows you to edit your screen shots in multiple different ways. Some really nice features that Skitch doesn’t have is that you are able to add stickers to your screen shots as well as add a spotlight to a certain part of the screen shot. The spotlight helps a section you select stand out and blur out the rest of the background of the screen shot as much as you would like. Another feature that you are able to do that Skitch can’t is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixelated blur, and etc. Also, there are different kinds of arrows you can use in Voila to lead someone from one spot of your screen cast to another to show them instructions, like where to go from point A to point B, and etc. Voila allows you to marquee the pictures as well. This means that with any of the shapes they have or what you create, you are able to put that shape on a certain part of the screen shot and duplicate it. So that part you’ve chosen can be more bolded, or put in another screen shot. Below is an example of the different effects and borders that Voila has available to us.
Below is the video we started out by using Voila, but turned to using ScreenFlow.
ScreenFlow is one of the first screencasting tools we have used as a team since the the announcement of Skitch being discontinued. ScreenFlow is the most simple screen casting tool out of the three when you are directly recording. When creating your screen cast, you can have as many or few screens open while you are recording. There are also options to have a window showing you creating your recording as well. ScreenFlow is primarily used for Mac users whereas Voila and Camtasia can be used on many different types of computers. The best way to start and end your videos in ScreenFlow is by using shortkeys, which holds true to Voila and Camtasia as well.
In addition, Voila has many perks to it. Instead of just creating screen casting recordings, you can also create snap shots of your screen. They have many editing options for both photos and videos. With your photos, you can edit both your screen shots as well as photos in your library. Voila has the best organization for your photos and screen casting videos you create. They have many folders you can organize your creations into with easy access to all. One cool thing you can do is while in Voila, there is a button where you can go on the web. In reality, you do not even need to leave the application to take screenshots of a certain webpage you would like to add to your screencast, which also helps maintaining organization.
Camtasia is more similiar to Voila in complexity of the software. While using Camtasia, it is more used for the video aspects of screen casting. You can add many different types of transitions or textboxes as you go. One cool thing with the different transitions is that you can have them fade in and out at any time frame in your screen cast. This helps create a more exciting and organized screen cast. One thing that Camtasia has that neither Voila or ScreenFlow has is the ability to layer both videos and pictures into one screen cast. Also, Camtasia is accessible on either Macs or PCs. Camtasia allows one to film a video using their software, which will then automatically be accessible to edit. One does not have to save the video and download it to another software to edit.
On the upper left hand side of Camtasia, there are the categories Media, Annotations, Transitions, and Animations. The Media button allows one to access all the videos filmed using Camtasia or download videos saved onto the computer. Under the Annotations tab, text bubbles, arrows, shapes, highlight, symbols, or keyboard keys are located and can be added to the video. Theses options come in multiple different colors which can be adjusted on the video to be different sizes and in different locations on the video. The Transitions tab allows one to add effects at the beginning or the end of a video. Animations can also be added to the video to zoom in or zoom out, fade in or out, tilt left or right, and even create a custom animation. As a side note, if one applies the zoom in feature, to return to the way the video was originally, a zoom out animation must be applied.
The other features that one can apply to the video are Video FX, Audio FX, Cursor FX, and Gesture FX. To change the color of the screen, add a glow to the screen, add a device frame around the video, and many more are features that are located under the Video FX tab. Audio FX allows one to change the volume of the video, the pitch, reduce the background noise, and change the speed of the clip. Cursor FX will highlight, magnify, or spotlight where the cursor is throughout the video. One can also highlight right or left clicks that are made using the computer mouse during the video. Under the Gesture FX tab, one can double tap, pinch, swipe, and tap certain areas during the video.
Each of these features can be customized to show up for different lengths and times throughout the video. Camtasia has two lines of recordings on the bottom lines to edit. The first line is the Webcam recording while the second line is the video of the screen. If you want to add an effect to the entire video, such as a transition, the effect needs to be added to both lines.
We would appreciate any feedback or personal experience using Camtasia or any video editing software.
I am moving towards requiring that all my students demonstrate to me minimal mastery of the use of the technology-based teaching and learning tools I introduce into the classroom (e.g. Quizlet, Starquiz). My esteemed student research students do the pilot work.
I asked Tia and Ariana to show me that they could use Camtasia to create a screencast of how to access two statistical packages I introduce in PSY205 (InStat and SPSS) and one piece of software (research randomizer) that allows students to perform random assignment and random sampling.
Take a look:
I now will assess whether each of my forty-four students can access these tools (based on Tia and Arianna’s lessons) and use them to enhance their learning. Here is a benchmark for what they should know.
Recently there has been a campus-wide discussion about the need to include writing experiences across the curriculum and across a student’s learning years here. I’ve become a strong believer in giving students opportunities to use blogging software and to give them mentored practice in writing thoughtful, civil responses online to articles which are published online.
I asked two of my research assistants (Alison and Lizzy) , before I left today, to create for me a screencast tutorial using the Camtasia software they just had learned about a basic student guide about how to use WordPress. In their guide they show how to create an account, how to follow someone else’s blog pieces, and some of the many capabilities of WordPress.
I am quite impressed how on short notice, with no supervision from me, they were able to exceed my high expectations. How fortunate I have been across the years from my first student assistant, Larry Jost, until now to work closely with such wonderful fellow learners!
Here is Alison and Lizzy’s tutorial:
Any comments or feedback would be much appreciated.
Carroll has become a special place to me. I have been influenced greatly by its students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. By its traditions, theater productions and its music.
There are lots of changes these days occurring at Carroll. Some of them are physical, others organizational. Some things never change (read between the lines:); some things never should change.
I asked research assistants Alison and Lizzy to document some of the physical changes. Here is what they produced:
I continue to experiment with my “best” course (Statistics and Experimental Design) to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. Here is how I have taught it in the past. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students past and present as I experiment.
I began the class wanting to test the sound systems so I shared this amazing tribute to David Bowie:
Instead of calling out the class list to take attendance I give a quiz every day with immediate feedback which goes into a student portfolio. I also call upon a random group of students (selected by students using random sampling software to select the lucky students). Two students won free copies of my workbook!
Since then I have introduced them to SPSS and InStat (i.e. that the latter software exists) and to Survey Monkey.
Here is something Lizzy and Alison produced illustrating one of these tools: