Tag: Top 100 Learning Tools

Curious DavidGlobal EducationJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Sorting My Technology Learning Tool Box (Part 1)

Time to revisit Jane Hart’s Top Learning Tools list (7th edition) and her invaluable, newly updated Practical Guide—well worth purchasing, studying and using. I regularly consult it, especially the web-based version, when I am interested in trying to find a “right” tool for the particular type of learning experience I am seeking for me or for my students. In concert with Michelle Pacansky-Brock’s Best Practices for Teaching with Emergency Technologies, Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson’s The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching, Steve Johnson’s Digital Tools for Teaching, and Alec Couros’ Becoming a Networked Learner, these resources have demonstrably changed how I teach, how I learn, and how I “reach out” to others  via social media. Clearly, as Curtis J. Bonk has evangelized,  my world has been opened and expanded. The challenge is to find balance between tool use and the tools controlling me. 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 the #1 tool Twitter much less often than last year (when I was an active Carroll Technology Fellow) I could see my use of Twitter increasing suddenly if I decide upon  it as a tool of choice for communicating with my newly acquired and rapidly increasing global fellow-teachers. Since English for them is their strategic language of choice, limiting communication to 140 characters or less makes some sense.

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 greater degree Tool # 2 Google Docs/Drive . 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.

Clearly my International colleagues (and my students) are more facile with the use of YouTube, Tool #3 and have much to teach me about its value (or lack of value) as a learning tool. Jane’s Practical Guide often includes YouTube links which I have found quite useful as an additional modality of learning how to use technology learning tools.

Tool # 4 Google search is my search engine of choice though I grossly under-use the sophisticated and nuanced search capabilities it provides.

I intentionally under use Tool # 5 PowerPoint (see the preceding link about the evils of PowerPoint!).  Tool # 6, Evernote, is one I keep intending to master and yet, the Kindle book version about it and Quick Guides about it remain neglected pixels on my screens. I even am using some Skype-recording apps which can export into Evernote—and I have found a number of occasions where I need to use Skitch to annotate a web page .  Maybe I need to read and heed this link.

I have the same usage problems with Tool # 7, Dropbox. I have it—it exists in the background of all my machines, but I have failed to devote the time to master it. So many tools; which ones deserve my time?

Tools # 8 (WordPress), # 9 Facebook, #12 (LinkedIn), and #13 (Skype) now  play an  integral role in my teaching, learning, promulgating, networking modus operandi. I’m still struggling with finding additional value from further investigating Tool # 10 Google+ and Hangouts (they just are too informal or duplicative in function with other tools) for my present perceived needs. I have ignored learning Tool # 11. Moodle since I find such LMS structures constraining

Help me out.  Help me learn. Which of these tools have you used? What am I missing in discovering their utility for teaching and learning?  Which would be most useful in advancing my interests in cross-national cross-generational teaching and learning?

Which develop skills that all global citizens should be familiar with?

Curious DavidGlobal EducationInfluential BooksJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

What Did You Do This Summer, Professor Simpson???

Flying Pig

Perhaps it is my age. Perhaps it’s my approaching retirement. However, I like to think it is because of my values. I no longer yield to the increasing Carroll peer and institutional pressure (and financial incentives) to be on campus teaching, writing grants, doing research, and mentoring students over the summer. Summer for me is a time to be away from campus and from campus emails— a time for reflection, for recharging, for redirection, for play and for rejuvenation. I never stop learning (amusingly my Mac DayOne App just eerily intruded to ask what I learned today!).

I’ve hardly been academically or intellectually stagnant since I left campus in May.  Among the books that I have enjoyed reading this summer are

  • Adam Johnson’s The Orphan Master’s Son
  • Steven Galloway’s The Cellist of Sarajevo
  • Ben Fontain’s Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk
  • Khaled Hosseni’s The Kite Runner
  • Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life and her Behind the Scenes at the Museum
  • Connie Willis’s The Best of Connie Willis: Award-Winning Stories
  • Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane and Unnatural Creatures: Stories Selected by Neil Gaiman
  • Marisha Pessl’s Night Film (thank you, Susan Gusho, for the treasured autographed copy!)
  • Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus 
  • Robert Galbraith’s (aka J. K. Rowling) The Cuckoo’s Calling

What shall I read next?

I have written almost every day (blogging, developing international contacts, Twitter, Facebook, book reviews, manuscript reviews) though what I write and where  I write seems not to be highly valued by my institution’s reward system. C’est la vie.

I continue to develop expertise to bring into the classroom technology learning tool applications (e.g. Ning, WordPress, Paper.li, Scoopit,  and Animoto) based upon the path-breaking contributions of Jane Hart and others I have “met” virtually this past academic year and this summer. I have created a Sandbox for International Educators whom I have come to know and respect and experimented with BlogTalkRadio.

Here is an Animoto short video slideshow of some highlights from this summer: Final Copy of Summer Vacation 2013.

Curious David

Three Questions Raised from Attempting to Create a Virtual Cultural Immersion Course

I’ve been thinking a lot about language learning lately. To what degree is being limited only to one’s native language a barrier/handicap to international travel and to international/cross-cultural understanding? Less than I thought.) Is there value in attempting to master another language? (Absolutely but there are constraints of time and pragmatics.) How good are extant software translation programs? (The applications are getting better and better but don’t believe all that is promised unless you—and the person you are communicating to—have a good sense of humor). Obviously  the answers to these questions are not as simple as my parenthetical replies imply.  However, I’ve been thinking deeply about these issues this semester as I’ve widened the horizons of my students and of me through creating a pilot virtual cultural immersion course.  My thinking has been especially stimulated by the fascinating work of Ms. Irma Milevičiūtė and her International PenPals Club project in Lithuania.

I’ve travelled abroad three times and clearly am overdue to travel abroad again. While attending Howland High School in Ohio I traveled with the Spanish Club to Portugal and southern Spain. It was a whirlwind, two-week “tourist-oriented tour” with very little interaction with native speakers (Qué lastima!). At Oberlin College I experimented with different majors of study (English, then Communications, then Spanish, ultimately psychology—ah, the joys of a liberal arts education). While an undergraduate there I lived for a summer in Mexico studying at the University of Guanajuato. All my classes taken there (e.g. “Spanish Golden Age Theater”, “History of Mexico”) were taught in Spanish by natives, and I lived in a boarding house where no one spoke English (though I had an American roommate and a number of American classmates from several other colleges and universities). During my third year of graduate studies at The Ohio State University where I was pursuing Masters and PhD degrees in Experimental Social Psychology I joined my graduate school adviser, Tom Ostrom, who was a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Bergen, Norway for 6 months of research and study. Though I took a language course there (Norwegian for Foreigners)—and proudly possess a certificate for attempting to master the language, all my daily interactions were with English-speaking Norwegian faculty and students. The 6 months of study and travel there resulted in friendships which remain today, a much deeper appreciation of another culture, and a humbling of what I what I knew.

Unfortunately as a youth I almost had my interest in learning another language destroyed by the results of a misinterpreted psychological test. I recall being devastated by the experience of being told that I had “failed” a foreign language aptitude test. The “failure” probably was one factor motivating me to attempt to learn foreign languages in High School and eventually, to studying psychology (to better understand why children succeed or fail and the effects of labels on performance).  In high school I took two years of Latin (thank you, Mrs  Bode—Gratias tibi ago!) culminating with obtaining the highest score in the State of Ohio on a standardized test. Though, alas, I was not nominated for Pope nor have I yet traveled via Time Machine— the discipline of learning Latin and about the Roman culture was enriching and rewarding. It no doubt facilitated my two years of study of Spanish culminating in my achieving the highest score in the State of Ohio in that language. In both cases, though, it was a combination of excellent teachers, a supportive academic environment, an opportunity to learn about the culture and its literature, music, art, theater, politics, history, customs, and its cuisine that was vital to my learning.  No doubt other factors contributing to my success were supportive parents, friendly competition with my Howland High school peers and my Big Sister, Connie Sue!

Good luck Beatrice, Kristijonas, Meda and Davidas in the international English language Amberstar competition whose results are due any day now. Thank you Katerina (from Kurgan), Hersonia (from Mexico), Reidar (from Norway), and especially Irma (from Lithuania) for your many acts of kindness, good humor, and inexhaustible patience with this curious professor as he attempts to become more globally educated and aware. Research shows that bilingualism has so many advantages over above the pragmatic. I am indebted to you for lessons learned and I admire, respect and envy you.


Curious DavidGlobal EducationVirtual European Cultural Immersion Project

Reflections on Creating a Virtual Cultural Immersion Course: Lessons Learned (Part 1)

Influenced by technology learning tool visionaries such as Jane Hart and Michele Pacansky-Brock and by practitioners such as Susan Manning and Kevin Johnson, Steve Johnson, and Irma Milevičiūtė I have been focusing my attention this year on the viability of a new course that would incorporate such learning tools. How, though, does one decide which to use among the plethora of tools available and among the increasing number appearing? In my search to answer this question I initially drew upon three primary resources. Susan Manning and Kevin E. Johnson, in their valuable book The Technology Toolbelt for Teaching, suggest that among the things entering into one’s decision should be thinking through 1) what problems would be solved by using the tool, 2) the cost of the tool, 3) the “platform” which will be used, 4) the level of expertise needed for the user, 5) issues of accessibility for special needs students, 6) technical requirements, and 7) the reliability of the tool.
Steve Johnson’s Digital Tools for Teaching provided me a useful starting point for examining 30 e-tools (grouped according to appropriateness for the novice, the developing user, or the advanced user) for creating, collaborating, and publishing. Michelle Pacansky-Brock, in her superb book Best Practices for Teaching with Emerging Technologies organizes her recommended “toolkit” in terms of those which are essential, those which enhance or facilitate communication and content creation, and those tools useful for back-channeling and developing participatory learning.

For the past six years I have been intermittently exploring the Top 100 Learning Tools championed by Jane Hart. At the end of last year I experienced a fortuitous opportunity to focus on the usefulness of the tools. On April 26, 2012, a call for proposals was made university-wide to use technology to develop course materials and travel plans for Carroll Cross-cultural Experiences (CCE’s). On April 27, my six-member student-research team composed of Phoumany Phouybanhdyt, Ryan Waters, Catrina Duncan, Amy Peterson, Elizabeth Firkus, and Maxine Venturelli emailed me that they enthusiastically and unanimously wanted to rise to the challenge of creating such a course. In October of this year they were successful in being awarded the opportunity.

As my students and I have worked together on this particular project the following tools have proven most useful (and therefore “top tools”) to me. Lucid explanations for each of these tools can be found in Jane Hart’s pithy yet information-laden “Quick Guides.”
1) Twitter: I have become much more Twitter-literate having a good sense of whom I want to follow.
2) Wikispaces: Served as a first sandbox repository for collaboration for my student research team.
3) Ning: Though it is expensive, the return on my investment is having a controlled, (for now) FaceBook-like private environment which allows seamlessintegration of chat, videos, blogging, and other tools.
4) Google Docs: A place and means where my students can share with each other the results of their research efforts. They actually taught me its utility!
5) WordPress: My preferred platform for blogging (after evaluating six). I have been able to reach out via FaceBook and Linked-In WordPress connections to alumni, present and former students, new International friends, and trustees who shared an interest in our project.
6) Skype: One of several Voice Communication tools we have experimented with.
7) Ipad Apps: A plethora which I shall explore more fully in another post. Since each of my students was awarded an Ipad for this project, we have concentrated especially on making sure the tools we use have a “mobile” technology application.
8) Various Browsers: Safari, Chrome, and Firefox in particular. It was enlightening and frustrating to discover that not all apps or tools are equally friendly across all browsers. This was especially the case with Screen-casting software.
9) Epals and Edmodo: Though I ultimately found both too restrictive for my uses for this particular project, through them I became much more aware of the exciting and extensive uses of these tools by K-12 students—and I formed an especially enriched international friendship.
10. Diigo (especially for educators): I am daily informed of resources which have proven to be invaluable for this project.

Later this week my students will share a preliminary report of their research and I’ll learn which tools they found of most value for course creation and course participation.
In the near future I’ll post the 10 learning tools I definitely am going to invest considerable time into this summer if this project continues or if I am encouraged to continue my efforts.

Curious David

Pondering my Vote (for Top 100 Learning Tools) (Part 1)

Embarrassed by my failure to vote in local Wisconsin elections yesterday, I am pondering my vote for Jane Hart’s annual Top 100 Learning Tools. This semester I have made the time to examine each of the tools listed, committed myself to extensively investigating the usefulness to me of ten of them, and encouraged my student research students to incorporate those they found most useful into their Pioneering a Virtual European Cultural Experience Project. Concomitantly I continue to search for the right balance between life on the net and disconnecting through making time for off-line reading, reflecting, relating (interesting typo: “realating” as opposed to “virtual” relating) , and writing.  I must that confess my writing while NOT using a computer has become a rarity. At the top of my short-list of reading this summer are The Googlization of Everything:And Why We Should Worry), To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism, and Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other.

How do I go about defining my “top 10 learning tools”? One answer is to identify which of the tools I use most often. Put another way, which tools have become so part of my academic life that I don’t notice their importance to me unless they are inaccessible? These would clearly be 1) Twitter (which I have finally discovered how to tame and put to use), 2) WordPress (to which I have converted), 3) Skype (about which I have much yet to learn), 4) Facebook (which I may soon abandon), 5) Diigo —through which fellow educators—especially K-12—continue to teach me), 6) Microsoft Word, 7) Ted (which amazes and inspires me—but which also often mesmerizes rather than encourage interaction), 8) my Ipads (and my increasingly expanding  library of apps with unknown half-life), 9) Google Chrome (though I migrate across five or 6 different browsers depending upon the browser default of the computer I am using) , and 10) Survey Monkey.

Which learning tools are most likely soon to join the category of essential (and “invisible) to m ? My guess is that some of them be identified through the experiences of my students and others as I complete three  research projects this semester (answering Jane Hart’s Top 10 challenge, completing my instructional/mentoring role of the Virtual Cultural Immersion Project and completion of my review of all the apps I’ve accumulated on my Mac and IPads).

I’ll address each of  these issues soon in subsequent posts.

Still pondering; always learning. Your comments and feedback are most welcomed.