Tag: Writing

Curious David

Musings While Settling Down to Write

As I attempt to bring the semester to a soft landing, I thought that I would try creating a screen cast of some of my book-writing efforts using an earlier version of some screen casting software. Odd how sometime an earlier version of software (Voila) better fits my needs than the new improved version. Forgive the lack of editing. I am burning candles at both ends today. I am probably over ambitious trying to write three books simultaneously using three different pieces of self-publishing software. Ars longa, vita brevis.

 

Curious David

Curious David Redux: Exploring Designrr as an Ebook Writing Tool

 

Today my new student assistant Kristen and I explored using Designrr as an ebook-writing tool.

Here is what we were able to do. It is in a pdf format. Next, we shall master Lulu, CreateSpace, and Pressbooks.

Not bad for two freshmen  (one being me!)

Click the first link to take a look at what we are able so far to do. You will download a pdf.

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e-bookScreencastingStudent research Team

Curious David Redux: Searching for the “Best” Screen Casting Software


What is the “best” screen casting software? The answer is always “it depends” on

  1. how much you are willing to spend.
  2. how much learning time you have.
  3. what your particular needs are.
  4. the operating system you are using.
  5. whether you want numerous bell and whistles.
  6. the day of the week (as software is constantly changing).

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. Below are some of my adventures and misadventures with screen-casting software and the informed opinions of my student research assistants — whose advice I always seek. The videos are also a documentation of my clearly getting older!

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.

 

 I’m moving in the direction of trying some Facebook live broadcasting. Time to review what we’ve learned about screen casting and discover how the process has advanced since we last wrote this:

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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 e-book 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.

Group Photo

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: ScreenFlowVoila, 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 do is blur out in different ways. You can do motion blurs, the static blur, a pixellated 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 screen cast, which also helps maintaining organization.

Camtasia is more similar 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 text boxes 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.

Tonight I am “rediscovering” teaching/learning tools: specifically Skitch (for screenshots and annotating screenshots, Screenflow for screencasting, and YouTube).

How do you use YouTube? How might it serve as a learning resource in your job? What are its unrecognized or under-utilized capabilities? Here is what student research assistant Lizzie wrote when I asked her how she used it.

Uses of YouTube

YouTube is an internet source that has multiple uses. Personally, I use YouTube a lot when I am working at Dr. Simpson’s office for background music. YouTube does not only have music on their site, but educational videos, silly videos, podcasts, etc. Since my time being here at Carroll University, I have had multiple professors’ post YouTube links in their slide shows and assign YouTube videos as assignments for student’s to watch at home. When I struggle using a certain software, I am able to go to YouTube and search what I am looking for in the search bar. Multiple videos will pop up on the screen that go through step-by-step instructions on how to do the task I am looking for.

YouTube is useful for posting videos as well. Dr. Simpson has posted videos in the past with his student research assistants and discussing certain issues. I have had to watch podcast of others on YouTube that are discussing a certain issue we are dealing with in class or about a certain software we are trying to use, such as SPSS. In class presentations, 90% of the time students are required to post a visual image or video in their slides. YouTube is very useful in this circumstance. One is able to find certain media coverage of an issue on YouTube as well as scenes from past TV shows, news broadcasts, radio shows, etc. A great example of how YouTube is useful in my field, psychology, is research. YouTube has multiple videos of famous studies that have been done in the past, such as Pavlov’s, Little Albert, and the Bobo Doll study. All these videos are accessible to people, like us, on YouTube.

YouTube is a great source, not only for education, but also for others to express themselves. There are many podcasts on YouTube of people’s life stories. Some of them involve people dealing with issues such as cancer and mental health problems. However, there are podcasts of people discussing their experience sky diving, cliff jumping, in a different city, making covers of songs, etc. People in the 21st century are becoming “YouTube famous” because of their podcasts on YouTube. Many famous singers like, Justin Bieber, became famous by starting on YouTube and working their way up. In addition, people will post weekly podcast updates of their lives on YouTube and have millions of fans because of this method. An example is a couple named, Cole and Savannah, who have a YouTube channel and post videos every other week of what is happening in their lives.

YouTube is an amazing media source. YouTube allows one to find what music they are interested in, express talents that they want to show the world, show others their life stories, gives education to people, helps people stay up to date on certain issues going on in the world, etc. I would highly recommend YouTube as a source that everyone should look into and explore the different options that it has to offer the public.

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

AppsCurious David

Building Student Research Teams

 

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!

Curious DavidFacebookLinkedInTwitter

Ten things that you should know about …

As a writing “warm up” for the Student Guides to Internet Learning Tools that my students are going to be writing and publishing, I asked Tia and Arianna today to list for me 10 things that every student should know about Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. [The links at the bottom of this post connect to blog pieces I have written earlier about these tools.]

Here is what they shared about Facebook and LinkedIn. I find their recommendations interesting and potentially of value to an older audience unfamiliar with these applications.

I intend for our first Guide to be about LinkedIn. Stay tuned.

10 Things about Facebook you should know:

1.     You can unfollow someone on Facebook without unfriending them.

2.     Anything you share or post on your wall can be seen by anyone unless you change your privacy settings.

3.     Any time you tag someone in a post via comment all your friends will be able to see it.

4.     You can see what is “trending” so you can stay up on current events.

5.     You can create private or public events on Facebook where you can select which friends to invite.

6.     Facebook is a good way to keep up with family members who you do not get to see very often by posting family pictures and posting statuses about what you have been up to.

7.    Facebook tells you when it is someone’s birthday.

8.     It is a resource that future employers may look at during the application process, so be mindful of what you post.

9.     You can use Facebook messenger for in

individualized messages, group messages, as well as posting videos about your day. You can also play games through the application on your phone such as basketball or soccer.

10.      You can like pages on Facebook that interest you, so whenever that page posts something you will see it on your newsfeed. Also, you can have private groups to send out notifications about events (e.g. Tia’s Soccer team)

10 Things you should know about Twitter: 

1.     You only have 140 characters to write in each “Tweet”.

2.     You can create a single question survey per tweet.

3.     Make your account private, which only allows people who have access to follow you to see what you post.

4.     When on private, you can reject or accept new followers.

5.     Depending on the pages you follow, it can help you stay up on current events.

6.     There is also an explore category that allows you to see what is trending, current events, and the most popular hashtags.

7.     You can share pictures and videos.

8.     You can share as much or as little information about yourself as you would like, such as adding a bio to your profile, displaying your birthday, or even disclosing your location.

9.     On the app, you can have several accounts synced to your phone. For example, if you have a professional and personal account, you can have immediate access to both right on the app within your phone.

10.     Within the app, there is a night mode option. This causes layout of Twitter to be a dark grey/black color so it is not as bright on your eyes.

 

Carroll graduating Senior InterviewCarroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Tools

Shared Reflections With a Graduating Senior

What has kept me here almost forty years is not the buildings but the traditions, the faculty, staff, administrative, and trustee friendships–and the students. I asked one of my graduating senior research assistants to stop by and to spontaneously share some of her Carroll reflections. I promised to be well-behaved—i.e. no funny hats and unusually quiet:)

She laughed. She knows me well.

Arianna will be leaving me for graduate study at Marquette University in the Fall.

We recorded this from my MacBook Pro using the Capto screen casting software.

Team2016b

 

Carroll ReflectionsCarroll University USACurious DavidJournalingtechnology tools

Journaling as a Daily Writing Activity

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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.

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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.

onenote-vs-dayone-google-docs

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.

What journaling software do you use? Why?