Tag: Writing

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 

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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!

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

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Why Write?

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At the beginning of the 2016-2017 academic year I indicated to my Chair, Dean, and Provost that I wanted to write a lot this year—especially with students.  I reaffirmed that intention (to an international audience!) in an individual learning plan I was “required” to share while participating in Jane Hart’s “Supporting Everyday Workplace Learning” workshop. david-simpsons-individual-learning-plan

I shared eight lessons that I learned in that workshop with my LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, and WordPress audiences in this blog piece.

Three individuals have had a major influence on my writing since my joining the Carroll community in 1978. Carroll colleague Jim Vopat taught a course entitled “Why Write” that I had an opportunity to visit.Thank you, Jim Vopat, for giving me direction.

An influential present Carroll colleague BJ Best continues to successfully engage students in writing both by regularly modeling it and by the creation of an online, student-centered journal, Portage Magazine.  Thank you, BJ, for all you have shared—including students eager to learn. I can’t wait to entwine myself in the writing of that long threatened promised adventure stories about David in Carroll-Land.

For the past decade I have followed with interest and admiration the blogging and developments in thinking of Jane Hart about uses of technology tools to enhance learning.  Motivated by her initial contributions, I created a first-year seminar course based on her top twenty-five tools. More recently, my students have begun writing and publishing books about the learning tools they found of most value. We are in the process of seeking financial support to expand that effort. Thank you, Jane Hart, for your fellowship, mentorship, and friendship across the ocean.

My introduction to blogging tools reinvigorated my personal interest in writing.  It enhanced my judgment of the importance and value of including writing exercises in my classes. I am convinced that properly taught, introduced and regularly used, blogging and micro-blogging tools can enhance a student’s civic responsibilities (e.g. writing a thoughtful response to a New York Times online article or to a local paper—rather than merely clicking the “like” button). They can be used to improve students’ writing and enjoyment of writing, and can expand their knowledge about “publishing” and making the blogosphere and the world a better place.

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Refocusing, Renewal, and “Hours longer we to bury was.”

 

Version 3Last night I took the time to wander and wonder outside our North Lake home with my camera taking pictures of the super moon.  The evening not only was beautiful but the act of having to focus and refocus my camera helped develop in me thoughts about the importance of focus and refocus in my life. Reflection and refocusing in one’s life for me is not only good but imperative.

I’m sitting at my desk for the moment between the time of administering two exams. How best should I use this “free” time? Too often I use the time to start yet another project. Instead this time I am reflecting.  I also am trying to dictate this blog piece using my Nuance Dragon Professional software. It surely has improved in terms of its accuracy and ease of use, and it is far past time for me to learn how to use it to my advantage.

Still, it has its limitations (or perhaps I still need to learn better its features).

“Hours longer we to bury was.”  That gibberish was what the software produced when I attempted to quote something I read in Latin almost 50 years ago:  “ars longa, vita brevis.” Art is long; life is short.

I had forgotten that the passage was originally attributed to Hippocrates. I embrace his  more complete quotation:

“Life is short,and art long,opportunity fleeting,experimentations perilous,and judgement difficult.”

So much to learn; so little time. So much beauty to discover and to appreciate.

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So many perilous experimentations to be risked in order to live more fully. So many difficult judgments to make. So many difficult conversations needed.  Yet, I continue to believe that I have been blessed by being given the opportunity to teach and to learn continuously.

Time to return to the classroom—renewed…

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Curious David

What are YOUR favorite technology learning tools?

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What are your favorite technology learning tools? Now (until September 23) is a good time to send your recommendations to Jane Hart (see this link) as she for the 10th year finishes compiling recommendations made by learning professionals.  Jane will be organizing her report into three broad categories of learning tools:

  1. Top 100 Tools for Education – those used  in schools, colleges, and universities
  2. Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning – those used in training, for performance support, and social collaboration.
  3. Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning – those used for self-organized learning.

Before the academic year I formally and systematically review the technology learning tools that I judge to be most useful to my teaching and learning effectiveness.

In the next couple of weeks I shall be sharing my recommendations and the results of my revisiting my most useful desktop tools with particular emphasis on those that enhance my writing/ publishing/ screencasting capabilities.

I now usually also give my research assistants an opportunity to give me their recommendations. Last year they wrote and published their first book about their favorite tools. As soon as they are settle in I’ll share some of their new good work and their recommendations.

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Gotta run. I hear bag pipes!

 

 

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And So It Begins….

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I usually arrive on campus to an empty parking lot. Today was no exception despite the road construction, school buses, and famous Waukesha trains.

The construction workers are already hard at work completing the new science building. New students adorned in their new tee shirts are exploring the campus making sure that they can find their classrooms.

An early morning phone call to ITS is quite successful both in resolving some traditional first of semester computer issues and in renewing some friendships. Daniel will be starting his 20th year here. Chris is a Carroll graduate. Both exemplify the authenticity in my belief that Carroll Cares.

Much mundane to accomplish today before the Cubs game. I hope to get a lot of serious writing done this year, but that block of time will not be available today.

Several of my student assistants have threatened promised to stop by. As I’ve written many times I’ve been blessed across the years with over 50 superb student assistants. It is fun and rewarding learning together. They keep me young(er). Tomorrow, rain or shine, I’ll answer the call of the bagpiper as the new freshman class is introduced to the Carroll academic world.

Thanks to all you alumni for sharing via LinkedIn and Facebook your responses to my earlier blog posts of this year. It’s nice knowing that I have a reader or two:)

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