Reading, Writing, and Watching User Manuals

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whetting-my--app-etite----too-many-apps

Maybe it is my aging. Maybe it is a lack of motivation. Maybe it is a lack of focus on my part. Gone are the times when I used to master a new piece of software or a new computer in a few hours—exploring every drop down menu. Gone is my ability (or the time needed) to write a succinct user’s guide for the new machine and feel comfortable being a resident expert of its capabilities. Ah, my TRS 80 Level I machine—sometimes I miss you!

Fortunately now there are increasingly available excellent screencasts which clearly explain features of software. I find of special value MacMost Videos, Screencastsonline.com, and the superb presentations by David Sparks. When I am producing my own screencast I find most useful Screenflow though I am becoming impressed with Clarify‘s didactic potential.

Just downloaded the new OSX Yosemite Operating System onto one of my Mac’s. I find that it is worth the investment to purchase online tutorials that hand-hold one through the different features. I’ll have my undergraduate research assistants go through them before we install it on one of my office machines. In the interim I need to cycle through all my apps and see which ones work with the new OS, which don’t but are essential for my needs, and which ones I no longer need or have totally forgotten



USING Jane Hart’s Top 100 Tools for Learning

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I hope I never find myself in the position of this monk where I need to call in technical support to figure out how to read an object called a “book.” In my judgment there IS a danger, however, in becoming too dependent on “technology learning tools.” My favorite tools remain a # 2 pencil with an eraser, a Pilot G-2 broad ink pen, some writing paper, and my mind. Nonetheless, this blog post is a heart-felt mini-festschrift to an Internet visionary.

I’ve written numerous blog posts about the tremendous value I find from Jane Hart’s annual identifying top learning tools. I have unbridled admiration and respect for her vision, willingness to share, and thought-provoking ideas. As I wind up (or wind down) my teaching career over the next few years, I am making an intentional, concerted effort to use things I have learned from Jane (directly or indirectly) over the past seven years. Thank you, Comrade and Mentor across the Pond!

  1. I have incorporated into my Experimental Social Psychology class use of a Ning (or see Julie Lindsay‘s superb utilization of a Ning). If you would like to visit this Ning, especially if you are a former student or classmate of mine or are also an experimental social psychologist, let me know. I would welcome incorporating into the Ning your thoughts about the course or your thoughts about being a social psychologist or using social psychology.
  2. Jane has influenced (favorably) my extra-classroom university academic life (e.g. I maintain alumni contact through Linkedin, and by my cross-posting my WordPress blogs across Facebook and Twitter.
  3. Jane’s influence has transformed the way I conduct my committee work (e.g. I recently began a Planning and Budget Committee meeting which I co-chair with a screenflow screencast which explained to colleagues how to access budget and planning information).
  4. Jane has transformed my daily interaction with my student research assistants who annually pilot test all tools on Jane’s list.  Among the tools we currently use or are bench-marking for student learning utility are Google Drive, Class Owl, and WordPress. These research assistants continue to revitalize me with their intelligence, playfulness, eagerness to learn, and youth. I have invited this year’s S -Team to identify what Top Tools they find most valuable and which they’d like to learn. Stay tuned.



Stop the Internet—I want to get off!!!

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Commencement 2014 was a month ago. I have already begun preparations for teaching in the Fall (how the years have flown by since February, 1978 when I taught my first class here).

Ryan and Phoumany

From time to time I disconnect and disengage from my seemingly always being online and from focusing on productivity. Try it —-you may discover that you are more addicted than you think. Can you enjoy the twittering of the birds without thinking about this wonderful Twitter guide?:)

It is easier to so do during the summer, since I opt NOT to teach or to commit myself to grant work during that time. As author Naomi S. Baron acknowledges in her thoughtful book Always On: Language in an Online and Mobile World, one needs to be alert to the personal, cognitive, and social consequences of “24/7” connectivity.

Is Google making us “stoopid” (sic) or smarter? How can I ever find time to explore, evaluate, merge into my teaching the 2000 + learning tools which Jane Hart has alerted us to? I resolve these questions by stepping back, engaging in intense physical activity, reading widely, playing, and consulting the Newf!

Newf1

 

 

 

What evidence is there that collaborative, engaging, Web 2.0 tools indeed enhance learning?

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This thought piece  has been slightly revised from a blog piece I wrote a number of years ago for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel under the name “Curious David” when I was a community educational blogger for them.

I’m nervous and excited. Time to take off my invisibility cloak. Tomorrow (Tuesday, September 2, 2008 at 8:00 a.m.) I meet in person for the first time with my 20 first-year students. What an immense responsibility to be their first professor!

We’re going to explore “21rst century” learning tools such as blogs, wikis, podcasts, social networks, virtual worlds, and YouTube. The idea for this course emerged from my experiences writing this “Curious David” blog column. Last year’s opportunity to write for “JSonline” was transformative for me as I learned from elementary and secondary school teachers, high school students, virtual school advocates, retired faculty and readers about innovations, challenges and successes they faced promoting learning.

In this first-year seminar we shall focus on some of the 25 free learning tools described by educator Jane Hart. [Here is an updated list I would draw upon were I to teach this course again.]  As we examine these learning tools we hope to answer questions such as these:

  1. To what degree can these web tools truly enhance student learning?
  2. To what degree are they just “cool” tools?
  3. Could they be used to develop critical thinking?
  4. Do they improve or degrade communication skills?
  5. Might they be applied to fostering cross-cultural or international understanding?
  6. Might they strengthen or weaken writing skills?
  7. What are their weaknesses or dangers?
  8. Should they complement or replace 20th century learning skills/tools?
  9. How can one evaluate their effectiveness?

[It seems to me it should be possible to produce an evidence-based paper like this to address the questions above.]

 My intent is to assist students in the transition from high school to college—and to investigate Web 2.0 learning tools which might be useful across classes and in the workplace. I want to involve them in educational experiences that will develop and enhance abilities in reading, writing, reflecting, presenting, thinking, and producing. Writing exercises will include short in-class and out-of-class reaction papers, journals, blogs/wikis, and exams. Presentations will be both formal and informal; individual and in small groups. Collaboration will be both with fellow students and with me.

Still Curious,

David


David’s Wayback Machine – Pioneering Web 2.0 Technology Tools (Part 1) Jan 6, 2009

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There was a time when I kept rough drafts of everything I wrote. Now, I am no longer in that habit and am in the process of cleaning out all my files (both electronic and legal-pad format). It is amusing to (re)discover some early writings when I thought I was at the leading edge of knowing about, sharing, and using “technology learning tools”
     I find interesting the existence of the Internet Wayback archive project, though I’m uneasy about such a huge amount of Internet detritus (especially my own) using up cyberspace. Recently I’ve made time to attempt to clean up my own Internet garbage (old accounts, false starts on blogs). With some amusement I rediscovered some of my first efforts to promulgate into the classroom technology tools with 25 Carroll freshmen.  (I have chosen NOT to revive the dead links in this piece).

Original 2009 piece follows here:

Historic First Meeting in Second Life

I’ve begun developing a presentation I’m scheduled to give on January 16 to Carroll faculty tentatively titled “Pioneering Web 2.0 Learning Tools with Carroll Students: Educational Technology of the Future, Catching Up with What Fifth-Graders Already Know, or Another Fad? “I hope to share with interested members of the Carroll community some of the Web 2.0 learning tools and resources that I have explored this past semester(Download FYS 100 Section U Syllabus – Dr, David Simpson Labor Day Version PDF with my students (who were especially playful with their photoshop skills).

Simpson

I am toying with the idea of showing what I can NOW do in some kind of class—possibly for alumni or faculty.  I would draw upon my knowledge gained since 2009 about the application of technology learning tools—especially drawing upon resources like this?  Anybody interested? If so, email me—or send me a message via owl.