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



I asked my research assistants to indicate their Top Learning Tools: Here is what they told me…

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1. Amy’s List of Top Tools:

“Like Air” that I don’t even think about:

  • Google Search
    • It goes without saying
  • Facebook
    • Key to staying in touch with friends
  • Youtube
    • Mostly for entertainment or “life” tutorials
  • Google Chrome
    • My primary web browser
  • Skype
    • Key for communication
    • My home internet is slow. This is a problem, but I also live in rural Wisconsin.
    • School is a little better.

Tools I use as a student:

  • Notability
    • This should be  higher on the list. It may charge you 3 dollars to get it, but it pays for itself.
    • Don’t need to carry a notebook because I can take notes on the app, organize and divide by category and class.
    • Highlight, type, draw, insert graphs and pictures. download powerpoints.
    • This app meets all my needs as a student.
  • Google Docs/Drive
    • Two words: Group Projects
  • Google Translate
    • More for Tutoring than Student now that I’ve completed my minor.
    • It’s like a dictionary.
  • Powerpoint (But I resent that I have to use it)
    • Most Professors expect it. You have to use it most of the time

It meets needs but lacks in presentation creativity. You follow a script.

Annie’s List of Top Tools:

Everyday Life (‘Like air’)

  •  Google Search
  • Never use Bing.  Google is everything.  If I don’t know the answer to a question, I will to be guaranteed to use Google search.
  • Youtube
  • The website I spend most of my time on anyway…
  • The best way to keep in touch with friends, especially as a freshman.  I still have a connection to many of my dear friends from high school, and I can see what they are doing, how their college experience is developing, etc.
  • Facebook
  • Wikipedia
  • Usually, when I do a Google search, the first link I click directs me to Wikipedia.  I know Wikipedia is criticized because it is content that can be edited by supposedly ‘anyone.’  However, I dare anyone to make a ridiculous change to a Wikipedia page and watch how quickly it gets deleted.  Especially on celebrity or historical figure pages, they do have people who monitor the information put forth on Wikipedia and they will change it if it is inaccurate/crude/stupid.
  • Buzzfeed
  • Useful as both a tool of entertainment and also highly informative on up-to-date issues (if you look in the right places).  They reported on the ebola case in Texas before most other news outlets.  However, it has a very heavy liberal bias in most of their articles.

As a College Student

  1. Microsoft Word
  • If there is any software that I feel like an expert it, it is Microsoft Word.  Formatting is easy, it looks very professional, and I have never had any issues with lost files or data.
  1. Google Docs/Drive
  • However, it is sometimes easier to use Google Drive, especially if you need to do a group project.  It also saves automatically, which is very useful, but it did have a tendency to crash when I used it in high school.  I did also occasionally lose information from my Google documents, which is always devastating.
  • While doing a group presentation in Google Drive is easy, it is pitifully uncreative and formulaic.  Still, it is easy and useful.
  1. Wikipedia
  • Most professors prohibit using Wikipedia as a source BUT if you scroll to the bottom, you can click the blue citations and find your way to more reliable content.  That is an excellent way to locate good material for a research project.
  1. Easy Bib/Bib Me
  • Out of all of the bibliography makers I have used, Easy Bib and Bib Me are the most user friendly and accurate.  However, between the two, only Bib Me allows free use of APA formatting.  For Easy Bib, you have to subscribe.
  1. TED Talks

Highly informative, always powerful and revelatory

Jamie’s Top 5 Learning Tools:

  1. Google (Everything in Google)

As a student, having access to the internet is extremely important and efficient.  I really like Google because not only does it provide you with a search engine, it also gives you options to share your research with friends and colleagues via Google Drive or Google Hangouts.  In my opinion, everything relating to Google should be wrapped up into one massive tool because if you use one, you’re most likely to use them all, or at least another aspect of it.

  1. PowerPoint

I find PowerPoint extremely useful, especially when giving presentations.  It is organized serially which is pleasing to the eye and easy to follow.  The program, itself, is easy to use and make changes.  Also, there are plenty of settings to mess around with when trying to create your own spin on the design of the final project.

  1. WordPress

I am familiar with WordPress and have used it a little bit with the Writing Center.  I think it is a very good tool to use when blogging.

  1. LinkedIn

I have a LinkedIn account and I think it is a great tool to use when you want to extend your networking.  As students, we want to build connections outside of our university in order to “land a job” or get hired right after graduation.  However, it is also useful to stay in contact with former professors and peers, as well.  In a way, LinkedIn is a shorthand, quick, glimpse of a resume for potential employers to get a sense of who they are about to incorporate into their companies.

  1. TedTalks

I just really enjoy these.  They are short (most of the time) videos about new and innovating ideas and research that people are currently working on.  I find them fascinating and extremely helpful.  I can draw connections from the content I learn in the classroom setting and then have something to apply that new knowledge to in a modern setting.

*I am also trying out Diigo, I will keep you posted about what I think of it…

Gracie’s Top 5 Tools

“Like air” tools:

  • Google Search- Although this tool is very helpful, and I google everything. You never know what can come as result for your search and does not have many credible sources.
  • Youtube-. Who doesn’t like to look up cute dog videos? Has many useful tools but can be highly distracting rather quickly
  • Facebook- The world’s best way to procrastinate. A way to communicate. Especially with those you do not have daily interactions with.
  • Instagram- Documentation of hobbies, likes, and dislikes by photo.
  • Skype- I like the idea of skype but I have had been confronted with glitches. I prefer google hangout.

Tools I use as a student (Gracie):

  • Google Docs- I find google docs to be extremely useful. It makes group projects and communication between multiple people easy.
  • Prezi- Prezi it the cooler version of powerpoint. Most of my newer and younger teachers/professors enjoy prezi over powerpoint.
  • Word- I could not get through college without word. I use it daily.
  • Powerpoint- Although prezi is extremely eye catching and interesting, powerpoint is very professional and a less distracting visual aid
  • Ipad/Apps- My ipad is put to more use that my computer. It has saved me a lot of time and money by just downloading a few apps.

Maxine’s Top Tools:

  • iPad and Apps– The iPad along with its many apps appeals to a wide range of individuals. The iPad is easily transportable and has become a common tool used in school settings today. The apps span a multitude of subjects from games, to educational tools. The apps are endless and can aide individuals in everyday life. For example, there is a Common Core app that allows me to easily access the standards on my iPad that I can apply to the lessons that I create.
  • Pinterest– Majoring in Educational Studies with a minor in Early Childhood, Pinterest is a great resource for finding ideas that I can incorporate into the classroom. This site, which is also an iPad app, allows me to browse through a plethora of lesson ideas. Within this site/iPad app I can create boards that allow me to organize the ideas that I find.
  • Facebook– I have learned that Facebook allows people to communicate as well as collaborate with one another. Especially with the various group pages, communities are able to share common information with each other. For example, I follow a page called Collaboration and Inclusion that allows my classmates as well as other educators to share information that they find on the topic.

  

  • TwitterAlthough I do not use Twitter on a daily basis, I hope to utilize it more often. It is a great tool in staying connected to people as well as causes. It provides quick updates as well as links to information that one chooses to follow. I follow the New York Times as well as educational organizations that keep me up to date on the current state of education.
  • All Things Google– Google Docs/Drive, Google Search, Google Scholar, Gmail are all tools that I use on a regular basis. Google Docs/Drive is a great tool to use when collaborating with others. When working in groups, this tool allows individuals to work on the project without necessarily meeting. This is important because finding a time when everyone is free to work on a project is difficult. Whenever I want to find information, I use Google Search as a first stop to finding out information quick. When researching, Google Scholar is a great tool to researching higher quality information. For my school email, I use Gmail and I really like formatting.



Treating Appluenza

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Too many apps. I am on a decluttering mission. I am especially interested in keeping (cross-platform and cross browser) software that enhances my capabilities for writing, screencasting, and facilitating global communication.

First I shall revisit each application and attempt to answer these questions:

  1. Why it is on my machine? Was it pre-installed? Perhaps it was very favorably reviewed? Am I keeping it because of nostalgia? Have I forgotten that it is there? How often have I used it? Updated it?
  2. What needs or research interests did it address at the time I installed it? Do these needs or interests still exist? Are these needs likely to continue over the remaining years of my teaching?
  3. How well does does the application address these needs compared to other applications that I have since “collected”?
  4. Is it likely to work with the new Mac “Yosmite” operating system?

Here are the applications I am reviewing:

  1. 1-Password
  2. Adobe Reader
  3. Alarm Clock Pro
  4. Amazon Music
  5. Anki (flash card program)
  6. App Store
  7. Automator
  8. AVG Cleaner
  9. Battery Health
  10. Boingo Wi-Fi Finder
  11. Book Proofer
  12. Boom
  13. Logitech Broadcaster
  14. Calculator
  15. Calendar
  16. Calibre
  17. CallNote
  18. Camtasia2 (Mac)
  19. Chess
  20. Clarify
  21. Cloud
  22. Comic Life 3
  23. Contacts
  24. Crazy Talk 7
  25. Dashboard
  26. Data Rescue 3
  27. Day One
  28. Delicious Library
  29. Dictionary
  30. Disk Doctor
  31. Drive Genius 3
  32. Drop Box
  33. DupeGuru PE
  34. Duplicate Detective
  35. DVD Player
  36. EasyBatch Photo
  37. Evernote
  38. FaceTime
  39. FamilyTree Maker 3 Mac
  40. FireFox
  41. FlipPlayer2
  42. FontBook
  43. Freedom
  44. Fuze
  45. G*Power
  46. Game Center
  47. Garage Band
  48. Glui
  49. Google Chrome
  50. Google Drive
  51. Google Earth
  52. Google Backup
  53. Hello, Tips, Tricks and Secrets *
  54. Ibooks
  55. Ibooks Author
  56. Image Capture
  57. IMovie
  58. Inform
  59. IPhoto
  60. ISoft Video Converter
  61. Itunes
  62. ITunes Producer
  63. Jing
  64. KeyNote
  65. Kindle
  66. LaunchPad
  67. Leaf
  68. Learn IbooksAuthor
  69. Learn Mac OS Lion
  70. Learn Mac OSX Maverick
  71. Learn Mac
  72. LibrarianPro
  73. Logitech
  74. MacCleanse
  75. MacFamilyTree 7
  76. MacJournal
  77. MacKeeper
  78. MacOptimizer
  79. MacPilot
  80. MacUpdate DeskTop
  81. Mail
  82. MailtabPro for Gmail
  83. MemoryKeeper
  84. Messages
  85. Microsoft Messenger
  86. Microsoft Office
  87. Microsoft Silverlight
  88. Mint Quickview
  89. Miro
  90. Missio Control
  91. Moose
  92. Movie Tools
  93. Notebook
  94. Notes
  95. Numbers
  96. OmniOutliner
  97. OOVoo
  98. Opera
  99. Pages
  100. PdfPen
  101. Photobooth
  102. Picassa
  103. Pins
  104. PixelPumper
  105. Pocket
  106. Posterino
  107. Preview
  108. PulpMotionr3
  109. Quicken Essentials
  110. QuickTime Player
  111. RadioShift
  112. RapidReader
  113. ReadLater
  114. RealPlayer Converter
  115. Reflector
  116. Reminders
  117. Remote DeskTop Connection
  118. Safari
  119. Sandbox Cleaner
  120. Screenflow
  121. ScreenSteps
  122. Scrivener
  123. SecondLife Viewer
  124. Shape Collage
  125. Share Bucket
  126. Showcase
  127. Skitch
  128. Skype
  129. SnapConverter
  130. SnagIt
  131. SnapxPro
  132. Soundboard
  133. Soundflower
  134. SplashtopStreamer
  135. StarQuiz
  136. Stat
  137. Stickies
  138. Tapedeck
  139. Techtool Pro 7
  140. TechTool Protogo
  141. TextEdit
  142. TextExpander
  143. Textwrangler
  144. TimeMachine
  145. TurboTax
  146. Tutor for Imovie11
  147. Tutor for Iphoto11
  148. Tutor for Lion
  149. Tutor for OSX Mavericks
  150. Tweetbot
  151. TweetDeck
  152. Universal translator
  153. Utilities Folder
  154. Video Guide to Mac Lion
  155. Voila
  156. Vox
  157. Wallpaper
  158. WashingMachine
  159. WD Drive utilities
  160. WePrint Server
  161. Wimba Diploma 6
  162. Wiretap Studio
  163. WorldClock Deluxe
  164. Zotero



Tool Winnowing 201:Treating APP Affluenza

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*Tools1

Too much stuff. An embarrassment of riches: Books; office supplies; projects; computers; planners for organizing my life:). Too much either wasted or neglected: space; knowledge unshared; time; opportunities; networking.

Inspired in part by the first chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s well written and thought provoking The Happiness Project and in part by my panicking that it is almost time to return to campus to teach, I’m focusing today on (again!) winnowing applications. I doubt that I can change my app-collecting habits (but, reflecting on Patrick Lindsay’s little book of self-help inspirational nudges It’s Never Too Late…172 simple acts to change your life,)—maybe I CAN change. It’s time to reconsider the ideas of “Essentialism“—with a grain of salt. I enjoy too much having many interests, many simultaneous projects, and continuous learning opportunities.

But do I REALLY need so many tools overlapping (or duplicative) in function that as a consequence of their sheer number or my changing interests I never master, I fail to update, or I forget that I possess?:)

Especially with the new Mac Operating system imminent, it’s time for some app-revisiting.

Time to focus.

Today I focus on screencasting/ screen capturing/ video producing apps among them

  • Screenflow
  • Screensteps
  • Skitch
  • Snagit
  • Snapzpro
  • Voila
  • Cantasia
  • Jing
  • Imovie
  • Clarify
  • Pulpmotion3



Still Looking for Ways to Improve Courses After 36 Years of Teaching (Pt.1 of 2)

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Proof of Self-Publishable Book I've talked about in progress for the past 30 years!

Proof-reading ready copy of self-published book I’ve talked about being in progress for the past 30 years!

I’m sitting on the porch attempting to complete the bulk of my Fall semester Carroll University course preparation before intentionally disconnecting from the Internet and enjoying five days of pure vacation in northern Michigan a week from tomorrow. This year I shall be teaching two sections of Psychology 205 (Statistics and Experimental Design) and one section of Psychology 303 (Experimental Social Psychology).

Tonight I am focusing on the Statistics and Experimental Design course—-a course that is particularly meaningful to me. For the past 20 years I have used a traditional textbook enhanced by my handouts. Students also have weekly labs to gain hands-on experience using SPSS (The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). I’ve been very pleased by evidence that students learn, and I have received consistent positive evaluations across the years about the course both at the course’s completion and from graduates. But, there is always room for improvement—especially improvement attempts informed by thoughtful reflection from former students. So help me out. Are the two ideas below worth pursuing?

Across the years I have repeated heard from students how much they valued handouts I have distributed. These have essentially been a succinct outline of my notes (though I must confess that I haven’t used notes in 15 years!). The handouts are replete with a congery of Carroll-specific data and data collection exercises.

I have been troubled by the high cost to students of textbooks and bothered by what I see as unnecessary inclusions in textbooks (e.g. color, study guides, constant revisions, and electronic ancillaries of dubious didactic value) which drive up costs. Therefore,  I’ve been recently exploring a number of self-publishing mechanisms (especially Lulu.com and ibooks author). One of the best resources about self-publishing I have come across is Rick Smith’s  (self-published!)  CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass (2014 edition). I found it very useful and useable.

I’ve recently carefully examined Amazon’s CreateSpace.com. I have been very impressed by its ease of use, pricing structure, and quality of physical book production. I am holding in my hand tonight a hard-copy proof of a very physically attractive book —my book—with a glossy cover which I created using Create Space’s Cover Creator software. If I proceed, the book can be printed on demand and/or, if I choose, it can be converted relatively effortlessly to Kindle format (This i have not yet tried). I can pretty much decide the cost to readers (I’ve toyed with the idea of it being free).

  1. Idea 1: I am tempted to give students the opportunity to buy a copy and to help me improve the book by their adding their own data collection examples. Alternatively, I hold off distribution until 2nd semester when I before which time I add information to the book (perhaps with some student/former student collaborators).
  2. Idea 2: I am also considering building into the course this semester formal instruction in using Survey Monkey software now that I have a Carroll account in addition to my Schneider Consulting account. I envision in my last few years’ teaching creating a Carroll Student Statistical Consulting service and this would be one of the tools the use.