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Share URLs quickly with ShoutKey

May 14, 2015

ShoutKey screenURL shorteners (Bitly, TinyURL,,, etc.) make it easy to share long web page addresses. They usually generate a short URL with random letters that are hard to remember or speak out loud. Go to ShoutKey, paste a URL into a box, indicate how long want the link to be active (5 min. – 24 hrs.), and the site produces a random English word you can use in a short URL. For the example at right it would be

OR add two bookmarklets to your browser and it’s even easier:
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“This will revolutionize education!”

April 24, 2015

I definitely identify with this video by science educator Derek Muller from the Australian TV show Catalyst.

A few years ago I wrote “Technology, learning, and free will,” along similar lines to several points made in the video. I love Dr. Muller’s idea that learning is about what students are asked to do, and not simply how messages are presented. Check out his excellent Veritasium channel on YouTube, but beware – it’s addictive. The guy basically wrote a book on Designing Effective Multimedia. Read more…

Share questions between Quizlet and Sakai

April 16, 2015

Quizlet to Sakai

My colleague and I are taking advantage of Quizlet to help students learn basic material for a course called “Applied Multimedia.” Quizlet is a website/app where learners can use electronic flash cards in several different ways (StudyBlue is another site with similar functionality). You can make up your own cards or tap into the library of sets shared by other users, and teachers can create private classes with customized packages of card sets. Quizlet tells students when they have mastered a set of cards and shows the teacher which students are using the cards.

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April 14, 2015

Incredible Hulk


Two iPad challenges met

April 10, 2015

3D modelNotre Dame ran its first THATCamp yesterday and today. We were a small group but made a good start and hope that more such events will happen. I am always interested in new ways to use my iPad, so I made an effort to try several new-to-me tools at the event.

I had never created a 3D print, so I downloaded Autodesk’s 123D Design app and built a fairly simple abstract model using geometric shapes (the image at right links to it). A colleague then downloaded the model and began printing.

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Smartwatches in higher ed?

March 12, 2015

ID-watchAfter reading a whimsical tweet that proposed an academic edition of the Apple Watch, I began considering whether the real thing would succeed. At times Apple has been too far ahead of the curve (the Newton) or just plain wrong (the Cube), but several of its boldest ideas have caught on in a big way. This month’s release of the Apple Watch may even catalyze an explosion of wearable technology.

In what ways will the technology prove useful to academics and students? We won’t know until it has been available for a while, but apps will certainly be aimed at the classroom, lab, and office. The following video suggests some possibilities

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Eight low-tech tools with metaphorical value

March 6, 2015

folding tableIn a recent blog post my friend Derek Bruff at Vanderbilt wrote that his favorite classroom technology is “wheels on chairs.” That metaphorical comment got me thinking: some people seem to believe only the newest tools can be used creatively or be truly effective. “The old tools have been around so long that we must have come up with all of the good ways to use them ages ago — and those techniques can’t possibly be modern enough to be effective.” Maybe they’re not as sexy, but some tools that are old (like me, I hope) can still be very useful.

Below are several classroom tools don’t require a power cord and yet have very practical value. Some also suggest metaphorical food for thought, along with a few tongue-in-cheek quips.

  1. Chair with wheels – move it around and match your seat configuration to what students are doing (we’re not supposed to lecture all the time?)
  2. Fold-away table – set it aside for breathing room or open it up to facilitate student writing or “making” (aren’t they supposed to do that stuff before class?)
  3. CrayonTest1Post-it note – get everyone involved in brainstorming (I’m not supposed to provide all of the original ideas?)
  4. Window – let in some fresh air
  5. Shades – pull them up and take a look at what’s happening in RL (academia is not real life?)
  6. Door – open at the beginning to include all kinds of people and ideas (doesn’t that just make everything messy?)
  7. Waste basket – failure is okay (aren’t we supposed to get everything right the first time?)
  8. Crayon – creativity can be wonderful (don’t students want everything to be black and white?)

Does that make any sense? Did I miss anything good?
How about a metaphor for portable white boards, books, chalk, or flip charts?

[Image credits: Crayon Test 1 by Paul Stein, table photo by Chris Clark]


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