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.
Notre 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.
After 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
In 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.
- 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?)
- 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?)
- Post-it note – get everyone involved in brainstorming (I’m not supposed to provide all of the original ideas?)
- Window – let in some fresh air
- Shades – pull them up and take a look at what’s happening in RL (academia is not real life?)
- Door – open at the beginning to include all kinds of people and ideas (doesn’t that just make everything messy?)
- Waste basket – failure is okay (aren’t we supposed to get everything right the first time?)
- 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]
Regular readers may have noticed a new graphic on the right sidebar of this blog. NspireD2 is one of many sources feeding a new aggregator called EdTech Update. An aggregator is a website that collects content from several sources, then organizes and displays it. Readers (like me) who sign up for this particular site can specify areas of interest in the field of educational technology, and then receive a daily or weekly email with a tailor-made list of news items. EdTech Update appears to focus on the K-12 arena, but I’m hoping it will prove useful to folks in higher education. The site is sponsored by SEDTA, a US non-profit association of state education agency leaders in the area of technology.
Pocket Points* is a mobile app that rewards students for NOT using phones. With the app, they can earn a discount, free cookies or a second pita at a local business. Professors have even expressed interest in offering extra credit! Pocket Points is further gamified with a leaderboard and rankings, features that motivate some users more than coupons. The authors claim it is the only app that encourages students to be OFF their phones.
A location-based iOS app, Pocket Points rewards a student based on how long her phone has been locked and how many other users are nearby. It was launched last September at Chico State by a comp sci major and a marketing major. Over the past five months the app has spread across the country to schools like Penn State, Michigan, San Diego State, and Colorado – along with several community colleges and high schools.
There has been some grousing that Pocket Points only rewards basic good behavior, but isn’t that pretty common? Many people use incentives to encourage themselves to things like exercising or eating right. Where’s the harm? If phones are the problem, why not let them provide the solution?
[Tip o’ the hat: App Gives Students an Incentive to Keep Their Phones Locked in Class, Wired Campus]
* no connection to the Android app PocketPoints (no space).