The Future is Now?

Here’s a nice list of fun, new tech-y things to brighten your weekend:

1. Photoshop CS6 Beta. Now. Free.
You’re welcome!

2. 2012 Pearson Foundation Report on Students and Tablets (Yes, the Foundation is funded by the people who bring us LearningStudio). The report finds that: “Tablet ownership among college students and college-bound high school seniors has more than
tripled from a year ago. Further, a large number of students plan to purchase a tablet within the next six months.”

3. How Tech will Transform the Traditional Classroom. I’m hoping that, as you read this piece, you’ll see at least a few ideas / programs / apps / software packages / technologies that we’ve covered here on the blog!

4. TED Talks app and the Khan Academy app. Take your learning anywhere (and, in some cases, even where there’s no internet access).

5. Tour the Amazon with Google Street View. The ultimate passport-free spring break!

Educational iPad Apps

In honor of the new iPad 3, this seems like a good time to provide information on educational iPad apps. Some of these apps may also have iPhone or other versions, so do check into other available versions if the app seems useful to you but you don’t have an iPad.

Here is a pretty comprehensive list of general iPad apps for education. A bonus? All the ones on this list are free! This is another list addressing apps for organizing schoolwork; though they are pretty inexpensive, not all the apps on this list are free.

EmergingEdTech recommends a few free digital whiteboard apps. And, if you’re using a compatible Epson projector, iProjection is a neat, free app that will allow you to project images and files from your device wirelessly.

ProfHacker weighs in on the best apps for annotation and note-taking, complete with a helpful comparison chart. Depending upon your needs (and your wallet), iAnnotate PDF ($10) is very popular and  does give you an impressive amount of functionality, but it is limited to PDFs (although there is a built-in way to convert Word docs into PDFs). Additionally, I’ve also heard great things about Penultimate, which now syncs with Dropbox and Evernote. Penultimate’s purpose is handwriting capture, so you’ll need a stylus with which to do your iPad writing. If you’re feeling a little more DIY, you might try making your own iPad stylus (remember, we present almost everything, but endorse nothing – so you’re on your own here!).

This is a list of iPad apps for MBA students. There are short descriptions of 47 apps, and some of them seem quite useful for the non-MBAs among us. Fair warning: this list also includes a few pricey apps.

For language and music learners, this is a nice overview of SpeedUpTV, an app that allows you to speed up, slow down, or loop video playback without any loss of video or sound quality. It costs $2.99, but may be very helpful learning tool, if it allows your students to expand the variety of materials they can enjoy.

What are your favorite (general or subject-specific) iPad apps?

SPUNKI: A Reading Rubric That Engages Students with Course Content

This link was passed to me, and I thought it was worth sharing.

Per the linked site below:

“SPUNKI is an acronym that asks students to answer six questions, “What part or parts of the reading did you find Surprising?, Puzzling?, Useful?,  New?, Knew it already?,  Interesting?”  Applying the prompts to any reading assignment invites students to respond personally to the material and make it their own.  Also, we have found that students using SPUNKI are more enthusiastic about assignments involving reading and other media, e.g. diagrams and images.”

Read more on the OnCourse website:


Pinterest is a cloud-based social bookmarking site. Once you join the site and start bookmarking (or “pinning”) pages on the web through their portal or browser add-on, your online friends who have also signed up with Pinterest can see the links (“pins”) that you’ve deemed significant, noteworthy, tasty, etc. Individuals in your network (called “followers”) then have the option to re-bookmark your link, meaning they will now share your item – now their new link – with all the people in their network of followers. From your perspective, you have the ability to save and organize your bookmarks and found web links however you see fit, grouping them into thematic categories (or “boards”). Continue reading


I’ve come across a few “shortcuts” articles recently. Here’s one on iPhone shortcuts (Private broswing? Siri to Twitter? Weekly view in the Calendar? Street view in maps? Yes, please!).

And here’s one on Facebook keyboard shortcuts (A faster way to like photos? A quick way to return to the home screen? A speedy way to bring up your messages? All good things!).

I also have a little plea for some shortcuts and tips. Here in the office, we’ve just stated using Google Spreadsheets for a big project. I’ve found (and been using) this list of Google Spreadsheet shortcuts, but I’d love to hear what other people are doing to make their Google Spreadsheet experience as smooth as possible.

Site 2012 Conference Goodies

Last week, I (Kerrie) attended the Site 2012 Conference in Austin, Texas, hosted by the Association of the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) organization.  This was my first time attending this particular conference, though I have attended several Ed-Media and E-learn conferences with AACE.  They are always top notch International conferences and I learn quite a bit.

I’m not going to do a full conference in review, but I wanted to share a bunch of links to resources and “goodies” that I learned.  Some are new to me, and others were mentioned so much that I think they are worth posting about.  I haven’t thoroughly read all of these sites or tried all of them out, but it is on my to do list!  Enjoy digging in!


Tools, tools and more tools lists

Instructional Design


  • Poll Everywhere – used in a conference session for open questions/comments while presentation happening.  Could be used in a class for same purpose with a TA or student lead collecting questions for Faculty.
  • VoiceThread – a collaborative, multimedia slideshow that allows for voice, text, and “doodle” comments from those you share the thread

Annotation & Document Sharing

  • Highlighter – I blogged about this a few weeks ago, and met with these guys while in Austin.  There are some great things coming up for their company and a big improvement to the usability of their webpage interface coming soon.
  • Diigo – this is similar to Highlighter, in that you can highlight a page, though this has a toolbar on your browser that allows you to highlight on a page.
  • Crocodoc – Per their website: View & Comment on Any Document, Review a Word document, fill out a PDF form, mark up an image, and more… All with Crocodoc, all online, all for free.
  • – Easily embed documents on your website/course.   Annotation & Analytics features too.
  • Entri – Free & Simple Collaborative Document Sharing Tool

Video, Screencasting & Presentations

  • Screen castle – one click screencasting
  • Xtranormal – make movies with the available cartoon characters for short how to, or topic introductions
  • Skype-Buddy – protocol and model for allowing students to “Sit in” on your class when they aren’t able to be there in person.
  • Screencast-O-Matic – free online screen recorder for instant screen capture video sharing
  • HelloSlide –  from their website: Upload a PDF of your presentation, then Simply type the speech for each slide, instead of recording it, and HelloSlide automagically generates the audio.
  • Online Convert –  Free online tool to convert media files online from one format into another.

Mindmapping, Timelines,  Drawing & Graphics

Organize, Search & Existing Content

  • LiveBinders – Organize your resources in an online binder
  • Sweet Search – A Search Engine for Students. It searches only credible Web sites approved by Internet research experts.
  • Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Hippo Campus – Per their website:  HippoCampus is a project of the Monterey Institute for Technology and Education (MITE). The goal of HippoCampus is to provide high-quality, multimedia content on general education subjects to high school and college students free of charge.

Educational Simulations

Social Media & Internet Statistics

image of what happens on the internet every 60 seconds. Source: Go-Globe

Student Self-Reflection

Following our post about mid-semester evals, I thought it was time to address the other part of the equation: the students themselves. These are a few links I’ve recently found regarding helping your students reflect on and evaluate their own learning and progress in your course.

The Teaching Professor Blog has had a series of posts about student self-assessment. Summarizing an article (behind a paywall) in their journal, blog author Maryellen Weimer writes:

As authors Nicol and Macfarlane-Dick point out, students already do make judgments about their work and performance. They write something in a paper and ask themselves if they’ve written enough, if what they’ve written makes sense, if they’ve said what they think the professor wants them to say, if they put the references in the right format, or if their solution is correct. And they answer those questions which means they are giving themselves feedback. So, why, ask these authors, aren’t we intervening during this process and doing what we can to improve their self-assessment skills?

The rest of the blog post references the article and offers some strategies for intervention, for guided practice, and for building student self-assessment into the grading process.

A nice parallel to those insights is this post – from the same blog and author – about providing questioning, coaching feedback that builds meta-cognitive skills. And such skills are sorely needed:

As soon as I thought students had gotten a sense as to the kind of content in my course, I asked them to write a brief explanation on how they intended to study and learn this material. The paragraphs they produced were almost always disappointing . . . . In general, I think undergraduates have very little awareness of themselves as learners. If I followed-up by asking for a second paragraph about how they were studying in a course very different than this one—say a math or chemistry course—the paragraphs weren’t all that different.

Getting students to explain why they are making specific content-related choices is the first step to helping them begin to actively navigate the learning process rather than being passive recipients of course material. For a more in-depth look at how to help students step back and critically evaluate their own thinking, the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at The Evergreen State College has a nice article by psychology professor Thad Curtz on Teaching Self-Assessment.

How can one get started with an actual self-evaluation assignment? Many of the sample assignments below are graded items or integral parts of the course / program structure. If you’re looking more for something where students might quickly jot their thoughts down, a slimmed-down version of some of the questions below might do the trick.

Here is a summary of a sample student self-assessment assignment. This two-part assignment begins and then ends the course, so it isn’t really suitable for a mid-semester self-assessment; I present this here because it’s topical – and, hey, maybe whatever you decide to do to build student self-awareness might be helped by this sort of approach. In this assignment, students are first asked to indicate their goals for the course and then, at the end of the term, to indicate how well they did in meeting these goals. And what happens when students indicate their learning goal is to get an A in the course? The instructor using the assignment “reports that many students have personal goals related to grades. He understands that and accepts it. His goal is to help students see that there is more to the course than just a grade—that the content is meaningful and useful independent of the grade.”

The Center for Teaching Excellence at George Mason University also has a sample mid-semester student self-assessment, complete with some evaluation criteria. The example reference here does rely on students having set some prior goals for the course, but these need not have been done on the first day.

The Washington Center also has some sample self-evaluation prompts. Many of these are more summative in nature, but a few of them are easily adaptable to the mid-semester. These include: “[What are] my strongest and weakest points as a student? What did I do to improve the weak points? What will I do next?”, “What did you expect to learn? What did you actually learn? More or less, and why?”, and “What advice would some friends in the [course] give you if they spoke with 100 percent honesty and caring?”.

Of course, in addition to figuring out what to ask, you’ll also need to figure out the mechanics of asking your questions. Only you can decide if this will be a graded / extra-credit / ungraded / required / optional assignment. As for how to ask the questions, if you really want your students to take this task seriously, maintaining anonymity seems pretty difficult. If there’s a professor out there who has successfully managed this, I’d love to hear from you!

In less anonymous electronic approaches, the journal tool in LearningStudio seems like an excellent fit for something like this; one could also use a LearningStudio dropbox basket for an evaluation assignment. If that doesn’t meet your needs, I think it it would be possible to use our old friend the Google Form to set up a text question asking the student’s name and then follow this with few short paragraph text questions about his/her behavior in the course. Do you use – or have you heard of – another approach for the digital submission of student self-evaluations? If so, what?