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The iClicker is one of many types of student response systems and, at the University of Vermont, we have adopted the iClicker as our preferred version of a student response system. We are in the process of installing iClicker base stations in many classrooms on campus that have 50+ seat capacity.

What does this mean for learning on campus?

And what does it have to do with Universal Design for Learning (UDL)?

Universal Design for Learning is an instructional framework based on the neuroscience of learning and universal design in architecture. Many times when designing with the three UDL principles: 1. Provide Multiple Means of Representation, 2. Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression 3. Provide Multiple Means of Engagement, faculty ask me to give some examples of what they can do for each of these principles. I thought I would focus on the iClicker technology to help with each of these UDL design principles.

When using the iClicker and thinking about the first UDL Principle of Representation, you could think about how you can ask questions of the students during lecture that would help students using iClickers in retro cartoon style engage their prior knowledge of the relevant material that you are presenting to them. Also, you can highlight critical parts of the lecture and key ideas with iClicker polls in lecture.

For the second UDL Principle of Action and Expression, the iClicker can be used as an alternate way for students to express what they know so far during the class, and what they still have questions about. As the faculty member it is up to you to create some polling questions that will give students a chance to test their knowledge level of a topic, and also a feeling to interaction with the content and other people in the class. Polling in large courses allows students to see where they are in their own understanding of a topic in relation to their peers. This can be important for helping the students monitor their own learning progress. (Of course the instructor has to let the students see the polling results in order for this to be helpful.)

Lastly, the third UDL Principle of Engagement is what the iClicker is supposed to provide between students and the course content, and, when possible, with each other. The iClicker can be used to poll students on questions that provoke discussion in larger course environments, among pairs and small groups of students. The engagement with students to their peers can be done by doing a poll, then asking students to talk to their peer/s next to them to convince them of their answers. Then the poll is run again to see if the class results change to favor the correct answer. Many faculty tell me this is a great learning tool and that students like having the chance to talk to each other in larger classes. This is also a form of peer instruction.

If you’d like to learn more about iClickers, join us at the CTL for these events
(click the link to read more and register):

iPads are continuing on pace in terms of the adoption curve. Though technology adoption is not as simple as first adopters/second adopters/third and so on, there are some definite patterns that seem to recur with depressing regularity.

Glossing over complexities, it seems that first adopters try a new technology because it’s new and by doing so gain experience in the possibilities. Second adopters try it because they think they should, but are disappointed when it doesn’t do things in exactly the same way that they are used to or doesn’t exactly replace a tool that they use regularly. (One might argue that that lack of exact duplication is the point of a new technology.) That group either drops it, decries it, or decides to wait and see where it will go.

In the next phase, the technology picks up a few new adopters who combine with the first adopters to create new uses, or even new paradigms of use, that end up controlling the direction of a particular technology.  Third adopters take whatever the outcome is and run with it. The second adopters, who could have had lots of interesting ideas, often kick themselves for not having any input.

Shades of some of this are evident in two posts from today’s Higher Education Chronicle, one by Robert Talbert describing some of the currently perceived limitations of using iPads in education (“My three weeks with an iPad“). The second is by Nick DeSantis on the LectureTools app, originally developed by Perry Samson (“Professor’s Classroom iPad App Debuts at Consumer Electronics Show“). Favorite sentence in the latter article? “The goal, Mr. Samson said, is to occupy the devices students typically use to drift away from the learning environment.” Precisely!

Meanwhile, the rumor mills are buzzing about Apple’s January 19 event on publishing and eBooks, apparently targeting the publishing industry. Speculation includes an iPublishing app or channel, a TextBook app, undercutting Amazon and Barnes & Noble with some new iBook format that synchronizes across devices, an iBook lending library, updates to Pages for even easier eBook publishing, or something more specific like a deal to supply iPads and eTextbooks to a particular university or NYC school district? We’ll find out soon enough. Watch your Apple news outlet or post your favorite Apple event feed to “Ripe for Destruction” so we can all tune in.

Disability Awareness Month: ACCESS Office Open House
Friday, October 28, 2:00-4:00 pm
A-170 Living Learning Center

ACCESS will host an open house (drop-in) for faculty and staff. The director, specialists and other ACCESS support staff will be available to have sit down, individualized meetings or informal chats about our topics such as services, instructional implementation and accommodations, the Americans with Disabilities Act and Higher Education, and working with students with disabilities. Light refreshments will be available.—

For more information call 656-7753

“Which ebook app should I buy for my iPad?”

I was recently asked to recommend an ebook reader app for a new iPad owner. At first this seems like a difficult choice: are the features of the iPad’s own iBooks that much better than those of the Kindle or Nook apps? Are there less well-known apps that have features not available in the others? I decided there was only one sensible choice: get them all!

Though ebooks have been available for four decades, and dedicated ereader devices for at least half that time, this new form of books and readers continues to evolve. A 2002 article in The Guardian traced the history of ebooks from the development from Michael Hart’s “Project Gutenberg” begun in 1971 through various developments in both books and reading devices, concluding with a quote from Time-Warner that “the market for ebooks has simply not developed the way we hoped.”

So much for prescience. Ten years later we have a cornocopia of ebooks, ereaders, reading apps, and publishers vying to create “the next big thing.”

Meanwhile, here are the apps I have on my iPad now. You can find them all in the iPad Apps store. No doubt there will be more to come:

ibooks iconiBooks
With the iPad’s built-in ebook reader, iBooks, you can purchase and read books direct from Apple, or upload your own ebooks and pdf files. PDF files can be resized as you are reading, to zoom into or out of specific areas on the page. This reader provides 8 font sizes, 7 different font types, a sepia or white background, brightness adjustment, search function and a built-in dictionary. As with other apps, tapping on the edge of any page will turn the page forward or backward, while tapping in the middle of the screen brings up menus and options. Like the Kindle, you can highlight and add notes but iBook goes one better: you can also select and copy text to paste into other apps like Pages. You can even email all your notes to yourself or others.

Buying books is as easy as tapping the Store button, then selecting from free or pay books. The free collection is sizeable, including the usual classics as well as a selection of more recent works. iBooks is updated frequently, so more features will no doubt be added. The FAQ/support page is particularly useful.

kindle icon Kindle
I had a Kindle device before the iPad so I had already purchased many books in this format. I still do because of the selection and because I can sync all my Kindle books across the Kindle, the iPad, and my laptop to read them on any of those devices. It will keep track of where I am in the book so that when I move from one device to another I can pick it up wherever I left off. The Kindle app lets you choose from among 6 font sizes, 3 background colors (white, black, sepia) and one- or two-column format. As with the Kindle device, you will see your location in the book by percentage and by page number. However, this page numbering is dependent on the size font you are using, i.e. if you change to a larger or smaller font, the total page numbers, thus your current page number, will change. You can search, look up words in the built-in dictionary, add bookmarks, add notes, highlight and even see the most popular highlights created by others. Your notes and highlights remain in the book, i.e. you cannot copy and paste them elsewhere. Details on these and other features can be found on the Kindle app page.

nook image Nook
Like the others, Nook has a choice of font sizes (5), font type (5), and colors (5 themes). The themes include “Earl Grey” that closely approximates the eInk reading experience you would get on a dedicated device. In addition, it allows you to set the line spacing (keep the font size the same but add more space between lines), the margin size (4 choices), and even has a Full Justification switch so you can read with a ragged or straight right margin. The built-in dictionary is similar to iBooks’ and Kindle’s while the bookmarks and highlights are, like the Kindle, limited to use in the Nook app itself. So, while the reading experience is good on the Nook app, the lack of a copy feature and its inability to import your own content–ebooks or pdfs, is definitely a limitation.

kobo image Kobo
The Kobo device, most recently the Kobo eReader Touch, is one of the big four, Kindle, Nook and the SONY Reader being the other three. Kobo app has features similar to the other readers (4 fonts, brightness, sepia background), more free books, pay books, and the ability to connect to the Instapaper service which allows you to capture and save web pages for later reading. You can highlight and annotate, and send those annotations by email or to Facebook. In fact, here is where Kobo is staking its claim: It has a friends feature that lets you share information about your library and reading with your Facebook friends or Twitter followers (not share the actual books–just share the list of what you are reading, along with the ability to send notes from inside Kobo or share a passage). It can also keep stats on your total time reading, average hours per book, minutes per book page or magazine page, etc. Kobo, the device, along with Nook, are configured to allow for borrowing books from public libraries. The app does not yet have that feature but I expect it will at some point. (For now, if you want to borrow ebooks from your local libary, check out Overdrive, described below.) Like the Kindle and Nook your books are stored in Kobo’s cloud, so you have access to all your books from multiple devices. Kobo also adds one handy feature that the others don’t yet have: multi-touch gestures. Two finger swiping from side to side will jump you to the next chapter; two finger up and down will take you to the beginning or end of the current chapter.

stanza image Stanza
Before the ereader device idea was, dare I say it, rekindled, Stanza existed as a PC or Mac application to read and create ebooks in multiple formats. It is designed to make it easy to share books across the iPad, iPhone, or iPod devices. The iPad app takes advantage of Stanza’s established history by making it easy to tap into several book sources, both free and pay. For example, it will connect directly to Project Gutenberg books (33,000 books and counting–all free), as well as Feedbooks (more free books, newspapers and original content), Munseys (pulp fiction), Harlequin, Fictionwise, Books On Board, BookGlutton, Smashwords, and even sheet music from Mutopia.

Stanza is strongest in the area of reading a variety of legacy ebook or digital formats like Mobipocket, PalmDoc (DOC), along with HTML, PDF, Microsoft Word and Rich Text Format (RTF). It also has connectivity to Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps the most interesting feature is its ability, in conjunction with the ebook editing and management software Calibre, to access ebooks you store in DropBox.

google imageGoogle Books
Yes, you can access thousands of free books at the Google Books site through a web browser, but the dedicated app gives you a more “ereaderly” experience. 2 colors, 7 fonts, multiple font sizes and 3 line height choices put it on par with thge other apps. The Google bookstore includes pay and free books, though you have to dig a bit for the free ones. You can  choose Flowing Text for books whose font size you can adjust, or Scanned Pages to zoom in and out of pdf file’s pages. Biggest drawback: the books are stored at Google and downloaded on the fly, so if you are not online you will not have access to them.

cloudreader imagefreebooks imageebookreader imageEbook Reader
This is a venerable (pre-iPad) product which I have mostly for its catalog of free classics, though its interface is decent, too.

FreeBooks
Another old timer. Also has a large collection of free books, the usual easy navigation, table of contents, bookmarks, etc.

Cloudreaders
This reader reads books and pdfs but is especially designed to read comics or books with right to left paging direction. If you download the neu.notes application it can also act as a pdf markup app. It does a beautiful job of rendering asian languages.

Borrowing Books from Your Local Library

overdrive iconOverdrive
Library’s have been loaning ebooks to computer users for some time now. OverDrive, a company that has been managing these types of services since 2002, now has an iPad app, Overdrive Media Console. With the app you can connect to your local library or library consortium (for example, in Vermont you add your local library to the app but once you log in it actually connects to the Green Mountain Library Consortium).
You will need the app, an Adobe.com (free) account, and your library card number. Once in, you can borrow up to 3 books at a time for 14 days (or whatever time period your library has set). At the end of that time the book will automatically go back into circulation. Like a physical library there are limited copies available–once a book is checked out it is unavailable to others–so you may have to put your name on a waiting list for popular books, but it is still a delightful approach for those books that you want to read but not necessarily own.

bluefire imageBluefire Reader
Although Bluefire is an app for accessing several bookstores, I’ve included it here because you can use it to read Adobe eBook library loan books. The bookstores include Books-A-Million, BooksOnBoard, Feedbooks as well as BookRepublic for ebooks in italian, and Todoebook for books in spanish. The library loan feature works through iTunes and your computer’s web browser, as described here. For some books you can use the iPads web browser to go directly to the library’s web site, borrow and download a book, then get the option to open the book directly in Bluefire (or several of your other ebook readers).

By the way, if you are a Vermonter you can go directly to the ebook library from your computer by going to http://www.listenupvermont.org. The site has information and links to the software you will need to download the ebooks direct to your PC or Mac, no iPad needed. Other states probably have similar sites–check with your local library.

The Textbook Readers

Textbook companies are eager to capitalize on the ebook craze. eBook textbooks can offer additional features over paper-based books. Features like increased numbers of high-quality illustrations, animations, audio, video, built-in study applications, social networking features, etc. They even offer a solution to the “problem” of used books as every sale of an ebook can be a new sale, generating revenue for the company. Publishers are still shaking out how they will offer ebooks. Right now they are deciding whether to offer books in a standardized format or offer an ereader specifically tailored to their books (and their books alone). Another experiment is to offer lifelong access to a textbook. Nature Publishing Group, publishers of many scientific journals, is experimenting with this model with its “Principles of Biology,” promising that the book will be updated from year to year to reflect the latest research. These developments are particularly interesting in light of the new legislation regarding accessibility of educational materials in conformance with Universal Design principles. Another feature that etextbooks can offer is a way to purchase single chapters instead of whole books, or a way to combine specific sections of a book into a customized coursepack.

inkling imagekno image

bookshelf app imageAt the moment I only have three textbook-specific readers installed, and only sample books to view. I have not bought any full textbooks. These include: Inkling (Apple’s iPad designed format), which features pop-up definitions, images, highlights, notes, history of what you’ve read; Kno, whose catalog contains textbooks, Kaplan self-help books and O’Reilly technical books and has some built-in social networking links that allow you to share messages with friends on Facebook or Twitter while reading, as an attempt to encourage group studying; and Bookshelf by VitalSource, though I actually have not yet experimented with this one.

Books as Apps

peter rabbit imageWhat do T.S. Eliot, Peter Rabbit, and Al Gore have in common? Dedicated reading devices, and now their branded reader apps, are built on the model of offering ebook editions of existing print-based books. Yet digital technologies offer an opportunity to expand our conception and definition of the book. The idea of “born digital” works is not new: Apple’s hypercard (1987), Eastgate Systems’ StorySpace (also 1987), even the web itself, offer ways to create books that include animation, hypertext, audio, video and interconnectedness. The three examples mentioned, designed not to be read in an ereader app but built as standalone apps themselves, explore some of those possibilities.

our choice imageChildren’s books, like the Loudcrow Interactives edition of Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit, reimagine a pop-up version of the book and include “read it aloud” audio features. Building on his work on global climate change, Al Gore’s Our Choice (Push Pop Press) combines photography, in depth and interactive graphics, even documentary footage all wrapped in the narrative framework. Even more recently, Touch Press, already lauded for its Periodic Table app, The Elements, has published an iPad version of T. S. Eliot’s poem The Wasteland. The edition contains digital facsimiles of the manuscripts as Eliot developed them over time, perspectives and notes, audio recordings of several readings aligned with the text (one by Eliot himself), even a video performance.

So, your next favorite iPad ereader app may not be a reader at all but an ebook itself. Do you have a favorite reader or book/app? Have you discovered an interesting feature not described in one of the apps listed above? Let us know.

– Hope Greenberg, University of Vermont

If you have a new iPad 2 you may wonder what all the fuss was about. Now built into the device is the ability to project whatever is on the iPad screen, no special apps needed. Together with the built-in camera, this newer iPad is fast approaching the point where it might replace your laptop. Not quite yet, but it’s certainly easier to carry around.

Tip for today: need a screenshot of what’s on your iPad? Hold the “Home” key down while you press the power button. After a white flash you will find your screen shot in the Photos app. Connect to your computer to send it to iPhoto.

If you have been using Zotero, the bibliographic management plug-in for the Firefox browser, you may have wished for a standalone version that you can use offline as well as online. Just announceed today are two changes that will be most welcome:

1) Zotero will soon be available as a plug-in for Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Microsoft Internet Explorer.

2) It will soon be available as a standalone program for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

They are also releasing their application programming interface (API) to developers so that they can “integrate a full range of Zotero features into their own web, mobile, and desktop applications.”

Full announcement at: http://www.zotero.org/blog/zoteros-next-big-step/

What happens if you ask Google to compare the GDP of France and Germany, or ask it how many cows were in Vermont each of the last ten years? You may find a web page where someone has posted that information, or you may have to search for several sites and gather the information for yourself, or you may find some  references to follow to do some research. Google is fantastic, wonderful, certainly but is not designed for those kinds of questions.

Enter Wolfram Alpha.

Dr. Wolfram, of Mathematica and New Kind of Science fame, is launching a new type of web search engine that combines the symbolic representation and calculating capabilities of Mathematica with natural language processing. Or, to quote: “Fifty years ago, when computers were young, people assumed that they’d quickly be able to handle all these kinds of things. And that one would be able to ask a computer any factual question, and have it compute the answer. But it didn’t work out that way. Computers have been able to do many remarkable and unexpected things. But not that. I’d always thought, though, that eventually it should be possible. And a few years ago, I realized that I was finally in a position to try to do it.”

Natural language processing is still in its infant stage and “for example we’re still very far away from having computers systematically understand large volumes of natural language text on the web.” So, Alpha begins small with “trillions of pieces of curated data and millions of lines of algorithms.”

Read more or watch for the launch later this month, here: http://www.wolframalpha.com/

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The Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus blog links to an article in the journal portal exploring student information seeking activity. Oregon State University librarians Jane Nichols and Margaret Mellinger studied student attitudes, knowledege, practices, and skills in an effort to determine if and how students would use a proposed subject based library. Their study, Portals for Undergraduate Subject Searching: Are They Worth It? The short answer, “probably not.”

Among the findings:

  • undergraduates seek information based on course assignments, rather than broad subject areas
  • library arrangement of resources does not match students’ expectations of how to access or find information
  • faculty arrangement of course materials in Blackboard is also confusing and inconsistent
  • students were unlikely to personally customize library, course, or even commercial sites they use. (The survey, however, was pre-Facebook.)
  • upper division students are more sophisticated in their use of library resources than lower division students

Overall, the study concluded that students were task and goal oriented, and not likely to use portal like features. They suggest an interesting alternative instead – building course specific library web pages reflecting the specific needs of the course. This approach would provide a degree of automatic customization and better present existing library and course resources.

Read the rest of this entry »

We hope you have enjoyed participating in our workshop today. iMovie is one of our favorite software packages to learn. Below we have included a list of for the workshop for Educational Value as well as general How To’s. Feel free to suggest additional resources to add to this blog posting. We hope you had fun and learned a lot today.

Click Here to take survey

Thank you!

Paul Martin’s iMovie about Podcasting for YOU!


iMovie in education


Apple iMovie HD Resource Page


Hot Tips for imovie hd from i life 06


keyboard shortcuts for iMovie HD


Digital Storytelling in the classroom with imovie


iMovies in K-12 Education from Springfield Public Schools


Example iMovies from K-12 Education


Apple Learning Interchange


Educause Connect

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Wagner James Au, writing in Edutopoia, 2006.11.08, “The School of Second Life: Creating new avenues of pedagogy in a virtual world” writes …

For those who grew up on computer and video games over the past thirty years, it’s no surprise that games have become a full-fledged educational tool, merging play with learning in a way that speaks to the digital generation’s technical literacy. Adding heft to this development, the Federation of American Scientists recently published the results of a year-long study suggesting that games have the power to teach analytical skills, team building, and problem solving on the fly.

Among the most powerful platforms for game-based teaching is Second Life, a virtual world superficially similar to online role-playing games such as World of Warcraft or Sims Online but embedded with numerous features that can make it an ideal pedagogical resource.

Article continues at www.edutopioa.org/1709

Tags: Learning, Games