Thursday, December 6, 2012

Educational Uses of Annotating Tools

Collaborative annotation tools are a social starting place for immersing students in the scholarly practice of research and annotation, while encouraging them to share information and build on the work of others in a dynamic community of thought. With tools like Diigo,students might have the opportunity to collaborate on the interpretation of resources in ways not possible inside a classroom or with printed materials that should not be written in, such as library books. In addition, while scholars have found in the web an unparalleled information resource, using it effectively depends on tools that help organize the data and simplify the process of locating resources when they are needed. These tools empower users, giving them the capability of commentary and reflection rather than restricting it to authors and website creators. Finally, academics across disciplines and institutions value these tools and the accumulated observations of instructors, experts, and peers that they facilitate (Educause 2009).

Here are 8 annotation tools that you should check out:

1- Diigo
You can use it both to annotate , collect, and highlight content found online. It also has apps for both Android and iOS.

2- Webnotes
Webnotes allows you to highlight and add notes to both web pages and PDFs. You can also use it to organize your bookmarks and share them with others.

3- Awesome Screenshot
This is an extension you can use on Chrome to capture screenshots and annotate them by adding arrows and text boxes.

4- iCyte
This is a great research tool. You can use it to save your bookmarks and just like the previous tools, it lets you annotate and add notes to your web pages.

5- Bounce
This is a cool web tool that lets you take a snapshot of any webpage and add notes to it before sharing it with others.

6- Mark.up
Lets you draw on any webpage with a variety of tools to express your thoughts, make a point or to just simply edit.

7- Screen Draw
This is an extension for Firefox users. Screen Draw lets you draw or type text over the top of any page in any color or size and then save it to png or jpeg.

8- Draw Here
Use the Draw Here bookmarklet to draw on top of web pages while you are browsing the web. If you save your drawings, other Draw Here users will then be able to see your drawings when they go to the same page.
Educational Technology and Mobile Learning
--a resource of free educational web tools and mobile apps for educators

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Keeping Tech Accessible

I was pleased to see that this video on University leaders speaking out about accessibility of technology premiered today at the Educause Annual Conference.

View the video

The 15-minute video, "IT Accessibility: What Campus Leaders Have to Say," features university leaders and campus-technology staff members speaking about the importance of using technology to make college campuses more accessible. The AccessComputing project, run by the department of computer science and engineering and the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology Center at the University of Washington, produced the video with funds from the National Science Foundation.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Experience

passport.jpgMapping Success: Essential Elements of an Effective Online Learning Experience

Danielle Hathcock, "Faculty Focus" September 5, 2012

"An online course is like walking into a foreign land with an entire map laid out, but having no sense of the land's origin or how to navigate the terrain. How the instructor formats and interacts with the class will ultimately determine the student's travel experience."

It is important to integrate the elements of an online course to form a cohesive whole that creates easy travel based on instructor presence, appropriate feedback, and easy navigation for students.

Instructor Presence - The Mapmaker
Instructor presence is vital to create in an online course, because without it, the class becomes an impersonal experience guided only by text and the other electronic medium.

Instructor presence can be created in a variety of ways:

  • having a welcome announcement and faculty bio providing an initial presence

  • having consistent formatting

  • putting photos in the faculty bio and on the main introduction so that students could put a face to the instructor's name

  • having the instructor provide his or her own icebreaker and having students relate theirs to it

  • providing clear objectives for the course (and relating those to each lesson so that the expectations are clear)

  • having the instructor take part in the discussions

Instructor Feedback - The Tour Guide
Instructor feedback is one of the most vital elements of an online course. Feedback helps the students recognize that there is an instructor that is monitoring their progress. Feedback adds an interactive component that brings warmth to the experience.

Feedback can be found in many areas.

  • grades

  • discussions - giving reinforcement as quickly as possible

  • giving a quiz with a function that produces immediate correction.

  • Email communication: let students know the time frame for answering emails

  • online office hours

Last Thoughts
The feel of the course and the experience for the student will chiefly rest on the instructor's ability to provide a succinct, clear, accessible, course with guided direction--in other words, an accessible map made by a mapmaker who serves as the tour guide.

Danielle Hathcock, "Faculty Focus" September 5, 2012

Monday, August 27, 2012

Internationalizing your Curriculum

Internationalizing Teaching and Learning Cohort Program

Applications are now being accepted for the faculty cohort program to internationalize the curriculum, held January 9-11, 2013. This program will engage faculty in significant course design or redesign by participating in a multidisciplinary cohort of their peers. They will identify global learning outcomes for their courses, expand their teaching strategies, and develop course materials, activities and assessments.

Faculty members from all five campuses are encouraged to apply. Completed applications are due by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, October 12, 2012.

For questions, please contact Gayle Woodruff or visit our website.

Sponsored by the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance, Center for Teaching and Learning, Office of Information Technology, and Instructional Development Service (UMD).

This information was provided by the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance at the University of Minnesota, 331 17th Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN, 55414.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Apple TV in the Classroom: The New Smart Board


Thanks to a gift from a UMM Alum, Kimberly Hiland, we have begun experimenting with integrating the Apple TV into classroom teaching here at UMM. If you would like to see the Apple TV and iPad in action, come to HFA 35 or give me a call (Pam, 6376) and I will be glad to give you a demo.

High School Principal David Mahaley is using this approach and offers his insights, and observations from educators in his school.

"With the integration of the iPad into the instructional environment, teachers and students have discovered many new ways in which the device can expand and enhance the learning environment. With the iPad, the Apple TV can offer a flexible, complete, and cost efficient alternative to the traditional interactive boards populating our classrooms.

...The use of the Apple TV in combination with an iPad in the instructor's hand provides a mobile platform from which classroom activities can be initiated. Through the use of several apps, teachers can provide notes, display steps and processes to problems, initiate the display of media (pausing and resuming as needed from any location in the classroom), and allow students to participate from their own seats in a variety of interactive activities. This is different than the remote control of a connected teacher laptop to a traditional interactive board. Movement within and between apps is measurably better than the laptop interface, and navigation on the iPad screen directly to the Apple TV is visually more intuitive."

....Read More

See Also:
Using The iPad As A Digital Whiteboard (Plus 4 Cool Free Apps To Try It Out)

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Ten Ways That Mobile Learning Will Revolutionize Education

Excerpt from FastCompany Article - see the FastCompany link below.

We have been focusing on the concept of mLearning--where "m" usually stands for "mobile" but also just as easily for "me." The near-ubiquity of handheld devices and their constantly lowering costs will enable the idea of "education that you can hold in your hand," so it becomes a widespread reality in so-called developed markets and resource-challenged parts of the globe alike. Thanks to findings from a frogMob--an open research tool that allows people to upload and contribute their own observations from around the globe--along with additional research and other insights contributed by our partners at the World Economic Forum, we have arrived at 10 key themes that are likely to drive the development of mLearning initiatives in innovative directions. Here they are.

1. Continuous learning

Up until now, most people relegated "education" to a finite time in their lives: entering school at around five years old and attending school institutions all the way to university. Education had an expiration date, then working life began. This model, which has its roots in the industrial era, is quickly becoming less relevant or applicable to the way we live our lives in the connected age.

Education is getting increasingly interspersed with our daily activities. On our phones, tablets, and PCs, we download and digest life or work-related articles with instructions on how to fix our appliances or how to use a new professional software program. Many people across age groups decide to take formal online courses in their spare time, including complex subjects such as artificial intelligence, computer science, and game theory--all real examples of free courses offered by Stanford University and taken by everyday people, including 11-year-old kids and retirees.

2. Educational leapfrogging

Continuous learning isn't just happening in the developed world. With low-priced computers, tablets, and cell phones in the hands of children in resource-challenged communities, many kids who are engaging in technological leapfrogging will have the opportunity to skip past outdated formal school systems, too. This is especially relevant in the case of children living in poverty, who may be denied an opportunity to improve their condition through education because they start working very early to help sustain their families or do not live near schools.

3. A new crop of older, lifelong learners (and educators)

A by-product of the continuous learning phenomenon is the fact that the grandparents of children growing up with a touchscreen in their hands--people in their 60s today--are being pulled into mLearning more than ever, motivated to adoption by the need to stay in touch with their grandkids.

The availability of tablets and other touch-enabled devices has radically reduced the perceived complexity of computers, helping older users to more easily communicate with their middle-aged children and grandkids via email, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

4. Breaking gender boundaries, reducing physical burdens

In parts of the globe where, because of centuries of cultural practices, young women may still not be allowed to access a formal education, mLearning promises to be able to put girls and women of all ages in contact with high-quality education privately and on their own time. Along similar lines mLearning also helps bring educational material within the reach of people with extreme disabilities, who may not be physically able to get to a classroom or campus on a regular basis. In both of these cases, new freedoms can be exposed. As a result, these groups can take control of their educational and professional destinies.

5. A new literacy emerges: software literacy

MLearning could usher in a boom of interest in learning software programming languages, which could very well become a new lingua franca. This is already happening; Numerous startup web-based businesses today such as Codecademy teach people via interactive lessons how to understand and write software programs. Not even a year old, Codacademy has more than a million "students" and has raised about $3 million in venture-capital funds.

This scenario is particularly relevant in emerging economies, where gaining software development expertise can introduce new opportunities for economic growth, or give communities what they need to address unmet local needs.

6. Education's long tail

MLearning solutions are poised to tap into the vast amount of existing educational materials that could be made accessible via mobile channels. This is especially true with YouTube, Vimeo, and other video-sharing services already providing a critical mass of tips, tutorials, and full-fledged lessons that can be re-aggregated by theme and packaged as educational material. The recent TED-Ed initiative attests to the opportunity offered by the clever repurposing of existing quality lessons.

Others have leveraged the video-sharing social platforms to distribute educational materials created in an ad hoc way. It's a model made famous by Salman Khan, an MIT graduate who, with his eponymous academy, "flips" the traditional education model by having pupils absorb lessons at home, and practice and discuss what they've learned at school instead.

The range of mLearning materials does not need to be limited to higher education but can easily encompass valuable, practical know-how, from grandmothers showing how to prepare traditional recipes to companies demonstrating how to install solar panels on mud huts.

The nature and complexity of educational materials can also vary greatly and not necessarily require a video-capable smartphone: Humanitarian organizations like MAMA have put to good use simple text messages to help mothers in developing economies learn about pregnancy, childbirth, and caring for their infants.

These examples illustrate how the power of mLearning lies in its ability to offer solutions for numerous niche audiences.

7. Teachers and pupils trade roles

The same handheld-connected tools that enable children and adults to access existing educational solutions also provide the opportunity for them to capture and share knowledge in return. In other words, imagine kids who are raised with programming and video-production knowledge from very early ages creating educational materials for their peers, or even to teach adults, exposing them to very young people's points of view of the world. Imagine a 12-year-old boy explaining how effectively to communicate health information to him as a tutorial for nurses, physicians, and parents.

8. Synergies with mobile banking and mobile health initiatives

Developers of emerging mLearning ecosystems can learn a lot from their predecessors in mBanking and mHealth and such services as mobile money transfers or mobile health monitoring. Beyond adapting some ideas, including using text messaging to deliver short lessons, teacher feedback, and grades, mLearning, mHeatlh, and mFinance can also be synergistically combined. After all, better education can easily improve people's financial condition and in turn positively influence their health. These three factors can be combined in different orders without changing the result, which will always be more than then sum of the individual components. Applied on a micro or macro scale, this virtuous cycle has the potential to become a very effective way to improve personal, regional, and even national economies.

9. New opportunities for traditional educational institutions

The mLearning phenomenon will not necessarily compete with well-established schools but actually complement and extend their current offerings. An intriguing new model was offered when Harvard and MIT announced that they have teamed up to offer free online courses via a joint nonprofit organization, edX. Both universities will observe how students respond to the courses to better understand distance learning.

10. A revolution leading to customized education

The key for successfully channeling the mLearning revolution will not simply be about digitizing current educational systems. The real appeal will be allowing people to choose their own paths, leverage their talents, and follow their passions and callings. MLearning has much business potential, but the most exciting and rewarding aspect of these solutions is that students of any age or background might have the chance to pursue knowledge that is meaningful, relevant, and realistic to achieve in their own lives.

FastCompany Link

Friday, May 4, 2012

University of Minnesota Creates Open Academics Textbook Catalog

Open Textbook Catalog

In an effort to reduce costs for students, the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota has created this catalog of open textbooks to be reviewed by faculty members. Read full press release

Open textbooks are complete textbooks released under a Creative Commons, or similar, license.

Instructors can customize open textbooks to fit their course needs by remixing, editing, and adding their own content. Students can access free digital versions or purchase low-cost print copies of open textbooks.
Textbooks in this Catalog

All textbooks in the catalog are:

Openly Licensed. Acceptable licenses include Creative Commons Attribution, Attribution-Share Alike and Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike or similar. Some books may fall under a No-Derivatives license if the publisher offers an adequate customization program.
Complete. Only complete books, similar to traditional textbooks currently on the market, are included. Materials such as lecture notes, online courses, or drafts, are provided only as supplements to textbooks listed in the catalog.
Suitable for Adoption Outside the Author's Institution.
Available in Print. Because most students still prefer print textbooks to digital, all textbooks include a print option, generally for $40 or less. In some cases, textbooks without a print-on-demand option may be included if they are sufficiently easy and inexpensive to print locally.

Open Textbooks Catalog

Note: If you are a faculty member from any institution, you can support this project and help your peers evaluate the textbooks in this catalog by writing a review of an open textbook in your field.

Only experts like you can determine quality.

Email us at to get started.