Idea Sketch, as the name implies, is a way to capture ideas and organize them in some hierarchical manner — such as in a concept map or flow chart. Idea Sketch is a no frills app, rather intuitive, and best of all it is free! There is an upgrade option for $3.99 but if all I am going to get are a few more shapes, colors, and fonts, I am not sure that I would opt for a paid version. The free version, which works on the iPhone and iPad, includes a check spell option when typing but the app does not include a way to spell check the entire work when completed.
Teaching with Technology
I have always enjoyed watching YouTube videos and when I noticed that some of the videos dealt with serious literary topics and had re-enactments of Shakespeare plays, I began to wonder if I could not incorporate them into my literature classes. Instead of students just reading a text version of Othello, why not have them also watch a live performance of Othello to get them more motivated to learn literature?
Digital Natives are all around us. They populate our college courses and use the newest mobile technologies to communicate, collaborate, create and share information on social media sites. There is, however, often a disconnection on their path to learning. Quite often we find Digital Native students taught by Digital Immigrant professors (Prensky, 2001) who fear, dismiss or are unaware of the potential learning power of Web 2.0 technologies.
The first app up for review is Keynote, the little brother/sister to its full-blown sibling Keynote that runs on Macs and is similar in many respects to PowerPoint. Keep in mind that no app will ever run like the complete version you would use on a computer, this much you ought to know going into the iPad world of apps. That said, Keynote is easy to use and the Help section is very straight forward. In fact, you will be running your first presentation within minutes of purchasing Keynote!
College course work is meant to be challenging. The content and the vocabulary used are often unfamiliar to many students. For at-risk learners, the challenges are even greater. In some cases, these students have physical or learning disabilities that create accessibility issues, other times the challenges may be the result of the fact that they’re an international student, have anxiety issues, or a strong learning style preference that runs counter to the instructor’s style.
It’s an almost unquestioned assumption that written assignments need to be used to assess student learning. While traditional writing assignments are appropriate for many types of assessments, there is no law requiring it for all assessments. I’ve had students construct Wikipedia entries, make Voicethreads, and build online games as assessments.
Twenty-first Century research is increasingly becoming reliant on information and communication technologies to address systemic and distinct educational problems through greater communication, interaction, and inquiry. Research is an interactive inquiry process. In many instances this involves interaction with people. We also interact with technology and through technology to improve our educational practice. Practitioner research seeks to understand the underlying causes enabling personal and organizational change (Reason & Bradbury, 2001).
As teachers we know that our written work is not ready for publication until it has been reviewed by a variety of colleagues for commentary and edits. External review is needed even for good writers because we have a hard time seeing our own writing errors. Plus, we need that extra feedback to sharpen our ideas, discover new directions to take, and generally elevate our work to publication quality.
Interactive, synchronous web conferencing software such as WebEx, Blackboard Collaborate and even Skype are innovative tools that can be implemented by faculty teaching both hybrid and fully online courses. When faculty at Towson University began using WebEx to incorporate a synchronous component to their courses, they discovered that interactive web conferencing (IWC) delivers many benefits.
The number of technologies available to both higher education institutions and individual instructors seems to grow each day. With tools that promise to increase engagement, communication, interaction, efficiencies, and learning, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s also easy to make bad choices — choices that could result in wasted money, time, or learning opportunities, all the while causing undue frustration for students and faculty alike.