More Merlot/SLOAN-C Session Reviews (Thursday)

Cell Phones in the Classroom: Collaborative or Calamitous?

This session by James May of Valencia College was on ways for deploying cell phones as a classroom learning tool.  This session was a lot of fun and one of my favorites from the conference so far.

Dr. May began with an introduction focusing on how today’s students differ from traditional learners.  Checkout for details or take the Millennial Quiz to see how Millennial you are.

After the introduction he spent some time discussing transactive knowledge — where do we as individuals store our knowledge?  His main point here was that information is now readily accessible and that it’s more important to teach students how to access and parse it than to deliver the information itself.  

One point brought up here was that textbooks and course materials living on LMS are often unavailable to students once a course concludes.  He takes a technocentric approach to this problem — just show students how to find things using various search techniques: Google, G. Voice, G. Goggles (image search) , Suri (iPhone), etc.  No mention of the role of OER here, but the OER and tech-based approaches are complimentary–synergistic, even.

The remainder of the session was spent demonstrating particular apps.  Here’s a quick list and what they do:

1) Dragon Dictation — talk notes to your phone and have them recorded as text.

2) Mosquito Ringtones — ringtones at varying frequency ranges inaudible to people over a certain age.  A tool for students to keep their phones on, but not bother teacher.  (He was earnest about this.)

3) Image to text – just what it says, take a picture image and convert it to text.

4) Genius Scan – turn a cell phone camera into a scanner.  This may be a good tool for helping students use their phones to upload image assignments.

5) Zap Reader — Text that has been copied and pasted in is ‘zapped’ back to the reader in short, easily visible ‘bursts’ at a speed set by the user.  A tool for speed readers.

6) Socrative — turn cell phones into clickers.

There were some others, but these are the ones that stick out.  

Finally, Dr. May periodically (say, at conference time) sends out reviews and how-to’s of new technologies he’s encountered and could be useful in the classroom.  To sign up either:

text @tchtricks to (832) 900-3652



How you sign up determines how you receive the periodic updates.

‘Assignment Feedback on Steroids” – Enhancing Learning Through Audio/Video Feedback

Mindy Newquist and Sarah Suraci of Western International University

This was another excellent presentation focused on leaving video/audio feedback for students.  Sarah and Mindi focused on the review process they used to select tools for this to be adopted by the university.  After an extensive review process by faculty, they settled on three options: audacity, Acrobat X-Pro, and eye-jot.  I’ll outline a few features of each and then compare and contrast to using a voice-over screen-capture technology like Jing.

Audacity is limited to audio, but has unlimited length.  The latter may be a positive for some purposes but is likely a drawback in the context of providing students with feedback — time limits enforce discipline as one audience member pointed out.

Eye-jot allows one to leave a video recording and has the advantage of being externally hosted so only a link needs to be shared with students.  The selling point here is the video with audio — probably important only if you think gestures and facial expressions are an important part of the feedback process.  This may be the case in online-only courses if you want to add a personal touch, but more generally unnecessary.  

Finally Adobe Acrobat X-Pro is a paid software solution allowing for audio feedback and textual annotations to be embedded directly in a document.  The main drawback cited was gigantic file sizes — often exceeding the common email/upload limit of 25 MB.  

For those who like this idea I might suggest the following: first annotate the pdf, then use Jing (or a similar tool) to capture the audio feedback.  This way you can show relevant portions of the document and talk at the same time.  

Preview on a mac already allows easy annotation of pdf files.  Does anyone know a similar tool for PC users other than a paid Adobe product?

In a post-session conversation Brenda and I agreed that Jing is probably better suited for this type of feedback; at least for our discipline.  However, if Jing isn’t quite the right tool for the type of feedback you envision giving maybe one of the above tools would be useful.   Generally, providing audio-visual feedback is certainly worthwhile.


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