Power Tools for the Power User

One of the interesting sessions I went to during the 5th annual international Sloan-C/Merlot conference was entitled “Power Tools for the Power User” given by Bethany Bovard (Sloan Consortium) and Kim Moorning (City University of New York).

The first part of the session was a talk given by Prof. Moorning about the trends in technology that are being observed in the educational system. There was the introduction of the “Horizon Report” in which top 6 trends were discussed:

  • Power Apps: i.e.: Stanford has created an App pack for their students which packages different hyperlinks to different application, such as access to their library system.
  • Power tablet: uses of the tablet- we need to think about the design content (not just have static content but make it interactive).
  • Power games- the trend has been on the rise, starting from board games and morphing into simulations and virtual reality. (i.e. Georgetown University Simulator- realistically replicates physiological conditions of patients that can then be used to teach different medical practices (such as intubation).
  • Power Learning- learning analytics (evaluation of the activity and accessing the behavioral patterns- get immediate feedback).
  • Power gestures- motion and virtual reality (i.e. kinect, xbox, or evoluce.com)
  • Power internet: non-computer devices that are digitized to run apps.

The second half of the portion was the presentation of a series of tools and technologies to illustrate methods for integration to online classroom format.


Initially, we were asked to download apps (apps that span android and iphone/pad were given).

Four activities were set up in order for us to get hands on experience with the programs.

  • Collaborative writing: sync.in is a web based word processor that could be used for students to collaborate on assignments in real time. It was noted, that each individual user gets their input highlighted in a different color, evaluation of time and effort of each student can be distinguished from one another.
  • Group texting: groupme.com essentially is a private chat room that works on any phone.
  • Voice to text: on the iphone/pad- dragon dictation app can be downloaded for free, where the app converts your voice to text and that could be used for text messages, emails, etc.
  • Audio broadcasting: spreaker.com, a website where you can do live podcasts or record for upload at a later time.


I can see these apps being implemented for courses that are strictly online courses, but classrooms are becoming to incorporate more technology into its midst. It would be important to think about the different trends that are up and coming and take that into consideration when thinking of different technologies that could be used in regular lecture courses to help supplement lecture or additional help for the students throughout the semester.


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