Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tributree...Finally, social media about the good in you and me

Is Tributree the next, great thing in social media?  That I cannot say.  However, the premise is very interesting and might well be perfect for education.  In short, you nominate someone for tribute in your Tributree community, and that tribute should represent a positive moment, action or achievement that others in the community should know about.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Digital Office Hours: My next, new thing!

With the summer vacation coming slowly to an end here in the southeast, I need to spend a few moments each day preparing for fall semester.  And that means looking for things to try for an improved student learning experience.  I have plenty of ideas in terms of pedagogy, but I am rethinking my office hours strategy a bit.

Digital Office Hours

This fall, I will institute "digital office hours" (DOH) at least one night a week, but more likely two nights.  The idea is to use some collaboration software of some sort (yet to be determined) like GoToMeeting and allow students to email, text (yes, I'll have a phone for this), or log in to ask questions.  I currently expect the DOH to be in the evenings, lasting a half hour or so and possibly another full hour in the morning of a day when I have no classes on campus.  And, I will continue to hold my current office hours.  My main reason for trying this method is that it corresponds to my idea that students are digitizing their lives into smaller chunks (I mentioned this concept in my early post about blogging for the classroom) and thus might need an office hour chunk later in the day.

Has anyone tried DOH, besides Homer Simpson?  If so, please share you experience with us by leaving a comment.

Nexus 7 vs. iPad Mini

From the picture above, Homer and Marge appear to be confused and unsure about their upcoming tablet purchase.  The salesperson is doing all that is possible, but the stalemate continues:  Nexus 7 or iPad Mini?

The team at have a great article today comparing the Nexus 7 and iPad Mini (read here).  While the article is very clear and uses the specs of each unit to compare for a general audience, there are some educational aspects worth noting, as well.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Would you use a joke to initiate a class discussion or topic?

As a physical chemist who was a research spectroscopist, I enjoyed the meme above.  However, would you use humor like this (or in any other form) to begin a class?  Here's what I mean.  Imagine you walk in to a physical science, biology, chemistry or physics class and your teacher displays the meme from above using the projector.  Some students giggle, some don't get it, some aren't paying attention, and some are too cool to respond.  I personally think a little humor (especially if it is not offensive) will make the lesson, whatever that less is, be more memorable.  At the very least, students are jarred away from whatever was on their minds as they travelled to your classroom.  That, in itself, should make them better learners.

Give it a try.  I certainly will (and do).  I promise that the next time I teach light to students, this will be the first thing they see.  By the end of the class, I'll show it again and see if they laugh a little more.

$30M from LAUSD to pay for iPads. Good or bad idea?

Engadget is reporting again on the LA School Districts purchase of iPads for its 640,000 students.  The going price per iPad + curriculum materials, they report, is $678, which somehow is accounted in the 30 millions reportedly being paid for the devices.  I'm sure you've read about the purchase or heard about it in the news.

I own an iPad Mini and once had an iPad 2.  iPads are, without a doubt, amazing devices because they are so easy to use, secure, elegant, light and have a ton of available apps.  But, do iPads produce significant enhancement to the education of these children to warrant such a purchase?  Let's try to get an answer by making a little Pro/Con list.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

What's in your tech bag-o-tricks?...Hardware edition

As educators, we all utilize technology differently.  If you're like me, you have developed your own go-to set of tech for your classes and might be a bit set in your ways.  For that reason, it might be good for us to share what we have tucked inside our tech bag-o-tricks and how we use it.  Maybe we'll get some good ideas :)  

Today, let's keep the discussion to hardware and leave software to a different day.  For my part, I will share not only my 'personal' tech gear that I find useful but what is available on campus that I may or may not use.  In the end, the picture of a yeti will become reasonable, I promise :)

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Coming Soon...Geek Week on YouTube!!

An Engadget post that will help you get your geek on!!  Look for new YouTube channels that might help you find that one video to explain that one geeky thing.

Geek Week!!

One Man's Use of Blogs as a Teaching Tool

A few years past...

I first decided to use a blog to teach my general chemistry course.  Prior, I had used my own website created using Dreamweaver and the university address given to me for a web presence.  One of our IT people asked if I had thought about using a virtual world in my classes or a wiki.  Being somewhat open minded, I looked into those methods as information management tools.  Neither gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling, but the idea of a blog did.  After searching and finding other education blogs, I gave a course blog a try.

Read on to find out how I used blogging for that first class and why there's a picture from Friends in this post :)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blogs and the classroom, I'm for it. How about you?

As the title says, I am all for using blogs as a tool for teaching a class.  Let's talk about a few of my reasons for using a blog for each of the courses I teach.

The Digitized Lives of Students

Back in the days when I went to school or college, my day was chopped up into fairly large time blocks:  study for 2 hrs, go to class for 3 hrs, meet friends for a meal for 1 hr, workout for 2 hrs, etc.   If I wanted to call someone, I would go to my dorm room or apartment and make the call from a phone connected to the wall.  I would also hope the person I was calling was home and, if not, that they owned an 'answering machine'.  Library time to look up information or find a book was scheduled and included going to the library.  So, I roughly had 6 daily items the divided my day.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

First Post...setting the tone

Welcome to Holistic Ed...the blog!!

It's here that I'll share thoughts, ideas, rumblings, articles, experiences and announcements concerning education.  In addition, your opinions will be asked and utilized in discussions (we all have different experiences and skills, so it behooves us to hear from as many minds as possible).

That's all for a first had to happen.  So, onward we go :)

Disqus for Holistic Ed