Friday, August 2, 2013

Study Training...A Case for Wunderlist

As I was writing about the Art of Studying in my previous post, I urged instructors to train students to learn in smaller chunks by redefining studying.  My urgings included ideas on how you could inspire students to study properly.  One model that popped into my mind about 5 minutes after making the post is to schedule study efforts using a calendar or To-Do list App, such as Wunderlist (my choice of To-Do List).

If you haven't used Wunderlist, then you are missing out on a great, free app that can be used as a To-Do List, Reminder App, Note App and Project Management App.  It's available on just about any platform:  Windows, Apple OS, iOS, Chrome and Android.  So, if your students have access to smart phones or tablets or computers, then you can use Wunderlist as a 'reminder' or 'nudge' app.  Each list you create can have as many items on the list that you desire, and each item can be assigned a due date and/or a reminder.  But wait, there's more!!  Yes, each item can be given notes and subitems.

You might ask why using Wunderlist is any better than using a calendar app, like a shared class Google Calendar?  It really isn't in terms of getting the message out there.  However, I think learning to utilize a To-Do list (create lists, check the list routinely, etc) is a skill worth teaching.  It's one of the process skills that can only help your students later in their education and professional careers.

I envision using Wunderlist in one of two ways, but I'm sure there are more...
  1. Email your To-Do list to your class:  A very easy method is to simply create your own list and sublists and email them to your class.  Each student now has a reminder in their inbox of what to study today to be ready for next class.  It's up to you on the level of detail you create in your study reminders.  Of course, the students are not using the app and are not interacting with a To-Do list directly, so some of the process skill learning is diminished in the email  method.
  2. Create a Shared List with your class:  Trickier to set up, but well worth it in terms of creating a communications network of how to study and, possibly, some off hours assistance.  When you create a list for your class (i.e. "1st Hour List" or "ENG 101 List"), you can share that list with each student via email, Facebook or your contact list.  Once the students obtain the invitation to join the class list, they will get notifications on their device (phone, tablet, computer) when you or a classmate updates the list.  I would recommend not having students edit existing sublist unless it's an item they added.
    • By allowing students the ability to add sublist items, you give them the opportunity to ask questions.  And you have a way to respond for all to see.
    • I would allow parents to join the list, if you are in K-12.  I would urge them to NOT add items and subitems, but knowing they are getting the study assignments will keep the students honest in their commitment to studying properly and timely.
If you want to see a short run through of the two methods, watch my little video below (made with Snag It!)

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