Thursday, February 13, 2014

You can't have collaborative tools without "lab" and "rat".

flickr photo courtesy of pierre b├ędat       
Okay folks, so here I am again.  Our collaborative group has just finished up posting all our research data and digital paperwork on the CTELE wiki. First and foremost, let me just say that this project was a challenge!  I have never in my life used so many tools AND not had the ability to discuss project parameters in a face-to-face environment in a scholastic setting.  Truthfully, I have done a lot of this sort of thing in the military, but my dear readers must understand that things are very regimented and specific in that setting, and that makes it all a lot easier in that manner.
      It was hard to choose just one means of communication, because communication was both synchronous and asynchronous in the project.  We settled on email for the asynchronous aspect and chat within the Google Doc for synchronous communication.  I would say that it worked quite well.  As the expediter of the group, it was very handy to toss out periodic email reminders for completion times.  To be honest, it felt really weird on that first day sitting next to my partners and not being able to just turn to them and talk about the project.  Enough about communication, however.
     I had a fun time using a number of Google applications.  It was great to use Doc, Form, Spreadsheet, and Presentation all for the same project.  I feel that Google really has a nice suite when it comes to collaborative development tools -- also, you just can't beat the zero cost aspect!  Jing was equally enjoyable to use.  It was very user-friendly and worked well with my learning style.  I can honestly say that I know they had a how-to and demo section, but I wasn't obliged to use it, as it just came naturally.  Now that we've covered the materials, let's get down to the analysis!
     We researched student study habits.  It was fun, I enjoyed the responses, and it was all sunshine and rainbows.  HOWEVER, we posted the survey aspect on Twitter.  Big Mistake.  University students are conditioned to check email frequently, and I noticed that the email surveys got a lot more people to respond.  That is something I will have to remember in the future.  But back to study habits!  How people study is kind of like how people learn -- and the idea of metacognition pertains to thinking about thinking.  So for me, it was natural to look at study habits because studying is thought intensive, and arguably a metacognitive process.  BUT, here is where it turns into Inception (you know, that movie).  So we have the dream within a dream idea, spooky right?  WELL, researching metacognition is metacognitive as well!  We have more levels of thought than I can really even successfully think about! Try to wrap your head around that one!  
     Regardless, I hope you enjoyed spending time at this little island in my brain.  I'll give you some fun links s as a reward for reading all the way down here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Giving props to the little guys - Internet Search Activity

Flickr image courtesy of Dana Beveridge

     I was assigned a little internet search activity in Distance Ed., and this seems to be the best forum for relaying my findings!  Just remember, Jeremy Cooper, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery!  I selected and for my search on Augmented Reality - a subject that is near and dear to my heart and future; though like Jeremy, I imagine that I will focus on Gamification when I actually enter into a Master's program - but most likely I will be examining AT/UDL applications.  However, I digress.  On with the Show!

Internet Search Activity Data and Evaluation:

This is a picture of the blekko search engine:

     Note that the format is extremely plain and the text box is very simple.  I found this quite Google-like and refreshing - though I imagine that Google has had some impact on all search engines out there in terms of aesthetics.  In case you are just coming to the search engine out of boredom, blekko also provides a list of trending search images that one can click.

After initiating a search of Augmented Reality, I was directed to this screen:

     The search engine does not provide a direct list of total hits on the search page, but it does provide some unique and interesting things.  The engine also conducted the search within one second.  First, we are not treated to ads that we might find on Google, nor do we see heavily promoted links.  The search engine divided the query between two categories: Top Results and Latest.  This provided me access to both the most relevant documents and the most recently created documents.  The links led to sites that represented both tech-sector periodicals and direct businesses involved in the Augmented Reality world.  Of interest, the search also showed images and related searches on the same page.  The related searches list could be quite useful if someone had a general idea of what they were looking for and were able to chain other ideas from that original search.

     Second, I utilized the entireweb search engine.  This is a picture of the search engine:

     Unsurprisingly, this search engine was also reminiscent of Google in its simplistic design.  The search engine does offer a proprietary means of promoting your site within the entireweb engine as well as the big three.  The search engine also offers a customization feature for the skin that I have seen utilized by Bing.

Here are the results of my search:

     First, I noticed that the engine was just as fast as blekko.  However, I was treated to a link to Wikipedia as the top entry.  I will say that I was impressed by the fact that entireweb offered thumbnail images of the web links.  Also, the top search item is provided a preview window in the upper-right hand corner.  The list had at least three similar results as blekko, though I believe most of the search options were probably more akin to what I would find on Google.  The search turned up 4,920,000 hits.  Just like in Google, I imagine that search relevancy drops off dramatically after the first page of 20 results.  What I liked most about entireweb, was that there was a link to real time video feeds at the top.  As a diverse learner, I always appreciate having the option to search links that might lead to other forms of visual and audio presentation.

     I think that I would use either search engine as a resource.  The crux of the matter involving my choice would come down to what I was searching for.  If I wanted a guarantee of the most recently posted data, I would go with blekko. If I wanted to see a real time video feed regarding the subject I was researching, I would go with entireweb.  Most likely, however, I would just stick with Google, as old habits die hard.

Boolean Search Results:

     In this activity, we were required to address the question: "What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous learning environments?".  We were to utilize three specified resources, and here are the links to each:

Peer-reviewed Journal Article (published in the last three years)

A university that would be able to provide the answer to the question  - Rod Library, UNI

Non-scholarly website - elearners

     I have quite often employed the Boolean method of searching, as I am also very interested in coding, and the Boolean method is applied quite liberally in BASIC and similar languages.  Compared to general searches, the Boolean method allows for me to be highly specific in what I am searching for, and I find it useful when I am short on research time and need to find exactly what I am looking for immediately.  If there is a downside, it is that the searcher has to be very savvy in selecting the terms to be searched.  Engaging in a highly specified search is more likely to lead to poor results if the wrong terms are used.

Thanks for muddling through this posting!

Monday, February 3, 2014

And now I am honored to present to you...a presentation..about my presentation regarding myself and presentations

flickr photo courtesy of LarimdME
     Hi again folks!  In this blog entry, we will discuss my previous presentation in CTELE class, as well as a
brief reflection regarding the presentations of my peers and my overall perception of the presentation process.  First, you're going to need some links!

My presentation:

My review of my presentation:
(keep in mind that you will have to create a Voicethread account to watch!)

The transcript of my review of my presentation:

     Alright, now that all of that is settled, we can move on to reflections!  I was quite surprised at the variety of ways the other students conveyed their presentations.  I remember specifically that Nichol was very energetic as always, and that she concluded her presentation with viral video that described her personality very well.  I also remember how Erin devised a song and played the acoustic guitar while giving her presentation.  Finally, I learned that Christa likes to periodically engage in a 5k run or two.  I noticed that most people used Prezi, but that they did not allow that format to exclusively stifle their creativity.  Ultimately, I found presentations of this style to be more interesting than if people were to just stand up and say a few random facts from a note card with absolutely no visual or auditory aids.
     It was this desire for variety that made me choose the medium that I utilized.  I have always been very much interested in the story format.  Little Bird Tales enabled me to use sound, pictures, and text -- and I believe that it was very well-suited for learners of all types.  Often, classroom instruction can be become droll and repetitive.  Technology and an understanding of learning can add value to lessons.  Through a medium like Little Bird Tales, one can use multiple methods to tell a story in a more interesting way than just through words alone.
     All in all, I'd have to say this was a very worthwhile experience.  I was able to feel like I got a better understanding of just who my classmates are.