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Hunting down learning tools

May 28, 2010 1 comment

Most of us use software tools like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to develop teaching and learning resources, but what if you want to do something a bit more creative or innovative, what other tools are available?  A good place to find out is Jane Hart’s website, Centre for Learning & Perfomance Technologies (C4LPT). Jane used to work in Higher Education and is now a Learning Consultant and regular speaker at learning events and through her website she shares free resources about learning trends, technologies and tools.

One of the popular features of Jane’s website is the Directory of Learning Tools, which details hundreds of both commercial, free and open source tools.  You can browse for tools under different categories such as instructional tools for creating online content, image, audio and video tools, blogging and wiki tools and also collaboration tools.  Each category has tools organised in A-Z lists so if you’re looking for something specific it’s easy to find.

Another feature of the C4LPT is the ‘top tools’ feature.  Jane invites teachers to submit their top 10 teaching and top 10 learning tools each year and then compiles an annual top 100. You can see which tools made the top 100 for 2009, based on contributions from 278 learning professionals worldwide, in the presentation below and read more about  the individual contributions to the list here.

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Categories: General, Tools Tags: , ,

New Dundee Library Search Tool

February 16, 2010 1 comment

The Library announced today that they will be launching a new search system to the Library and Learning Centre homepage – you can read about it on the LLC website.

I’ve been lucky enough to have had early access to the new seach tool and I’m sure that both staff and students will find it helpful as you can search all the Library’s content including electronic journals through one search box.  As you set up your search you can decide whether you just want to search peer reviewed journals and whether you want to limit yourself to items which have the full text online.  As you work through your search results you can save the references that look most helpful and relevant and email these to yourself or export them to Endnote.  At the moment there’s no support for exporting the results to some of the popular Web 2.0 reference management tools like Mendeley, citeulike or Zotero.  That said most journals I seem to look at these days do support saving to citeulike, which is nice and handy so you can save a reference there once you’ve seen whether the paper is one you want to keep on file.

I’ll update the blog once the new search tool goes live.

Photo credit – rachellake Flickr

Categories: General Tags: ,

Evernote: a tool for your PLE

February 9, 2010 1 comment

I’m kicking off my series of blog posts focusing on tools you might want to consider having in your PLE with a look at Evernote. If you follow educationalists and teachers on Twitter one of the tools you’ll often see them tweeting about is Evernote and you’ll notice they are giving it a positive press.  Evernote is a free app (though there is also a paid version available), which works a bit like Microsoft’s One Note. It allows you to take clippings of websites, files, images, photographs, videos and audio recordings and tag them for easy retrieval and organise them into notebooks.  Also everything you clip and store is easily searchable, including handwritten notes and text in images. You can also share your clippings so if you’re working on a group project it’s easy to share the resources that you find.

The real beauty of Evernote is that you can use it as a web service on any web browser, but you can also install the application on your own personal Windows or Mac desktop, your iPod Touch/iPhone.  It also works on Android phones, the Blackberry,  Palm Pre and Windows mobile. You can synchronise your Evernote account with your desktop or mobile device and access your notes offline. This ability to access your notes without an internet connection is what I really find helpful, particularly on a hand held device like the iPod Touch, I have all my notes and helpful resources at my fingertips even when I can’t get a wireless connection.

There’s a helpful overview of how you can use Evernote as a tool in your personal learning environment that’s been put together by a US medical student Ryan McDonald.  Ryan calls Evernote his ‘medical peripheral brain’, unfortunately I can’t embed his video here but you take a look at it on his screencast page and see how he uses it to support his medical studies.

The Evernote website has a series of videos which give an overview of its features and how people are using it.  There are several videos which include students talking about why they use Evernote.  You can use Evernote for all sorts of things, I use it to support my ongoing life long learning but the more I use it the more uses I find for it.

If you want to find out more about how people are using Evernote here are some additional links you might want to take a look at.

Evernote: Redefining my organisational thinking – Academic Life in Emergency Medicine Blog

14 Practical Ways to Use Evernote – Guy Kawasaki

Ron’s Evernote Tips

Personal learning environments

February 7, 2010 2 comments

In my last post I mentioned the concept of the personal learning environment (PLE), which is essentially an individualised learning space that makes use of a variety of tools and resources.  A PLE can help you gather and organise resources and information, support reflection and learning, as well as facilitating connections with others.  A PLE can include both formal and informal learning opportunities, so the institutional VLE might be part of your PLE as well as other tools which are available via the web.

With the growing number of Web 2.0 tools that are free, accessible (and easy to use for those of us who aren’t computer geeks) developing your own PLE doesn’t need to be a daunting experience.  Most individuals will have some sort of a PLE but perhaps aren’t aware of the range of tools that can now be used to support their learning or their teaching.  Here on Dundee e-MedEd I’m going to start a series of blog posts looking at some of the tools that you might want to take a look at, which could support your learning and become part of your learning environment.

To find out a bit more about PLE’s take a look at this presentation by Stephen Downes.

Our future HE students

February 3, 2010 15 comments

Last year JISC published a report ‘Higher Education in a Web 2.0 World‘.  The report is well worth reading, but if you haven’t got time the summary on the link I’ve provided gives a good overview.  One thing which the report highlights is that the use of Web 2.0 technologies is high and pervasive across all age groups from 11 to 15 upwards. One of the key findings in the study was that

Present-day students are heavily influenced by school methods of delivery so that shifts in educational practice there can be expected to impact on expectations of approaches in higher education.

Whilst current students in higher education may have little sense of how Web 2.0 technologies might be used to support their learning and are not pushing for changes in traditional educational approaches in a couple of years time this is likely to change.  One of the report’s conclusions is

The world they encounter in higher education has been constructed on a wholly different set of norms. Characterised broadly, it is hierarchical, substantially introvert, guarded, careful, precise and measured. The two worlds are currently co-existing, with present-day students effectively occupying a position on the cusp of change. They aren’t demanding different approaches; rather they are making such adaptations as are necessary for the time it takes to gain their qualifications. Effectively, they are managing a disjuncture, and the situation is feeding the natural inertia of any established system. It is, however, unlikely to be sustainable in the long term. The next generation is unlikely to be so accommodating and some rapprochement will be necessary if higher education is to continue to provide a learning experience that is recognised as stimulating, challenging and relevant.

So what kind of student might we expect to come to medical school in a few year’s time.  This video by a 7th grade school pupil (12-13 years old) in the States gives an insight into 21st century learners and how they have developed their personal learning environment using Web 2.0 tools.

This second video looks at ‘What is Next Generation Learning’ and our presenter is 11 year old Harry in the UK.  He gives a tour of his school and how it’s using ICT. The classroom and learning environment are changing and we need to support staff to develop skills in e-pedagogy.

Patients Like Me

February 2, 2010 1 comment

I’m a big fan of the TED talks and about half an hour ago picked up the link to this presentation by Jamie Heywood about Patients Like Me which was given at TED Med last October.  Patients Like Me was a big idea inspired by Jamie’s brother who had ALS and allows patients to share and track data on their illness.  There’s some interesting data on the site, is this something we could make use of in medical education?

Scitable – personal learning tool and library

December 9, 2009 2 comments

Nature Publishing Group has launched Scitable, a personal learning tool and library, which initially is focussing on genetics, the study of evolution, variation, and the rich complexity of living organisms.

The site is aimed at both students and academics with free registration.  For students there are series of learning paths which cover topics such as cancer, genetic testing and chromosomes and disease.  Students can also experts questions, access a library of articles on various topics and connect with other students to form study groups or take part in discussions. Teaching staff can use Scitable to build a free research space for their students and provide students with daily RSS news feeds from Nature.com, Science Blogs and Scientific American.

Categories: General Tags: ,