As we brought up the Media Lab over the past year, Andy and I have had to think about creative and interesting (well hopefully interesting) ways to ensure that our Media Lab Assistants have a baseline level of skill in the most frequently used digital media programs. Since this software is supposed to help communicate creativity, we really wanted this training to be fun. By the end of the year the students had created individual projects with accompanying tutorials to help reinforce teaching skills as well as digital media software creation skills and we heard from them that they were overall pleased with the training.
What does this have to do with my TLS tip? Well, thanks to Krystal’s last post, I’ve been reflecting on this year and realized that much of it has been focused on encouraging play and experimentation with new tools and software. While I didn’t focus on hot new tech tools like Apple Watches or Google Glass (RIP), I did look at software that could complement teaching like Guide on the Side, Audacity, and Google Forms. Sometimes the tools worked well and were easy to implement and I could see clear applications for using this tool. Other times, like in the TIS Sandbox where a group of us played with Guide on the Side we encountered some software hiccups, but knowing that this was a common experience made it easier to laugh off and find a workaround. We were more resilient when encountering software issues when we were together because we could use one another as resources and it was a collaborative learning experience. Going forward into the Fall, we’re going to be experimenting with technology in the classroom once the Learning Labs are open and operational. There will be training and more opportunities for collaborative learning in these spaces!
In the process of doing research on how best to approach adult acquisition f technology skills, our recently graduated GRA, Grace Atkins, came across a great article about technology and Life Long Learning habits. Below I’ve excerpted their philosophical approach to lifelong learning, which I feel is especially apt as we head into a new academic year under new leadership and in brand new learning spaces.
The habits are the following:
1. Begin with the end in mind.
2. Accept responsibility for your own learning.
3. View problems as challenges.
4. Have confidence in yourself as a competent, effective learner
5. Create your own learning toolbox.
6. Use technology to your advantage.
7. Teach/mentor others
So, I suppose this TLS tip is not so much a tip but instead encouragement to allow yourself to get messy when playing with new things. Even if you don’t see an application for something right away, it might come in handy later.
And, just for fun, here are some of the tools and apps I’ve been playing with recently and why:
- IFTTT (IF This Then That): Uses “recipes” to connect programs and automate tasks; an easier and slicker Yahoo Pipes.
How I use it: organize spreadsheets – I get monthly Canvas reports that I tell to upload to a folder in Box.
- Sunrise.am: An app and web-based calendar that integrates multiple calendar (OWA, Google Calendar, iCal, Facebook events and birthdays)
- Padlet: An way to create an online bulletin board that integrates audio, images, and video in addition to text. Great for brainstorming and for visual learners.
What tools, software, or web apps are you playing around with?