Sunday, August 30, 2009

Twitter in Higher Education . . . a report

This just in from Faculty Focus . . . they have just released the results of their survey of about 2,000 higher education professionals regarding their use of Twitter. Twitter, as you know, is the suddenly ubiquitous "mini-blogging" tool used by millions to keep their "followers" updated on their latest news.

The 20-page report reveals some interesting statistics, such as
  • Nearly one-third (30.7 percent) of the respondents say they use Twitter in some capacity.

  • More than half, (56.4 percent) say they’ve never used Twitter.

  • 71.8 percent of current Twitterers expect their usage to increase this school year.

  • 20.6 percent of current non-Twitter users say there is a “50/50 chance” they will use Twitter as a learning tool in the classroom in the next two years.

  • 12.9 percent of respondents say they tried Twitter, but stopped using it because it took too much time, they did not find it valuable, or a combination of reasons.
If you are curious about using Twitter as one of the tools in your toolbox, or perhaps confirm your suspicion that you don't want it in your toolboxyou'll want to take a look at this report.

Monday, August 17, 2009

It's time for a Kindle

What?! You don't have one yet?

OK, I've only had mine less than a year . . . but wow, do I love my Kindle!

In fact, it's now hard for me to read a novel in paper any more. Why? Let me tell you . . .

First, you ought to know that I was one of those "I need to feel the pages as I turn the page" kind of guys. I NEVER thought it would be enchanting to read on an electronic reader. But as an educator and author and earnest practitioner of electronic-based teaching and learning strategies, I thought I should at least try it. Besides (I told myself) I should do it "for the blog."

OK, I kinda like electronic toys, so that was part of it, too.

But, wow, I didn't think I'd fall in love!

This darn Kindle 2 is lightweight (far lighter than most books I read . . . even the small paperbacks). It can pack more volumes than I've attempted . . . so it's great for traveling. And for those of us that switch back and forth between novels, non-fiction books, newspapers and magazines, and other reading material, the Kindle is a great solution.

Speaking of "other reading material" I can even load student papers, my own reports or chapter drafts, and other document files into my Kindle. I can then read them "on the fly" wherever I am . . . and I can bookmark them, annotate them, etc., right there on the Kindle.

I subscribe to the Associated Press science feed and to the daily New York Times. In either, I can clip and save articles, including highlights and bookmarks.

For a minuscule fee, you can also download this blog into your Kindle . . . see The Electronic Professor for more information.

And that's not all (oh no, I'm starting to sound like a TV infomercial) . . . you can also surf the web! It's connected via a cellular network (Amazon calls it WhisperNet) and for NO CHARGE will allow you to surf to this blog, or anywhere else you'd like. As with any mobile device, some websites won't look that great because of the size of the screen and the fact that it's monochrome. But when you're away from your home or office . . . wow.

Amazon (makers of the Kindle) probably prefers that you use the connectivity mainly to download their Kindle books. Which isn't a bad feature. I was at a conference recently with some extra time to catch up on my reading. I finished a fun novel and wanted to read the next one in the series . . . NOW. So I downloaded the next title and within minutes was into the first chapter of the next book in the series. Talk about efficient reading!

And before you know it, textbooks and/or supplements will regularly read on e-readers like the Kindle (it has already begun on a small scale) and if you are a reader of this blog, then I know you like to be ahead of the game on things like that.

All right, I'm gushing too much, I know. Check it out for yourself and see if you agree.

Monday, August 10, 2009


I've enjoyed working with a software tool called Inspiration for years. My website for students includes a suggestion for using the award-winning Inspiration tool to build concept maps. Now, those brilliant folks at Inspiration Software have put the functionality of this remarkable chart-builder online . . . for FREE!

Yep, you read that right. They are "beta testing" the new web-based version, and are offering it to early "guinea pig" users like you and me for nothing . . . nada . . . zilch.

The web-based version is called Webspiration. Well, ok, the name is less than inspirational but the idea of the product is a good one. I guess if you use it repeatedly, it's Respiration, eh? If you use it year after year (perennially) then its Perspiration.

All right, enough of that.

Either Inspiration or Webspiration can used by you and your students to:
  • demonstrate concept maps (mind maps)
  • construct an image for teaching (in a slide or in a handout or on your course website)
  • plan or organize your course, study time, a project
  • organize any information
  • learn a new concept
  • learn how new and old concepts relate to one another
  • develop new ideas
  • diagram processes
  • illustrate lab reports and term papers
  • creating study guides
  • ok, the list is limited only by your imagination, right?
They even have some really well done tips for college students on how to use the software to create study guides, construct an outline for writing a paper, etc.

Want to know more?
Webspiration - sign up for the FREE beta version

Inspiration - the original off-line version

Concept Maps
- my web article for students
Let us know how YOU are using either tool in your courses! (simply comment on this post)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back to school

After taking some time off from the blog this summer, I'm getting back into the swing of things as the new academic year begins to unfold.

So starting next week, you can expect more blog articles about electronic tools and strategies that may interest you.

And as always, if there's anything you want to share . . . please send me what you have (either information or a complete article) and we'll try to get it out there!