The Secret Revolution

Twitter, Jing, Google Sites, and SmartPens were just a few of the technologies showcased at last month’s Secret Revolution Faculty Showcase. The turnout was good and the feedback was even better. But what was it that raised enough curiosity to have people jazzed up about applications as simple as Jing?


Let’s reframe the focus from: Twitter, Jing, Google Sites, and SmartPens and instead focus on  engagement, feedback, collaboration, and explanation. Technology enables all of this to occur but not until it’s framed around classroom practice does the utility become so obvious. Take for instance, the use of Jing, a free screencasting tool that allows users to capture up to 5 minutes of audio and video of their computer screen. When it was presented as a tool for providing student feedback on written assignments the room began to buzz with possible ways it could be used in various disciplines. Broadcast Journalism Professor, Chad Nye, saw immediate application and is now using it to give his students precise feedback on student produced video clips. With Jing he is able to focus students attention to a peaked audio track while also sharing ideas for better shot selection. This kind of individualized feedback was nearly impossible to do in written form.

Technologies like Twitter and Smartpens aren’t a secret and they’re not even that revolutionary but when re-framed around student feedback and engagement, the possibilities seem like they are.

CELT did capture some of the presentations and have posted them here.

Using EverNote

Instructional Technologist Judy Brophy found a great post about how one academic is using Evernote for serious writing, and I thought that our group might be interested in his process.

A Method for Using Evernote for Serious Writing

This method of approaching writing with Evernote takes advantage of the application’s structured organizational system. While this might seem restrictive, it’s also a tremendously powerful mechanism for dividing up a larger project. Here’s one method for organizing your thoughts as during the writing process: Continue reading “Using EverNote”

What is a Wiki?

By Matthew Ragan

Much of the academic world is already familiar with Wikipedia – the free online encyclopedia of nearly 4 million entries – but also hesitant to embrace it as a useful learning tool. The web, however, is teaming with other user built resources that follow the wiki format.

wiki is a website that allows for easy creation and manipulation of a virtually countless number of pages. Additionally, a wiki characteristically is web based and allows multiple authors to contribute to a single page via a web browser. The true power of a site like Wikipedia is that anyone can contribute. In some cases that means that individuals can contribute their specialised knowledge about a topic, and it can also mean that strong copy editors can contribute a critical eye to sentence structure and flow. The underlying ideological understanding in a wiki is that not everyone possesses the same skills, talents, or predispositions: Strong researchers may be more concerned with the validity of their data, and not the grammatical structure of their sentences; copy editors (read English Majors) may not be fluent in current technical jargon, but write eloquently and can quickly spot problems with grammar andsyntax.

It’s not what you bring to a wiki that matters, but it does matter that you bring something.

In that way, you can think of a wiki as a potluck. At a potluck dinner there is an agreement among the participants that everyone is contributing something: not everyone has to bring a stellar dessert or even bring very much, but they do have to bring something – otherwise there’s too many guests and not enough dinner.

Another common characteristic of a wiki is the use of links. This usually appears as words that are a different color and underlined. Links might direct a reader to an internal or external source. The practice of linking topics/terms/ideas within a wiki can make it easy for viewers to explore the ideas/content presented.

Unfortunately, many academics fear the use of Internet based resources – like Wikipedia – because of their open nature. Wikipedia allows nearly anyone to contribute content and make revisions. For this vary reason it’s often pinned as an unreliable resource (the scientific journal nature has some interesting findings you can read about here and Thomas Chesney has some interesting findings you can read about here). You may agree or disagree with that argument, nonetheless in this course you’ll be building a wiki-based resource with your classmates. This an opportunity to learn about the inherent strengths and weaknesses of a wiki, including some insight into what kind of project fits well with the wiki model.