As you know, PSU has made the decision to use Moodle as our new Learning Management System. If you've never seen Moodle, the video below will give you an introduction to Moodle and some idea on what your Moodle courses could look like.
Several years ago, I attended a conference presentation in which a professor of French talked how she was using "The Sims" in her instruction. Her presentation was extremely compelling, and there were a large number of instructors who later attended her workshop on "The Sims". Instructional uses of simulations and serious gaming have become mainstream, and that is not surprising since sims can allow students to experience real-life problem solving with little of the risk "real-life" might have. Simulations and/or Gaming are being use to train surgeons, soldiers, financial analysts and diplomats. If you've not thought about including a sim in your teaching, even just as supplemental material, this might be the time to investigate the possibilities. Here are a few to stimulate your imagination:
Though these are not free, the web sites can give you an idea of how serious games can be:
I recently read a popular novel that overused the word "pale" to the point that it became a distraction for me, and I found it difficult to read the book. What if the author could visually see how many times that word was used in comparison to all the other words in the text? Wordle is a very cool tool that lets you do just that. You can paste in a body of text, or analyze your "delicious" bookmarks, or point to a particular page on the web, and Wordle will create a picture based on the number of times each word is used. Even better, though, is that you can set the font, the colors, the layout, and have the program eliminate common words from analysis. The image that you see in this post was taken from a history of New Hampshire: http://www.nh.gov/nhinfo/history.html
You can access Wordle here: http://www.wordle.net/ (Note: it's wordle.net, not wordle.com) I always get that wrong the first time 🙂
Imagine being able to view a whole semester's worth of lectures from MIT for free at your leisure. Imagine being able to make your own lectures, or podcasts available to your students in iTunes. iTunesU is a resource for both of these. Plymouth State University has an iTunesU site, and we hope faculty will begin using the site to share video and audio with their students. Adding an audio or video file to an instructor's iTunesU course is as easy as uploading a file to any program, and it makes these files available in a program many students are very familiar with and use on a daily basis. So, what does an iTunesU site look like? Well, here are a few to help you understand, and to get you thinking about what you might put on PSU's iTunesU site.
Do you need to create an image, and Microsoft paint just isn't cutting it? Do you have a photo you'd like to edit, or apply filters to, but the cost of Photoshop is out of your budget? Aviary does this and more, plus it's free and does not require a download. That's right "does not require you to download anything." The Aviary suite has four separate applications. Check it out: http://aviary.com/
In 2001 I was teaching just outside of Boston with a team of teachers that had come from all over the country to work with inner-city middle school students. It was then that I was first introduced to Born Magazine. I found a poem called "Sky" by Christina Manning. The poem was juxtaposed onto a video and read by the author. The emotion in her voice, the halting way she read some of the lines, the photographs resonated with me, and inspired me to write several of my own poems. Born is a fusion of "art and literature, together".
From Born's site: "Born was founded in 1996 in Seattle as an all-volunteer, free publication where writers and designers could collaborate on creative projects. The magazine launched on the Web in 1997 with a focus on editorial design and traditional editorial topics, including essays, film and music reviews, and topical articles. As Web technology continued to evolve, contributing artists began focusing on the connections between literature and visual arts, and experimented with the dynamic relationship between text, cinema, audio, and interactivity. In response, Born redefined its mission in 1998, focusing on collaboration and media-rich interpretations of poetry, short fiction and creative non-fiction, and eventually arrived at its present incarnation."
While students can not, at the present time, submit work to this site, it may inspire them with ideas--new ways of collaborating, or expressing themselves.
"For each field of physics, the text presents the best stories, the latest research results, the best animations, the best images, the most interesting physical puzzles and the most telling physical curiosities. It includes more than 700 animations, films and illustrations, 120 tables, 1900 challenges and puzzles, and 1100 internet links." The project was begun in 1997 and is now in its 23 edition. The text is downloaded over 30,000 times a year. The text can be read online, downloaded in pdf format.
There are a number of interactive and multimedia sites on the web that are useful for educational purposes, but aren't exactly "slick" looking--like those done by professional web masters. This site on cell biology is like that: http://www.johnkyrk.com/index.html
This site contains a number of animations designed to explain various aspects of cell biology. The topics include: cell membranes, glycolysis, Golgi apparatus, Mitochondria/electron transport (to name a few).
This site is much slicker than the one listed above:http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/begin/cells/ Click on "Inside a cell" and you'll be taken to the outside of a cell. Mouse over the cell, and you'll get a look inside. Click on an organ, and you'll get a slick video, complete with sound effects describing the organ and what it does.
Text, audio and video describe endoplasmic reticulum