Monday, November 11, 2013

More Online Learning Objectives Generators

In previous entries, I have written about the demise and resurrection of the Arizona State University's (ASU) Objectives Builder (formerly known as the Radio James Learning Objectives Builder), which is a free, interactive web-based resource designed to assist educators in creating measurable learning objectives. Since then, I have been introduced to two other tools that can assist with building measurable learning objectives:

The Differentiator

The Differentiator (from the people at Byrdseed) starts with a sample objective at the top of the page. Once clicked, it changes to an editable sentence divided into parts. Categories and action verbs are offered at the bottom of the window and range from skills to group size.

Categories include:
  • Thinking Skill (Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating)
  • Content (Depth, Complexity, Imperatives, and Key Words)
  • Resources (Online and Offline)
  • Products (Visual, Construction, Oral, Multimedia, and Written) Group Size

When clicked, these words will replace what is currently in the sample objective. The tool also allows the user to add or delete certain content fields depending on the intricacy of the objective. Instructors can use this tool to build objectives from scratch.

A Model of Learning Objectives

From Iowa State University's Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching, A Model of Learning Objectives is an interactive Flash-based model that highlights colored blocks as they are rolled over with a mouse. When activated, each block displays an example of a learning objective that generally matches each of the numerous combinations of the cognitive process and knowledge dimensions. For instance, rolling over the block where Factual from the Knowledge Dimension intersects with Remember from the Cognitive Process Dimension results in a sample objective asking the learner to "List primary and secondary colors." These kinds of samples can help educators to generate ideas for learning objectives that can be applied to their own classes.

If you are aware of any other learning objectives builders you think should be included, please leave a comment below, and I will add them in a future post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Stylus is Dead; Long Live the Stylus

You may have heard that Steve Jobs declared the stylus dead when the first iPhone was released. You could say that this has turned out to be one-third true. There are three basic types of stylus in current mainstream use:

  1. Resistive (just a pointy stick; used on primitive touchscreens)
  2. Capacitive (conducts the static charge from your fingers to a smaller point; used on most modern touchscreens)
  3. Active Digitizer Stylus (pressure sensitive, highly accurate, and used by professional artists on drawing surfaces)

Steve Jobs was correct, but only about stylus type #1 (the simple pointy stick). Artists have continued to use type #3 (the active digitizer) for drawing, sketching, and editing. Some users also use this type for superior handwriting recognition and note taking. This is the most accurate type, bar none, because the entire screen works with the stylus to monitor position and pressure. This type of screen/stylus combo is used on devices such as Samsung’s Galaxy Note series and on many Windows business tablets.

While a traditional capacitive stylus is not the most accurate, and cannot be pressure sensitive, it has the advantage of working with nearly every touchscreen currently sold. Several interesting projects are attempting to create a stylus for capacitive devices with improved accuracy (more like active digitizers):

  1. A Kickstarter project last year, the iPen comes with a special sensor which plugs into the iPad, and communicates with the pen to provide greater positioning accuracy.
  2. Wacom, (the premier name in active digitizers) has recently released the Intuos Cretive Stylus for iPad. Since pressure sensitivity is missing from an iPad screen, it has been built into the pen, which sends pressure information back to phone apps through bluetooth. Note, however, that this is still not as accurate as a traditional Wacom tablet pen, and the tip of the stylus is not as fine.

It will be fascinating to watch this evolve over the next few years, as hybrid technologies are experimented with, and as tablets are used increasingly in classroom situations.

Look for more articles on apps that make good use of a stylus in the near future.