Sunday, June 17, 2012

Quizlet - Evaluation for Educational Application



CATEGORY:  Critical Thinking & Problem Solving Tool

Quizlet is an online application that allows creation of flash cards for educational learning.  Additional features within the program are gaming and quiz formats for the information contained within the flashcards.  Feedback on mastery of the subject is provided through statistics on each quiz attempt.  There is also a discussion board format for use by group members. 
Mobile applications must be downloaded separately to utilize the database from Quizlet.  For the purpose of this review, I have chosen the following mobile application to test full service based upon the following parameters; cost is free, available on android, iPhone and iPad devices.  This software can be found at the following location: Quizard

1.      Set up a free user account
2.      For shared usage in a group, the user simply needs to email other participants through the internal social interface.
3.      For mobile applications there are multiple applications that will work with the Quizlet database.  However, you must download them separately but multiple options are on the Quizlet website.  You simply need to select the preferred operational platform.  

Access to a computer
Data that you want to import or add to the software 

       Ability to operate a computer

1.      Log in
  •       You will immediately arrive at a dashboard where you can access public flash cards or create your own set
  •       If you choose to create your own set of cards, then click on the green button “make flashcards”
  •       A screen will appear and you will then simply input or import data to create your cards.  To get a step by step on how to import, please watch the video
2.      For a video introduction to this program from the provider go to this link.

To see an example of this online tool, please click on the link below.  Select the My Friends and Groups tab and search for lkcoble to find the flashcards that I have created.  The example created flashcards on the definitions regarding construction management ethics.


      This application has tremendous potential in preparing students on subject content.  There are pre-generated flash cards on popular subjects and it is easy to create cards on your desired subject.  The group sharing function also enables collaboration between study partners.  Today’s students are so connected to their computers that it provides the means to study traditional content in an electronic format.  Robustness is enabled by the gaming and quiz elements of the application which creates interesting activity in the learning process.  This application has the ability to span multiple levels from K-12 through higher education.  The other positive aspect of the application is that it is very intuitive and requires little instruction to utilize.  The greatest involvement is in data input which would also aid in the learning process.  I can visualize this product being used for outside classroom study and preparation on the subject matter so it would prepare the students to be more engaged in the actual classroom discussion.  This application could also be used in test preparation and review.  This product is a keeper!

Fast Flash Cards


Adaptability of Content
To enhance understanding of the content, the program allows uploading photos into the flash cards.  This is particularly helpful for those students with visual learning styles.
Of significance for any teacher, importing knowledge into the program is intuitive and relatively easy.  Watch this instructional video to see just how easy it is.

Group Collaboration
A social interface is included in the platform where students and teachers can create open or closed groups.  Further development includes a discussion board where students can communicate with one another during the study process.

Multiple Mobile Platforms
Another advantage is there are many mobile applications that utilize different devices, specifically android and apple.  With the explosion of cell phones from both providers, students are not likely to have the same operating system, so this flexibility is critical for group collaboration.

In the category of cool, this is it!  There are several interactive games that utilize the information on the flash cards so that students maintain interest in studying.  In addition, the dashboard will keep your scores and times on the games so competitive learners are further engaged.   Multiple gaming options also create increased durations of study time which only enhances the learning process.

Study Exams
The program will automatically create exams based upon the content in your flash cards.  The functionality also includes random sequencing so students truly learn the material and not memorize the answers based upon consistent sequencing.  
Multiple Exam Formats

Print Formats
The interface for printing the flashcards is a very nice feature.  It allows printing as a single document so if you want to distribute to other students or classmates it only requires one click.
Efficient Reporting

Cost Effective
      The free version allows 8 flash card sets at a time.  The only limitation of the free version is that you can’t upload personal photos to define concepts in the flash cards.  The upgrade version is $15 per year which is the equivalent to two Starbucks latte’s and well worth it if you have photos to enhance the understanding of the subject matter.


Mobility Requires Additional Platform

As described above, Quizlet is basically a database program and requires an additional shell program to provide mobile access.  While this is a slight inconvenience it is intuitive and easily performed and there are numerous applications available depending upon personal preferences. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Edistorm - Evaluation for Educational Application


LOCATION ON THE WEB or the Apple     Store for iPhone Only

CATEGORY:  Creativity & Collaboration Tool

Edistorm is a virtual extension of one of the most popular inventions in our modern day world…the sticky pad.  It is an online format for creating sticky notes for the purpose of group collaboration or just planning a project by posting random thoughts to a board.   Most great ideas revolve around simple concepts but the developer of this program has missed the mark on creating functionality with this tool.  Initially, I was truly excited about this platform as I am an organized and planning freak but was sadly disappointed to discover that the effort fell short of being fully effective. Further enhancements and cost effective pricing could make this a robust application for use in the classroom.    If you’re interested in learning more, listen to my podcast and read below.

1.      Set up a free user account
2.      One person needs to be the group administrator to create the storm and then invite others to join in via email.  You will need email addresses for those persons with whom you want to collaborate with so that you can invite them to your particular storm.

Access to a computer or smartphone with App Store access
Note:  the website indicates there is an App for the iPad but it’s not there to date.

1.      Log in
a.      You will immediately arrive at a dashboard where you can see which storms you have set up,
b.      An upgrade button to pay the developer for more privileges
c.       A menu bar to create your profile
d.      An interface that looks eerily similar to Facebook where you can invite your friends and chat.
For a video introduction to this program go to this link.  Edistorm Promotional Video by Designer

Working Board to Create a Storm

To see an example of this online tool, please click on the link below.  Note:  you will have to set up a free online account before accessing the group below and you will need to submit your email to me so that I can send you an invitation to join the Edistorm.

      It seems that the developer intended this product for group collaboration projects.  In my initial usage of the program, it can be used for project collaboration but the limitations outlined below really create the question, “is it worth the investment?” 


If you need a place for a group or team to just post ideas on a common wall, then this is a good application.  It could be used in a distance education setting or in a face to face meeting.  With the online application and an overhead projector, the team could easily discuss different ideas to hone in a project strategy and content.

To further enhance ideas and creativity the platform allows users to upload photos onto the board.  There is also the ability to add comments by any member of the team onto each photo.

Voting by Collaborators
A unique and simple innovation allows a easily identified voting pin to show up on each sticky note so that all the members of the team can see which ideas are more popular by team members.  The voting is allowed only once by participant.


Video Upload is NOT Intuitive 
The functionality of adding video to the collaboration board is not intuitive.  I tried several times and couldn’t identify how to select the video file to upload.  This functionality is a bust!

Idea Voting Button Flexibility
At present the only voting capacity is if you “like” a post it note.  Often times, the decision making process involves initially identifying what the team doesn’t like first, then it is a matter of narrowing down the focus to what the team likes for the final product.  The decision making process could be greatly enhanced by adding a “don’t like this idea” button.

The true measure of any digital database program is how you get the information out of it that was input by the user.  As detailed below, the only way to have reporting capabilities is to purchase the upgrade plan.  Today’s workflow is based upon transferring information between different software and enabling content manipulation, i.e. research search engines like Mendeley allow you to annotate online resources and then to complete the final product you can transfer those notes into Microsoft Word.  Preparing any type of brainstorming or project collaboration would have the same needs so the inability to transfer data out of Edistorm is a problem that limits flexibility and creates more obstacles.

Difficult Maneuverability
The board space is so large that it is cumbersome to keep the content of the sticky notes together where they are easily accessed.  The user has to look at a smaller inset screen in the upper right hand corner to see where the sticky notes are on the board.  While it’s not a deal breaker for using the program, it does make maneuvering a little more complicated than it could be.

Costly with Limited Services
      The free version allows 1 storm at a time.  This is not practical if you are teaching multiple classes.
      The second tier version, Educator – Starter is $49 per year and allows 2 storms at a time.  Again, this is only effective if you have 2 classes that you want to use this program with.  The developer also fails to list what features you get with this plan so when you sign up the user isn’t clear on what features are included.  Specifically, the reporting function which would be very important in actually implementing this as a collaboration tool may or may not be available with the upgrade.   An educator might feel compelled to use this level or membership but most won’t be willing to invest the money if they don’t know what they are getting from their service level.
      The third tier version, Educator – Plus is $99 per year and allows 4 storms at a time.  In my opinion, for $99 per year the user should be able to create as many storms as they desire.  To put this in context, the Adobe Premier Elements program for educators is $110 total and has no limit on usage.  Really?  While it is understood that the developer has not enlisted outside advertisers to help offset cost, they must have had their heads in the clouds, pun intended, when they thought educators would pay this much money for such limited service.

Creepy Factor
      The dashboard has a section which emulates characteristics from Facebook where you can invite your friends to the storms you create or just interact as a social media.  So, here is where it gets creepy…upon creating your profile the developer automatically shows up as someone on your dashboard who is following you.  Most software programs are designed to allow the developer to track the program’s effectiveness behind the scenes so that they can provide continuous improvement which is acceptable.  However, it’s just weird that every time you log into the program to use it you are reminded that this guy is following you.  It seems a little too personal to me.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Wiggio - Evaluation for Educational Application

LOCATION ON THE WEB: or the App Store
CATEGORY:  Collaboration Tool
This tool is very intuitive and does a pretty good job for team collaboration considering it is offered at no cost.  The WIG in Wiggio stands for “working in groups”.  The designers have taken the concept of a discussion board and expanded it to include additional tools for communication.  They have expanded the discussion board concept by including conference call, chatroom and virtual video meeting capabilities.  The typical features of text and email messaging are included and the latest technology of video messaging is available if the user has the appropriate hardware.
Project productivity is also included in this product as users can upload documents, conduct surveys, create to do lists and a group calendar is available to remind the users of key delivery dates.
Having utilized many project collaboration tools, this is one of the easiest to implement.  Most programs require a complicated setup with administrative permissions, etc., but this one only requires a site administrator to set up the site name and password and then in a matter of minutes, the members can start working together online.  Movement within the site is simplified and extremely intuitive. 
To increase access, Wiggio has also created an App for use on iPhones.  Group members can setup notification preferences where they are contacted via email or text when other members have added material to the site.  This feature allows for real time project performance which is ideal for the current busy pace of users.
Lastly, I did encounter a need to use their helpline and the staff was on top of the issue and responded within minutes.  This is a critical factor in the success of a program.

1.     Set up a free user account
2.     One person needs to be the group administrator to create the group site and set the group name and password for the other members.
Access to a computer or smartphone with App Store access
1.     Log in
2.     Select the group you are a member of on the left side of the screen
3.     The screen then takes you to the posts that relate just to that specific group. 
4.     Specific calendar, folders and discussion feed navigating tabs are located at the top of the screen.
5.     On the right side of the screen, all of the functioning features are located on the right.  These include uploading files, conducting virtual meetings and conference calls, chat rooms, uploading documents, creating surveys, sending emails and creating a virtual video message.  Simply select which function you want to perform and the rest is very intuitive.
6.     For a step by step video introduction to this program go to the this link.  Wiggio Review - YouTube
To see an example of this online tool, please click on the link below.  Note:  you will have to set up a free online account before accessing the group below.  Wiggio example site.  When you are prompted you will need to input your personal password for your Wiggio account.
Please note that this site is actually being used for a current summer session, so please be respectful of the live data being posted for this project.  I want to share this particular site because the site is utilizing a lot of the features.

I can envision the use of this online tool either in a distance education group project or a face to face class group project.  Since the challenges of the distance education are greater regarding communication I will discuss the usage of this tool with regard to that scenario.
Today’s curriculum often involves team projects which require a high level of collaboration and with online courses, communication can be a challenge.  Many universities utilize wimba software for online sessions where the instructor controls the screen and all participants are connected verbally by a conference line.  Wiggio has a component that has the same functionality as Wimba.  I would utilize this component on some of the more difficult subjects where learning would be more efficient through both verbal and visual communication.  The functionality of the software also allows the moderator to release controls to other members on the session but I anticipate this would be more useful in the context of group projects.
One of the more advantageous elements of the software is the video cast capability that is included.  Whether the class is face to face or online, there are many instances where instructors think of follow up comments after each class session.  The video cast is a great way to communicate those follow up items to students since it allows both audio and visual perceptions.  Modern educational thought encourages two way communications between student and instructor and the simplicity of video messaging would allow students to easily record responses to assignments.  This would also serve to pique the interest of the students with the use of interesting tools in lieu of just reporting through written mediums.
Another way that this can facilitate learning is to utilize “lessons learned” by the students.  In most university provided software each semester’s course materials are not carried forward each semester automatically.  This process usually requires work from the instructor and site administrator to copy the material from one semester module to another.  Utilizing Wiggio, it is possible to keep a perpetual “lessons learned” discussion board so that future students could build upon the knowledge of previous students.  This could have a tremendous impact on accelerating the learning process on any subject and would also have the effect of inspiring the instructor to continuously improve the course.  This synergy of efforts by all participants would achieve the desired goals of modern day theorists influenced by Web 2.0.
Another implementation for this online tool would be for group project collaboration.  Students could upload files for editing and achieve results much faster than the face to face meeting method.  This real time communication would also aid in developing time management and multi focus skills by the participants.  It would also facilitate better communication among the students who tend to be shy and don’t speak up in group settings.  These students tend to be more outspoken when utilizing a key board and could possibly enable them to develop leadership skills that they didn’t think were possible.
The primary advantage is that the students can set their preferences to receive and respond to messages posted by anyone directly to their email or text message.  This is a considerable advantage in that Blackboard only allows outgoing messages to go to other devices and the set up process is cumbersome at best.  With Blackboard, which is utilized by most universities, you can’t respond directly to the message.  Instead, the student has to log onto Blackboard and respond from there.  It has been my experience that students will not take the extra steps to communicate in this manner.
The second most important advantage is the ability to do video messaging on the site.  This video messaging capability is built into this platform.  This visual and voice capability aids in communicating the more complex subjects, where the written word can sometimes be insufficient in conveying meaning.
This software also allows the ability to perform a virtual meeting, much like the Go To Meeting software with the exception of this tool being free of cost.  This would allow instructors to conduct a live lesson online. 
An additional advantage is the ability to create folders so that educational materials can be uploaded to the site for reference by the users of a specific group.
An additional advantage is that the software has an open link where you can direct all students to so they can connect to the group, as opposed to having to set up each individual email account for access to the group.
The disadvantage of utilizing this software for teaching is the administrative setup of the users to each group.  The person who sets up the group has administrator privileges and they would have to add each member of the group into the group members list.
The biggest disadvantage is that all users don’t understand that they have to create a free account on Wiggio and then have to accept the group membership invitation.  Getting all of the users set up initially is probably the biggest constraint.
Another disadvantage is that the mobile application is only available on the iPhone platform.  Many of today’s students utilize other cell phone platforms, like HTC or Samsung so this won’t be as attractive for use by all students.
The only unknown element is the band width and speed capability with a large contingent of users.  This would have to be tested in order to determine the size capacity.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

A Journey to Understanding Web 2.0 & It's Influence on Education

            Upon starting my puruit of my doctorate degree in the field of education, one of my first assignments was to understand the meaning and uses of WEB 2.0. 
The link to the video represents a journey from one level of education to another.  Initially, my thought process was that college students would know less about web 2.0 than younger students who are basically raised on computers.  Most people would initially think that a college student would know more since they had been in school longer, however my interview process proved just the opposite.  I actually interviewed about six students in the college of technology and while they all use computers each day in their pursuit of education, none of them understood the meaning of Web 2.0.  I also interviewed two professors in the same college and asked similar questions.  They didn’t definitively know the answer however; they were able to reason their way to an effective answer.
Equally important was obtaining the perspective of the younger students as to how they perceived the usage of Web 2.0 tools.  I chose Spring Branch I.S.D. because they were one of the early adopters of Web 2.0 and began their implementation through their 11 Tools Program;   I contacted the librarian who led the effort on behalf of the Library Director at SBISD and asked if I could come and interview the kids using their programs.  Their Accelerated Reading program allows students to have additional library time for use of computers during the lunch period so I was able to spend about an hour and a half with the students.  I was able to interview about thirty students and watched numerous others in action.  The library was an incredible model of learning.  Children were eager to learn and almost every student had an iPad or laptop.  It was an amazing environment. 
Lastly, I wanted to summarize the experience of Web 2.0 at SBISD from the perspective of the librarian who was responsible for implementing the program.  The interview evolved into understanding some of the initial obstacles, the impact on the learning environment and a sample of current education software.  This interview was priceless.  The wealth of perspective and experience created a new dimension of understanding on the topic.
I hope you find the video informative and fun!


Hi!  I am an Associate Professor at the University of Houston, College of Technology in the Construction Management Program.  I am currently enrolled in the doctoral program at the University of Houston, College of Education in Curriculum & Instructional Technology.  I am enrolled in this class to develop the skillset of online communication to enhance the education of my construction management students.  Information on our program can be found at our website at UH Construction Management.  If you would like to learn more about Construction Management and the program at UH, I invite you to view the video describing the content on YouTube.  As a native Houstonian, we have a great city for the pursuit of construction excellence in both commercial, industrial and port industry sectors.