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Tech. Tools & Reviews

Simplifying the Design Process- One Canva at a Time

To all designers and creators: have you ever opened Photoshop, PowerPoint, Word, or even social media sites and asked yourself now what? How about those who fear the Adobe Suite or even Microsoft Office?

Canva, a design app, simplifies creating posters, flyers, presentations, business cards, Facebook covers- you name it. With a selection of professional, pre-designed graphics and stock photos to choose from, you can finish a project within minutes. Be aware that most stock photos have Canva watermarks or you can pay $1 to omit it.

Most of the design process is drag-and-drop. Choose what background, layout, and text you want in your project, then fill in the blanks. Customizing their templates is no problem either. Click on an object to move it, change the color, edit the text, or delete it.

Designs and graphics are great to embellish presentations- especially “PowerPoint-esque” ones. They catch audience’s attention and intrigue listeners. Be aware though, too much text and over the top graphics can just as easily detract your audience. Learn your medium before giving a presentation.

Below are examples of posters we made in less than five minutes:

UWB Learning Tech LT Mission

What can you create on Canva?

The Risk of the Cloud

Dedoose, a research managing cloud application, experienced a crash in their system that devastated academics across the country according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. The crash occurred in the midst of a backup process where one of their services failed unexpectedly. Several hours of research efforts disappeared after the crash.

This incident shows the risk of trusting work to third party, cloud-based applications- including UW Bothell’s Google Apps. These events can and will happen.

To avoid losing work, we strongly suggest backing them up on a computer’s hard drive, thumb drive, SD card, and multiple cloud applications. Dropbox is a great service that saves work to both a cloud service and a computer’s hard drive.    

 

Gmail Played a Role in Changing Higher Ed

Gmail celebrated its 10th birthday on April 1st. Reflecting back, they altered higher education more than we know according to Inside Higher Ed.

Transitioning from enterprise platforms to consumer platforms, Gmail is helping the technological world retreat from centralized technology control with a slick, free platform that any higher ed institution can use. UW Bothell has already gone aboard to using Gmail and other Google apps.

This transition is especially great for students who prefer to utilize their own technology at school. Remember only 10 years ago when schools rolled out carts of uniform laptops loaded with the same software? Now students have the option to stop relying on Outlook or Microsoft Office and use the wonders of Gmail, Google Drive, and other online applications. Because of these programs, schools no longer need to worry as much about mandatory software and their updates.

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Google Form for Peer Review of Group Members in Group Project

Teaching group work is difficult. Students often dislike group work, because one or two people carry the weight for everyone else. To solve this problem, one best practice for group project assignments, particularly those that require sustained collaboration and shared leadership over the course of many weeks in the quarter, is to build in an anonymous peer review assignment where each group member is anonymously reviewed by the other group members. The peer review assignment puts in place a system of accountability for the group members and therefore creates a more solid foundation for collaboration.

One way instructors can build this assignment into their course is to use a Google Form that is tied to a Google Spreadsheet. Each student fills out the form once for each member in their group. If the form that accepts the data is designed correctly, the spreadsheet will allow the instructor to quickly view peer reviews by reviewer and reviewee.

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Mobile Learning Practices in Higher Education

A recent study published on Educause takes a look into the mobile learning practices of students in higher education.

The study notes that mobile device usage has increased significantly among college students, and that they favor small and lightweight devices such as smartphones and tablets. However 85% of students still consider a laptop to be the most important device for academic success.

As mobile device use expands on campus, the study looks to understand how the students are using their devices. Students were given a survey to determine device prevalence and if they were being used for academic purposes. The study found that 91% of student owned a smartphone while only 58% of those students used them for academic purposes. Tablet ownership was only 37% of those questioned, though 82% of owners used them for school.

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