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Tech. Tools & Reviews

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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The ‘Blue Books’ of the Future

An article by the Chronicle for Higher Education looks into a student start-up seeking to create the college blue book of the future.

As a student of the University of Pennsylvania, Alex Rattray struggled to fill his exam blue books with legible responses. It wasn’t long before he realized that he wasn’t the only one suffering, professors and teaching assistants were also struggling with reading illegible answers.

His solution was to create a desktop application that will allow instructors to administer tests and quizzes securely without the need for pencil and paper.

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Distraction-Free Editing

WordFlow is a great word processing app if you are looking for a distraction-free interface, claimed a review in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It is plain and simple and to the point with a live word count and built-in spell check. A big plus is that it works offline and automatically saves your work via Google Chrome. The only down side? It doesn’t automatically save to Google Drive, Dropbox, or SkyDrive. That’s right, you have to manually upload your files to a cloud service.

If you are a fan of the automatic upload, or easy save to a cloud service, other alternatives to WordFlow are Editorially and Draft, though these apps are not necessarily distraction free.

Livescribe Smartpens: Ultimate Writing Utensils?

Students are prone to keeping up with the latest technology, especially when it comes to taking notes in their classes. Traditional notebooks pile up and can oftentimes become out of hand. Students are then dependent on digital organizing, using their laptops, tablets, and sometimes even their smart phones to jot down class notes. But what happens when instructors ban or restrict technology use in the classroom? This is where Livescribe Smartpens come in handy.  The Echo, Sky, and newly released 3 Smartpen are able to capture notes and create a digital copy.

The first of the bunch is the Echo Smartpen. This pen is able to capture notes as well as audio. By simply tapping on notes, the Echo plays back the audio that complemented them. Create digital versions of notes by transferring files via USB to Livescribe’s desktop app.

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