mastea2's blog

Educational iPad Apps

While I surfing the web the other day for online technology websites, I found a large amount of iPad apps that can be used for educational use.  I was surprised to find how many there are!  This prompted me to make a spreadsheet of them and categorize them according to the discipline in which they would work best, i.e. biology, astronomy, etc.  Some of them could be very useful for students, especially those who are taking science classes online.  Whereas they may have found it hard to visualize the various parts of a cell or muscular structure, they can now explore 3-D images on their iPad; some apps are even available on an iPhone or iPod.  I am excited to see all of the different educational apps I can find, not to mention various app tools that we could adapt to any class for online education.

Online Education Survey Thoughts

     As we try to build up and expand our Online Education program here, it is important to be looking to see what others in the field are doing.  That is why I got so excited when I found the survey of Online Education, “Going the Distance.”  I recently summarized it for my team.  What was most important, I think, is that we are right where we should be in terms of the Online Education movement.  Most public institutions have an “in-house” team that deals with faculty training.  Also, this training tends to be “unofficial” and have “unofficial” mentoring as well. 

     Moreover, they mentioned the state of Online Education as a whole.  While enrollments are not increasing as quickly as they had been, this is because they have reached a steady plateau.  Some disciplines are also steadier than others, such as Psychology.  Other disciplines, such as Engineering and Biology are still gaining in enrollment.  This is likely because these disciplines are just now getting the thrust towards online classes and obtaining the tools necessary to make the courses successful, such as increased interactive online programs.

Return to Classes

     It is hard to believe that the Fall semester is almost here again.  It seems like just yesterday Spring semester ended and the summer was beginning.  The local public grade schools have even already started their new school year.  Soon the new freshmen will be coming to UK’s campus and beginning their new lives as well.  The air is full of excitement and promise. 

     I myself am excited for the new school year to begin.  I am starting new classes and an extended research lab project.  There will be new books to read and new subjects to explore.  Also, in Online Education we will be aiding in new classes and start working on some new classes for the next summer.  I am always anxious to find out what classes and professors have decided to utilize an online format. 

Customer Service

     I recently bought some items from the internet and they came to me damaged due to various shipping problems including it having sat in the post office’s warehouse for a week.  At first I was very worried, thinking that the company would be resistant to help me since it was legitimately the post office’s fault that things had been damaged.  I called them and explained what happened to one of their representatives.  Thankfully, they were exceedingly nice about it and very helpful to me.  Immediately they sent out new products and even overnighted it to me to try and make up for the time I had been waiting.  I was highly impressed by how they handled the situation and it will make me continue to buy things from them.

Imperfection can still be useful

     I did a project this week using Adobe Connect and taught some of my colleagues about astrology.  Adobe Connect is a platform which enables for many people to have an online conference.  It can be really useful for Online Education in the form of virtual office hours, lectures, or even study sessions.  Many of the professors in our Online Education classes have used it quite successfully and rave about how interactive it made their classes.  Judging from the course evaluations, the students really enjoyed using it too. 

     One important thing that I learned, among other things, while presenting my lesson was that perfection is not needed for online instruction, or any instruction for that matter.  Even though I had rehearsed my presentation a few times, there were still some technical difficulties that occurred which could not be foreseen.  It did not detail the lesson, however, and I was able to recover and finish.  In the end, the lesson went well.

Renaissance Faire

     Last weekend I went to the Kentucky Renaissance Faire over by Louisville and had a great time.  Every year I make it a point to go there and have never had a bad experience.  Not only was the weather perfect last weekend, but I highly enjoyed the various staff, shows, and vendors.  Also, there were so many different kinds of people there in different costumes that it made me think about how multi-cultural and accepting the platform of a Renaissance Faire can be. 
     Originally, a Renaissance Faire was meant to celebrate a very specific time period within European history.  Now, however, almost any fantasy or historical costume can be found walking around the festival grounds.   I know I saw people dressed up in Elizabethan costumes, as 18th century scientists, barbarians, fairies, demons, dragons, even pirates.  Anything seemed possible and no one argued over it or seemed to pass judgment.   What impressed me more was that everyone was mingling together peacefully and truly having a great time.  

The Importance of a Website

     As I was surfing the web to try and find a gift for Father’s Day, I realized how very important the design of a website can be.  There were several websites that I passed up because they either looked too childish, confusing, disorganized, or even spurious.  Being so involved in the internet and having grown up in the internet generation, I guess I took for granted that everyone, especially entrepreneurs, realized the impact that a website makes on a potential customer.  You only get a few seconds to make a good first impression and if you do not make me feel comfortable surfing your site and giving you my credit card information, I will move on to the next site. 

     Moreover, I was observing a colleague while he surfed several University websites and saw the same phenomenon.  Some sites are just poorly laid out and it greatly affects how potential students view the entire school.  When I was looking at Universities at which to apply, their website did make an impact on me.  Granted, their website was not as important to me as the credentials of the school but it did make a difference in how I viewed the school. 

Memory

While I was taking an online class (PSY 311), the professor, Dr. Golding, prompted us to think about what memory means to us and how it affects our lives.  At first, I thought about how memory enables me to pass a test, or beat a video game, function at work or in my social life.  After thinking about the question for some time, however, I realized that without memory we would be nothing more than plants.  As a species, we would have no consciousness and be essentially mindless.  Naturally, one hears about certain people who have lost the ability to remember their past or form new memories, but they still manage to have some sense of inner memory which enables them to survive.

Miracle?

I had been reading online about how there are “noodles” made out of tofu that are extremely low calorie compared to traditional wheat based noodles.  Essentially, they are a high fiber product pressed into noodle shapes that have no taste of their own but are able to function as pasta under any sauce combination.  While I had read some disappointing reviews about them, there were more than enough people who praised them for me to try them myself.  I finally tried them myself and was amazed.  I tasted nothing negative about them (some people had spoken of a “fishy taste”) and had no problem with the irregularly rubbery texture.  I put them under some alfredo sauce and had a wonderful dinner.   Next I even tried using some of the “rice” product and made a version of Spanish rice.  It was the most awesome thing I had tasted in a while.  It tasted JUST like traditional Spanish rice with a fraction of the calories! It’s a dieter’s dream! I was highly impressed and I cannot wait to try many other combinations.  I am already thinking up several, including: south-west pasta with some cheese, corn, and black beans; pasta with peanut butter sauce, Cajun pasta, and anything else I can wrap my head around.  Any suggestions any one has are highly welcomed!

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