ALT

CMALT Assessor Webinar

ALT Events - 22/07/20

At this session we will provide information and support to CMALT assessors, providing an overview of the assessment criteria, advice on how to complete an assessment, and an opportunity to see how the assessment process works.

There will also be time for individual questions at the end of the session.

Categories: ALT, Events

Getting Started with CMALT

ALT Events - 22/07/20

This webinar is for candidates registered for CMALT and planning or working on their portfolios.

The webinar will cover the structure of the CMALT portfolio, frequently asked questions, and the submission and assessment process. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Categories: ALT, Events

Getting Started with CMALT

ALT Events - 20/07/20

This webinar is for candidates registered for CMALT and planning or working on their portfolios.

The webinar will cover the structure of the CMALT portfolio, frequently asked questions, and the submission and assessment process. There will be an opportunity to ask questions.

Categories: ALT, Events

Call for Members to get involved with ALT

ALT News - 15/07/20

It’s that time of year where we invite our Members to come and get more involved with ALT.  Taking an active part in the work of the Association ensures that all activities are shaped by Members’ priorities and also offer valuable opportunities for professional development and recognition. We are seeking expressions of interest from our Members from:

Categories: ALT, News

Does technical assessment matter? Functionality and usability testing of websites for ESL/EFL autonomous learners

RLT Journal - 14/07/20

Given the social impact and the transformation of the teaching–learning process enhanced by new technologies, online language learning has been established as a field of study that has been approached primarily from the perspective of pedagogical themes. In the context of the LinguApp research project developed at the University of Córdoba (Spain),1 we aim to evaluate the technical quality of a group of English teaching websites for self-directed learning. The analysis is based on functionality and usability aspects through the use of a specifically designed checklist, created and preliminarily implemented in the early development phase of this study. To complete the design of the checklist before external validation, we offer a comparative study of four renowned websites from the LinguApp corpus: ESOLCourses, BBC, British Council and Cambridge English.2 These preliminary results allow to identify the strengths and weaknesses of these language learning websites by subjecting the data to qualitative and quantitative analysis, while they shed light on the need to strengthen web performance and so reinforce autonomous language students’ experience.

Categories: ALT, Publication

6 papers on education to read this summer to prepare for blended teaching and learning: Ideas for a journal club

#ALTC Blog - 14/07/20

Dominik Lukes
Digital Learning Technologist (Saïd Business School
University of Oxford)

Introduction

As the post-isolation summer heaves into view and worries about teaching in uncertain autumn come front of mind, it may be a good idea to review some of the principles we can draw on as educators to help students learn under non-traditional conditions with little guarantee to be the same from week to week. Remote teaching, blended teaching or self-learning – all of these will be a part of our repertoire going forward.

Here is a list of 6 articles that may form a good curriculum for a summer reading club or just anybody’s personal reading or re-reading list. They cover 6 areas that seem relevant to teaching in these times but are really just about good teaching in any context:

  1. Engagement
  2. Cognitive processing
  3. Feedback and formative assessment
  4. Peer instruction
  5. Deliberate practice
  6. Connectivism

Even though the papers come from relatively different traditions of thinking about education and mostly don’t even engage directly with each other’s research, they all build upon one another and put each other in a useful new perspective.

All these papers are concerned with education theory but they are also full of practical ideas. I believe that one can read each one of these papers and find in them something about which they will say “You know, I think this is a good idea, I will try to do that.” In fact, I used some of them in creating a little checklist for online course design. I found it easy to map them onto very practical activities and tools.

In the list below, I provide a very brief summary of why I think the paper is worth reading and provide some alternatives or elaborations. But one thing they all have in common is that they summarise previous work and provide ample references for further reading. Where I could find them, I also point to related YouTube videos or blog posts.

I also created a list of “5 books on knowledge and expertise” that may provide relevant readings.

1. Online Engagement Framework for Higher Education.

Redmond, P. et al. (2018). An Online Engagement Framework for Higher Education’. Online Learning, 22(1). doi: 10.24059/olj.v22i1.1175.

This is a good place to start because it summarises the literature on student experiences of online learning and builds a useful framework for thinking about it through 5 modes of engagement: 1. Cognitive, 2. Behavioural, 3. Collaborative, 4. Emotional, 5. Social. These are not mutually exclusive or always clearly delineated but it is easy to see how we often focus on some to the exclusion of others.

This paper was also summarised with some practical tips in a recent blogpost on the ALT Blog by Gabi Witthaus. Recording of a webinar with the paper authors is also available.

An alternative view of engagement that is complementary can be found in Tanis (2020) who draws on the famous ‘Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education’ by Chickering and Gamson (1987) and shows how they are seen by students and faculty in an online course.

2. Cognitive engagement and ICAP Framework.

Chi, M. T. H. and Wylie, R. (2014) The ICAP Framework: Linking Cognitive Engagement to Active Learning Outcomes. Educational Psychologist, 49(4), pp. 219–243. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2014.965823.

I think of the lessons of this paper as best summarized by “There is no learning without engagement but there is engagement without learning”. It takes the ‘cognitive’ mode of engagement mentioned in Redmond et al. and drills down into what kinds of engagement make for learning. Its central theses is that the four kinds of engagement Passive, Active, Constructive and Interactive build on each other and progressively lead to more learning expressed by the formula I > C > A > P.

The greatest strength of this paper is that it is supremely practical and brings together decades of research on learning in a way that makes good sense. It can be used to design classroom activities, the entire curriculum but it also is a great framework for interpreting results of research. It can also be used as a way of interpreting student behaviour in and and out of the classroom.

The follow up paper Chi and Menekse (2015) which looks more deeply at effective student interactions is also well worth reading.

A complementary view from Fiorella and Mayer (2016) provides more examples of engagement activities that lead to learning.

Michelene Chi talks about the framework in a public lecture and Richard Mayer talks about his cognitive learning framework related to multimedia learning in this presentation.

3. Feedback, formative assessment, and distance education

Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C. (2005). Conditions Under Which Assessment Supports Students’ Learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), pp. 3–31.

Gibbs and Simpson provide another perspective on the need for active engagement with the content of teaching by the students. They identify 10 conditions under which feedback can be effective based on a survey of research into feedback and formative assessment. Their main message is that feedback can only be effective if it is relevant to student improvement. This will be seen as even more important in Ericsson et al. (1993) the fifth paper on the list which sees actioned feedback as the main characteristic of deliberate practice.

Graham Gibbs expressed this message most starkly in a lecture on this topic with the slogan: “Feedback doesn’t work because the teachers give it, it works because something goes on in the students’ head.” (min 20:26). Surely, this could be said about instruction in general. (For a quick look, slides from the talk are available.)

4. Peer instruction

Crouch, C. H. and Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics. American Association of Physics Teachers, 69(9), pp. 970–977. doi: 10.1119/1.1374249.

Taking the theme of interaction and engagement even further is this paper on peer instruction based on Eric Mazur’s famous work at Harvard. Crouch and Mazur summarise the key outcomes of research into this technique that relies on peer explanations to promote understanding. Astute and non-astute readers alike will note that sections of this paper basically describe the flipped classroom before video. There is also a clear parallel to peer instruction in the famous ‘hole in the wall’ experiments summarised in Mitra and Dangwall (2010).

Going further, Balta et al. (2017) conduct a meta analysis of research in Peer Instruction and find the positive effects can also be moderated by cultural differences. As a complement to this, Nokes-Malach (2015) provide a more uptodate summary of research on student collaboration and provide a framework for thinking about when it does and does not work.

Eric Mazur talks about Peer Instruction in this lecture and examples of what this looks like are shown in a video from Harvard. Sugata Mitra describes his experiments in a famous TED Talk and talks about it in more detail in this lecture on the Future of Learning.

5. Deliberate practice

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T. and Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), pp. 363–406.

Ericsson’s work on deliberate practice (made famous by Gladwell’s 10,000 hours) does not often get mentioned in the context of education. And reading this paper, you could be forgiven for questioning its relevance. It spends most of its time talking about exceptional expert performance being the result of years of training. It also looks at examples from sports, musical performance and typing rather than doing well on a history exam. But the framework for thinking about practice as developing mental representations through a focused effort supported by feedback is very much complementary to the four previous papers. It rethinks the role of the teacher as a coach which is also very relevant but ultimately, it places emphasis on learner effort, which puts it directly in line with all the other papers on this list.

Ericsson (who sadly died earlier this year) also described the framework in more detail in the popular book Peak (Ericsson and Pool 2016).

There is a video of an interview with Ericsson that ranges over some of these subjects and a 7 minute video summary of Peak that highlights the key points.

6. Rhizomatic education and connectivism

Cormier, D. (2008). Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum. Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 4(5). Available at: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/104239/ (Accessed: 20 June 2020).

This paper is the most theoretical of the 6 and has the least in it that is practical. It is programmatic and speculative. But I think it opens up an interesting question about the nature of knowledge that the other papers left mostly alone. It’s contribution is it the central metaphor of contrasting a view of knowledge as a tree, orderly, mathematizable, with clear roots and knowledge as a rhizome, distributed, interconnected, ever-changing and even anarchic. While the other papers mostly stayed within the bounds of traditional education with something added, this one imagines possibilities of rethinking the structures which we take for granted.

This key note lecture by Cormier is a very good complement to the paper. Dave Cormier also blogs about his work and teaching and his book in progress on the subject is publicly available. What’s more, to see this in practice, the skeleton of the the course on rhizomatic learning conducted in a rhizomatic fashion (#rhizo14) is available on P2PU.

It is useful to contrast Cormier’s vision with things that can happen when it is put into practice. Mackness et al. (2016) describe the experiences of students who took part in #rhizo14. Many of the lessons they outline apply even to traditional courses.

An alternative formulation of Rhizomatic learning has been put forward under the heading of “connectivism” (sometimes heard when people mention connectivist MOOCs (or c-MOOCs) which were the original MOOCs run by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Siemens and Conole (2011) are a good overview of the approach.

List of videos

Pro tip: You can listen to these videos as podcasts on your favourite podcast player via the free service Huffduffer. I’ve already Huffduffed some of them on my channel.

AERA 2017: Distinguished Contributions to Research in Ed Award (2016) Address: Micki Chi (2017). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5-y9wFA0gj0&t=138s (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Dave Cormier. The rhizomatic lense – ICERI2015 Keynote Speech (2015). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROkbPHyb1D0&t=1s (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Designing Multimedia Instruction to Maximize Learning – Dr. Richard E. Mayer Lecture (no date). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5i3f9E53Og (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Embracing Uncertainty – Rhizomatic learning (2012). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJIWyiLyBpQ (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Eric Mazur, Harvard University. Peer Instruction (2014). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UJRNRdgyvE (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Eric Mazur shows interactive teaching (2012). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wont2v_LZ1E (Accessed: 22 June 2020).

How to Master Anything: PEAK by Anders Ericsson | Core Message (2016). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoUHlZP094Q&t=5s (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

‘Improving student learning through assessment and feedback in the new…’ (2012). Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/city-ldc/improving-student-learning-through-assessment-and-feedback-in-the-new-higher-education-landscape (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

New experiments in self-teaching | Sugata Mitra (no date). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk60sYrU2RU (Accessed: 22 June 2020).

Online learning beyond the technology: Reconceptualising online engagement | Association for Learning Technology (2020). Available at: https://www.alt.ac.uk/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=507 (Accessed: 22 June 2020).

Professor Graham Gibbs at the Learning @ City Conference 2012 (2012). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DbzMTXRBcQk (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Skill Mastery & Peak Performance via Deliberate Practice with Psychologist Anders Ericsson (no date). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qiBne5EGBQ8 (Accessed: 21 June 2020).

Sugata Mitra: The Future of Learning (2015). Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-e9WRMWcdI (Accessed: 22 June 2020).

References

Balta, N., Michinov, N., Balyimez, S., & Ayaz, M. F. (2017). A meta-analysis of the effect of Peer Instruction on learning gain: Identification of informational and cultural moderators. International Journal of Educational Research86, 66-77. doi: 10.1016/j.ijer.2017.08.009

Chi, M. T. H. and Menekse, M. (2015). Dialogue Patterns in Peer Collaboration That Promote Learning’, in Resnick, L. B., Asterhan, C. S. C., and Clarke, S. N. (eds) Socializing Intelligence Through Academic Talk and Dialogue. American Educational Research Association, pp. 263–274. doi: 10.3102/978-0-935302-43-1_21.

Chi, M. T. H. and Wylie, R. (2014). The ICAP Framework: Linking Cognitive Engagement to Active Learning Outcomes’, Educational Psychologist, 49(4), pp. 219–243. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2014.965823.

Chickering, A. W. and Gamson, Z. F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin. Available at: https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED282491 (Accessed: 8 June 2020).

Cormier, D. (2008) ‘Rhizomatic Education: Community as Curriculum’, Innovate: Journal of Online Education, 4(5). Available at: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/104239/ (Accessed: 20 June 2020).

Crouch, C. H. and Mazur, E. (2001). Peer Instruction: Ten years of experience and results. American Journal of Physics. American Association of Physics Teachers, 69(9), pp. 970–977. doi: 10.1119/1.1374249.

Ericsson, A. (2016). Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise. London: The Bodley Head.

Ericsson, K. A., Krampe, R. T. and Tesch-Romer, C. (1993). The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review, 100(3), pp. 363–406.

Fiorella, L. and Mayer, R. E. (2016). Eight Ways to Promote Generative Learning’. Educational Psychology Review, 28(4), pp. 717–741. doi: 10.1007/s10648-015-9348-9.

Gibbs, G. and Simpson, C. (2005). Conditions Under Which Assessment Supports Students’ Learning. Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, 1(1), pp. 3–31.

Hay, D., Kinchin, I. and Lygo‐Baker, S. (2008). Making learning visible: the role of concept mapping in higher education. Studies in Higher Education, 33(3), pp. 295–311. doi: 10.1080/03075070802049251.

Mackness, J., Bell, F. and Funes, M. (2016). The rhizome: A problematic metaphor for teaching and learning in a MOOC, Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 32(1). doi: 10.14742/ajet.2486.

Mitra, S. and Dangwal, R. (2010). Limits to self-organising systems of learning—the Kalikuppam experiment. British Journal of Educational Technology, 41(5), pp. 672–688. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2010.01077.x.

Nokes-Malach, T. J., Richey, J. E. and Gadgil, S. (2015). When Is It Better to Learn Together? Insights from Research on Collaborative Learning. Educational Psychology Review, 27(4), pp. 645–656. doi: 10.1007/s10648-015-9312-8.

Patchan, M. M., Schunn, C. D. and Correnti, R. J. (2016). The nature of feedback: How peer feedback features affect students’ implementation rate and quality of revisions’. Journal of Educational Psychology. 108(8), pp. 1098–1120. doi: 10.1037/edu0000103.

Redmond, P. et al. (2018). An Online Engagement Framework for Higher Education. Online Learning, 22(1). doi: 10.24059/olj.v22i1.1175.

Siemens, G. and Conole, G. (2011). Connectivism: Design and delivery of social networked learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(3).

Tanis, C. J. (2020). The seven principles of online learning: Feedback from faculty and alumni on its importance for teaching and learning. Research in Learning Technology, 28. doi: 10.25304/rlt.v28.2319.

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

CMALT & Blended Learning Essentials Update

ALT News - 13/07/20

The CMALT Accreditation Framework provides pathways to peer-assessed accreditation for Learning Technology professionals in the UK and internationally. Recently, the CMALT and Blended Learning Essentials framework mapping has been updated. 

 

Categories: ALT, News

A flipped classroom model for inquiry-based learning in primary education context

RLT Journal - 09/07/20

A multi-case study will be presented in this publication which aimed to address an important gap in the current literature concerning the effective implementation of a flipped classroom (FC) model in a particular educational setting. There has been limited research focusing on utilising a FC model within the primary education context despite its potential benefits for young students, such as facilitating student-centred inquiry-based learning (IBL) and developing their higher order cognitive skills. This multi-case study has been drawn from authors’ collaborative action research project with other teacher participants, during which the authors explored the effective ways in which a FC model can be utilised to promote students’ IBL in primary school settings. The authors first develop an inquiry-based flipped classroom (IB-FC) model and applied the model into five primary schools in Cyprus for a school year (2017–2018). A total number of five teachers, 77 students and 48 of their parents were invited to participate in the project. A large volume of qualitative data was collected mainly through classroom observations and interviews. Data analysis of teachers’, students’ and parents’ experiences and perceptions led to the development of seven universal design principles. These principles can be used to support primary school teachers’ attempts to design effective instructions using the IB-FC model.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Learning Technologist of the Year Awards 2020 - entries open until 2 September

ALT News - 01/07/20

The ALT Learning Technologist of the Year Awards celebrate and reward excellent research and practice and outstanding achievement in Learning Technology. Established in 2007, the Awards have established a benchmark for outstanding achievement in Learning Technology on a national scale and attract competitive entries from the UK and internationally. All entries are reviewed by an independent judging panel chaired by the President of ALT. 

Categories: ALT, News

Factors influencing teachers’ utilisation of ICT: the role of in-service training courses and access

RLT Journal - 26/06/20

The main purpose of this study is to investigate the influencing factors of ICT integration at secondary schools of Isfahan province. In order to obtain a realistic view of the factors especially among those teachers who attended ICT training courses, a total sample of 180 secondary school teachers were recruited randomly and a survey was completed. A researcher-approved questionnaire was developed to measure participants’ access rate to ICT resources, ICT skills and their ICT integration practices. The content validity method was used for estimating the validity of the questionnaire and Cronbach’s alpha coefficient was calculated to verify its reliability. The results were analysed using descriptive and inferential statistics methods. Based on the results, teachers have adequate access to hardware at home and school. However, the access rate to software is not of a desirable level. In spite of attending ICT training courses, secondary teachers were not proficient in using ICT tools and their technology usage in education, research and communication domains is less than the desired level. Results indicate that though there is a tendency to get computers and use the Internet, still using them in different areas remains an unsolved problem. The findings address implications for teacher educators and professional development programme providers.

Categories: ALT, Publication

Are we finally seeing a revolution in document creation

#ALTC Blog - 26/06/20

Dominik Lukes
Digital Learning Technologist (Saïd Business School
University of Oxford)

From Wave to Notion

It has been over a decade since Google Wave made its last splash. So much promise and excitement that ultimately didn’t go anywhere.

But now the promise is being fulfilled by new products that not only build on what Google Wave was offering but take this even further. There are many players in this space but the ones that stand out to me are:

What they do is create fully integrated and dynamic documents that combine the features of a word processor, database, spreadsheet and project management system. They each approach it from a different perspective but what they share is ease of use and focus away from standalone documents or notes.

The power of new documents

Anybody who’s ever tried to create an Access database or even embed an Excel spreadsheet in a Word document would be amazed by the power of these tools and the way in which they made it incredibly usable.

In fact, anyone who is using Excel to keep track of records, should immediately have a look at one of these tools. But they even threaten established players like Evernote or Onenote for note taking, or project management tools like Trello or Asana.

Notion: From note taking to project management

Notion is the tool that a lot of productivity experts are buzzing about. The company was founded in 2016 and the 2.0 release that put it on the map happened in 2018. It is really a project management and collaboration tool but its primary purpose is to take over from the likes of Evernote as the natural place to keep notes on one’s life. Next to Notion, Evernote looks old and tired (although it looks old and tired even on its own).

For somebody who is looking to organise their own life and is struggling to keep it all together between their notetaking app, documents and spreadsheets, Notion is the obvious choice. Notion is now firmly a part of the mix of my productivity apps. I love the keyboard shortcuts and the fact that no matter whether I start with a page or a table, I can always connect the two.

There are features that are still missing (see below) but their feature releases are frantic and their roadmap is exciting. It also helps that students and educators (ie anybody with an .edu or .ac. email address) can get access to Notion’s personal plan for free.

A passionate community of Notion users means that a lot of resources (free and paid) are available to support new users. This is made easier by a great feature by which Notion lets you create public pages that can be duplicated and reused as templates. This makes getting started much easier. Here are some of the resources I found most useful to help me get started.

The writer’s ultimate guide to Notion

The Most Powerful Productivity App I Use – Notion

Marie Poulin

Coda.io: Documents and spreadsheets reima

Coda.io is the freshest of the three, with their first release in 2019. I first came across Coda when I was looking for a better way to share dynamic spreadsheets that were essentially databases. Coda was very good at this. It can integrate tables into documents, view them as charts or boards.

The one standout feature for me is the focus on automation and many rules that can be set up. These allow for things like monitoring documents and sending automatic reminders. It also integrates with an external workflow automation systems like Zapier, although still not IFTTT.

Coda’s spreadsheet origins also show in the number of the chart views available for tables. This is very high on my list of feature request for Notion.

As all these three platforms, Coda is promoting the project management and collaboration aspects but it is a very powerful tool for individuals. However, teams may be attracted to their laudable unique pricing structure. Instead of paying the same fee for all team members, only Doc Makers are counted. This means that a team with a number of lightweight contributors can sign up for Coda and not worry about skyrocketing costs. I wish more services would adopt a similarly tiered approach.

Coda.io is the freshest of the three, with their first release in 2019. I first came across Coda when I was looking for a better way to share dynamic spreadsheets that were essentially databases. Coda was very good at this. It can integrate tables into documents, view them as charts or boards.

The one standout feature for me is the focus on automation and many rules that can be set up. These allow for things like monitoring documents and sending automatic reminders. It also integrates with an external workflow automation systems like Zapier, although still not IFTTT.

Coda’s spreadsheet origins also show in the number of the chart views available for tables. This is very high on my list of feature request for Notion.

As all these three platforms, Coda is promoting the project management and collaboration aspects but it is a very powerful tool for individuals. However, teams may be attracted to their laudable unique pricing structure. Instead of paying the same fee for all team members, only Doc Makers are counted. This means that a team with a number of lightweight contributors can sign up for Coda and not worry about skyrocketing costs. I wish more services would adopt a similarly tiered approach.

Airtable: The future of databases

Databases are hard. But walk into any office and you will see hundreds of databases masquerading as spreadsheets. This is bad in any way imaginable. Building an Access database is the next logical step but fraught with dangers. Airtable is essentially an online database that is as easy to use as Excel but has most of the features one would expect from a full featured database. Most importantly version control and data integrity.

Compared with the other two, its focus is clearly on tables although the content inside them is much richer. The one feature I wish I could find in Notion or in Coda is a form view for any table that makes it easy to enter and/or collect information.

Airtable has only been around since 2012 but next to Coda and Notion, it is the venerable elder. You can see many of its design choices replicated in how the other two solve problems. But unless databases are your primary focus, you can probably get more out of Notion or Coda and get the benefits undirectly.

Honorable mentions Onenote

Onenote has many of the same strong editing features and even some I’d like to see in Notion or Coda. For instance, it’s very easy to create a table simply with a Tab. It is also possible to create a checklist or a tag anywhere on a page and search that globally. What is missing is better list management, searchable database like structures and better page interlinking. Also, it’s lack of sharing individual pages all these years later is simply unforgivable. As mentioned above, Onenote’s mobile app is absolutely top at taking photo notes of whiteboards and in presentations thanks to its integration with Microsoft Lens technology.

Dropbox Paper

Dropbox Paper has been innovating in this space for a while, as well. It has great inline tables and lets you create a lot of embeds while collaborating with others. But ultimately, you end up with a collection of standalone documents which is where Notion or Coda beat it handily.

Google Docs

Google Docs is the pioneer and still the undisputed master of live collaboration (although Microsoft Office is catching up). It’s other strength is the ability to link to live information on the web. My favourite feature I still turn to for documents with lot of links is the live web search in the insert URL dialog. If you ever need to insert a lot of link into a blog post, it’s worth going via Google Docs just for that.

Another innovation Docs introduced was Ctrl-/, a shortcut that let me search for commands instead of trawling through menus. This is now also in Office apps hiding under the Alt-Q shortcut.

Docs pioneered the document sharing we now take for granted. But like Paper, you end up with a lot of standalone documents. Also, Docs is falling behind Word in accessibility (no built in text to speech or distraction free mode) although Google’s built in Voice Typing is a definite winner.

Fluid Framework

Microsoft Fluid Framework Preview shows that even the Office giant is aware of these trends and is experimenting in this direction. Fluid looks very much much like a clone of Dropbox Paper but it has some nice features such as inline mentions of collaborators and preset task list tables. It is clearly inspired by the other players in this space but it is still a bit too bare bones to be a true competitor.

Bear

Any list on new documents has to mention Bear which offers a uniquely strong combination of outlining, notetaking and document drafting. Its huge standout feature is inline tagging anywhere in a document which makes for an incredibly powerful tool for organising one’s notes and drafts. It is the ideal combination of a distraction-free editor and note organiser. But before you get too excited (as I did), it lives entirely in the Apple universe. Bear only has Mac and iOS apps and uses iCloud to sync between them which pretty much rules out a future Windows version. The web-based version has been in development for years now with no estimated release date.

Conclusion and future prospects

When Microsoft introduced a way to embed Excel sheets and other objects inside Word documents back in 1990, it was almost unusable. It is still barely usable now but at least it won’t lock up your computer. Twenty years later, Google Wave briefly tried to take this to the next level. But now we’re seeing the potential of these early innovation grow into something truly special.

Like many others, I’m switching to Notion. Unfortunately, I can’t completely replace all the other tools I’m using. But we always live in a hybrid world. To completely replace the likes of Onenote or Google Keep in my life, I’d like a mobile app that supports drawing and makes it a bit more seamless to take photo notes. A mobile app with better notification management, would also make it an easier decision to completely ditch TickTick (which I only recently moved to from Todoist). Here’s my Notion wishlist for anybody to contribute to.

Notion is also still working on an API that would allow me to connect it with my other apps via IFTTT or Flow to bridge some of the gaps (even though I’m happy with the import options).

But even if I still need other tools for certain tasks, what Notion (and the others) have to offer is compelling enough that I don’t want to stay away.

Links

Notion wishlist

Categories: #ALTC Blog, ALT

Online Summer Summit 2020 - Programme Announcement

ALT News - 25/06/20
Subheading: 

The full programme for the 2020 Online Summer Summit is now available!  Featuring a wide variety of sessions covering all aspects of learning technology, it is sure to provide an inspiring and engaging two days. There is also a social programme that you can connect with before, during and after the Summit.

Categories: ALT, News

Teresa MacKinnon awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Association for Learning Technology

ALT Media Release - 24/06/20

ALT awards Honorary Life Membership to individuals nominated by Members who have made an outstanding and sustained contribution to the advancement of ALT’s aims for the development of learning technology in a regional, national or international context through research, practice, policy-development, leadership, or a combination of these.

Featured: 0Topic: 
Categories: ALT, Media Release

Copyright, Fair Dealing and Online Teaching at a Time of Crisis

ALT Events - 22/06/20

Weekly online meeting with Jane Secker and Chris Morrision for those interested in talking about copyright challenges at the current time and how we can address them. Jane and Chris have published a summary page full of resources, which includes links to content from previous sessions. No registration is required to join this event which will be hosted in Blackboard Ultra. Follow this link to join the session at the appropriate time.

The webinar will run in Blackboard Collaborate Ultra. If you have not used Collaborate Ultra before, it may be helpful to consult our webinar FAQs

Categories: ALT, Events

Online Summer Summit 2020 - Scholarship Places

ALT News - 18/06/20

We are delighted to announce that a small number of scholarship places are available for the Online Summer Summit this year, thanks to our first Scholarship Sponsor, Vevox

Categories: ALT, News

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