Visual planning

Habitica

Image: Habitica

There are so many visual planning apps and so much software these days for individual and collaborative use. Trello is one of the reliable, well known ones which also comes as an app from the Microsoft store for Windows 10. Techworld has a list of recommendations for worthwhile project planning tools to consider. It is  worth reading the comments too as they give other ideas about good visual planning tools people are using.
RealTimeBoard has a suite of tools for different purposes in terms of visual planning and they all have a free version as well as premium versions. My own favourite is MeisterTask which is good in that it breaks down the tasks for you so that you focus on the individual components and then there is room for collaboration if desired. Habitica adds a questing and gaming layer to increase motivation and achievement if that is what you like. All these planning tools allow you to see what you are doing and what you are achieving. You get sound visual feedback on progress and success so you don’t overlook the fact you have been working hard towards goals. You can see what has been done and what needs to be done very easily. That keeps you positive and motivated.

Make a vision board

Vision boards are actually about accountability and responsibility. When you create a vision board you are taking responsibility for who you are and what you represent and then you make yourself accountable for that because you are getting visual feedback about yourself and your ideas. Vision boards are a good way to look at your visual image and that is important in the digital world. You have to come to some kind of understanding of how you are representing yourself online and what that might mean and the impact that might have. Vision boards allow you to take control of visual imagery and , in particular, images which represent you . To do a now and future self is not such a bad idea. You can look at how you want to project yourself, how you want to be, what you want to be important. We relate very quickly to images and so do others. A vision board can sum us up in one view. That might be important in the digital world. How do I want others to view me? Why? Brand is built on images and action. You have to know what that entails and how to do it. I had a home group where we all made vision boards at the beginning of the year. We pinned them at the back of the class so we saw them every morning when we came in. The vision boards never failed to make an impact or a statement. Other students who came into the class room could see the ideas and inspiration. It had a positive snowball effect every day. The students who made them had a strong sense of self that year and were motivated to achieve what was there on the wall or to be clear why they didn’t want that in their life and thinking any more. The vision boards brought about a clarity of vision and inspiration and then a framework which acted as a personal guide and ideas generator for others. For me as a teacher it meant I became aware of things about my students I wouldn’t have known just by having home group. I could see their art skills, their ideas, their dreams and the fun . The choices you make to create a vision board is part of the cognitive process and along the way you learn a lot about technology if you do a digital one. It’s your vision board, you want it to be right.

Best Smart Phone apps 2017

Because we all need new smart phone apps! We do. Developers are highly productive and becoming more creative and so it pays to check from time to time to see if there are apps which will improve and enhance your life and productivity. Phones are becoming more the must have device because they can now control and manage so much as well as serve their function as a communications device. Both android and iPhone are offering some really good new apps this year. PCMag has 100 new apps for android phones you can have a look through . popularmechanics has 23 iPhone apps for your consideration and then the video offers some more. Have fun!

Virtual schools

There has been some talk about increasing online options for students. It needs to stay like that until clear and successful models have been established for online learning. There are then the issues around online learning in virtual schools like isolation, social engineering, social justice, care giving, duty of care, cyber and real life safety. It is going to come and it is going to happen but we are the ones who need to drive this because we want technology to work for us not for us to be entrapped and enslaved to technology. Of course it’s cheaper to run online schools. It saves about half the costs. That would make it an attractive option for some but we need to think about the other costs. It would suit some students well, you just know it. It would suit some teachers better. There is no longer a one size fits all so there is no reason to ignore the benefits of webinars, online conferencing and communication tools which we now have. It needs to be thoroughly thought out and planned and then carefully trialled.

Good online tools for learning provide quality content, report on progress, create local and global activities, allow work to be customised and set and then report on participation. They allow student and staff input , participation and feed back. They have a proven track record. Students can ignore all of that, though, and so someone needs to be monitoring participation and progress. SBS looked at Aurora Online school and its progress earlier this year. That is a school which runs synchronous online lessons. Victoria is running online schools in languages with some success. The Victorian virtual schools network is also running other online subjects via video conferencing tools. This keeps the people aspect of learning going. Babble has a parent point of view on virtual schools which is worth the read. Geoff Masters has written an excellent piece about the challenges for Australian schools and that looks at flexible learning arrangements. There has also been some useful research into the differences between online and traditional learning  by Joseph Cavanaugh and Stephen J Jacquemin. Kevin Gumienny  has looked  at what you really need to run successful online courses and has isolated the issues well. Not that you could ever quantify or objectify the lifelong impact of a teacher who has written on your life.

Online learning has to be targeted, effective and able to achieve its goal. It has to involve the learner and for that to happen it has to meet the needs of the learner . Participation both cerebrally and emotionally is important. A learner needs to have input and help. Online learning tools need to consult the learner about how to progress and improve the delivery. That two way conversation again – create content, share, gain feedback, improve.

Zen Colouring book

Zen colouringThe Jasmine Illustrator does not have a lot of views on her video but I like her approach. She is genuinely and naturally articulating her views about art and digital art, in particular , and has drawn some thoughtful comments because of her willingness to be open and honest. There has been quite a discussion about whether digital art is real or proper art. What about digital colouring? Does it have the same benefits as paper and pencil colouring? The benefits of colouring can be found on the net. Some of the main points are made on color-meanings which discusses the therapeutic benefits of coloring for adults. Lynda.com has a video interview with John Derry about the advantages of painting digitally. The Microsoft store has the Zen: colouring book for adults for free for Windows 10. You can purchase more images but there are plenty there to start with. I can use the really nice interface with a mouse. I think it would be easier with a graphics tablet or on a Windows touch screen. There are other versions of digital colouring books online if you are not using Windows 10. It’s handy to have something like this as a brain break or as something which will just let you sooth your thinking. The benefits you will find for yourself.

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