Classroom of the future

I attended Social media Week‘s classroom of the future talk.  See my notes from the higher ed version or my notes on the K-12 version in this post.

Tools in physical classroom

  • Twitter like tool (since twitter blocked at some scools) – back channel during class and after class
  • Social media study groups
  • Blog about what learning so understand it more
  • Text – questions, announcements, ask someone outside school like parent to get outside perspectives. Let cell phones enhance learning and not be a distraction. There is a program that strips out phone number and saves history

Cool: showed live demo of interactive quiz to see comprehension

Be an early tester but a late adopter of technology. It needs to fit your work/life flow. “twitter is for old people”. When did that happen?

Computer acceptable use policy better than filtering because teaches responsibility. [hmm. Maps to coporate america]

Schools behind companies in terms of tech. And companies behind what you do at hone. Income divide. Not everyone has a cell phone. And the district doesn’t have ebough money to lend laptops. Same for connectivity. Not everything is on broadband. Schools making money advertising on billboards and lockers to pay for things like this.

When not everyone, has a phone, pair/triple up. she also can get laptops. [what happens when everyone is poor?]. In India, very poor people have a phone because it is a life changer. Don’t need a smartphone. Can learn by SMS.

We’ve been hearing about the disuption of the textbook market for years. Think will be delivered on tablets and the real question is how to get people to pay for them. Need to take advantage of tech and not just make paper look nicer. A textbook limits you to one point of view [or collates info]. Also allows making it better suited for ESL or kids reading below grade level. The White House announced last week that they will be pushing a guide/advice for digital textbooks.


Future of higher ed. Will colleges survive

I attended Social media Week‘s future of higher ed talk.  See my notes on the K-12 version or my notes on the higher ed version in this post.

  • Traditional schools didn’t start online classes because didn’t think could do it as well. Included a shot at University of Phoenix. Social media is the first time the tools are there to support it. [I got my masters at Regis University. I think they did well because they had started with correspondence classes and saw how to enhance that model online.]
  • Anything you learned in college you could have learned from a textbook. It is higher ed done right that makes the impact. Goal was to recreate campus online. Only let in students who could get in on campus and add interactions/networking with students. However, it is also about socialization and a safe environment to learn how to interact with the world. More undergrad interest in a semester online than an entire undergrad degree online.
  • Expects more grad school online because more mature students, less expensive, fits life better. [regis had a work experience requirement to “screen” for maturity].
  • Education outstrips inflation by two to three percent a year because salaries go up and we add technology. Since this compounds, it is approaching infeasible. [it isn’t now?]. Can be less expensive by moving lecture online/interactive/self quiz. The classroom is for discussion. Or the online classroom. [regis did this well]
  • Interesting conflict: onkine students can learn at different pace but need to engage/discuss together.
  • Small programs don’t scale. Need a lot of students to recover investment for good course/program. To build scale, you need funding. At sone point, you can’t add more strong programs.
  • It is much harder to teach online. You have to prepare much more.

trying out toodledo

I have too many things going on my free time that I’m outgrowing my current “task management system” (a whiteboard and pieces of paper.)  A few years ago, I started using a portable calendar to keep track of dates/times which helped and moved a few to dos to it.  But that doesn’t even begin to cover it so I’m left with pieces of paper.  I’m spatial with my to do list so I was resisting an electronic list.  Now that it isn’t working anymore, it is time to switch.

A year ago, I tried the GTD plugin for gmail.  I used it to clean out my inbox, but didn’t stick with it.  I think it’s because I don’t manage all my tasks in email.  And I don’t want to.  Now I’m up to the next attempt which is to separate my e-mail and todo list.  Not sure if I want to actually follow GTD yet.  After some preliminary research, it looks like I needed to choose between Omnifocus and Toodledo.  Technoramble had the best comparison of the two.

Criteria I thought were most important to me

  • Be able to enter tasks on subway/train – sounds like both are ok with it.  Even though Toodledo has a web interface, it does have an iPad app.  And it lets you e-mail new tasks to a separate email to be automatically entered.  And Omnifocus clearly works without internet access.
  • Repeating tasks – both have
  • Ability to sort/filter/use contexts – both have
  • iPad app – both have

On my core criteria either is fine.  I would be using it on all Mac products so that isn’t a downside.  Although a suppose the web interface of Toodledo is a nice to have.

Trying Toodledo

I decided to try toodledo first.   The free version wasn’t much more than my paper list.  No subtasks/minimal organization.  There is a 7 day trial of the pro version so I tried that.  (I bought it the next day.)  In pro, subtasks are nice and intuitive.

What I liked

  • Signing up and entering a task was easy.  As was entering a repeating task.
  • The sorting/scheduling/stats are nice.
What wasn’t obvious to me
  • It wasn’t immediately apparent how to edit a task (besides the task name) or add notes to a task (unless it started with notes).     It assumes a certain screen resolution and requires horizontal scrolling to see things like how to add a note, repeating entry, priority, etc.  After scrolling, I do see how to edit everything.

Note that on the web interface, there are two sets of screenshots online. This one which looks easier to use and this one which is what I see

The iPhone/iPad app

The iPhone app is $3 (no free trial.)  I did pay the $3 but I had some doubts as to whether I was going to like it since I wasn’t crazy about the web interface.  Turns out I like the iPad interface a lot better than the web interface!  You can click a task to show details which is more intuitive to me.  Tasks feel linked better.  Just the overall feel is nicer.

The only thing that wasn’t intuitive to me was that contexts aren’t displayed by default. To start showing them, you go to settings > tasks > fields and defaults.  Then you drag context up to the top of the used fields area.


$3 to experiment, $15 a year to keep.  Nice!

How it did on my criteria

  • Be able to enter tasks on subway/train – excellent.  While I have the iPad app set up to sync on opening/closing, it gives up quickly when there is no internet without draining battery.  I do have to remember to sync when I am not on the subway if I want to see the to dos in a browser.  This hasn’t proven to be a big problem though as I use the iPad app for reviewing tasks more and the web app for adding tasks if I am already on the computer.
  • Repeating tasks – good – easy to configure and specify dates.  The only thing I’d like is the “on date” field to allow multiple dates.  I can specify a task to only show up on Saturdays but not the whole weekend.  If I choose a regular due date, it starts showing up during the week.  If I choose “after” a date, I lose the benefit of a due date.
  • Ability to sort/filter/use contexts – excellent on the iPad app.  I haven’t used this in the web app enough to comment.
  • iPad app – excellent
Four other features
  1. I configured the ability for toodledo to receive tasks by email.  This is a great feature as I often e-mail myself from work something to gmail that is really a todo.  It is great to reserve email for email rather than a task management system.  The email is a “secret” email which is not rememberable.  I’ve added it to my contact list.
  2. I also set up the gmail plugin.  I don’t find it easy to use and it is the same # clicks to get to the tasks as just going to the website in another browser tab.  I tried in the “old gmail look” and it is less clicks there.  Could be this will get better.
  3. I like the importance score which is a combination of due date and priority.
  4. I like the scheduler where you provide the length of time you have, folder and context.  Toodledo suggests what to do.  That’s great for when you know you should do something but can’t think of what it should be.