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My Favorite Three Research Related Apps

By in Mobile, Musings on Technology, Tools, Uncategorized on .

As a PhD candidate and an Educational Technologist for ITaP, I rely on technology to keep myself organized at work, to collect research materials for my dissertation, and to keep track of things I find for my personal life. Here are three of my favorite apps and why I found them to be so helpful.

1)  Evernote icon  Evernote: This free data management system assists in keeping track of three areas of my life: work, school, and home. Each area has its own folder within Evernote. A paid account gives you a defined large storage space. The free version recharges your account monthly with storage space.

Evernote is:

*Accessible on the platforms and devices I use, Mac/PC, and Android.

*Backed up on the cloud.

This application has:

* Tagging for organization

*The Web Clipper extension in Chrome, which allows you to turn a web page into a note.

*The ability to convert an email message into a note in Evernote.

*The ability to record and save audio in a note.

Additional Notes

I use the tags to keep myself organized while writing my dissertation. If I find a resource I need to remember when writing Chapter 2, I can tag it as such. I can also add a “Chapter 1” tag as well so I remember to mention it in my background. I can also give it a topic or author tag so when I want all resources related to any topic or person, with one click, I have them.

I have a notebook for work. I created tags for all projects, meetings, notes, tools, and events I need to follow. I can find them and add to them wherever I am, even if all I have is my phone and the Evernote app.

I have another notebook in Evernote for personal resources such as recipes and bookmarks. Entering recipes makes them accessible anywhere I am near technology. When I find a resource my daughter might enjoy, I tag it with her name.

Anything that can use sorting or quick referencing anywhere is a great fit for Evernote. A getting started guide is here: https://evernote.com/getting_started/


Example of Evernote

2) Mendeley_Logo_Vertical  Mendeley: I have found immense success in using Mendeley as a tool to not only collect research related resources but to search files of the scholars who contribute to the Mendeley collection.

Mendeley allows you to:

*Connect to scholars with similar research interests.

*Join groups based on your research interests.

*Connect with colleagues and share resources.

*Have your journal collection accessible and backed-up on the cloud.

*Connect with your materials using the app.

*Organize your articles with tags.

*Monitor a folder on your desktop to import any journal you save right into the tool.

*Connect directly to Word with an embed feature.

Additional Notes

I have found I need to review what I import to Mendeley because it does not always collect the citation information accurately. Once I have verified for accuracy, the citation can be copied to your clipboard and imported into a document. Mendeley also is friendly to the “drag and dropped” file. You can drop files into the tool and drag citations out of the original Mendeley file.

Mendeley is a free web-based tool. The app is also free but you need to use the web-based tool to connect with scholars and interact with peers. Your files update every time you open the application.

Mendeley Online Example

Mendeley Online Example


3) easybib_twitterlogo EasyBib online is a fee-based tool when used on the web but the app for Android and iPad is free. I do not use the web-based part of this tool. The app is helpful when I find a resource such as a physical book I would like to remember later. Opening the app immediately opens your phone or tablets camera, prompting you to take a picture of the books bar code. It then looks up several possible matches, allowing you to select the correct choice. You can also look up books according to title. The application saves a list of all things you looked up on just that device, making it an accurate but temporary repository for books you want to find again. This one feature is all the free application does but it has proven to be extremely useful, quick, and easy to use, on several occasions. Since there is no cloud storage of your information, I suggest utilizing the citation as soon as possible.

EasyBib app example

EasyBib app example

If you know of additional apps useful for the busy graduate student/mom/Ed Tech at Purdue, please share them in the comments section.

Using Mobile Device Logic and Tracking in Qualtrics Surveys

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By in Distance Education, Mobile, Software, Tools, Training, Uncategorized on .

Qualtrics online survey software, provided to faculty, staff and students at Purdue, is providing more options for mobile device display choices and tracking. We often want to know these days whether someone is accessing our survey from a mobile device or perhaps ask questions that are specific to a particular device being used to complete the survey.  Qualtrics allows you do both of these actions.

If you have a survey that contains questions pertaining to specific access, either desktop or mobile; use Display Logic for those questions and select Device Type conditions.

How ? image

  • Select the question that you want to add a display condition to and use the drop-down box to select Display Logic
Display Logic Choice on a Question

Display Logic Choice on a Question

  • In the Display Logic dialog box, select the first condition to be Device Type.
  • Select your Device Type from the drop-down choices.
Device Type condition box

Device Type condition box

  • The logic confirmation box will appear on the top of the question with your selections.
Display Logic Confirmation box

Display Logic Confirmation box

  • This logic for Device Type display may be used in the Survey Flow structure as well.

Additionally, you may want to track what type of device is being used to complete the your survey. Qualtrics allows this tracking by providing a hidden Meta Info question that you may create and insert anywhere in your survey. That question will provide data back to you regarding the browser and operating system used to complete the survey. Since the user never sees this question, you may insert it near the beginning of the survey.

The following fields are available for tracking/reporting as a table in your report or in the downloaded data set: Browser, Version, Operating System, Screen Resolution, JavaScript Support, and User Agent. (User Agent contains the data string for the question. If you forget to add the hidden Meta Info question before you launch your survey, you may add it later using an embedded data field to the Survey Flow area; which is called “UserAgent“.)

How ? image

  •  Add the Meta Info question, by selecting Create a New Item and then Meta Info Question
Meta Info Question Type Selection

Meta Info Question Type Selection

  •  The following image shows the question as it displays within your survey in Qualtrics.
Meta Info Question Box

Meta Info Question Box

Checking Your Qualtrics Survey Display on a Mobile Device

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By in Distance Education, Mobile, Software, Tools, Training, Uncategorized on .

Since mobile devices are often the access point for email, it’s logical to assume that someone might view your survey link on a mobile device. Checking to see if your questions will display properly is an easy thing to do.

First you should know that Qualtrics surveys are built to be “adaptive” to a device’s screen size and type. The devices that are recommended as compatible, include Android, iOS, and Windows Phone systems. Secondly, while all surveys are set up to be adaptive, be aware that some questions may not display well because they are too wide in their format. So, it’s useful to check your survey questions with the Mobile Compatibility Advisor in Qualtrics.

To use the Mobile Compatibility Advisor, from the edit mode on your survey:

How ? image

  • Click on Advanced Options and then select Mobile Compatibility Advisor. The Advanced Options tab is in the upper right of your screen.
Mobile_Compatibility_Advisor button

Advanced Options tab showing Mobile Compatibility Advisor

  • In the survey, small mobile icons appear to the left of any question box that might have a display concern. You can click on the icon and read the display issue message. An orange icon means the question might wrap or display poorly due to the length of the answer choices.  A red icon means that question format will not display consistently on mobile devices or may not display at all on a mobile device. In either case, you may adjust your question format and run the advisor again to recheck the survey before sending it out or posting the link.
Example of a Red Mobile Icon Image

Example of a Red Mobile Icon

Expanding our Focus: The iPad and Tablet User’s Group has been renamed the Mobile Technology User’s Group

By in Classroom, Events, Mobile, Professional Development, Tools on .

In a move hinted at during our last meeting of the Spring 2013 semester, the “iPad and Tablet User’s Group” has been renamed  the “Mobile Technology User’s Group”.  There are several different reasons for this name change I would like to explain.

First and foremost, let me state the goal for our group: we want to be a user-supported community that encourages exploration and implementation of pedagogically sound mobile-technology use at Purdue.  This represents an expansion of our previous goals that were similar in intent but related solely to tablet technology.  While we had some very interesting discussions about how to implement tablets in the classroom, we rarely discussed putting tablets in the hands of students.  Instead, tablet use was talked about in a very instructor-centric way: here’s how to annotate your presentation, here’s how to wirelessly share your screen, here’s how to remotely connect to your home desktop, etc.  These were extremely valid topics that merited exploration and discussion, but they tended to exclude student use.  This is an understandable side effect of tablet cost, as few classes or programs have the resources to offer tablets to students and students themselves have not widely purchased tablets for classroom use.

Looking at pedagogical priorities emphasized by educational programs on campus such as IMPACT, the emphasis of technology use must move beyond the hands of the instructor.  Quite a few students own tablets (one national 2013 survey suggests around 18% and Purdue’s bring-your-own-device numbers are similar), but those numbers are far surpassed by students who bring their smartphones to class (above 80% on both surveys).  Even with these numbers, smartphones are mostly ignored in classrooms on campus.  While ITaP has attempted to introduce different uses for phones in the past with the Studio Suite of products (HotSeat, Mixable, DoubleTake, etc), linking smartphone usage to add-on applications leads to its own set of limitations.  Instead of starting at the app level and determining usage, think about the standard features of almost any smartphone and imagine how features can be used to retrieve information, create content, and interact with the physical (and virtual) outside world.

Some instructors worry about the distraction of technology in the hands of their students.  While this can indeed be an issue, it is generally most apparent in traditional classrooms where students are asked to remain passive, listen to a lecture, and take notes.  Students who are not engaged with course content are the students spending their time checking reading/posting on Facebook or Instagram.  In an active classroom, with group members to collaborate with and tasks complete, that distracting device is suddenly put to use for an academic purpose.  Students who tune out the course to focus on their own issues can be quickly identified and refocused on the task by both instructors and peers.  In several semesters of interaction with a case-driven classroom of Purdue undergraduates (mostly freshmen), I was never once told by a student group of 3-5 that they were unable to perform tasks due to a lack of a tablet, phone, or laptop.

To go back to the original point, I don’t see changing our group from tablets to mobile technology as a major shift.  Instead, I see it as simply an expansion of our focus to include other types of technology that may already exist in Purdue classrooms.  This not only allows instructors opportunities to design more student-centered lessons with technology, but it does so without any responsibility for the professor or department to buy, support, maintain, and/or upgrade hardware and software.

I look forward to seeing what our users will dazzle us with this year, and if you have any interest in mobile technology integration in the higher education classroom, I hope you’ll join us.  Our first meeting of the academic year is Tuesday, September 24th from 1:30-2:30 in LWSN Hall room 1142.