So, after a term of study and using all of the technologies that I have been speaking about… it’s time for the moment of truth, time to ask the question: “did they make a difference at all?”
My grades say no. According to my grades, I’m almost exactly in the same place that I was a before I got involved in LEAP and experimenting with learning technologies. However, I don’t think my grades tell the whole story. One has to remember that in addition to the fact that my courses were a lot harder this term, I am also a Residence Advisor, which seriously reduced the amount of time I that have to study. In fact, my grades staying the same speaks volumes about the tools that I have been using. I have used different technologies and techniques to make my learning more efficient and organized… and me keeping my A average is proof of that.
As for what was the most useful… here is a small synopsis of some of the things that I felt helped me most:
Due to all of my involvement outside of school, I would never have been able to survive without this. Google Calendar is super easy to use and maintain. I can plan my days and weeks, look back at what I have done and coordinate with other people in my team. Google Calendar takes paper agendas, chews them up and spits them out… it really, really does.
I raved about quizlet earlier… but using quizlet for exams blew my mind. There were literally pages on some of my exams which I just flew through… all the time saying to myself “Thank God for quizlet!” Quizlet is easy to use, collaborative… and above all… just a little bit fun. Of course flashcards can’t be used for all subjects, but for those in which it can be used… you would be a fool to not use quizlet.
Microsoft Office OneNote:
This was indispensable this year. It does such a good job of keeping all your notes in one place and eliminating the need to print out pages and pages of course notes. It would make your life almost paperless if you have a tablet pc, but even if you don’t have one… there is no better way to organize you school life.
Those were the “super useful” technologies. I used others like electronic mindmapping, but I feel like those still need a lot of work before the concept can revolutionize the way one studies. As far as mind mapping goes… next year I plan to just put up massive sheets of poster paper around my room and map in my courses as they go. Electronic mindmaps just don’t have the dynamic interface yet that would make them revolutionary.
So there we go, experiment over for now. School is done so I have eight months to find a whole new set of tools to help me get through it all again in September. I am on coop now at the Office of Learning Technology, so even though I can’t really test them… I can still write about the great technologies that I will be finding/building in my work.