Tag Archives: Software

April 17, 2010, 6:15 am

Active learning is essential, not optional, for STEM students

This article (1.2 MB, PDF)  by three computer science professors at Miami University (Ohio) is an excellent overview of the concept of the inverted classroom and why it could be the future of all classrooms given the techno-centric nature of Millenials. (I will not say “digital natives”.) The article focuses on using inverted classroom models in software engineering courses. This quote seemed particularly important:

Software engineering is, at its essence, an applied discipline that involves interaction with customers, collaboration with globally distributed developers, and hands-on production of software artifacts. The education of future software engineers is, by necessity, an endeavor that requires students to be active learners. That is, students must gain experience, not in isolation, but in the presence of other learners and under the mentorship of instructors and practitioners. …

February 6, 2008, 3:11 pm

Bento and GTD?

This blog has gotten a lot of search engine hits lately from queries of the form “Bento GTD”. I guess that’s because I wrote about Bento once and I have written a lot about GTD. And while I was demo-ing Bento, once or twice it crossed my mind that an intrepid person could possibly hack it into a GTD platform. But it appears like there is some kind of movement out there for using Bento for GTD. (Or maybe just one person who can’t stop hitting the “Submit” button on his search engine.) Would one of you folks who are searching along these lines mind filling us in on this, in the comments?

I found Bento to be merely OK — more pretty than useful, and I was able to cobble together what I really needed (a searchable, rich-text repository of information on my students) using VoodooPad Lite, which is free. I didn’t think Bento was worth the $79$49 price tag. But I’m cheap, so that’s not…

February 5, 2008, 10:18 am

Ed tech for commuter students

The ICTCM is coming up fast, and I’ll be there, mostly to give a talk on using wikis in upper-level math courses (like this one from my topics course in Cryptology) and take a minicourse on Camtasia. But I’ll also be checking out the latest and greatest (?) ideas and products in educational technology. One general category I am quite interested in is making all this technology that we use — especially computer algebra systems — portable and accessible from all different locations, in particular so that commuter students aren’t left out of the loop.

The fact that commuter students are left out is a growing concern for me, at least. We have Derive and Maple installed on my campus, but it’s a network install — and you have to be on campus to use it. Some campuses have a network installation that works from off campus, but we (and other places like us) also have a network that cannot be …

January 8, 2008, 7:58 pm

Software! Software! Get your fresh software!

Lots of activity on the software front lately.

OmniFocus, the GTD app which I wrote about here, was released in version 1.0 today. I’ve been very satisfied with OmniFocus since settling on it for my GTD needs, especially since I managed to combine discounts to get it for under $20. I don’t know how many of those discounts are still available, but definitely the educational pricing is still there (though you have to look around for it at the Omni web site). Bento, called the “missing database from iWork”, was released out of beta today as well. I’ve been demoing Bento for the last few days as a tracking system for students, and it’s very nice and visual. But I found the$49 price tag to be a little pricey, especially when the entire iWork ’08 suite is $79. Sage, an open-source computer algebra system comparable to Matlab, has been gathering lots of buzz. With all my issues with Maple 1… December 17, 2007, 12:33 pm Possible fix for Maple 10 and Leopard After getting some pretty lame advice from Maplesoft before, I emailed their tech support again regarding the Maple 10 vs. Leopard issue. (Namely, that Maple 10 dies a quick death every time I try to open it in Leopard.) This time, I got back some advice that actually seems to work. Here’s the text of the response email: Mac OS 10.5 (Leopard) is not currently supported by Maple. There are plans on adding support for this OS to a future version of Maple, but this does not include Maple 10 or Maple 11. Users with Maple 10 and Leopard may find they need to edit the info.plist file which is part of the Maple 10.app package. In order to do this ctrl+click on the “Maple 10.app” and select “Show Package Contents”. Then open the “Contents” folder. Open the info.plist file with a text editor and search for “1.4+” and change this to “1.4*”. Save this file and try to start Maple 10. Note you may… November 28, 2007, 5:47 pm Sticking with OmniFocus As I’ve blogged recently (read the comments to that post, too), I’ve been trying to decide once and for all which computer-based system I was going to use for my GTD setup. In the end, after experimenting with Yojimbo and spending all day yesterday in a fling with iGTD, I decided to go with the forthcoming official release of OmniFocus for my GTD system. First of all, I’ve gotten very familiar with OmniFocus. I was one of the very first alpha-testers (that’s ALPHA, kids!) of the software when the “Sneaky Peek” versions were being made available back in the summer. I’m even a former Kinkless kGTD user, and a current OmniOutliner Pro and OmniGraffle user, so I’m a big fan of OmniGroup’s work and quite comfortable with their design philosophy. Secondly, the cost factor turns out to be not nearly so much of an issue as I thought. The final “retail” price of OmniFocus is going to be$80,…

November 28, 2007, 2:06 pm

Where has this software been all my life?

I stumbled upon an amazing find a few minutes ago: an OS X application called Graph Sketcher. It is developed and maintained by MIT, and very simply, Graph Sketcher lets you hand-draw graphs on a set of coordinate axes and then manipulate them by changing color and thickness, shading in areas underneath, and so on. You can add text annotations to the graphs and (apparently, haven’t tried this yet) graph spreadsheet data and add best-fit lines.

Why this software blows my mind should be clear to anybody who’s ever had to make up a handout, test, or lab for calculus or precalculus. In doing those course preps, you are constantly needing to make up graphs that have a certain look — inflection points in a specified place, strange asymptotic behavior, jump discontinuities, even just basic piecewise functions. You know how the graph ought to look, but to get the graph, you had to come up…

November 17, 2007, 2:18 pm

Yojimbo and Getting Things Done

So obviously I haven’t posted in almost a week, because week 10 of the semester is traditionally the start of Crunch Time, where the ratio of (work load)/(student and faculty preparation) is at its highest point. Later in the semester the workload is actually heavier, but everybody is ready for it so the ratio is lower. Right now, not so much on the preparation side, and everybody is stressed out and working like dogs.

And so there’s no better time to talk about GTD, because in situations like this you really need a system that allows you to get your work done without having dwell on it so much. And you especially need that “trusted system” that GTD champions, so that the scatterbrained-ness that always comes with high load/prep ratio is mitigated by not having all that “stuff” in your mind. If you need a backgrounder on GTD, read this before going on.

The last time I blogged about GTD…

• The Chronicle of Higher Education
• 1255 Twenty-Third St., N.W.
• Washington, D.C. 20037