‘Stickies’ – A Prewriting Tool for Writers

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro

I’m visual when it comes to verbal. With topics that are complex and new, I automatically doodle before actually sitting down at my computer to write sentences and paragraphs. With paper and pencil, I map out the relationships between and among ideas or units of thought. I usually begin with a word that rises to the surface of my mind. I write it down on whatever’s handy. Backs of envelopes or scraps of paper are the usual. I add another word that I associate with the first and position it in a way that reveals their logical relationship.

I add small rectangles around the words and connect them with lines and arrows to suggest causal links, or I use circles that overlap or contain smaller circles to show various set relationships. I continue to construct the picture by dropping in idea words and sketching in their logical connection to the parts and the whole. Some words surface but don’t seem to fit anywhere at the moment so I plop them on the side. Later, I work them into the evolving picture or erase them if they don’t seem to fit in anywhere. As you can imagine, with paper and pencil this means a lot of erasing and redrawing.

Stickies3My 32-inch desktop screen with Stickies.

In grad school, I found a huge blackboard at a thrift shop a couple blocks away from my apartment. I lugged it back to my small room and screwed it into one of the walls. It filled nearly the entire wall. I was in doodle heaven. This became my thinking pad. I could quickly sketch idea maps with chalk and revise with an eraser as I went along. I could step back at any time to see the whole picture, and step in to futz with the parts. When it was complete, I sat down with my typewriter (no personal computers back then) and wrote the paper.   Continue reading

Passport – Blurring the Lines Between LMSs, Game Environments, and e-Portfolios

By Jessica Knott
Associate Editor
Editor, Twitter

Today, we hear a lot on education blogs and in conference presentations about gamification and badging, especially in regard to how they challenge the current LMS structure and effectiveness. Purdue University has developed Passport, an app that blurs the line between LMSs, game environments, and e-portfolios.

Passport offers learning activities to students as a series of challenges rather than your typical pedagogical narrative.

“Digital badges create a new common currency for learning that enables us to identify smaller units of learning,” says Kyle Bowen, director of informatics for Information Technology. “Passport connects badges with an LMS-like interaction. In a ‘choose your own adventure’ style, students can self-select how to complete each challenge. Once complete, students are awarded digital badges that they can share as part of an online and mobile portfolio.”

Development on Passport began in May of 2012, and it was released in August of the same year. According to Bowen, developers are partnering with faculty members using the product to “assess the impact related to their use in an effort to find effective practices to teaching with digital badges.”

Purdue’s Studio projects have served as a mechanism for their initial immersion in the mobile market, and they are currently experimenting with the Passport Profile iPad app as a portfolio that can be used to demonstrate student work in interviews, meetings, and job fairs. Bowen notes that Passport is primarily a Web platform, and the Passport Profile portfolio app is currently the only component that is unique to mobile devices. The same functionality is also available online.

Passport is currently in a limited beta, and interested parties are invited to throw their hat into the ring. Bowen also invites those with passing interest to log in and try Passport for themselves. Two challenges have been provided to get you started in understanding how Passport works.