To fully gain from this online learning experience, participation in web activities and interactions with others depend critically on your use of the following tools. Please set up these accounts as soon as possible. This list may look like a handful initially but as you learn to set them up and use them, your thinking and learning will grow as well. I have made a careful selection of tools that will foster participation and interaction on the web for learning. These are tools that will help you become lifelong thinkers and learners.

I’ve explained in a previous section how essential a blog is for learning and participation in this course. The first step to blogging is to set up a blog account on Rampages, our VCU hosted WordPress blogsite. You have a choice to use a pseudonym or your actual name on your blog. If you want your blog to be a part of your resume for future employers (to see your fabulous work!), I would encourage you to use your real name.

We will organize our blogposts by creating categories and tags each time we create a new post. Categories are used to identify and link your posts to our course. Tags are used to identify and link your posts to the type of activity you participated in. In each module, I will have instructions on what category or tag to use to label each activity you complete.

This course is about articulating our thinking and sharing it, so we will use tools that help us to share our thoughts to a wide audience. Twitter? Yes, a space where you can engage with a global audience. Now, don’t “hate on” Twitter. Have an open mind. You have a choice — to use a pseudonym or your real name. But please do not use the egg image as your avatar or profile picture. Even if you use a pseudonym, please replace the egg image with something else.

Diigo is a web application that allows the user to bookmark or save web resources into an online space. We will use Diigo to share resources and our “finds” on the web.

Setting up a Diigo account

  1. Go to Diigo and sign up for a free account.
  2. Create your profile (username, email, password).
  3. Activate your account. Go to the email account that you entered.
  4. Add the Diigolet tool to your web browser. Without this, you won’t be able to bookmark resources to your account or to our shared course account.
  5. Join our group Clear Thinking 4 Powerful Learning.

Google Hangout is a communication tool that allows us to have conversations in real time. We can use this for consultations and chats about your work one-to-one or as a group.

As VCU students, you have a Gmail account which will allow you to use Google Hangout. To learn how to use Google Hangouts and the plugin you must install as a first-time user, please access Zapier’s blogpost on The Missing Guide for Google Video Calls. It looks like a long read. Skim and go to the section on a Take a Quick Tour.

Note: A couple of you are planning on a teaching career and have expressed the desire to learn more tools that will support learning goals. I’m thus including Hypothes.is as another possible tool in your toolbox.

Hypothes.is is a tool that allows us to annotate webpages and have interactions with the ideas of authors and the ideas of others. We can use this tool to not only highlight text on web articles but also to make notes about them. These annotations can be shared with others and we can add replies/comments to these highlighted ideas and notes. Hypothes.is works on the Chrome Browser (download Chrome if you don’t have it) and is a Chrome Extension.

For test purposes,

  • Pick an article to read and annotate. Copy the URL of the article to your Chrome Browser.
  • Activate Hypothes.is on your Chrome browser. If the icon looks dim, it is not active. Click on the icon.  It darkens and the annotation panel can be seen tucked away on the right of the browser.
  • Read through the entire article and select some sentences you find meaningful to highlight and to make notes of.

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