Beth Holland

Food for thought…


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Beyond the Binder: 3 Strategies for Empowering Digital Tool Use in the Classroom

Sabba Quidwai and I have been discussing ways to leverage the power of digital tools to support deeper inquiry for quite some time. Since she started her job as the Director of Innovation at the USC Keck Medical School in the Physician Assistant program, we have bounced ideas for ways that she can support her graduate students with this task. Once I also became a student last year, then we gained even more opportunities to explore this concept of digital note taking for a greater purpose.

Last fall, the two of us recorded a Google Hangout as we introduced the idea of tagging and organizing as a means to ask better questions (you can watch below). Our work also inspired us to co-author a new blog post series. The first product of this collaboration launched on EdSurge as Beyond the Binder: 3 Strategies for Empowering Digital Tool Use in the Classroom.


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Take Note: How to Curate Learning Digitally

Note taking lies at the heart of curricula around the world. Beginning in elementary school, we teach students to “take notes” so that they can maintain a record of the content disseminated to them by the teacher. And yet, with mobile devices replacing paper notebooks, this process has become increasingly complex as students (and teachers) struggle to apply previous strategies to new tools.

In the past, I wrote about the 4Ss of Note Taking With Technology. Students should choose a system that:

  • Supports their learning needs
  • Allows them to save across devices
  • Possesses search capabilities
  • Can be shared

While I realize that younger students need scaffolding to learn any system, older students need to think beyond just transcribing information. In an age when simple facts can be Googled and students create with a combination of analog and digital tools, they need to think about note taking as an opportunity to curate and synthesize information so that they can make conclusions, build deeper understanding, and construct new knowledge. Whether students choose to handwrite, sketch, or type their notes, the challenge lies not in choosing, but in creating a system that allows them to ultimately curatesynthesize, and reflect on what they learn.

>> Read the rest of this article on Edutopia.


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A Video Conversation: Digital Tools and Strategies to Streamline Research

Last week Sabba Quidwai, director of innovative learning at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California, and I had a Google Hangout regarding digital research tools. In her role at USC, she supports both faculty and students as they shift their practice to embrace more digital tools in the service of learning. We have been discussing note-taking strategies, annotation tools, and curation techniques over the past few months. However, since I started school and embraced a few different tools, we decided to record the conversation in order to highlight digital research strategies, organization schemes, and citation management.

In the video, we highlight a few specific tools and mention others.

Citation Management:

  • Papers – Demonstrated in the video by Beth. Works on Mac, Windows, & iOS. Student pricing available.
  • Mendeley – Works on any device and free.
  • EndNote – For Mac, Windows, & iOS. Student pricing available.

Note Taking Tools:

  • Evernote – Discussed in the video by Sabba. Works on all devices. Free basic features but upgrade for more storage. School/business accounts available.
  • OneNote – Mentioned in the video by Beth. Works on all devices. Free with an Office 365 license.
  • Notability – Discussed in the video by Sabba. Works on Mac and iOS devices. Paid-for app on both platforms.

Sabba makes an excellent point in the video. The power of digital-research tools lies in how they allow students to make connections to content, curate their knowledge, and engage in deeper inquiry.


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The 4Ss of Note-Taking With Technology

Recently, a number of articles have surfaced reporting the ineffectiveness of note taking with laptops, in keeping with the findings of Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer detailed in The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard. These authors assert that when students used laptops in lecture courses, they transcribed notes rather than synthesized information. As a result, those students then performed poorly on cognitively demanding tasks.

However, before making a blanket statement that one device may be better than another (e.g. pen vs. laptop) or calling into question what may be the best note-taking system, what if we approach the concept by identifying what is best for individual students? In other words, does the system . . .

  • Adequately support the students’ learning needs?
  • Allow students to save their notes to multiple locations?
  • Let students search for salient points?
  • Permit students to share with peers and teachers?

>> Read the rest of this article on Edutopia.


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“Pocket is the New Backpack”

I can’t take credit for that fantastic headline, but thought that I would share it – especially in light of a recent blog post that I wrote both here and on the EdTechTeacher blog – The Mobilization of Research. Recently, I discovered Study Blue, an online note-taking service. They have now launched an iOS/Android app for their products. Their video, posted below, will give you an idea of the power of digital note cards. Instead of attempting to learn from scrawled notes on an index card, students can now combine audio, images, and text to support their learning. Pocket is the new backpack may be an understatement.