Top 20 User Experience Blogs and Resources of 2015 — from by Matt Ellis

Example resources from that posting:










BONUS: 15 Honorable Mentions

The following is a list of other excellent user experience blogs that did not make it in this list but are so good that they are still worth a mention. So please be sure to check them out as well!


From DSC:
Though I’m sure this list is missing many talented folks and firms, it’s a great place to start learning about user experience design, interface design, interaction design, prototyping, and usability testing.






New Media Consortium (NMC) & Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) release the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Ed Edition — from


The New Media Consortium (NMC) and EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) are jointly releasing the NMC Horizon Report > 2016 Higher Education Edition at the 2016 ELI Annual Meeting. This 13th edition describes annual findings from the NMC Horizon Project, an ongoing research project designed to identify and describe emerging technologies likely to have an impact on learning, teaching, and creative inquiry in higher education.

The report identifies six key trends, six significant challenges, and six important developments in educational technology across three adoption horizons spanning over the next one to five years, giving campus leaders, educational technologists, and faculty a valuable guide for strategic technology planning. The report provides higher education leaders with in-depth insight into how trends and challenges are accelerating and impeding the adoption of educational technology, along with their implications for policy, leadership, and practice.





Paul Kaptein’s Sculptures — from



This photograph of the NYC winter storm looks like an impressionist painting — from by Christopher Jobson





Sublime and Wild South Asian Nature




Autumn illustration made of 7 million inked dots — from






The work of Jati Putra Pratama






9 creative photo ideas to try in February 2016 — from by Jeff Meyer









Example slides from one of the presentations at the Flipped Classroom Conference 2016
[Held at Harvey Mudd College in January; with special thanks to Mr. Jeremy VanAntwerp,
Professor of Engineering at Calvin College for this resource]










Three reasons for switching to flipped learning — from by Robert Talbert, Mathematics Professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan [USA]


  1. The argument from pedagogy: We use flipped learning because it puts the best-known/best-available practices for teaching and learning in the spotlight, including active learning of all kinds, student-centered instruction, constructivist techniques, differentiated instruction, spaced repetition, Vygotsky’s zone of proximal development idea, self-regulated learning, and the like. Whereas these things can be featured in a traditional classroom but it feels unnatural, like the wrong tool for the job.
  2. The argument from logistics
  3. The argument from relationships



Peer instruction for active learning — by Harvard University Prof. Eric Mazur on difficulties of beginners, teaching each other, and making sense of information




Also see Eric’s presentation out at Auburn University from back in September 2014:




Why are we so slow to change the way we teach? — from by Maryellen Weimer, PhD


However, lecture isn’t the only example of where we’re slow to change. Many aspects of teaching—course design, approaches to testing, assignments, and grading—have also changed little. Granted, some faculty do change, a lot and regularly, but not the majority. The question is, “Why?” Here are some possibilities I’ve been considering.




Crafting questions that drive projects — from by Tony Vincent


Not only does project based learning motivate students because it is an authentic use of technology, it facilitates active learning, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Projects begin with a driving question—an open-ended question that sets the stage for the project by creating interest and curiosity. Writing an effective driving question is surprisingly challenging. You want the question to be intriguing and irresistible to students, which makes it very different from the typical questions they encounter on tests.

A Driving Force
Like many educators, I call the “mission statement” of a project a driving question.  It captures the heart of the project by providing purpose using clear and compelling language. With so many different flavors of project based learning (including problem based learning, challenge based learning, student centered learning, exploration, student driven inquiry, and authentic learning), it’s not surprising that we have a variety of other terms for a question or statement that is the project’s driving force. These terms include essential question, challenge, prime question, WILD HOG question, focus question, and smart question. I’ll stick with driving question, but do know that sometimes the driving question is not interrogative. It might be a statement, but I’ll still refer to is as a question.





Literacy help: Alan Peat story bags – How to develop story writing and literacy skills in younger children. — from


There is no getting away from the fact that the more a child has been read to and the more they try to read themselves then the better their literacy skills are going to be. Parents have a massive influence on this. As a parent myself I considered reading to and teaching my daughter to read the one most important thing I could do to aid her life at school.

Sadly this is not always the case and too many students we teach read rarely at home or in rare cases don’t even own a book. Sad I know and to be honest I can’t imagine a house without books in it. I jokingly refer to my daughters collection ‘her library’ because she has so many which are updated as she reads through them.

But lets be fair, it is not only the students who struggle with reading that need help with story writing. A lot of students will benefit from this approach including your high flyers. I have taught this in year 3, although i would consider it to be more a KS1 activity, but in year 3 they do need certain aspects of a KS1 curriculum to help there development as it is a hard transitional year. Saying that I have seen other teachers use it in higher years than that and why not if it will benefit their writing.

On the front of each bag, so every child can read it easily should be the questions:

  1. Who?
  2. Where?
  3. Where next?
  4. Why?
  5. What goes wrong?
  6. Who helps?
  7. Where last?
  8. Feelings?



Simple tips to create a blended learning classroom — from by Jasmine Auger


We’ve compiled this list of five easy ways to start incorporating technology into your classroom and building a blended environment!

Social Media
Virtual Presentations



Other somewhat related items:

Full STEAM ahead: Why arts are essential in a STEM education — from by Mary Beth Hertz


The connection is also obvious for anyone who has ever worked in any traditional STEM career. Everyone from software engineers and aerospace technicians to biotechnical engineers, professional mathematicians, and laboratory scientists knows that building great things and solving real problems requires a measure of creativity. More and more, professional artists themselves are incorporating technological tools and scientific processes to their art.

Also see: 
STEM to STEAM: Resources Toolkit — from | Originally Published: 5/21/14 | Updated: 1/20/16
Whether you are looking for resources on integrating science, technology, engineering, and math or on infusing the arts to transform STEM into STEAM, these curated compilations will help you plan different approaches to integrated studies.

…and a related item re: curriculum, but at the collegiate level:


What is the value of an education in the humanities? — from by Adam Frank


In spite of being a scientist, I strongly believe an education that fails to place a heavy emphasis on the humanities is a missed opportunity. Without a base in humanities, both the students — and the democratic society these students must enter as informed citizens — are denied a full view of the heritage and critical habits of mind that make civilization worth the effort.

So, these are my traditional answers to the traditional questions about the value of humanities and arts education vs. science and engineering. From my standpoint as a scholar, I’ll stand by them and defend what they represent to the last breath.

But the world has changed and, I believe, these answers are no longer enough.

It’s not just the high cost of college that alters the equation. It’s also vast changes that have swept through society with the advent of a world run on information (i.e., on data). So, with that mind, here is my updated — beyond the traditional — response to the value of the humanities in education: The key is balance.

It is no longer enough for students to focus on either science/engineering or the humanities/arts.


Psalm 59:16 New International Version (NIV)

16 But I will sing of your strength,
    in the morning I will sing of your love;
for you are my fortress,
    my refuge in times of trouble.


The walled world of work — from
Youth unemployment is a massive waste of resources

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

France is not alone in having such problems. In the euro area, Greece, Spain and Italy all have rules that coddle insiders and discourage outsiders. Their youth unemployment rates are, respectively, 48%, 48% and 40%. Developing countries, too, often have rigid labour markets. Brazilian employees typically cost their employers their salary all over again in legally mandated benefits and taxes. South Africa mixes European-style labour protections with extreme racial preferences. Firms must favour black job applicants even if they are unqualified, so long as they have the “capacity to acquire, within a reasonable time, the ability to do the job”. Some 16% of young Brazilians and a stunning 63% of young South Africans are unemployed. Globally, average youth unemployment is 13% compared with the adult rate of 4.5%. Young people are also more likely than older ones to be in temporary, ill-paid or insecure jobs.

Joblessness matters for several reasons. First, it is miserable for those concerned. Second, it is a waste of human potential. Time spent e-mailing CVs or lying dejected on the sofa is time not spent fixing boilers, laying cables or building a business. Third, it is fiscally ruinous. If the young cannot get a foot on the career ladder, it is hard to see how in time they will be able to support the swelling number of pensioners. Fourth, joblessness can become self-perpetuating. The longer people are out of work, the more their skills and their self-confidence atrophy, the less appealing they look to potential employers and the more likely they are to give up and subsist on the dole.


Over the next decade more than 1 billion young people will enter the global labour market, and only 40% will be working in jobs that currently exist, estimates the World Bank.



Cognii launches virtual learning assistant for the education market — from


BOSTON, MA, January 27, 2016 ­­
Cognii, a leading provider of educational assessment technologies, today announces the launch of Virtual Learning Assistant (VLA), a next­ generation personalized adaptive learning platform for the Education and Training market. Cognii’s VLA uses Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing technologies to engage students in real­time adaptive tutoring conversations and provides instant formative assessment on their constructed response (short essay) answers with guidance towards conceptual mastery. It also provides rich learning analytics to the teachers based on students’ conceptual understanding or difficulties, for better instructional support.


From the Cognii website:

At Cognii, we’re developing leading edge assessment technology to evaluate essay-type answers for online learning platforms. Our exclusive natural language processing technology can also give customized feedback, not just a score, to engage students in an active learning process and improving their knowledge retention. We’re offering Cognii’s solution through an API for all online learning platforms, including LMS (Learning Management System), MOOCs (Massive Online Open Course), and more.


Addendum / a somewhat related posting:


50 of the best teaching & learning apps for 2016 — from


What are the best teaching and learning apps for 2016? That’s a good question this post looks to answer.

Every year, we put together a collection of what we believe are the best teaching and learning apps for that year. (Here, for example, is our 2015 version of the list below, where you will notice about half the apps are the same, and half have changed. That’s not bad for progress, is it?

This year, we were asked by the good folks at Easelly (the infographic and visual data platform) to create a collection of resources that while including their apps, would curate a lot of good stuff teachers would benefit from in 2016. Since we were preparing to release our TeachThought Editor’s Choice: 2016 Best Teaching and Learning Apps–and have used Easelly for years ourselves–we combined the two projects to give you something you can use to guide your #edtech integration this year.



6 ed tech tools to try in 2016 — from by Jennifer Gonzalez


About a year ago, I published an e-book called the Teacher’s Guide to TechOver the last month, I have been updating it for 2016, adding over 30 new tools and refreshing the information I had about the original ones. I have to say, the 2015 version was excellent, but now it’s SO MUCH BETTER. (To take a peek at the guide, scroll to the bottom of this post.)

In the process, I discovered some tools that I absolutely fell in love with, and I wanted to share them with you here. Each of these tools can make your teaching more efficient and effective, and your students’ learning deeper and more engaging.

Let’s take a look.





Visit Shakespeare’s London at FIU’s new virtual reality facility — from


It’s 1598, and you’re on your way to the Globe Theater to watch one of Shakespeare’s plays. You walk along the dirt roads and the green fields of London and you realize you can see the London Bridge in the distance. A vagabond asks you for a coin, and you find the village houses and the town market bustling with customers. Once you arrive at the theater, you watch the first few minutes of the opening monologue of “Henry V.”

This is a virtual world created by a multidisciplinary team of FIU students – and you can immerse yourself in this time-travel journey starting Jan. 29 when the I-CAVE opens at Modesto A. Maidique Campus.




Google brings commenting to sheets and slides on mobile— from by Frederic Lardinois


Google announced [on 1/28/16] a couple of updates to the commenting features in its Google Apps productivity suite.

These include the launch of mobile commenting in the iOS and Android apps for Slides and Sheets. Thanks to this, the commenting experience in Google’s apps is now (almost) the same across all of its apps — whether on the web or on mobile. I’m not sure why Google didn’t already offer this before, but better late than never, right?



10 very good tools for student researchers — from


One of the onerous parts in essay and academic writing is the bibliography section. Managing, organizing and citing references can sometimes be a real challenge especially if you don’t keep track of what and who you cite. The last thing you  want after a strenuous writing task is a messy bibliography with one reference missing a page number, the other needs publication date or, worse of all, having to go back to your sources to check for the source of that quotation you included in your conclusion. If you find yourself constantly grappling with problems such as these, the web tools below are absolutely something you might need to consider. These are some of the best applications for organizing, managing, and publishing bibliographies, citations and references. Some of these softwares are integrated with Google Scholar.



Fresco News app brings crowdsourced journalism to Apple TV — from by Dan Thorp-Lancaster


Fresco News, an app that crowdsources news footage by allowing citizen journalists to upload and share their photos videos of current events around the globe, has officially launched an Apple TV app. With the app, users can check out first-hand accounts of events around the world on the big screen through their Apple TV.



5 Apple TV fitness apps to get in shape on a budget — from by Caitlin McGarry
There are tons of streaming TV apps, but I’m on the hunt for a streaming workout app that won’t cost a fortune.


The fourth-generation Apple TV now has more than 3,600 tvOS apps, Apple revealed in its first-quarter earnings call Tuesday. Most of those are games or streaming video apps, and there are tons of great options in both categories. When it comes to fitness, which seems to me a natural fit for the TV, the selection is sparse. But still, I was sure at least one Apple TV app would have what I was looking for: a cheap way to stay in shape. But it wasn’t that easy.









Best iPhone 6 and 6s tripods for stablizing and mounting — from by Brent Zaniewski
A dependable tripod can enhance your iPhone photography skills and help you get an otherwise impossible shot.




Livestream unveils new device for affordable multi-camera productions — from by Mitra Sorrells
The tiny Movi camera links with an iOS app for real-time recording, editing, and streaming from events.


Planners interested in creating multi-camera video productions at their events will soon have a new, inexpensive option. Livestream, the company behind live online events for brands such as Tesla,, the N.B.A., and more, has created a 2.5-inch device that lets users record and edit in real time between nine virtual high-definition cameras. Movi is available for preorder for delivery in April, currently at a price of $299.



This lens can widen your view into a classroom for only $10 — from



How Five EdTech Start-Ups Are Using Big Data To Boost Business Education — from by Seb Murray
MOOC platforms explore analytics with b-school partners


Education tech companies including Coursera, edX, Udacity and their b-school and university partners are delving deeper into big data analytics to improve teaching and student learning.

Simon Nelson, CEO of online learning company FutureLearn, says: “The potential is incredible — and we are just scratching the surface.”

A report to be published in January by the UK’s Higher Education Commission (HEC) envisages that big data will help identify risk of failure; give students instant feedback; and benchmark their performance against peers.

Addendum on 2/1/16:

Addendum on 2/2/16:



Augmented reality transforms biopharma — from by Gail Dutto
Shed the rose-colored glasses, says AFS, and put on smart glasses to achieve real-time oversight


AFS’s technology combines smart glasses with biopharma-specific software to let people essentially see through others’ eyes. The software also overlays tags on equipment and lets wearers access data in their glasses, leaving their hands free for other tasks.

These capabilities improve outcomes from remote troubleshooting and training, enhance situational awareness among maintenance personnel and operators, and increase efficiency for researchers and other technical employees.

“The best technicians can only be in so many places. Now a novice with smart glasses can collaborate with engineers or seasoned technicians for better service.”

Enabling an engineer to see in real time — on a phone or tablet — what an operator is seeing brings immediate technical expertise to the problem without having to call an engineer onsite in the middle of the night or engage in the ambiguity of phone or text messages. And, if the engineer circles a panel or button on a tablet or smart phone, the operator sees that in the glasses, minimizing the chance of mistakes and reducing the need for emergency site visits, Pignata asserts.


We can do nothing to change the past, but we have enormous power to shape the future. Once we grasp that essential insight, we recognize our responsibility and capability for building our dreams of tomorrow and avoiding our nightmares.

–Edward Cornish


From DSC:
This posting represents Part III in a series of such postings that illustrate how quickly things are moving (Part I and Part II) and to ask:

  • How do we collectively start talking about the future that we want?
  • Then, how do we go about creating our dreams, not our nightmares?
  • Most certainly, governments will be involved….but who else should be involved?

As I mentioned in Part I, I want to again refer to Gerd Leonhard’s work as it is relevant here, Gerd asserts:

I believe we urgently need to start debating and crafting a global Digital Ethics Treaty. This would delineate what is and is not acceptable under different circumstances and conditions, and specify who would be in charge of monitoring digressions and aberrations.

Looking at several items below, ask yourself…is this the kind of future that we want?  There are some things mentioned below that could likely prove to be very positive and helpful. However, there are also some very troubling advancements and developments as well.

The point here is that we had better start talking and discussing the pros and cons of each one of these areas — and many more I’m not addressing here — or our dreams will turn into our nightmares and we will have missed what Edward Cornish and the World Future Society are often trying to get at.



Google’s Artificial Intelligence System Masters Game of ‘Go’ — from by Alyssa Newcomb


Google just mastered one of the biggest feats in artificial intelligence since IBM’s Deep Blue beat Gary Kasparov at chess in 1997.

The search giant’s AlphaGo computer program swept the European champion of Go, a complex game with trillions of possible moves, in a five-game series, according Demis Hassabis, head of Google’s machine learning, who announced the feat in a blog post that coincided with an article in the journal Nature.

While computers can now compete at the grand master level in chess, teaching a machine to win at Go has presented a unique challenge since the game has trillions of possible moves.

Along these lines, also see:
Mastering the game of go with deep neural networks and tree search — from




Harvard is trying to build artificial intelligence that is as fast as the human brain — from
Harvard University and IARPA are working together to study how AI can work as efficiently and effectively as the human brain.


Harvard University has been given $28M by the Intelligence Advanced Projects Activity (IARPA) to study why the human brain is significantly better at learning and retaining information than artificial intelligence (AI). The investment into this study could potentially help researchers develop AI that’s faster, smarter, and more like human brains.



Digital Ethics: The role of the CIO in balancing the risks and rewards of digital innovation — from by Kevin Wo; with thanks to Gerd Leonhard for this posting

What is digital ethics?
In our hyper-connected world, an explosion of data is combining with pattern recognition, machine learning, smart algorithms, and other intelligent software to underpin a new level of cognitive computing. More than ever, machines are capable of imitating human thinking and decision-making across a raft of workflows, which presents exciting opportunities for companies to drive highly personalized customer experiences, as well as unprecedented productivity, efficiency, and innovation. However, along with the benefits of this increased automation comes a greater risk for ethics to be compromised and human trust to be broken.

According to Gartner, digital ethics is the system of values and principles a company may embrace when conducting digital interactions between businesses, people and things. Digital ethics sits at the nexus of what is legally required; what can be made possible by digital technology; and what is morally desirable.  

As digital ethics is not mandated by law, it is largely up to each individual organisation to set its own innovation parameters and define how its customer and employee data will be used.



New algorithm points the way towards regrowing limbs and organs — from by David Nield


An international team of researchers has developed a new algorithm that could one day help scientists reprogram cells to plug any kind of gap in the human body. The computer code model, called Mogrify, is designed to make the process of creating pluripotent stem cells much quicker and more straightforward than ever before.

A pluripotent stem cell is one that has the potential to become any type of specialised cell in the body: eye tissue, or a neural cell, or cells to build a heart. In theory, that would open up the potential for doctors to regrow limbs, make organs to order, and patch up the human body in all kinds of ways that aren’t currently possible.




The world’s first robot-run farm will harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce daily — from by Leanna Garfield

Excerpt (from DSC):

The Japanese lettuce production company Spread believes the farmers of the future will be robots.

So much so that Spread is creating the world’s first farm manned entirely by robots. Instead of relying on human farmers, the indoor Vegetable Factory will employ robots that can harvest 30,000 heads of lettuce every day.

Don’t expect a bunch of humanoid robots to roam the halls, however; the robots look more like conveyor belts with arms. They’ll plant seeds, water plants, and trim lettuce heads after harvest in the Kyoto, Japan farm.




Drone ambulances may just be the future of emergency medical vehicles — from by Gabrielle Westfield


Drones are advancing everyday. They are getting larger, faster and more efficient to control. Meanwhile the medical field keeps facing major losses from emergency response vehicles not being able to reach their destination fast enough. Understandable so, I mean especially in the larger cities where traffic is impossible to move swiftly through. Red flashing lights atop or not, sometimes the roads are just not capable of opening up. It makes total sense that the future of ambulances would be paved in the open sky rather than unpredictable roads.





Phone shop will be run entirely by Pepper robots — from by

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Creator company SoftBank said it planned to open the pop-up mobile store employing only Pepper robots by the end of March, according to Engadget.

The four foot-tall robots will be on hand to answer questions, provide directions and guide customers in taking out phone contracts until early April. It’s currently unknown what brands of phone Pepper will be selling.
 introduces first intelligent auto reply functionality for customer support organizations — from
Powered by Machine Learning, Wise Auto Response Frees Up Agent Time, Boosting Productivity, Accelerating Response Time and Improving the Customer Experience


BERKELEY, CA — (Marketwired) — 01/27/16 —, which delivers machine learning applications to help enterprises provide a better customer experience, today announced the availability of Wise Auto Response, the first intelligent auto reply functionality for customer support organizations. Using machine learning to understand the intent of an incoming ticket and determine the best available response, Wise Auto Response automatically selects and applies the appropriate reply to address the customer issue without ever involving an agent. By helping customer service teams answer common questions faster, Wise Auto Response removes a high percentage of tickets from the queue, freeing up agents’ time to focus on more complex tickets and drive higher levels of customer satisfaction.



Video game for treating ADHD looks to 2017 debut — from


Akili Interactive Labs out of Boston has created a video game that they hope will help treat children diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder by teaching them to focus in a distracting environment.

The game, Project: EVO, is meant to be prescribed to children with ADHD as a medical treatment.  And after gaining $30.5 million in funding, investors appear to believe in it.  The company plans to use the funding to run clinical trials with plans to gain approval from the US Food and Drug Administration in order to be able to launch the game in late 2017.

Players will enter a virtual world filled with colorful distractions and be required to focus on specific tasks such as choosing certain objects while avoiding others.  The game looks to train the portion of the brain designed to manage and prioritize all the information taken in at one time.


Addendum on 1/29/16:





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