New Feed

Announcing Ponder iOS Safari Integration

Ponder Mobile for iOS has been re-released! The new build has been redesigned and rewritten for a more consistent experience across devices.

New features include:

Ponder in iOS Share MenuYou can create responses directly from Safari by selecting text and then sharing the page to Ponder through the browser share menu.

iOS Response BoxCreating a response now works the way and looks the same as creating a Ponder response with the Chrome browser add-on and Firefox browser add-ons.

 

 

The feed has also been tightened up, and now resizes to fit various new screen sizes.

New Feed

 

Finally, Ponder Mobile now supports login with your Google account, though you must have already setup your account through the desktop browser experience.

Enjoy! And let us know if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

Ponder Video Interface

Critical Watching: Drilling Down into the Video Heatmap

Late last fall we released powerful heatmap filtering for the Ponder reading experience. We are now proud to announce a similar upgrade for Ponder Video.

Ponder Video Activity Bar

Teachers have been experiencing hundreds and hundreds of student responses on longer videos and it became obvious that we would need to make it possible to separate out participation based on groups, students, sentiments and themes, just the way we do on text documents.

We love our tick marks and the quick overview they give you, so you’ll find them in their usual place along the yellow video timeline. As before, there’s one tick mark per response at a particular timestamp in the video and the colors match the type of sentiment. Multiple responses still at the same time stamp stack on top of each other, so you can spot the points of focus by both tight clustering and the height of the bars.

Ponder Video Interface

 

 

 

 

Bookmarking stars appear below the timeline and your familiar zoom in/out UI helps with navigating longer videos. More on using the interface for critical watching on our support site.

Ponder Video Interface

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But now here’s where it gets fancy. Notice anything different?

Now, above the timeline, underneath the video, you will find a set of filter drop-downs corresponding to the activity on the video.

Ponder Video Filter Menus

 

 

The first drop-down allows you to filter the responses by group; for example, so a teacher can see one section or period of a course they are teaching at a time. The numbers in parentheses indicates the number of responses created by that group.

Ponder Video Group Filter Menu

 

 

 

Want to see just your responses, or those from a particular student?  The second drop-down shows each responder, sorted by the number of responses they created which are indicated in parenthesis adjacent to each username.

Ponder Video User Filter

 

 

 

The third drop-down shows the mix of sentiments used in the responses, sorted by frequency (indicated in parenthesis), and allows you to filter for them.

Ponder Video Sentiment Filter

 

 

 

 

And the fourth drop-down shows the themes used in responses on the document, sorted by frequency indicated in parenthesis:

Ponder Video Theme Filter

 

 

 

As you can see, much of the Ponder power you are familiar with when navigating ideas across documents are now available for minute dissections of a single video.

And don’t forget, these capabilities are all available for custom integration on your platform through the Ponder API.

Ponder Sidebar

Forest(s) for the Trees: Filtering Ponder Heatmaps

Ponder provides a place to collect and share your thoughts about your reading, but what to do when you’ve collected a lot of thoughts on a particular piece? Even tens of responses on a single page can get overwhelming, and groups of students often create hundreds, so we’ve added some tools to make it easier to navigate them.Familiar Tick-marks

We love our tick marks and the quick overview they give you, so you’ll find them in their usual place on the right side of the window. As before, there’s one tick mark per excerpt that elicited at least one response, and the colors match the type of sentiment. You’ll also still find each selection underlined in the page, so you’ll see and can reply to them as you’re reading.

Introducing the Ponder Sidebar

As before, clicking a tick mark or underline will scroll your window to the location of the corresponding text in the document, but it will also expand the Ponder sidebar where the new review tools live. (If you need to dismiss the sidebar, just click anywhere outside the sidebar.)

Ponder Sidebar

In the sidebar, you’ll see a list of all the excerpts from your groups. Similar to your feed, all the responses for a given excerpt are bundled together in a “nugget”. When the sidebar opens, the nugget for the tick mark you clicked will be highlighted. You’ll also see some summary stats and drop-downs – more on that in a moment.

Anatomy of a Nugget

The nugget shows the sentiment of the user who made the first response on that excerpt, in this case, badtz appreciates the eloquence of the statement “We are not interested in students just picking an answer, but justifying the answers.” Sidebar Nugget

At the bottom, you can see that 1 other user has replied to Badtz’s comment, and then a green box with a 1 and a yellow box with a 1. Each box indicates the number of responses with each sentiment type. In this case, Badtz’s response was a green/analytical comment. Clicking on the ellipsis exposes the details of the yellow/cognitive reply.

Replying and removing responses

Mousing-over the nugget gives you the option to add your own response to this excerpt (Respond/Update), or remove it (the X).

Embed Respond Box

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorting and Filtering 

But what if there are a bunch of responses? We’ve added the ability to sort and filter to make it easier to review responses. At the top of the sidebar, you now see summary metrics for the document – the total number of excerpts annotated and the number of annotations on those excerpts. Using the drop-downs at the top, you can filter those responses by group, responder, sentiment, and theme.

The first drop-down allows you to filter the responses by group; for example, so a teacher can see one section at a time. The numbers in parentheses indicates the number of responses created by that group.

Group Filter

 

 

 

 

Want to see just your responses, or those from a particular student?  The second drop-down shows each responder, sorted by the number of responses they created which are indicated in parenthesis adjacent to each username.

User Filter

 

 

 

 

The third drop-down shows the mix of sentiments used in the responses, sorted by frequency (indicated in parenthesis), and allows you to filter for them.

Sentiment Filter

 

 

 

 

And the fourth drop-down shows the themes used in responses on the document, sorted by frequency indicated in parenthesis:

Theme Filter Dropdown

 

 

 

 

 

The filters work together and filter each other; for example, when you filter for a particular group, the other filters will only include the users, sentiments, and themes on activity for that group.

Lastly, underneath the filters is the sort drop-down.Sort Dropdown

  • # of Replies sorts the nuggets by the number of replies that occurred on each.
  • # of Themes sorts all of the excerpts by the number of themes that were tagged to each.
  • Controversy sorts the excerpts by the measure of disagreement based on sentiment and sentiment type usage on each.
  • Last Updated shows the most recently updated nuggets first.

 

As you can see, much of the Ponder power you are familiar with when navigating ideas across documents are now available for minute dissections of a single document or passage.

And don’t forget, these capabilities are all available for custom integration on your platform through the Ponder API.

Cognitive-Analytical-Emotional Heat map

Ponder Platform API V2 Release

I’m excited to announce the public launch of the Ponder API V2! We soft-launched the first set of platform APIs about a year ago, and learned a lot from our initial consumers.

Cognitive-Analytical-Emotional Heat map

Embed the Ponder cognitive analytical emotional heat map on your content!

V2  is more robust and brings many enhancements to our white- and gray-label integration scenarios, and we are making it publicly available. At a high level it supports:

  • Account Creation & Authentication (SSO)
  • User & Group Administration
  • Retrieving Activity Data
  • “Native” User Interactions (without the browser add-on)
Video Cognitive-Analytical-Emotional Heat map

Ponder’s cognitive analytical emotional heat map works on video too.

These methods are designed around scenarios where partners layer the Ponder micro-response interface and heat map on top of their content (text and video,) extending their infrastructure to incorporate flexible, structured and thoughtful content-driven interactions between their users.

Of course, if you’re interested in integrating Ponder into your service, get in touch.

Along the way, we spent a bunch of time investigating various API documentation tools, and fell in love with Speca.io, so we wanted to do a shout out to them for making a great tool. A few great features:

xkcd: API

(Courtesy xkcd)

  • Paste in your JSON blobs and it will automatically parse them into documentation; you just add descriptions and notes.
  • Embed and reference any data element in your docs elsewhere in your docs – no more updating changes in multiple places!
  • Their editing tool is nice because unlike in some other doc tools, you’re not just editing one gigantic YAML file.

We use Postman as our API explorer which is also very handy.

 

 

 

Ponder School Feed

Ponder Reading Groups Pilot: Inquiry is finally cool!?

Ponder School Feed

A Ponder feed for the learning community

We are excited to announce a new pilot: Ponder Reading Groups, our first major move outside the boundaries of specific classes! Over the coming school year we will be working closely with a number of pilot schools to iterate on the experience, but we are looking for a few more.

Therefore, I am happy to further announce that in our search for a diverse spread of schools with a basic level of infrastructure and a passion for discussion, we will be giving away a full-year Ponder site license for up to 10 schools selected for the pilot! If you’re interested, read on and then fill out the pilot request form.

That’s right, a free site license for up to 10 selected schools!

Reading Groups were inspired by repeated anecdotes from our Ponder classes about student usage exceeding all expectations, and then students asking their teachers if they could continue using it after the end of the semester. ‘How often do students ask to keep using educational software?’ we thought. With the further encouragement of the preliminary results from the Ponder efficacy study at San Francisco State University, we began bouncing ideas around about other roles Ponder could play while still boosting student engagement, perseverance and educational outcomes.

How do we make research, reading and thinking a fun, social activity for the entire school community?

Or in the words of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Reading, how can Ponder make building “a foundation for college and career readiness” by reading “widely and deeply from among a broad range of high-quality, increasingly challenging literary and informational texts” and acquiring “the habits of reading independently and closely” fun?

We grew even more excited when the Robin Hood College Success Prize was announced early this Spring, with a goal in the same spirit: Allowable solutions for the prize cannot be dependent on instructors or the classroom, but must instead be “student focused.” (See rules Section 5.2.) If you are not already familiar, the goal of the College Success Prize is to create a technology-only tool to dramatically increase the percentage of remedial students across the country who complete their community college degree within a “timely fashion”. So it’s understandable why they structured the rules this way – they don’t want solutions to get blocked on instructor adoption, or institution-specific implementation details which might slow them down – they want something that will help students independent of those variables. For us it was further confirmation that there is a need for what we are working on, and even better that it dovetailed nicely with the efforts already underway here. We just had to wrap up the idea in a two-minute video to enter the competition:

 

 

The Robin Hood testing process for solutions is as simple as it is imposing: to run a three-year evaluation of the selected proposals, and simply measure the change in graduation rate between those students randomly assigned to each solution, and the control group of students who are not assigned a solution. This month the judges will be announcing which technologies move to the next phase of the program. Of course, regardless of how the judging cookie crumbles, Ponder will be proceeding with reading groups!

Of course, regardless of how the cookie crumbles, Ponder will proceed with Reading Groups.

So how will they work? As demonstrated by our new interview series, Ponder is used in different ways by almost every instructor who picks it up. There are common themes, of course, but the broad spread of applications is born of the simple fact that students love Ponder. What would you do differently if you knew your students would be debating last night’s reading on the way to class?

Ponder --> Articulate --> Share --> ListenThe goal of Ponder Reading Groups is to support students in their personal reading and research independent of their classes or direct instruction, building the habits they will then employ in class. Here’s how it works:

  1. Deploy Ponder to teachers and students across your school
  2. Students pick reading groups that match their interest areas
  3. Students read, watch and share with micro-responses within the school’s Ponder community
  4. Schools can build upon the online momentum by creating in-person study and discussion periods

Of course, adding students to classes continues to work as it always has – a click creates a private shared space for any class, club, group project, etc that needs one.

Your school may be looking for a similar solution: How do we make research and reading a fun, social activity for the entire school community? How do we better understand student interests to bridge them to the curriculum? How do we expand usage of Ponder beyond the early adopters without gating participation on over-taxed teachers and curricula? How do we let the students run with it?

Over the coming school year we will be working closely with a number of pilot schools to iterate on the experience, but we are looking for a few more. If you’re interested, please tell us a bit more about your school. If you have any questions, contact our support team via chat or ticket.

 

 

Realizing Flip: Ponder for Video and eBooks

Pondering Video and/or eBooks for your class? Sign up for a pilot to alpha test.

Pondering Video?

If you’re flipping your classroom or simply have a lot of video content you’d like your students to watch outside of class, Ponder will soon be a way for you to engage and track student activity around video.

Just like Ponder for reading, Ponder for Video doesn’t require you to upload anything. Ponder for video will work on Youtube or Vimeo or Dropbox or Google Drive. Just like Ponder for reading, you will be able review visualizations of your students’ responses to the video along the video timeline. Even better than Ponder for reading, you will be able to manage a question queue and see where students are getting stuck watching and re-watching the same segment.

Pondering the Ring of Gyges

Pondering the Ring of Gyges

Pondering eBooks?

Ponder already works on any text that renders in a browser (including pdfs!), but we’ve been hankering after a way to organize Ponder activity around chapters and sub-sections for longer documents like books. So we were excited to discover an EPUB-lishing service called Thuze that integrates nicely with the Ponder browser add-on. Ponder + Thuze means you will be able to read eBooks in the Thuze web reader and organize Ponder activity around chapters and sections of long texts. (Continue reading)

Federalist Papers as an ePub

With Thuze, Ponder works on ePubs just as you would expect

Sign up!

We are looking for teachers and professors interested in trying out Ponder in these new contexts and providing us with feedback on the myriad ways it works and doesn’t work with your class.

For more information, fill out this short Google Doc form.

Learnings from the pilots will (of course!) be incorporated into the product and released for everyone.

Calling all Teachers: Ponder eBooks with Thuze and EPUB

Until now, Ponder worked on any text that rendered in the browser (including PDFs), but for longer texts we have been hankering after a way to organize Ponder activity around chapters and sub-sections of documents. EPUB is a widely used open standard for publishing structured documents which suits our needs well.

At the OpenEd 2013 conference, I met Victoria Kinzig from Bridgepoint Education who introduced me to Bridgepoint’s versatile new EPUB reader and textbook library, Thuze.

Thuze offers over 100 peer-reviewed e-textbooks across 23 disciplines from Health Care Administration to Ethics to Criminal Justice to various History texts, all of which you can read on the device of your choosing (Android, iPhone, iPad, and browser) for $35/textbook.

Signing up for a Ponder + Thuze pilot means you will get free access to a Thuze account (no textbook purchase necessary).

Federalist Papers as an ePub

With Thuze, Ponder works on ePubs just as you would expect

DIY Textbooks

But wait, there’s more. In addition to being a reader for Thuze texts, Thuze built a platform to allow instructors to publish their own compilations of text (e.g. EPUBS of any works in the public domain available on Project Gutenburg, feedbooks or mobileread; OR simply author documents through their editing interface.)

Ponder works on Thuze in the web browser as you would expect, with the same in-context aggregations of student reactions to the text.

The big new feature in Ponder + Thuze is we can now roll up student activity by chapter and section. The nicely paginated reading experience on Thuze doesn’t hurt either.

Sign up to try it out!

If you’re interested, tell us a bit about your class Ponder and some examples of EPUB texts you will be using.

Learnings from the pilots will (of course!) be incorporated into the product and released for everyone.

Learnings from the Classroom: Visualizing Reactions on Reading Assignments

Recently I wrote about the lessons we’re learning from our first K12 pilots this semester.

Our biggest challenge thus far has been adapting Ponder, which was originally designed around self-directed reading scenarios, to assigned reading.

Whereas a really active self-directed article might provoke a dozen or so responses…assigned reading can generate 1-200 responses from a class of 20 students.

This can easily overwhelm both the feed and the article page itself. In my last post I wrote about how we’re starting to ameliorate the issues in the feed.

Color Coded Sentiments

Red Light, Green Light, Yellow Light: React, Evaluate, Comprehend.

We’ve also recently shipped a change to the browser add-on to provide teachers and students with a forest (as opposed to the trees) view of student responses.

Those of you using Ponder might have noticed that our Sentiment tags in the Ponder response box are color coded.

We’re now using those colors on the article page itself, so you can see at a glance, where students are responding emotionally, where they’re having comprehension issues and where they’re exercising judgement.

Yellow are responses having to do with basic comprehension or incomprehension as the case may be of the reading:

What does this mean? I’d like examples. I need a break down.

Green are responses that pass judgement through evaluation:

This is hyperbole, oversimplification, insight!

Red are responses that express some kind of emotional reaction:

Disapproval, regret, admiration.

The tick marks are on the right give you a sense of the activity level across the entire reading, be it a one-page article or a 100-page essay.

Visualizing Sentiments By Type

Visualizing Sentiments By Type

It’s a small step, but it’s the kind of thing we want to do more of to help teachers get a quick sense of how the class responded as a whole to the reading.

 

 

 

 

Semester End: Class Archiving and Cloning

Happy New Year!

We just made a small but important feature release that Ponder teachers who are preparing for their spring semesters will appreciate:

Archive!

You can now archive your classes!

Class archiving and Class cloning!

You will notice in your class settings that there are a couple of new buttons. The first is the “Archive” button. At the end of each semester, you will want to archive your classes. You and your students will still have access to all of the activity from the semester, but it will be put into storage, and frozen in time, to make room for new classes for the up-coming semester.

Archiving a class does the following:

Archived Selector

The group selector now has a separate section for archived classes.

  • The class is moved to the “Archived” section of the class selector
  • The class is marked “Archived” in the class settings control panel
  • Students can no longer join the class
  • The class is no longer available in the response box for either students or teachers
  • The class no longer counts against your maximum simultaneous class count

We have additional plans for archived classes which we will ship in the coming months, but for now you have the basics. Also, when you accidentally archive the wrong class, you can of course “un-archive” it by clicking the “reinstate” button.

Reinstate an archived class

Have no fear, you can always reinstate an archived class

The second important feature we released is class cloning. Many of you have patiently re-created your classes from one semester to the next, or even for multiple sections of the same class. We have heard your calls for help and answered!

Once you have the reading list and themes configured for a class, the clone button will allow you to create as many more of that class as you need. For example, many of our teachers teach 4, 5 and sometimes 6 different sections of the same class. Now, once they have the reading list and course packet configured the way they would like it, and the themes created, they can simply clone it for each additional section in seconds, and then re-name the clones to match section numbers or class periods.

Class Cloning

You can now instantly clone all of the settings of an existing or archived class!

Of course, if you accidentally clone it too many times, you can delete any extras by clicking the “remove” button. As before, if a class has any students or teachers other than you joined to it, we will prevent you from deleting it and losing your data. Once others have joined your class, archive it to make room or tidy things up.

Thanks and let us know if you have any questions!

 

 

 

Learnings from the Classroom: The difference between self-directed and assigned reading.

We’ve been iterating on and refining Ponder in the higher ed classroom for two years now and it’s been really interesting to compare that experience to the past two months of watching our K12 classes get going. (Early on, we hit an IT-related snag at the WHEELS Academy. Now we’re getting to the good stuff that has to do with how students are actually using Ponder to do close reading and how a teacher might use it to evaluate their students.

In many respects the K12 classroom is much more demanding than higher ed, though both present the challenge to us of figuring out:

How to make Ponder work for both self-directed *and* assigned reading.

What are the key differences?

One of the features that’s worked out really well for self-directed reading is that unlike most social media feeds which are built around individuals, the Ponder Feed rolls up student responses by article. That means in the feed, you quickly get a sense of where the conversations are happening even if students happen upon the same article independently.

However with assigned readings where even short two page articles can generate over a hundred student responses, rolling up responses by article is just disorienting and overwhelming and fails to provide teachers with a quick way to evaluate each student’s understanding of the reading.

3 classes in particular really helped us understand the problem better: Mr. V’s 9th grade Global Studies class at Stuyvesant H.S., Ms. Perez’s 8th grade English class at xxx in Chicago and Tom Lynch‘s graduate-level Curriculum Development and Instruction Planning with Technology class at the Pace University School of Education.

We knew this was going to be a problem but it wasn’t clear to us how best to address this issue quickly until the first assigned reading responses began to roll in…

As a quick fix we re-collated assigned reading responses around the student. It’s an improvement on what we had before. But it’s not entirely clear this is the best solution. We’ve gained clarity around how each student responded to the text. But we’ve lost the thread of conversation, how are students responding to each other.

The path to supporting assigned reading well is going to be a steep and rocky one, but we know the only way to negotiate it is through trial and error and paying close attention to what’s going on in our classrooms.