JotForm Review

jotform-4

Being the first app in a market has its advantages. For JotForm, that meant it was the first what-you-see-is-what-you-get form editor—you’d edit the real form that looked exactly like what your users would see when they filled it out. That was impressive in 2006, and JotForm kept the momentum going by continually adding more features for one of the most advanced form apps on the market.

Want a form that can play audio from SoundCloud, time how long people take to fill the form out, let people call you via Skype, and accept a payment from them all in one form? JotForm’s the tool for you. And you won’t even have to sign up for an account to build that form.

It’s impressive—though a decade is a lifetime on the internet, and JotForm felt at times like it was showing its age. It was a powerful tool, but not the shiniest form app on the block. So the JotForm team went back to the design board, and once again pulled off a couple new tricks. The next time you make a JotForm form, it’s JotForm 4 you’ll be using—and you’ll come away more impressed than ever.

JotForm 4 is more than just a fresh coat of paint. It does look nicer, with a modern design that still shows your real form as you’re building it. You’ll drag form elements in from the left, choosing from the same basic text fields and date pickers you’d expect. Tap an element and click the gear icon, and the Properties pane will open on the right where you can set how you want it to work. So far, so normal.

Poke around, and you’ll see JotForm’s magic under the hood. For example, go to jotform.com/build and you can start making a form without even signing up for an account—an old JotForm staple. Do that on your phone, and you can use the same features on the go, dragging-and-dropping form elements on your touchscreen. Add a sub-account for your colleagues and share the form, and you can all edit the form together in real time, just like you can in Google Docs. And don’t worry about breaking anything: JotForm includes a revision history, so you can roll back any changes to your form in a click.

All those extra fancy fields are still there, too, in the extra tabs of the form widget pane. The Payments tab lets you add a payment field from a dozen payment processors including PayPal and Stripe, and the Widgets tab includes dozens of extra widgets that’ll let your form take a picture, accept signatures, break form pages into tabs, play videos and presentations, and much more.

You can build smart forms, too, with JotForm’s conditions that let you show or hide fields, calculate values, tweak the thank you page, or force specific fields to be required (or not) based on what your respondents enter in the form. Then, you can make customized email notifications, for you and those who fill out your form, with JotForm’s email template editor. For everything else, JotForm integrations can save your form responses and put them to work in any of your favorite apps.

There are so many online form apps, it can be tricky to pick the best for your needs. But with its latest redesign, JotForm continues to lead the form market with new features that make it easier to gather data from anywhere—and put it to work without wasting your time.

JotForm Resources:

(Shared after an original by Zapier)

Dear Dr. Nelson,

The Contemporary Pedagogy course was a great and a very rewarding adventure! The more important aspect for me is that the course created a very strong sense of community – a welcoming place to discuss various themes, to express yourself, to listen to different perspectives and above all, to learn with you, the GEDI knights, and the other students. I am very glad because people here were so diverse – all kinds of diversity, but especially diversity of thought and experiences. At the end, I can say that this course has become for me not only a place of forward-thinking learning, but also a place of confidence and trust.

I really appreciate the thoughtfully curated selection of readings and how the subjects went unfolding – the ‘logical’ chain of development. The main themes that I most enjoyed to learn and work were: Connected learning / presence of technology as a promising resource; Applied learned-centered approaches; Learning as a source of freedom, consciousness and social change.

In my personal journey, the course was really reaffirming and had a great impact, since it has reinforced and grounded in the literature some of my personal beliefs about teaching and learning. I highlight the open and ‘libertarian’ ideas showing that being authentic as a teacher is possible and viable! The pathway we followed encouraged me to pursue my education and my aspiration to be a teacher in the future.

I think I have now more elements to answer the question I had in my very first blog post: What is a meaningful learning? Today, I would answer that a meaningful learning is one that includes mindfulness, diversity (of experience, of thought and of choice), creativity, authentic voices and that offers to the students, at the same time, freedom to walk their own learning path and references to guide them through the way.

Thank you all, Dr. Nelson and colleagues, very much for the opportunity.

Najlagold-lotus-01-300x284

social thinking, deep connection, intentionality

In the midst of the discussion about the impacts of the technology-connected life in our ways of thinking and living (we have this week 11 many brilliant insights and thoughts from both sides, negative and positive), I would like to pick up some interesting arguments that point some positive impacts of that transformation.

Clive Thompson think  that, through technology, we are thinking more socially, in a very transformative way: developing the ability to externalize our thoughts and compare them with other people  in a public way (see his interview to NYT). About memory, Thompson states that we are not losing our memories  as
far as we rely on computer and search engines like Google. Otherwise,  he thinks that, also on this matter, it is important to understand that we are social thinkers and memory has always been social – so, in order to remember what is important, we use our social connections. Therefore, nowadays, we still use our friends, partners, co-workers and other people around us – and have the augmented support of the Net and other technological devices.

Other interesting aspect he highlights is about the relationship between digital technologies and our social life: today is more and more possible to know what´s going on on other people lives (and heads!). This is what Thompson calls “ambient awareness”.

In his article “The myth of the Disconnected Life”, Jason Farman shows another very interesting aspect: our mobile devices are being used in complex ways that not only can work to make our thinking and our connections more superficial (as explored by Nicholas Carr), but could also work for the opposite goal: gaining depth and fostering a deeper sense of connection to people and places. Farman gives excellent examples of projects that are working in this way. He makes the point that mobile devices are really good in promoting way of deeper context about a place and its community, besides the deep connection with the people in our lives. I think this is really about be smart to use the technology to enable us to perform some activities, in order to attain goals – but we are still in charge of defining the goals and take care of what we value and how we want to live in regard to our values!

Douglas Rushkoff (in his comments to Carr’s article)  put the question in a pretty straight-forward way:

It’s less a matter of “is this a good thing or a bad thing”—than it is an issue of how conscious we are of each medium’s strengths, and how consciously we move from one to another.

Rushkoff also states the possibility that the presence of the digital media in our lives can be exploited positively,”if we take the time and energy to honestly survey the characteristics and opportunities” it offers. I agree that the medium itself is not negative or positive – and the important is what we are going to do within this medium and with the possibilities it allows. It is a matter of awareness and growing consciousness about it – and learn how to use it more intentionally.

about controversy on Freire’s influence, in Brazil

The readings about Paulo Freire have really been present for me these days. Beyond the great concepts, practices and theories themselves, there are other specific questions that are on my mind — more about the historical, political and economical context in which his ideas have emerged, but especially about the current moment in Brazil and a controversial fact that happened there this year.

During the protests of March 15, 2015 in Brazil (anti-government protests in the streets of several Brazilian capitals, especially coming from middle class following a new-conservative trend), there was a banner reading “No more Marxist indoctrination. Enough of Paulo Freire”. The subject were spread through the social media and networks, with opinions of both sides. Some of the widespread comments were really offensive (a journalist in a mainstream magazine wrote that: “You have to put Paulo Freire in place, which is the dustbin of history”). These are some analysis of brazilian scholars about the controversial issue:

Why Freire’s work is so criticized?

Paulo Freire was the best teacher that denounced the ideological indoctrination in schools. He explains the extent to which education is fraught with ideologies and shows that the best way to handle this is freedom, respect, loyalty, rigor in the studies and encouraging diversity so that students have resources to exercise their intellectual autonomy. So we did not define those sayings as a criticism, it is clear that it is just a prejudice played by people who have not read and do not know his pedagogy. It is not a criticism, but a verbal assault. Most of the time, I see people accusing Paulo Freire to be the exact opposite of what he is! The word “indoctrination” is the exact opposite of the pedagogy of autonomy. It’s what he is most critical of! And the mistake is even greater because Freire’s pedagogy rarely appears in Brazilian schools, which generally still holds firm in authoritarian principles he denounces. In schools that incorporate values ​​such as ethics, solidarity and democratic principles is that we see the presence of Freire. I see that those prejudices are played in a set of influencers with a very aggressive conservative discourse that defends the view that education is a commodity that students are customers and that the school’s goal is to train children for the entrance exam and adapt them for the labor market. Paulo Freire disagrees with that model because it notes that the school has a broader role in order to foster creativity, autonomy, critical and humanization of students.
André Fonseca – interview to Nova Escola magazine – article in portuguese

Professor Paulo Freire is a harbinger of citizenship, human rights and the recovery of identity, ethical and pedagogical project he leaves the story. It is a libertarian, democratic work, which prioritizes dialogue, including accepting the contradictions. This type of event is the result of a thought that does not accept differing opinions, something that the very work of Freire defended. He believed in the contradictory, the counter-opinion, the exchange of experiences with the ideas and ideals of each. A banner like this reflect, at least, ignorance.
Maria Stela Graciani, in interview to Forum magazine – article in portuguese

The current demonstrations against the educator only show that the conservative sectors remain as reactionary as during the dictatorship. And it comes at a time when the political party in power was elected overwhelmingly by the poor citizens. The rejection of Freire, in my view, reveals a pressing issue in our history to recognize or not the people as a subject of rights. One of the most radical and politically advanced points of Freire is the appreciation of culture, memories, values, knowledge, rationality and cultural and intellectual matrices of the people, in opposition to the logic that it was necessary to have the inferiority of one to ensure the domination of others. In education, above all, this implies radical confrontations. There is the idea that “we (educated, rational, conscious) will educate the people”; for Freire it was not educate them, moralize them. He stands for the alternative action: recognize them as subjects of another pedagogy, capable of dealing with these cultures, identities and stories.
Miguel Arroyo, in interview to Educação Integral website – article in portuguese


Just some contextual aspects: It is important to say that the current government, originally from left-wing orientation (that has come to power 13 years ago, carrying strong hope of citizens), have failed with the people who elected them in many aspects — especially in changing its own original purposes towards social and economical justice. Today it is not anymore a real left-wing government. The conservative and liberal side are not satisfied also — and there is a new trend going through ways of really conservative politics on the lawmakers’ side. We have a crescent economical crisis and some sectors are affirming the possibility of impeachment of the president.

conformity vs. freedom | education through the eyes of Paulo Freire

There is no neutral education process.  Education either functions as an instrument which is used to  facilitate the integration of generations into the logic of  the present system and bring about conformity to it, or it  becomes the ‘practice of freedom’, the means by which men and  women deal critically with reality and discover how to participate  in the transformation of their world. Paulo Freire in: ‘Pedagogy of the Oppressed’.

Among the richness of concepts and ideas of Paulo Freire, one has called my attention this week: Education is never neutral nor impartial — it will be used or to foster conformity or to promote freedom.

It is either domesticating or liberating. In its domesticating form, the banking approach is used and it is based on cultural invasion. In the liberating form, educators who are committed to liberating people will work to provide opportunities for students to value  their experience, history and culture in curious, creative and questioning ways, creating / restoring confidence and giving them voice (great explanation found in Margaret Lewitt’s book).

Education is always directive in its attempt to teach students to inhabit a particular mode of agency, enable them to “understand the larger world and one’s role in it in a specific way, define their relationship, if not responsibility, to diverse others, and experience some sort of understanding of a more just, imaginative, and democratic life” (as stated by Henri Giroux on his article on Paulo Freire’s ideas).

Therefore, as a practice for freedom, Education must expand the capacities necessary for human agency. In the words of José Eustáquio Romão (here), the core of Freire’s thought is exactly the dissatisfaction that drives human beings to “be more.”

Consciousness plays an important role, since the Education that liberates the individual must be a conscious act — being aware of the implications of our choices regarding our discourse and our practices on Education; understanding and analyzing the context in which the learning is taking place and the individuals and groups concerned; and finally, creating ways to transcend the dichotomy  that exists between teacher and student.

As teachers, we have the choice to invest in foster conformity or freedom. How could we transform our practices and infusing them with consciousness and promotes agency in both students an teachers?

You may want to check it out a very interesting board on Pinterest about Critical Pedagogy, with some works of Paulo Freire and also from Henri Giroux.

rethinking about concepts and rules in brave spaces

This week’s reading about Inclusive Pedagogy really made me think about the importance of thoughtfully choose and apply concepts in the classroom. I am talking about “From Safe Spaces to Brave Spaces“, a very honest, mindful and well-constructed essay about the experiences and reflections of Brian Arao and Kristi Clements with facilitation in Diversity and Social Justice learning activities.

First of all, I really appreciate the shift form “safe places” to “brave spaces”, since it is a much more honest approach and could really prepare every actors on the process to deal with the complex situations that could arise in these environments.

After, I want to highlight their approach on “rethinking” the establishment of the common ground rules on these social justice learning environments. Even those rules that seemed more “näive” and well-intentioned could lead to more exclusion and inequality — if they are not subject of a living and thoughtful reflection.

As in other realms, we are so used to talk and apply concepts as if they have truth and authority by themselves and could be useful and positive no matter the context they are applied. Many times, this could be a MAJOR trap and undermine own very sincere attempts to build inclusive environments.

I strongly support the process that Arao and Clements propose as a fundamental step in developing real inclusive learning environments, not only for Social Justice but also for other collaborative subjects. Reflecting on the real meaning (and potential effects!) of the words we use, the hidden bias under the rules we set and how could we set an environment that is collaborative and pull from different perspectives in a positive way –this a challenging but much needed process to go through.

‘I cannot be a teacher without exposing who I am’

I start this post with a quote from Paulo Freire, in his great Pedagogy of Freedom (thanks Shelli Fowler in your text, for reminding me of him and his outstanding ideas of hope for education). I will also close it with his words.

The question about what’s my voice as teacher was so disturbing that last night I had a bad dream about the theme. In the dream, my feelings came to surface and it was easy to identify and confirm what I was sensing the days before: being a teacher is a possibility that I always aspired to — at the same time, I fear it.

Since I was a child, people tell me that I look like a teacher, speak like a teacher. Sometimes, I hear: “you’re a teacher, right?”. Well, to be true, so far I am a designer that had some teaching experiences, mostly in non-formal learning spaces, especially trying to communicate with young students about themes like sustainability, ecological consciousness, cocreation, design and meaning… But, yes, if you tell me: “you seem to be a teacher”, I will always take that as a compliment. 🙂

I assume that I was afraid — afraid of the students, yeah. the question that Sarah Deel points about the balance between being open to the students x being able to maintain some authority was always in the center of my concerns. But now it becomes clear that what really matters is the fact that, to be a teacher, you should expose yourself, put your very energy to it, make it “alive” with who you are.  Well, maybe I just don´t want to wait anymore to solve the fear BEFORE fully enter in the adventure. It will never happen, anyway. As always, the fear will be transformed in something else DURING the adventure.

Let the games begin.

“This is the road I have tried to follow as a teacher: living my convictions; being open to the process of knowing and sensitive to the experience of teaching as an art; being pushed forward by the challenges that prevent me from bureaucratizing my practice; accepting my limitations, yet always conscious of the necessary effort to overcome them and aware that I cannot hide them because to do so would be a failure to respect both my students and myself as a teacher.”
“For us, to learn is to construct, to reconstruct, to observe with a view to changing—none of which can be done without being open to risk, to the adventure of the spirit.”

Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of Freedom

game-based learning

This week, I would like to add to the conversation some ideas and resources about  Games and Learning. Andrew Miller brings an interesting perspective on Game-based learning. I would like to highlight two different posts by the author:
1. One explaining how games support multiple learning styles: Visual, Kinesthetic, Auditory and Read/Write Learning (see infographic about the learning styles).

2. Other about using game-based learning to teach and assess 21st-century skills like: Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking/Problem-Solving

Another resource that I find extremely useful – I have already use some parts fo the process for developing a learning game for a course in Masters – is the Game Design Toolkit, developed by Learning Games Network (LGN) and FableVision. It would be special useful in projects that involve students in the development process of a game (possibly targeting to younger audiences, for example). The creative process, involving the reflection and critical thinking that are needed to design a learning game is very promising as a way to students really appropriate the content and learn with living motivation. Something I related to the excitement and engagement on the project Reacting to the Past, the great story about acting learning told by Mark Carnes).
At the end, I would like to point to the post by Justin Marquis: What Does Game-based Learning Offer Higher Education?, in which he discusses the main aspects of Gamification defended by Jane McGonigal in her famous TED talk (Urgent Optimism, Social Fabric, Blissful productivity, Epic Meaning) by examining the ways in they can become a meaningful focus for higher education. It is a interesting discussion about the potential of gaming to change the university system.

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learning assessment as mediation

The readings of this week at #gedivt remind me the work of two brazilian scholars and educators: Cipriano Luckesi and Jussara Hoffman. I will present here some of their ideas.

Examining and classifying are extremely useful when we really aim to select students. But when the goal is evaluating the learning process, merely examining is a very limited resource. The exam raises little factual information about the current state of student learning, as this does not qualify, integrates or interprets the data obtained along the process.

Nowadays, schools  do not truly assess learning. In general what we practice are mere exams. We act more in an ad hoc basis, taking the last performance, than in a non-punctual evaluation basis, that could observe also the provisional performances, creating an inclusive and democratic diagnostic of learning.

In the words of Luckesi, a true evaluation process is inherently constructive. It means that at the end of a period of monitoring and reorientation of learning, the teacher can witness the quality of the student’s development, recording that as a testimony. Grades serve only as a way to record their performance through the process. The act of true evaluation must presuppose new ways to understand and deal with the data, searching for qualified and contextualized information, which in fact assist in guidance and reorientation of the teaching-learning process.

Luckesi proposes the idea of learning assessment as mediation – and what will support the change is the reflexive practice, that will feed back further studies and insights so that “a new understanding and a new way of evaluate will emerge gradually in the school environment” (here, in portuguese).

Hoffman also proposes a new paradigm of Evaluation as Mediation, intending to oppose the model of the “transmit-check-register” knowledge and move towards a reflective and evaluative challenging. The aim of this process of evaluation would be encourage the reorganization of knowledge: propositive actions in terms of contributing to elucidate, to encourage the exchange of ideas and sharing power in the classroom. “Action, movement, provocation. Teacher and student seeking to coordinate their points of view, exchanging and reorganizing ideias.” (here, in portuguese)

This is a very interesting perspective: a shift in learning assessment that could not only better evaluate the process, but also encourage and stimulate students’ potential and creative aspirations (also in harmony with some innovative ideas from Imagination First and Dan Pink on motivation). What if learning assessment could be an instrument of creative (r)evolution, freedom and imagination in Education? …

“Educating, we can say, means to help one to wake up, to find in his very being the impetus, the longing, the desire to move around and seek out and discover, grow and progress.” Rolf Gelewski

mindfulness & learning quests through uncertainty

“We should teach strategic principles for dealing with chance, the unexpected and uncertain, and ways to modify these strategies in response to continuing acquisition of new information. We should learn to navigate on a sea of uncertainties, sailing in and around islands of certainty. ‘The expected doesn’t occur and [the gods] open the door for the unexpected.’ Euripides.” Edgar Morin, in Seven complex lessons in education for the future (great book, see video).

In my personal quest to reflect and discover more about Meaningful Learning, the perspectives brought by Dr. Ellen Langer were more than refreshing. They opened interesting paths of possibilities, showing that with subtle but effective changes in direction, we may have very powerful results – maybe, it is not required to re-build all the education system from scratch, after all. 😉

She keeps a very creative approach, also based in decades of research and empirical results in diverse themes and environments (see book and paper). I would like to highlight some points of Dr. Langer’s theory on Mindfulness :

We often box ourselves into a single view. Mindless practice keeps the activity from becoming our own. It deprives learners of maximizing their own potential for more effective performance and enjoyment of the activity.

A mindful approach to any activity (specially learning) would include:

  • Continuous creation of new categories
  • Openness to new information
  • Awareness of more than one perspective

A new way of teaching implies appreciation of the conditional, context-dependent nature of the world and the value of uncertainty. In this framework, actions are taken in response to present considerations, taking the cues from the situations, making information respective of new contexts — instead of the current mindless learning, in which the information is presented from a single perspective as thought it is true, independent of context.

Sideways learning (as Dr. Langer names the alternative way) aims to maintain a mindful state, including:

  • Openness to novelty
  • Alertness to distinction
  • Sensitivity to different contexts
  • Awareness for multiple perspectives
  • Orientation to the present.

Teaching conditionally lead students to manipulate information creatively, because it allows for alternatives. Once we generate possible ways of doing something, even if they are low-probability bets, the perception of a solution’s being possible increases enormously. Even very subtle differences can help to change the mindset. Fostering mindful learning results in more competence, more creativity and more enjoyment.

If you are interested, there is a great speaking of Dr. Ellen Langer here.

Gradually building this pathway, the reflections and the brilliant and revolutionary practice by Dr. Michael Wesch (here) have also amazed me. I would like to register some points:

  • Education lives now a crisis of significance.
  • It is important to be aware that in the moment, the learning environment is more important than the content itself.
  • We can work to instigate in the students the will and the passion to pursue and engage in rich and meaningful quests: important and meaningful explorations of the world in which we live and co-create. In this model, learners are free to pursue the questions that are meaningful and relevant to their own lives.
  • Meaning and significance are assured only when our learning fits in with a grand narrative that motivates and guides us.

The idea of Learning as a Quest is great! Maybe it is something that could help us to finally bring some adventure back to education.

And finally, the question about the narrative and the lack of significance (something to continue reflecting about…) reminds me of another interesting reading:

“It is all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because we do not have a good story. We are in between stories. The old story, the account of how we fit into it, is no longer effective. Yet we have not learned the new story.” Thomas Berry (in this book)

Maybe it is time for us to create together the new story and engage ourselves in these terrifying and wonderful  quests through uncertainty.