Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And the winners are...

OK - so I've probably kept you waiting long enough now - next time I'm seriously considering going all "Assignment Handler" and withholding marks until there is evidence of engagement with all work-related posts :-)

General knowledge quiz:
Winner: Mary (prize - stylish Bb bulldog clip)
Runners Up: Helen L and Abbi (prizes - stylish Bb pens)
Special Award for first answer: Stuart (prize - stylish pirate pen, plus as a bonus first look at the SkyMall catalogue before it goes in the Learning Lounge)

Wikipedia 7:
Winner: Stuart (prize - Seattle Space Needle - handy desk size)
Runners Up: Abbi, Joel, Kay, Helen R, Mary, Andrew, Richard, Brian (each winning the very special Presidium stationery "bible")

Enjoy!! Please come and collect your prize next time you see me.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Educause highs...

Natural highs:
  1. quality of sessions - managing to not going to anything that I couldn't take something from
  2. organisation of whole thing - as ever and of course
  3. Seattle climate - I liked it cos it was like home (....bizarrely)
Unnatural highs:
  1. coffee - 148 branches of Starbucks, 70+ branches of other coffee chains, 50+ independent coffee houses with free wifi - I think decaff is a state crime
  2. "going up the Hancock" - 94 floors in 45 seconds...whoosh!
  3. viewpoint in the Seattle Public Library - 10 floors up looking down into the attrium was really dizzying

Most used words:
"cloud" - just everywhere - as in "the softwares and applications that are in the cloud eg google apps, social software etc ie not hosted within the institution"
"authentic" - authentic learning, authentic tasks, authentic assessment, authentic resources, authentic diagnostics, authentic evaluation...you get the idea
"sorry, full" - people being turned away from parallel sessions because they were full, scary considering most break out rooms seated 200 people. The effect was that people went to sessions early encouraging more varied in-break conversations and once there very few people moved.

Least used words (as in not mentioned at all in any of the sessions I went to):
plagiarism, facebook, podcasting, Oblinger (....yes, really, that's pretty odd, considering)

The ultimate high...

No prizes for guessing that the undisputed high of all time highs was the Doris Kearns Goodwin - keynotes really don't get any better than this. Sadly it looks like the session won't go online so here are the next best things I can manage:

YouTube video of her being interviewed about the book - not quite the same as the keynote but close enough to get an idea: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N3eU2UsYio

book available at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Team-Rivals-Political-Abraham-Lincoln/dp/0743270754/ref=sr_1_5/202-5724948-5678257?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1193703767&sr=8-5

link to her site: http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com/

The Lincoln leadership lessons (borrowed from a book review rather than session notes - hence more articulate than I might usually manage):
1. Surround yourself with whatever talent the given enterprise requires.
2. Welcome, indeed strongly encourage principled dissent.
3. Timing is not everything but often the difference between success and failure.
4. Exercise selective hearing during a contentious group discussion.
5. Unless absolutely certain, be willing to grant benefit of the doubt.
6. Exhaust opponents by listening to them.
7. Appreciate effort but only reward performance.
8. Serve “with malice toward none, with charity for all”
9. And lead “with firmness in the right.”
10. When dealing with forceful personalities, focus on common interests.

Seattle Public Library...

...looks like this:

and on the inside looks like this:

...er sort of :-)

Chatting to Bryan Alexander at the emerging tech session - did I mention that I spent some time with Bryan Alexander ;-) - he asked me what I'd seen whilst in Seattle and whether I'd been to the library. He suggested that if you only visit one place in Seattle forget the Space Needle or Pikes Market it had to be Seattle Public Library. So, with un-erring faith in Bryan's recommendations we (me, Paul, Clive and Mark) went on a little SHU field trip to the library after the conference had finished...and, surprise, suprise, were not disappointed!! The building is amazing, the use of space, materials and zoning are really good and the four floor spiral reading room is very odd. The children's section is about the size of a whole library in its own right and looks like a Borders Bookstore. I think my favourite bit of the whole place was the "living room".

Anyway, we took some pictures but to get a flavour check out the flickr images at:

Click the "most interesting" sort to see it at its abstract best!

Final keynote

Long session - simple message: BE AFRAID!!!!

..risk, security, risk, security, psychology, risk, security, risk, security, economics, risk, security....I've got better notes than this on my laptop...but you get the general idea. Actual presentation is here:

It is worth watching. better than I made it sound, I think - but I was very tired by that stage.

Friday parallel sessions - quick summary

First session - Using Wikipedia to reenvision the term paper

I really enjoyed this session because it covered a lot of information about what worked well and what didn't, so participants could probabmy avoid the numerous mistakes you might make first time you tried something like this. Probably not for the anti-Wikipedia people but I quite like the idea of putting your money where your mouth is - if you don't like what is in Wikipedia, put in better stuff. I enjoyed this student quote too:

“This assignment felt so Real! I had not thought that anything I wrote was worth others reading before, but now I think what I contributed was useful, and I’m glad other people can gain from my research.”

Second session - Models for Collaborative Online Learning: Pedagogy, Design, and Epistemology

This was probably the least valuable session I went to at the whole event but I think I picked wrong (yes, I know, the clue is in the title) - if you don't know anything about web 2.0 and its role in online collaboration then it is interesting to review and their "how and why of the transitions from WebCT to community web to wiki spaces to social softwares" were interesting but nothing really all that new. My two tangential "take-aways" were:

1. the phrase "Alexander hypothesised in his tableau...." funny mostly because the presenter was talking about Bryan Alexander as if he were some old dusty research prof, I'd wished for all the world that he had been sat in the room to do one of his customary "ha!"s

2. html graph - a very cool (if a little useless) html graph plotter for websites - this is reminiscent of the tagclouds from sites thing you may have seen from me before(http://www.aharef.info/static/htmlgraph/) So for example this blog site looks like this:

Second keynote - panel session

This focused on the Spellings Commission Report, one year since its publication and the debate is still going strong. If you are familiar with US HE you will know that it focuses upon Access, Affordability and Accountability. If you aren't think of the legacy impact of Dearing in the UK and you will have some idea of its scale. I'd strongly recommend you take the time to watch the panel discussion, even if you don't think you know anything about it or if you aren't particularly interested in US HE - the common themes are striking and there are definitely things for us to consider and discuss further in the LTI. This is the link direct to the video of the session (90 minutes long, first 30 minutes are the Educause awards - worth watching in their own right but if you wanted to chunk it up then 30/60 is the way to go.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Evolving Technologies Committee

Got to sit with Bryan for this one, so whilst the presentation was not necessarily jam packed full of exciting evolving technologies, Bryan's screen was a masterclass in new and emerging and/ot continuous partial attention technologies. (I think he had at least 10 open during the first 15-20 minutes - if you can name them there will be points - NB remember they weren't all new)

So the committee reported the following emerging technologies:
  • Web in 2007 - It's not just a browser, it's a platform
  • Integrating Google Apps for Higher Education
  • The evolution of web conferencing
  • Mobile learning
  • 3D printing: Turning virtrual models into hardcopy
  • Virtualisation: Applications, systems andbeyond
  • Information lifecycle management and physical storage technologies for digital preservation

Educause review article about it (in much more detail) is at http://www.educause.edu/apps/er/erm07/erm0765.asp

Overall, I didn't get a lot from it, but at the end we were asked to complete a suggestion card regarding what evolving technologies we'd like to see looked at next year - I put "green technologies - technologies that need less power or energy" - hope I get some Green LTI points for that!...Bryan thought it was an awesome suggestion and said thank you numerous times). Good session though cos Bryan introduced me to loads of new people including (very interestingly) the editor of Educause Review, and then as I had to rush off, he "presented" with a new job title: Louise Thorpe, Chief Desperado, England....I like it, I think I could work with it :-)

Thursday, October 25, 2007

ARGs and library orientation

OK - well this was always going to be interesting (to me anyway) but I feared it might not live up to my expectations, which, by the time I got there were pretty high. Right, let me start by getting the logistics out of the way - Trinity is a small liberal arts university (2,400 students with an intake of approx 660 per year), it is a residential university and it is mandatory that all students live on campus for at least 3 years. The idea was to provide a fun way for students to get a feel for the way the library works and the resources/facilities available.

btw, I really like this definition for ARG - Alternate Reality Gaming is, according to CNET "...an obsession-inspiring genre that blends real-life treasure hunting, interactive storytelling, video games and online community..." (http://www.argn.com/what.html)

The ARG is called "Blood on the Stacks" and this is the second year it runs. This is another one of those "not sure I can do it justice" posts -but for different reasons. I really wanted to link to the start off video but the link won't stream, so I might need to save that little excitement for another day. Anyway, basically all incoming students were sent an email with a link to the video, Resident Mentors put up flyers in the dorms and the general orientation mentioned it. Based on groupwork (led by their RMs) the students had a couple of hours (in a 2 day window) to look for a series of clues on a "mystery pathway" and figure out who has stolen to Egyptian artifact, needing to cover a range of library resources/services incl - book stock, online resources, tutorials on how to use library, study help, information commons, printing etc - this was sometimes in small groups (2-4 people) other times in full "RM groups" (18 people). Once main challenge completed the groups could stay and do some optional questions for more points (of the 39 groups, 31 groups stayed behind for approx another hour to do more research. Prize was some money (to the RM group) to be spend on a team mini-break during mid-terms (still reinforcing importance of team).

Immersive - physical/digital, fiction/reality, learning/competition
Integrated - RMs as characters, additional media training
Info literate - orientation to resources - applications and behaviours not just resources.

This game was not intended to be "the whole library orientation" - not about how to use every aspect but to create a "mental model" - there is a formal, course specific engagement early in the semester - anecdotally the library and support staff reported feedback from students of feeling more familiar, less alien in the environment, the library was associated with fun and the staff were more approachable.

Social bookmarking

Went to an interesting session about academic applications of social bookmarking tools, focusing primarily on the use of Bb Scholar. Nothing deep or complicated but some great examples of actual practice including:
  • staff pushing recommended readings to students (shock, horror!!)
  • assignments that require finding, evaluating and sharing resources (including "find and share", "find and validate", "find and annotate")
  • linked assignments that then require drawing on all shared resources
  • groups build themed resource channels (eg was interdisciplinary medieval studies focusing on Arthurian legend)
  • put together collections that from the basis for discussion and exercises re "good and bad" resources
  • improve personal productivity (students and staff) by encouraging strong organisational skills
  • as a way for sharing/building CPD resources to staff for their own professional development
  • use for document flow and resource management for teamwork, committees and accreditation (validation) planning

Some interesting discussions about how some of the eg activities might be assessed....and the answer? well, there was that word again.....authenticity

Cultivating an agile workplace

This should have been great - Susan Metros, Tracy Mitrano and Carrie Wyndham - and the format was interesting but some of the content was a bit "top of head".
Background: Diana asked if they would present on net gen students but they thought that was soooo 2005 so chose to focus on what happens when those students become staff. It ran as a panel session, with Susan putting questions to the other two to unearth interesting topics. The questions were:

How does higher education compete with corporate entities in recruiting net savvy students/new workers? How do we retain them?

How do we prepare students for “life 2.0” - success in the workplace? What must our curricula look like? Should higher educational institutions either revert back to or initiate new required courses in the law, politics, culture and use of information technology resources?

How do we help the students and recent grads be successful in their new jobs and how do we help them forge career paths in our institutions?

Do our existing general education values map to the needs of a net savvy workforce?

How can we as employers prepare our existing (and more traditional) staff to accept and learn from this new breed of worker? How can we take advantage of their skill sets instead of squelching them?

Is there a place for social collaboration tools in the workplace? Should new workers modify their habits? What are the policy issues when new generation employees share work related information within their blogs, websites, and social collaboration spaces?

How do we navigate the “even finer” line digital tools have drawn between our personal and professional lives; public vs. private?

As a net gen new employee, what are the questions you are afraid to ask your employer?

What do you think about these? Comments welcome? I'll post more about what they said if you are interested - let me know. However, I really wanted to share Tracy's response to the curriculum question cos I felt it was thought provoking. Effectively that the C19th German disciplinary model of curriculum design has run its course and that we need to move away from this constraint as it is no longer sustainable. This could involve taking a global question and letting them construct the curriculum around that, establishing rules of the road through principles of citizenship (digital, ethical, educational). What do you think?

The Tower and the Cloud: HE and web 2.0

This was Richard Katz sharing tantalising tidbits from the upcoming book of the same title. The book has about 20 authors, all Educause favourites, and looks like being essential reading.

IT has promised quite a few false dawns, the dot com revolution for instance, and before that the certainty that we would all have increased leisure time through the magic of IT. At the moment it is difficult to work out whether Web 2.0 is going to promise more than it delivers – it could be transformative, but then again, the scepticism in the famous IT Doesn’t Matter article has got many people thinking, “here we go again…”

So, the Tower is the university, the Cloud is Web 2.0 – it is a brilliant metaphor, but we all thought that about hub and spoke didn’t we? It allows you to ask questions such as “is the cloud coming to cover the tower?” and look simultaneously profound, and as if you are trying out passwords to get into a speakeasy.

The Tower:

  • 1000 years of continuous operation – nothing if not resiliant
  • historical focus on place
  • quality and intimacy are “bundled” with limits to scale – ie face to face, peer support
  • enormous growth in demand for product
  • unique culture

Universities are aggregations of expertise and knowledge, but, so is wikipedia

Universities have become obsessed with excellence, but there is always Lloyd Armstrong’s syllogism that the more money you lose the more excellent you seem to be.

HE is facing some difficult challenges: more competition for talented students and faculty, for resources, the emergence of a fast growing for profit sector, privatisation of research. Students are either the net gen, or the need gen depending on where you sit. It is all a bit threatening, the rise of consumerism, their continuous partial attention, helicopter parents have become fighter bombers – gen xers are now having children, and these people are militant consumers, they don’t hover over their kids to make sure we give them right amount of love and affection, but are belligerent and in your face parents. They also want us to address sustainability!

The Cloud:

Lots of buzz and buzzwords – blogs, wikis, folksonomies, twitter - around Web 2.0, the hype masters are telling us the cloudscape is changing.

  • Changing cloudscape
  • From content to connections
  • Fixed content to dynamic content
  • Wisdom of experts to the wisdom of crowds

The question many are asking in HE is “Is there something real going on with all this?”
Katz’ conclusion is that of a changing tower, and an expanding cloud.

He argued for the need to flexify (sic) the tower, the history of the tower is about institutionalisation, developing political authority, increasing access, participation, role as cultural arbiter, enlightening the citizentry, with a history of self regulation

On the other hand, the tower could give shape to the cloud. At this point, it all got a bit Close encounters: “the Cloud can draw the form out of HE, how do we manifest our values into this shapeless formless cloud that has no rules.” Answers promised in the book!

last night

was the Presidium client appreciation do, closely followed by the Blackboard equivalent. Presidium was fine, cool place, nice food - Bb was verging on insane, horrible place and a "free" bar that ran out rather quickly.

a couple of pics:
"Country" from Presidium sharpens his customer relations skills in this Hopper-esque vignette.
Clive, Louise, and Andrew Rosen do a bit of business. Louise did take to the dancefloor, but I couldnt get a clear shot at her, sorry.

Conjunction of Physical and Virtual Learning Spaces

just in case you are expected something else from this title - this session was about Second Life (they use a range of other virtual worlds too but in this case just focused on SL) and doing things in parallel in first and second life spaces. Also a quick caveat - this was about a programme called Masters of Digital Media (accredited by 4 Canadian institutions, btw I really like the idea of masters of, rather than masters in - if it were an astronomy course it could be masters of the universe!) - so the students using the virtual world are learning about it in order to be able to use it/develop for it etc professionally. No problem with this, of course, but does make some of the motivation/engagement dynamics different. More info about the programme is at:

Check out the following YouTube vids to get a flavour:
(what do you think? anyone else think the concept of a "first life avatar" is strange?)

(this second one is mostly about, I think, what sort of virtual learning spaces would students design? - this was what most of the session was about - so more info below.)

Are virtual spaces so different? what is the value added of first/second synch events? - The presenter talked about building an SL campus with a lecture theatre, 2 seminar rooms and a social area - and at first I thought, oh dear this was going to be the standard "we've replicated the real world" but then it opened out and discussed some interesting issues (the presenter was really a researcher in virtual worlds rather than being teaching and learning focused so that set the tone). The students were given one of the seminar rooms to redesign to better suit their learning needs - at first they just stuck in a sofa and a wii, the presenter suggested they might change the way the room is configured - but almost immediately the students abandoned the room shell completely. Some interesting stuff about the dynamics of unconstrained space, the trend for most of the design facts to be round (??) and a facinating exercise (called the interdisciplinary improv session) about editing their avatar to create a polar opposite and the issues of self-representation.

So are virtual worlds so different? Presenter suggested:
Yes - reality need not apply, rich visual spaces, new opportunities for engagement, framing very important to balance gamer background. Different constraints - lag, limited concurrency, downtime, digital divide.
No - still space designed by people, but can augment, still need authenticity for engagement.

Tips for using virtual or dual synch activities based on lessons learned (be warned...)
  • check with the lawyers - Joanna (the presenter) was shot by one of her students in the middle of a presentation (as a joke) so to get him back, she set him on fire
  • set parameters - free spaces still need ground rules
  • make time to play with your students (I kid you not!)
  • customising your own avatar is a mark of respect to your students (like dressing smartly)
  • be creative and encourage experimentation
  • join groups and listservs
  • remember - reality need not apply

....and finally - the usual pre-presentation checks are still worth doing in SL. At an event within SL they invited a guest speaker but after the intro he walked onto the stage with his scripted genitals on the outside of his trousers, so embarrassed was he when he realised that he left without giving his talk - on the other hand at least in SL the floor truly can open up and swallow you!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Not what it said on the tin

Digital Storytelling to Enhance Faculty Development in Universal Design for Learning
In which Brett and Lou from Sonoma State Uni and California State Uni, respectively, managed to provoke a post lunch audience into interrupting them constantly with awkward questions, such as:

“But you have no interaction here!?”
“how much does this cost!?”
“what is the rationale behind using video at all?!”

You can see their stuff here:

Elixr = Engaging Learners in X at R, where x=subject r=place. They really wanted to show us how to do “cool things” with Pachyderm, an authoring tool, which I imagine many of you lot know about.
The example they showed the most of was called “Making your first class really first class.” It wasn’t bad as an induction sort of thing – but very low level, and not that pragmatic even. They then started to go into great detail about how to make talking head shots more interesting by varying the background…

It was at this point that I leaned over to Bryan Alexander and whispered “Bryan, you have been the victim of identity theft… “ and gave him a quick shufty at a certain person’s ning profile. I will keep you informed on developments here.

I then went to Social Software in Higher Education: an isolated incident or the start of something big? which I was really looking forward to. Unfortunately I had picked a wrong 'un. After 20 minutes of extremely irritating Dutch SURF types going on about using a wiki with some US folk and then all meeting up to talk about how it felt, I walked out.

I am still pondering how to blog the DF session. I even had a word with one of The Ladies Who Ran the Session, and shared my problem with her. This particular LWRtS can see my point, as she is confused as well. The LWRtS who has less to say ran away from me when I approached her, nearly strangling herself on her laptop power lead. I will muse on.

Authentic tasks and assessments: the keys to effective e-learning in HE

Stuart picked this one cos of the "A" word in the title - but it was mainly about the other "A" word in the title - authentic. This was a bit of an overview of the pedagogy of e-learning, authenticity and educational research. It wasn't anything really new but Tom Reeves is a major name in this area, so if someone is going to explain this stuff, it might as well be him. Again slides will be online soon so I'll just pick out some random highlights.

Firstly, recommended reading - I don't think any of these will be news to you, you've probably read some or all of these, but just in case you haven't here they are again:
Friedman - The World is Flat
Bain - What the best college teachers do
Tallent-Runnels (2006) - Teaching Course Online: A Review of Research (In the Review of Ed Research - I think??)
Twenge - Generation Me
Cuban - Oversold and Underused: Computers in the Classroom

I liked the fact he challenged the Howe and Strauss Net Gen stuff - it doesn't take much scratching of the surface, also the pyramid of learning some of you may be familiar with this (nothing significant in choosing this particular link just first available one I came across) - there is some significant debate about whether this model was just completely made up and the debate rages on - DF anyone?

National Survey of Student Engagement - staff expect students to learn 10-15 hrs in class with 25-30 hrs self study per week - not unreasonable? US students estimated their work time (20% <5hrs,>30hrs)

Lots about his work with Jan Herrington and Ron Oliver at http://www.authentictasks.uow.edu.au/

Data mining as an emerging method of assessing student learning

Chris Dede and Jody Clarke (the latter is a doctoral student and this is the subject of her thesis).
Maybe I should have known the session was going to be a bit iffy when I typed in the url given on the session title powerpoint:
And got nothing.
The correct url is
I was really looking forward to this, but I had seen much of it at ELI last time out. If felt like an ALT paper (never thought I would say that about the great Dede) in that it was spinning out as much as possible from a project. Anyway there were some nuggets.
Their main point seemed to be that yes, yes, we all know that everything is now distributed, that cognition is distributed across human minds, that people are dispersed physically, socially, etc etc but the difference is that all this activity is data generating.

We then watched the Microsoft video that he showed at ELI:

The point seemed to be that an awful lot of stuff is being generated and captured, just like us with our ning thing, and this blog. If we could create tools to analyse all this data we might find more out about how people learn.
Data mining is for uncovering patterns in data, from which you might do some predictive modelling – it is going on in the background as you try to arrange your car or house insurance. The problem in HE is that we use a different grain size, one that is not that detailed, eg which courses are going to popular, where do most of our students come from, etc
Dede wanted to data mine to discover things about teamworking, what difference an authentic summative assessment makes to learning, is a particular student developing an increasingly sophisticated inquiry process - and then to be able to factor in other variables such as gender, age.
So he was collecting everything he could in the muve, and I mean everything. Think Blackboard course stats with knobs on.
I was getting a bit lost as he took us around his very Second Life-like River City thing, when he changed tack and went to:
which apparently is not, and I repeat, not about tag clouds, but nearer to concept maps. Got that?

Keynote - Leadership

OK so this was a keynote at 8.15am by a historian talking about leadership and having experienced the seminal Kurtzweil keynote last year this could only ever be a bit of a disappointment (although more likely to be free of chocolate milk). Well that would be wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong...it was absolutely fantastic, the best ever - engaging, inspiring, humbling, funny, informative, enchanting, transfixing, understated, overwhelming... and by the end of the 90 minutes throughout which she leaned forward on the lecturn and spoke as if you were the only person in the room (rather than one of 7,000) there wasn't a dry eye in the house...I kid you not.

I'm not going to do justice describing this but can I strongly recommend you check out the recording when it is put onto the web. So rather than spoil it below is the profile of the speaker that we got at the start - just as a taster.

Doris Kearns Goodwin
B.A. Colby College, Phi Beta Kappa. Magna cum laude. Ph.D in Government at Harvard University, Woodrow Wilson Fellow.

EXPERIENCE: Taught at Harvard University, including the course on American Presidency. Worked as an assistant to President Lyndon Johnson during the last year in the White House; later assisted Johnson on the preparation of his memoirs.


Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream. 1976. Book-of-the-Month Club. New York Times bestseller. Called by the New York Times “the most penetrating political biography” the reviewer had ever read.

The Fitzgeralds and The Kennedys. 1987. Literary Guild. New York Times bestseller for five months. Winner of various awards. Made into six hour miniseries aired on ABC in 1990. “Rarely has popular history rung so authentic,” the New York Times reviewer said.

No Ordinary Time: Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt: The Home Front in World War II. Awarded Pulitzer Prize in history in April, 1995. Also was awarded the Harold Washington Literary Award, the New England Bookseller Association Award, the Ambassador Book Award and The Washington Monthly Book Award. New York Times bestseller for six months.

Wait Till Next Year: A Memoir. 1997. Growing up in the 1950’s in love with the Brooklyn Dodgers. Book-of-the-Month Club. New York Times Bestseller. “This is a book in the grand tradition of girlhood memoirs, dating from Louisa May Alcott to Carson McCullers and Harper Lee” the Washington Post reviewer wrote. Has been optioned for a musical.

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln. Winner of the prestigious Lincoln Prize and the inaugural Book Prize for American History. 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist. New York Times bestseller. “A brilliantly conceived and well-written tour de force of a historical narrative,” wrote the reviewer for the Boston Globe. Steven Spielberg acquired the rights to the book and is developing a feature film based on it, with Liam Neeson to star as Lincoln.

Numerous articles on politics and baseball for leading national publications. Winner of the Charles Frankel Prize given by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Sara Josepha Hale medal. First woman journalist to enter the Red Sox locker room.

TELEVISION: Currently an NBC News Analyst. Consultant and interviewed extensively for PBS documentaries on LBJ, the Kennedy family, Franklin Roosevelt, Abraham and Mary Lincoln, and Ken Burns’ “The History of Baseball.”

Married to the writer Richard Goodwin who worked in the White House under both Kennedy and Johnson. His experience as the investigator who uncovered the quiz show scandals of the 1950’s was captured in the Academy Award nominated movie “Quiz Show,” directed by Robert Redford. The Goodwin have three sons, Richard, Michael and Joseph.

Source: http://www.doriskearnsgoodwin.com/


The Adventures of Katz and Dodds: Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World

The quote, by the way, is from Swift, it isn’t some kind of awful patronising US view of things. The theme of this was basically 2 Educause type guys go to Yurp, learn all about the Bologna Agreement, drink wine, eat fine food, get worried that the Yurpeens are getting their act together, but conclude “vive la difference.”
They started off with a think that is all over this conference, the problems of an “aging population”, which both Yurp and the US have. I will return to this aging or ageing stuff in a later post.

Their view of Yurp:

  • dynamic but unhurried

  • Mediaeval but post modern

  • Cosmopolitan but local

  • Cleaving – in both senses of fusing together and tearing apart

Their conclusion from these tensions was that Yurp was either a. a continent in balance, or, b. something undergoing a transition. They came down on the side of b.
They were very clear about Bologna – clearer than many UK people are – but they had been sold a line that Bologna was an external force for change in a system that clung to tradition. I should mention at this point, that they obviously never went to anywhere like SHU, it was all awed remarks about visiting universities that were founded in the 13th century etc

Choice quotes:

  • We often see Yurp as art galleries and old buildings, but there is more to it than that

  • Its all a mashup – accompanied by a picture of swiss didgeridoo band, and there are mosques over rural england

  • The English language is bringing the world to the US, will we meet it

  • Mentioned how OU told him they were struggling to get on with elearning

  • In UK the news tells you what is going on in places like Africa

The final image of a road sign for a humped pelican crossing – two nations divided by a common language anyone?

Preconference session - one good, one hmm

OK - time to get some homework done

Morning preconference was "What is your ETA? ...Emerging Technologies Assessment for Academic Technology Professionals" - basically about how a uni chooses which emerging technologies to pursue and a process for planning, review and evaluation. Session by Ohio State and was really good and very useful - not really about new technologies at all - really about decision making processes, planning, piloting etc but in the context where you probably don't have the luxury of year long evaluation pilots - definitely transferrable. We did some stakeholder analysis activities with card sorting techniques and a johari window type model that I think is worth repeating back at SHU and I'd like us to have a look at some of the process mapping, decision triggers stuff too - intially I thought "this would be great for CDT" and it still would but not exclusively. A nice feature of the workshop (and if you bear in mind previous blog rants I've had in the past) was that the presenters had done some additional preparation beforehand and pre-allocated groups based upon type and size of institution so that there may be more opportunities for sharing easily transferrable experiences. We'll get a link to all the resources used and produced in the workshop after the conference, anyone interested in knowing more - let me know.

Second pre-conference - Faculty Development for the New Millenium (U of Minnesota) - now don't get me wrong, there wasn't anything really wrong with the session and my table group were great (I think the word is diverse...one institution with over 100 campuses, one institution with less than 2,000 students, someone from Uni of Alaska with really fascinating issues, one that had just had its "LTI" closed cos the VC and PVC believed that if staff were clever enough to have a PhD they don't need any help in doing something as simple as teaching, and some funny English woman who no one could understand). The presenters focused the session on their programmatic approach to faculty development - which was interesting enough although nothing really that unusual - what I couldn't see any evidence of was the "new millenium" bit - just standard new staff support, focused workshops, development grants, personal fellowships - also it seems weird to me to be talking about a "new millenium" when it isn't so new anymore.

Some interesting snippets (that aren't about the core theme) - they use Bb Vista, Moodle and approx 8 other associated tools eg blogs, wikis, breeze etc - and to support the instructional technology piece they have 17 instructional designers and content developers and 8 (yes, 8) systems administrators.

Also they do student and faculty expectation surveys every 2 years and report on them (I liked the format on this a lot) - the 2007 reports are:

21st Century Instructors at the U of Minnesota (Faculty Educational Technology Survey 2007)

Net Generation Students at the U of Minnesota (Student Educational Technology Survey 2007)

Previous surveys and a whole host of other things are available at their website if you are interested:
http://dmc.umn.edu/ which interestingly demonstrates a lot more new millenium techniques than the session suggested.

You know - I really like Andrew Rosen but...

...when it comes to the "what did you do at the weekend?" question I am clearly an amateur, no I am just holding the amateur's coat holder's coat .

Those of you outside aunt sally's last week know that excitement in our house runs to swimming lessons and visiting my mum (with a couple of pre-cooked chickens), so picture the scene:

"Hi Andrew, what did you do at the weekend?"

"Oh you know, I recently contributed to Hillary's presidential campaign so got to attend a 45 min talk by Bill Clinton (followed by just informal hanging out with him for a couple of hours) - it was great" - we'll try to source a picture and there are some more politically-focused statements I might share about this face-to-face if you are politically motivated/interested, but in the meantime - ggggrrrrrrr-een-eyed monster!! - you bet!!!!!!!

Go on, you know you want it...

Even after a couple of fortifying Knob Creeks, I still feel unable to do justice to the surreal, nay, extraordinary experience I had this afternoon in the DF session. I have booked a couple of therapy sessions tomorrow and hope to report after that.

In the meantime, and back onto a subject which seems popular with some of you, Louise will tell you about the Bb Pirate plug in, and I just wanted to share something with you:

could they be the Prize of Prizes?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

preconference seminar - learning spaces

This was billed as Applying Principles to Initiate and Advance Learning Space Design. And that's what we got, 3 and a half hours of principles. It was all good stuff, but interesting in that the Oblinger Learning Spaces stuff, which it was based on, is starting to feel a bit tired.

I had two problems: I ended up on a table full of AV and IT guys and you can guess their fixations about innovative learning spaces. Secondly, the session was predicated on the assumption that you (ie me) were a lone innovator trying to convince your institution that these things are Good Things. So there was a lot of the usual high level sponsor stuff etc etc - not really applicable to SHU at this moment in time.

It was therefore, really annoying that the rolling images that played as we assembled included Birmingham and Warwick etc We must get our own one asap!

Apart from all the good stuff which I will pass on to Liz, Joel, etc and boy could our chums in the Learning Hubs benefit from engaging with some of this stuff.

The other bit I enjoyed was the beginners guide to constructivism (yes you should have seen the faces of my new buddies from AV and IT) aimed squarely at the audience, ie explained in terms of a kids book - Fish is Fish.

This books tells the story of "A tadpole and a minnow are underwater friends, but the tadpole grows legs and explores the world beyond the pond and then returns to tell his fish friend about the new creatures he sees. The fish imagines these creatures as bird-fish and people-fish and cow-fish and is eager to join them."

or, learning is based context and paradigm, enhanced through interactions, formative assessment, and discovery and intention. Did I hear someone say "metacognitive?"

I couldnt find the picture of the cow fish, but I am sure you all get the message.

The second seminar today was a comic masterpiece that I will try to do justice to later on today/ tonight or whatever.

Challenge 2: Six degrees of separation - the game

OK - how about this one? beware it can be addictive:

Choose a term (work/Educause/Seattle related) and search for that term in Wikipedia.
On page 1 click on the first available link within the body text (do not click on any links in italics, any disambiguation links or any links that go outside Wikipedia).
On page 2 (ie wherever link 1 takes you) click on the second available link.
On page 3 (ie wherever link 2 takes you) click on the third available link.
And so on until you have clicked on the 6th link.
Put together the original term with the definition of the 6th link term for 1 point (NB if the output is eerily funny there may be 2 points in it - judges decision final)
For 3 points (as a tribute to Educause) use all 6 key terms in a 50 words or less "abstract", 4 points if this is eerily funny.

OK? Got that? 2 examples to give you a feel:
Original term - Sheffield Hallam University
1 - university
2 - research
3 - interpreting
4 - one-way mirror (yes, really)
5 - magnified
6 - digital processing
"Sheffield Hallam University..........is the process of altering digital data in any form"

Original term - virtual learning environment
1 - software
2 - computer program
3 - algorithm
4 - terminating
5 - Indian tribes (yes, really 2)
6 - lineage
"Virtual learning environment......is one of the major concepts of cultural anthropology"

OK, I'm going to sleep now - got a day full of pre-conference in the morning - enjoy!

btw - Stuart looking forward to something Canadian from you ;-)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hurry up Harry

No need to get homesick, there is a pub in the basement of the hotel. You need sound to appreciate that. And an old fashioned red phone box outside.

Bang on, can you only be a stranger once? Last night there was your typical rent-a-cockney in said pub giving it large about beckham, shouting out swearwords that shouldnt be shouted out etc Mustering up a strong Scouse accent - I dont know how I do it sometimes - I had a quick "chat" with him. Afterwards he calmed down a bit, he might have wanted to come on as Mr Bow Bells, but he was probably from Swindon or something.

Challenge 1 - aka "Things that are evil.com"

There is a serious point to this one...honestly. People are always having a pop at Wikipedia - and whilst some of it may be justified, it isn't always. One of the things about a community based resource is that it can only ever be as good as the community is prepared to make it. Also it is really just the latest in a long line of things that exist in the world that can be used sensibly or..er...not. Previously, it might have been just the lecturers notes given back verbatum, single text book research, Encarta, Google....but we can't (shouldn't) tell people not to use them we should help them "DF" and know how/when/why/when not to use them. But at the same time we could try to do right be the people using those sites and live the ethos. So my challenge is:

Taking a work related topic in Wikipedia, could you...
- get a piece of information published into an existing Wikipedia article
- add a reference where there is a "citation required" flag
- add a whole new article or at least a stub on an topic area
- follow a couple of references from the bottom of the article and learn something you didn't know before
- spot something that is inaccurate or contentious and report it

This is obviously a long game challenge but could be a great exercise to have a go at. If you fancy trying and making some notes about what you have been able to achieve, the issues emerging, viability of these activities as learning opportunities - sign up by commenting on this post. Then let's meet in about a month and reflect on how it went.

Don't worry guys, I've got a plan for a blog/conference related game and a competition but this was just too good an opportunity to miss.

US tuition costs

Not strictly conference related but in the news a lot today so thought I'd share it with you. The news item is - "concerns raised about the increase in tuition costs in the US as they rise above the rate of inflation". We hear about US tuition fees a lot, so I thought it might be interesting to share the following figures with you - they aren't all they might seem after all.

Ave tuition costs:
Private 4yr universities - $23,712 per year (up 6.3%)
Public 4yr universities - $6,135 per year (up 6.6%)
Public 2yr community colleges - $2,361 per year (up 4.2%)