Thursday, December 23, 2010

What do you cherish and want not to lose?

Transform AND Preserve:  Teaching and Learning with Technology

As this difficult year ends, please support the TLT Group with a donation if you can and reflect on these “Fundamental Questions” at the heart of our work.  
Think about the kinds of change that might happen to your students, your colleagues, your institution, and yourself.    What should be transformed?  What should be preserved?  How?

For the 1990s:
1.  What do you most want to gain?
2.  What do you most cherish and want not to lose?

For the 2010s:  
3.  What are some worthwhile improvements we can make quickly and easily?  
[Small steps]

4.   How can we share more widely improvements that work well enough?   How can we support collegial sharing?
5.   How can we ensure additional improvements after these?  
And after those?  And so on...?
6.  How can we help more people take advantage more easily and more often of resources to which they are already entitled?

How can we reclothe the emperor?   e.g., not only expose new misleading claims about online education as panacea, but also offer practical guidance?  More...

You can become a member of the TLT Group, make a donation, or encourage your institution to subscribe.   More...

MEMBERSHIP:  $95 for an annual membership entitles you to members only resources and online sessions.
DONATION:  Send us a donation.  We’re a 501c3 and your contribution is tax deductible.
SUBSCRIPTION:  If your institution is not a subscriber yet, change that!  List of subscribers:

Thanks, and we look forward to working with you even more in 2011!
Steve Gilbert

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Building Collective Ambition - Vision Worth Working Toward

“This is not the end, but it is a new beginning... It is not what is ultimately required, but it is the essential foundation on which to build greater, collective ambition.”

Attributed to Christiana Figueres, the Costa Rican diplomat who serves as executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change during Cancun conference on climate change in  Climate Talks End with Modest Deal on Emissions, John Broder, Dec 11, 2010, New York Times.

"Collective Ambition" suggests that  stakeholders might reach an agreement infused with energy and a shared commitment to achieve something better, together.

Similarly, a "Vision Worth Working Toward" is more than an expectation and less than a prediction.  It must be an inspiring but plausible goal that participants can work toward and make visible progress - soon.  More from the TLT Group...

Information technology can be the excuse and the means to make almost any kinds of change in education and elsewhere.  Think about the kinds of change that might happen to your students, your colleagues, your institution, and yourself.
See previous posting for another nugget - "Better to take small steps than trip making a big leap " - from this conference.

Better to take small steps than trip making a big leap

“This process has never been characterized by leaps and bounds... It has been characterized by small steps. And I’d rather see this small step here in CancĂșn than the international community tripping over itself in an effort to make a large leap.”
Attributed to Yvo de Boer, former executive secretary of the U.N. climate office during Cancun conference on climate change in  Climate Talks End with Modest Deal on Emissions, John Broder, Dec 11, 2010, New York Times.
For more on the TLT Group's increasing focus on "small steps," see:
See next posting for another nugget - "Building Collective Ambition" - from this conference.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Futuristic view of education - plus ca change...

As some of you will realize and many of you know, I am a devoted, long time reader of science fiction.   It is often the case that science fiction writers glom onto issues and perspectives before the rest of us.  They also often illuminate those issues.  Reading  Pat Cadigan's story - quotes below - sent me on a trail.  First the questions, then the observation, then a poke at all of us as we overlook how little we notice and how little somethings change. 

 Will "cutting edge" technology applications, e.g., artificial reality, be used most to replicate current educational practices - complete with their limitations - for years to come? Or to change teaching and learning in fundamental ways? It usually takes human beings much longer to devise new ways of USING new technologies effectively to meet fundamental essential human needs than the most zealous advocates expect or hope. Science fiction authors often embed their own beliefs about how mundane, fundamental aspects of society are likley to change in the near or far future - and some of them believe that we will long remain bounded by our inability to reconceive teaching and learning, and by the very slow changing essential predilections of humans as learners. 

"Exhaustive studies have proven conclusively that orientation is best accomplished in very familiar and mundane surroundings that don't distract from the essential information to be imparted."
Ten million years of evolution and technology and the best anyone can come up with in artificial reality --where anything is possible -- is a standard office situation."

Pat Cadigan  Tea from an Empty Cup: Issue 1 - Page 108 Pat Cadigan - 1999 - 256 pages - Preview

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

"PCR Study Cycle saved my life..."

"...I... failed my first round of [freshman] tests... I did not know how to study at all. ...The study cycle [PCR = preview/class/review] saved my life, and two semesters later, I still use it. ...

"...CAS [LSU Center for Academic Success -] helped me to learn various study methods and tailor them to my independent learning style..." 
- Above is excerpt from email sent Oct 22, 2010  by LSU undergraduate nutrition major Ashton to Saundra McGuire, Assistant Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching, Professor, Department of Chemistry, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge
"Teach Students How to Learn: Metacognition is the Key!"  with Saundra McGuire - 
free, live online session 12/10 2pm Eastern  FREE REGISTRATION!

Monday, December 06, 2010

Do Neo-Luddites Use Neo-Telephones?

If a neo-luddite is walking alone in a forest and gets lost, is it OK to use a compass to find his way home?

If a neo-luddite is walking alone in a forest and gets lost, is it OK to use his phone's GPS to find his way home?
If a luddite is walking alone in a forest and gets lost, is it OK to use a compass to find his way home?
If a neo-luddite and a luddite are walking together in a forest and they come to a fork in the road, will anyone care?
*     *     *     *     *     

"'Neo-Luddite,' I said to myself. A filthy accusation."

1985, Greg Bear, "Blood Music", in The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (2004), page 32.

Wikipedia: neo-Luddite (plural neo-Luddites)

  1. (sometimes pejorative) One who opposes technology, in the fashion of the Luddites.
  2. One who opposes to scientific or technological progress; frequently pejorative [quotations ▲]

Friday, December 03, 2010

Extermission - Constructive BackChannel

"Extermission" = planned interlude of 1-5 minutes when participants share something useful during a class, presentation, or workshop.  They are invited, especially, to reach out to colleagues who are not participating in that session and recommend some useful resource or idea that has just been identified.  In online events, an Extermission may also be used to invite others to login for the remainder of the session.  An extermission legitimizes "back-channel" communication among participants during an event - live outreach.  See:  Extermission - Frugal Innovations

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Forget the planet, save the garden - SMALL STEPS!

" 'You don't measure your own success against the size or volume of the effect you're having. You gauge it from the difference you make to the subject you're working on. Is leading an army that wins a war really that much more satisfying than teaching a four-year-old to ride a bicycle? at our age, you can go for the small things and you do them as well as you can… ' Forget the planet, save the garden." 
...'Go for the small things and do them well.'  It would be his new mantra."
Page preceding this excerpt describes the satisfaction of  teaching a conscientious but slow-learning employee to read - in sixteen years.
See more of this excerpt and learn about Anarchy and Old Dogs, by Colin Cotterill
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 1st 2007 by Soho Crime
ISBN 156947463X (ISBN13: 9781569474631)
series Dr. Siri #4

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Why TLT Roundtables are coming back: CRISIS...LURCH...TLTR2!

Early 1990s:

Late 1990s, early 2000s:

Late 2000s, early 2010s:

Early 2010s, mid 2010s:


As many of you know, over 500 colleges and universities formed Teaching, Learning, and Technology Roundtables (TLTRs) in the late 1990s. They served as an effective and flexible response to the CRISIS LURCH CRISIS pattern of "planning" for improvement in teaching and learning with technology.

We're hearing frequently from folks who are reviving and reconfiguring their institutions' TLTRs in response to current pressures and fragmentation. A new version of the CRISIS LURCH CRISIS conditions.

These TLTR2s are both similar in their structure and different from their predecessors in the current conditions they face.

Similar in that TLTRs
  • Build on the enormous human resources of colleagues without burning those colleagues out.
  • Are aligned with the current organizational structure without being part of it or in conflict with it.
  • Advise academic decision makers
  • Facilitate readjustment, reorganization - help create a new stable structure
  • Very low cost: require little or no change to total operation budget or staff assignments.
  • (Re)Build consensus about the ways technology can contribute to the institution's educational mission.
  • Deal collaboratively with rapid, unavoidable, attractive, frightening change.

Different conditions
  • The stakes are even higher than they were ten years ago.
  • Retrenchment in academic support services - IT, faculty development; scarcity of training for faculty to use new teaching resources with confidence; scarcity of training for students to use new resources for learning.
  • Ubiquity of handheld devices with rapidly increasing capabilities and unpredictable educational implications (remember when FaceBook was solely for social interaction among undergraduates and others were unwelcome?);
  • Proliferation of educationally valuable services, tools, Web 2.0 options which are not owned or controlled by the college or university.
  • Dissatisfaction with widely used, expensive, Learning Management Systems.
  • Availability and respectability of open source resources.
  • Pressure to teach more students online (partially or entirely), when the meaning of "online" is likely to change next year or next week.
  • “Necessity is the mother of self-deception” - belief that increasing course enrollment must be accomplished by expanding online and hybrid courses AND that will be accomplished without increasing faculty AND that will be accompanied by significant net increases in tuition revenue. [This is happening when MANY other institutions are attempting the same thing, thus increasing the competition for students!]

These differences reveal that we are facing an even greater discontinuity than we did in the 1990s. More options, less money, more pressure to cut costs and improve student performance TMI/TMO/TLT/TL$. We need to resurrect and re-adopt a valuable, effective paradigm: People working together on common problems across institutional boundaries can adapt to changes more thoughtfully and disseminate reasoned and reasonable improvements more effectively.

Is the CRISIS LURCH CRISIS pattern happening at your institution?
Are any of the similar or different conditions relevant to your institution?
How could you NOT want a TLTR at your institution?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Narrow gap between puberty and authority?

"... Siri looked at their boyish faces and noted how narrow the gap was becoming between puberty and authority." -
For some, the recession is lengthening this gap...  it takes longer to complete higher education, find and begin a career.  For others, it remains too narrow.

See larger excerpt from:  Anarchy and Old Dogs,  Colin CotterillColin Cotterill Author Alert Category: Fiction - Mystery & Detective
Publisher: Vintage Canada
Format: Trade Paperback, 288 pages
Pub Date: August 2008
Price: $17.95
ISBN: 978-0-676-97952-7 (0-676-97952-1)

Steve Gilbert

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Necessity is the Mother of Self-Deception

 INTRO/SUMMARY We are all susceptible to wishful thinking and self- deception. It can result from external pressures and self- doubt. It can lead either to rash action or to passivity – especially when making major technology decisions in difficult times.  

Necessity is the Mother of Self-Deception 
[First published as TLT-SWG-70: 4/3/03]  

We're facing yet another "New Crunch" in higher education. We're feeling insecure in our professional lives and our home lives. We need to find ways, together, of making real progress without panicking and without sacrificing what matters most to us as educators, citizens, and as responsible human beings. But there is always the danger that external pressures and internal stress can lead to self-deception. The results can be extreme: rash action or paralysis.

On most campuses budgets are tightening at the same time that expectations are rising and options are multiplying (especially for ways of improving teaching and learning with technology). Even though the technology and professional development "Support Service Crisis" keeps getting worse, more institutions are trying to engage almost all their faculty and students in increasing instructional uses of information technology. "Information Literacy" is becoming more important, but is difficult to clarify and achieve without adding resources and developing new levels of intra-institutional collaboration. Some new technologies (e.g., cell phones and instant messaging) seem simultaneously to widen the generation gap and to offer creative instructional opportunities.

More people from more age groups believe they need higher education. Competition for admission to selective colleges and universities continues to increase. Many public institutions don't have the funding or space required to meet the needs of the numbers of students they are committed to serve.

Our economy struggles to "recover" and our country is at war.

Faced with general uncertainty, mythic expectations, and diminishing resources, we are all susceptible to the temporary relief provided by wishful thinking. We are bombarded with claims and distracted by hopes that new information technology solutions can solve major educational problems. Presidents, Chief Academic Officers, Chief Information Officers, and other academic leaders are sorely tempted to believe either:

1. "This new solution MUST be possible, affordable, and available – because my institution needs it so badly. We need to get started right now." [e.g., the kinds of claims and hopes made for distance education only a few years ago.] Or

2. "This new solution CANNOT be necessary because it isn't affordable, comfortable, or clearly effective. We can just wait this one out." [e.g., the kinds of claims and hopes made that most undergraduates will use the Web effectively when doing research assignments -- on their own initiative and relying only on the Internet skills they already have.]

Part II: How to Make Small Mistakes and Real Progress
(Instead of Big Mistakes and Fail).

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Monday, October 18, 2010

“Violation of Virgin Text”(?)

Can eReaders deepen student engagement with text?  See “wiki-italicization” etc in

Can eReader devices enable deeper student engagement with text?  
Annotation and highlighting options are described as  “wiki-italicization” and explored by Virginia Heffernan in the article “The Medium:  E-Readers' Collectiveexcerpted below. Pls read it in preparation for TLTG’s 1st online book discussion session this Friday 10/22 2pm ET - _Crazy Busy_ by Edward Hallowell, because we’ll also discuss how and why to run online book discussions.

MAGAZINE   | October 17, 2010
The Medium:  E-Readers' Collective
What's the use of reading in a crowd?

“...italics added right in books, postpublication, by readers, in a kind of wiki-italicization project? These are the so-called “popular highlights” that now show up in Kindle e-books. Marked by a dotted underscore that indicates that other Kindle users have found the passages significant, popular highlights constitute crowd-sourced literary criticism. Readers, on the spot and yet collaboratively, make meaning of what they’re reading. The effect is odd — even for those of us who see literature as something readers determine incrementally and collectively.

“.... The dotted line, like the distinctive hue or underscore that signals a word is clickable on the Web, may be a new kind of punctuation that affects contemporary style.

“Readers coming to e-books freshly purchased from Amazon might be taken aback to find them
already marked up. Stumbling on a passage that other people care about, framed as though you
should care about it too, can seem like a violation of virgin text. It’s bad enough that vandals
have gotten to your “new” edition before you have and added emphases unendorsed by author
or publisher.

“...feeling alone enough to read.

“But there’s a genie-in-the-bottle problem here. As with many things on the Web, once you’ve glimpsed popular highlights, it’s hard to unglimpse them. You get curious about what other readers think,

“Reading, after all, is only superficially solitary; in fact, it’s a form of intensive participation in language and the building of common culture.

“... finding yourself one of many — can be uncomfortable.  But if you can’t handle that discomfort, you shouldn’t be reading popular books

If you don’t want to read a book that’s been “popularly highlighted,” but you want to get a sense
of what Kindle underliners believe is poetry, check out Amazon’s list of most-highlighted
passages at
Kindle devotees: don’t just complain about popular highlights, do something. Highlight your own
passage, and get your friends to do the same. As of October, it seems to take only a few dozen
highlights to win a popular-highlight underscore.
In “Is There a Text in This Class?” (1980), Stanley Fish of The Times — not that anyone owns
Stanley Fish — wrote the book on reader-response criticism. Not available for Kindle yet. Hey,
readers: respond and request.
10/18/2010 The Medium - E-Readers Collective - NY…