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?