Monday, October 31, 2011

"Puzzles of the Brain..Artist's Journey through Amnesia" Exhibit of works before, during recovery from encephalitis

I had the privilege of working with this artist, Lonni Sue Johnson, in the 1980s
and again when she created the TLT Group's logo for us in 1998.  She was patient when I was slow to see how her images could elevate my fumbling attempts to translate ideas into words.

She offered insights and humor - and so does her work.  She represented multiple, complex ideas with deceptively charming drawings in warm, soft colors.  

I was saddened by recent news of  Lonni Sue's encephalitis, and intrigued by the exhibit at the Walters Museum in Baltimore (co-sponsored by the Cognitive Science Department of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts & Science at The Johns Hopkins University).   Finally, this past Saturday, Sally and I took our nephew to the  " of approximately 25 works exploring the impact of severe brain damage on the life and creativity of an artist." - from "Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist's Journey through Amnesia"

The exhibit displays Lonni Sue Johnson's works chronologically along with explanations of her brain damage.  I couldn't simply enjoy the first sequence of pictures that showed her growing success as an artist and commercial illustrator (several New Yorker covers, etc.), because I knew that trajectory had been broken.  Then came the hand-made word puzzles and other non-paintings, with explanations of how and why she couldn't paint or draw or remember or talk or move.  

Finally, the third set of images offers some hope.  Lonni Sue's partial but extraordinary recovery continues today.  The love and dedication and skill of Lonni Sue's mother and sister and the medical professionals are clear and admirable.  She has regained some of her ability to use words and to produce art.  She is still communicating ideas and feelings.  She can recognize her old work and her new work as her own.  And so can we.  Her spirit is still there. 

For more, including pictures, video(s), see below and visit the Walters Museum exhibit:  "Puzzles of the Brain: An Artist's Journey through Amnesia" (free admission, open Wednesday-Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m; exhibit ends Dec 11, 2011).

The following 4 paragraphs are excerpts from "Johns Hopkins Researchers Study Artistic Aspect of Illustrator’s Illness," News release from Johns Hopkins Univ., September 12, 2011, MEDIA CONTACT: Lisa De Nike

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Use Template for Small Group Collaboration Cases -based on Guidelines/Resources

We need cases and examples to clarify, illustrate, and extend our preliminary conclusions about working with small, collaborative, mixed-role groups of colleagues. Working with a small group this fall, we developed draft guidelines/resources and a template  to help others describe their own small group work in a way that will be easier to share and build on. 
To participate, contact Rebecca Kurtz.

We believe that working with small groups and focusing on small, realistic steps will lead to more widespread, long-lasting meaningful changes. In fact, in these especially challenging times, small steps may be the ONLY way to keep moving forward - and in the right direction. 
- Steven W. Gilbert, President, TLT Group, Summer, 2011

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

“Hey, wait a minute!” Ilene Frank answers my question: Who’s responsible for support services for online learners?

"..Online courses are COURSES"
Ilene Frank <>   wrote in response to TLT-SWG posting "A course is not a pizza or book. Who owns a course..." :

See "Academic Advisors and Student Support" video from Walden Univ.
"Hey, wait a minute! This makes it sound like no one's caught on to the idea of student support services for online learners! Not the case! I do not believe that online courses are "sink or swim" in any institution with a commitment to online learning. Example of some services from Walden U

Can't resist sharing "Bullwinkle Show..Quotes” Found when searching for “Curses, foiled again!” BEWARE OF PUNS

See "The Bullwinkle Show" (1961) - Memorable quotes [IMDB Website]
Excerpts [warning! puns ahead]:

Bullwinkle: [explaining the components of a stereo system] This is the amplifier, which amplifies the sound. And this is the preamplifier, which, of course, amplifies the pree.

Rocky: Look, Bulliwinkle, a message in a bottle.
Bullwinkle: Fan mail from a flounder?
Rocky: This is what I really call a message.

Bullwinkle: I'd like to apply for a job as an usher?
Boris: What experience have you had?
Bullwinkle: I've been in the dark for most of my life.

[Rocky and Bullwinkle have brought an old model ship to an antique dealer]
Rocky: Bullwinkle, this ship is covered in rubies and look what's written on the side! O-Mar Khay-yam. Bullwinkle, do you know what this is?
Bullwinkle: Well, if you're waiting on me to say it, I won't.
Antique Dealer: Me neither.
Rocky: OK, then this must be
Rocky: "The Ruby Yacht of Omar Khayyam".
Bullwinkle, Antique Dealer: OOOOH!

And, penultimately, the one that led me to this webpage:
Boris Badenov: Phooey! Foiled again!
Natasha Fatale: Don't you mean, "Curses! Foiled again!"?
Boris Badenov: Please, Natasha. This is kiddie show. 

Finally, found when searching for image to use (citation below):
Rocky: Look, Bullwinkle! All the wonderful people out there can see us again!
Bullwinkle: But how?
Rocky: Flickr!
Bullwinkle: Flick her? But I don't even know her!

Steve Bell - Librarian/UpKeeperExtraordinary - Interviews (text, live) LOTS OF RECOMMENDATIONS, RESOURCES

Join FridayLive! 10/28 2pm ET Free Online "Catching Steve Bell! Catch up just once with Steve Bell - Even if you can’t keep up with him;  Librarians, Libraries, and Friends"  He helps all of us either to keep up more effectively or to feel better about falling behind!

See Steven Bell's blogs: Kept-Up Academic LibrarianACRLog, and Designing Better Libraries, and his column “From the Bell Tower” in Library Journal’s Academic Newswire. 

Excerpts from a recent text interview:

Questioned about Twitter, etc., " These sources are great in some ways but the amount of noise within these channels can be problematic. You need to limit yourself to following a handful of people within these communities."

Questioned about resources:
"Think for a moment about the new Piazza service which allows students to talk together about the best way to complete a homework assignment. How could an academic library be part of such a service? Would the library want to be part of such a service?
" I recommend beginning with RSS feeds and email alerts from web sources and then experimenting with web page change detection services.
"Also, it is important to point out that libraries often overlook their own database services as a source of RSS feeds and email alerts. As an example, I do saved searches and alerts for 'design thinking' and I get table of contents updates from many business and library publications. Alerts and RSS feeds from ProQuest and other information services consolidate updates from many sources and this can result in significant time savings.
"I recommend that librarians subscribe to updates from Inside Higher Education and The Chronicle of Higher Education ... ACRL Environmental Scan and the Top Ten Trends reports... ACRL Insider newsletter ... New York Times Education, Business and Technology sections. ... University Business, Library Journal Academic Newswire, MIT InfoTech Updates (some content is fee-only), and Harvard Business Review Blogs.

- Above excerpts from "Interview with Steven Bell — Keeping Up With the Things That Matter for Academic Libraries" Posted by: mhdiaz | October 26, 2011
Part II avail Oct 27

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A course is not a pizza or book. Who owns a course? If you deliver it, you don't own it! Who takes responsibility?

See: "Are You Ready For Online Learning?" WHAT KIND? Synchronous/Asynch? Text/Voice/Video?
What could enable more students to succeed in an online course?
Especially, what kinds of support provided by someone other than the lead teacher?
What kinds of support for the students?
What kinds of support for the lead teacher?

There are many self-tests for prospective online students - a few are listed below.

Too many students fail or drop out of online courses. The single reason cited most often for students’ failure or non-completion of online courses is “lack of self-discipline,” for which many online education advocates are too quick to blame the students. 

But there are many varieties of self-discipline, just as there are many varieties of learning and many varieties of good teaching.  And many answers to this increasingly complex and important question:
Who shares responsibility for students' failure or success?

Too often, self-administered or other readiness assessments are used primarily to direct students away from online courses. This is certainly more humane than accepting high failure and dropout rates for those students who lack certain traits, skills, or knowledge - especially time-management and computer-related skills. But there is a potentially more constructive alternative than either redirection or the old “sink or swim” approach to campus-based college-level courses.

Most institutions of higher education have abandoned “sink or swim”. Many institutions are committed to helping students develop more effective learning skills, and to helping faculty teach in ways more likely to engage students actively in their courses and succeed academically. These colleges and universities make guidance and other forms of academic support readily available to undergraduates who find some required or highly attractive courses too difficult or puzzling. And those resources are often provided by staff, peers, or other academic professionals who are not directly affiliated with these challenging courses.

Can’t similar services be provided for online students? Provided by someone other than the lead teacher of the course?

We believe the answer is “yes”. But there are some big challenges... See future postings here in TLT-SWG.

Some self-tests for prospective online students:

Steve Gilbert's “Fundamental Questions” Activity. Context: Transition from mostly on-campus to more online courses

See also: Intro/Reprise: Steve Gilbert's Fundamental Questions 2 min. video
Slides available via Slideshare  Here is "transcript" of slides + instructions for running this activity:

  1. Change IS Possible Steve Gilbert’s Fundamental Questions October 14, 2011 2:00 pm (ET) The TLT Group
  2. These Slides [extended set] 
    Fundamental Questions
    Some rights reserved. See
  3. Purpose of "Fundamental Questions" 
  4. Identify key points of agreement and disagreement that will guide and limit progress on our project/innovation/movement/ implementation/improvement...
  5. Today's Context for Fundamental Questions:Transition from courses based mostly on face-to-face class meetings toward courses that include online activities - in whole or in part.
  6. Fundamental Questions Transform AND Preserve - Think silently for 1-5 minutes.
    Reflect silently on the “Fundamental Questions” that follow.  [good idea to make notes which will NOT be collected]
    These questions should always be at the heart of our work.
    Think about the kinds of change likely to happen to your students, your colleagues, your institution, and yourself... Especially with your support - active or tacit.  
  7. Fundamental Question 1: What do you most want to gain?
  8. Fundamental Question 2: What do you most cherish and want not to lose?

Friday, October 21, 2011

RESCHEDULE "Wading into Online Teaching" J. McCrickerd WAS 10/21 WILL BE 11/11/11 2pm ET

We got bumped today 10/21/2011 by tech problems that we could neither predict nor control.  Sorry.  Fortunately, Jennifer McCrickerd is resilient and a good sport and undaunted!  She has agreed to reschedule her well-prepared, thoughtful session for  FridayLive! 11/11 2pm ET Free Online "Wading into On-Line Teaching

Trying to convert a successful face-to-face class into a successful on-line class by paying attention to the research and embracing mistakes" with Jennifer McCrickerd, Drake U.  More info, resources - homebase Web page for FrLv 11/11  
- Quote in title of this posting and additional excerpts below are from  "How we succeed by failing," Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, October 14, 2011, writing in response to eulogies of Steve Jobs and his recognition of the importance of his own failures in "a now-famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford." [video version 15 mins; text transcript].

How could colleges and universities be more hospitable to failure?  Especially under current conditions of increasing workload and tenure/promotion pressures?  Especially when many faculty members are feeling pressed to make a transition from mostly face-to-face courses toward mostly online courses?

When is a cookie [not] a cookie? "Don't tell me what I've done wrong, show me how you can do it better" - Wade Maki

"Cookie Dough" (student favorite) Amusing, provocative, interactive "learning object" produced by philosophy teacher Wade Maki - Video + text + multiple choice question... within Maki's "series of interactive video exercises and their subject matter. Each was created for a specific purpose in my [philosophy] course but some have general application.

VP Ethics (original proof of concept)
VP#1 The Value of Human Life
VP#2 Basic Ethical Theory
VP#3 Intermediate Ethical Theory
VP#4 Distributive Justice
VP#5 Intellectual Property and Theft
VP#6 "Cookie Dough" (student favorite)
VP#7 Animal Rights
"article in JOLT (Journal of Online Learning and Teaching) about the above exercises titled:
'The Virtual Philosopher: Designing Socratic Method Learning Objects for Online Philosophy Courses, Karen L. Hornsby and Wade M. Maki
Article in PDF
Article in HTML"
-Above excerpts from "Wade's page Virtual Philosopher Series, " Wade Maki, Dept. of Philosophy, University of North Carolina Greensboro

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Many kinds of learning, teaching, courses "Ceci n'est pas une pipe" "This is not a course"

Magritte's Pipe & Passport

There are many different kinds of good teaching, good courses, and good certification methods.  When a faculty member teaches a course online it is never the same course as taught on campus - even by that same teacher during the same semester - and even if students' transcripts do not distinguish between the two kinds of courses.

Rene Magritte is probably the artist best known for recognizing, experimenting, and playing with the differences between "real" and "image."   See below for more on Magritte (and a nod to one of his followers - Warhol).  Obviously, the differences between "real" and "virtual" have become more varied, complex, and important today.

I believe that many kinds of courses offered without face-to-face meetings have been and will continue to be extremely valuable - and can be "real courses."  That includes "correspondence courses" conducted entirely through the postal service (notable example: Nelson Mandela's study of law while in prison).  Self-learning via books and other media, often from libraries, can also be effective (not so notably, my own recent efforts to learn to bake bread and biscuits).
But these options are never THE SAME as courses that include face-to-face sessions.

See also:  "This is not a course" and
"Good Teachers & Good Teaching: Variety of Teaching Gifts" (PDF, 4pp).

NOTE:  It's difficult to find an image that is clearly both an accurate display of one of Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can series AND legally available for display on the Web - e.g., in a blog posting such as this.  But here is one that seems at least legal...  
Also, see the amusing "mash-up" of famous works by Magritte & Warhol by Dug North "Ceci N'est Pas Une Magritte."

More about Magritte's "Ceci n'est p
as..." paintings

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Farewell Google Desktop! I appreciated and recommended you often. Now what? Copernic, Everything, Windows Search?

This morning, a month late, I discovered that  Google Desktop had died.  So I spent too much time looking for other ways to find the  files and folders that I am unable to label and organize well enough to ensure I can find them again quickly when I need them.   
So far, best advice seems to be about Windows Search - which has been resting quietly available for me all along just above the "Start" button on my Windows 7 Home Premium desktop... and I hadn't ever noticed it. Now I'm learning how to use it.  For some helpful hints, see "Windows Secrets Everything Microsoft forgot to mention. "Getting the most from Windows Search — Part 2"

I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Mac users already have something even better.

What about Open Source options?
For more choices see Gizmo's Freeware "Best Free Desktop Search Utility Quick Selection Guide" - even though this set of recommendations still includes the defunct Google Desktop!

For more on the official story of Google Desktop's demise, see Inside Google Desktop

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Online vs On-Campus Degrees, Certificates, Courses - Identified the same on student transcripts? Transfer credits too?

"Our accredited online degrees and programs appear the same on your OSU transcript as do on-campus degrees and programs at Oregon State University." - 
  • Are courses on a student's transcript identified differently if that student participated entirely online, entirely "on-campus," or hybrid/blended?
  • When a student is selecting and registering for courses, does the college/university clearly indicate whether each course is entirely online, entirely "on-campus," or hybrid/blended?
  • If a student satisfactorily completes each of a full sequence of courses required for a certificate or degree from a college or university entirely online, is that certification or degree identified on the student's transcript the same or differently from the transcripts of students who complete all required courses on-campus for the same certification or degree?
  • Are courses that have been accepted by a college or university for transfer credit identified differently than other courses on a student's transcript?

Monday, October 17, 2011

"usually have to fail to fail is human. To resurrect oneself is an act of courage" Esp teaching online!

Join FridayLive! 10/21 2pm ET Free Online "Wading into On-Line Teaching

Trying to convert a successful face-to-face class into a successful on-line class by paying attention to the research and embracing mistakes" with Jennifer McCrickerd, Drake U.  More info, resources - homebase Web page for FrLv 10/21  
- Quote in title of this posting and additional excerpts below are from  "How we succeed by failing," Kathleen Parker, Washington Post, October 14, 2011, writing in response to eulogies of Steve Jobs and his recognition of the importance of his own failures in "a now-famous 2005 commencement speech at Stanford." [video version 15 mins; text transcript].

How could colleges and universities be more hospitable to failure?  Especially under current conditions of increasing workload and tenure/promotion pressures?  Especially when many faculty members are feeling pressed to make a transition from mostly face-to-face courses toward mostly online courses?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Query: Uses of TED Talks

What evidence is there that students actually *did* learn more from watching TED Talks (or other videos) or did they just *think* that they learned more?

What does your experience suggest is likely to be being more/less/same effective? Using one BRIEF video in a 40-60 min session? Using SEVERAL videos in 40-60 min session? or one LONG in-depth video?

Do most students experience these videos as "lectures"?  Is that the term they most often used when discussing these items?

In what ways do students include information from the videos in class discussions or class activities? How do the students use the knowledge from the videos? Papers they write? Discussion boards? Classroom discussion? Reflective journals? Do they cite the videos as resources?  

Are the opinions of the experts taken at face value since they are recorded? Do students question the sources more/less/same as they'd challenge text?

These, and other queries on this blog emerge from chat discussions on FridayLive!

"Popularity of Online Educ. Spurs Financial Aid Fraud" Intense orientation combats "Pell Runners","Straw Students"?

Apollo has begun a required 3-week online orientation that is too much work for the 'ringleaders' of financial aid scams. I hope this orientation also helps prepare students to learn more effectively in their online courses. 

"With the huge expansion of online college courses, financial aid scams have become a serious problem..
"The rings generally seek federal aid for 'straw students' who have no intention of pursuing an education — or...are unaware of the application. The aid is sent to the college, which takes the portion covering the initial tuition and fees, and then 'refunds' the excess to the student to cover other expenses like books, transportation and room and board.
"By now, the vast majority of colleges and universities offer online courses, and some huge commercial institutions have hundreds of thousands of online students. Amid tough economic times, an increasing number of these students are actually what are known as 'Pell-runners' — people who disappear as soon as they receive the proceeds of their Pell grants or student loans.

- All of the excerpts above and those that follow are from  "As Online Courses Grow, So Does Financial Aid Fraud" - complete citation also included below.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"When we give in to social inertia, we become part of it; when we resist it, we reduce it..Many innovations are dumb ideas.”

“'Social inertia' is a complicated way of saying that no matter how hard we try, nothing seems to happen.”
Keen identifies counterimplementation as attempts to impede "...innovation without displaying overt opposition... to prevent a disruption of the status quo.  Counterimplementation is most likely to occur when outsiders bring in threatening new technologies."
"Counterimplementation suggests that, in practice, there are many valid reasons to go beyond passive resistance and actively try to prevent implementation.    
"there is no need to take the risky step of overtly opposing a project.  The simplest approach is to rely on social inertia and use moves based on delay and tokenism."

For more on institutional change, innovation, join us online Oct. 14, 2PM ET for this week's FridayLive! "Change IS Possible Despite Politics and Counterimplementation Tactics; Counter-Counterimplementation (CCI) Strategies and the TLT Group’s Fundamental Questions."
"Decision-making processes are pretty simple; what has worked in the past is most likely to be repeated. Under pressure, decision makers discard information, avoid bringing in expertise and exploring new alternatives;
"...decisionmaking is multifaceted, emotive, conservative, and only partially cognitive
"...Only small increments are possible and compromise, far from being bad, is an essential aspect of the implementation process... [which] is possible but requires patience and a strategy that ...must be explicitly managed."

"The paper also discusses the causes of 'social inertia', resistance to changes, counterimplementation, the pluralistic nature of organizations, as well as tactics for managing change that rely on incremental, facilitative approaches, coalition-building and careful attention to political mechanisms."

More excerpts below from Dang's review of Keen's article, including a list of "tips" for increasing resistance to change and a list of suggestions for overcoming resistance to change.

Gandhi's “7 Blunders of the World that Lead to Violence” challenge us to shape a future that avoids these blunders.

In his final years, "...the elder Gandhi kept his grandson close at hand and set aside an hour every day to be alone with the boy." I like the image of a gifted world leader devoting so much time to a young person, affirming the fundamental human urge to connect to future generations -- to teach -- and, perhaps, to learn.

On their final day together, not too long before his assassination, Gandhi gave this important list to his grandson -- Arun Gandhi. Here is Gandhi's list, including an 8th "blunder" added by Arun Gandhi. 
I urge you to add some of your own in the same spirit. To get you started, I've added 5 that focus more on teaching, learning, and technology. Here is the combined list of "blunders".
  • Wealth without work
  • Pleasure without conscience
  • Knowledge without character
  • Commerce without morality
  • Science without humanity
  • Worship without sacrifice
  • Politics without principle
  • Rights without responsibilities [Arun Gandhi]
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
  • Disagreement without discussion
  • Technology without direction
  • Connection without community
  • Teaching without joy
  • Learning without hope
Our Challenge: To use information technology to improve education
and shape a future that avoids these blunders.

Easy to agree on TEXTBOOK problems, hard to find/agree on new student learning resources. [Guest Poster Steve Bell]

Containerless Education?
There isn’t always something in higher education that unites students, faculty and staff – but textbooks is one of those things that does. No matter how diverse the community and no matter how divergent the views, we can all agree that textbooks are too expensive and present a burden to students already stretched thin by tuition and worried by the prospects of post-graduate debt.   

Where we have less common ground is workable solutions. That’s why I’m glad that the TLT Group has initiated some conversations about textbooks so that we can share information and ideas that could lead to better strategies for giving students access to the learning materials they need for academic success. Faculty and students may wonder why their campus librarians care about the textbook dilemma. Librarians don’t assign or use textbooks – but students often expect the campus library to have copies of their texts. Practically speaking, it’s just not possible for academic libraries (except those with unlimited funding) to acquire costly textbooks, especially textbooks that are soon replaced by new additions. It’s imperative that the librarians build  resource collections that reflect and support the curriculum, research and learning,  

Beyond that I advocate that academic librarians should be campus leaders to work towards solutions. The solution is not to have the library buy more textbooks. Rather, it is to change our thinking and behaviors about the ways we accumulate and deliver learning materials. I’ve been exploring these issues for nearly two years and have advocated for change at my institution where the library supports faculty who want to ditch their expensive textbook for free or low-cost alternatives. If you are interested in learning more about my views on textbooks, visit these links:

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Perennials not Millennials! "mobile devices..outnumber human beings” & cars in U.S. But college drinking unchanged!

Perennials, not millennials!
Bah, Humbug!  Pfui on "Gen X, Gen Y, Boomers, NetGen, Digital Natives,..." Are traditionally-aged undergrads REALLY so different from alumni?  Even now when handheld digital devices are out-spawning us and cars are depopulating,  the brewers can still rely on undergraduates!  And most students still like to learn.  So I'll continue to think of them as Perennials, not Millennials.

"Alcohol consumption among college students over the past decade has remained relatively unchanged:  Trends in College Drinking: 2000-2010" - see below for citation (& source of image above)

"number of cars on U.S. roads dropped by 4 million in 2009, the only large decline in the nation’s car fleet since the government began keeping records in 1960..dropping the total to 246 million vehicles,"
- From  "U.S. Car Fleet Shrinks for First Time in 50 Years, Report Says," Jan 5, 2010, e360 digest, Yale Environment 360, a publication of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies

"Tablets became the fastest-selling hardware device in history, smack in the middle of an economic slump."
- Preceding sentence and other excerpts in the title of this posting, and below are from "A nation outnumbered by gadgets:  The machines are taking over," by Cecilia Kang, Washington Post, October 11, 2011, 

" 327.6 million active phones, tablets and laptops on cellular networks, up 9 percent from January. That compares with 315 million" people in U.S.

 "Children are getting cellphones at ever younger ages, while seniors have begun to embrace the simplicity of tablets and smartphones, analysts say.

Intro/Reprise: Steve Gilbert's Fundamental Questions 2 min. video

1. What do you most want to gain?
2. What do you most cherish and want not to lose?

More about Fundamental Questions, including links to many individual responses - video, audio, etc. and guidelines for using this as a group activity.

YouTube Video Steven W. Gilbert introducing Fundamental Questions 2 minutes Updated a little 20111011.
For more on institutional change, innovation, use of Fundamental Questions, join us online Oct. 14, 2PM ET for this week's FridayLive! "Change IS Possible Despite Politics and Counterimplementation Tactics; Counter-Counterimplementation (CCI) Strategies and the TLT Group’s Fundamental Questions."

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Steve Gilbert’s Sample Video Self-Intro using “Fundamental Questions”: Transform AND Preserve! [New addition!]

1. What do you most want to gain?
2. What do you most cherish and want not to lose?
3. What are the "dealbreakers"? ... Added September, 2011

YouTube Video Steven W. Gilbert introducing self via Fundamental Questions 3 minutes Updated a little 20111011.
For more on institutional change, innovation, use of Fundamental Questions, join us online Oct. 14, 2PM ET for this week's FridayLive! "Change IS Possible Despite Politics and Counterimplementation Tactics; Counter-Counterimplementation (CCI) Strategies and the TLT Group’s Fundamental Questions."

Are eTexts the Future?

Are you a person who thinks that higher education will not survive unless it makes big changes? What makes you think so?

"This year was the first time that many of my students said they own some sort of e-reader."  (Recent comment on FridayLive!) Are you finding this? 

A recent Xplana prediction is that 25% of texbooks will be e-texts by 2015. Is that a reasonable prediction from where you sit? Are you excited? nervous? terrified? wish adoption were faster?

Does the rapid development of eTexts and accompanying materials (problem sets, quizzes, tutorials) contribute to or distract from the changes higher education needs to make?

Monday, October 10, 2011

“Word-Processing Causes Cancer!” Only research finding that could’ve stopped WYSIWYG Word-Processing in late 1980s?

No, word-processing probably doesn't cause cancer.  But the simplest way to explain the dwindling  research about the educational impact of word-processing in the late 1980s (after MacWrite arrived) was:
 "No one is going to give up word-processing unless you can prove it causes brain cancer." 

When people find a new tool so "insanely" more pleasant and efficient than its predecessors, the need for conclusive research results about its educational benefits/detriments disappears.  And that is what happened following the introduction of the first widely available WYSIWYG [What you see is what you get] word-processor - Apple's MacWrite.  There was no research that definitively demonstrated that word-processing itself significantly helped or harmed students' writing skills or other educational achievements, but the interest in such proof evaporated.
For more on institutional change, innovation, and the role of "rational" data, including research findings, join us online   Oct. 14, 2PM ET for this week's  FridayLive! "Change IS Possible Despite Politics and Counterimplementation Tactics;  Counter-Counterimplementation (CCI) Strategies and the TLT Group’s Fundamental Questions."

Of course, it was still useful in the 1980s - and it's still useful today -
to learn more through careful research, informal observation, and thoughtful analysis about which KINDS of word-processing are more useful/harmful for which PURPOSES for which kinds of USERS for education-related and other activities.

More about evolution and role of "word-processing":

Steve Jobs' Word Processing: "What came out of this computer was not further from the human heart; it was closer."

The beginning of pervasive word processing was "a truly minuscule reason..for which to celebrate and mourn Steve Jobs" -  See more excerpts from Gish Jen's article "My Muse Was an Apple Computer," below.  

Something, not just someone, important has gone.
Of course, Steve Jobs didn't invent word processing, but it wouldn't already be the same part of our lives without him. 

I was surprised by my own sadness when I read the news of Steve Jobs' death last Thursday.  Like many of you, I had met him a few times and been at several of his demos.  Like most of you, I understood that the reports of his health problems and his "retirement" meant he would soon die.  So I didn't expect to have such strong feelings about his passing.  But every conversation for the rest of that day was dimmed.  

Each of the many efforts to describe Steve Jobs' unique contributions seems incomplete.  He was one of the few who earned the "genius" label - a term over-used even by his own company.  He accomplished so much, had such an unarguably powerful impact on our world, and did it in ways that won't stay within any other description.

Novelist Gish Jen's very personal comments caught something about Steve Jobs better than most:

Friday, October 07, 2011

Query: eTexts and Campus (Book)Stores and Financial Aid

 "Keeping Up:  eTextbooks" Wide-ranging conversation in FridayLive! 20110930 about use of eTexts raised some interesting questions:

What role can a campus-based bookstore play in selling eTexts?

What are the conditions associated with requiring students who receive some kinds of financial aid to make their course-related purchases only through their college-authorized bookstore?

Is there any pushback from campus bookstores when profs "assign" an eTextbook? Switch from a traditional hard-copy textbook to an eTextbook?  

Does that reduce the store's income?  
Different answer if the course previously did NOT require or recommend purchase of any books from the college store?

Are we obligated to make pedagogical decisions to support the economic health of campus bookstores? And vice versa!

Is the requirement to purchase through the bookstore a policy that could change?

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Directional Wireless Microphones for group in 1 room with single login to live online (multisite audio) "Webinar"

Dynamic Microphone Wireless System
Good advice if you're hosting a group of more than 3 people to participate in a live online "Webinar" that includes multi-site audio capabilities:  NOT OMNI-DIRECTIONAL MICROPHONE!    

We recommend the opposite of the microphone setup that would be most helpful if the group were participating in a telephone conference call. For the latter, it is often best to use one or more microphones that pick up sound that originates from almost any direction and at any distance from the microphone. Of course, participants must try to minimize ambient noise and side-comments.

David Cottrell of U. of Charleston WV provided a combination described below for our use last week with a group of about 15 people seated at a long boardroom style conference table. We were using my netbook to login to the TLT Group Adobe Connect classroom. To enable all of us to hear and see everything comfortably, we had a pair of small external speakers and a small table-based projector connected to the netbook. 

The transmitter Cottrell selected was truly "plug and play" - via a standard USB cable. I was especially impressed by the way that the wireless microphone could be passed around in that room and pick up each indivdiual speaker's voice clearly without picking up much ambient noise or others' comments at all. We quickly learned that each speaker needed to hold the microphone VERY close to his/her mouth when speaking for best results.

Here are some of Cottrell's responses (published with his permission) to my request for more info about the equipment and to my follow-up question about how effective the system was "at picking up the voice of the intended speaker and not picking up other voices or background noise. Is that mostly due to the microphone or is it also a consequence of some features of the wireless device?"

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

DULAP-Foreign Language Learning via Native Speakers-Waxing or Waning? “Operation successful but the patient died”?

What remains from the work of NELL, DULAP, VLS?  
These programs provided undergrad students with frequent access to native speakers on-campus and/or online and reduced the role of "traditional" academically trained instructors and language labs.
"The past two years have been full of language learning fun and adventures in the Virtual Language Studies Program for students (and faculty) of Chinese and Russian. Sadly, this grant program will come to an end in September 2011.
"Russian and Chinese will be taught in the 2011-2012 academic year the same way the other five languages are taught at Drake with on the ground, face to face classes with native speakers in small class sizes." - Excerpt from "Drake University’s Virtual Language Studies (VLS)" 
More about VLS and predecessors NELL, DULAP 

"Outsourcing Language Learning"="dramatically dismantling..language departments and firing faculty en masse"?

Foreign Language Depts Cut..Still a trend? What happened to globalization?
  • "..the last two years have seen many language departments threatened or eliminated" - "News: Disappearing Languages at Albany ", Scott Jaschik - Inside Higher Ed October 4, 2010
  • “Facility with a language other than English is a general education goal that every institution should have,” but " students not planning to pursue academic or literary careers would be served well by conversational knowledge of a language." - quotation from Richard H. Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges in "News: Outsourcing Language Learning" Jennifer Epstein, Inside Higher Ed Jan 22, 2010.
  • ca. 2009, The Drake Univ Language Acquisition Program (DULAP): "stirred up controversy by eliminating its foreign language departments and thereby the jobs of faculty in French, German and Italian, even those with tenure.
More re: DULAP controversy