Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Campus Technology 2008 - Day 2: Planning and Budgeting panel discussion

This session is a panel discussion of planning and budgeting for the next-gen classroom. The panel includes

  • Moderator Scott Walker of Waveguide Consulting, Inc.
  • Panelists:
    • Randy Jackson, University of Washington, Seattle - 20 year veteran of providing educational technology leadership at the university. His campus is large and diverse.
    • Michael Kubit, Case Western Reserve University - director of MediaVision, part of IT - a 25 year veteran - Case Western is a private research university. The university has 200+ technology enhanced classrooms that are refreshed every 5 years.
    • Matthew Silverman, George Mason University - about 30,000 students - 138 technology-enhanced classrooms - four standard installations - classrooms are monitored and managed via the network.

First question: What are the key drivers to funding technology on your campus?

Randy: Upgrading older campus buildings that are between 80 to 100 years old. We contact the state legislature and ask for electrical upgrade for safety and once funding is approved we ask to upgrade technology.

Michael: The primary driver is does the classroom scale and can we support with the staff we currently have. You can design a facility hoping you will get the staff. We design rooms for middle of the adoption curve, we design to needs of the faculty. What goes into the room is designed to 80% of our faculty.

Matthew: We try to ensure that the faculty can move from classroom to classroom and they will find most of the same equipment. We are playing a lot of catchup.

Second question: Do you have any good metrics for use in technology planning and budgeting?

Randy: As far as FTE staffing, its a different argument from technology planning. We know we need staff to support it, but on our campus its a separate argument. Facilities Design Instruction Manual expresses what we want our classrooms to look like. We update it constantly and its available to the campus and consultants. By documenting this it provides details on what you need.

Michael: We develop a "total cost of ownership" of classroom - develop a five-year plan that is readily available and then we have to calculate operating costs which cannot be neglected. It's easy to get capital money to build, but more difficult to get operating costs. Key is to find problems before a professor does, because don't want the professor lectures to be delayed while we fix equipment.

Matthew: We use specific budget numbers based on our standards to begin budget process.

Third question: What kind of strategies of breaking a cycle of putting technology improvements on back burner?

Randy: We used to look at technology in classroom as items you put in there, but now with next-gen you have to also consider lighting and ambient sound. Part of this is being aware of issues and making the argument that we need to consider these issues.

Matthew: We all have instances of classrooms that are horrible, and we have got the major stakeholders in the classroom to have them experience sitting in these classrooms so that they can appreciate the student's experience.

Fourth question: what about integrating technology into historic buildings

Randy: Dealt with it in several ways, we save the shell and completely gutted the inside of these buildings because they are incompatible for technology. Fortunately these buildings are not "historic" that prohibit touching the interiors. We use ADA architecture.

Michael: You need to strike a balance between form and fashion. We try to keep it simple so we use simple switch zoning so not complicated and costs. Need to work with physical plant people so that when renovations are proposed you have a seat at the table.

Fifth question: What is a next-gen classroom for you?

Randy: For me it means interactivity and flexibility. If you are not letting student to be connected and interact with each other. It involves room space and technology. Current popular items is coursecasting and audience response. We can measure use by surveys and downloads.

Michael: In 2002 we innovated our own lecture capture and distribution. Lecture capture provided students with opportunity to review lectures. Provide mp3s of lectures, but not downloading them, surveyed them and they said that online courses were visually rich and audio-only lectures were not useful. Students are not enamored by technology, they are not impressed by it or surprised by it. Developing "classroom-flip" - faculty pre-recorded lecture and in classroom they are working on homework in classroom.

Campus Technology 2008, Day 2: Podcasting as Educational Inspiration at UConn

The first breakout session was presented by David Miller, a professor of Psychology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Two main podcast series produced at UConn:

  1. Icube: Issues in Intro: General Psychology
  2. Animal Behavior

Many students coming into college not knowing what a podcast is, and the specific requirements to listen to a podcast. He said he has to tell his students they don’t have to buy a podcast. He said a whole ecosystem has grown around the iPod. There has been a real cultural shift in portable media from transistor radio to the iPod and iPhone. He shows off the accessories available for the iPod ranging from iBoxers to a toilet dispenser with an iPod docking station.

Why should we think about podcasting? he posed. It is a course enhancement with added depth and content beyond classroom discussions. It can also promote interaction between students and professors including student produced content. “It shrinks a large class,” he said. Some professors use podcasts to deliver content in order to free up classroom for other purposes. Lectures can be recorded to help out students who cannot attend class because of inclement weather or specific religious holidays.

Types of podcasts

  • Basic – audio only
  • Enhanced podcast includes
    • Audio
    • Images
    • Chapter stops

He said there are some students who refuse to use iTunes so to resolve that problem he also generates the podcast as a .mov. He then looked at the use of podcasts to present lectures. He said many fear that using podcasting to present lectures will cut into notetaking. He said  that if you do course cast you could use class time for examples/applications, demonstrations, videos, clicker interactivity, and student presentation.

He said his podcasts for reflection and expansion on in-classroom lectures, to clarify comments, to generate interaction by recording student/professor lectures. For ICube there are three components

  • Weekly discussions with students
  • Precasts – previews of what is going to occur in the next class – main points to look for in the next lecture. They stay up the entire semester. Since I don’t coursecast, people who miss a class know what the main points were and can look for them in a classmates’ notes.
  • Postcasts – If he does not feel that he was clear about a topic in the class he can reiterate the important points from the lecture. These are not planned.

Based on evaluations, 41% of his students would listen to the weekly discussions and over 50% for the precasts. The precasts were extremely popular. He also found, and he said he couldn’t figure out why, his podcasts are listened to internationally.

His second podcast is for his animal behaviors class. He has a number of Honors students. The Honors students get Honors credit for participating in the discussion podcasts.

He also podcasts Review sessions before tests. Open only to Introductory Psychology class. He gives two midterms and a final and he holds review sessions that he records. The sessions are used to clarify and amplify lectures, and he thought it would be great to podcast the sessions. He also uses special podcasts to acknowledge highly successful students and asks them to explain what special skills or tools they use to succeed in the class.

Other uses outside the classroom

  • Student interviews about freshmen impressions of his/her experience at UConn as well as seniors about to graduate. They are asked about their experiences.
  • Freshman orientation: The orientation describes the differences between high school and university academic requirements.

How to podcast

  1. Record using a USB microphone and a mixer hooked to a computer, he is his own audio engineer.
  2. Editing software for post production
  3. Upload to site such as libsync (liberated syndication)
  4. Generate RSS feed

Audio Capture advice

  1. Decide whether to capture in stereo or mono – he recommends recording in Stereo
  2. Adjust the gain to proper level
  3. Have a theme song or identifier, he is in a rock band "Off Yer Rockers" as lead singer and rhythm guitar so he recorded his own music.
  4. Introduce each episode
  5. "Animate" your voice; exaggerate
  6. Use students' first names only
  7. Avoid distracting noises
  8. No background music
  9. For enhanced podcasts be mindful of copyright

Audio Editing Advice

  1. Edit out silence and speech fillters
  2. Mono can be a smaller file, but stereo provides quality
  3. Adjust levels either in your audio editing software or with The Levelator freeware that does it for you .
  4. Podcasting for Dummies

Campus Technology 2008 Session 3: Technology-enhanced Strategies for Engaging Your Learner

The final session of Day 1 was presented by Bethany Bovard, Instructional Designer, New Mexico State University. She posed the question What is Engagement? She said there is a disconnect on instructional design if the teacher thinks engagement is student excitement over showing what they have read the night before while the learner thinks it means completing homework assignments. Participants brainstormed over what it means to be engaged.

  • Active listening and participation
  • Taking questions home to discuss around the dinner table
  • Model engagement by talking to them

The key she said is to communicate what your anticipation in engagement. Research has shown that the barriers to engagement are:

  • Social – isolation, lack of interaction, and missing social context cues (am I being understood, Do I understand?)
  • Administrative – lack of instructor feedback and inability to find materials on the web
  • Learner Motivation – hardest to address, procrastination due to other two barriers, boredom

Technology that can be used to reduce social barriers by creating a sense of community

  • Make first contact getting students to introduce to one another, encourage group projects, and provide audio/video message
  • Use email to share syllabus, context info, and resources – though not a web 2.0 tool it encouraged students to communicate before class began.
  • Create an audio/video greeting 
  • Create an avatar at to create and send a greeting to learners. Can make the avatar speak in three ways, record your own voice with a microphone, call in using your phone, or type in a synthetic message and it will create a synthetic voice.
  • Use blogging to encourage interaction and create continuity between classes.

Administrative barriers include:

  • Missing directions/clear expectations – no way to clarify misinformation.
  • Lacking timely feedback (In published research, student-instructor interactions – including timely feedback – are one of the most significant factors in student satisfaction and learning.

Technological means of overcoming administrative barriers

  • Share contact information – be available to answer questions
  • Repeat yourself often – state directions and expectation in various ways
  • Provide feedback – vary your timing, amount, and manner of feedback - 

She used Skype ( to address all of these issues.

Motivation Barriers include:

  • Overload of content
  • Deadlines are not communicated frequently

Ways to overcome motivation barriers

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Campus Technology 2008 – 2nd session: Explicit Bargain Setting

The second morning session focused on the use of Second Life in the college workplace. It was presented by Sarah “Intelligirl” Robbins of Ball State University and co-author of Second Life for Dummies. She title her program Explicit Bargain Setting: Realistic Expectations for Teaching in Virtual Worlds.

Ms Robbins started her presentation with the following two disclaimers:

Pedagogy comes first and technology second

Students come first and the university second

She argued that technology should not be used without regard to the learners and she said she offered that her guiding principle in applying technology is to adhere to Chickering & Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education. She said that the Digital Native/Digital Immigrant argument is bogus; it’s an excuse by some not to learn new technology. She the real difference is in the Lifestyle, Engagement, and Motivation Divide. She said most people have cell phones, but older people tend to view them as a practical device to keep track of projects and people whereas teenagers and twentysomethings see them as a means of staying connected.

She said when considering the use of Second Life or any other technology we should follow Clay Shirky’s recommendations in his book Here Comes Everybody. In that book Shirky argues that when proposing the use of technology you should detail “The Promise;” explain how “The Tool” will help achieve that promise; and outline the Bargain which defines the rules of engagement between the teacher and the learner.

The promise made by Second Life is that involvement there will:

  • Increase a sense of presence
  • Allow bonding within the community of learners
  • Learning will be more engaging, immersive, and fun

The tools for delivering on this promise are:

  • Stigmergy – the ability to manipulate your environment for those who will follow
  • The ability to customize your avatar
  • Access to a global community
  • Multi-modal communication (text, voice, sight, hearing)

The bargain to make the promise work is that students must suspend their self-limitations and agree to learn to function in Second Life. They will drop this self-limitation, she said, if they are given a good reason. They also must be willing to cooperate and behave in an orderly fashion. That does not mean they cannot don the avatar of a huge dragon. She had one student whose avatar was that of a mermaid and since he had no legs he flew everywhere within Second Life. She said she did have to caution her students against nudity although it is present in Second Life.

And that is the key to applying any technology to learning. You, the teacher, instructor, ISD, must justify using the tool. She dismissed the idea of holding a meeting in Second Life where all you do is sit around and talk. Such a function is overkill in Second Life and could better be performed via conference call or in a private online chat room.

She ended on a cautionary note, stating that committing to teaching in Second Life required the teacher to be extremely familiar with how Second Life operates. “The teacher has to have expertise to serve as a guide, an advisor, and as an instructor so that when her students get into trouble because they are not familiar with Second Life she, the teacher can help them out. She told how she had one student who accidentally started his avatar break dancing and couldn’t figure out how to make the avatar stop. He resisted assistance for a week and as a result everytime he stopped talking his avatar would start to break dance.

The commitment involved in becoming a Second Life expert is intense and involves a steep learning curve.

Campus Technology 2008 – 1st session: Riding Web 2.0

The first breakout session I attended was titled Riding Web 2.0 Toward Service Beyond the Classroom. This was presented by a trio of individuals:

  • Jim Wolfgang, Director, Georgia Digital Innovation Group, Georgia College & State University
  • Keith Politte, Corporate Relations Officer, University of Missouri, Columbia
  • Frank Lowney, Manager, Web Enabled Resources & Professor of Educational Foundations School of Education, Georgia College & State University

The premise of their presentation was to talk about how Web 2.0 can serve as a collaborative tool to reach beyond the classroom and involve the learner in the community. Mr. Wolfgang offered the question of the value of posting thousands of video lectures on a school website if there was no way for the students to talk with the professor and with each other. He said the key to getting buy-in to using Web 2.0 tools is to speak in the vernacular of the individuals in position to make the decision to implement Web 2.0 tools. Too often we get caught up in the technospeak of the tools.

Mr Lowney explained that especially in the corporate world new technologies are measured in ROI or Return on Investment, but he argued that ROI can mean more than just “money.” It can also mean good PR as word spreads on how you are applying the tools. He pointed to how his own university received positive publicity when CNN reported on their works in being the first university to employ Ipods as learning tools.

Mr. Wolfgang then encouraged the participants to experiment with Web 2.0 tools. “If you wait for 100% perfection, it ain’t gonna happen,” he said. He said the key is to start slow and to explain to the people you are trying to get to use the tools how each of the particular tools work. He argued if they see each tool as a hammer you will see people hammering nails with what is in reality a wrench.

As they talked I couldn’t help but wonder if the early web 2.0 tools such as blogs and wikis may ultimately give way to the verbal tools such as online audio and video as the preferred means to communicate. The computer and more importantly the smartphones and digital PDAs are really more of a visual and audio medium than a textual medium. Early adaptors grew up with the printed word as the primary means of storing and communicating knowledge. So it seems only logical that wikis and blogs would be the lead agents in the web 2.0 world. But as the Next-Gen generation pick up the pace, the wikis and blogs would seem to be logical to dropped.

Campus Technology 2008 – Keynote Address

8:30 am

I’m sitting in the keynote address hall for A ‘New’ American University for Next-Gen Learners presented by Adrian Sannier. He is with Arizona State University and will talk about six transitions to the new university. Rightfully calls us a “roomful of geeks.”

He defends the name of his presentation, A New American University. In the previous century universities tried to emulate the likes of Harvard and Berkeley. What makes them great is they are selective, which means you can’t go. We need to change what “access” to college means. It means reaching out to the community. The 21st century won’t be like the 20th century. What are the people going to do if they don’t get a higher education. They won’t be able to participate in the economy.

We have faith in only one thing in this country: technology. There will be all kinds of presentations around wikis and blogs and its exciting he said.

Looks back at “promises” made in the 20th century. When 2001 came around there was no HAL like in 2001, no moon base, no flying cars. But some predictions did come true. We now have a form of telepathy in the form of instant communication. It has crept up on us, but it is taken for granted by our children. It’s incredible the way they communicate. It’s like a giant hive mind.

The singularity is coming and the kids are closer to it then we are.

Says that the Encyclopedia Britannica is the greatest invention, but notes that no one has read it. Millions of copies have been sold, but no one read it. It used to be what every high school report was built upon. Then along came Wikipedia and now its free.

He notes that Amazon.con can pick out better gifts for his mother than he can.

Took 85 years to get 80% of households to adopt the landline telephone.

Think about bundled services where you get television, internet, and telephone in one service.

Universities need a revolution in technology because they are falling behind in the technology game.

Teaching kids multi-column addition like they will be a bookkeeper in 1935 will not last long. Calculators don’t matter any longer. Only ones that use it are kids in school because they can’t use computers. He railed against his son’s schools because they banned all technology. “They can teach them like its 1950 and they can work in a factory. Except there are no factories.”

He said schools are still “sage on the stage” and tell him on tests what he told us. He rails against the dullness of the classroom. “That’s the dirty little secret, schools are dull.” Next-gen students are saying we will tune you out until you tune us in.

Frank Rhodes, President Emeritus of Cornell, “most instruction is still a cottage industry…they have not diverged much from Socrates, except that they moved indoors.”

John Chambers in Forbes magazine “Many agree technology should play a role in education, but they don’t know what role it will play in our future.”

Six keys for the future

  1. From Context to Core: The enabling transformation – most difficult, but most critical – it liberates resources. We have been spending money on technology for the last 30 years. – In the early 1990s we had better technology than industry. Universities are the cottage industry for IT. It’s all about climbing the value stream.

    Core Processes: The processes that differentiate you from competition everything else is context. Have to spend 80% of your budget on core processes, rather than 20%. No strategic advantage in investing in IT, industry has already done it. IT and bandwidth is like electricity (statement by Nicholas Carr in The Big Switch).

    Concept of “1”: Reduce redundency in context, the things that people do not buy your offerings.

    Concept of “0”:
    Don’t do it, get someone else to do it, someone bigger, richer, and more powerful. At ASU they hired Google to provide 65,000 students with email, storage, etc. Google delivered it in two weeks and saved them $400,000. From a corporate perspective, could Google provide similar services in a secure manner?
  2. From info to Intelligence: ASU partnered with Oracle to manage information and transform it it into knowledge.
  3. From Cattle-car to 1:1 No more forcing them into one form of technology. IT need to support virus-laden student laptops, not building the next email system. Also provide value in software, web-delivered services, etc.
  4. From Cop to Concierge: IT too busy prohibiting things then helping students. Web sites are constructed that way. Finding info on university websites is like playing Twister. Calls for “” website presence, there is no proprietary web page. To get there you need “Prune Concentrate” that requires pruning your website. ASU has thousands of webpages, but only 50 are getting the majority of hits. These should be concentrated in a single location. Help desks must be available 24/7.
  5. Physical to digital: Burn down the library; all books are digitized. Single search brings up everything we have. Publishing should be digital as well, don’t need professional publishers. Remove the cost to look at the published documents.
  6. From Traditional to Hybrid: Don’t know how to do this. We’re tool rich, but the problem is culture. The faculty don’t believe this. Faculty believe only technology they need is death ray from their eyes.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Feelin' like Don Quixote

Its late Friday afternoon and I'm trying to express in words the theory and acts I carry forward as I create instructional materials and for some reason Gordon Lightfoot's song Don Quixote is striking a chord with me.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Google Takes on Second Life with Lively

Well this is interesting. Google is apparently getting ready to take on Second Life with its own Lively. According to Cybernet:

People will get involved with Lively by creating an avatar, creating various spaces that they can decorate, and visiting other rooms. They’ll even be able to have televisions in their rooms playing user-selected videos from YouTube. According to Google, “The Lively team wants to help people experience another dimension of the web. We hope you will use the product to express yourself with and without words, and to do this in the places you already visit on the web.”

Cry “Havoc,” And let slip the virtual dogs of war.

Google Takes on Second Life with Lively