I’ve been watching the discussion about revising general education at Penn State and marveling at how the task force is using the web and social media to engage the Penn State community. Last Thursday there was a day long conference on the topic, there is a twitter feed, a web site, and posts on individual blogs. If you are wondering why my colleagues and I work to provide an easy, low-barrier web publishing solution to Penn State, just look at the use this task force is making of the web as one of the 100,000 reasons to provide such a system to a University community. I have to give props to Penn State and the Gen Ed task force for the way this process is playing out as a conversation on the web. I am not sure you could find the same thing everywhere.
Last week I came across the term “learning engineer” for the first time. Putting those two words together certainly sounded interesting, so I went to google to try to find more information about how people are using this term of art. Based on google, it doesn’t seem that this is a term that has caught on too much, but there is this post by Bill Jerome, The Need For Learning Engineers (and Learning Engineering):
A learning engineer is a part of the process that improves or expands the technologies they work with. An instructional designer is often handed a suite of available technologies and content and told to make something of it. A learning engineer works both pedagogically and technologically to improve, create and make a whole experience and then evaluate the effectiveness of it with data.
This reminds me of the drum I have been beating for a while, but approached from the learning sciences vector rather than the consumer technology / media vector. Universities don’t necessarily think of themselves as creating new education technology, but rather the consumer of existing technologies. However, simply stapling together a bunch of different technologies or even using a one-size-fits-all homegrown solution to deliver online education may no longer be adequate.
I had the privilege of attending the Liberal Arts Scholarship and Technology Summit last week. I was blown away seeing all the engagement in exploring technologies for scholarship and teaching.
Unfortunately my schedule didn’t allow me to see Trevor Munoz’s keynote, but I am looking forward to visiting it once the video is posted.
Chris Long’s presentation on performative publication in the digital age focused on two boundary pushing projects: 1) an enhanced digital book that invites readers to share annotations and engage each other and the author in conversation and 2) the Public Philosophy Journal.
Jennifer Wagner-Lawlor talked about various places where feminist pedagogy and technology are intersecting, including FemTechNet’s antidote to the MOOC – A Distributed Open Collaborative Course on Feminism and Technology. Check out the cool infographic. Looking forward to watchingPenn State faculty participating in this adventure in pedagogy.
Michele Kennerly and Cory Geraths talked about the use of pinterest in their communication arts and sciences course – linking the centuries-old practice of compiling commonplace books to the modern act of maintaing a pinterest or a tumblr. I think this kind of ongoing collection of mixed-media representations of knowledge, arguments, and inspirations is something underrepresented in my own vision of the pedagogical use of digital participation, which has focused perhaps too heavily on lengthy reflections.
There was a faculty workshop offered on “Domain of One’s Own” – getting faculty set up with their own hosting account and domain to truly take control of their own participatory infrastructure.
Last year students in the rhetoric and civic life course sequence created over 17,000 blog posts using Sites At Penn State. (A service very near and dear to my heart)
Sites At Penn State got another shout out as the host of the Digital Humanities Guide.
Watching all the presentations which focused on tools and providers like pinterest, bluehost, cartodb, Google+, it just hit home how the technology in the academy has got to play nicely with the technology “out there”. It is really encumbent on those of us in higher ed technology to know when to stay out of the way and know when to apply just the right amount of energy to augment all the fantastic abilities that are at everyone’s fingertips.
Bottom Line, though, is that there is a lot of cool stuff happening in Penn State’s College Of Liberal Arts.
Google Reader is going away. Doesn’t bother me, even though I use it everyday. All things are impermanent. Reader made me happy while it lasted, but now I will start anew, reading other things, using different tools. The fire renews the forest.
I originally posted this over at the TLT blog, but thought I’d leave a copy here as well.
Last week I had the great opportunity to talk at an ITS Collab meeting about how yammer could improve collaboration and awareness across ITS. It forced me to try to hone some thoughts that have been rolling around around in my head since we started working to bring Yammer to Penn State.
I used a few quotes from this Gartner press release to frame the message:
By 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, and that 30 percent of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.
Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a “push” paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a “pull” approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work
There have been many attempts to get people to use various internal spaces. Some of them are dumping ground for documents and policies, others have been places where everyone in the organization is offered an opportunity to share their thoughts or contribute data. Keeping people engaged in these spaces is tough, though. People are busy and nothing spurs them to visit often enough for the site to become beneficial to the organization or to the individual. The collaboration and awareness piece seems like an extra job, something to be tacked on to the myriad other tasks and systems a person visits in the course of his or her day. What I like about the new social breed of internal collaboration tools is that they are where people go to get work done. For me, tons of the day to day communication involved in getting work done happens in yammer. Visiting there multiple times a day has become a habit. Now there is less communication trapped in isolated emails and more people are able to become aware of what is happening. Clive Thompson famously compared twitter to a sixth sense, a social proprioception. I think that is a great sense to take advantage of in the work place. Anecdotal evidence suggests we are on the right path. One manager in ITS who recently adopted yammer in her organization told me she was able to cut meetings back to thirty minutes from sixty since there was no longer a need to “report out” and meetings could just focus on discussion and decision making. I like that the sound of that.
the episode we tried to make “listenable” but ended up just giggling the whole time
Something like this will be useful for sites.psu.edu
I am still not sure how big deal this is in practice. Even if this is true, don’t now if it matters to all the people benefiting today from Facebook as a way to organize. Like the metaphor, though.