September 30, 2004
OFFLINE: John Ashbery & Speculum Musicae
An off-topic post for New Yorkers who need to unplug for an evening....
This may well be the last year for Howard Stokar's always excellent CooperArts series of rarely seen performing and literary arts events at Cooper Union's Great Hall.
The season kicks off next Friday with a celebration of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet John Ashbery. Ashbery will read from his work, and acclaimed ensemble Speculum Musicae will perform musical settings of his work by leading American composers.
When: Friday, October 8, 2004, 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Great Hall (7 East 7th Street at 3rd Avenue).
Price: $20, general admission, $15 students/seniors (at the door only one hour before show).
Tickets: Available via phone at (212) 279-4200 or online here. (Reserve early - the show is likely to sell out.)
September 29, 2004
RESOURCES: Teachers' Domain
Teacher's Domain, which presents a digital library of multimedia resources, standards, and lesson plans for K-12 on a small range of topics in life science, physical science, engineering, and the civil rights movement, is a good example. I was interested enough by the tour (no registration required) to check it out further but was soon disappointed.
While the library resources themselves are useful and well organized, the registration and login process can be frustrating, and the process of creating resource folders and sharing them with students and colleagues is unnecessarily complex. Navigation through these folders and groups is not very intuitive, and the "help" function is something less than helpful. To make matters worse, the server is sluggish and tends to serve up lots of error pages.
While this might be a useful resource for those who want to organize materials for themselves for classroom use, I wouldn't suggest sending students to this site for independent online work.
(link via Educational Technology)
September 27, 2004
ARTICLE: Learning Communities
The article Enabling Distributed Learning Communities Via Emerging Technologies - Part One in the September 2004 T.H.E. Journal provides a nice definition of learning communities, as well as a couple of illustrative examples of distributed learning strategies for teacher education.
(Link via Collaborative Learning Environments)
September 23, 2004
COPYRIGHT: Bits and PiecesSome Web gleanings on copyright issues...
- Complementary essays on reserving rights from writer Amy Gahran and open source software developer Travis Swicegood
- This white paper from the r-smart group, Open source - opens learning (PDF format) is a good introduction to this topic for newcomers. It provides a simple definition of "open source" in the context of learning, illustrates the differences between open source and proprietary approaches, and provides an overview of the open source movement in higher education.
(link via elearnopedia)
- A handy copyright handbook from NYU Libraries that includes a printable version.
RESOURCES: User Experience
September 22, 2004
BLOGS: The War on Comment Spam
Glaser also points to Elise Bauer's very useful Concerning Spam entry.
For myself, I've had no comment spam problems at all since installing the MT-Blacklist plugin for MovableType a few months ago (knock on faux woodgrain finish)...
September 20, 2004
COMMUNITY-BUILDING: Blended Learning
From the August issue of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Blended Learning and Sense of Community: A Comparative Analysis with Traditional and Fully Online Graduate Courses reports the results of a very small but interesting study on how "sense of community" differed across fully traditional, blended, and fully online courses. (As you might have guessed from the title, the study's findings suggest that blended courses produced the strongest sense of community.)
LEARNING: Online vs. F2F
In Ten Ways Online Education Matches, or Surpasses, Face-to-Face Learning, sociology professor Mark Kassop describes some of the ways in which he believes online learning excells.
(link via eCornell Research Blog)
September 18, 2004
NEW TECHNOLOGY: Technophobia or Bitter Experience?
There have been lots of small-scale qualitative studies on the role of WBT in higher education, but the article Higher Education Staff Experiences of Using Web-based Learning Technologies (from Educational Technology & Society, 7:1), which focuses on a study of the experiences of staff implementing these technologies in four institutions in England, really hit home for me.
The study's findings that staff - though enthusiastic about WBT - experienced problems "embedding" the new technology within their organizations, managing their time, and obtaining institutional recognition for the extra work involved in using the technology, certainly reflect my own experiences working with technology integration in educational institutions and nonprofit organizations.
When staff, faculty or administrators give you that 1000-mile stare as you suggest a new technology solution that you know will make their work easier or more effective, it's easy to chalk up their hesitation to technophobia, fear of change, or even laziness. But, especially these days, it's just as likely that their response is a result of bitter experience with technologies that were poorly integrated into their workflow.
Most of us have had the experience of seeing a new technology go through the following cycle: touted as a panacea, adopted hastily, introduced haphazardly, supported with inadequate training, spottily integrated, left to languish, abandoned as ineffective.
Not only does this depressingly familiar cycle waste an institution's time, money and resources, but it also takes a significant toll on staff... it can interrupt work cycles, cause performance problems, and make staff feel as if they're just plain wasting their time. Staff who make the extra effort to really learn and integrate the technology are often not prepared for (and not recognized for) the time and effort this requires - and then they have to start all over again when the technology is eventually abandoned. And staff who never bother to use the new technology feel vindicated, since they really didn't need to learn how to use it after all.
Of course, this can become a self-perpetuating cycle... Those who have lived through this a few times tend to be wise to any claim by technology evangelists that a new technology is "easy to use". Even those who are generally early adopters of new technologies for personal use may hesitate at the suggestion that they incorporate them into their work life.
A thoughtful, planned approach that focuses on sustainability and seamless integration of new technology into existing work processes - as well as support, reward, and recognition of staff's efforts to learn and implement the new systems - can go a long way toward breaking this negative cycle. But, interestingly enough, I've found that it's much easier to "sell" administrators and managers on the technology itself than on the interventions needed to support, integrate, and sustain it.
(article link via elearnopedia)
September 17, 2004
TECHNOLOGIES: Synchronous Collaboration Tools
Interesting dynamic presentation (in Macromedia Breeze) by Robin Good on Synchronous Collaboration tools for the Academic World that provides some food for thought on different synchronous tools (particularly for Course Creation students who have only had exposure to Centra).
(link via elearnspace)
WRITING: Guidelines and ResourcesTo supplement my writing workshops, I've beefed up my student resources links to include some great sites on:
September 06, 2004
Administrivia: Before the Fall
After a brief blogger's holiday (if you can call meeting deadlines on half a dozen consulting projects a holiday), it's time to start gearing up for the fall semester...
I'll be doing a lot of blog housekeeping over the next few weeks, tweaking the interface and posting the items I've been collecting during the semester break, as well as getting back to a more regular posting schedule.