Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Simple tools--removing technology from the picture

I read a post this evening from a blog I follow. The post simply marked a 3-yr blogging milestone for the author (Cole Camplese). I thought that was in itself fairly impressive to me since I've only been blogging more seriously for a few months. Upon reviewing my first post, I was surprised to see, however, that this month will mark my 2nd year blogging...where I stopped deleting my old test posts or posts I felt were dumb (I set up my Blogger account over 4 years ago on Feb 22, 2003)

Cole made a point about how blogging (setting up an account and publishing a thought) was so beautifully simple--a three step process. It made me think back to when I started. I recall vividly feeling some of the same thoughts! No html, no ftp, no transferring a web page, no hassle, no need to make it pretty (nice starter templates provided)--just type and publish! Simplicity isn't enough, and it wasn't until this year that I felt I had something to say and actually started blogging more regularly. I continue to seek this simplicity when designing tools, consulting with faculty and in teaching my students. I'm delighted to see more and more tools (many of the web 2.0 variety) that reflect the same simplicity (and then I got a movable type blogging account...grrrr).

A recent favorite of mine is Viddler (http://www.viddler.com/) . Since 1996, I've been building, designing or just dreaming about such tools--think YouTube with rich media annotation and commenting tie-able to specific frames within the video. I teach video classes, so this has been a long-desired tool--a cross-platform way to share and talk about instructional video...in an uncomplicated way. The pieces have existed for years, but have been tied to Quicktime or another format only, or to a mac or PC only--I can go on and on about the limitations for end-users. Viddler has succeeded in taking the technology out of the picture for most users, allowing us to concentrate on communication around and with the media. I can't wait to use the tool the next time I teach my class (of course, RSS and tagging come standard).

Yet as simple as tools are (seem to be), I was starkly reminded this week of a parallel reality for too many. A colleague (teacher) was trying to learn how to podcast this week (on a PC). Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/) was downloaded and installed easily enough for her, but then getting the necessary Lame mp3 codec (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LAME) turned out to be quite a bear. Similarly, so many (non-mp3) podcasts fail to open on PCs even with iTunes installed. There are (no good!) reasons and work-arounds, but it can be so frustrating for the un-initiated who are trying so hard to learn new skills, and or those of us trying to support their initiation them and help them have a sucessful experience.

Despite these lingering challenges, I remain encouraged and optimistic about the simplicity of many new tools. The underlying technology for creating, sharing and communicating around content is, to my great pleasure, being removed from the picture...now if they'd just remain free, stay in business, and not be so successful in attracting the basest of what humanity can produce. I know, I ask too much.
-Joel G.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Faculty Development (2.0?) in the Age of Creation

Moving Faculty Development out of the Information Age and into the Age of Creativity

Daniel Pink writes (wired, 2005):
...the curtain is rising on a new era, the Conceptual Age. If the Industrial Age was built on people's backs, and the Information Age on people's left hemispheres, the Conceptual Age is being built on people's right hemispheres. We've progressed from a society of farmers to a society of factory workers to a society of knowledge workers. And now we're progressing yet again - to a society of creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers.
Ok, so may be we're beating the "2.0" suffix into the ground, but that aside, this
quote nicely adresses the change in education (and necessarily faculty development) that I've blogged about in numerous other posts on Edusign.

FacDev 2.0
There's a great post on professional development 2.0 that surfaced on my radar from a couple different venues. (this may indicate that I'm either consistant in my interests, or not casting my net broadly enough.)
Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach describes in nice detail a recent 3-day PD2.0 workshop she put on in NY for educators. What I found inspiring about her post was the range of experiences she engineered for the workshop participants: wikis, blogs, commenting, creative commons, VOIP, virtual speed dating (read her post for more on that), Elluminate, Twitter.

I got fatigue just thinking about the planning and coordination that must have gone in to it, but was simultaneously envigorated with great ideas. This is the kind of thing that I too want to do with my faculty devlopment work at the university level. Her workshop looks like it was a great success, and importantly, didn't simply look like a series of "look-what-you-can-do-on-the-internet" product demos. Check out her original post.

Sustaining Faculty Development
Faculty Development efforts need to look more like Sheryl's workshop, but learners must then be sustained and supported as they implement--possibly months later. An on-going virtual learning community is critical for faculty as they practice and gain the new literacies and skills for the age of creativity (create, connect, communicate, evaluate)--or in Pink's words, we become "empathizers, pattern recognizers, and meaning makers".

While only one piece of the facdev puzzle, I'm still kicking around the technologies that best support a more participatory and sustained faculty community (and I don't think the technological issues are trivial here!). I've joined groups in the past using technology that was simply too cumbersome to use-despite my desire to stay involved. I've also seen sites with bucket-loads of teaching/learning resources (which seems very "information age"), lacking the connections of a healthy community.
Drupal or Ning may be the answer (some have even suggested Facebook which may already carry too much "baggage" for many faculty). I'm also impressed with the Pedestal project which brings up people, resources and blogs related to one's search.

I'd love to get comments on great faculty devlopment sites (experiences) you've encountered that reflect the move from the information age to the age of creativity.
-Joel G.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Digital natives, information literacy and a skills gap?

The New Media Consortium's 2007 Horizon Report is a very interesting read (at least hit the executive summary!). A couple claims they make about student skills and literacies resonated with me as I read (from different sections of the report):

1) There is a skills gap between understanding how to use tools for media creation and how to create meaningful content. Although new tools make it increasingly easy to produce multimedia works, students lack essential skills in composition, storytelling, and design. In addition, faculty need curricula that adapt to the pace of change and that teach the skills that will be needed—even though it is not clear what all those skills may be.

2) Information literacy increasingly should not be considered a given. Contrary to the conventional wisdom, the information literacy skills of new students are not improving as the post-1993 Internet boomlet enters college. At the same time, in a sea of user-created content, collaborative work, and instant access to information of varying quality, the skills of critical thinking, research, and evaluation are increasingly required to make sense of the world.
I've made an interesting observation with both my 12 and 14 year old daughters, my older nephews, and many of their friends with whom I have some Facebook or other social network contact. They all seem surprisingly computer illiterate...despite their amazing keyboard skills, and hours on computers--"Oh, there's a calculator on here?" or "how do I attach that file?" or "Dad, the computer's not working" (when only the wireless switch was turned off--as if the Internet IS the computer...OK, I'll give them that one).

Perhaps more to the point of the Horizon Report claim #1, I see them viewing, sharing, remixing, and even creating photos, videos, music with each other with either no aesthetic quality, or even less purpose, message or meaning. Sure, not everything has to be deep and poignant, but this stuff adds up to heaps of material posted to YouTube, Facebook, Flickr etc. that is really senseless material--outside of just wanting to publish/share something and get a reaction from friends (no sense watching more than 30 seconds of this example close to home).

Admittedly, I have undergraduate degrees in photography and film, spent years creating video and media professionally, and have been teaching media courses for the last 4 years. Yes, I probably have higher expectations than some (and wish my kids would have picked up a thing or two), but I as I have repeatedly seen in the classes I teach, for most people, access to technology and skills with the tools alone does not ensure the creation of meaningful content. (with some amazing exceptions to the rule out there--where young kids have created and shared some very beautiful and compelling work).

Is this akin to phenomena of days gone by?--have we seen this before with word processors, wysiwyg html editors, and handheld camcorders (and blogs) for example? Every Tom, Jane and Hari with new tools excitedly creates material and eventually either gives up, or hopefully learns and improves. The difference perhaps now is how easy it is for Tom, Jane and Hari to parade their drivel (or masterpieces!) in front of the world's eyes--which is where claim #2 on information literacy becomes critical. I don't think kids are learning enough info literacy in schools.
I think I'm part part of the solution in closing the gap of both claims (both as a parent and instructor). I'm currently significantly revising my online course (for educators) which will also be renamed from "Video and Hypermedia in the Classroom" to "Instructional Media in a Digital Age" pending approval. The title is maybe a bit tacky, but the revised course is going to be a creating, sharing, connecting , tagging (web 2.0) blast, focused on meaningful, purposeful content. I can't wait to teach my new version in January. We also spend time in class (but not enough) on information and media literacy--learning to evaluate and appreciate the media we encounter.

I wonder what others experiences are. Is "information literacy" a legacy term part of a dying system that says experts and expert viewpoints exist? Do we need to be teaching people how to create "meaningful content", or do we simply let "meaningful" be what either the creator and/or consumer make of it?
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Mashups, Remixes & Education: Is it outright copyright infringement?

An interesting article from Brian Lamb on Mashups and Remixes in education. I agreed with the bulk of his views, but was reminded of the danger of terminology. I'd venture to say that in many cases, mashups and remixes are outright plagerism, and/or theft of others' IP and creative work. In education we need to take care that we not lul ourselves into thinking or teaching that it's all ok by simply calling it by another, hipper, trendier name (i.e. "it's not copying or duplication--it's a mashup or a remix").
Doug Johnson writes:

Intellectual-property issues on Web 2.0, where students are producers of information, are somewhat different. This generation of producers often views others’ creative work as raw material for their own expressions. The term mashup is commonly used to describe a montage of digital works, especially music and video, that have been edited and mixed to create a unique creative product. The use of others’ work is regarded not as theft or plagiarism, but homage to the originator, and sites such as YouTube make sharing these creations simple and inexpensive. Guidelines for the use of copyrighted works in this fashion are unclear and routinely ignored by many when creating mashups.

Admittedly, there is increasingly more material out there with open licensing, but just because some have opened up their work for free use (myself included), most still have not. Luckily, both Yahoo and Google now facilitate advanced searches using filters that only display material with creative commons (more open) licensing.

Anyway, read and enjoy this interesting Educause Review article by Brian Lamb.

Dr. Mashup; or, Why Educators Should Learn to Stop Worrying and Love the Remix
[EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 42, no. 4 (July/August 2007): 12–25]
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Winds of Change 2

An interesting video on the changing educational landscape by Karl Fischer (it's been around for a year, but it was new to me)...It makes my thinker sore.
-Joel G.

Original video link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMcfrLYDm2U

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Winds of Change--is faculty development lagging?

A couple short USA Today articles (from 2006!) that describe the changing student demographics at universities.
The first describes student networking (MySpace, Facebook) and how new incoming students use such tools to find out about prospective schools, and more about the schools they'll be attending. Universities would be wise to proactively be in this space.
This next article simply outlines some of the new characteristics of the incoming digital native student.
I question how much universities have done, and how much they are doing to address this trend...it's now been a year since these articles were published. Penn State (where I am currently) appears to be doing a number of things indicating they are taking this change seriously. Though infrastructure/technology change is an important part of the picture, it is only part of the solution. There's a lot (even more) work to be done with our faculty (with notable exceptions) to meet student needs, and help keep their education and training relevant to society's needs.
-Joel G.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

An alternate voice on all this innovation...

David Snowden's presentation (17:00 min) is sensible, and provides an alternative (but not luddite) view to the prevailing "throw-caution-to-the-wind-ramming-speed!-you're-either-with-us-or-irrelevant" view of the changing education landscape. His message (part of the Future of Education online confererence 2007) is that social comuting/networks and associated web20 tools are all good and powerful, BUT they have some imporant downsides for education and societies. He also discusses briefly "nodal networks" strength over "social networks".
The first 17 minutes is his presentation, and then there's some Q/A which is also pretty good.
-Joel G.

Article: Pedagogoical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content

An article titled "Pedagogical affordances of syndication, aggregation, and mash-up of content on the Web", by Barbara Dieu and Vance Stevens.
Though the article focuses on ESL/EFL learning, it's got some good ideas and is itself is a good example of a multimedia text that requires (or at least takes advantage of) some multiliteracies.
-Joel Galbraith

Monday, July 02, 2007

Conducting a Ed-Tech vanity search

A couple years ago , I began a making a list of things I've experienced in life that help shape who I am today. (I'm sure as an avoidance tactic to keep from working on my graduate schoolwork)

I share here the "education" and "technology" -related piece of my still-growing list...(I do NOT claim to be an expert on most of this by any means). These are simply technologies I have used, or things I have experienced. It is a fun activity--a form of vanity search, tantamount to Googling your brain for the search term: me*technology*education--and I'd heartily recommend the exercise (especially if you've got a looming deadline or project to put off).

You'll likely amaze yourself with all you've done in life so far, how privileged you are, and with how quickly (educational) technology changes! I was/and still am!


Education (school andteaching experiences)
-I have taught and team-taught university courses (online, face-to-face)
-I have taken asynchronous correspondence courses (print, web)
-Participated in synchronous Distance Learning Tele-lectures (satellite, Internet hi-band, web-based--PictureTel, Vtel)
-I have attended schools in Israel/Palestine, Holland, and the USA
-I have attended a Montessori school, have experienced homeschool, private school, public school, Catholic kindergarten, Anglican Church school, Private University (Brigham Young University)
-2 years as a teaching missionary in Switzerland, Germany and Austria (German language)
-I have attended two intensive, immersion language training programs
-I have had formal music instruction in Trumpet, Tuba, Guitar, Contra-base Clarinet, Piano and Organ.
-I have been trained in scouting, and likewise trained young scouters
-I have guest lectured in university courses, conducted faculty training workshops
-I have had numerous church teaching opportunities (young adult and youth Sunday school)
-I completed an associates degree (photography), B.A. (Film), and Masters (Technology Education), I am currently finishing a Ph.D. (Instructional Systems, PSU)
-I have attended numerous professional development and HR workshops (Covey Leadership, Stanford Institute Project Management)
-I have attended and presented at professional conferences (state and national)
-I have visited a one-room Amish school, and observing teaching and instructional materials.

Technology & Media (non-computer related)
-I have dealt with the following film formats: 8mm, Super 8, 16mm, 35mm , 70mm film cameras (loaded, threaded, cleaned, filmed, edited)
-I have dealt with the following film projectors: 8mm, 16mm film, 35mm projectors (splicing/editing, playback, threading)
-I have played, recorded and edited with the following video formats: Betamax, VHS, SVHS, 3/4 "U-matic, 1", Betacam SP, video8, Hi8, minidv, DVCpro, DVD-video
-I have videotaped with many professional camcorders (Sony, JVC, Panasonic, Ikegami, digital (dsp), and analog)
-I have used, edited and masterered numerous videodiscs (levels 1 and 2), Recordable Videodisc (CRV) Sony, Pioneer.
-I have used the shortllived CD-I (interactive) format from Pioneer.
-I have worked with the following photography media: transparencies, negative, darkroom, 35mm, Medium format (Hasselblad, Mamiya) Large format (4x5, 8x10) Color, B&W
-I am a trained Steadicam operator (used with 16mm film, DVC-pro, Betacam and MiniDV cameras)
-I have used film strips (usually with cassette tape-manual. The advance-on-tone variety)
-Used slide projectors and developed multi-projector (up to 3) presentations (with synchronized audio and control tracks) (This format was considered the original "multimedia")
-Have worked on numerous film production crews (Documentary, Television and Theatrical release)
-Am familiar with and have used a host of professional audio equipment (microphones, speakers, headphones, mixers, routers and patch bays): Audio Technica, Shure, Sennheiser, Telex, Pro-tools, MOTU, Yamaha, Motorola, GLM, Denon, Peavey, Mackie, Sony, AKG, JBL, Tascam, Nakamichi, SierraVideo Systems, Kramer, Marantz.
-Photography (Aerial (sea-plane, helicopter), Terrestrial (in, on, under many moving vehicles) & Underwater)
-Chalk (dust free, regular, natural) Chalkboards (green, black, brown, handheld slates, wall mounted, painted)
-Whiteboards (electronic, copyable, projected, pressure sensitive, networked.)
-I have used and/or recorded with: Audio cassette recorders, 8 track player, Audio-CD , DAT, Minidisc, adat, Record (vinyl) turntables-phonographs (33, 45, 78 speeds) single and multi-platter versions
-I have experiences with reel to reel audio (splicing, playback, threading)
-Flip charts (handheld, easel mounted, Post-it variety)
-I have used the following environment controllers in "electronic" classrooms (Crestron, AMP)

Technology and Media (computer-related)
-Computer platforms/OS (Sinclair, Atari 800, Commodore 64, Apple, Mac--OSX, Wintel--Dos, Win 3.1, Win 9x, Win 2k, ME, XP) -Digital media formats (Mpeg 1,2,4,7, avi, wav, aiff, au, wmv, rm, ra, mov, mp3, swf)
-Group response systems (Onetouch, Fleetwood, Group Systems)
-Electronic slides (Presentations, Powerpoint, Astound)
-Synchronous Distance Learning Tele-lectures (satellite, web-based, Internet hi-band--PictureTel, Vtel)
-Video streaming, (broadcast and Interactive w/chat)--(QT, Flash, Real, Windows media, Vivo, Vxtreme, Geo)
-DVD-Video, DV-ROM-web hybrid
-Authoring systems (Authorware, Toolbook, Flash) Multimedia CD
-Avatars, VRML (3d spaces)
-I have helped develop PDA courses (Palm, Pocket PC, Trivantis)
-Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (MMORPG, MMOG) (There, Second Life, World of Warcraft)
-I have accounts in the following Social Networtk sites: Facebook, Linked-in, Orkut, Friendster (chose to stay out of MySpace)
-3D rooms (BYU, PSU "caves")
-Variable speed Playback VSP (Enounce)
-Whiteboard, electronic, copyable, projected, pressure sensitive, networked.
-Synchronized media (Mpeg-4, Real, Windows Media, Flash, Director, QT)
-Computer Supported Collaboration technologies (Elluminate, Netmeeting, Centra, Interwise, Webex, HorizonLive-Wimba, Placeware, Paltalk, Groove, Atinav, iChat, and many others)
-Simulations (virtual chemlab)
-Media search (Pictron, Virage, Excaliber, Google video, MediaSite)
-Asset management and digital library products (Bulldog, MediaSite, Jaguar, Content DM, Hyperion, TeleScope, Silver Platter
-Non Linear Editors (NLE) (D/Vision, Avid, Premiere, Toaster, Play, FAST, Final Cut, iMovie, Windows MovieMaker)
-Immersive, networked gaming (World of Warcraft, Delta Force, Doom, Wolfenstein 3D, Pod racer), (Other: Command & Conquer, Age of Empires)
-I have used the following data backup systems: SyQuest (various capacities), Quantum DLT 4000-8000, Iomega
-I am familiar with, and have had (to attempt) to design for SCORM, IMS, AICC compliance (learning objects, media objects)
-I have used the following LMS, CMS and LCMS products: Blackboard, WebCT, Angel, Moodle, NYU Online, Lectora, Topclass, Learningspace, FirstClass, Click2Learn, Avaltus, Playback Media, Skillsoft, Tegrity and others

-I have maintained and/or used Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, regular html websites

-I have used RSS feeds to distribute and aggragate online content.

-I have posted and shared photos and video online (Flickr, Picasaweb, Googlevideo, YouTube)

Other Technology
-Global Positioning System receiver (GPSr) devices--handheld and automotive from (Lowrance, Garmin, Magellan & Cobra)
-Gestetner, stat machine, mimeograph (still remember the smell of purple acetone), ditto machine, photocopiers
-Word Processor (Word, (Corel)Wordperfect, Apple/Claris works, Star Office Writer)
-Overhead projector, LCD projector
-Post-it sheets (various colors and sizes, easel pads)
-Chalk (dust free, regular, natural) Chalkboards (green, black, brown, handheld slates, wall mounted, painted)

-Typewriter (manual and electric front strikes, and "IBM selectric", with and without correction strips, two-color ribbons)
-I've used Carbon copy paper
-Telex machine, facsimile machine
-PDAs (Palm OS, Pocket PC)

Other Experiences
-Facility design (Sound design, studio design, school design, classroom design)
-I am a Christian, Father, Husband, Son, Grandson, Brother, Neighbor, Friend, Student, Foreigner (Canadian), Teacher, learner.
-White, Male
-I scuba dive (not in years), ski (not very well), snowboard (ok)

-I have attended most of the following (inter)national conferences more than once: NAB (National Association of Broadcasters), IBC (International Broadcasting Convention), TeleCon, Online Learning, ALN (Sloan-C), AERA, AECT, EdMedia, SALT, IDLCON (International Distance Learning Conference) now E-Learning, TechED. _______________________________________

I imagine many of you have had similarly rich experiences with technology and education. The list continues to be added to, and I still need to come up with a better categorization scheme...Any ideas?

-Joel Galbraith

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