Category Archives: EdTech

TLT at S&T March 12-13, 2015

Fresh back from the ELI Conference I wanted to compare the agenda for our upcoming Teaching and Learning Technology Conference, TLT, scheduled for March 12-13 here at the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla, MO. This conference has matured over the years to be a leading regional conference for Education Technology. Under the direction of Meg Brady, Director, and Angie Hammons, Manager, of Education Technology at Missouri S&T, this conference has an all star lineup with extremely relevant sessions. 

Plus: TLT will be hosting a CanvasCon by Instructure on the 12th.

The Keynote Speakers:

Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D. — Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology; Tennessee Board of Regents,  “The Emergence of Mobile and Smart Devices: Is Your Device Smarter than You?”

Jeff Schramm, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of History & Political Science; Missouri S&T, “MOOC’s, LMS, ELI, PRR, CB&Q and EMD: What the history of technology can teach us about the future of higher education.”

I love the fact that this conference brings together many innovative professors in higher education along with their Instructional Designers, Developers and Technologists, plus many from K-12 who want to make sure their students are properly prepared for college. TLT does carry some Missouri S&T STEM influence but I believe that it only strengthens how EdTech is applied to the liberal arts community. An exciting area of development in the last year has been with the preparation of virtual labs for chemistry and biology.

OH yes, did I mention that our TLT is FREE….

GT’s partnership with Udacity & AT&T is a game changer

We have had about a week to digest the latest MOOC bombshell that Georgia Tech is offering an online MS in Computer Science via a partnership with Udacity and funding from AT&T. An offering of an affordable degree, approximately $7000, conferred by Georgia Tech delivered via Udacity’s MOOC engine. Oh yes, available for free through that same engine but with no official blessing. Reaction from our higher ed community is more jaw dropping by the EdTech folks and skepticism by the traditional academic. 

This latest move is just another sign pointing to the changing world of higher education. Agree or disagree but change is happening. What is significant to me about this deal is the AT&T investment. Traditional funding for public higher education is under siege by  constituents who are requiring outcome assessment, as in, what is the value proposition for a college degree. Employers just want validation of skills and thinking so they can filter their employment recruiting pool. So do you think this deal for AT&T is about hiring only those graduates from Georgia Tech. No it is probably about access to all of the other student taking the courses for free. The actual degree must be validated with official assessment, hence the $7000 price tag. Here lies the real significance of this bombshell. This program will generate a quantifiable comparison of of the outcomes of the degree vs non degree students.

I really admire Georgia Tech for hedging their bet with this innovative move. They win either way, but what about the rest of higher education on the sidelines still claiming that online learning will never be able to produce qualified employees? Notice I said employees not graduates.

Good Look at our iGFU Mobile Portal

Our student News team wanted to do a story on our iGFU Mobile Portal. They tried to video record a demo off of an iPAD which was not going to work so iGFU author, Brian McLaughlin, made them a simple tutorial that we now use on our website. Checkout the tutorial if you have any interest in what a university mobile portal needs to be. Remember, our mobile portal is basically a skunk works project that leverages the flexibility and performance of HTML5 using Java and PHP to access useful data from general data feeds, Moodle and our PeopleSoft ERP.

The tutorial also highlights a couple of other useful tools. Brian made the video by using an App called AirServer that allows him to mirror an IOS device to his MacBook. He then records it with Quicktime and with a little editing on iMovie you get a very real view of a mobile app. Then we upload the video to our new ShareStream video distribution system which gives us total flexiblity to manage and distribute video (especially if we want to manage copyright). We are investigating if AirServer might offer a better path for iPad mirroring to projector in the classroom.

These MOOCs are Shaking Things Up

The MOOC debate is not going away. Offering free online courses whether Massive or not is part of the Higher Ed landscape. Early on we tried to dissect why these elite institutions were participating in the MOOC phenomenon. Of course it was about research and goodwill but I always leaned to control and marketing. How better to deal with this emerging validated course delivery model then to help define it. Reminds me a bit of the various UNIX or open source software initiatives that always had the support of the key industry players only to insure that the initiatives never gained any momentum. I do still believe that these MOOCs are defining the baseline for a online course which helps to keep the lower tier of online courses from establishing any quality validation. But the “cat is out of the bag”, online or especially blended learning is a viable alternative to traditional classroom course delivery. Now we see how one might adapt a MOOC to fit into our traditional academic structure.

Today I read about Colorado State University’s new Online Campus is accepting a successfully completed Udacity Computer Science Course for credit. And edX is offering to validate a MOOC course with a proctored final exam via Pearson’s VUE Services. In fact hasn’t Pearson positioned themselves well with this growing dependency on online learning.

No, the MOOC debate continues. At a minimum I see all of us needing to offer free online courses as a marketing tool. The other article today “MOOCs’ Little Brother” by Steve Kolowich at Inside HigherED outlines an example of a small institution opening up some seats for free to expand their reach. I have been pushing this in my own institution for a while, asking our academic leaders to consider what would be a good seeker course to introduce our institution to prospective students. I may even offer my “Information Services” course I’ve taught for our School of Business as a MOOC or at least CUOOC, “Check Us Out Online Course”.

Addendum 9/7/12: A second major MOOC provider signs deal to hold exams at physical testing centers, potentially elevating the credibility of certificates.

Good article by Kevin Carey in the Chronicle, Into the Future with MOOC’s, More focus on how the MOOC explosion will accelerate the breakup of the college credit monopoly.

Faculty Conference Kicks Off the New Year

We held our faculty “Kick-off the Year” conference yesterday and I would say it was a great success considering it was the first time in many years that we did not hold the conference down at the coast. The focus of the conference was about incorporating various aspects of technology in support of teaching. We had a great keynote speaker in Bill Rankin from Abilene Christian University. His talk “Flights of Discovery: Transformation in Third-Age Education” sufficiently conveyed that we need to change our way of dealing with this Data driven era, “But How”. Plenty of good examples about how students are learning more with real world experience and less in old world classroom lectures. But how might we change this? I pitched the services that my IT department provides for our faculty but we don’t come close to offering the resources that they really need. This video touches on the less obvious.

I listened to our faculty ask great questions about how they might engage or inspire their students. Sure the use of technology could help, especially shifting to a more blended learning approach, but that is not the total answer. My take-away was that we can only do the best we can under the current structure. And by structure I mean classes delivered in a weekly schedule over a semester type period of time. Sure it would be great if our Social Sciences courses could hold class in a homeless shelter in downtown Portland, but that doesn’t work in this structure. So then I contemplated different structures like courses meet for a week at a time a few times through the semester, but that does not work. When you have many students all trying to piece together a schedule that accommodates all their needs and the needs of all the other students and faculty we end up with what we have. What would it take to really shake this up? I’m not sure but I think it may involve tearing down that structure. Maybe redefine what a class is altogether. Yikes, a bit scary but you know, it may be worth exploring.

Spring Conferences

Spring approaches so we prepare for higher education technology conferences that focus on specific disciplines. It makes sense, we start of the year with the more broad university technology conferences highlighted by Educause. And the summers seem to be good for our affiliation conferences that accommodate our regional or institutional peer groups. But the Spring is our time to recap what has worked and what we need to work on. EdTech gatherings are taking place and then come our enterprise user group conferences. We can’t participate in all so we delegate our attendees, but for me EdTech issues in support of teaching and learning justify my attention.

With the release of NMC’s Communiqué from the Horizon Project Retreat that identifies the 10 most significant Meta-Trends shaping educational technology, and now the 2012 Horizon Report, the stage is set for a great, February 13-15 in Austin, TX. Our university has been a strong supporter of ELI as it has offered valuable resources and collaboration that enables us to be innovative with our use of technology in teaching and learning. Whether we are fine tuning our online or hybrid delivery or re-envisioning our smart classrooms ELI is one of the most valuable partners. Our Northwest Academic Computing Consortium, NWACC, also has strong ties to ELI as we promote our own for our EdTech professionals. I am especially looking forward to the gathering since I have recently joined the ELI Advisory Board.

Another good Spring Conference that I am speaking at is the CraigMichaels Technology Summit on April 1-3.

Higher Education can Deal with Technology

What a great time it is to be working with technology in Higher Education. It was not that long ago that IT departments really only worried about supporting the traditional microcomputer or keeping the enterprise systems running. But the real fun occurs at the front lines where technology may actually assist with teaching and learning. And it is on the front lines where so much is changing which translates to an exciting time at least for the tech comfortable academic.

However, this excitement is not shared by all. There is plenty of stress associated with the influx of recent technology. Now this is not the same as when the micro computer entered the playing field or even when the calculator introduced disruption. Technology’s place in the past was understood and controlled. Only the fortunate few had access and only on administration’s terms. No, the difference today is that technology is now in the hands of the masses, using it on their terms. The confused administration now debates what is the computing device of choice or what is a computing device and how will it be utilized in teaching and learning. But why so much concern?

Why? Because Higher Education struggles with how to accept technology for what it has become. What we have seen in recent years with the advancement of personal computing devices is flat out amazing; and Higher Education is not immune to the desire to have and use these tech toys. We just have to divorce ourselves from the past and accept the freedom that comes with this new technology. We need to accept that these new computing devices are as pervasive as pencils and paper. Why can’t we just embrace it and adapt? Isn’t it natural for technology to challenge portions of teaching & learning without disrupting it. Maybe we are over reacting. Are we dealing with more of a culture change rather then a technological revolution?

It is probably acceptable to hand out iPads to our students and just call it a marketing gimmick. We don’t have to create or select an educational app to justify why we allow our students to use mobile devices in class. We do not need a standard e-book format or preferred e-reader to justify the use of e-textbooks. We just have to accept that this is happening and figure out how we can take advantage of the opportunities. IT support needs to transition from control to coach. Great teachers can teach without technology but when technology is dictated, leave it in the hands of the tech savvy. But this is all so new to higher education, and new is difficult for the academic academy.

So what does this new culture or landscape look like? It starts with allowing the Web to rule. Most special apps that we need are easily handled by the Web so we do not need to complicate this access with proprietary operating system apps. One of the last barriers fell a few weeks ago when Adobe gave up on Flash for mobile. Our professors should be allowed to teach. If a specific technology or media technique is truly needed to enhance their teaching then let’s have skilled technicians help provide it. The instructional designers may be getting the headlines but let’s remember that their skill sets are much more of a commodity. A proven effective teacher is an asset. And we can’t confuse adoption of technology with online learning. A valuable online course still adheres to the fundamental structure of any well taught class and must be supported accordingly. We also have to relax our academic phobia of nontraditional publishing. Maybe the whole concept of peer review needs to change. Maybe tenure will survive but not unless we change our definition of scholarship to include all forms of media expression.

What I am really advising is for Higher Education to relax and let this information access transition play out. We don’t have to incorporate technologies just because they are popular. All we need to do is remember to focus on the student. Ensure that knowledge transfer is taking place and let the well educated graduate do the rest.

Trying to get to Educause

Haven’t blogged much in recent weeks but what better time to jot down some ideas, comments, concerns then while stuck at the airport waiting to get on my way to Anaheim. Yes, Educause, which I have actually tried to skip in recent years willing to avoid the zoo of vendors and networking. But Educause is great for professional networking which is driving this visit. I do have hopes for discovering some critical trends or relationships. One high on my list is to get a better look at the potential of Matterhorn, a free, open-source platform to support the management of educational audio and video content. EdTech today is all about video/audio for various forms of content creation and distribution. This area is not rocket science it is just time and resource heavy so productivity help is always desired but the ROI has not yet been right. I loaded Matterhorn on my Apple Mini just to verify that it was valid and OK to push my EdTech team to invest more time into testing it. My initial feedback is very positive.

Other key take-aways I desire from Educause would be continued progress in defining our path toward CRM/DW/BI. My Director of Media Production Services is also attending this year which adds to the confirmation about what is important. So hopefully Alaska Airlines will get me to Disneyland today and the EdTech, IT Management geek fest will begin.

Congratulations Microsoft on the release of the Windows 7 Phone

Please let the Verizon iPhone “rumors” be true – I will switch from AT&T

Good Luck Adrian

We are starting to see the new wave of digital content that foretells the impending digital transformation of higher education. My EdTech team now understands that the trend for these digital materials is moving toward more sophisticated web based packages and of course E-Textbooks represent the most rapid transition. As our university’s president has been trying to convey to our community, we the academic institution is no longer the source for information, we must learn to be the mentor for the information that our students now have access to. We will no longer discount the value of public or commercial sources for information because we can no longer compete with their quality.

Possibly a significant milestone for this transition is the announcement of my higher education IT colleague, Adrian Sannier, becoming the Vice President of Product Marketing for Pearson eCollege. Adrian has been the UTO of Arizona State University for the last five years. In that time many of his accomplishments are representative of the transition of higher education. Outsourcing, ERP efficiency, business collaboration such as for the delivery of communication services. However, what Adrian may be most known for is his statement that we should just burn down the libraries and quit wasting money air conditioning all of those books. Well you know, Adrian is now in a position where he can actually influence this change that he has spoken about. I can’t think of a better person to be at the creative helm for one of the companies that will help lead that charge.

Educational Leadership Summit

I participated in a valuable Apple Educational Leadership Summit complete with Adrian Sannier proclaiming that we should quit air conditioning books and just burn down our University Libraries. Alan Kay reconfirming how learning is really accomplished. Some GenYes high school kids scaring us with their open minds. Oh, and I loved a reference by one of the students referring to the copier as the “Paper Machine”. And a couple of English professors from Rutgers who have shown how to teach communications skills in this age of rich multimedia. Great stuff, good networking amongst the many CIOs, but I think I will expand upon the “Rutgers Guys”; Dr. Richard Miller and Dr. Paul Hammond.

They have been given an incredible opportunity thanks to a couple of gifts to create a new Writing Center where they have been allowed to offer an English or Communications curriculum that is not afraid to embrace all forms of technology for effective teaching and learning of today’s undergraduate. No really, they have figured it out and they are off and running from the pack. Figured out as in immersing themselves into all forms of rich media so that they can properly motivate today’s learner to be a critical thinker. My major take-away though was that I saw English professors who had discovered how to leverage software applications: They figured out that you don’t try to learn the app first, let what you want to accomplish drive what you learn in the app. This has always been an advantage geeks have leveraged, we always assume the app can do what we want to do, we just have to figure out how a specific app does it. I recommend that you investigate the “Rutgers Guys”.

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