Recent News

MySpace Isn’t Blogging

Link to: Scobleizer – Microsoft Geek Blogger

In the recent session that I took part in with a group of K-12 teachers, we talked about how MySpace and FaceBook actually work against teachers who want to use social software for learning purposes. Our initial premise was that students who had experience with online communities will be better prepared for academic uses of tools like blogging than those who didn’t. A number of participants who had spent some time with MySpace questioned just how much transferable learning–other than uploading pictures–really takes place in these huge “commercially oriented” social communities. I agree that what students are doing on those sites has very little to do with the kind of social software use that I’m promoting with our faculty. Are students who use MySpace and FaceBook really that much more “digitally native” than those who don’t?

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Captioning and Searching Rich Media

Link to: 2005-09-12: Captioning services update

The opening of the Multimedia Studio and the increased discussion of podcasting, and other rich media is raising numerous questions about our future ability to index, search and recombine those files in the way we can remix text today. That’s some time in the future, but there are some interesting experiments that, though crude, are helping to prove that we’ll get there.

One interesting experimental project is at Berkeley where they are using closed captioning to allow textual searches to be linked to multiple webcast lectures. (The beta server seems to be down as I’m writing this; but it worked well when I tried it earlier.) I’ve been told that preparing the caption file for a 55 minute lecture takes about 10 minutes.

Automatic Sync Techonolgies, who is listed as one of Berkeley’s partners in this project, raises an interesting issue for those of us who are thinking of jumping into course casting a big way:

ADA and Section 508 requires captioning for most broadcast and distributed video content. Webcasts fall under Section 508 and are subject to these captioning requirements. If you are making a webcast publicly available, then it should be captioned.

If we have to prepare the text files for the closed captioning, then at least primitive searching would appear to be possible fairly soon.

The Dangers of Envisioning the Future

Link to: 21st Century Computing

As we start working on a strategic plan and speculating on what the threats and opportunites for the future will be, it’s fun to look back and see what has come of past speculations. Here is what some of the great futurists of 1989 predicted for computers by 2001.

The ultimate input tool, voice recognition could bring computers to almost every level of society. Many observers see it as inevitable by the year 2001. “You’ll talk to your TV set, and it’ll customize itself and pull things off the air in the categories you told it,” says Perlmutter, “‘Give me everything on Madonna, everything on Dan Quayle.’ It’ll look for that and grab it from the 2000 channels it’s scanning.”

No mention of blogging, but there’s this about the future of your morning newspaper:

A typical morning in the year 2001: You wake up, scan the custom newspaper that’s spilling from your fax, walk into the living room. There you speak to a giant screen on the wall, part of which instantly becomes a high-quality TV monitor. When you leave for work, you carry a smart wallet, a computer the size of a credit card. When you come home, you slip on special eyeglasses and stroll through a completely artificial world.

Your morning newspaper spewing forth from the fax machine; glad they were wrong about that one. (Thanks for the heads up to Waffle at digg.com.)

Making the Read/Write Web Accessible to Students

Link to: nonscholae.org at incorporated subversion

James Farmer has launched a site to help persuade school administrators of the importance of encouraging responsible use of blogs, instant messaging and other social software in schools. I hadn’t realized what a huge problem it is for teachers who want to try new technologies with their classes until members of my planning class explained the hoops they they had to go through merely to access their own professional blogs.

The problems these teachers face provides on reason why so many of our students come to college with plenty of experience in posting “facebook pictures of them half naked, drunk and swapping spit” and little experience sharing their more academic interests. Far too many schools make it far too difficult to integrate theses tools in meaningful ways, therefore leaving students to their own devices.

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Twelve Habits of Successful IT Professionals

Link to: EDUCAUSE REVIEW | January/February 2006, Volume 41, Number 1

Educause President Brian Hawkins has an article in the latest Review in which he outlines 12 skills that he sees as essential to becoming successful and effective IT professionals in higher education. In the introduction, he makes the key point that there are two processes at work here: having the skill and then building the habits of integrating the use of that skill into daily practice. Imagining the integration piece is the hard when you look at some of the habits he highlights.

They Avoid the Unconscious Conspiracy… of drowning in the tidal waves of minutia, mundane details, and dailiness associated with their jobs, which take all of their time and energy…

Many of his suggestions have more applicability to CIO’s than the mere mortals in the IT world:

  • They Are Cautious When Speaking Publicly
  • They Cultivate Their Advisory Committees

Others seem have more universal applicability:

  • They Don’t Whine
  • They Redefine Themselves

I’ve collected lots of lists like this over the years, and they make intesting reading and engaging conference presentations. They all suffer from one problem, however, that is central to “professional development” in IT and every other field. How does the average IT staff member actually put these prescriptions into practice? How do we create–dare I say it–learning environments where busy staff understand the importance of continuing to learn and their organizations routinely allow the space required to learn the new skills and the support to make it habitual to use them. That space is hard to come by in organizations beset with security problems, never-ending demands of administrative systems users and lack of a clear vision for the importance of technology to the core mission of our institution.