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the changing face of I(nstructional) T March 28, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in education, the vision thing.
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I think Cringely has a ton of insight when it comes to the tech sector. Here he is weighing in on Instructional technology and the effect mass-market technologies is playing in our school system. What do you think?

I, Cringely . The Pulpit . War of the Worlds | PBS

I started writing educational software in 1978. The role of instructional technology has changed since then from a gimmick to a novelty to an effort to an essential component of any curriculum. Kids can’t go to school today without working on computers. But having said that, in the last five years more and more technical resources have been turned to how to keep technology OUT of our schools. Keeping kids from instant messaging, then text messaging or using their phones in class is a big issue as is how to minimize plagiarism from the Internet. These defensive measures are based on the idea that unbound use of these communication and information technologies is bad, that it keeps students from learning what they must, and hurts their ability to later succeed as adults.

But does it?

These are kids who have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. But far more important, there is emerging a class of students whose PARENTS have never known life without personal computers and cell phones. The Big Kahuna in educational discipline isn’t the school, it is the parent. Ward Cleaver rules. But what if Ward puts down his pipe and starts texting? Well he has.

CSCW: What is it? March 23, 2008

Posted by kgalyen in cscw.
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Basically, CSCW is a general term for using computer technologies to help people work together: Computer Supported Cooperative Work. Personally, I also like the idea of throwing a little “L” in there: CSCLW, Computer-Supported Cooperative Learning Work. OK, so it doesn’t flow too well. And yes, I just made it up, so don’t quote me on that! But you get my drift. 🙂 Learning technologies are not just for use with students; it also can be for workers, too!

One of the powerful ways you can implement technologies at work for learning and mentoring from peers. How often some people would love to “pick another’s brain”! Even more often (and probably unbeknownst to us) is the vast amounts of information stored up inside other peers…we never thought (or had the opportunity) to ask.

A good way to start doing it is by starting an online community of practice…a group that keeps coming together for a common purpose. What is that purpose? Well, your group will probably decide for itself. Or it will evolve. Or it will dissolve. (We’ll talk about ways to facilitate the developing of the community later to prevent dissolving).

One can easily set up a secure forum (such as phpBB), and without too much guidance, allow the community to grow.

Hehe. Don’t we all wish it was as simple as that? 🙂 We know that it probably isn’t. Because it isn’t. That’s why so many sites aren’t used, fail, and are thrown to the wayside. However, it’s also fairly preventable with a little proactive work.

That’s for next time!

Happy CSCW-ing!

A thought March 20, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in the vision thing.
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Education Technology or Instructional Technology should take a few pointers from business. I was IMing KG yesterday, and we were talking about how far behind education is in the realm of tech.

Now, take this with a grain of salt. My parents are far behind. They still use an OS 9 iMac from way back. When I say far behind in this context, I mean that education takes a couple of tech generations to catch up.

For example, here’s what I told KG:

the education tech conference i went to, people are still just figuring that out
questions like, “how do i use the myspace to connect with my students”
when really, it’s not about myspace
it’s more about the conceptual social computing aspect and allowing more personalized freedom and educational experiences

Then she said, “you so need to blog that.” So I did.

Productivity March 18, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in apps.
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screenshot_things_big4.jpgSo, I’ve been aware of GTD for a while now (getting things done, by David Allen – adapted by a billion others on the web and in geek culture), but never really got into it. It seemed like such a monolithic system, that I’ve pretty much avoided it.

But now comes along “Things,” by CulturedCode. It’s an OS X based Task Management application that seems ot have lots of promise. It’s not MSFT Planner, nor some open source copy of that, with all the long lines and dates and such. It’s a to do list. With tags. And some GTD structure that you can use. Or not. It’s beautifully designed, and still in beta (or alpha, i forget which). I just put it up on my work machine and played with it for a day. i realize that I now want it on my home machine. I can manage my ENTIRE LIFE with this thing. Which is cool. Or not.

There are some plans to get it syncing with an iPhone, which would be MAJORLY cool. Only thing that isn’t ready yet is multiple-sync capabilities, but they say it’ll be up and running soon. If you use a Mac and your life is busy, work or personal, you’d do a good thing for yourself by checking out this piece of software.

sessions at eLearning 2008 February 28, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in conference reportout.
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Sessions I attended at the conference:

    Keynote: e-Learning Myth Busters: Is Conventional Wisdom Wrong?
    Barry Dahl
    Keynote: Learning From Our Worst Practices
    Dr. Myk Garn
    Accessible Media in an Online Class
    Martie Dixon, Patrick Ryan
    Technology, Trends and Collaborative Tools for the Online Classroom
    Sherry Piezon, Robin Donaldson
    Using an Online Environment to Prepare Faculty for e-Learning
    Karen Hesting, Janice Thiel
    Keynote: Seeking the Gold Standard
    Dr. Patricia McGee
    Course Design Bootcamp
    Jennifer Sparrow
    Developing High-Quality Online Courses with a Team
    Jeremy Hall, Michelle Randall, Chris Geinszer, Colette Perugia

why another blog? February 28, 2008

Posted by Rob LeFebvre in blogmeta.
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I recently attended a conference in Florida. Now, coming from Alaska in February, you’d think I just picked it because of the location. Well, partly. But mainly I wanted to connect professionally with the people that do what I want to do at the job I’m at right now. I am a half-time Education Specialist (travelling to bush villages and providing program support to teams that serve students with significant disabilities) and a half-time Technology Specialist (I run the agency’s technology, website, and distance learning system).

One of the great things about the place that I work is the collaboration and cross-training that occurs across programs. For instance, I work in the Multiple Disabilities program, and have learned a ton of stuff from other specialists in other programs (like Hearing Impairments, Autism Impairments, etc.), as well as from those in my own program. There’s just lots of opportunities to learn from and teach each other.

However, in education technology, or distance learning, or networking systems, there’s just me. Our librarian, the former tech guru, is so busy wiht growing her own program that she has little if any time to focus on the technology areas I work in. The other specialist in the agency with similar techno-passion has left on a leave of absence to go get a PhD in Education Technology.

So, how do I create a sense of collaboration and continued learning in the technology areas I work in? That was the question I’ve been asking myself since returning from eLearning 2008, full of ideas and plans and hopes and dreams.

This blog is the beginning of that search. I hope it’s useful to others, but it’s mainly here to be useful for me. Be prepared for lots of ramblings about empowering people with technology, creating robust distance learning experiences, testing out and exploding current open source technologies, and other fancy stuff like that.