What impresses me is that this has been viewed 541,000 times. Our students could do work every bit as good as this.....I'm not saying this should be the only type of work they do - but certainly this should be part of the work that they do.
Google launched a new site today to help college students figure out the best ways to use Google Docs.
As with many folks I often wonder why Google doesn't take the next steps and put out a cloud based CMS?
Some of the suggestions on the site make a good deal of sense:
How wonderful it would be if these tasks could be seamlessly embedded into the course design and learning experience.
Slideshare just announced the ability to import Google Docs directly into their service.
I tried it out and it works pretty nicely.
My prediction for the day is that Google will purchase Slideshare.
The two sites are a natural fit. The Google Presentation tool in Google docs never really took off. The tool is okay, but what is lacking is a community around the the presentations.
Slideshare has a vibrant community. It has established itself as the destination for presentations. A Google Slideshare makes sense, as the service could take advantage of Google's technical expertise and scale.
The big thing that is missing from either Slideshare or Google Presentations is the easy ability to do voice-over presentations. This capability should be fairly easy to implement, particularly given Google's experience with YouTube in allows webcam/audio capture and upload in the browser. A dead simple voice-over recording and sharing tool for online presentations would dramatically expand the utility of the service.
Easily allowing the presentations to be published on Google Slideshare or YouTube would provide a superb platform for sharing the material.
You have probably heard by now that Blackboard has lost its appeal against Desire2Learn for patent infringement. Reading through the decision, the judge is pretty clear not only about affirming the original dismissal of the first 35 of Blackboard's arguments, but also determining that the final 3 relied substantially upon earlier points, leaving Bb with not a single leg of its argument to stand on.
I came across this article today, which speaks to a number of the topics we have discussed in various conversations this year. The article is "College professors find Twitter a useful educational tool" from the Wichita Eagle newspaper. In typical "news" style, the article does not go into much depth, but there are a couple of lines that will ring familiar to many of us.
Others say experimentation with Twitter is the latest sign of a real shift in education, away from a professor lecturing students to a more democratic and wide-ranging exchange of information.
That means, of course, that students can also tweet from class, potentially broadcasting a professor's comments across the globe.
"It's something I've learned to accept, but it's hard," said David Kamerer of Wichita, assistant professor of public relations and new media at Loyola University Chicago.
"They might be IM'ing or on Twitter, commenting on the lecture, and I have no way of knowing," he said. "It's a little unnerving, but slowly it has become an accepted part of academia."
The other concern raised is about student attention.
The NYTimes has an interesting article on the new iPhones and Pre's called: Smartphone Rises Fast From Gadget to Necessity
"For a growing swath of the population, the social expectation is that one is nearly always connected and reachable almost instantly via e-mail. The smartphone, analysts say, is the instrument of that connectedness — and thus worth the cost, both as a communications tool and as a status symbol."
What clues can the new iPhone 3GS give us about the future of higher ed. and technology?
Pricing: As costs come down ubiquity will increase. Already Apple has a free Touch program with a purchase of a new computer for students. The $99 iPhone will lower barriers to student purchases, which should dramatically increase. As the Times points out, the trajectory for the iPhone is moving towards "free", with revenue raised by services.
Voice Memo: A new built in App is the iPhone/Touch recorder. In the "Guided Tour" Apple positions this application as a "Class Recorder". Distributed lecture capture. A mobile podcasting platform. Another tool to create rich media projects.
Video and YouTube: The big deal with the new 3GS is not video - but the one touch uploading to YouTube. If we can get out heads around this on the curricular side we could imagine all sorts of interesting assignments and course projects. Students carrying around a ubiquitous video recording (authoring) and publishing (YouTube) platform offers up all sorts of possibilities for creativity.
Will YouTube become the dominant curricular media publishing solution? Is there any reason why course multi media projects should be published anywhere else?
1. Course Kindle: Develop an application that syncs a CMS (Blackboard) course to a corresponding Kindle course. All curriculum, including readings, syllabi, PowerPoints, course documents, and assigned books are synced to a Kindle course shell. Re-syncing will add new content such as discussion board posts, blogs, wikis, and any new course documents. Course material - including all course reading - is always with the student to access and consume wherever she has her Kindle.
2. Course Pack Kindle: A simpler version of the "Course Kindle" concept - one that does not require writing a new application. Create a pre-loaded Kindle file container that includes all the curriculum for the course, including books and journal articles. Add in "optional" readings. Avoid the need to photocopy. (Campus bookstores may be worried about this option).
3. Shift Print Subsidy to e-Paper Subsidy: All campuses subsidize printing on paper in some way. Students do not see or pay the full cost for printing - including costs of printers, consumables, and waste. Identify the true costs, pass those true costs on to students who still want to print on paper, and use those dollars to subsidize an e-paper (and e-paper device) program. See Princeton as an example: http://www.princeton.edu/ereaderpilot/
4. College / University Publication e-Paper Initiative: All IHEs subsidize a great deal of printing on paper. College newspapers, magazines, newsletters, public relations materials. Identify true cost of this paper printing subsidy. Move subsidy to e-Paper and e-Paper reading devices. Allow organizations who still want to print on paper to pay true cost, allow readers who want to read on paper to pay true cost.
5. Student Portfolio e-Paper Project: Begin pilot project to collect term papers, thesis, talks, dissertations etc. produced by students at the institution. Provide individual students a system to collect a portfolio of all their work at the institution in e-paper format. Allow departments to collect senior thesis', masters and doctoral dissertations as e-paper documents to share with prospective students.
I'm a huge believer in mobile education. I think what M.I.T (and others) are doing in this space is visionary. (See the ECAR Case Study: Massachusetts Institute of Technology: Transforming the Campus Experience with the MIT Mobile Web
Every IHE needs a mobile strategy.
My particular interest is in having our course structure and curriculum as available as possible with mobile devices, allowing students to consume chunks of content (articles, videos, discussions) and collaborate with fellow learners (blogs, wikis) etc. from their smart phones and iTouches.
I believe that mobile devices have a potential to make learning (and our courses, faculty and institutional resources) portable and omnipresent. Content and applications not on mobile devices will simply be less relevant.
So it is in firmly believing all this that I set out to purchase a dumb phone. And not just any dumb phone - but the simplest, most stripped down phone made. Perhaps I'm asking for an intervention here (I have not made the purchase yet....Verizon contract just ended)...but this is the way I'm going.
The phone I'm looking at to purchase is the Pantech Breeze
To quote CNET, "The Pantech Breeze is definitely ideal for senior citizens and those with disabilities...".
Why would I get the dumbest phone out there when it will not be able to do any of the educational things I so strongly believe in?
1. Lack of options for a Smart Phone. Only AT&T works at my house. The iPhone seems too big and too delicate....and I just like real keys.
2. The Palm Pre looks really nice....but we don't get Sprint here.
3. The Google Android has lots of promise....and it roams to the AT&T network. But I've been underwhelmed by the first G1 - too big and just strangely shaped for calling.
4. Without a good option (that I can see) for a Smart phone then I want the dumbest phone imaginable. The easiest, simplest, slimmest, strongest, and feature-less thing made.
Smart phones that will change the educational landscape are definitely coming, but from where I sit in June of 2009 they have not yet arrived.
Google Wave was announced today. This has led some of us around here to wonder if in the long-run Blackboard's days are numbered as the predominant platform in which we organize and deliver our courses.
I wouldn't say numbered....but I would say BB's future needs to be different from its past.
How you ask?
BB should focus on integrating their core value proposition (user management, assessment, grade center, etc.) with social learning tools and publishing platforms.
A grade book (or grade center) is hard to do.
Integrating with a SIS is hard to do (for handling drops/adds etc.)
A testing/quiz engine for formative assessment is hard to do.
Authentication is hard.
We still need all these things, but they really need to work with consumer social learning/collaboration tools.
Paradoxically, for BB to remain relevant it needs to recede into the background as much as possible.
To be specific - yes - I want to be able to use a Google Wave for a team project. But I want all the students automatically in the system (pre-populated). I want the students to authenticate into our Google Wave area by going through BB. And I want this for lots of applications. A YouTube channel for my class, automatically created and pre-populated with my students. Slideshare.net chanel and accounts. Typepad blog - pre-populated. A Facebook Organization (or whatever the call it) - pre-populated. All with 1 authentication.
All available to students once they leave the class. Available to the outside world. But all initially set up by the CMS.
Is this the direction that Blackboard is actually heading?
His tests include:
This is a good list. Given Feldstein's credibility it will be most interesting to see how (and if) Blackboard responds to these tests.
My recommendation. Blackboard should open up a true interactive blog / social network on the Blackboard.com blog page http://blog.blackboard.com/blackboard/ - inviting discussion, dissent, debate etc. Only censor inappropriate posts. Encourage Blackboard employees and partner to blog honestly about their thoughts about the product, the company and the industry - even when they do not follow the corporate message.
This is not a Utopian recommendation. And just because Apple goes the opposite way does not mean that Blackboard should as well. I'm convinced of the business value of openess.....and if Blackboard decides to not go this way at least they could all read Groundswell and let us know why they are staying with their more traditional corproate strategy.
Am I wrong? Is Blackboard doing this now and I'm just missing something?
Ran across an article linked from the Techsmith site on how Western Washington University is using Jing to provide feedback for papers in the Writing Center.
This is illustrative to where communication will be going. With Relay, I envision faculty being able to quickly and easily give feedback to student papers and presentations. Verbal feedback can be quick, nuanced, and personal. When placed in Blackboard, instructors can choose whether to keep the feedback private, or let the rest of the class learn from feedback.
The next step is allowing students to easily provide verbal, voice-over feedback - and to author voice-over presentations and projects. The Blackboard Wiki combined with Relay will work wonders for this eventual practice.
By way of demonstration I did a quick Relay screencast over a Word Document.
Today's announcement of the Kindle DX marks the beginning of the end of the print textbook. Not a moment too soon. The broken paper textbook model has pushed some schools/departments away from using textbooks at all, a real loss as textbooks done correctly can help organize and systematize the curriculum, allowing flexibility for creative and active learning assignments.
I predict that Colleges and Universities will begin to subsidize these devices for their students do to their potential save on printing costs.
Think of the typical printing subsidy instead going for a Kindle. The native PDF capabilities of the Kindle are very exciting, finally allowing (if this is implemented correctly) us to avoid printing out all these articles, reports and chapters.
It is encouraging to read the list of IHE's that will be beta testing the Kindle DX, measuring student success vs. traditional textbooks using a case / control methodology. Amazon is pursuing deals with texbook publishers to offer Kindle editions, a development over time that should lower costs to students and be in the interest of publishers at this will bypass the used textbook market.
I wonder if anyone is thinking of a Blackboard Kindle Application? One that would synch up content, blog posts, discussions, Wikis, even assessments - and then synch back to the Web version. Unsure if the technology models are at all compatible....but it is interesting to think about Kindleizing a course.
Professors experiment with Twitter as teaching tool
A few comments:
They didn't mention using a camera on your iphone or other mobile device to upload and view through Twitter/TwitPics. Nice feature for field work.
Now that there's Twibes (i know, funny name...http://www.twibes.com/) a course could have their own Twibe, use a hashtag or specific word in each tweet, making it easier to identify course tweets and avoid personal tweet clutter.
Josh, consider using this for your sociology course?!
On a slightly personal note, the article mentions setting up a Twitter account for a family restaurant. I've been talking with Liam about doing just that for Murphy's! Post the evening dinner specials, events and add a scavenger or trivia to it by tweeting something like, "Find the book Sophie's Choice in the restaurant and get a $10. gift certificate." :-)
Just wanted to share these links with readers. They're coming from many directions today, so please forgive the randomness.
This is what Adobe should be doing. Adobe...give this guy a job.
Depressingly, it does not seem that this application will "Kindleize" pdf's for the iphone/itouch.
The blog post with the Savory link is fun to read, as the author of Savory has no idea if what he is doing is Kosher, how it will impact the Kindle warranty, and if Amazon will be happy or upset with this tool.
Note to developers everywhere....please put together a pdf to Kindle app converter for pdf's. I can live with loosing images. This is a major piece along the road to mobilizing content. If someone could help me understand why this has not occurred as of yet I'd be eternally grateful.
NYTime's story today on Microsoft’s Netbook Conundrum.
The story asks can Microsoft square the circle of having Windows 7 work on netbooks but be priced at a cost the netbook buyers are willing to pay without cannibalizing sales of the OS on more robust machines.
The danger is that Microsoft could become less relevant as Linux versions become more stable and user friendly, meeting the feature/performance needs of buyers while costing the sellers very little.
This matters to us, as netbooks are poised to be ubiquitous among our students and learners - perhaps not as a primary machine but one that is used when the user is mobile, traveling, taking notes etc. This ubiquity as a second machine will mean thar our curricular materials and learning/collaboration tools need to play nice with the size and performance of netbooks. A world of more Linux users will mean that we need to be Linux knowledgable, and be sure that our learning platforms (and eventually client apps) work well with this OS.
So what is Microsoft to do? I've said it before (and I have not seen this other places - would like to know others enaging this argumetn) - Redmond should come out with a Microsoft branded netbook. Buy Acer or MSI or some other Taiwanees OEM, and then come out with a really tight hardware/software integrated product. Sell for no margin, and make the money by having the default browser go to MS services, search mail etc. (Require a Windows Live email to buy or something). Make the netbook work as well as a Mac, which makes its products work so well because the OS does not need to serve an infinite variety of hardware - just Mac designed hardware.
Microsoft should get out of the middle ground.....be at the low-end (netbooks) and high-end (workstations and servers). The Windows 7 business will continue...as the only bundle should be with a netbook - allowing the netbook MS operating system to differentiate itself. This integrated hardware/OS netbook should stay away from a fancy presentation layer, and perhaps even the upgrade file system (when that comes). Focus on a very well integrated browser and browser based productivity suite. Get things like keyboard, screen, and design right. That could be a compelling product.