Sunday, June 26, 2011

Presenting: An Enchanting look at push & pull technologies

I finished Guy Kawasaki's Enchantment on a recent flight and since then, I've been struggling with how (not whether, that was easy) to share aspects of it with my students next fall. This would be a slam-dunk in the Business department, but what would make sense for incoming freshmen in my world of first-year seminars and basic tech?

I could certainly just add the book to my list of recommended readings. It's too late to add it to required readings, and in any case that would shatter Guy's mood in advance. The problem with each option in this world of broken textbook models (ask any university library or publisher) is this: required is a draconian word that means you don't pass the course without it, while recommended means it'll never be on the test, so hand me that game controller.

OK, stealth it is. They'll get some tips and then be pointed to the source and to Guy's online world. Fortunately, my classes incorporate virtual communities and social media, so it makes sense to provide a role model, someone who's doing online right. There are two chapters clearly at the intersection of "what enchanted George" and the actual subject matter of my courses:

Chapter 8: How to Use Push Technology
Chapter 9: How to Use Pull Technology

Guy's table of contents came in handy at this point since it's also a checklist (complete with checkboxes) of the chapter topics. As a classroom instructor I am interested in better presentations from myself and from my students, so Chapter 8's section on presentations will be my opening. Rather, it will be Guy's opening. I'm going to set the bar rather high for my class by leading with a better "hook" than I can design:

Guy's standing-o presentation at Indus Entrepreneur 2006. (Multiple formats available at the link!)

Guy talks a little about the above Art of the Start presentation on page 123 of Enchantment. I thought he was exaggerating but no, he really knocks it out of the park. (Hockey fans will pardon the baseball reference.)

Over the summer (when most of us do our fall course planning) I'll flesh out the rest, but that's a start. Suggestions/comments welcome of course!

BTW, I will also be explicitly sharing the Chapter 8 epigraph from philosophy professor John R. Searle, which may just hold its own as a class topic:

Because we do not understand the brain very well we are constantly tempted to use the latest technology as a model for trying to understand it. In my childhood we were always assured that the brain was a telephone switchboard. ("What else could it be?") I was amused to see that Sherrington, the great British neuroscientist, thought that the brain worked like a telegraph system. Freud often compared the brain to hydraulic and electro-magnetic systems. Leibniz compared it to a mill, and I am told some of the ancient Greeks thought the brain functions like a catapult. At present, obviously, the metaphor is the digital computer.
* Book cover from used by permission.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Happy 2nd Anniversary, CSUMB and Google Apps!

It's been two years since CSU Monterey Bay took Google Apps to be its lawfully wedded cyber-spouse. (Aren't June weddings wonderful?)

CSUMB kept one relative in the attic for about a year: FirstClass was our departing e-mail client/server system and we kept it in the background to be able to access our old messages. (MeetingMaker, the campus's official scheduling software, simply disappeared like an angry ex not invited to the nuptials.) Meanwhile, Google brought a passel of its own kids into the relationship. But only three were invited right into the house and given their own bedrooms: Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.

Other Apps such as Sites were left to fend for themselves at first. Instead of prominent CSUMB dashboard links, for example, there would be smaller links on our Gmail page, that sort of thing. Over these two years, most of my students had never even clicked on the Sites link until required to do so for my class. (That's not a complaint, just an observation that you get the behavior you design for.)

Google Docs may finally be in early majority stage, beyond the early adopters. After a year or so of "But we need Microsoft for everything" and about 50 other excuses, I'm seeing it used more for collaboration by known non-techie faculty members.

Here's an interesting commentary on how the first two years went (but nothing about a 2nd Anniversary Celebraganza??) by Greg Pool, who is CSUMB's Lead Web Publishing Coordinator. Greg has some intriguing comments about Google Moderator. I thought I would be one of the first to use it on campus next fall, but apparently somebody snuck by me!
(Google Logo Generator is at:

Monday, June 13, 2011

Howards Endeavor

I will be in the next cohort of Howard Rheingold's Introduction to Mind Amplifiers starting June 14. Looking forward to this 5-week intensive course.

I didn't just stumble upon this opportunity. With his gracious consent, I've been using parts of his syllabi in my fall First-Year Seminar classes for a couple of years. Although it was "malice aforethought" in the section with theme "Virtual Communities and Social Media," there was also some trickle-through to the section that just needed a couple of on-point readings about community.

Howard has been a really social guy online since the early days of The WELL in the '80s. I've only had personal contact in the past several years but it's been a joy. He is @hrheingold on Twitter and you should consider following him there.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

National Academies Press: All PDF books free all the time

This is huge. My condolences to the commercial publishers who can now sell me even less.

Press release here.

Main site here.

Enjoy. Don't forget to tell your students.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Half a Summer Institute is Better than None

CSUMB is holding its Summer Institute June 1st and 2nd. In plain talk, this is a couple of days of faculty workshops carved out of our annual schedule. ("Carved out" has come to mean pushing it outside the academic year, both to clear it with the Provost and to make sure enough of us attend to make it worthwhile.)

This year the easily-nicknamed CAT people (our Center for Academic Technologies) and more-of-a-mouthful TLA people (Center for Teaching, Learning and Assessment) have two distinct days with different flavors of events. The first day is about assessment of learning, writing across the curriculum (WAC), and reading across the curriculum. The second is about "The Cloud," decreasing grading time, and open-access materials.

The detailed schedule is in semi-hiding here. There's no official Twitter backchannel I know of but I'll post something to @harmonygritz at showtime in the morning.

Usually, I go to the whole thing but my energies get divided into (at least) two dimensions because of the various themes. I end up feeling like our hero in the image, down to the shock lines radiating from my half-a-head.*

This year it's easy to choose one day or the other and avoid the sense of "session guilt." I made it to a WAC workshop earlier this year and feel current enough. So Thursday, Day 2 it is.

During Thursday's lunch hour I do plan to multitask. Analog: lunch. Digital: The kickoff of OTC11 with a Creative Commons session by Jane Park, CC's Education Coordinator.

*One of my all-time favorite comic covers and story titles, rolled into one. Can't recall if it's a Gardner Fox or John Broome story. From

Sunday, May 29, 2011

What educators spend their spare time thinking about

Even on this fine Memorial Day weekend, a couple of interesting online conversations are in progress, led by people I have deemed to be in my personal learning network (PLN) whether they know it or not. Rather than try to reproduce them here, I've given a brief lead-in and link to each.

Conversation #1 is at Ferdinand von Prondzynski's "A University Blog" and starts with what looks like a publicity stunt by Peter Thiel, Paypal's co-founder. As usual, though it's really about the very nature of higher education itself, and whether $100,000 is a fair trade to abandon (or delay) a liberal education.

Conversation #2 is at CSU Dominguez Hills colleague Larry Press's blog
for his CIS 471 (Network-Based Applications) class. It starts innocently enough with a short review of the text Multimedia Learning (Mayer, 2009). But it's really about the clandestine PowerPoint wars that have been going on ever since Microsoft's business software invaded the world of teaching and learning. If you love or hate either Edward Tufte or Sherry Turkle you should drop by Larry's blog and check it out.

Creative Commons kickoff to OTC11 on June 2

Although I'll be on campus in the all-day CAT/TLA Summer Institute, I also plan to slide out over the lunch hour to participate in the Creative Commons event below.

[h/t MPB Reflections for OTC11 conference & kickoff info (virtual attendance free for kickoff & for June 23/24 conference]

Creative Commons:
Opening the Door to Sharing Content in Education
by Jane Park, Education Coordinator Creative Commons
Thursday June 2 at 12noon (Pacific)

Sign in at:

Have you even been frustrated trying to use materials created by others or share your own content without having to consult a legal team to unravel copyrights? The Internet promises universal access to education, but its potential is hindered by archaic copyright laws and incompatible technologies. Creative Commons (CC) works to minimize these barriers by providing licenses and tools that anyone can use to share their educational materials with the world. CC licenses make textbooks and lesson plans easy to find, easy to share, and easy to customize and combine — helping to realize the full benefits of digitally enabled education. Find out more about CC and how you can use CC licenses to share your work, find free educational resources online, and collaborate with other educators to build and improve learning materials.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Social media & student privacy & FERPA, oh my

We still have faculty who can just barely get logged on, but meanwhile this conversation needs to take place.

Our campus uses many things Google in addition to the traditional Microsoft and Adobe juggernautical behemoths. Individual faculty are leaking social media into their classes, just kind of trying things out. That's fine with new pedagogy and tools, but everyone is perhaps a bit too cautious about how deeply to get involved. Meanwhile, our students are fully embedded and we do not (collectively) have a clue as to how to support them. Those of us with an interest in technology would do well to consider the implications of this.

Watch this from colleague Michelle Pacansky-Brock (@brocansky):

Then, as she suggests, go read the details at:

Does Social Media Violate Student Privacy?

If you comment over there, drop me a note here please.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

One good thing comes out of every meeting

With your consent, gentle reader, I'll condense and "chunk" my impressions from a week chock-full of faculty meetings, instead of doing one long post. There's still a follow-up with just me and CSUMB's School of ITCD chair on Friday afternoon and I'm running out of steam.

Yesterday in our full session I suggested holding a funeral/wake for our old, maligned, rather hoary one-size-fits-all technology curriculum, CST101 (Technology Tools). It has about a year left in its current incarnation, because our campus is unveiling a new academic model in Fall 2012. The concept of the funeral/wake was only mildly amusing to the room-- as there are (to put it mildly) mixed feelings among the long-term lecturers, a reluctance to put our formerly robust horse-- er, course-- out to pasture. But I'll bring it up again in the fall. A ceremony w/ blue hearse and church ladies serving congealed salad seems a great idea. And I'm the course coordinator, so there.

Meanwhile, there came another idea from a computer science colleague. She wanted the 101 lecturers to acknowledge that the course's reputation on campus would not be getting any better, nor would our department's reputation by continued association with it. Indeed, our clinging to it was akin to rural Pennsylvanians clinging to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them. (I think that's what a couple of people in the room heard, anyway.)

So I thought, why not go all the way? Why not declare a full moratorium on use of the term "Tech Tools"? This, unlike the wake idea, got a little play in the room. Even our esteemed Dean seemed to go along. I have therefore established "the kitty," which is for the moment a paper cup. Twenty-five cents goes in with each mention of [the course that shall not be named]. We have already heard it called [the Voldemort course] so we may be on a roll.

ETA: Hm, this recent Tom Schimmer post called "Envision the 'Best-Case' Scenario" seems to be pertinent. Canadians. Hm.

*Blue hearse courtesy of braintoad's Flickr photostream

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How to do strategic planning

Every May, aside from early expiration of our campus parking passes, there are departmental strategic planning meetings, retreats, etc. These never take place in an undisclosed location, but one department I teach for, ITCD, tries to have them off campus whenever possible. Previous locations have been the Monterey Peninsula College Library and Moss Landing Marine Labs.

This semester we were fortunate to have a colleague open his home to host the two-day retreat. The first photo is of the Salinas Valley view we enjoyed while, uh, working. The second photo is of the lunch we had on the second day, minus the salad. (I overindulged vegetable-wise on the first day.)

Although this was a good opportunity to live-blog, and we did not discuss whether the proceedings were "confidential" or not, I'm saving commentary for after the official end.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

When Bureaucrats Collide

My Facebook friends already know I'm frustrated over this, but it bears repeating.

Every year on our campus, Academic Year parking stickers expire before our contracts expire and before our work is done. In other words, we have obligations such as grading and end-of-term meetings with department chairs even after classes are over. But the other half of the system thinks we faculty are done right after Commencement.

Yes, to stay legal I do just buy a daily pass at the going rate. It's just an indicator of what we could do better, minor things that are overlooked, the system frayed around the edges. Parkinson's Law in action.

Pre-sabbatical dinner

Not for me, but for a colleague who is taking off for a year to visit friendlier climes. We and our esteemed spouses had dinner at Chef Lee's Mandarin Cuisine in Monterey. Below is the exterior of the building, and a shot of the sizzling rice soup. (It does actually sizzle when the rice is added.)