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.)