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