Contact us at serendipity35blog at gmail.com
Recently Popular Posts
Live Traffic Feed
Thursday, January 31. 2008
Pink wrote A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future which I had read in 2005 when it was published.
I think most of us would accept that information workers have a greater economic importance today than in the past when physical laborers drove the economy. Pink's claim that the workplace is shifting again and that people with strong right brain qualities will have the advantage would be much more controversial - especially in a school setting.
There's a lot to talk about in that book: economic forces that value right-brain abilities, his own list of 6 artistic, empathic abilities that are gaining value, and how schools may be starting to value those abilities.
The right/left brain theory has come under a lot of criticism since it first emerged, so that alone will get some argument.
I pulled the book off the shelf in the college library yesterday and paged through it again. This post isn't mean to be a book review and there's a quote in that magazine that I scribbled on my notepad that is where my interest lies.
"We need to prepare kids for their future, not our past," says Rich Menisco from the Fairfax County Schools in Virginia.
That is the real issue for me. I don't know that right-brain tasks are overshadowing left-brain tasks in importance. I'm not exactly clear on what the important 21st century skills will be in the workforce and economy. I'd question anyone who was certain that they knew what future our students will have, but I fully support efforts to answer these questions.
I guess my real question is not whether we need a whole new mind, but rather how schools are addressing both brain hemispheres because we don't know what our students will need.
It's hard to downplay that left side that does much of the math, logic, and linear reasoning as unimportant in a society where machines have replaced bodies. Those machines came from minds that certainly had some left-brain power, but the best of them needed creativity and abstract reasoning from the other side.
We have the mind already. We just don't value all of its abilities enough to allow a diversity in thinking, training, schooling.
Software is very good at left-brain tasks, but the "intelligence" that we have such trouble building artificially into pieces of hardware or software always seems to be those right qualities.
I'm not convinced that people who don't nurture their right brain skills "may miss out, or worse, suffer" in the new economy - then again, Dan Pink's book Free Agent Nation was right in 2002 in showing the shift from the "organization man" of the 1950's to the growing sector of self-employed in this century.
It's encouraging to see different groups paying attention to "R-directed thinking" - like this post on Designing Better Libararies that does that and talks about (new to me) "blended" librarians.
Thinking the right way is more than just using the right side of the brain.
Tuesday, January 29. 2008
Last fall I had bookmarked a blog post called "What Happened to the Personal Web Site?" It focuses on academic librarians using blogs versus personal web sites, but it started me thinking about the use of personal web sites by faculty. Here's an excerpt from that post:
A part of my instructional technology time the past 10 years has been spent working with faculty to get their websites started and learning how to do some basic web design. NJIT never offered any official templates for faculty, but my department had created some basic ones and many faculty were happy to use them. Nothing fancy - CV, publications, research, course notes, syllabi.
Now, I wonder if faculty web sites will be a quaint thing of the past.
If you have a blog and a Facebook account, you already have a more sophisticated web presence than a basic web site. And those sites are more dynamic in the true web sense. They're not static web pages. If used as intended, they are updated regularly with text and images and interactive with comments and feedback.
If you are a research-oriented instructor, a blog has a much better chance of bringing attention to your pages than a web site, and opening opportunities for collaboration.
Here's another issue. Should a college's faculty web content be on the college's web servers? I think it should be there. It brings attention to the school and its academic programs and research. I also feel that an institution (grades K-20) should be offering teachers web space and tools to do their academic work.
NJIT, like many universities, currently gives students and faculty web space. Right now, they don't offer any content management system for that space, so you have everything from empty URLs to sophisticated web sites. Faculty are not formally offered a blogging solution, so those faculty who have created a blog have done so independently. You could create a Moodle course and use the blog or wiki tool, and some faculty use their Blackboard course as their web presence, but I'm not referring to those types of apps here.
That's not all bad. If you leave a university, the site remains. Serendipity35 is at NJIT though I have left the university as a full-time employee (I remain as an adjunct). If I decided to export it and take it with me, besides all the technical hassles of that process, I would have to re-establish the connections that the site has with readers and inside that neural network of web sites, other blogs, Technorati et al that has been created over the years. Deleting this blog would be a very small stroke to the Net brain, but a broken connection nonetheless.
My home day-to-day home now at PCCC is a two-year college that does not offer faculty any web space. I'm just now working through the process of gaining some access to their web site so that I can create a presence for the Writing Initiative that I'm directing. It's not something they normally allow. Plus they are in the process of moving their original website over to a open source CMS (hurrah for OS!), so the very small web team is very busy.
Will we see more faculty buying their own URLs and hosting solutions? That's one path that I see some faculty taking, especially if they have consulting and a business aspect to their teaching and research.
Where do the instructors at your school post public materials online? Is there an "enterprise" blogging or wiki solution?
Monday, January 28. 2008
This past month, I gave up two laptops and two desktop computers from my old job and gained a new laptop and new desktop for my current position.
New computers are nice and shiny and virus-free and empty of all the fragments of deleted files and downloaded software tests that remain even after you defrag and all that. However, given a choice I would have hung on to my older machines to avoid the installation of all the programs that I use regularly (some of which I no longer have access to for now), customizing the setting in browsers, the preferences in programs and copying my backups of presentations, documents and other files.
It gives me a renewed appreciation for cloudware.
Cloudware is software that runs on Internet servers rather than on your hard drive. They require little or no installation/download. It is also referred to as "Software as a Service" (SaaS) and it has some connections to what you may have heard called "thin-client devices" (hardware or even software where all the real processing is done on a server and not on the device you are using).
I believe the term cloudware was popularized in Wired magazine's Geekipedia section:
If you store your photos at Flickr rather than installing a photo-organizing software package on your computer, that's cloudware. To use cloudware, all you should need is a Web browser and an Internet connection.
There are many apps that have gotten wide attention - like Google Docs and Spreadsheets - and new ones coming online every day. It's hard to keep up.
Here's one that a colleague just showed me last week that we thought we might be able to use. It's Connotea at http://www.connotea.org where you can save and organize links to your references by saving a link to a web page for the reference. Connotea, wherever possible, is recognizing the reference and automatically adding in the bibliographic information for you. You assign keywords/tags to your references. These can be anything you like, and you can use as many as you like, so there's no more need to navigate complicated hierarchies of folders and categories. Connotea shows you all the tags you've ever used, so it's easy to get back to a reference once you've saved it.
So, why not just have everything in the network cloud? The two biggest fears are access and privacy.
Without an Internet connection, you can't access the application or any files you have stored on servers. Try showing grandma the pictures of the new baby that you have online in her apartment that has no Internet. How do you get the spreadsheet for the meeting when the connection fails?
On the privacy side, some people just aren't comfortable with allowing someone else to hold all their data of documents, images etc. Is Google looking at my documents or spreadsheet numbers? I can assign "private" access to my photos on most storage sites, but what guarantee do I have that no one else sees them? What happens to all my files if the company disappears or turns into a pay rather than free service?
Personally, I like storing files in the clouds, but I also keep local copies. I prefer the ability to be able to still work on my files offline too. Let's say that I make a diagram using Gliffy (a free web diagram creation service) that also allows me to share the diagram with others that I am working with on a project. That's a great use of the cloud. Even better is that I can also save the diagrams in the SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) file format and then import this file into other diagramming tools that I have installed on my computer. It's the best of both worlds of earth and sky.
(Page 1 of 8, totaling 22 entries) » next page
Suggestions from Amazon
Original content in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons License