Built To Last

I was telling students last week to broaden their definition of video. People are taking the oft-maligned PowerPoint type of presentation, screencasts, and photo slideshows and saving them in video formats and putting together some good video content.

This video, "Built To Last," was the Winner of The Congress for New Urbanism CNU 17 video contest. The short film looks at the connection between New Urbanism and environmental issues. The film was created by independent filmmaker John Paget with First+Main Media.

Report: The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age

A new report from HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory) has been released called, “The Future of Learning Institutions in a Digital Age”(available free online at MIT Press).

It is an abridged version of a book-in-progress by Cathy N. Davidson and David Theo Goldberg titled The Future of Thinking: Learning Institutions in a Digital Age.

They argue that traditional institutions must adapt or risk a growing mismatch between how they teach and how this new generation learns. Forms and models of learning have evolved quickly and in fundamentally new directions. Yet how we teach, where we teach, who teaches, and who administers and serves have changed only around the edges.

“Universities must recognize this new way of learning and adapt or risk becoming obsolete. The university model of teaching and learning relies on a hierarchy of expertise, disciplinary divides, restricted admission to those considered worthy, and a focused, solitary area of expertise. However, with participatory learning and digital media, these conventional modes of authority break down.”

One of the ten principles for redesigning learning institutions was open source education:
“Traditional learning environments convey knowledge via overwhelmingly copyright-protected publications. Networked learning, contrastingly, is an 'open source' culture that seeks to share openly and freely in both creating and distributing knowledge and products.”

The online report was made possible by a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in connection with its grant making initiative on Digital Media and Learning.

Call For Proposals NJEDge.Net


The call for proposals for the NJEDge 2009 Annual Conference is still open. They are particularly interested now in proposals for the areas of: Policy Issues & Institutional Strategic Planning, Technology Management (projects and work on the network, Internet, IT management), Enterprise Computing, administrative services, Authentication & Federated Identity Management, Video Systems and networking.

They are open to proposals on enrollment/financial aid, Banner, fund raising/Raiser’s Edge, and perhaps more prescient presentations of new policy and strategic planning changed due to the economy. Proposals that are formed in collaboration are definitely of interest.

The Program Committee will be deciding on all submitted proposals and the determination will be complete by August 12 when the full agenda will be posted.

Conference 6.0 will address the broad interests and concerns of the New Jersey Higher Education community, K-12, research institutes, hospitals and other nonprofit partners, and provide opportunities for you to explore innovations in educational and administrative technologies with your colleagues. At a time when national economy is at a crisis level opportunities for faculty development are curbed. IT budgets are cut or on hold. NJEDge.Net is ready to step up and investigate course management systems, videoconferencing, help desk issues, identity management, backbone and system upgrades and other means to achieve economies of scale across the academic enterprise. Conference 6.0 "Building a Community through Collaboration, bit by bytes" is the antidote! For 2½ days faculty, professional staff, librarians, institutional researchers, CIOs and other executive administrators will see best practices, emerging technologies, vendor exhibits, and other opportunities for faculty development in an atmosphere that fosters collaboration.

Public By Default

Facebook announced today that it has begun making status messages, photos and videos visible to the public by default instead of being visible only to a user's approved friends.

Private was an important part of the Facebook experience (for me, anyway) and I don't really understand the reason for the change.

I suspect they could end up with the same kind of backlash that occurred when they made changes to privacy settings and terms of service.

Among School Children

"How can we know the dancer from the dance?"  W.B. Yeats

I have spent this week back with "school children" again after being away from K-12 for some years. Well, "school children" doesn't sound quite right, though it worked for Yeats' poem that I borrowed for this post's title.

These were high school rising juniors in a program sponsored by NJ SEEDS. SEEDS is an academic enrichment and leadership development program for high-achieving, low-income youth. NJ SEEDS is a privately funded, state-wide nonprofit organization. Their mission is to prepare qualified students for placement at top schools and to empower students to live lives of leadership, professional accomplishment, and service to the community.

They start with 7th grade students who take classes on Saturdays and over the summer. They receive placement assistance for 9th grade in some of the best high schools in the country. They also have a Young Scholars Program open to eligible 4th grade students. Their College Preparatory Program is open to eligible 8th grade students, and they also take Saturday and summer classes and get college admissions guidance.

Back in 2006, when I was at NJIT, I was part of the initial "Media Matters" summer leadership program for rising juniors. This week the students are in residence at Seton Hall University for the 2009 program.

Though media still matters, media has changed quite a bit in the past 3 years, and so have the students. The students are in residence from Sunday through Saturday. I was presenting four morning sessions to the entire group on topics in media. The 1.0 "lectures" are their common experience, but the interesting part is when they split into two groups and get to the write of read/write and produce some media. They are "taught" (well, given the chance to teach themselves) how to do a podcast, edit audio and video and use some free online tools to deliver a product.

As of now, I don't know what that final product will be. My part is over for now and the students will present their product Saturday when parents come to campus. Back in 2006 & 2007 when I first worked with SEEDS, we had students create a website in the standard HTML way, but this year they are more likely to use a Facebook page than learn Dreamweaver.

This week several people linked to a CNET article that was written by one of CNET's "Gen Y" interns. (Personally, I prefer the term "NetGen" to Gen Y or Millennials because I feel that what changes this generation is the Internet, and I would probably narrow this group to those born after 1990.) The CNET article, "Generation Y: We're just not that into Twitter" by Sharon Vaknin recognizes that Twitter as a place where "people expose the most minute details of their lives" seems a natural for Gen Y. But recent surveys (from Pace University and the Participatory Media Network) shows that only 22 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use Twitter. That same group has an incredible 99% participation on some social network.

I'm with the NetGen on this one. Twitter, to me, seems more of a feature that could be part of a larger site. It is like the status update in Facebook. Maybe there is some advantage to having it stand alone without the "distractions" of photos and the many Facebook applications (many of which I find annoying anyway), but I don't want my features alone. I prefer a suite.

Vaknin concludes that Gen Y wants more "self-branding" features than Twitter offers. Look at the attention two of Facebook's newest features. The "Like" feature had 4.1 million users marking items by others as liked 7.1 million times in the first 24 hours of the feature going live. (16.3 million users liked 46.2 million items in the first week 39.6 million users liked 226.8 million items in the first month.) The Facebook personal URL launch had 200,000 user names taken in the first three minutes; 500,000 user names went in first 15 minutes 1 million user names were gone in the first hour. Self-branding?

Does that surprise you more than a NYT article saying that Gen Y thinks Catcher in the Rye is dated? You mean kids today can't identify with a teen from 1951? I love Catcher but it is not a life kids can really imagine living - and would any parent want their child to be a Holden? Catcher is a historical novel.

Over the past four days, I asked the students whether they agreed with a series of descriptions of what their generation is supposed to believe. These are the ones that they agreed described them.
- The Internet is better than TV.
- Reality TV (including news) is not real.
- We would rather watch or listen to it, rather than read it.

- Multi-tasking is a way of life.
- Typing is preferred to handwriting.
- Staying connected is essential.
- We have zero tolerance for delays.
- We expect services and tools to have at least a free version, if not just be free.
- We would rather pull information than have it pushed at us.
- We rely on technology, especially the web, to do schoolwork and for entertainment.

- We value words, but connect better with & prefer to use visuals when possible.
- What peers say (word of mouth, online reviews) mean more than "expert" reviews.
– We are “agnostic” about many products. It doesn't make that big difference if it's a Windows computer or Mac, Dell or HP, IE or Firefox... (However, they do have their favorites: iPods over others, Google rather than competitors - no one seemed to know that Bing or Wolfram Alpha even existed.)

William Butler Yeats "Among School Children" (excerpt)

I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and histories,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way - the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.

The final line of the Yeats poem - "How can we know the dancer from the dance?" - asks whether or not it is possible to make that kind of distinction. That poem quickly moves from the classroom to other matters, but it was a question I asked this week going back to Marshall McLuhan's often-quoted "The medium is the message."  Can we separate medium and message? Is the Net and the user becoming more integrated? Should we even want to separate the dancer and the dance, the student and the content, the teacher and the teaching?

If you're curious, you can watch a video about the SEEDS program.