Blog Birthdays and Anniversaries

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I'm not sure if we should call today a birthday party or an anniversary, but it is exactly six years (that's at least 30 years in blog years) since my first post here back in 2006. That was a post called "Why Serendipity35?" which wasn't much of a post because all I was doing was testing out our new installation of the open source serendipity software. There wasn't really any plan to start blogging seriously.

That post explains why it was Serendipity35 - a name that has proven to be a good one - but Tim Kellers (the tech behind the curtain) and I needed some sample posts for a workshop we were doing back then on three big new buzzing tools in higher ed and business - blogs, wikis and podcasts. Those were all pretty new things on campuses back then.

It only took a few weeks before the blog started to find its place as I started writing about educational technology (back then I was the Manager of Instructional Technology at NJIT) and people are still finding us and reading.

Last December, we averaged 4623 hits a day and had 143,317 hits for the month. For 2011, it was just under 1.5 million hits. I give credit to the "long tail" effect where older posts still pull in readers (and logically have the biggest total visitor hits). That rather slight first post even has 24,671 hits right now.

Thanks for dropping by and reading. We haven't made any money doing this (Truth? We did get enough off some ads for Tim and I to get 2 McGoo burgers and a few pints last year at McGovern's) but I have had some fun, and it does keep me paying attention to tech and learning.

Happy Birthday to US

Serendipity35 turns 6 (yikes!) today - or maybe later this week, but I think I first configured the server for it on Feb 1, 2006. For a blog, that's like being 90 - measured in cyber-dog years.  Many thanks to Ken for his tireless efforts.


Open Education Week 2012 CFP

Here's a CFP that is a call for "participation" (rather than proposals) for Open Education Week March 5-10, 2012 which will be held online and worldwide. It is organized by the Open Courseware Consortium.

Join your colleagues around the world to increase understanding about open education. Open Education Week occurs online and in locally hosted events around the world. The objective is to raise awareness of the open education movement and open educational resources.

There are several ways you and your organization can be involved:

1. Provide a pre-recorded informational virtual tour of your project, work, or organization. This should be focused on the work you’re doing in open education, designed for a general audience. These can be done in any language.

2. Offer a webinar. Webinars are well suited for topics of general interest, such as what’s happening in open education in a particular area or country, or topics that offer discussion possibilities. Webinars can be scheduled in any language, 24 hours a day. Organizers would also like to feature question and answer sessions in a variety of languages and time zones.

3. Pre-record a presentation on open education concepts. Do you have an inspiring presentation about open education? Can you discuss the issues that open education seeks to address in your country, region or globally? Organizers plan to feature short, introductory overviews of open education and OER for different audiences, such as those new to the idea, policy makers, faculty, etc. Presentations in any language are welcome.

4. Create or share text-based, downloadable information. This should be information on the open education movement, in any language, appropriate to introduce the movement and its important concepts to a variety of audiences. Specific information on your project can be linked to from the open education week website.

5. Sponsor or host a local event during the week of 5-10 March. This could be a community discussions, a forum on open education, a challenge and/or a celebration. Organizers invite you to get creative with planning events. Suggestions and support will be available on the open education week web site, and the planning group is happy to work with you to create bigger impact.

Let Open Education Week organizers know how you would like to participate by filling out the form at the www.openeducationweek.org website, or contacting them at openeducationwk@gmail.com. Please fill out the Open Education Week contributor’s form by January 31, 2012.

The OCW Consortium is coordinating this community-run event. There is no cost to participate.

Follow them on twitter at #openeducationwk and Facebook at facebook.com/openeducationwk


Attribution: Creative Commons Blog post by Cable Green, Global Education Director

Will Apple Tranform Textbooks?

I was checking into a discussion on the College Open Textbooks Community site about Apple's move into textbooks. As you expect, that group has a very different definition of "open" than a company like Apple.

Apple announced this week that they plan to "transform" the classroom in a way similar to their assault on the music industry with iTunes and the iPod. Interactive digital textbooks seems to have been in Steve Jobs' plans for awhile, but it took a back seat to other efforts.

Jobs predicted that the iPad would knock out print books, and it has shaken things up. Textbooks seems to have been his next objective on that road.

At their announcement, Apple talked about three new apps as part of the larger iBooks 2 that gives students instant access to interactive digital textbooks through mobile devices.

An app called iBooks Author lets someone with some knowledge of Apple tools create books. It uses templated layouts that can have interactive 3-D models, photos and videos. (This is not really aimed at text-only books - interactivity is key.

The third app is for iTunes U which has been around since 2007. It allows teachers and students to connect using posted reading lists, streamed video of lectures etc.

The apps are free. Most importantly, for Apple to make this work, is partnerships with publishers. Houghton Mifflin, McGraw Hill, and Pearson are the first textbook publishing partners for iBooks 2. It was announced that high school e-textbooks will be sold for less than $15 in a partnership with the three major U.S. textbook publishers.

Audrey Watters makes a good point when she says:

"See, you can't really say that you're going to "change everything" when it comes to textbooks and announce that your partners are the 3 companies who already control 90% of the textbook market. You can't say that you're going to disrupt the textbook industry by going digital when Pearson -- one of those big 3 and, indeed, the largest educational company in the world -- made over $3 billion from digital content last year alone. That's not to say that digital content isn't shaking up the textbook industry. Like all publishers, our move from print to e-books is challenging these companies to rethink their revenue and distribution models. Add to the mix, the availability now of all manner of free content online, and it's clear that the necessity of purchasing textbooks -- at both the K-12 and the higher ed level -- is diminishing rapidly."


This new "iBook 2" and the apps is the first major "product" launch since Steve Jobs' death.