- had several meetings with instructors and dean-type-people in different faculties this week. Lots of interesting ideas for projects, and more interestingly, lots of interest in building up communities and communities-of-practice around many topics – including learning technologies, development, learning spaces, content creation, etc… Great stuff. Can’t wait to help support those communities (and more)!
- Met with a prof who has taught herself how to produce screencasts to create videos for use in her courses. Love it. Gave her some (very minor) tips, and set her up with a better mic and webcam to use. Can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
- getting lots of interest on campus, from people who are putting together proposals to present at the 2015 University of Calgary Conference on Learning and Teaching – which is shaping up to be a really fantastic event (again).
- mid-year reviews with my team. so good. best team ever.
- visited the video game collection at the TFDL to. um. research the history of interaction design. with the team. cough So good. Fired up an Intellivision, slid in the plastic controller sheets, and fired up Skiing.
intelligent television from D'Arcy Norman on Vimeo.
- got to visit the ER on Friday. The Boy™ is OK, and it was thankfully nothing, but dang.
- no skiing this week. likely going 3 or 4 times in the next week, though. can’t wait.
- I posted the first episode of what will become a series, pulling from the footage recorded during the Open Ed Reclaim hackathon at UMW. More to come, ASAP.
- plans for the 2015 Design for Learning conference are shaping up nicely. Nearly ready for submissions. This is the key teaching-and-learning event at UCalgary, and it’s going to be another great one.
- quick chat with Brian at TRU about their initial plans for an LMS migration. Just when I thought I was done talking about LMS migrations…
- Spent much of the week debugging slow performance on our application and database servers. Still have no real solid evidence on what’s bringing the servers to their knees, but I sure am enjoying the constant stream of Pingdom “YOUR SITE IS DOWN” notices, and gentle nudges from our IT Operator account that the server is down. The servers hosted by IT. cough Anyway. Using Apache scalp to mine the apache logs, and MySQLTuner.pl to try to figure out WTF is going on. No luck yet.
- Spent the week trying to use a Surface Pro 3 as my mobile device. Some people love it. I don’t. I initially thought of it as a big-ass, expensive iPad. It failed miserably at that. Then, I thought of it as a more expensive MacBook Air, but crippled by Windows 8. Yeah. That basically sums it up. So, now it goes into the tech lending library for people to experiment with, and I happily go back to my iPad for mobile stuff, and MBA for desktop/less-mobile stuff.
not much. aside from taking Friday off to go skiing with The Boy™ at Nakiska. Still pretty barren on the slopes, but we still had a blast!
also, I took a stab at resurrecting my b0rked Sigma 10-20mm lens. Figured the worst that could happen is I screw it up so it doesn’t work. more. Anyway. I disassembled it, tapped a piece back into alignment, screwed it back together, and hey-presto! My all-time favourite lens is back in action, and I’m going to be using my DSLR again.
During the Reclaim Hackathon at UMW last week, several of us were talking over food and beverages and realized that we had the opportunity to document the current thinking in the “edtech scene”. It’s something that we hadn’t tried to do explicitly before, but we realized that if we don’t do it ourselves we’ll be left with the narratives pushed by the Big Business of Edtech Venture Capital™. So, David Kernohan and I took it on as a project. We recruited Andy Rush to record a series of impromptu interviews with some of the people who were present at the event, and off we went.
I took on editing the footage into something that tells the stories, starting with this:
Reclaiming Educational Technology: the business and politics of edtech from UCalgary Taylor Institute on Vimeo.
Thanks so much to Audrey Watters, Kin Lane, and Martha Burtis for agreeing to participate (and to the many other folks who took part – they’ll be making appearances in future episodes – OOH! THE SUSPENSE!).
I’m planning on several additional segments/episodes, exploring the nature of innovation, shifts in culture and technology, and more. I’ll make time to put those together ASAP. When all of the smaller segments are done, I’ll try to work them together into a longer documentary that ties everything together.
- extremely short work week, due to travel for Open Ed etc…
- Open Education 2014 was pretty amazing. The conference has changed pretty drastically over the years as it’s gotten bigger. That’s a good thing – but the vibe has definitely shifted from a fringe/evangelist gathering to a full-on Real Conference. Still lots of butts-in-seats, but lots of amazing stories and projects being shared.
- Reclaim Your Domain: UMW Hackathon – including some early work on a documentary project to capture the current edtech scene and frame it in ways other than the standard Silicon Valley VC Solutioneering narrative. More to come on that soon…
- visiting the amazing new Digital Convergence Center at UMW – an inspiring facility, but it’s the team here that makes it so amazing. Can’t wait to see what kinds of stuff they do together. Lots of interesting ideas that might be repurposed into a new Institute for Teaching and Learning cough
- Speaking of which, the crane was removed from the Taylor Institute construction site. Progress! Still a year away, but we’re getting closer…
It’s going to take a long, long time for me to work through all of my notes, photos, videos, etc… from this week. Wow.
- Washington DC, for Open Ed. Highlights include a touristy walk through the National Mall to visit a couple of museums. My mind was blown in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum.
- Fredericksburg VA, for Reclaim Hackathon.
- dang. there is a lot of history here. and it’s surreal to see things that have always just been movie sets to me before…
- I’m definitely getting old. er. Or at least feeling it. Travel and conference and hackathon and social and travel. Exhausting.
The work-log format wasn’t working, and was missing huge chunks of stuff through the week. So, being more fully inspired by Audrey Watters‘ and Clint Lalonde‘s week-in-review styles…
- started placing orders for items to add to the fledgeling “technology lending library” that will be managed/provided by my group in the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning. So far, it’s a very small library, but I’ll be adding things to it as I’m able, and offering it all out for instructors to explore/experiment/use. So far, we’ve got a Swivl robot camera mount, a couple of iPod Touches for recording video, a GoPro HERO4 Silver for HD video and wifi goodness, and some microphones. I’ll be adding iPads and a MS Surface Pro 3 tablet in the next couple of weeks. More to come… I need to figure out a good process for making sure people can sign the stuff out and actually use it, and track what they do with it so we know what’s needed…
- tweaking our D2L environment so faculties can ramp up their use of ePortfolios, now that email addresses aren’t considered Super Secret Private Information after the switch to O365 and everyone activating their @ucalgary.ca addresses.
- I was volunteered to a new General Faculties Council subcommittee on learning spaces – the Campus and Facilities Development Subcommittee (CFDS). This should be a great group to be working with, and we’re being asked to look at physical learning spaces across the university.
- working on a regular report to our Teaching and Learning Committee on the state of learning technologies at the UofC, and tracking our implementation of the Strategic Framework for Learning Technologies. I’ll miss the TLC meeting next week because I’ll be
dodging bulletsattending Open Education in DC.
- Explorable Explanations – essay on post-static-text modern ebook-type-thing, by Bret Victor
- HuffPo article on “hottest ed tech” (which seems rather similar to our own list of stuff to explore)
- UToday article about augmented reality in education, with 3D brains popping off the printed page.
- Another UToday article, about flipped classrooms, featuring Alice Woolley from Law.
- more on banning personal devices in class, and still not getting that this is about power and control more than it is about technology.
- I found my next bike.
- EdTech Magazine article on using Oculus Rift VR headsets to give tours of learning spaces. Yup. We’ll be playing with that. Previsualizing renovations and new spaces? You bet. And some other ideas I’m working on…
- Stephen Downes linked to the Mozilla Badges wiki – lots of info and links there.
- 20 Linux system monitoring tools every sysadmin should know – could come in handy, when trying to figure out why a server is suddenly acting funky for no apparent reason cough.
- they landed a robot on a freaking comet
- a great presentation on Badges from an anonymous person from UC Davis
- sustainable technology via biodegradable materials?
Amazon selling student work without consent? Unpossible! But check out the last paragraph – that’s basically my take on TurnItIn and its ilk – it’s not OK to force students to upload their work to a third party so it can be sold back to them (and others). It’s the same model as academic journals taking the work of researchers, and then selling it back to them. But people don’t see the problem there, either…
“I am also concerned by the fact that some institutions are requiring that dissertations be run through a check against the Turnitin database before submission,” Stommel wrote. “This creates a culture of suspicion around student work that I find directly hostile to the enterprise of education…. Ultimately, I’m not opposed to people choosing to sell their dissertations, but I am opposed to institutions requiring graduate students to upload their dissertations to corporate platforms like Proquest and Turnitin.”
- the latest Pop Loser issue is a good’n.
- Twitter came up with an insanely lame corporate strategy statement. This stuff is hard, but if done well it can set the tone for an organization. Actually, if done poorly, it sets the tone, too… Tone-deaf organizations who are writing strategy and marketing copy for investors instead of people seems to be a thing this year.
Audrey Watters writes about the “20% time” policy, and why it won’t work if the stuff people do in that 20% time isn’t valued. I posted a comment:
“I’ve tried to implement a 20% “pure research and development” setup in my group. It worked great for a month. And then “real” deadlines began to stress everyone out so much that it got ditched. We weren’t trying to mimic Google, as much as trying to carve out time that wasn’t tracked by Gantt charts so people felt free to actually experiment, read, write, etc…
I need to figure out a better way to set it up. I think it’s important, but it can’t just be a bolted-on “hey! look! innovation hour! if there’s time. or not. OK – back to work!” sigh.”
- got a Nest thermostat. choked down my distaste for the all-seeing eye of Google. It’s very shiny. The Nest, not the Eye. Maybe also the Eye. But being able to better manage my home’s furnace as we dove into the first Polar Vortex of 2014 was nice. It’ll pay for itself in weeks at this pace…
- picked up a Fitbit Flex. I’d tried an el cheapo iBody pedometer thing to see if I liked the personal analytics. Turns out, yeah. I do. Go figure. So I sprung for a decent device, and am really liking the Flex so far (like 2 days in).
Alan’s post this morning got me thinking about what my reclaimed/co-claimed/com-plained content publishing workflow has evolved into. At a high level, this:
Basically, I host as much of the stuff I care about as possible. My blog (and a handful of tools running on subdomains on the same server) serves as the primary place where I post stuff. Much of what I publish doesn’t show up on my blog’s front page or RSS feed, but it’s there for me, and I use it all daily.
Of the whole thing, I consider 2 parts absolutely essential: the WordPress-powered blog/site running at darcynorman.net, and my Aperture library living on my home laptop. If I ever lost either of those, I’d be out of action. So I back them up somewhat rigorously (but could definitely do a better job of it).
The rest of the workflow, I treat as less critical, even ephemeral. If some of it disappeared, I may not even notice. If the third party stuff vanished (or I decided not to renew subscriptions), I’d feel it, but I’d be able to move on. Evernote is probably the one piece of third party kit that I’d find hardest to live without – it serves as the glue to hold all of my work stuff together – notes scrawled on iPads, snapshots from my phone, notes from meetings etc… all pulled together in a platform-agnostic holding pen in Evernote.
Audrey Watters, presenting to Pepperdine University:
Ed-tech works like this: you sign up for a service and you’re flagged as either “teacher” or “student” or “admin.” Depending on that role, you have different “privileges” — that’s an important word, because it doesn’t simply imply what you can and cannot do with the software. It’s a nod to political power, social power as well.
Many pieces of software, despite their invocation of “personalization,” present you with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of who you “can be.”
This is gold. It gets to the very heart of the problem. And it’s not restricted to online learning (and online learning technologies) – see my last post on a prof who bans “technology” in the classroom, effectively enforcing the restrictive set of choices of who her students can be. This isn’t about the evils of restrictive Learning Management Systems – it’s about the evils of restricting learning.
And this, on the nature of education itself:
To transform education and education technology to make it “future-facing” means we do have to address what exactly we think education should look like now and in the future. Do we want programmed instruction? Do we want teaching machines? Do we want videotaped lectures? Do we want content delivery systems? Or do we want education that is more student-centered, more networked-focused. Are we ready to move beyond “content” and even beyond “competencies”? Can we address the ed-tech practices that look more and more like carceral education — surveillance, predictive policing, control?
We have choices to make – and we (collectively) are making choices – about what we think education is, and what it should be. If we don’t put some real thought into the reasoning behind, and the implications of these choices, we’ll wind up in some uncanny valley of education where all of the checkboxes are properly checked, but it’s not education as it could have been. As Gardner Campbell says, “That is not what I meant at all; That is not it, at all.”