Saturday, December 25, 2010

last pass

I'm trying out Last Pass after yet another round of changing passwords on various accounts. So far so good. I think I'm getting the hang of it.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Lurkers as consumers vs. producers

RE: Lurkers and the PLENK 2010 discussions... George Siemens has talked about the problem with lurkers in the MOOCs he's taught. Some of us (lurkers) defend ourselves. We're still digesting the information; we're not quite ready to brave exposing our work to the experts; we're too busy. Excuses, excuses. Ramit Sethi points out "It’s so easy to consume. It’s much harder to produce something." I Will Teach You to Be Rich. December 20, 2010.. So.. maybe it's best to insist on SOME production. However there's nothing to hold over MOOC participants. How can instructors make participants feel comfortable enough to take a risk?

Monday, December 20, 2010

What's wrong with MOOCs?

George Siemens asks "what's wrong with MOOCs?" The premise is that MOOCs are so intrinsically interesting/enjoyable/fascinating that all participants will push aside all other activities and responsibilities and devote themselves to the MOOC. MOOCs by nature of their openness and willingness to embrace technology are more engaging. However it seems that isn't true for everyone. There is a high dropout rate. The plethora of tools used can be confusing. Even though making social connections is key, many participants feel lost, disconnected, uneasy about having their say. Comments on this piece mentioned language barriers and time zone issues. In some cases the MOOC may be achieving results that can't be tracked. Some posters indicate that at least some participants are using lessons learned. George is concerned that there is over-reliance on the instructors as experts. Hmmm...What if it turns out that "course" with a start/stop date, some specified software, some content (readings/media) experienced by the entire group - with students providing some artifacts (i.e. papers, discussion threads, blog postings, videos, etc.) that are indicative of learning is OK structure?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Grades in for one course

I finished turning in grades for LIBS150 last night (undergrad 1 credit information literacy course (use of the library and Internet resource) - last minute for some students. One student actually turned in something as I was posting his grade! It's a required course. LIBS 150: Largely skills-based. Passing the course means that students show some evidence of that they've achieved some mastery over those skills. When this course gets started there's a lot of "I'm only taking this because it's required." At the end of the course many students indicate "I wish I'd taken this course earlier in my academic career." That's gratifying, but I didn't feel all that great about students who didn't respond to my cajoling and reminding. Maybe you just can't even get to all of them.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Being a lurker

George Siemens wrote "[B]eing connected, without creating and contributing, is a self-focused, self-centered state. I’ve ranted about this before, but there is never a good time to be a lurker. Lurking=taking. The concept of legitimate peripheral participation sounds very nice, but is actually negative. Even when we are newcomers in a network or community, we should be creating and sharing our growing understanding." ( Rita Kop and others responded - some in favor of "lurker" (or "listening") and some championing active participation. Hmm... I was a lurker in PLENK 2010. I must have been because I was selected to be in the lurkers' focus group. Not sure I like being called out as a selfish taker. On the other hand.. I'm not feeling all that guilty either. ;)

Friday, December 10, 2010

a MOOC flunkie

Not a "flunkie" as in "a lowly assistant" - more like a dropout, Matt Crosslin posts that he has never completed a single MOOC. He finds them complicated to follow and questions the reliance on peers who might not be subject experts. He wonders how you know if you've connected with a good group or not? He says "I think I also just see the MOOC as the technology-driven, socially-networked version of the cattle-herd lecture hall courses so prevalent on college campuses today." Stephen Downes comments that Cousslin's objections to confusion over the structure of MOOCs are "a bit silly - after all, you have to learn to read to take just about any course, and that's a lot more preparation than watching a four-minute video. Perhaps it's difficult for Crosslin because there's so much unlearning to do." Hmmm... Maybe... but that just blames the learner and it's just a way to shuffle off criticism: If students find your course confusing, perhaps there's some ways to make less confusing. At the very least, acknowledge that the course IS confusing!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Google ebooks

Google ebook store is here and the "about info" says "You can read all of your favorite books using just about any device with an Internet connection. Google eBooks is compatible with Android phones, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, web browsers and many supported eReaders." No offline reading???? Ah! I found this "If you're offline and the book hasn't completed downloading, a warning message will pop up to let you know. You will have to go online to complete downloading your book." Can you take notes? Can you copy and print any pages? The file format is Adobe Digital Editions... I'm afraid the answer is going to be "no." The prices I checked against prices of a book or two I've recently bought through Amazon - no big Google bargains are evident. Why would I choose a Google eBook over a Kindle ebook? Off to do some more exploring.

Update: According to the New York Times article, copy and pasting is available if allowed by the publisher. If so, why isn't that option available on the free book that I downloaded? Public domain = no publisher needs to give permission... Shouldn't that be the default in Google Ebooks? (New York Times article: )

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Does a course prevent us from learning material not covered by the course??

Thinking about the PLENK 2010 course, PLEs, general attacks on the idea of a "course" with bounded limits set by an instructor - or by the curriculum at a certain institution.. George Siemens has a great slide of a traditional course that includes a line demarcating "faculty-provided resources bounds domain of knowledge exploration." ( )Does all of that really limit what we can learn? Isn't it possible to take a course that has some bounds and then learn more? Isn't the instructor our first "expert" we're consulting with when we sign up for a course? If I want to learn about PLEs, could I do better on my own than having spent the last few weeks with the PLENK 2010 course? Would PLENK 2010 work if it weren't run by the experts Downes, Siemens, Kop and company?

I'm looking at the article suggested for this week by Fiedler and Valgataga "Modeling the personal adult learner: The concept of PLE re-interpreted." The paper describes a course that started with 41 participants with 35 students completing the course. That's not a horrible drop-out rate, but I'm interested in why some students weren't able to complete the course. Did the students lose interest? Was it too intimidating? Were there personal/family issues that kept some students from completing the course? And I want to know if all the students functioned well... and I'd like to know that with PLENK 2010 as well: Did everyone get an A?

We seem to keep skipping over the confrontation with content. If you need some midwives, don't students need to absorb some content? Can individuals be allowed to be uninterested in some aspects of midwifery? I'm sure it can all be taught in exciting ways - but aren't there some things that need to be learned? PLEs can be a means to transfer learning - but isn't there something in particular that we'd need our students to learn?

Some people teach themselves to be drug dealers. What do we do when "informal learning" and "self-actualization" means joining the nearest drug cartel?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wayne Mackintosh says "If one percent of educators and researchers around the world were to release their intellectual outputs under open content licenses using open file formats, we could conceivably develop digital OERs in support of all national curricula by 2015." What if we broke that down by some sort unit of time per educator? Could we come out with a percent of time that a certain number of tenured professors could devote to course to get the job done? I'm thinking about faculty friends of mine who love their royalty checks. Could they be cajoled into giving SOME time to develop OER - and then let them go back to working on materials that bring them some dollars? Would grants to develop OER for their discipline be more a better motivator? What about prestige? Getting tenure is an issue - How can contributing to OER be given the prestige and status that will induce faculty to spend their time this way? (The Mackintosh quotation is from 16 November, 2010 1:38:48 AM - Open Educational Resources - an online discussion forum )

Monday, November 15, 2010

PLENK 2010

Last week of PLENK 2010 ( What's the difference between a MOOC and the dreaded face-to-face large lecture class? In PLENK we're asked to take responsibility for our own learning and seek out materials and experts beyond the course and create a personal learning network. Somehow the use of Web 2.0 tools is supposed to translate into a better experience than listening to a lecture, trading class notes with fellow students, and doing the readings - and going to the library to do more reading - and organizing our notes and turning in some pre-Web 2.0 era piece of writing - oh and probably taking a silly multiple choice quiz or two along a way. Instead...if we create a video or post to a blog we're more engaged. Some people must have stuck out the course through the end and participated in the synchronous sessions and blogged and tweeted and posted on the discussion forum. How many people didn't make it through the course? And did they drop out for the same reasons as people drop a face-to-face class? Did we all discover our individual learning objectives and achieve them? Could this course run itself without intervention of our enthusiastic instructors now that all the content is available?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson's message

George Siemens at did a post on "key skills for educators in the 21st century"(and other centuries as well.) In his posting he takes a knock at Ken Robinson's "emotional-feel-good-message" on creativity. Nick Kearney wondered why Siemens had a problem with Robinson. I too wonder about the negative attitude toward Ken Robinson's message. I see his talk as a plea to consider creativity in the arts as important. I think Robinson sees the arts as important forms of knowing and ways of sharing knowledge. What does it mean react negatively to Robinson's message? Should we continue to undervalue art, music, theatre, dance? Should we discourage students who express themselves well in art forms? (Robinson's TED talk from 2006

Kearney ( also discusses the idea of that a percentage of people never need school and can learn on their own. The implication to me was that there must be a percentage of people who really do need some guidance and direction in their learning - maybe via something like... our concept of "school." (?)

What does open access cost? arVix

Article in the Chronicle on Cornell University looking for additional institutions to help maintain arXiv which "is going well." I went back to one of Jennifer Howard's earlier items on "[] holds nearly 600,000 e-prints of research articles, many of which appear there before they make their way through the formal journal-publishing process. It costs Cornell about $400,000 a year to maintain arXiv... Calling arXiv “a lifeline” for areas of the world with limited access to scholarly publishing resources, Ms. Kenney emphasized that arXiv will continue to be open access. Individual users will not be charged to submit or to review its contents..." (January 21, 2010). Even distributing material for free entails costs.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kno e-reader tablets

The Kno Ebook Reader due out soon is designed to work well with e-textbooks from publishers like McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Wiley. So... students will be expected to purchase an expensive tablet AND the expensive online textbooks? (Perhaps not: Seems that it will load PDFs as well.) The features including support for notetaking with both stylus and keyboard, backup to the cloud, ability to highlight and add notes - on a 14 inch screen. It sounds...expensive. No mention of ADA compliance though they must have thought of that. Can it read to you? (Can I IM my friends and facebook and load up on music files?) Weight: About 5.5 pounds - which is a pound heavier than my quite old, but still functioning HP tablet pc. Well, the plethora of tablets coming out in the next few months is just mind-boggling!

Monday, November 8, 2010

C&RL News for November 2010 - QR Codes and Transliteracy

C&RL News showed up in the mail today (in print(!)) with a couple of articles I'm really enjoying. Tom Ipri "Introducting transliteracy: What does it mean to academic libraries?" "Transliteracy" is an great word - and now that Ipri's article is out, I'm especially pleased that Susan Ariew mentioned it in our "Best Practices in Information Literacy" workshop for the TLT-Group last month ( Ipri says "In the transliterate world, creating a social network of experts is held in high regard.
What is important is not just transferring information but creating an information narrative that evolves over time and adds value." This is a VERY nice fit with some of principles being discussed over at the PLENK 2010 (Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge MOOC.)
The other article that caught my eye right away: Robin Ashford "QR codes and academic libraries: Reaching mobile users" I read the description of Alexander Street Press' Music Online using QR codes to send playlists to your mobile device where they are available for 48 hours. I logged on to the USF Libraries and sure enough - one of my old playlists with Music Online zapped right to my iPod Touch (though once I got distracted and turned off my iPod Touch... well, I'm not sure how to get back to that playlist that's supposed to be available for 48 hours... I'll have to give that another try.)

PKM Inc.

From a PLENK 2010 blog post: Rita Kop discussed her discomfort with "personal knowledge management" which she describes as yet another business term that has made its way into the social sciences. Tony Ratcliffe replied that PKM is an important concept because individuals need to organize their knowledge and think of themselves as "Me Inc (Incorporated)." "You should think of yourself as a business and look after your own needs." That sounds even MORE scary business-like to me even though when I think about the way the university works, individuals have that entrepreneurial spirit and who don't depend on the goodwill of others seem to do well. It would be nice to see a "we" in there someplace as in sharing is learning and learning is sharing. See However I do see that when I think "PKM", I too connect it up with capitalist terms like "productivity." Maybe there are some more agrarian concepts to adopt? Could we think "personal knowledge harvesting" instead of "data mining"? Maybe there are some terms related to canning fruits and vegetables?

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Internet is a Ponzi scheme of human knowledge

Quote from Sketchbook by Ivan Brunetti: "Sometimes I think the entire Internet is an elaborate Ponzi scheme of human knowledge." (from p. 107 December 21, 28 New Yorker from 2009). This quote seemed like a good counterpoint to today's PLENK2010 Elluminate session with Harold Jarche. Some points: Drink from the firehose. (I guess the question is how much of what we drink from the firehose is junk? What filters do we need in place?). Leave some time for reflection. Use a blog for reflection and (based on comments from some participants) don't censor yourself too much. Put your ideas out there and be willing to accept critiques. Downes noted that sometimes he goes back and puts an "update" at the end of an old blog post if he's changed his mind about something. Another thread from the Elluminate: How can we change the established concept of and what happens at a "university"?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

George Siemens Questions I'm no longer asking

Siemens post on "questions I'm no longer asking" is great! I'm very fond of this one: "Is online learning more or less effective than learning in a classroom? Who cares. That question is irrelevant. Society answered the need to use technology through its broad adoption of the web/internet/online medium." Right on! There's thousands of articles comparing online courses to face-to-face courses. (See the No Significant Difference web site) The question has been answered over and over: people can learn in online courses. Let's move it along.

PKM and PLEs

This week's PLENK 2010 topic is Personal Knowledge Management. I was attracted to this article: Personal Knowledge Management: A Strategy for Controlling Information Overload by Jason Frand and Aura Lippincott from February 4, 2002. until they recommended thinking through a file management structure. I'm too disorganized. I'm looking for things for myself, but I'm also looking for things for others. Too many categories! I've been very pleased with Evernote. I could organize the notes into files - but I don't have to. I can add tags (keywords) to my heart's content and that seems to work reasonably well for me. Nevetheless... I sometimes see something interesting and get interrupted - phone calls are the worst! and that's it. I have a site that I remember interested me recently. It was a link from a link maybe from a tweet(??) Something from a graphic novel or a cartoon about soldiers and something about the nature of war...(???) I cannot recall enough about it to find it(!) I hope that item shows up again.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Create your own tools. Create your own tools???

Week 7 for PLENK2010 has to do with PLE/Ns Tools - What Exists, What is Being Built?"

...Many of the tools that fit under the PLE/N umbrella have been appropriated by educators from other fields. This isn't necessarily a problem, but it does reflect a sense that educators are not building tools for themselves... Two significant challenges exist for educators and PLE/Ns:

1. Create new tools - what do we need? What functionality is missing in PLEs?
2. Improve end user experience - new tools, new interfaces, and ease of use.
My reaction is.. oh no! I have to create tools??? Please! Not me! Someone else has to do that! Of course we need better tools - and better integration of tools. When someone else does this, tweet about it and make sure Jane Hart and some of the others who report on new useful educational tools puts in her blog.

Speaking of tools: I'm loving Evernote - Better than bookmarks! If I see an interesting tweet, I email it to Evernote and go back and edit and tag the entries later. I went premium so I have access to my notes offline - and on my iPod Touch.

Speaking of more tools: I'm trying to get comfortable with Mendeley, but so far I'm feeling like I have to do a lot of typing. Mendeley is not doing much work for me automatically. It must be a function of the kinds of documents I'm saving.

And even more tools... I'm still trying to find just the right thing that's free and robust that I can use to make each entry my 50+ page bibliography on gangs in Central America searchable - I would like to be able to add keywords, etc. - and make the whole thing available to the public. No programming skills here - no institutional support since I'm retired - no willingness to spend my own money... I'm going to take a look at RefShare via RefWorks since I've got access to that.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

OER - why aren't more resources already available? What are the barriers to use?

I am following some discussions going on about OERs - one at and the other via . Common themes: we don't trust what's out there; we don't have time to create; we want to protect the content we produce; we fear that the material we produce is not quality; the material that is out there is not in our language; our infrastructure doesn't support use of OER material (not enough computers, poor networks). The only positive note: One participant, Rob Merkus, points out that many faculty already find themselves remixing material found on the Web - does that count as use of open educational resources even though it's informal?

Monday, October 18, 2010

What about students who fluff off?

So far I feel that the PLENK discussions of PLEs assume that students are actually trying to learn something rather than just get credit on their transcripts. The discussion has centered around ways of knowing if a student has some knowledge. How about if there are some students who show no understanding or misunderstanding? We might want to be bias-free, values-free in our assessment, but how about students who are just plain goofing off, gaming the system, etc? I work with institutions that give credit for having completed a course of study. I work with institutions that give certifications. There seems to be an assumption that if students are learning what they'd like to learn, they will do a good job. However I've seen people in courses that they elected to do, have no obligation to do other than being self-motivated - and just not doing anything much at all. Maybe they really want to learn auto mechanics. Then why did they sign up for this other course? No coercion! Totally self-induced! But... no evidence that they gave anything other than a superficial glance at the course content. That's what they wanted to get out of the course - Ok - That's their business - but what about grades? What if I can't tell that they learned? Oh well, this may have nothing to do with the PLE discussions at all. I'm feeling frustrated with some student work that I've seen lately.

Rita Kop wrote this interesting post about formal learners

This week (October 18 - October 24) there's a whole bunch of things going on at the same time: Open Access Week at Athabasca University, the NMC Symposium for the Future, two PLENK Elluminate sessions, a workshop that I have to present with a colleague, an online book talk where I also have to be present... an online instructor's meeting that's not until Saturday thank goodness... There's going to be some picking and choosing going on!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Next OER discussion from Commonwealth of Learning

The next OER online discussion forum from the Commonwealth of Learning starts October 20. This discussion will center on moving to practice. After attending an academic conference recently and listening to faculty who are active textbook publishers, I am discouraged. There were many complaints about working with publishers. The turn-over of editors is high. Editors are not always very experienced. Last minute changes are requested by editors dragging projects out. Publishers do not always follow marketing suggestions made by faculty. Complain, complain, complain! So why isn't open access textbook publishing considered an option for these textbook authors? The faculty appreciate the imprimateur bestowed by publishing with a well-known publisher: more respect from colleagues (even though textbooks tend to be undervalued when it comes to tenure and promotion); royalty checks even when the checks don't amount to much. I'm currently involved in a small way in two projects right now. In one case, the faculty member backed off working with an OER publisher after her dean told her that going with a mega-textbook publisher would be more prestigious. In the other case I don't know that OER was ever discussed. How disappointing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Personal learning environments and assessment

This is "assessment/evaluation" week for #PLENK2010. It's the usual knotty problem: How do we know that participants in PLENK2010 have gained knowledge? Who cares? Personally I hate grading. As an instructor I would rather be responsible for responding, suggesting, cajoling - or whatever it takes to ask students to new considerations - not grading! But... being uneasy about judging the work of others is sort of wimpy, isn't it? The institution, employers, etc. want an estimation of how well a student has grasped the info presented in a course of study. Can I abdicate that responsibility when I've agreed to teach a course? No! So...if students are doing... personal learning networks and using a variety of tools - blogs, wikis, discussion boards, emails, media, documents, etc. - how do you as an instructor track all of that and provide a fair assessment? The readings available for this week (5) were philosophical - but I'm also interested in the logistics.

For me personally: I'm doing PLENK2010 just because. I don't need to be evaluated or certified or any of that. I attended the Elluminate session on October 13 and some participants were expressing frustration with all the material and trying to figure out if they were getting it or not. That's interesting because the moderators have reiterated that PLENK2010 is what you make of it. There's no particular body of knowledge to regurgitate. Somehow... the participants have some expectations about something that's called a "course"?

Monday, October 11, 2010

People have other things to do

Stephen Downes noted that in #PLENK2010 "there is not the sort of effort being directed toward helping others as I would like to see. Some people observed that the course was not for people new to the material, but my thinking was that more experienced people should be creating introductory content to help people new to the material, that this is how they learn. And, on reflection, it leads me to think that it is traditional learning that leads to a selfishness in learning, as you are encouraged to focus only on your own learning (even when you are working in groups) and not on helping other people (that's "teacher's job")." (OLDaily archive October 8) I smushed that quotation up a bit - sorry about that - but I wanted to question whether "traditional education" is the issue. I wonder it's simply that people have other things to do. I'm thinking about Jon Stewart's remarks about "the Busy Majority." ( Involvement in #PLENK2010 is one more thing to do. This week (Week 5 apparently) there are readings as usual - and discussions to follow - and activities and presentations for those who are more actively involved. I never made it through all of last week's readings and discussions! Out of all the participants who's got the time as well as the will to create more information to help beginners with the concepts addressed by the course?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Personal Learning Networks - low-enough tech?

I'm getting started on reviewing the material for Week 4 of PLENK 2010 (Personal Learning Environments Networks and Knowledge 2010). I was also participating in the Commonwealth of Learning's discussion on OER (Open Education Resources.) Participants from Africa and other parts of the world noted that in some cases printed material still works best. Students may not have access to much in the way of technology - and even the distribution of printed material is hampered by lack of funds. In those cases what happens to the concept of a PLE? Is it still a "PLE" is what you've got is a notebook and the books on the shelf of your library and meeting up face-to-face with your instructor or other students and there's no zingy social media involved? I guess we're just up against the digital divide in some cases. (Another OER discussion participant also noted that African higher education institutions could choose to make education a high priority and get those networkds installed and teach teachers how to use technology. Archive for the OER discussions at )

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Graphic syllabi

Mauri Collins posted some information from John Walber at Learning Times on a podcast about graphic syllabi.

Robin Smith interviewed by Jonathan Finkelstein on graphic syllabi

Smith's book: Conquering the Content: A Step-by-Step Guide to Online Course Design"(Jossey-Bass) Chapter 1 "Design with Learning in Mind" is available as a PDF at

More on graphic syllabi:

Linda Nilson The Graphic Syllabus and the Outcomes Map: Communicating Your Course
Jossey-Bass 2007. Information about the content at

Nilson. Power Point on graphic syllabi

Smith points out that sometimes course material is organized by tools: Here are the lecture notes; here are the Power Points; here are the class readings; here are the discussions. She suggests that this doesn't help students grasp an overview of the concepts addressed in the course. A graphic syllabus can help students visualize the relationship between the concepts. However... I'm thinking about David Allen's GTD ideas where organizing your work by tools allows you to decide what you can tackle for "next actions". What "next actions" can you take to help you complete your projects when you are in your office? What "next actions" can you take if you find yourself with time to make phone calls? What "next actions" can you take if you have time to sit and read? I wouldn't want to give up organizing by tools. I would think that one of the best things we can do with our syllabi is help students organize the work for the course. Maybe I'm resisting the graphic syllabus idea. I just don't think "concept map" as well as some people.

In wandering around I found TeachPhilosophy101 (TΦ101) - an intro to teaching for philosophy faculty and grad students that addresses traditional face-to-face courses. This site seems to have social media, etc. relegated to a "non-traditional materials" tab - but blogs ,clickers, websites, podcasts more than one place on the site.

Friday, October 1, 2010

PLENK 2010 notes and other activities

The PLENK2010 Elluminate session on Wednesday (Sept 29) by Janet Clarey - interesting! She provided a lot of space in her presentation resulting in a lot of chat among the participants. I came away with names (Jim Groom ) and links to check out ( and and )
The group got on to the topic of privacy. What about tools such as Foursquare that pin-point one's location? Are we giving ourselves over to commercial interests? Is what we're giving up in privacy worth it? What about students' privacy when educators insist that students post their work without password-protection? Some say that privacy is a lost cause. Why fight it? We have more transparency than ever - as if we all live in a small town. Transparency become the norm. (What about the tragedy of the student at Rutgers who committed suicide after a video of him having sex was posted on the Internet without his permission? No right to privacy? How much life-logging do we need? Do we have a right to decide how we're presenting ourselves to a general public?)

Reading the Chronicle yesterday. An article by Jennifer Howard called Conference Explores How to Find—and Make Findable—Information in a Digital Sea (Sorry! this article is for subscribers only) sent me off to look at the ITHAKA Sustainable Scholarship Conference 2010 and then to Google's "user happiness" guy Daniel Russell's home page ( and then on to his SearchReSearch blog ( to see what he has to say about user research skills - and to his August 29, 2010 post "Why libraries?" and looking at his "20 Things You Probably Don't Know About Search... But Really Should () where he outlines six components of expertise (pure engine technique, domain knowledge, assessment, information mapping, search strategy, site-specific knowledge) and where he has some good examples of how to do a search - and then... over to Google Web Search - Classroom Lessons and Resources ( and "Why is Search Easy & Hard: Search Quality and User Happiness" and then back to ITHAKA to read up on their report on University Publishing in a Digital Age (July 2007) and then over to the ERIAL (Ethnographic Research in Illinois Academic Libraries) site ( where I noticed that they have a book coming on Spring 2011 titled College Libraries and Student Culture: Learning from Collaborative Research.... I like the way anthropologists have become engaged in studying the use of libraries and library users.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Is the Internet changing the way we think?

One of the suggestions that turned up via PLENK2010 was looking at Edge: The World Question Center's discussion on How is the Internet Changing the Way You Think? at Wow! A lot of people are thinking about this! I see some really interesting people posted responses. I've got a bunch of reading to do!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Greg Lastowka Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds

Greg Lastowka was on On the Media (September 24, 2010) discussing issues of justice in virtual worlds such as Second Life. More about Greg Lastowka at His most recent book is Virtual Justice: The New Laws of Online Worlds. (Yale, 2010). It does not appear that the book is available online. Where's the Kindle version?

(The site for On the Media notes that the RMT - real-money trade on virtual worlds could be as much as two billion dollars. See a 2007 entry on the Virtual Economy Research Network.)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Friesen, Norm. Education and the social web.

From today's PLENK2010 Ellmuniate session:
Friesen, Norm. Education and the social web. Connective Learning and the Commercial Imperative.
Friesen points out that "that commercial social networks are much less
about circulating knowledge than they are about connecting users (“eyeballs”) with advertisers; it is not the autonomous individual learner, but collective corporate interests that occupy the centre of these networks." I'm really interested in this paper. There's a tendency to see Web 2.0 tools as free from corporate taint. Perhaps that was true of Web 2.0 tools at their inception, but commercialization has crept in. On the other hand... what is still great about these tools is that you don't have to wait for some committee at your university to decide what software to buy and then wait for some campus IT person to provide access! Just do it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who owns student work? Does this change just because work's in an LMS or a PLE?

Reading Terry Anderson's discussion of the diff between an LMS and a PLE. He says this: "The old saying that possession is 9/10 of ownership doesn’t really mean much in the electronic era, but there is a sense that contributions on an institutional site are owned (or at least access is controlled to them) by the institution." ( I'm not convinced that holds true. I've reviewed a lot of university intellectual property policies and I can't think of a single one that doesn't cede copyright to the student. (There might be a provision to use student work for evaluation purposes - or in the case of dissertations/theses, some policy to allow the school to continue to make the student's work available. Students doing work for hire - that's a different case.) Are policies in Canada much different from that? It seems to me that it's easy enough to keep copies of the work submitted to an LMS. Of course if a student wants to make it available to the world, they'll probably have to find another place to put it up online.

Monday, September 20, 2010

PLENK2010 Second Life Wiki

Telmea Story (SL) along with some others have started a PLENK 2010 SL Wiki - and set up a meeting place in Second Life. See more at Conviviality Corners ( As a Second Life fan, I'm all for that!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Activities for the day: PLENK2010 , COL's OER discussions

I've signed up for the OER discussions which are being sponsored by the Commonwealth of Learning (See and registration for the discussions at )

PLENK2010: Online sessions via Elluminate are scheduled for Wednesdays and Fridays at noon EDT. I have a difficult time making myself show up at an appointed time - but I have in mind to attempt attending. In the meantime... I read through some of the discussions for Week 1:

Zaid Aslagoff put up a link to his free learning tools list
It's a long list! I would think that instructors ought to make some suggestions about which tools to use.

One participant suggested that PLE tools should be accessible via mobile devices. Some participants have mentioned Symbaloo - yet another social bookmarking site..
(Ok, does everyone doing PLENK2010 want their discussion contributions discussed outside of the PLENK2010 environment? I'm assuming "yes" given that we're asked to tweet and post, etc.)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

PLENK2010 - random comments

I'm going for incoherent and random comments on my wanderings around the PLENK2010 course site today:

I read through some of the discussions on all the abbreviations: PLE, PLN, VLE, LMS.

LMS... I don't exactly understand what seems to be resentment against the idea of an LMS. I started teaching online courses via email before there was any such thing as an LMS. These were for-credit courses and the university collected tuition. I needed to account for students work. Just the sheer amount of time managing student email addresses, making up distribution lists, saving student work, recording grades for their work... I don't particularly want to go back to doing all those chores when there's an LMS that can help!

LMS and standardization: Some standardization seems like a good idea to me! If students can find some basic documents like the syllabus, that's useful. I've worked with one LMS that has very few options - and faculty are still able to be creative enough to confuse their students! It is actually quite remarkable!

I recently monitored a course that used Angel. Inexplicably the syllabus was under a tab with a label other than "syllabus". This was not a problem intrinsic to the LMS. It is possible to change label names for tabs. This was a policy decision.

One complaint seems to be that students can't access a course installed in an LMS after the course is over. Isn't this just another policy decision?

Guest access to LMS courses: Hmmm.. you've got me there. Even though I know one school that has provided some easier ways to allow for guest access to courses should instructors choose to do that. However... there might be a limit to generousity. I know that the school is concerned about FIRPA requirements.

Sugata Mitra's "Hole in the Wall" experiments TED Talk
People learn if they are curious. I wonder if this is the opposite: If we have a mandated curriculum, we can't wait for students to get curious? Not necessarily according to Mitra's experience. Leave children alone to organize their own learning. In some experiements, he set the question. Why did the dinosaurs die out? In some cases he left tools available - an arithmetic game - with no instructions.

A friend mentioned she was going to keep an eye on Alec Couris' course on Social Media and Open Education, so I'm going to try to do that as well.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

PLENK2010 Personal Learning Environments, Networks, and Knowledge

PLENK2010 has started up. I've been on the fringes of other MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) run by Steven Downes and the others. I start out reading everything attentively for a couple of weeks and then drifting off to other activities... I'm going to see if I can impose some discipline on myself and stick with it this time.
Dave Feguson( ) mentioned trying to find his way around Moodle. That mirrors my experience with the previous course on Critical Literacies. I felt that I had to log in too many times and kept getting bogged down trying to figure out if I wanted to go to the discussion forums (which seemed underutilized to me) or the wiki the daily or head for the blog.. rss feeds? Archives? Live sessions? Recording of live sessions? Whew! One thing I do notice: PLENK2010 home page has a nice schedule of what's going to be covered week-by-week on the main screen. That's helpful!
Ok... PLE (Personal Learning Environments): I'm reading through the Educause 7 things you should know about Personal Learning Environments: Is PLE just another term for using Web 2.0 tools with students? Does the term PLE imply a coherent collection of Web 2.0 tools? "A PLE ... puts students in charge of their own learning resources..." but it seems like this particular article is discussing PLEs as "student created" but a component of a course in which a student will receive a grade. So a PLE is "personalized", but not private and is still up for judging. Will I get an A?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Problems with the use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers

Rundown on the Problems with the Use of Student Test Scores to Evaluate Teachers report released August 29, 2010 states "I do not know how anyone who knows the work of these scholars and who reads this brief can accept the idea of placing any stakes as to firing or awarding of merit pay based on the current status of Value-Added Assessment methodologies."

Friday, August 13, 2010

Costs of Higher education

The costs of higher education continue to be an issue. Blog U had a good discussion going on the economics of higher education with people providing some suggestions on where to read up. See

Saturday, July 24, 2010

University of the People to build sites in 6 developing countries

University of the People is working with the World Computer Exchange to set up computer access sites in Zimbabwe, the Dominican Republic, Bangladesh, Haiti, Liberia, and Palestine. The sites will have internet access and 20 computers at each location. (Info from various press releases and Chronicle of Higher Education, July 22, 2010 "Online University Aims to Build Sites in 6 Developing Countries" by Kelly Truong.) The first comment points out that University of the People is not accredited without noting that UoPeople is applying for accreditation. Other comments point out that there are other free elearning programs for programming, etc., but fail to note that this program will provide access to computers and the Internet as well courses.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Looking for good search tools for OER resources

Scott Leslie has a search engine for OER resources called "Search all of these Open Education Sites from one place" posted at

Tony Hirst has a Google Custom search that covers 166 listings of OER resources that were posted at ZaidLearn, 2008

And see earlier custom search from ZaidLearn in an earlier blog posting.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What's new?

Information is floating by and I'm not catching all of it. I've been absorbed grading, posting grades, cajoling stragglers into finishing up course work... and that seems to be about it! In spare moments I'm still wondering what higher education is supposed to look like. There's discontent, but I'm still not sure everyone thinks ought to change. No "courses"? No semesters? No grades? No curriculum? No diplomas certifying that student has accrued a certain amount of credits? No accreditation of schools? I think the only thing I'm sure about is that we need to figure out a way for students to get through college and incur less debt.

In my field, newly-graduated library science students are complaining there are no jobs when everyone predicted that there would be openings for librarians. Will Manley tapped a nerve on his blog - See posts and comments from around June 15 and further back. Trying to find a job these days is a frustrating experience for new grads in other professions as well. I'm not sure that library schools should feel any guilt about accepting students. Did most of us get that there would be a financial crisis of this magnitude?

Friday, June 11, 2010

Tim Pawlenty on the Daily Show talks about iCollege

Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty talks about "iCollege" on the Daily Show (Pt 1 of the unedited interview. Why shouldn't students have a choice to pull out their iPhones or their iPads and decide what courses to take via "iCollege"? Why drive to campus to sit through a boring lecture? The government can provide students with as much support as possible and allow students to direct their own education. Ok, this is a "talking point" and isn't fleshed out. Is he thinking about a sequence of nationally-produced courses monitored by teaching assistants? Is he thinking de-funding campuses? No more college football? Does he sound like he's read DIY U? More on Pawlenty:

"Warning for MSU

Asked by a university employee about the prospects for funding for state colleges in the upcoming legislative session, Pawlenty provided a prediction for 2010 and a long-term forecast.

“It’s going to be reduced somewhat,” he said, referencing the state’s budget shortfall.

The bigger issue for colleges and college towns is the more dramatic change coming to higher education as teaching moves from classrooms to computers.

“I think higher education is going to be radically transformed in the next 20 years in a way that people in higher education don’t see coming,” Pawlenty said.

College officials are planning for new buildings — “clinging to the status quo” — even in the face of a digital revolution that offers more efficient, and possibly more effective, ways of teaching students, he said.

“You’re going to see the higher education establishment have the rug pulled out from under them in a way that totally blindsides them,” he said.

“They better get ready. If I was Mankato State University, I’d be less worried about how many undergraduate buildings I’m going to be building and more worried about how I’m going to lead the digital revolution that’s coming.”"

from January 20, 2010

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

June 7, 2010 Critical Literaries - and lots of teaching

The first week of teaching three online courses simultaneously is over this evening - starting on week 2! I find it time-consuming which could be considered a bad thing as in "it takes too much time", but more than that, I find it absorbing which is a good thing! I added some notes to two courses and identified two articles that I think will go on ereserves for the third course - all in response to some student remarks. Teaching the courses pushes other things into the background. However I am going to see if I can get to the Critical Literacies open meeting on Wednesday.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Critical Literacies 2010 - CritLit2010

I am participating in Critical Literacies 2010. (Course tag #CritLit2010 ) I'm dealing with a couple of writing projects about library and internet research, so the topic's a fit... and I have some colleagues who are interested. I enjoy being the scout on their behalf. (It must be that librarian thing.) Also, I want to see how this type of open course goes! The readings: Alec Fisher's sample chapter "Critical Thinking: An Introduction" Page 12, Question 1.8: Very good scenario for a class discussion concerning two friends watching an American news broadcast about the Gulf War.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ways to use Wikipedia in class

One thing leads to another - and to this article with detailed information on assigning students to write articles for Wikipedia for a Latin American literature course: This came from a Faculty Focus article on effective use of Wikipedia in the classroom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Stanford's bookless library

This article from Mercury News is from a few days ago. I noticed it on the Kept-Up Academic Librarian blog. I keep thinking about it. Stanford is going to go bookless for their Physics and Engineering libraries and put in a smaller electronic library that covers physics, computer science, and engineering. This doesn't seem to do with some idea to throw away all the books. Instead Stanford is going to store books in order to save space and has selected disciplines where electronic access makes sense. Maybe there are other disciplines where this approach makes sense as well - or maybe it'll make sense in a few more years. I had an experience the other day with a professor who wanted to review a batch of research methods textbooks. I don't see that these are available online... at least not yet. I remember when periodical indexes were moving online. We kept the print versions around until it was clear that even if the Internet went down, no one was willing to go back to the tedium of looking through the indexes by hand. I think it was smart of our administrators to let us wait until our patrons caught up.

Krieger, L. (2010, May 19). Stanford University prepares for 'bookless library.' San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved May 22, 2010, from

(Geez, does anyone know an easy way to get a bibliographic citation out of Zotero and into your blog post?)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Charter School Scandals - a blog

Downes cites Sharon Higgens' Charter School Scandals blog Are charter schools a panacea? Good old Wikipedia entry Information on charter schools from the NEA A link to US Charter Schools web site. A more rah-rah version from the Center for Education Reform

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Marc Bosquet

Marc Bosquet's work goes along nicely with all the other things I'm reading about our troubled higher educational system. See his "How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation"

Friday, May 7, 2010

College, Inc - for-profit colleges

See the PBS Frontline report on for-profit colleges, College, Inc. (May, 2010). There seems to be nothing inherently wrong with for-profits, but there are issues: prospective students are pressured to enroll by admissions counselors who are paid by enrollments. There are problems with student assumption of debt for expensive degrees are misrepresented and that do not result in jobs. Where does the money for those student loans come from? Financial aid sponsored by the federal government. See comments on the PBS Frontline website listed above - There are defenders and detractors both.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Seth Godin's lizard brain video

Merlin Mann of 43 Folders interviewed Seth Godin about his book Linchpin - and mentioned a presentation that Seth Godin had done - See link above. Godin says don't let your lizard brain stop you: You must ship. Just get the work shipped. How did I get to this from what I've been reading, etc? I went to another interview with Seth Godin with Steve Hargadon. See - May 5, 2010 event.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Go to college? Drop out? Or Not Go At All?

Definitely a theme about the value (and cost) of higher education going on! Caterina Fake posted "Want to be an entrepreneuer? Drop out of college" Chris Cameron at ReadWriteStart points out in The role of education in entrepreneurship that the comments are a valuable addition to the post. Erica Douglass had posted on the same topic "Do young entrepreneurs need to go to college?" Comments there too. My major take-aways: There's more than one way to live your life - and going to college isn't such a bad idea.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


Elluminate sponsored a discussion with Anya Kamenetz, author of DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. Look for the recordings for April 28, 2010 at The playback for the discussion was there when I looked this morning (April 29). She's coming at the problem with higher education from the point of view of expense. Students who manage to graduate often find themselves burdened with debt - and what have they got to show for it? In what ways are higher education working for individuals - for society - or not? Anya suggests that "the future lies in personal learning networks and paths" (from the book's blurb.) This goes along with Seth Godin's ideas. See his post The coming melt-down in higher education (as seen by a marketer) . Cost/benefits - Are there paths to higher education that cost less - and perhaps provide better experiences than schools offer today? Exciting to consider!

Droid vs the iPhone

I bought an iPod Touch a few weeks ago - my first foray into smart phones. (I have a cell phone that's fairly smart, but no data plan to go with it. The iPod Touch seemed like a way to get into the game without assuming another bill) So... late to the party, but oh well. I'm keeping a diary of my experiences - and collecting info about Apple devices vs. others. For example I'm tracking reviews of the iPad which seems like a cool device, but which seems too expensive for what it can do. I'm into delightful experiences, but once again - not enough cash around to indulge in much of anything. I'm curious about the Droid. I'm already with Verizon as are my other immediate family members. See

Friday, April 16, 2010

Graphic about online learning

Online Education Facts
Via: Online Colleges

The Lively Sketchbook: Mobile Devices

The NMC hosted a presentation by Ruben Puentedura. He set up the concept of mobile device as the sketchbook - and the importance of the sketchbook. ( He talked about the importance of having a device that can always be with you, related to the physical world and the social world, and provides enough tools to sketch - whether that is art, music, statistical data, concept mapping, written pieces... While tablet pc's come close, mobile devices such as the iPhone, Droid, etc come closer to extensions of our selves and our ideas. Puentedura would like us to *create* with these devices. The tools might seem limited, but are often good enough - and accessible enough to do the kind of notetaking, sketching, etc that can be an end in themselves or the planning materials we need in order to produce more finished work. Using these devices for media consumption is not enough. This presentation really struck me as... just right! I'm already noticing that the iPod Touch can just be there and that I can use it in a non-obtrusive fashion - just use it. Puentedura has a list of tools he's been using at - but the list is less important than the concept of using mobile devices as a sketchbook.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Do Study Sites Make the Grade? WSJ article

WSJ posted an article on study sites - Course Hero, Cramster, eNotes, Koofers, SparkNotes - sites that provide a way for students to share class notes including tests, consult with each other about homework, etc. These sites are aimed at college students. The big question as usual: Is this sharing/collaborating? Or cheating? What can faculty do other than create new kinds of assignments and exercises? (Thanks to Allison Kipta. Talk about cheating! All I have to do is get up in the morning and check Google Buzz to see what good stuff she's turned up. ;)

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Book of Learning and Forgetting

"I have an elderly friend who lives along in English, filling his days watching news and sports on television and reading more news and sports coverage, with a lot of celebrity gossip, in his newspapers... He ... regales me with moe gossip about the British roya. famly and anyone should reasonably be subjected to.... At times I fnatasize that I will resort to the offical theory of learning to stem this flood of unwanted information about the private lives of the royal family. (p. 30) I imagine telling my friend he should work harder to learn. I'll ask him to pay greater attention to news about the royal family in future and to take extensive notes. To help his learning I'll send him frequent tests. I'll also keep a record of his scores and let him know if he is keeping up or falling behind. I'll share these scores with his friends so they can encourage him. I'll tell him he shouldn't have any great diffciulty with the tests because 80 percent of people his age score very high on them. To motivate him, I might even suggest that the amount of his pension could depend on how well he does." (p. 31) (Smith, Frank. The Book of Learning and Forgetting. Teachers College Press, 1998)
Hey I think I might have taken that class! (This book was recommended by one of the participants in the Elluminate session with Sir Ken Robinson the other evening. Recording available here

Monday, March 29, 2010

Second Life Education microsite

Linden Lab announced a link for information about education in Second Life at including a helpful FAQ at They are also requesting help building a directory at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dan Pink Power of Intrinsic Motivation

The Scholarly Kitchen gives us Dan Pink and the Power of Intrinsic Motivation ( If we want high performance, we don't need sweeter carrots or larger sticks. Yes, pay people a good rate, but then allow for intrinsic motivation. Autonomy, mastery, purpose are important drivers. Sounds good to me!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Citizen 3.0

A movie Citizen 3.0: "A celebration of the cultural products we love and the roles they play in our society, CITIZEN 3.0 explores the relationship between media, technology, culture and democracy through the lens of copyright law." This is a feature-length film available online in 10 parts. You'll need Quicktime and Java to watch this. More about this and more information on copyright at

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why teaching is not like making motorcars. Sir Ken Robinson

Sir Ken Robinson who wrote "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything" and has give other excellent TED Talks had some things to say CNN (March, 17, 2010). Everything's broken. We're trying to standardize things that can't be standardized. Robinson is interested in people discovering their passion. I have to say that "discovering one's passion" doesn't seem to be the goal of education at all. It seems like it has to do with developing a workforce. It's not even career education or vocational education. Both of those phrases seem to have something to do with making a choice to involve oneself in something that is personally interesting. But these days people seem to be using the phrase "workforce education." Yes, most individuals need job skills and need to be ready to do whatever it takes to support themselves, but it all sounds pretty dreary.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sheila Webber's presentation. Information Literate Behaviour in Second Life

Sheila Webber from the Department of Information Studies at the University of Sheffield has put the slides from her Second Life presentation on Information literate behaviour in Second Life. March 18, 2010. Her research indicates that even sophisticated searchers often rely on experts and colleagues to answer their information needs! A couple of snapshots I took view 1; view 2; view 3

Friday, March 19, 2010

YouTube - automatic captioning? Really?

From ResearchBuzz - YouTube Now with Automatic Captioning - Would this work with a pleasant little library video that one might upload to YouTube - and it would be captioned without having to do it yourself??

Joyce Valenza's interactive poster on Google Search capabilities

Joyce Valenza's poster on Google search capabilities from School Library Journal. Great idea! She says she will be working on this, but in the meantime here's her results:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Data + Knowledge = Information

"Data does not create information; information does not create knowledge and knowledge does not create wisdom. People use their knowledge to make sense of data and information. People create information that represents their knowledge, which can then be more widely shared." - Harold Jarche. Doesn't this sound like a friendly expansion of R David Lankes talk at IPL2 "What does the future hold for reference services"? Atle Iverson adds that in his view, the final step is not SHARE - but USE!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

danah boyd on Googlem, Facebook, and privacy

A Gigaom report on boyd's SXSW keynote. She's quoted saying "Just because something is publicly accessible doesn't mean people want to be publicized." She criticized Google Buzz since the settings for privacy are easily ignored. (My sense is that Buzz doesn't seem to allow for much granularity. I don't mind some things going on on Buzz, but other things...not so much.) She's put up a draft of her talk at (I admire boyd's work - For one thing she gets Lady Gaga.)

How students use Wikipedia

How today’s college students use Wikipedia for course–related research
by Alison J. Head and Michael B. Eisenberg.
First Monday, Volume 15, Number 3 - 1 March 2010 My take-away from the report of this large survey of students on six campuses is that students depend LESS on Wikipedia than we have feared. Head and Eisenberg note "Wikipedia’s information utility is tied to four Cs it delivers — currency, coverage, comprehensibility, and convenience." They report that students may begin their research with Wikipedia, but don't end their research with Wikipedia. Whew! I can sleep easy tonight. ;) (I wonder if those of us in information literacy can take any credit for warning students about the potential for inaccurate information in Wikipedia - or if our warnings have just been a result of our fears that students are gullible.)
(Thanks to Bernie Sloan for sending along a reference this article on the JESSE discussion list.)

Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy

From Stephen Downes OLDaily: The Digital World of Young Children: Emergent Literacy from Pearson Education - "...Arizona State University’s Jay Blanchard and Terry Moore, the white paper examines the latest research on the ways in which young children make use of increasingly personalized and mobile media – including cell phones, television, video games, smart devices, and computers..." I want to come back and read this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Two finds from Drew - Uninterrupted Text and the End of Publishing

Does anyone read any longer? Maybe not - or maybe... My friend Drew showed me these two things today when I stopped by the library: From The Onion of course "Nation shudders at large block of uninterrupted text - and this video "The End of Publishing"

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Derek Baird reports on the Digital Media and Learning Conference

From useful for information literacy librarians:
A guest post by Derek Baird for Ypulse ( ) on the Digital Media and Learning Conference in San Diego., February 18-20, 2010. Baird comments on a June 2010 Common Sense Media survey on Hi-Tech Cheating. Among the key findings: 19% of the students surveyed said that downloading a paper from the Internet to turn in was not a serious cheating offense. Other interesting data for information literacy champions packed into this nine page report as well. Keynoter Sonia Livingstone ( ) suggests that we overestimate the skills of digital natives. Margaret Weigel from Project Zero ( ) notes that many teachers are using new technology in old ways. S. Craig Watkins reports that the digital divide is about social/cultural skills as much as access to the Internet. (See The Young and the Digital )

Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Millennial Are You?

Pew Research Center has put together a "How Millennial Art You? The Quiz" - part of their February 24, 2010 posting The Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change. - part of a "series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation." Apparently in order to qualify as a millennial, you'll need a tattoo or two where people can see them and do a lot of texting ;)

Second Life avatar walking around NYC - via Google Street View

Giulio Prisco is working on having his avatar appear in Google Street View - See it on at

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Average College Kid's Social Sphere Across Digital Channels

Online Media Daily reports on a study on U. S. college students' use of social networking and communication. "Without factoring in contact overlap, that means every student in the nation has a potential reach of 671 consumers, according to a new "University of Media" study conducted by Mindshare's Business Planning group in partnership with Alloy Media + Marketing and Brainjuicer" Does this mean that if we could teach one college student about use of library resources we could potentially be reading 671 consumers of information? We can dream, can't we? And for all of you "mobile librarians" out there, the study reports that text messaging is the most common method of communication among college students. My friend Drew Smith reminds me that the average number of cell phone contacts reported is about the same as reported for the number of friends that humans tend to have - around 150. See for a theory about that. (Thanks to YPulse for the info about this article.)

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Educational Origami

Educational Origami - Andrew Churches wiki exploring "the integration of ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) into the classroom..." Stephen Downes pointed to one recent entry in particular on managing complex change.

Google Goggles - Translation Tool

Google Goggles translations?? - take a picture of text in German and have your Android phone translate it into English. "You may wonder what’s happening in the background. On the simplest level, this prototype connects the phone’s camera to an optical character recognition (OCR) engine, recognizes the image as text and then translates that text into English with Google Translate." Do you mean one of these days it won't matter that I still haven't learned Spanish?? See also "TechCrunch. Search by Sight"

Friday, February 12, 2010

Two Minute Suvery on What's Happening in Virtual Worlds

Alan Levine reports on a quick and dirty survey on what's happening in virtual worlds. Not surprising to some of us, interest in virtual worlds among educators is strong. See more at

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Media in the lives of 8 - 18 year olds

A recent report: Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds from the Kaiser Family Foundation. January 2010.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Teaching in Second Life

Joe Essid (University of Richmond) posted a chat with Dan Holt about his advice for instructors new to Second Life. See and look for the chat transcript at the end of Joe's blog entry.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

EBook reader software comparison from Blio eReader

Blio eReader has an interesting ebook reader feature comparison chart at at least as of February 2010.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Peter May talks about "Virtually Dead" on Info Island

Peter May appeared as his avatar Flick Faulds to discuss his book "Virtually Dead" - a murder mystery where Second Life and real life intersect. Great fun! At one point he was asked to read a passage out of the book and went to get a copy and came back without his glasses. The audience suggested "Check your inventory!" A snapshot here of the event held on Info Island in Second Life:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Sloan report - Online Higher Education Enrollment

Stephen Downes reported on Kevin Carey's comment on the Sloan C report Learning on Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009. Carey noted that the current Kaplan University ads are a "direct and harsh critique of traditional colleges and universities..." - and what's remarkable about that is I was thinking the same thing when I saw a Kaplan University ad the other day. Good advertising! As I write this, ads are available at See what you think!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Impact of Opencourseware on Paid Enrollment in Distance Learning Courses

Justin K. Johansen's dissertation - The Impact Of Opencourseware On Paid Enrollment In Distance Learning Courses - explores MIT's OpenCourceWare Initiative and Brigham Young University's OCW Independent Study Program - and subsequent enrollment in the same BYU courses for credit. David Wiley points out ( that this study presents evidence that a university can provide open access to courses and garner tuition-paying students. Interesting!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Metasearch EBooks: AddAll

A metasearch tool for ebooks reported on ResearchBuzz:
Metasearch Ebooks with AddAll
One of these days I'd like to have every Dorothy Sayers "Lord Peter Whimsey" detective novels on an ereader. Well, assuming I could afford all of them, it looks like this search engine helps identify what's available.