Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I'm reading by Andrew Rosen, chairman and CEO of Kaplan, etc. See . He points out that many institutions are set up for elite, traditional-age students. He has it in for fancy buildings and posh accommodations as misuse of funds better spent elsewhere. That argument pains me. I retired from a campus that was a wasteland when I arrived in 1974. University of South Florida's Tampa campus started out as a large swath of land with a few discouraged-looking 1960's buildings. There was no landscaping to speak of. Just a couple of images...

Aerial view of the campus from 1960.

John and Grace Allen Administration Building 1960

There were more buildings by the time I got to campus in 1974, but most buildings were pale, slightly yellow-ish, dreary-looking... beige... The new library was opened to users in 1975 - and this recent photo from a bomb scare makes you wonder if the motive could be bringing down the uninspiring building itself. When they put up the Communications and Information Sciences Building that has just a bit of oomph, it was so unexpected, that some of us thought that they must have made a mistake and dropped the building on the wrong campus.

University of South Florida's Tampa Campus needed some building up! Construction has continued through tough economic times for higher education funding. Why? I remember being told that the construction industry is a beneficiary of state contracts. The construction industry lobbies for funding for building projects. (It might be hard to remember, but there was a bad patch for higher education in Florida around 1980. There was a year in there when the library bought no new books and cancelled many journal subscriptions and we brought our own pencils and pens because there was no supply money. Hard economic times are not new to higher education - at least not in Florida! )

This talk about aspirations and fancy buildings is going on here in Florida. There's an interesting political back and forth going on over architecture at the USF Polytechnic campus. USF Polytechnic does have aspirations to establish itself as a separate university. Big dreams include a contract with noted architect Santiago Calatrava. Santiago Calatrava to Design Cornerstone for USF Polytechnic's New Campus. (2009, June 16). There's a political battle underway developing yet one more stand-alone university. This contract's being attacked as a misuse of funds. Toothman, Mary. (2011, December 15). USF Poly Architect Calatrava Fires Back at Critic. from The

I think it would be a sorry choice to insist on dreary buildings.

Let's leave aside whether higher ed's physical campuses should be models of planning and development - or not. Let's leave aside the attack on the country club atmosphere of some institutions. Let's leave aside the issue of over-investment in college athletics. The increase of administrators and their salaries - oy vay! Rosen gives short shrift to some other things important to me. Rosen mentions the cost of maintaining libraries (p.70 "the immense expense that's required, in part, to maintain optimal humidity levels to preserve the millions of books in university libraries..." ). Yes, maintaining print resources and artifacts takes humidity control. Should universities get out of the business of preserving knowledge? Rosen doesn't acknowlege the importance of libraries and museums. There's a mention of universities as cultural centers, but again, he seems to place preservation and dissemination of culture in the area of frills. He doesn't mention much about scientific research. He mentions research almost as an aside. I'm not convinced that it's awful hat some universities are Harvard - or like Harvard - or focused on the liberal arts instead of workforce education, or provide a place where people gather to make advancements in the arts and sciences. I'd skip the first few chapters.

The main argument for me is that there are large numbers of people who's educational needs cannot be filled by traditional bricks and mortar universities and community colleges. We have to look to new solutions. I'm dismayed by the attack on the public's role in supporting higher education, but if the for-profits can be regulated to the extent that students get what they pay for, let for-profits be part of the solution. (Rosen does acknowledge that some schools have enticed under-prepared students to accept loans that they can never repay. Some schools fail to disclose that their degrees are not accredited. Some schools really are diploma mills. Rosen says that the marketplace will work this out as schools build reputation. However that doesn't provide restitution to those students who have spent time and money to without recieving the proper credentials.)

I was particularly interested in Chapter 6: The Learning Playbook: 2036 and the Coming Twenty-Five Years of Change in Higher Education. These seem to be the same arguments that proponents of open education are making. Rosen suggests that education will be more mobile; education will be more disaggregated; education will be more personalized; education will focus more on learning outcomes; education will be more accessible; education will be more global; education will be cooler. Well, education won't be more accessible if it costs too much. Students will be discouraged from pursuing higher education if there's no way to pay back student loans. Maybe educational opportunities ought to include traditional institutions, for-profit schools, and open education(?)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Ursula Franklin. Education as a production model.

I've been reading some material by Ursula M. Franklin and this caught my eye: " ...[P]roduction models are almost the only guides for public and private discussions. It is instructive to realize how oten in the past the prodction model has supplanted the growth model as a guide for public and private actions, even in areas in which the growth momdel might have been more fruitful or appropriate. Take, for instance, education. Although we all know that a person's growth in knowledge and discernment proceeds at an individual rate, schools and universities operate according to a production model. Not only are students tested and advanced according to a strictly specified schedule (at least at the university where I have taught for the last twenty years), but the prospective university students and their parents are frequently informed that different universities produced different "products." Within all production activities, complaints of users are taken very seriously, and those complaints can often result in modifications of the production line. Thus, adverse comments from captains of industry may results at universities in the establishment of extra courses such as entrepreneurship or ethics for engineers, spelling for chemists, or fundraising for art historians. The implication is that choosing a particular university, following a particular regimen, will turn the student into a specifiable and identifiable product. Yet all of us who teach know that the magic moment which teaching turns into learning depends on the human setting and the quality and example of the teacher - on factors that relate to a general environment of growth rather than on any design parameters set down externally. If there ever was a growth process, if there ever was a holistic process, a process that cannot be divided into rigid predetermined steps, it is education. " [p.22, 23] - Franklin, Ursula M. The Real World of Technology. CBC Massey Lectures. Revised edition. Toronto, Ontario: House of Anansi Press, Inc., 1999. Some judicious searching inside the book on Google Books or Amazon should get you a look at a few more pages. Her lectures are supposed to be available as audio files via CBC Radio: Franklin's comments got me thinking about things we do at schools that are good for schools that might not be good for all students. Even outcome measures like "graduation rates" imply that graduating is the only goal even though a student might be interested in picking up a course or two.

Amazon: Check editions

I'm so embarrassed! I've been waiting for the paperback for Kenneth Crews Copyright Law for Librarians and Educators 3rd edition to come out. Amazon indicated that the paperback version will be available to ship as of December 19 - but right there on the same page was the Kindle version which I promptly ordered - only to find that the Kindle version is the 2nd edition. A little too fast with the clicking! Even going back and looking at the way the item is listed on the Amazon page, it's not clear that the Kindle version is the 2nd edition. There's even a listing of the ISBN number of the edition I want in the description area for the book - but I see now that the ISBNs are not attached to each version (hardback, paperback, Kindle edition). Lesson learned! Amazon might do well to hire a librarian or two to make the edition information more explicit.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Ads and poor web page design

Complaint about the busyness and general ugliness of many web sites seems to be in the air. Roger Black writes a part 1 and part 2 blames the structure of advertising on the Web. Content providers are forced to seek advertisers since users are not paying for content. This feeds the tendency to oversell ad space bringing about sites: "Most content sites look so bad they actually repel readers rather than attract them." Black suggests that content providers "greatly reduce the number of ad positions" and "charge more for ads" along with some other design solutions. (via GigaOM) Would that it were so! In the meantime there are apps/browser add-ons like Readability and Clearly for Evernote.

Monday, November 28, 2011

University of Phoenix student's online learning testimonial

I was at Publix bright and early this morning - 7:15AM - and got in line behind a pleasant, talkative woman - perhaps in her mid 30's - who tried to insist that I go ahead of her - but she'd already been helping the woman in front of her, so I figure it was my turn to wait a few minutes. She had already said that she was going home to do a final exam. I told her to stay ahead of me since all I had to do was go home and do some grading. I asked her about her final. She said she was a student at University of Phoenix and loved her online courses there. She'd been a business major, but when she wanted to switch to English with a minor in business, they informed her that the entire English program was online. She worried over whether or not she could be successful in that environment especially since she'd been out of school of a long time. She took the plunge and she says she loves it! She works full-time and having online asynchronous courses means she can come home and rest for a while and get into her course work when she's recovered. She says that she goes to the nearby University of Phoenix learning center a couple of days a week and uses her time there to concentrate on her course work. She was also busy telling the cashier that she couldn't go over $50 on her purchases. She joked that she'd bought a lot of "college student food" trying to keep her bills down so she could pay for her degree. In spite of the financial part she seemed happy with her educational experiences at University of Phoenix. Nice to hear someone with a positive view of her higher educational experience! I'm glad I didn't taken her offer to cut in front of her in line.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Save our scrollbars!

Save the Scrollbar! Why are Apple Google, and Facebook eradicating a linchpin of user interface design? asked Farhad Manjoo. I already commented that I totally agree with his concern about the loss of the visible scroll bar as an element of web page design. Also lost is the down arrow at the end of the right-side scroll bar on web pages - a nice clue that there was some reason to scroll down(!) Also lost: the scroll bar as a partition of spaces on the web page. Without the obvious visible cue, I find my eyes drifting all the way to the left side of the screen even though the text I'm trying to read is in the center of the page. (I had to switch over to using a theme for gmail so that the color would act as a divider between the left-side tools and the email messages in the center of the screen.) Just now I was trying to read blogs via Google Reader using Chrome. I'm finding it just about impossible to use my not-too-shabby Logitech mouse to read down through one article without finding myself having skipped down to the next article. I can go to the each blog itself and work it from there - but that negates the usefulness of Google Reader. I find myself working to overcome the navigational tools in my browsers rather than just get on with the tasks at hand. Some users say they like the invisible scroll bar. Isn't there some way to give users a choice? (The older version of Firefox still provides a view of the down arrow at the end of the scroll bar in Google Reader.) My recent frustrations with reading via the Web has made me grateful that Evernote has developed Clearly (like Readability for Evernote). I asked about the ability to move items from Readability directly to Evernote after I became aware of Readability, but the reply back then was that Evernote didn't work with other companies like that. However, time has passed and others must have put their request more eloquently and Clearly seems to be working very well - "one click for distraction-free online reading" (and clipping to Evernote.)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Print books

I've been thinking about the physicality of "books" lately. Books have weight, mass, volume... whatever. James Wood writes about his father-in-law's library/ "The acquisition of a book signalled not just the potential acquisition of knowledge but also something like the property rights to a piece of ground: the knowledge became a visitable place." (My father-in-law's library. New Yorker. November 7, 2011. p. 41) Electronic books? Not so much! (I know that some have calculated how much the electrons in a digital book weigh, but come'on! That's not on the same physical plane as most of us.) At least some libraries are busy on re-organizing spaces that incorporate no physical books. They are losing out on the idea of print books as emblems of their contents, posters for their contents, eye-catching advertisements for their contents - and even acoustical aids. When others are happily considering books as an element in interior design, libraries seem bent on cutting down on the number of physical books they own. (I'll have to take some photos inside the USF Tampa Library where the only visible books on the main floor is a very small browsing collection next to the requisite Starbucks.) Now... I have to say that I'm pretty much over the idea of owning physical books. I used to own tons of books. Then somewhere along the line decided that I was never going to have a larger house and that most of the books I owned were not endangered species. I cut down on the number of physical books I own relying on library access and electronic access - free when I can figure out a place to get items for "free" and paying for e-books when other routes are not available. I was faced with a gift of some physical books recently and had to say that I was alarmed at their weight and volume. I was at someone's house not too long ago - and again, the size of books was alarming. BUT... I have a lot of empathy for those who still appreciate the physical book. Ben Mezrich said "I hate the idea of the Kindle, but I love my Kindle." So...there seems to be this acceptance/rejection of print books - something that has weight, odor...handling a print book invokes our senses. (The Tampa Library at University of South Florida is moldy. Many of the books smell slightly of mold.) A book e-reader has its tactile charms, but handling my Kindle doesn't seem quite as rich as hanlding print books. Lately therehave some visions of the future that imagine everything under glass, made of glass, glass-like... our future interface for knowledge, communication of many kinds, etc. Does this mean that everything we handle will feel the same? Will everything we touch have the same temperature? Will everything we touch feel slick? Nothing warm and fuzzy? Hmmm...that idea makes me feel a little more sentimental about "books." Some of the things that got me thinking about print books: Carr. Nicolas. People in glass futures should throw stones. (November 10, 2011) Mezrich, Ben. In depth: Ben Mezrich. Paulus, Michael. Defending my library. Curator. (October 21, 2011). Victor, Bret. A brief rant on the future of interaction design. (November 8, 2011). Wood, James. My father-in-law's library. James Wood. New Yorker. (November 7, 2011), p. 41

Friday, November 4, 2011

Kindle Owners Lending Library

Kindle Owners Lending Library: If you have Amazon Prime (which includes free shipping of products that Amazon ships - and access to thousands of streaming videos (movies/TV shows), choose from over 5,000 titles (including more than 100 current and former New York Times bestsellers) to read on your Kindle. This is works on all Kindles even those of us with last year's models. There's a 1 month free trial even for people who don't have Prime. It sounds like you can borrow 1 book a month with this program - or... it's 1 book at a time? Not quite sure! The newspapers are saying "1 book a month" from this lending service, but from the Kindle Lending library info on the Amazon page, it sounds like "1 book at a time" (?) How do we access those books from our Kindles? Use the Menu. Turn on Wireless. Then from the Menu, go to Shop in Kindle Store and click the button and then... look for "See all..." and click on that - and then you'll see Kindle Owners Lending Library. I just borrowed the second book of Hunger Games which I've yet to read (Save your battery life - Remember to turn off Wi Fi.) This does NOT work on Kindle apps - It's Kindle devices only. Here's one of the press releases "Amazon has launched a new feature called the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. The library gives Amazon Prime members that own Kindles the ability to borrow books for free. Participants can borrow a book a month for as long as they want. Books included in this lending library include: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Big Short and Liars’ Poker by Michael Lewis; The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins; Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen; Guns, Germs, and Steel; Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential; and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.This offering expands the free content that is available to Amazon Prime members. These members also have access to streaming a library of about 13,000 movies and TV shows." Reminder: Watch for Kindle Daily Deal Link which changes every night at midnight. As I'm writing this, Neve Maslakovic's Regarding Ducks and Universes is the daily deal for $1.99. A note "For Kindle Device Owners" indicates that this is one of the books that I could get for free through the new Lending Library. Keep an eye on which looks like a good place for more tips and info on free Kindle books, discounted books, and promo lists. Example: Kindleworld links to Monthy book deals What are the librarians going to say now? This will skim off some library Kindle-owning customers who would have come to library web sites to check on free offerings. What will Amazon offer via libraries? Non-best sellers? Or... will they seed the library holdings with some best sellers in order to entice readers to join Prime membership? Do libraries need customers?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is this an excuse you use? "You don't learn that way"

"Excuse: You don’t learn that way. - Babies all learn the same way, trial and error. - They try, fail, and try again until it becomes second nature. - Anyone with an infant learning to stand, walk, or crawl right now will tell you their kid won’t stop, regardless of the number of times they fall on their face. - Babies don’t get the luxury of learning via webinar, audio, or having the process of written out. - They see others do it, and try it themselves. - As a former baby, I can say being receptive to any and all learning will greatly improve your ability to do anything you want." - From 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great by Tommy Walker. ( 106 Excuses guest-posted at Chris Brogan's blog I couldn't resist quoting this. It's a great fit with a discussion I was having with Steve Gilbert about optimal learning situations. There are undoubtedly some optimal situations, but we did agree that people can learn under some less-than-perfect conditions!

Thinking about the whole person

The American Life focused on middle school today. Teachers talked about how 12-14 year olds are distracted by hormonal changes and learning their place in the world. It can be difficult to get through. They were talking about psychological and physiological development. One commentator pointed out that even Maria Montessori suggested that this age group might be well-off in an Erdkinder (Earth School) type program. The program reminded me that we ought to remember to incorporate some things about the psychological and physiological development of people - childhood through adolescence through adulthood. I've been reading too many things about "technology vs. x" and "gamification vs. method x" and "online vs. face-to-face," "STEM vs liberal arts"; "Khan Academy for math or method x"; "higher education vs. no higher education" - too many dichotomies! Seems like at some points in life, what sets up a good learning situation might include an environment that includes some empathy, sympathy, just plain kindness. That comes through to me with Global Kidsprograms. They have their goals,etc. but I always get a sense that there's some fun going on and lots of respect for young adults. This article by Sharon Mizrahi - a 17-year-old The Future of Education mentions "warm guidance of Global Kids staff". She describes some exciting projects guided by caring adults. How do we foster more of that?

Friday, October 14, 2011

More on libraries sending users to affliate sites

British Library's library catalog platform is from ExLibris and ExLibris is linking users to Amazon - much to the consternation of rival companies. Will libraries be required to link to all book sellers?? No book sellers??

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Libraries as bookstores - Affiliate status for libraries

A recent OverDrive press release sets up libraries a gateway for ebook purchases. "For every retail sale referred from a WIN (Want It Now) Catalog, the library will earn a credit for the entire affiliate fee." OverDrive handles library ebooks for 15,000 libraries worldwide creating quite a potential for a large customer base! Ebook checkouts are way up (200 percent from 2010) so patron interest in ebooks via libraries is there. I'm dying to hear how this is going to work out for the libraries involved. Will it work? Seems like a better kind of privatization than off-loading librarians and library staff!

Monday, October 10, 2011

A MOOC - Oprah's Lifeclass

A MOOC: Oprah Lifeclass is starting this evening on the OWN television station. It will be on Monday evenings 8pm ET Oprah is teaching life lessons based on her 25 years broadcasting the Oprah show. The first session has to do with ego. The course includes the following components: Broadcast content (supported by commercial advertising); a live question and answer session after the broadcast; an interactive web site; questionnaires; a guided workbook for daily work; a space on the web site for My Notes; a Facebook page 14213 people had checked in to today's class (when I checked about 8pm) 9537 people had signed in for the interactive session. 2000+ people had already logged in 38 minutes before the Q&A is to start. 11 million people around the world took Oprah's first course. It will be interesting to see how this course shapes up. Will the reviewers like it? Will the students stick with the course?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Privatizing public libraries - this time the discussion moves Osceola County with county administrators in discussion with LSSI: Library Systems & Services of Maryland - sigh. The recent article in the Orlando Sentinel notes that the county will save money by eliminating the need to fund pensions. Does LSSI offer employees a retirement plan of any kind? I sent some email to LSSI and will update this if I get a response. The article notes that eliminating library hours is also under discussion either way I guess. Reduced hours is always a problem for users who have non-traditional work hours. One thing I don't see discussed: One of the roles for public libraries these days is providing computer services for users applying for jobs, applying for government benefits, etc. Should public libraries be getting some funds for other government agencies to support this need? Would that provide some assistance to public libraries? Jeannette Rivera-Lyles Osceola County may cut library hours to save money: Company negotiating to manage libraries proposes cuts of 30 hours a week at some branches. Orlando Sentinel September 29, 2011,0,2285773.story

Kindles and Public Libraries

Public library ebooks on the Amazon Kindle. Can libraries' guarantee readers' privacy? Overdrive as the middleman for the public library Kindle ebooks promises that it does not save user information. What about Amazon? Can they make the same guarantees? Librarians have long held that patrons are entitled to privacy of circulation records. This is supported by case law and reinforced by state laws such as California's This may continue to protect readers. I just finished the loan period after checking out my first Kindle ebook. I got this message: "Your public library loan has ended. If you purchase ---[name of book]---- from the Kindle Store or borrow it again from your local library, all of your notes and highlights will be preserved." This is a wonderful service. Amazon keeps tabs on what books I've accessed. I can access them again. Need to read up on a controversial matter or health concern? Perhaps we can trust Overdrive to protect patron records. Perhaps we cannot trust Amazon. What to read up on a controversial matter and don't want others to know? Perhaps accessing that book via your Kindle is not the way to go. Have any libraries put up notices about concern for patron privacy in the Amazon environment? Customization, personalization! Can we enjoy these kinds of services without risking out privacy? What about users chosing to make their reading lists public? Some readers are happily engaged in sharing their book lists via GoodReads, Facebook - gosh knows what other social networking sites - and not doing this anonymously - so we're already got a pretty messy situation. We librarians have been touting the joys of sharing information about ourselves - lists of our friends, books, music, places we frequent, etc. - in the name of... what? Are we being sold "sense of community" all the while providing free information to marketers and advertisers everywhere? (Speaking of music... I've been trying out Spotify and I'm getting the hang of it. I was appalled to find that Spotify has hooked up with Facebook and is set to let people know what music I'm listening too. I was then relieved to find there was some way to get it to refrain from sharing. I'm not a radio station. I tend to get on jags of listening to certain types of music for days on end and sometimes the same album (oops - I mean "carefully curated playlist") over and over. I know it's neurotic and don't need feel the need to make that patently obvious to my colleagues. ) Back to Kindle and public libraries: On a somewhat different note, Bobbi Newman seems aggravated that Amazon will have more information about library users than we librarians will have. She also wonders why libraries didn't set up affiliate status and get some of the proceeds if a public library user goes ahead and purchases a book after having checked the book out via their Kindle. I guess she is saying that as long as Amazon has all that information about who checked out what from which venue, then libraries ought to get some advantage out of it(?) I gather that privacy is not her main concern. See Mike Kelley Kindle Library Lending: A Triumph of Practicality Over Principles Library Journal September 28th, 2011 Gary Price. eBooks, privacy, and the library. INFOdocket. September 27, 2011. Bobbi Newman. Public Library eBooks on the Amazon Kindle – We Got Screwed Librarian by Day September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

Steve Wheeler says he'll publish open access only

Steve Wheeler takes a stand on publishing in open access journals only in his Learning with 'e's blog. Very admirable! I have not held myself to that standard. I guess my excuse is that I don't publish enough and feel obligated to take opportunities as they come up. Example: I wrote a chapter for a text book which was originally supposed to be published open access - but ended up with McGraw-Hill. The textbook is due out at the beginning of 2012. I guess I could have withdrawn my chapter, but not sure that anyone would have noticed. I would have simply disappointed a colleague. Another colleague and I are slated to write another couple of articles. I don't think that either journal allows authors to keep any rights. I could refuse to participate, but but my colleague still has a stake in the game. I've compromised some principles, haven't I. Added note: I'm going to add the hash tag that Martin Weller suggested we use for posts about digital scholarship for Change MOOC #change11digschol

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Print books are bulky

I had lunch with a friend yesterday. We hadn't seen each other in quite a while and C. brought me two books as a present: Two physical print books. I'm always delighted to have something new to read - but I had a visceral reaction: The books looked remarkably bulky to me(!) Don't get me wrong: I still own books; I check print books out of the libraries I use. Print books - love them.. but it was like a warped body image thing: The books seemed occupied a lot of three dimensional space.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Coherence; Online identities

George Siemens discusses coherence as a component of a learning environment. If we offer a "cohesive look at a discipline" in a course, do students get it - or do students have to create their own sense of coherence? Students can create a sense of coherence out of their social networks. Siemens describes information foraging among learners with faculty and core content in the middle of a diagram which also contains co-created content on the part of peripheral learners and external experts and learners themselves with OER hanging off to one side - the arrow pointing to "core content". ( Slide 39. ) Nice environment though I don't know why OER is off over on the side by itself as it is were supplemental to the core content rather than possibly the core content itself. The lines in the diagram.. Is Siemens suggesting that faculty are responsible for turning up some external experts and some peripheral learners for courses? I have a feeling that learners are themselves responsible for looking beyond the boundaries set by a coherent course. Are faculty totally wierded out by the idea that they don't teach "everything" in school? Are students angered that they didn't learn everything they need to know in school? Siemens will post the talk when it is available. Helen Keegan on The paradox of openness: The high costs of giving online. on actively developing our online identity. The "me" to the "professional me." Is it authentic to behave professionally in an online environment? Does this detract from the Web as a place of experimentation and fun? (Uh oh! Is experimentation and fun the opposite of "professional"?) Are we doing students a disservice if we ask them to post under their real names? (Can we have an "authentic self" that uses a pseudonym? Err... wait: what's an authentic self? The self that acts like a two-year old? OMG I hope not even though I do have a hypothesis that there is no such thing as an adult. ). There seems to be a couple of things going on: Should we moderate ourselves and behave professionally online? Should we practice doing this in a safe space? Pat Parslow in Comments says "I moderate what I say online – but then I moderate what I say “in real life...I think most people are engaging in identity performances most of the time. We do not, I would argue, tend to say or do the same things in front of our parents, as in front of our friends, or kids, or bosses (etc, etc). The walled garden is helpful in this regard... ” I'd say that we should ask students to think about their online presentation of self - and just in general... their presentation of self in everyday life. (Everyone run out an get Erving Goffman's book!) I'm thinking about Second Life: My avatar behaves in a professional manner. She identifies herself as a librarian. Like many others I have another avatar with a different name who could act up - but I have to say that she hasn't been activated in ages and never did get around to acting up. I suppose we could say that my inner two-year old has been thoroughly repressed. One thing comes to mind regarding management of self: Trey Pennington, social media guru, committed suicide over the weekend. ( His online follows who felt that they "knew" him and were connected in some way had to acknowledge that they did not know him. Should Pennington have revealed to all of his audiences that he was struggling with thoughts of suicide? Do we consider Pennington "inauthentic" since he didn't reveal to his suicidal thoughts to his Twitter followers? As usual these were items suggested by Stephen Downes OLDaily September 6, 2011 Yesterday (September 6) Bright House - my cable service - had significant periods of outage that included both TV and Internet. My land line from Verizon was not working. My cell phone was working, but I'm on an austerity budget - no backup mobile broadband access. Fairly boring! However I'm reading "23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism" ( and I wish I knew someone who'd read Chang's chapter on education and could let me know what they think about . Thing 17: More education in itself is not going to make a country richer. He says that getting everyone a college education is not necessarily going to improve the economy, but he does appreciate education for other reasons - improving one's quality of life for one thing. I'd love to know what others make of Thing 17.

Friday, September 2, 2011

OERu, open courses, credentials

Designing OERu Credentials: Aug 29-Sept 13, 2011 - A SCoPE seminar on "defining the variety of academic models by which an institution, or consortia of institutions, can use OER to create credentials." Interesting discussions! I'm wondering since PLAR (prior learning and assessment recognition) already exists and some academic institutions already accept all manner of prior learning that can include assessment of courses, life experiences, etc. what would be different about accepting learning pursued using open education resources? Why does the vehicle of learning - OER - matter? However I do understand that setting up the means to evaluate work done via OER is one way to encourage the growth and acceptance of open courses, etc. One issue that has surfaced is the price that institutions charge for assessing prior learning. A learner could be self-taught using open education resources - (even books from their local public library) - , only to find a cost barrier at the point of asking an institution to provide credentials. There was some discussion of freeing granting of credentials from traditional academic institutions. Some mentioned that associations provide credentials in some countries. There are also companies that offer evaluation services. Would these groups would be any less bound by standards of some sort? Once we've got standards, some learners are not granted credentials. Would these new credentialing groups be less "traditional"? About standards: Shouldn't we have some? Aren't there in fact some students who haven't learned?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Stanford courses - open to all

When is a course a course? Stanford is offering access to a course on artificial intelligence that has attracted thousands - over 135,000 have signed up as of August 29, 2011. Students will not get grades, but will get a "statement of accomplishment." It's not clear from the web site if Stanford's on-campus students will be meeting face-to-face in addition to the online version open to outsiders. (Additional courses are being offered online and open access as well.) Some question this kind of learning. How does this online experience stack up against actually being on-campus and working with others face-to-face? Is there some thing - something we can't even quite describe - about being on-campus, showing up for a face-to-face class, that just cannot be replicated in an online experience? Yes, probably to some extent working face-to-face with professors and other students (i.e. those interested in learning the same things you want to learn) has some benefits. Even though I'm convinced that learning takes place outside/beyond/without traditional classroom experiences, there are those art degrees I have... I really needed the face-to-face contact with other art students. Paying tuition to avail myself of an organized situation with a concentration of art students and art professors.. I think that was necessary for me. BUT.. really - the only way people learn is sitting across from each other in a classroom? We ought to be passed that discussion. Shouldn't the question be what do faculty need to do to give online students the best possible experience?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Look-alike tablets

James Kendrick posted "Apple injunctions against similar-looking tablets just beginning" (August 10, 2011).  He says, "I am supportive of companies protecting inventions, but this is just ludicrous. You can’t ban products that look something like another, as that just stifles competition."  I think it's complete abuse of the system of patents.  For me this puts Apple firmly in the Evil Empire camp.  How are the Apple fan boys going to explain away this one? (This makes me want to run out an buy a Samsung Galaxy Tab.)    In the meantime Maria Korolov reports "Controversy erupts over SpotON3D's patent claims."  (August3, 2011 on Hypergrid Business).   SpotON3D is filing patents on "virtual world in a browser" tools that are not unlike other implementations.  So... open licensing is not working in this case to protect work already done on similar software?  Apparently from Korolov's report, there is still some question on how SpotON3D's patent might impact work by OpenSim, Kitely, etc.  Overly-broad patents are another problem. TechDirt's Mike Masnick wrote a good piece with a link to a spoton (but not 3D) Dilbert cartoon (August 9, 2011).  It all seems like the worst of capitalism with taking advantage of laws to stifle competition rather than moving forward with new creative ideas for creating new products. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Just checking in - and Joe Arroyo

I've got 19 more days before all three courses I'm currently teaching online will completed with grades in and all of that.   I'd vowed not to get overly committed to doing much of anything else until my responsibilities for those students is done. That leaves some uncomfortable down times waiting for students to turn in work. Today I've been able to play with Spotify a bit.  Joe Arroyo died this past week, so I've been playing tracks. Spotify doesn't seem to have tracks for 30 albums, but there's enough to keep me busy.   Footage from his funeral ceremony with thousands of mourners at Of course there's something in it I could post to one of my courses where we've spent the first half of the course discussing copyright, etc.:  "Joe Arroyo's daughters fight for music royalties." (August 3, 2011).  Multiple marriages seem to have created a messy situation.  I don't blame anyone for trying to get a share if they're entitled to it, but wouldn't it be nice to just enjoy performers without considering money, money, money as if that were the main legacy?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I know I'm late to the party, but finally got to play around with an iPad 1 given to a friend and... what do I think? I know one of things that makes me feel squeamish about it is the price.   It feels clunky. (Yes, yes, I know that the iPad 2 is somewhat more svelte.) I don't like the glare.  It's slippery when it's not in the case.  The experience with some apps hasn't been fabulous.  I'm sorry that Flash is an issue.  Obviously it's a choice that Apple's made no matter what anyone says about battery drain, etc.  Apparently Java is horrible as well - and we're all waiting for HTML 5 and everything will be terrific, right? Maybe I'll like the iPad better when I don't feel stymied visiting this site and that. I have friends who are in love with their iPads, so I'm missing something. Maybe I just need more play time.   (My iPod Touch? I like it. Perhaps I've expected less from it because the price did not seem outrageous to me - and because it's small (??) )  What about the iPad 3 coming... soon...?   Well maybe that will be the one to get even though I will resent having to get a case for it and something to make it less slippery and something to dull the glare and goodness knows how many other accessories.  However I can foresee the day when I'll need a suitcase for an iPad x an Android-based tablet and a laptop...and portable keyboards and extra external speakers and various accessories... (oh - and my Kindle which I still really like!)  

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Elementary School

My elementary school has a Facebook page and there's a sudden spate of messages asking about former classmates, remembering favorite teachers, one of the long-time principals of the school who had everyone playing soccer,  the music teachers, the playground and the trees behind the school where everyone played during recess. Some remember spelling bees and Weekly Readers. Some are recalling field trips.  Some are recalling air raid drills. Some remember the announcement that JFK had been assassinated. (Some - like me - were long out of elementary school when that event occurred.)   Many remember the penny candy store a couple of blocks from the school.  Could it be that some had good experiences in a public elementary school?  Maybe it was the good old days?  I suppose the people who did not like their time at this elementary school failed to register their views.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Defining OER

Stephen Downes developed this definition for OER:    "Open educational resources are materials used to support education that may be freely accessed, reused, modified and shared by anyone."  There was a discussion on the OER Forum ( about using open source only which is intended to help everyone - but sometimes slows down some who are in settings where certain file types might be supported by our employer/school or whatever.  David Wiley pointed out that using open source file types and programs is also a kind of orthodoxy that might not be practical. Rory McGreal supported that view. Some proprietary formats such as PDF are widely used - and as long as the document can be converted to other formats, perhaps we can relax a little on the open file format score.  There was the discussion of "free" as in "anyone is free to do anything they'd like with this OER - including market it."  That just doesn't sit well with everyone (yet).  I find myself going back and forth on that.  I'll keep thinking about that one.. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Blogging - good intentions

Hey, Blogger just did its design change thing! That's what I get for not logging on for a few days. I'm just at the start of doing three courses online simultaneously (and all asynchronous)  and I'm letting myself off the hook for most other things for the next 42 days.  The eduMOOC research study group is having a discussion about lurkers/observers/non-active participants/frivolous learners who don't have any presence in the course- whatever you call them.  It seems like if a MOOC is "do as much as you'd like", then that's what some people do. They may not do much that's visible to the other participants.  If you go to the trouble to organize a MOOC, how many active participants are "enough"?  Can you be happy if  only 20 or 30 people are really active?  100 people? I'm not sure what MOOC organizers think about that.  What has to happen to make MOOC organizers think that there efforts are totally worth it?

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Wiley, Dowes, Siemens, Cormier and others discuss MOOCs

George Siemens, Stephen Downes, David Wiley, Dave Cormier having been having a discussion about MOOCs - all on their separate blogs - I find it really difficult to follow back and forth from blog to blog along with comments on each blog - but fortunately, Siemens has a list of the posts in his discussion at This is off their actual discussion topic, but Downes' post at struck a chord. He discusses some possible conversations: ""I'm doing a session today," I remark to a friend on Skype. "What time is it?" he asks. "Where?" I respond" thinking about time zones. I know Downes is making a different point, but that struck me as bad customer service. It's like a reference interview gone awry. Does the friend on Skype really need to be asked? Why doesn't Downes say "10am MDT"? He asks "Because I have actually taken the time to work through what is implied in a common everyday presumption, and to show that it is empty, does that somehow make me a snob?" I'm not sure the designation for that is "snob." It seems like a refusal to interpret questions with any empathy or intuition ignoring any knowledge of how people in his sphere use language. What do you call that? I presume that we reference librarians are doing a better job of interpreting what our users might really be asking. (I did adore this example: "My wife often uses expressions like "You could close the door." She means "Close the door," but won't say it directly." That's my mother though she doesn't even say "You". It's more like "The door needs to be closed" and that's just said into the air. If you don't move into action and close the door, she sulks. There must be a word for that too - but perhaps a word that shouldn't be use in polite company.)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I plan to join the eduMOOC 2011 live session 2pm Eastern so I've been trying to catch up on some Google Group discussion. Wayne Macintosh and others are talking about MOOCs in relation to the OER University which includes granting credit for learning... wherever. eduMOOC "“Online Learning Today...and Tomorrow" has no learning objectives/outcomes... It has a name, a list of topics, and a gaggle of means of tracking what others are up to. We're all inventing our own reasons for being there. (A couple of people have talking about their own learning objectives.) That means if we wanted credit, we would have to... write our own? So... if I decided I wanted to go get an education degree, how would I document the work that I might do as part of eduMOOC? Are there any ways to assist students in figuring out how to present the work done in eduMOOC? I guess I'm talking about learning to make an e-portfolio... ? #eduMOOC

P.S. I did get to the session and the portfolio question came up among the twitterers and it's going to be discussed.

Monday, June 20, 2011

The Filter Bubble

I finished reading The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser. I think he's bringing up some important points. Google and Facebook may be protecting us from opposing views - or at least might not be providing us with opportunities to hear opposing views. We also may simple be missing some information because Google thinks it knows what we want THIS search based on prior searches. Interesting post on this from the James Sinclair on his Critical Thinker blog at where an attempt to alter results didn't yield much change which he then tries to explain. So should we conclude that personalization doesn't really make that much difference in search results? One example Sinclair searched was Florida's recent "voter suppression bill" (SB 2086/HB 1355) which of course is a very mildly titled "elections" bill. My searches for the bill numbers include a lot of results with provocative terminology. The bill disenfranchises, suppresses, assault on voters, etc. Did those items come up for me because I agree with the view that the new elections bill is awful? Or... is that a reflection of what people are saying about this bill? I did find some tea partiers who are in favor of the bill: People who don't have picture IDs shouldn't be able to vote. Early voting provides opportunity for fraud. It's too easy to register to vote. Only property owners (i.e. people on the tax rolls as property owners) should be allowed to vote. Hmm... I'm interested that there are actually people who hold those views, but you know... I'm not really expecting to be won over. Yep, I'm in a bubble - not likely to change my mind that there are provisions in new Florida election law that equal voter suppression. Is that Google's fault? I don't think so. Then... we get to Facebook and some other social media: Pariser points out that we giving away a lot of information about ourselves in ways that benefit advertisers while we're told how wonderful it is to be social.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Accessibility issues

I was going to listen in on an accessibility and universal design in teaching session.
My wireless mouse stopped responding on my desktop - turned everything off and on a few times - looks like the batteries are ok - pulled out the USB receiver - put it back - nothing. Little tiny wireless mouse I use sometimes on my laptop isn't working on the desktop either. I had this happen once before - and I can't remember if I actually DID something or it just decided to work again. My laptop with its wireless access does not seem to be enjoying the Blackboard Collaborate experience at all this afternoon... I think it's time to take a break.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Facebook for courses

Two things pulled up alongside each other yesterday. I watched All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace - the Adam Guest documentary The documentary pointed to Carmen Hermosillo's statement about us turning ourselves into commodities for the Internet. (See The same evening I was reading the information literacy discussion list (ILI-L) with a discussion about librarians using Facebook for courses - either as a complete replacement for a school's learning management system or as an enhancement. Librarians who questioned Facebook's privacy record were called nervous Nellies. Get with the program! Use the popular tools at our disposal! Students are there! I was trying to think of how to compose a response - but Colleen Harris beat me to it with a a nice post warning against blind use of popular technology without considering the implications of giving over all one's information to a corporation - especially a corporation with a checkered past when it comes to privacy. Yeah! That's what I was thinking! I'm also thinking that I'm getting pretty darn tired of ads, ads, ads! I know learning management systems cost money - and the money might be going to a corporation like Blackboard - but once I'm in the various LMS' that I advertising!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Atlantic Book Club - on website, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblrrr 1book140

"The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood will be the first selection for 1book140, a book club established by The Atlantic that will incorporate the magazine’s website, as well as Twitter (hashtag #1book140), Facebook, and Tumblr, Mashable reported." Jeff Howe describes the book club here. Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood wins. I ordered the cheapest paperback I could find on Amazon. It may not come until the rest start their comments on chapter 1 on June 1, but I shouldn't get too far behind. I know I will be sorry that I didn't buy the Kindle edition.

Digital Public Library of America

I joined the Digital Public Library of America discussion list for their beta sprint. (Press release) The goal: "To define the vision for a digital library in service of the American public." The more talk, the less clear the picture for me. Is this going to be a Library of Congress for all? Or... If you pay, you play? If the library in your area, doesn't contribute funds, are you cut off from using material? No national library card? Gosia Stergios (and others) have looked a some other national models. (She also contributed a neat vision of how a digital library could be used: A Note on the Letters of Vincent van Gogh.) Should a digital public library of America separate the "public" from "scholars"? Sorry to report it sounds like "scholars" do not have much respect for "the public." The definition of "public" in the minds of some seems to be "patrons of public libraries who like to read current best sellers." I get the feeling from some posts that "public library" are them and "academic libraries" r us. Others are sticking up for the idea of a public that includes learners of all age. It's even possible that some scholars may read contemporary bestsellers. So should there be two DPLAs or one for all? If there's a public library DPLA and a scholarly DPLA are there more funding opportunities? Can work go forward on all fronts? On-going conversation.

On another note: A colleague and I attended (via Elluminate - now Blackboard Collaborate) Oakland University's e-Cornucopia. A stand-out presentation for me: Emily Puckett Rodgers on open.michigan. Her slides are available The Elluminate session should be up at some point. They've got the vision and the people power to make open access at University of Michigan work. (Other presentations listed here.)

Saturday, May 21, 2011

What I've been doing

I finished getting my course DETT 611 ready for UMUC's "pre-week" which starts Tuesday. I'm celebrating by looking for some interesting K-12 virtual world activities for a presentation I'm doing for an ed tech grad class in a couple of weeks. I found an old Second Life Teen Grid project - Knowclue's Greek Gods. Sixth graders developed commercials for the Greek gods: One god must be kicked off the island. the students were charged with creating persuasive commercials to make the case for a particular god or goddess. Eighth graders were charged with providing the sets and managing the projects to create the machinima for the commercials as ordered by the sixth graders. The 2011 project: Audition videos for the Egyptian Gods Hall of Fame. The 2011 work has been done on astragrid powered by Aurora-Sim. I'm betting the ed tech grad students are going to be wowed by these projects.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Seth Godin The Future of the Library

Seth Godin writes about The Future of the Library - the future of the public library - as a place that no longer warehouses books. Librarians should take on the role of teacher, data hound, guide, sherpa, passionate raconteur of information. The roles for public librarians that Godin suggests are excellent, but he seems to be saying that libraries no longer need books - or even licenses for electronic resources - since Kindles and Netflix are cheap. Is he really saying that even the poorest among us can afford Kindles and ebooks and Netflix subscriptions? Is he saying that everything's available for free on the Web so there's no need to license resources on behalf of users? Bobbi Newman's one of the librarians quick on the draw: She's already posted a response at Librarian By Day. She points out that even if you don't consider books for public libraries, the cost of proprietary databases, etc. is going up. Can we do without those resources? My experiences trying to find open educational resources for University of the People courses tells me no, not yet. Can we do without providing access to both print and electronic books? My experiences looking around for recent books I hear mentioned in the press and on TV tells me no not yet. Some books coming out this year are still not available in electronic format(!). And prices... If I personally had to purchase everything I'd like to read, well... I couldn't afford it. Does everyone but me really have an unlimited budget for books? As for the rest of it... librarians as teachers? I like it!

May 23: Catching up on my reading... I wanted to be sure to get a link to Kent Anderson's May 23 post "As Book Warehouses Vanish, Is It Time for Librarians to Stop Running Libraries?" I'm not quite sure if he's calling for an end to the profession or not...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Is a Well-Lived Life Worth Anything?

Is a Well-Lived Life Worth Anything? by Umair Haque, Harvard Business Review, May 13, 2011 pointed out by Stephen Downes. Haque says we should be "doing, achieving, fulfilling, becoming, inspiring, transcending, creating, accomplishing" - something other than acquiring.
See also America Is Bankrupt (But Not the Way You Think) April 20, 2011 and... "Someone who decides to become a pastor, a nurse, a social entrepreneur, or a teacher isn't doing it to WIN — but to matter." March 8, 2011. Any way to spread this around?

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Kristin Gorski put up her presentation on MOOCs, Open Education and Implications for Online Schooling for Middle School/High School Students on Slideshare. MobiMOOC is winding up the six week run soon. Some people are already working on some projects, papers, presentations together. There's a group on Facebook and a Linkedin group... It'll be interesting to see what happens with the most memorably active participants.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Geraldine Brooks remembers using her public library

Geraldine Brooks is on the Diane Rehm show as I write this and a caller asked about books she read that influenced her. Brooks says that her family didn't have a lot of money so she relied on the public library where she grew up in Sydney Australia. Her parents were readers and read to her as she was growing up. The book she's discussing is Caleb's Crossing - a story based on the true history of a man who was the first Native American - a Wompanoag from Martha's Vineyard - to graduate from Harvard College - in 1665. Nice to hear in the midst of a lot of anti-intellectualism and pooh-poohing of public libraries.

Note: There are 112 holds on the three copies of Caleb's Crossing at the Tampa Hillsborough Public Library.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Curation = librarianship

Neat post curation by Flavie on the WSIS Communities: "Curation means selection of, care for & presentation of the objects entered into a collection." He says "content curators may provide personalized, qualified selections of the most relevant content on a specific theme out of the multiple information sources by sorting, organizing and editing information." Sounds like a role for librarians, doesn't it!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Students: Consumers of Educational Products

Robert Jensen's article Delivering Educational Products: The Job Formerly Known as Teaching in the Texas Observer scores points! He attended session with reps from the Center for Educational Freedom (the Cato Institute) and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity (CCAP) who spoke about education as a commodity. He says in current discussions of the modern university "much to eliminate critical thinking that is connected to struggles for political and economic justice. The victory of the market model would be the end of real education, if by education we mean independent inquiry into the power that structures our lives." P.S. The Center for Educational Freedom has the express purpose of moving toward a "future when state-run schools give way to a dynamic, independent system of schools competing to meet the needs of American children." Let's hear it for the end of public education! The CCAP deals with "the burden that colleges impose on society." The affordability group is pushing for-profit education since "for-profit education serves other important functions, such as introducing a market-based approach to education and providing much needed competition for traditional colleges and universities." I have a feeling that they'd like to take my tax dollars that go toward federal grants and toward supporting state universities and throw it to for-profit higher education. Oh dear!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Instant gratification - or almost

I saw Sal Castro on Book TV broadcast from the LA Times Festival of Books at USC this weekend. Turns out that the USF Tampa Library has electronic version of the book Blowout! by Mario Garcia and Sal Castro from EBL, so I'm reading it (not on the desktop pc - not as good as on the Kindle, but we can't have everything). On page 45, Castro talks about listening to some Mexican singers when he was a kid. I made a Pandora station and I'm listening to Pedro Infante and others while reading the book. How nice! There's a little write-up on Castro's appearance at the Book Fair "Chicano activist and educator Sal Castro wows the crowd with his past -- and presence" He's got the kind of passion that's missing from a lot of discussions about the state of education. What happened? We seem to notice that things are wrong with education, but instead of radicalization, we just want to make sure kids aren't bored - and that the education they need to get a job doesn't pose too much of a financial burden... because after all, we need more consumers. Let them make videos instead of write papers? That's going to help the those in the underclass and those slipping into the underclass barely noticing the descent? That's going to help stave off being taken over by religious fundamentalists? I like technology, but tech doesn't seem to be the foundation of the revolution we ought to be having.

Off Campus Librarian - a new blog

Debbie Bezanson has started a nice, brand-new blog for off-campus librarians. See

Self-directed learning or networked-learning?

George Siemens in Moving beyond self-directred learning: Network-directed learning ( considers participants in MOOCs. Participants need to be self-directed - i.e. self-reliant. However acting along results in some partipants getting overwhelmed by a sea of postings and a wealth of information. Siemens suggests that networked-learning might be a better concept though I'm not sure he explains how that might be accomplished in a massive online course. Siemens mentions Wendy Drexler's Networked Student video which describes a student working on his own - who might get some comments from others, but it doesn't look like he's getting much help from anyone - though the teacher is finally mentioned at the end of the video. The teacher helps the student search for information, evaluate the information he finds, teaches the student how to approach experts, etc. Is that "networked learning"? (Speaking of course set-up: I'm enjoying MobiMOOC because there's enough traffic on the Google Group that I can track of the conversation of some very active participants. Going from blog to blog AND checking out discussion forums AND Facebook AND Twitter AND...and, and, and... doesn't feel much like a conversation. I'm sorry but blogs just don't feel like a discussion to me. In any case it gets to be a lot of work to track down all the places that participants are contributing. It's user choice, but makes it difficult to find out who's doing what. I'm doing my usual mostly-a-lurker routine in MobiMOOC, but I'm getting a lot out of it because there's a lot of discussion going on in one space - the Google Group.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Google Talk Guru

Google Talk Guru provides quick access to factual information on the Web. It's... quick! This was quicker than typing a search into Google - and the results were almost instantaneous! (This also worked using the Google Talk app on my iPod Touch)

I asked Obama's birth certificate. Clicking the link got me to the news that Obama's birth certificate is posted in the New York Times today (April 26, 2011).

What does this mean for reference librarians? No more reference librarians? No... I think there's still a role for reference librarians - and the role will be teacher rather than fact checker.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Another open course - from openED

The openED course: Business and Management Competencies in a Web 2.0 World.
Begins April 26, 2011 I went to an introductory chat for this openED course today. Minutes are here without personal information of participants (which is too bad because as usual, the participants are interesting!: The course is always available, but by doing it during a scheduled session, there will be two facilitators on hand for every module. All the OER people will love that this course is entirely out in the open.

Monday, April 18, 2011

OER - Finding free ebooks

Stephen Downes is participating in an Oxford-style debate "Should OER favour commercial use?" He mentions "Flooding – this is the enclosure practice employed in the Google search results. It becomes impossible to find the original free resource when the market is flooded with commercial alternatives." Yes! Even at OpenLibrary), it feels like you have to knock yourself out to find an item that's available to anyone from any place. However I think I have a partial solution to the example that Downes uses - a quotation from Locke. I tried the search in Google Books - and clicked "free Google eBooks" from the search tools on the left side of the screen. That helps.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

What's in your library's catalog?

I've been thinking about OER and trying to discover it - including free ebooks and open textbooks... and at the same time I have been looking around for books that others are recommending in MobiMOOC on mobile learning. Of course Mohamed Ally's book Mobile Learning: Transforming the Delivery of Education and Training was recommended. The hard copy is available for sale, but it is also available as a free e-book. I checked a couple of libraries - hard copy listed, but not the free e-book. WorldCat has bibliographic records for print, Netlibrary, etc., but I didn't spot a bibliographic record for the free e-book. Should the OPAC list material that library doesn't own or license? Should libraries help us discover OER? If not, how will that job get done? (Google Books doesn't seem to note the free version.) I know - It's the old problem of staff time, whatever costs are necessary to upload and update records for what is supposed to be free material.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

TCC Online 2011

Here's a bunch of us from the TCC Online Conference on Second Life discussing setting up some SIGs (Special Interest Groups): virtual worlds, mobile technology, augmented reality? Or...? The discussion continues...

Craig Kapp - Augmented Reality

The TCC Online Conference had Craig Kapp present on augmented reality. He romped through a ton of examples and I'll be interested in looking at the archive of his talk once it's available. I was mentioning some of the examples to a friend and he said "what's the point?" Fun and exploration may be the main point - It's a place to start! Kapp's a grad of NYU's Interactive Telecommunications Program - and it's in the Tisch School of the Arts - their mission:

"ITP is a two-year graduate program located in the Tisch School of the Arts whose mission is to explore the imaginative use of communications technologies — how they might augment, improve, and bring delight and art into people's lives. Perhaps the best way to describe us is as a Center for the Recently Possible."

One of Kapp's classmates started FourSquare, another student was recently invited to do a light show right here in Tampa. The thing I got out of Kapp's presentation is that the tools are there so that regular mortals can figure out how to create with them. (I've been hearing librarians talk about using Layar. They say not a problem!)

3D without glasses: They've got it working on iPhones and April 11, 2011 ) HoloToy, huh? Guess which app I'm going to try out on my iPod Touch later today?

Monday, April 11, 2011

Monday April 12, 2011

A lot to do today and a lot didn't get done. One thing I did do:
MobiMOOC had an online session today with Judy Brown on GoToMeeting which had its glitches. The chat didn't work properly, so the session was not interactive - much to everyone's disappointment. Nevertheless, her slides were great.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More on MobiMooc

MobiMOOC participants are busy sharing resources and ideas - and it's an international crowd. After reading everyone's material I feel like I've been on a vacation. The group has been discussing "mlearning" - what is it? John Feser writes that mLearnng is not eLearning on A Mobile Device. He suggests that use of mobile devices means that we are not expecting to spend a certain length of time on task. It means that we can quickly check small chunks of information. In "traditional eLearning," there may be a gap between learning and putting the learning into practice. Mobile learning can occur in the field so to speak. Can our mobile devices replace our desktop computers? If you include netbooks and laptops as mobile devices, the distinction seems blurry to me when it comes to devices. If we leave devices out of the mix, then I can appreciate those remarks about "just-in-time" "just in small chunks" learning. Also I'm enjoying the idea that there are ways we can contribute and create content on the run with mobile devices. If I have my iPod Touch with me, I can consider sending a message or a photo or a short video right there on the spot. I'm remembering Ruben Puentedura's Lively Sketchbook posting and presentation from January 2010. Don't look at your mobile devices as a way to consume information: Consider your mobile devices as a means to create content.

I missed the MobiMOOC Monday Elluminate session but the archive is available.

On another matter I put out a list of open ed resources (OER) sites on Google Docs that I hope to edit & keep it up-to-date. It should be "public" It's my effort to get more familiar with the current crop of OER sites so I can be of more assistance to University of the People.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

MobiMOOC April 2-14, 2011

Let's just jump around and participate in lots of things and get distracted... I signed up for mobiMOOC - an open course on mobile learning. Some participants have already mentioned using mobile devices for knowledge creation (sending messages between class members, taking photos, videos, etc.) as well as information access. There was mention of using open standards. (I understand the rationale, but if you can do a project with iPhones and there's an app for that... If you get a set of iPads for your students, refuse to use them?) This course is worth a look!

mobiMOOC April 2 +, 2011!
MobiMOOC Google Group
- Week 1 - introduction to mLearning
- Week 2 - planning an mLearning project
- Week 3 - m4d mobile for development
- Week 4 - Leading edge innovations
- Week 5 - Interaction between mLearning and a mobile connected society
- Week 6 - mLearning in k12

Friday, April 1, 2011

University of the People

I'm going to do a presentation on University of the People for the TLT-Group this afternoon. The TLT people have gotten a Home Base Web Page together at From talking with Steven Gilbert as we planned this session I gather we may be talking about where a "college education" is situated. Is a college an institution with dorms and a football field? Can we say we've gotten a college education if we haven't visited a campus? Can we say we've gotten a college education if we haven't engaged in synchronous experiences with our teachers and fellow students? Since I've been teaching online since 1996, I've seen learning take place in all kinds of circumstances, but I may have to back it up for others.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Too many things to think about

Finishing up reading through Open Content Licensing for Educators

Wondering about the conversation going on around the
postponed SCoPE seminar on Engaging Students in Inquiry Learning
Does enquiry-based learning overlap with self-directed learning? Should students have their own objectives if the learning is self-directed?
Some of these discussions make me fear that one day I'll get into a "course" only to find that it has no beginning and no end and I'll be trapped inside
the course and never get any sense of completion.

Still concerned about unschooling and deschooling, etc. I can't shake the feeling that the end of the argument is that everyone's responsible for their own learning - and that lets society off the hook - and that taxpayers would be happy to have a reason to defund public schools since they really don't wish each other's children well anyway. Larger permanent underclass? Here we come!

Thinking about Douglas Ruskoff's Don't Give Up on the Humans video especially thinking about his comments on self-publishing at about 50:50.... He sees himself eventually skipping the traditional publisher route and hiring himself an editor - which he'll be able to afford since his share of the profits of self-publication will be better than the deal he's getting from traditional publishers. What would that job title be? Concierge editor? It sounds like there might be jobs for English majors after all!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Public education under duress

Stephen Downes "Governments should stop funding higher education" has a link to a Dallas Observer News article by Jim Schutze (March 17, 2011) with this quote "Up until this very moment I don't think many real people understood the magnitude of the ferocity of the attack being mounted on the basic institutions of our democracy by the ultra-right" That does seem to be the endgame. We've got items like this: What if public schools were abolished? with the argument that society means to take over our children and "indoctrinate them into civil religion." It seems in line with John Taylor Gatto's views about school as "indoctrination." Stephen Downes promises a longer paper soon with the argument that public education should be defended. I think this is what Jim Groom and Alan Levine were also defending in earlier comments concerning EduPunk. To the extent that EduPunk rails against "school," it plays into the hands of those who want to undo public education.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

OER quality

There's been a discussion about quality of open education resources - Tony Bates, Terry Anderson, Rory McGreal and others. Rory McGreal points out that OER do not have to be perfect in order to be useful. I'm struck with that idea. I was on a committee for a first year composition program and every semester there was a discussion of "textook." Not even most expensive, traditionally published textbook was considered perfect by all instructors. The committee was constantly on the look-out for a better textbook - or looking for a means to produce their own set of readings. What's "perfection"? Why not start with OER or create OER and refine the material as needed? Terry Anderson makes that point in a discussion of "produsage" - Axle Bruns' term used to describe materials that are produced by the people who use them. Isn't that the point of OER - take what you can use and re-write or produce what you need?

Some recent discussions:

Tony Bates: OERs: the good, the bad and the ugly

Tony Bates: A defence of the OER movement: Any which way you can

Terry Anderson: Quality of Open Educational Resources

David Wiley: The General Confusion around "Open"

Wayne Macintosh pointed to Sir John Daniel's "Will Higher Education Split?"

Friday, March 4, 2011

Filesharing Literacy

Quote du jour: "If libraries instituted a national policy of Filesharing Literacy, things could be worse for publishers..." - the Annoyed Librarian
. I like the filesharing literacy idea. It makes me want to start offering workshops on using Calibre ebook management (grin)

QR codes and augmented reality

Over the last couple of days, some of the librarians on the ILI-L discussion list are wondering about the use of QR codes in libraries. Some say it hasn't caught on yet, so why bother? I think QR codes - or something similar - are bound to become more ubiquitous. QR codes are showing up everywhere. The "wait until later" attitude was enough to get me to sign up for the March 16 session at Lori Bell and Tom Peters are involved. That's an excellent endorsement - and ought to be enough of a cue to make sure you know about QR codes and augmented reality right now.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

FIRST on the Diane Rehm show

Diane Rehm show on NPR today had something POSITIVE about education: Neal Bascomb: The New Cool (Thursday March 3, 2011). Dean Kamen and Amir Abo-Shaeer were the other guests discussing FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology). Comments from callers were largely from students, parents, and other teachers involved in the robotics competition - and most were very excited about the program. There are YouTube videos and other materials about the program posted on the Diane Rehm website.

Friday, February 25, 2011


'Teenager excels at school despite life as 'unaccompanied youth' (February 24, 2011. St Petersburg Times) reminds us sometimes learning is supported by that much-maligned institution "school." This article describes a teen who's refuge has been school - "school" the physical place where there are teachers and fellow students, clubs and organizations. She might not have flourished without the school system. What happens to children in unstable situations? What alternatives to "school" would work? Can you be homeschooled if you don't have a home?

Also, at the same time, Jim Groom finds himself disenchanted with edupunk which he sees as setting up arguments for a move toward corporate education.

Also Alan Levine notes that the DIY approach doesn't necessarily supplant the need for formal education. He remembers the value in his own experiences in school.

Whew! Those two posts sounds like sanity to me.

In the meantime I'm excited about all the talk about the use of OER resources for people who can make use of that option. It doesn't have to be all or nothing, does it?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Tampa Library on Second Life

We've got a library building up on Harambee, one of University of South Florida's eCampus islands. We kept the design to match the theme of the island. So far my colleague Joe has added some posters with links to the library web site and our special collections, some books, etc. We have plans to do more and I've contacted the School of Information to see if anyone there is interested in helping. Some of the plans we developed last year are here:

The CCK11 MOOC responsibilities

Ed Techie Martin Weller writes What is the learner responsibility in open education? about giving a presentation for CCK11. He sounds disappointed that some participants asked "how does this relate to the course?" He points out that since he was giving the session for free, he did not feel compelled to tweek his presentation to make a perfect fit with CCK11 objectives. That's a plausible attitude for a volunteer presenter, but he seems to have expected the participants to accept the material without questioning its utility since it was free. A "this is good enough because the course is free" attitude... That would doom open courses to the trash heap for sure. Don't the course organizers and presenters have a responsibility to create a coherent set of experiences? I think the CCK creators DO present an excellent group of materials even though the course is free to those of us who want to drop in and out - though,... there's certainly a lot of criticism of those participants who don't "give back." (Another possibility about those tweets: Some of the "how does it fit in?" tweets might have really been reflective and not critical of the presentation.) The comments to Weller's post are interesting.

(Presentations for CCK11 at

P.S. I like the layout of the CCK11 site a lot better than the last go-around!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OER University

I was able to get to some of this yesterday:

OER University - the sessions broadcast. It's a call for "open curriculum, open student support, open assessment and open granting of credits"

The agenda:

The "logic model":

A list of some opportunities and threats:

Some discussions happening on the forum at

I got to hear Dr Jim Taylor (University of Southern Queensland )
Main thoughts: Whatever else we think about the way education should be delivered, we can't possible build enough bricks/n/mortar schools to provide education to everyone who needs it. There are simply too many people. We have to find a way to educate at little to no cost. Developing an OER University model is necessary.
Dr Taylor's talk here:

Friday, February 18, 2011

Disruption in education

I'm cheering union supporters in Wisconsin who are protesting their governor's plan to strip public employees of bargaining rights. The excuse is the current budget crisis, but clearly public employees rights to collective bargaining are under attack. President Obama is quoted as saying that this legislation "seems like more of an assault on unions" in an interview on a Milwaukee television station. ( Without the right to bargaining workers have no say in working conditions - conditions that go beyond salary and benefits. Since Governor Scott here in Florida has been making the same noises about public employees, those of us in education are watching the Wisconsin situation closely. I'm putting this current climate alongside all of those who are calling for disruption in education. I'm wondering if in some cases "disruption" is code for "get rid of collective bargaining", "pay those teachers less money since they are all left-leaning Democrats anyway", "take out the public school system in the USA to get women out of the workplace and back in the home where they belong homeschooling their children..."

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Daily Shoot

I've continued to participate in the Daily Shoot - and have had to grit my teeth and continue to reject the idea that I must submit wonderous photos. I'm submitting "a photo that more or less meets the criteria." My photos: Photos done by others

PLEK 12 Personal Learning Environments for Inquiry in K-12

Another MOOC: Wendy Drexler gave such an interesting presentation for PLENK2010, that I may have to drop in on her course PLEK12 "EDG6931 Personal Learning Environments for Inquiry in K12" that's running from February 7 through the end of March.
Weekly Content; Syllabus; her blog; Teach Web 2.0 Wiki. Christopher Sessums is a teaching partner for the course. (One reason I'm already impressed: They talked University of Florida into letting them run an open course!)

Saturday, February 5, 2011

At your public library

I have been playing around at Hillsborough County Public Library's web site looking for some music to listen to and found a collection of recordings from from Sony Entertainment which provides the ability to download three tracks a week. This might be at your public library too. See
I'm now on to OverDrive and their OverDrive Media Console where I've managed to download Christian Elsner singing Die Schone Mullerin. I always feel like I'm having to back up when I use OverDrive. I'm used to Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau's interpretations German lieder. I might have to actually spend money to get some of that.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reporting in on what I've been doing lately: Last week: I helped with a discussion about open textbooks for the TLT-Group. The participants had a lot to say and there are going to be more discussions on open textbooks for the TLT-Group. Also, Sunday: I got my 15 minutes to rush through a "what's Second Life" PowerPoint for an educational technology course. Dr. Zucker had over 50 students gathered in Elluminate and she had gotten even the new users to do a voice check and raise their hand and write on the white board and take a poll. One thing I miss about retirement: Getting to talk to groups! (Oops - does that sound like I like to lecture? Aren't we supposed to eschew lectures for more active learning? Sorry about the backsliding!)

DS 106 - Digital Storytelling course: I found some other blog posts where people expressed that they unable to keep up and had relaxed into picking and choosing what to accomplish. That cheered me up. I'm assembling some material for what I think was one assignment: To use some Web 2.0 tool to create a story. I might get there. The other thing I'm doing is the Daily Shoot ( - and I'm going to try to keep that up even though my photos aren't works of art. I like the assignments. They get you thinking about your visual environment, so I'm looking for "harsh light and deep shadows" or "repetition" or "modes of communication."

ECI 521 - I attended the first hour of Cris Crissman's session in Second Life for her students. She brought in a little bit of everything: voice presentation with slides with plenty of opportunity for the students to provide their thoughts about their experiences as teachers, about educational theories they'd been reading, etc. She used think/pair/share and had students text chat to the whole group for their reflections. Example: Students talked about their own "road not taken" after a reading of the Frost poem. A few students used voice. After a break they were going to do some more reporting on ideas for their action learning projects - and go on a field trip to Ramapo Island. Cris discussed Prensky's "digital native" idea and suggested that we move on to David White's "resident/visitor" idea instead. Personally I'm in favor of "resident/visitor." We've all had that experience working with students who seem to be the right age to have those supposed re-wired brains brought on by a thorough immersion in late 20th/early 21st century technology who are surprisingly inept - and as an old(er) adult I can not be a "digital native" - there wasn't any "digital" to be a native of when I was growing up - which makes me feel like an outsider, but I do feel I might qualify as a "resident."