Bored by Webinars

I must be a really bad student.  Webinars, in theory, offer great topics and information and are a nice (free) way to bring experts into the classroom (or office in my case).  Offers to participate in webinars are flooding my inbox from organizations like CLO, Campus Technology, eLearning.  I get all excited because I LOVE their magazines and read them every month.  So why can’t I get into the webinars?!  Topics are interesting but I guess my expectations are too high.  Or maybe….Someone in our office was talking yesterday about a faculty member who recorded their lecture and tracked who downloaded it each week.  He found that 10% of students downloaded consistently. Makes sense when you think about different learning styles, only 10% of people are auditory learners…

So I’m wondering how many of the 599 people attending the webinar I’m listening to now, are writing blog posts, checking their e-mail, or snoozing at their desk?  About 90% I’d say.

New Website

We’ve spent a fair amount of time updating our website to reflect all the changes in the department over the past year.  Some faculty come to us asking for help encouraging collaboration and others are looking for more information on podcasts.  With this in mind, our navigation is organized to include both strategies (collaboration, blended learning, etc) and tools (CMS, emerging technologies).  It is essentially two ways to get at the same content and we’re hoping the faculty will find it user-friendly and a valuable resource.  

We don’t have all our content fully migrated to the new site (click around to the different links) but please take a look and offer feedback:

Building Learning Communities

I’m getting really excited for the Building Learning Communities conference here in Boston next week. As I look through the program at the session descriptions I’m in awe of the people who will be there all week offering important and thought provoking sessions. Apple is also helping the ADE’s attend so I know that I’m going to reconnect with old friends and meet a bunch of new ones. We’re all staying at Hotel Indigo (thanks Apple!!) and I’m confident that as much learning will happen in the halls of the hotel late at night as will during the day in the sessions.

These are people whose sessions I plan on attending:

  • Marco Torres (movie making)
  • Liz Davis & Lisa Thumann (collective intelligence)
  • Marc Prensky (how technology changes teaching)

Keynotes by:

I’m really excited about the small size of the conference-compared to a huge national one-and think that it is going to be easier to connect with people and have really in-depth conversations about our work and how to carry ideas back to our institutions.

Switch to Off

I’ve been feeling overly connected lately.  Between e-mail (3 accounts), facebook, blackberry, ichat, and twitter…I think that the upcoming long weekend is a good opportunity to turn it all off and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather.  Don’t get me wrong, the connectivity provides me with great resources for work and life and I value having the opportunity to have so many intelligent, caring people in my electronic life but it needs to be consumed in balance with the other important stuff (husband, cats, garden).  So if you don’t “see” me for a few days, I’m busy with other stuff.

Support Docs

We’re doing a laptop pilot this summer, throwing all the major brands into the mix to see how they perform head to head.  As a result, we need to update all the support documentation to go along with these updated machines.  New OS, new versions of Office on both the mac and pc side.  Our department has been having the support doc debate lately.  Is updating all the documentation we’ve created over the years the best use of our time?  Doesn’t it make more sense to point people to resources already available on the web and through the application?  Because of the short turn around on the documents for the pilot (machines are being distributed tomorrow), we’re doing one page “New Features” with links to resources already out there.  Will let you know how these docs are received.

On Board w/Twitter

I think that I’m finally getting Twitter.  I’ve been lurking, trying to figure out how it could be a useful part of my professional practice and as I “follow” more and more people…it’s coming together for me.  This is what Jeff Utecht refers to as building the Personal Learning Network, right?  So as I make plans with friends and look at cool websites (thanks Tim!), I find myself learning a TON from amazing educators all over the world in just 140 characters.  Yes, I’m on board with Twitter.  Follow me:  scheney 

Happy Mother’s Day, from Apple

cartermud.jpgMy sister is the best mother ever, the kind of mom I hope to be someday.  My niece, Carter, is a funny, smart, happy, well-adjusted 3 year old.  To celebrate my sister, the mother, I put together an iPhoto book of Carter photos from the year.  The hardest part was narrowing the hundreds of great picts to the 40 (or so) that made it into the book.  Many thanks to Apple for the 20% off coupon.  My sister is going to love it!

Student Response System

One of our departments is interested in using a student response system for big lectures so I’m researching which might be the best to implement here at WIT.

 “The terms classroom response system, classroom communication system, wireless response system, and interactive response sytem are used interchangeably. The term refers to a software/hardware system that allows instructors to easily get instant feedback from their students, using remote control devices and a portable receiver.The basic process works like this: Students are shown a question and they respond by pressing a button on their remote control (clicker). Responses are tallied by computer and feedback is instantly available in the form of histograms and detailed reports.”  From UTexas

There are many variables to consider…price, hardware, software (Mac & PC), do students buy their own remote (clicker) or are they provided by the Institute, integration with BlackBoard CMS, support, etc.  Much like video conferencing software, it seems that these companies merge often.  I’m looking for your experiences here…what SRS do you use?  Why?  What do your faculty say about using the systems?

One thing leads to another…

I love how one thing leads to another…After receiving an e-mail about Course Management Alternatives at universities in the Boston area I looked that the pps that was attached to the e-mail.  In the pps, I saw a screenshot of a wiki (which is hosted at Tufts) from the Bureau of Study Council and Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning at Harvard called Millennial Students:  A conversation.  There are some great links on this wiki-resources from the PBS and PEW project and EDUCAUSE.  One that resource that particularly spoke to me was this video from Michael Wesch and his students at KSU.  I wonder if information like this has been presented in this format to my faculty before…I wonder if hearing from students how disconnected their lives are from their education would make a difference to my faculty…[kml_flashembed movie=”” width=”425″ height=”350″ wmode=”transparent” /]