Sunday, August 28, 2011

The 2011 Campus Technology Conference

I recently attended the 2011 Campus Technology Conference in Boston. Since I teach using Web 2.0 tools, am an e-text developer and my school is interested in using iPads, I focused on those areas and had a great time and learned a lot. I'll tell you what I saw, and you can follow the links at the end of this report to see videos and slides from presentations I missed.

Keynote session
The conference was preceded by a day of workshops featuring in-depth presentations and hands-on exercises. Two that caught my eye were Mark Frydenberg on Web 2.0 tools for the college classroom and Jenna Linskens on the applications and uses of the iPad in education.

Linskens stated that there are over 12,500 educational applications for the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch -- that can be a bit overwhelming. Experienced teachers like Linskens and Frydenberg organize applications and focus on those that they find useful. Linskens mentioned 102 applications in 13 categories, including four "must haves." (What would be your "must have" iPad applications)?  Similarly, Frydenberg showed dozens of applications in 14 categories.
Michael Wesch

The next day, the conference got underway with an inspirational, entertaining talk by award winning teacher Michael Wesch of Kansas State University. Those familiar with Wesch and the videos he and his students have made documenting classroom atmosphere and engagement will find the first half of the presentation familiar. 

For example, over half of his students say they do not like school, but none dislikes learning and he expressed his disappointment in the kinds of questions students ask – for example "how long does the paper have to be" or "will that be on the exam?"
Wesch: required skills change over time

This presentation went beyond Wesch’s earlier work. He brought in his experience as an anthropologist in Papua New Guinea and got a bit Mcluhaneque in talking about the idea that media are more than communication tools -- they mediate and change relationships. A family gathered around a TV set at dinner time is not the same as a post-TV family. Educational needs are also different. Students who grew up during the TV era need to learn critical thinking, while those in the post TV world need media literacy for creating, filtering, organizing, distributing and rating information.

There were two and a half days of concurrent session presentations. The session format stressed quality over quantity -- each presentation was a full hour, so there was time for formal talks, demos and discussion.

Jeff Borden
Being interested in e-text, the first session I attended was "eText is Here" by Rand Spiwak and John Ittelson. They are e-text enthusiasts, but stress that the format wars were far from settled. The turbulent nature of the format and device wars was further emphasized by Jeff Borden of Pearson Learning in his presentation "Emerging Technologies in Content Delivery: eBooks and eReader Devices." Borden listed 23 e-reading devices and 18 e-text formats.

Borden is an informative, entertaining speaker. He gave two presentations, and both were recorded. I recommend watching the videos. You might also be interested in his directory of 500 e-learning tools.

Borden: tools change over time
In addition to keynotes and technical sessions, there were extended conversations with executives from Google, Apple and Microsoft. These ran concurrently with the technical sessions, and provided an opportunity to hear a strategic presentation and have plenty of time for questions and discussion. I only had time to attend one of these conversations, but will watch the videos of the other two now that I am back from traveling.

The exhibit floor
Campus Technology is not a purely academic conference -- there was a mix of academic and professional presentations, a show floor with vendor booths and an area where vendors made scheduled presentations. The exhibit area was large enough to include many interesting vendors and small enough that I had time to visit all the booths with products I wanted to learn more about -- like the three bears, it was just right.

Videos: I've just scratched the surface. Videos of the keynote sessions, conversation sessions, and featured parallel presentations are online.

Slides: The workshop and presentation slides are also online. Even if there is no video of a session you are interested in, you can download the slides, get a feel for the presentation and contact the author.