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.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Steve Jobs is an artist

Homebrew Computer Club meeting
I only met Steve Jobs once -- at a Homebrew Computer Club meeting in 1976. Homebrew meetings were held in a stadium style auditorium at the Stanford University linear accelerator lab, and they featured a "random access" time, in which people in the audience stood up and made announcements or asked for help with a problem they were working on.

Steve Wozniak stood up and offered free copies of the schematic for the computer he and his friend had built.

After the random access session, attendees talked with each other and with vendors standing at tables in the back of the auditorium. Jobs was behind a table with a wire wrapped version of the Apple I motherboard, and we talked about the trade-offs in implementing functions in software or hardware.

Wozniak, Jobs and an Apple I
At the time, I was editor of Interface Age, a short-lived magazine with a national circulation, so I asked Jobs if he would write us an article about his ideas on design and his computer. He told me he would not be willing to write an article unless I would devote the entire issue to Apple.

I was pissed by the kid's arrogance, and walked away.

Inside the Apple I
But he was right to be arrogant. He is an artist who works on very large canvases.

Jobs does not create paintings or songs, he creates products and industries. Painters work with paint and brushes, musicians with instruments. Jobs works with organizations and capital. His artistic works include Apple Computer, Apple, Next, Pixar, Apple stores and iTunes and he's sculpted the personal computer, mobile music and phone, movie, TV and music industries. Now he is dabbling in architecture with Apple's proposed office complex.

Check this column by David Pogue for more on the industries and products Jobs imagined and then created.

Apple I

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steve Jobs' Stanford commencement speech

Steve Jobs gave this 14.5 minute address to Stanford graduates in 2005. It is an inspiring speech, which calls upon the graduating students to have the courage to follow their passion. It would have been an even more appropriate speech to give to the entering freshman class because while in school students have the freedom to seek their passion and to make mistakes.

Text transcript of the speech.

Here are a few quotes from the speech:

"The minute I dropped out (of Reed College), I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me and begin dropping in on the ones that looked far more interesting...None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me, and we designed it all into the Mac."

"I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

"Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work, and the only way to do great work is to love what you do."

"Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice, heart and intuition."

"Stay hungry, stay foolish."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Facebook Evil -- they invented my "interests"

As you see here, Facebook lists my interests as: PetVille, The Global Text Project, Wondershare, Quantum Wealth Management, and Celebrity Cruises

I have never told Facebook that I was interested in these things, in fact:
  • I have no interest in PetVille -- my wife plays that game with our grandchildren.
  • I am interested in the Global Text Project, but have never told that to Facebook or given them permission to tell others.
  • I have never heard of Wondershare and have no idea what it is.
  • My son-in-law owns Quantum Wealth Management, but I've never told Facebook about that.
  • I have taken some cruises, but never with Celebrity Cruises.
When people compare Google Plus and Facebook, they usually focus on features and user interface. I hope Google stays away from Facebook's Evil practices.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Recommended podcast: Maajid Nawaz on radical's use of the Internet

Maajid Nawaz
At first we naively expected the Internet and other communication technology to favor democracy over dictatorship. In a 1998 report on the Internet in Cuba, I wrote of
the 'dictator's dilemma' -- the desire to have the benefits of the Internet without the threat of political instability. How do you give people access to information for health care, education, and commerce while keeping them from political information?
Today, we have a more nuanced view of the Internet as a force for democracy -- we see that it is not only used by democrats, but by dictators and even terrorists, as illustrated by the use of Google Earth to plan missile attacks.
al-Aqsa commander in Gaza

Maajid Nawaz, presents a vivid picture of the use of the Internet by radical Islamists in his Ted Talk A global culture to fight extremism. Nawaz feels that extremists -- whether Islamists or white power advocates -- make better use of the Internet than democracy advocates. He speaks with authority, having used the Internet as a propagandist and recruiter for the global Islamist party Hizb ut-Tahrir for 13 years, including five years in an Egyptian prison for attempting to overthrow the government. He describes the use of the Net by extremists, asks why they have succeeded across borders and goes on to argue for a countervailing grass roots, youth-led movement to advocate for a democratic culture.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Directory of e-Learning tools

Jeff Borden and his colleagues at Pearson eCollege have created a directory of 500 e-learning tools. The tools are divided into several categories: Continuing Education, Data, Discipline Specific Material, Graphics & Audio, Learning Assets, Measurement, Planning, Presentation Tools, Reference, Repository/Community, Search Engine, Student Tools, Technical, Online Teaching Theory, Web 2.0, and YouTube Videos.

Nearly all of the tools are free, and there is something there for every teacher and student interested in Internet-based education.

Look the material over and, if you find a tool you like, let us know about it.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Free, online Intro to AI from Stanford University

Stanford University CS 221 Introduction to to AI will be offered free online this fall.

The lectures will be online and all students will use the same materials, do the same assignments and take the same exams. Non-Stanford students will receive a completion letter showing where they fall on the grading curve. Over 10.000 students had requested information in the first three days after the course was announced. The instructors hope they can handle 10s or 100s of thousand students using tools like Google Moderator to select questions for discussion. I am curious to see how this and other very large online courses work out.