Learning 2008 Keynote: Networked Academic Conversations and the Liberal Arts

The creation of knowledge through conversation is the core of liberal arts education.

Presenter: Ruben R. Puentedura

The creation of knowledge through conversation is the core of liberal arts education.

According to research from the past 5-10 years, blended learning (face-to-face + online) is becoming more relevant and necessary on residential campuses. These studies show that truly blended courses where the face-to-face and online components are comparable in magnitude will fix some of the problems with both face-to-face and online courses.

Face-to-face learning is good for:

  • establishing a local presence
  • discursive task definition
  • generation of ideas

Online learning is good for:

  • sustaining social presence
  • discursive task execution
  • evaluation & development of ideas

[side note: I am seeing truth in the above thanks to online social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and the Library Society of the World, which are responsible for both sustaining and growing the connections I make at conferences.]

Prior to the development of the tools and technology that led to Web 2.0, we did not have the ability to see bi-directional conversations on the Web. Web 2.0 has re-defined the Web as a platform for small pieces, loosely joined. The Web 2.0 is the architecture of participating, with remixable data sources and data transformations, harnessing collective intelligence.

Conversations as continuous partial attention
Twitter is both asynchronous and synchronous at the same time. Conversations can be both instantaneous and over time, and there are no expectations that you will read every single update from everyone you follow.

Conversations surrounding production/consumption
Flickr has taken the static image on a website and enhanced it with conversational elements like comments, groupings, tags, and notes on photos. Partially because the content is self-produced, this has created a supportive community and a culture of intolerance for troll-like behavior. In contrast, YouTube, which offers similar features for moving images, is filled with content not created by the sharer, and the community is unfriendly compared to Flickr.

Ustream contains user-generated live streaming video, and should have a culture of users similar to Flickr; however, it appears to lean more towards the YouTube culture. Swivel is a site for sharing data and creating visualizations from that data, and it straddles the line between a supportive culture and one that is prone to troll-like behavior.

All of this is to say that if you choose to use these tools in your classroom, you need to be aware of the baggage that comes with them.

Conversations mapping the terrain
del.icio.us is a social bookmarking service that can be an information discovery tool as well as a conversation. The process of adding a new bookmark tells you something about the URL by showing how others have added it (leaning on the expertise of other). The network of users and tags can show connections outside of defined groups.

Conversations based on shared creation
Most blogs include comment functionality which allows readers to participate on equal footing. Trackbacks show links from other locations, branching out the conversation beyond the boundaries of the solitary blog. The blog has also cause the rediscovery of forms of discourse such as the exploratory essay, epistolary conversation, and public scholarly societies (scholarly societies that are visible and present in the public eye as authorities on subjects).

Wikis provide a forum for discussion with a historical archive of past conversations. Through the interaction between scholars and non-scholars on wikis such as Wikipedia, the articles become better, more comprehensible explorations of topics. A student project using wikis could be one in which they create a scholarly essay that for a topic lacking such on Wikipedia and submit it, thus gaining the experience of creating scholarship in the public eye and contributing to the greater good of the whole.

SIMILE Timeline is another tool for creating content relevant to a course that provides a forum for discussion.

Conversations about conversations
Ning allows you to create a social network with tools like those on MySpace or Facebook but without the culture and baggage. You can do similar things in traditional academic tools such as course management software, but Ning is more attractive and functional.

What’s next? Puentedura suggests the SAMR model. As we move from substitution to augmentation to modification to redefinition in the way we use technology and tools in the classroom, we move from basic enhancement with little buy-in or value to a complete transformation of the learning process that is a true academic conversation between the student and the professor.

Resources:
The Horizon Report
ELI: 7 Things You Should Know About…
50 Web 2.0 Ways to Tell a Story

Learning 2008: Tools to Simplify Research

Presenters: Andy Morton & Laura Horne

Andy, being Andy, started the presentation with the YouTube video of Steve Ballmer going crazy. He did not do his own version of that intro.

RSS (the Common Craft video covers the basics) pulls in content from a variety of sources to one location, saving them to be read at your convenience. You can use web-based readers like Google Reader or Bloglines, or desktop tools like Outlook 2007 or NewsGator. [side note: Andy says that the university is moving to Office 2007 this summer. Gah! I thought I had escaped that nightmare….]

Undergraduate research is project focused, whereas scholars (faculty) will hold on to information for a long period of time because they are developing their field of study. This effects how both groups approach their information discovery. Scholars can use RSS to keep up with particular journals through publisher table of contents feeds or topics built using search alerts in specific databases.

CiteULike is del.icio.us for scholars, with a few additional organizational tools and features that makes it almost a hybrid of social bookmarking tool and a bibliographic management tool. There are far fewer users than on more general sites, which can be a positive or negative, depending on your perspective.

[side note: I did not have a computer with me when I took notes for the opening keynote, so I’ll be typing them up and adding them later.]

CiL 2008 Keynote: Libraries Solve Problems!

Speaker: Lee Rainie, Director of the Pew Internet & American Life Project

[Prez of InfoToday, in his introduction, announced that 2202 attendees are registered for this conference with 49 states (no one from Wyoming), Puerto Rico, D.C., and 18 countries (7 Canadian provinces) represented. 186 speakers and moderators this year!]

[House-keeping note from Jane Dysart: The men’s restroom on the ballroom level is now a women’s restroom, so the guys will have to go up to the exhibit level. There was much rejoicing.]

Rainie began by apologizing for not originally including librarians as stakeholders in the work of PIALP. This year, his new grant proposal lists librarians at the top, which was well received by the audience. He thanked librarians for their active involvement with the Pew project.

Bloggers were thanked for raising awareness of the Pew project, and for praising Rainie’s past presentations. Yay, bloggers! New media rocks. “Blogging is about community and connection as much as it is about publishing.”

In 2000, studies showed that most Internet connections were via dial-up, and no one was using wireless. In 2007, more than 50% of Americans now access the Internet via broadband, and 62% connect via wireless, both through computers or through cell phones. Wireless connectivity is decreasing the digital divide, and it also responsible for the resurgence of the value of email. “The reports of the death of email are premature.”

Information and communication technology tools are now so interconnected that it’s changing the way we think about information storage and retrieval. The Internet is becoming our storage device, which we access through various portals such as cell phones, TiVo, and yes, computers.

39% of online teens share their creative content through sites like Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. 33% of college students blog, and 54% read them. However, many are blogging through social networking tools or course management tools and they don’t necessarily identify them as blogs. Avatars are now considered to be creative content, which is something I hadn’t thought about before.

A recent grant research with funding from IMLS and in partnership with IUC, PIALP looked at how folks get information from government sources to solve problems. 79.5% of the adults surveyed had, in the past two years, had an information need that could have been satisfied by information from government agencies. Gen Y (18-30) were the most likely to have visited a library in their search for information (62%), followed closely by Gen X (31-42) at 58%. (Psst… 60% of online teens use the Internet at libraries, up from 36% in 2000!)

Don’t listen to the naysayers who claim that the Internet is killing libraries. Public library users are more likely to be Internet users. Those who are information seekers are more likely to be adventurous in exploring information sources. Broadband users are also more likely to use a public library, and there is no difference in the patronage of libraries based on ethnicity. Young adults are more likely to visit a library to solve a problem than any other age group!

Users talked to library staff to solve their information needs slightly more than using the technology provided by the library, which were the top two ways that they found solutions to their problems. Gen Y users are generationally most likely to return to a library. Rainie thinks that because Gen Y users have been forced to use libraries through school projects, and they have seen how libraries have grown and changed over the years to meet their needs, so they have a good feeling about libraries as a source for solving their problems.

Rainie’s take-away message is that libraries need to do more publicity about how they can solve problems. “The people who know you best are the ones that keep coming back.” Let’s tell our success stories to more than just each other, which we already do a pretty good job of. Give our fans the tools to evangelize and provide feedback, and they can have a significant impact on raising awareness of libraries. Create a comfortable environment for “un-patrons” so that they aren’t afraid to ask questions and learn the technology. Become a node in social networks. (For example, Facebook apps for searching library resources or communicating with reference librarians may not be as unwanted as we might think they are.)

Rainie is an engaging speaker that I look forward to hearing from him in the future.

jonathan coulton – seattle, wa – 2/24/07

Geek rock superstar gets a warm reception in Seattle.

Cursing the parking situation in downtown Ballard, my friend and I arrived at the Tractor Tavern a few minutes before Jonathan Coulton's set was supposed to begin. Thankfully he did not hit the stage until ten minutes after the start time, which gave us time to visit the facilities and secure seating.

The small venue was packed, and all of the seats were claimed, but we located to stools and re-positioned them on the other side of a post, thus allowing us to actually see the stage. Other latecomers were not so fortunate, and by the time the show began, the standing-room only overflow area was filled with concertgoers straining to see the stage over the heads of those in front of them.

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