Sunday, November 25, 2007

CIT 2007 - Google Apps Education Edition

At CIT 2007 there were three themes that became clear to me - these themes were engagement, collaboration, and mobility. As educators we need to engage our learners across all of the generations - boomers, Gen Y, Gen X, millennials, and neo-millennials (a term used a lot at the conference - not sure if it's the same as millennials, or a new generation). To do that we have to go where they are at and technology will certainly help that. Secondly, modern learning has to be collaborative - there is just too much information and knowledge out there for one solitary learners to acquire, distill, and use. Collaborative knowledge is the future of learning, and finally we need to be mobile because our learners are mobile whether it be the devices they use, the places they live or how they consume learning (and they ARE consumers - for many learning and their education is just another product purchased for consumption).

One of the tools presented at CIT 2007 that helps meet the themes of engagement, collaboration, and mobility is Google Apps Education Edition. This online suite of tools includes the following Google tools:
  • GMail
  • Google Talk
  • Google calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Page Creator
  • Google Personalized Start (iGoogle)
  • Access to other tools like Google Spreadsheets, Google Presentations, Google Notebook, and Google groups, along with extensibility APIs
Google apps are user-centric, collaborative and available wherever there is a Web browser (engaging, collaborative, and mobile). Google Apps Education edition is free for students, faculty, staff, and alumni of an institution and can be customized with an institution's domain. It is ads-optional for students, faculty, and staff. It comes with integration support and 24x7 administrator support.

Central Piedmont Community College has switched to Google Apps. It has been available for use at CPCC since May 2007.

Personally I think that Google Apps Education Edition is the perfect solution for today's post-secondary learning environment - it meets the needs of learners, faculty,a nd staff - it's available whereverthey are - classrooms, labs, home, coffee shops, anywhere ther is a browser. But there are issues - and those are issues of data sharing and privacy. In order for Google Apps to work and to have access to Google's search algorithms and "secret sauce" (everyone at CIT 2007 had a secret sauce - what's yours?) some data needs to be stored on Google servers loacted in the US and not located at the institution (a particular problem for Canadian Institutions due to PIPEDA, our personal information privacy legislation). This could cause issues because Google will share information when:
  • With user consent
  • Imminent harm
  • 3rd Party processing
  • Satisfy applicable laws
  • Terms of Service
  • Fraud
If the issues of data storage and access can be satisfactorily addressed then I would strongly encourage all institutions to use Google Apps Education edition - it is a suite of tools for the future of learning that is available now...

CIT 2007 - Engaging Students In Online Learning Through Collaborative Activities

This was an amazing round table discussion led by Bret Nelson of San Jacinto College on transitioning from the classroom to online learning.

One the advantages of attending conferences like CIT 2007 ids that you get to travel with amazing colleagues who take much better notes than you do. So, instead of subjecting you to my ramblings, check out Randomminds's post "Tips For Teaching Online". She captured the session completely and there is nothing I could add.

I found Bret's enthusiasm and passion for teaching online quite contagious. the other very cool thing about this session was that there were two instructional designers from San Jacinto College participating and they had a lot of great input. It was apparent that they had a very close working relationship, and if I got one thing out of this session is that as online faculty keep your instructional designer close by - they are the real experts and will help you with that transition from the classroom to to cyberspace. Bret had all sorts if tips, hints, and tricks for developing and managing online learning.

The tips and hints that you will find at Randommind's post will hold you in great stead as you prepare (or are currently) to teach online - go read it now!...

CIT 2007 - Strategies For Working With Technology Resistant Faculty

This session was presented by John O'Brien, PhD AVP and CAO of Century College and Ron Anderson PhD CFO and VP Administration/Technology, also of Century College.

Century College is a 9,000 learner comprehensive community college located in White Bear Lake MN. the college has had a lot of change in recent years with 50% new faculty in the last five years and 50% growth in the 2000-2005 time frame. They have spent a lot of money on emerging technologies and have the challenge of ensuring that faculty and learners can use these technologies and are in fact comfortable with them. What about faculty who are hindered, skeptical, disgruntled, or left behind in the rush to new technologies?

The college conducted a survey of faculty to determine their comfort levels with technology. here are their assumptions before the study:
  • Enthusiastic - 20%
  • Interested/Hindered - 45%
  • Skeptical - 25%
  • Opposed- 10%
And here are the actual survey results:
  • Enthusiastic - 54%
  • Interested/Hindered - 34%
  • Skeptical - 11%
  • Opposed - 1%
It was apparent that from the survey results that faculty wanted to use technology in their courses and also that there needed t be supports in place to allow the enthusiastic and interested to flourish and to provide support to teh skeptical and opposed (who might always be opposed but who should not be excluded).

There are some best practice implications here:
  • Balanced offerings are ideal
  • Don't define technology too narrowly (for some it is PowerPoint) as online only
  • Recognize alternative technologies
  • Don't assume that technology is unquestionably good (this point really strikes home with me - even as an avowed geek, for me technology should always just be a tool, and the best technology is transparent to both learners and faculty)
In order to support faculty in using technology there has to be an openness to dissent. Some of the tools used at Century College include:
  • Teaching circles
  • Recognizing and celebrating non-technology innovations
  • Clarifying minimum "techspectations"
  • Acknowledge academic freedom
Effects of Technology on Teaching:

Best practice implications:
  • Positive experiences better than negative
  • Learning more important than enrollments
  • training focus - productivity and learning

A lack of technical knowledge and time to learn

Here is how we traditionally offer help to faculty when using new technologies:

There needs to be new support design elements:
  • Entry level training
  • Ongoing support and crisis support
  • Decide when to offer it
  • Lack of visible institutional priorities
  • Perceived differences in perspective between faculty and administration
Motivating Incentives:
  • Main one was meerting learner expectations
  • Questions assumptions
  • Know the disconnects
  • Change the culture - serve left behind faculty
As a new college administrator (I am an academic chair responsible to three schools, a campus and with almost 30 full and part-time fculty that report to me) I found this presentation very useful. As a geek I found it even more useful - it began a seed in my mind that by the end of CIT 2007 had firmly plated itself - not everyone embraces and uses technology like I do (you tend to forget that at times) and there have to be mechanisms in place to ensure that everyone gets access and support when dealing with technology so they do not become overwhelmed and ultimately discouraged and disillusioned about technology in education

My own college is wrestling with several issues surrounding the use of technology in learning and this presentation will provide me with the balance I need as I work with others to ensure that we get the fit of technology and learning right...

Sunday, November 18, 2007

CIT 2007 - General Session - Dr. Chris Dede

Dr. Chris Dede of Harvard University presented on the changes to learning, thinking, and how we as educators have to adapt to the new learning environments.

Learners need to be empowered - collaborate to accomplish and learn. thinking is now distributed across space, time, and media.

Ubiquitous computing (wireless, mobile devices), along with smart objects and intelligent contexts have enabled augmented realities. Dr. Dede described the HARP (Handheld Augmented Reality Project) - a PDA with GPS that allowed a more engaged, immersive learning environment. the end state for this project would be the use of cell phones and modern wireless devices (again in my opinion the iPhone is the learning device/PLE of the future).

Learning now occurs in communities - these communities can even be distributed learning communities over great distances - what these communities have in common is mediated, situated immersion. There is a need to adopt a new pedagogy - we must teach the way learners learn. Augmented reality can be place independent or place dependent (Mystery@MIT is an example of a place dependent augmented reality).

Neomillennial learning styles:
  • Collective learning
  • Fluency in multiple media types (they are just tools)new forms of rhetoric
This has implications for professional development. Learners want to be part of it:
  • Co-design
  • Co-instruct
  • Situated learning
Communities of unlearning are developing and this will be a critical professional development issue as we try to figure out how to meet learners where they are. For neomillennials media shapes their message, it shapes their participation, and infrastructures shape their civilization - implications for the future beyond McLuhan.

An interesting and relevant presentation - it describes the new learning landscape that we have to deal with as educators. Again the themes of engagement, mobility, flexibility, and going to where the learners are rang loud and clear...

CIT 2007 - Moving From FaceTo Face To Online Teaching

This presentation focussed on helping educators transition from traditional face to face (F2F) teaching to online teaching. The first big question asked was "How do you transmit passion online?", along with the following:
  • What do you teach?
  • How doe you teach?
  • Who do you teach?
Online learning is different. It is:
  • Active
  • Self-initiated
  • Self-disciplined
  • Results-oriented
Benefits of Online Learning (OLL) - this diagramme highlights some of the benefits of online learning:

Developing an online course requires more than just taking what has been done in a classroom and posting it on line. first recommendation is to consult an instructional designer who is experienced in online course development. Some of the things to consider when translating a course to online include:
  • Develop a big picture of content
  • Organize like a set of ladders
  • Course is not a glob - create units/modules (the term used during the prsentation was "course cartridge" - a new term for me)
  • Course map - keep it clean and simple
  • Concerns - layout, discussion boards, assessment, and copyright
  • Takes more time to develop an OLL course than a F2F course
  • For copyright issues consult librarians and instructional designers
Once the course is developed it must be managed. Major concerns for OLL course management include:
  • Syllabus
  • FAQs
  • Schedule/calendar (layout in advance)
  • Rules/guidelines/netiquette
  • Office hours
  • Just for fun discussions (an important engagement piece in my opinion - adds a "face" to the course - keeps learners around the site)
  • Don't be a lone ranger - get help in developing and managing OLL courses, and don't do everything at once
  • Be reasonable as you go - add and subtract resources when they are relevant
  • Get organized - have a plan - build the course - development and delivery
  • Be flexible
This was a very good, commonsense approach presentation on transitioning from the classroom to OLL, something that all of us will have to do as educators. So much more of what we will be doing in the future will be blened or online that we have to become proficient in the development, delivery and management of online courses.

I believe that the best way to do that is to develop all curriculum in a 'delivery agnostic" approach where we focus n outcomes, and competencies and not on how the course will be delivered. If we do it right, the delivery method should not matter...

Saturday, November 17, 2007

CIT 2007 - Learning and Teaching In a Flat World

A interesting presentation on the premises raised in Thomas L. Friedman's book "The World is Flat - A Brief History Of The Twenty-First Century" and their implications for education. The first part of the presentation dealt with some of the issues facing educators teaching in this new world and the second part of the presentation dealt with the learners learning in this new world.

The global competitive landscape has ben flattened and restructured - in other words the world is smaller, communications and information flow is faster and we live in a 24/7 world - much of the work we do now can be done in other places in other time zones while we sleep.

Here is what has happened:
  • Empowerment
  • Less hierarchy
  • Widely distributed knowledge
  • Course-based learning is unable to meet needs
It's the last point that has the biggest impact on me as an educator. If course-based learning isn't working, what do we need to replace it with?

The learning found in traditional course-based learning is now being found in all sorts of places, supported by tools and technologies that include:
  • Aggregators - RSS
  • Webware
  • Blogging (everyone should be blogging)
  • MMORPGs (World of Warcraft, Second Life)
One of the natures of these tools is that they tend to blur into each other - so expect some level of confusion and chaos with the use of these tools - but they are the tools of the millennial or net-gen learners.

Presenters compared the 21st century communications revolution as having the same impact as the Industrial Revolution did, and I think they have a valid point. The NCTT (National Center for Telecommunications Technologies) is a great resource linking the ICT industry and education - lots of resources and information on how changes in ICT will and are influencing education.

Bandwidth technologies and access to high speed bandwidth are being driven by several things including:
  • Webware
  • Online Gaming
  • Video/IPTV
  • Social Networking
It's access to bandwidth athat will impact education - without sufficient bandwidth, much of the tools and technologies we want to use in education will not be readily or universally accessible - this will be an issue for educators. Bandwidth is expanding, with research being done that has reached speeds of 20 megabits/second - unfortunately there are still large parts of North America (and much of the world) with dial-up or no connectivity. This will take a joint effort from ICT firms and educational institutions working together to fix.

As educators we need to understand the neo-millennial learners, have a "secret sauce" that will attract, engage, and retain learners and we need to understand the implications of the flattened world for education and learning.

Here are some of the implications of the flattened world:
  • The worldis less predictable and hierarchical - undergoing rapid change with widely distributed knowledge - classroom learning is strating to fail
  • Informal learning on the rise along with new technologies and forms of learning - learning is becoming indistinguishable from work
  • Changing demographics require different learning approaches
There is a paradigm shift occurring in learning:

From To
Formal Training Informal Learning
Management Driven Learner Empowered
Centralized Decentralized
Instructor Driven Subject Matter Expert Empowered
Pedagogy/Instruction Collaboration
When Available When Needed
Individuals Communities
Organizational Trans-Organizational
Lifetime Employment Lifetime Employbility

Mobility is the steroids that are moving everything. Web 2.0 has brought many to many publishing, web apps, workflow driven team collaboration - on the mobile web information must be delivered seamlessly regardless of the device (Sir Tim Berners=Lee) - this is a major implication for learners and educators as more and more will use mobile devices and not computers to connect to the Web and access information and learning. we are seeing peer to peer communication through shared information.

So what should our learners look like? Here are some essential characteristics:
  • Life long learning
  • Able to navigate and evaluate information - information literacy
  • Not about intelligence - it's about curiosity and passion
  • Well rounded and creative (Sir Ken Robinson) - creativity should be a basic skill
And there are some challenges facing us as well:
  • Numbers - not enough people
  • Education at the top
  • Ambition
  • Education at the bottom
  • Funding
  • Infrastructure
These challenges can be met in many ways by realizing that the world is flat and that we must look at and adopt the new tools and technologies available to us and our learners - meet them where they are - learners now have a disposable life - this influences attitudes and engagement.

Mobility will be the driver - right now the iPhone is the best mobile device, but is about to get serious competition from the Google Phone (about $200 US). whatever device is used - it will all be about moile learning.

A great presentation highlighting ofr me what have become the major themes of CIT 2007 - mobility, learning, engagement and the paradigm shifts that are resulting in a whole new way to learn and educate...

CIT 2007 - Opening General Session - Dr. Mark Milliron

Dr. Mark Milliron, president and CEO of Catalyze Learning International, was the opening general session keynote speaker. As such he is recognized as a leader in educational leadership and the use of technology in education. An extremely engaging speaker he talked about the changing face of learners and how technology and tools like social networking are going to change the face of community college education.

Community Colleges are preparing for multiple generations of learners and have to be prepared for all of them:

Baby Boomers (the family generation)
Gen X (the ME generation)
Net Gen (the WE generation, or as I have heard it coined, the "XBox generation")

Along with this we have to realize that there is an ongoing digital divide - broadband vs. dialup and that there are still dialup ghettos that will impact how and what technology can be delivered to learners.

Dr. Milliron talked about what is in store:
  • Attract, Service, Retain and engage learners
  • Visioning
  • Planning
  • Fund raising
    • Capital
    • Operational funds
    • Maintenance funds
  • Sustainable Learning Environments
We are going to see the following things influence how we will provide learning opportunities to our learners:
  • Blurring and Blending
  • Mobility Galore
  • Gaming
  • Social Networking
  • High Impact Presentations/Engagement
  • Analytics, Diagnostics, Evidence-based education
  • The Human Touch
For blurring an blending we will see models of 20% of learners online, 20% face to face and the remainder taking a blended approach to their education. I know that this is something that I ned to take very seriously as an educator when looking at maintaining and developing curriculum and programmes.

Mobility galore - m-learning will be big - learners need access - the oasis effect - free wireless will keep learners engaged and on campus

Gaming - a whole different way to learn. Look at and for examples.

Social Networking is engaging and connecting - collaboration is key. Second Life - a bridge between gaming and education. Of the social networking sites Dr. Milliron compared MySpace as Bart and Facebook as Lisa (or Potsie and Ritchie depending on your generational analogies...). The OER Commons is social networking for faculty.

Take your work seriously and yourself lightly when dealing with net geners (makes sense and it works in my experience). Sixteen to twenty-year olds want IM or chat - not email or readings "EMails are whta old folks send me" - so true - just try getting learners to read their e-mails - Facebook a much faster way to communicate with them.

We need to build buildings with high impact presentation technologies and tools in them - retrofitting no longer working.

The use of analytics to determine the best use of resources is a critical process that we need to start using, just as the gaming industry has been doing for years.

On the Human Touch we need to have the courage to be open to opportunities, the courage to catalyze the conversation, and the courage to learn.

We need to engage all learners in this process, including the CAVE people - Colleagues Against Virtually Everything (and you know who you are..).

A great keynote to kick off CIT 2007 - what we need to do as we look forward and the good news for me is that I get it it. Can't wait to see what the rest of CIT 2007 brings...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

CIT 2007 - Technical Issues

Hi everyone - CIT 2007 has been an absolutely amazing experience, and if you are a community college educator, you MUST get here. CIT 2008 will be in Salt Lake City.

Unfortunately there have been some technical issues here with the networks at the hotel and convention centre, so uploading to this blog has been erratic at best. I'm heading home tomorrow and will finish posting my experiences, thoughts, and things that made me go hmmm... (and there were lots) when I get home.

So stayed tuned - lots more to come...

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

CIT 2007 - Open Educational Resources For Teaching and Learning

This half-day workshop was delivered by Thad Nodine and Cynthia Jimes from the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education (ISKME), based in California. ISKME is an independent, nonprofit research institute that helps schools, colleges, universities, and the organizations that support them expand their capacity to collect and share information, apply it to well-defined problems, and create human-centered, knowledge-driven environments focused on learning and success (from the ISKME Web site).

This workshop focussed onlooking at open source and open sharing of free resources, the sharing of educational content (a big issue with faculty - what do I share?), Open Educational Resources (OER), the creative commons licensing process, and the paradigm shift facing educators today.

OER is free educational resources. One of the best sites is the OER Commons, a comprehensive collection of resources for K-12 and higher education. There are several institutions that are offering some or all of their educational resources for free. Some of these institutions include:
There are several other resources available to educators as well:
These sites provide an almost unlimited source of content and resources for educators. The big issue of course, for much of the material found on line, is what can you do with it? Can you localize it for your use, modify it for your courses? The answer is yes you can, but with some conditions. In most cases these conditions are controlled through the use of a Creative Commons license.

If you are producing any materials for use and are then sharing them online, a creative commons license makes a lot of sense. The Creative Commons is a non-profit organization that provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry (from the CC web site). I have put a Creative Commons license on this blog for example that states that anyone can use anything from here as long as it is not for commercial purposes and that you let people know where it came from. If you are an educator, or anyone sharing online, check out the Creative Commons license options - I am sure that one will meet your needs.

There is a paradigm shift happening with the increased use of the Web for online earning and the availability of online resources. As educators we need to be aware of this shift. The key elements of this paradigm shift are:
  • Sharing - much of what we do we now share
  • Commenting - anyone can now tag or comment on what is posted online
  • Authoring - anyone can author and authoring tools are powerful and easy to use
  • Collaborating - we live in an increasingly collaborative space
  • Training and mentoring - more and more we are developing mentoring relationships with peers, colleagues and learners from around the world.
So what is the process of producing and consuming fre content? Here is a quick diagram that might help explain:

Like most things we do educators, this is a cyclical process. Once we do get into this process though, the sheer volume of content available to us will be staggering. The keys are context and the ability to localize content to fit your needs and requirements, and then returning that localized content back "into the wild' to increase the knowledge base.

The key things that I learned at this workshop are that sharing of educational resources is the way to go, and there are some amazing tools and resources out there for use. In my opinion, the future is a combination of social networking and open educational resources. That combination will truly allow us all to become learning centred and collaborative. Bring it on...

CIT 2007 - Keeping Up With the Jetsons - Teaching and Learning With Web 2.0

This half-day workshop was presented by Shelley Rodrigo of Mesa Community College, part of the Maricopa Community Colleges system. Shelley has a background as an English instructor and us currently an instructional technologist and is involved with faculty development.

The workshop was focussed on Web 2.0 tools that will help both faculty and learners communicate better in today's Web 2.0 world.

The tools and technologies looked at were:

Here was also some discussion around Google apps, a technology very prominent at CIT 2007

The coolest part of this workshop was its collaborative and sharing nature. All of the materials, sites, tips, hints, and suggestions that we re talked about are posted onto the Jetsons wiki, developed for this workshop. Check out this wiki - it is full of great resources.

A really nice way for me to kick off CIT 2007. Shelley did a great job with this workshop, getting all of us engaged in the process. The participants left with great resources, in particular the wiki. The potential of Web 2.0 tools in community college education was clearly demonstrated. Even tough I have been fully immersed in Web 2.0 for a long time, I learned several things from the workshop (can teach new tricks after all...). Now I can't wait to take theme home, show others and use them myself...

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Walkabout in Nashville...

A gorgeous Saturday here in Nashville and those of us who were here really enjoyed it, taking the opportunity to explore this vibrant city. I will eventually be uploading a lot of my pictures (I took 159 yesterday - have to love digital cameras!) to my Flickr site (look for the CIT 2007 Nashville TN set).

Nashville is a vibrant city with lots to see and do, particularly if you like music and food - from the Ryman Auditorium and the Grand Ole Opry to Jack's BBQ on Broadway, it's a great place to be. We walked all over the city, from the Cumberland River all the way to the Parthenon - a full-size replica of the Athens wonder. Along the way we saw the great Nashville architecture, Vanderbilt University and the homes of the Tennessee Titans and Nashville Predators.

Conference started Saturday evening with a familiarization session for those of us who are first timers at CIT - a great way to get things started. can't wait for Sunday...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Welcome To Nashville and CIT 2007

Well here I am in Nashville after a day of airports and airplanes - an uneventful travel day - just a long one - 10 hours of travel time, but only about 3.5 hours of actual flying time. Gotta just love modern air travel.

Tomorrow the rest of the NSCC contingent arrives throughout the day and those of us who are already here in Nashville are planning on taking a bus tour of the city.

CIT 2007 starts tomorrow evening with a reception for all first time attendees (that would be me) - meet and greet, registration and tips and hints on how to get the most out of CIT 2007...

Friday, November 09, 2007

CIT 2007 Nashville

CIT 2007 Logo.gifI'm leaving later today for Nashville where I will be attending the League for Innovation in the Community College's Conference on Information Technology (CIT 2007) in Nashville Tennessee (11-14 November). There are a total of fourteen of us from NSCC attending the conference, so look out nashville, here we come!

CIT 2007's mission is to offer a diverse program and cutting-edge exposition exploring the intelligent application of information technology in community and technical colleges (from the CIT 2007 Web site). I'm heading to CIT 2007 to see what's new and hot in community college education, innovative use of technology in learning, and perhaps most importantly to meet amazing people and listen to what they have to say. Oh yeah, and to go to the Grand Ole' Opry too!

It's going to be an amazing, jam-packed few days ate CIT 2007 (here is the conference program - it's also downloadable as a 164 page PDF file). I'm going to be blogging my experience at the conference, so if you what to se what's up and what I'm learning - stay tuned...

The Future Of Media...

ITANS Logo.gifWednesday night I attended the ITANS (Information Technology Industry Alliance Of Nova Scotia) annual dinner. The guest speaker was Ken Rutkowski, media personality, strategist and consultant. The theme of his talk was on the future of media. A couple of cool things came out - one - it's gonna be a busy future, and two - I'm mostly there now!

Ken started his talk by describing old media (TV, newspapers etc.) and new media (Web, RSS, blogs, YouTube etc.) and their products - old media's product is content, while new media's product is the audience - the customer is the advertiser (makes sense - hits is one of the measures of success for an online presence). This distinction may be a little simplistic, but it allows for an identification f new media.

Mobile devices, in particular cell phones (smart devices) is where it is at for the future of media. By 2010 there will 2 billion Nokia cell phones alone in circulation - cell phone penetration is growing and in some nations is well over 90%. I've talked about this in past posts and it's interesting to here an industry expert say the same thing. In my mind it's mobile devices that are the future of education, allowing learners to learn where, when, what, and how they want to.

Ken went on to talk about RSS and push technology, how RSS is pushing information - the customer is the product. I'm a big fan of RSS - push technology is the only way these days to make sense of the sea of information that we are swimming in. Content is everywhere - podcasts, YouTube etc.

Ken then did something very cool- the rest of his presentation consisted of him using Skype to contact "some of his friends", industry experts and personalities who shared their thoughts with us on the future of media. His friends included:

  • Ralph Simon - creator of the ring tone
  • Johnathan Wendel - professional gamer (Fatality)
  • James Sun - CEO of Zoodango - a social networking site that facilitates both online and F2F social networking
  • Scott Page - former member of Pink Floyd and Supertramp, now involved in Web-based technology allowing bands to communicate with their fans

The common thread from each of these incredible people is that it's content and mobility, along with penetration that is going to be the future of social media. Businesses and individuals need to get out there and be active parts of this always on environment - be part of community.

Thanks to ITANS and the organizers for a great evening and a wonderful dinner. I know that the students that we brought along had an amazing time - they saw a glimpse into the future - where they will be working and living, and that is too cool...

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I Am Blogger - Hear Me Roar!...

Lion.jpgThis whole blogging thing may just be here to stay :-). I've been blogging seriously now for a couple of years and I have friends like Randommind who have been blogging for considerably longer, saying amazing things and sharing their insights and wisdom with the world.

But what is even more amazing are those bloggers who don't always have important or profound things to say - the ones that are simply sharing their lives and momentary thoughts (like this post) with the world. Blogging has become a conversational method and opportunity - I can actually carry on a conversation with people from all over the world through my blog or their blog. Blogs have become, for me, an essential source of information and research - they are probably my primary source of a lot of the information, and inspiration that I get every day - blogs are immediate, relevant and in some instances even intimate as i share thoughts and opinions back and forth with fellow bloggers. Blogs are also a great way to get noticed out there in cyberspace as blogs have built-in search engine optimization (SEO) - you appear in the first couple of pages of results from a search engine. If you want to be visible online - blog!

I get a lot of my daily information from blogs - i literally have hundreds of feeds that I receive daily through Netvibes that I look at - several I read religiously, many I just scan the title for interest, but the point is I am getting my information from a sea of individuals and what they are sharing with the world. Th sheer power of the blog and it's ability to communicate information, opinion, passion, and knowledge is very powerful.

Even institutions and organizations are blogging - at my college, a new blog has just been started to discusses educational technologies - what a cool way for people to get out of their silos and share what they know with others. Together we all get better at what we do. I attended the Atlantic Internet Marketing conference last spring and one of the tips given there was for all companies to have a blog - be part of the process, talk to your customers and clients - build that personal relationship with them through blogs and just as importantly, get to the top of the search engine heap with SEO.

Many of my friends are blogging and you can see some of their links on my blogroll and my Feevy feed off to the right side of my blog - it's this ability to network and feed off of each other,to engage in conversations that makes blogging such a cool experience for me - it's not that I actually have anything profound or important to say, it's that I have SOMETHING to say and so do the millions of others out there who blog, and occasionally someone listens and comments back the conversation... It's very cool to hear what they have to say. We are bloggers - hear US ROAR!!...

(Photo - Lion by tgraham)

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Where Were You When The Light Went Out?

BBQ Cover.jpgNoel, or more correctly post-tropical storm Noel blew through here last night. Lots of wind and rain and the obligatory power outage. It seems these days it's a given that if it gets windy several things happen - generator, battery, and water sales goes up, and confidence in the power company goes way down. Having said that I'd like to thanks the power crews that venture out in the wind and rain to repair the outages - they have my admiration and thanks. I watch the Powerline Technicians climbing poles at the college during good weather - I can only imagine what it's like in a near hurricane.

Unlike during Hurricane Juan which roared through here in 2003, there was not a lot of damage in my neighbourhood (although there was damage in other parts of the city). I think the reason for the lack of damage was that most of the old trees were lost during Juan. What did come off the trees were all of the coloured leaves - what is left on the trees are the green leaves - it looks strangely Spring-like around here.

Oh and BTW, f you are missing a BBQ lid, it's on my front step...

The Death Of The Chemistry Set...

Chemistry Set.jpgAn interesting post at The 12 Angry Men Blog - "Endangered Species - The Chemistry Set". That prized toy of my youth, those vials and bottles, and tubes of elemental mystery is about as safe as the dodo on the road to extinction. Yet one more casualty of the war on terrorism. Or is it?

I remember my chemistry set with some fondness and I am sure that like most pre-teen boys who had one, the most fun was making smoke and things that went BANG!!, which is of course the last thing that people want happening today. I know that as a society we want to be safe, and ensure a certain amount of security for all, so getting the chemicals that do go BANG!! should be a little more difficult than going to Toys R'Us. But is the impending death of the chemistry set just a result of the socio-political climate we live in or something else as well? Could it be that the chemistry set is slipping into history because it doesn't come with batteries and a joystick and in fact, is the chemistry set another casualty of the Internet Age?

Book reading is down, TV-watching is down and time on the Internet is up. Between games, IM, social networking, and surfing, where does today's child have time to play with a chemistry set, unless of course it's 3-D Flash movies of chemical reactions, molecules, and compounds on a fully-interactive, dynamic web site. When I studied the Table of Elements it was a wall poster or a page in a textbook - now it's a full-colour animated, hyper-link work of Internet art. So while the main cause of the demise of the chemistry set may be the times we live in, a co-conspiratorin the death of the chemsirty set has to be the life kids lead today - indoors, exploring the world through electronics and technology - how can a chemistry set compete with that? Now go out and play! Hmmm...

(Picture - "DSCF0040 by Improbcat)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

When Does a Blog Become a Web Site?...

When does a blog become a Web site? I've been asking myself that question the last little while as I take a look at my blog and at the blogs of friends and those that I read on a regular basis. When I started writing my blog it was just that - a place to write down some thoughts - sort of a blank journal. It had a couple of extras - my profile, a picture of me and the Blog archive - neat, clean, no fuss, no muss.

Now look at my blog - at last count there were 19 different things, widgets, components, add-ons, whatever you want to call them - from links to blogs I read, my wiki, my Flickr site, my Facebook profile, blog aggregator sites like Technorati, Feedburner, Netvibes, PageFlakes, and EduSpaces. I can chat through Meebo and stay in touch with Twitter. I can tell how many people are reading my blog through ClustrMaps (come on people where are you?), and I even have pictures of my favourite bloggers on my blog through Feevy.

When did my blog get so crowded anyway? It all just sort of snuck up on me. The other thing is now whenever I set up a profile in Facebook, Orkut, LinkedIn or any other social media site, I always put my blog as my web site. I own a domain but haven't done anything with it (I really should) because I'm not a really big fan of "vanity" Web sites. But if you take a look at my blog - vanity thy name is...Me! Hmmm...