When a lecture is more than a lecture

This is terrific, in a heartbreaking way. It’s a Chronicle of Higher Education article about the final lecture of a Carnegie Mellon professor who is a leader in educational gaming. If you scroll down, you will find there is a video of a portion of the lecture. Press the “play” button on the video screen to view (you may have to press it a second time). The full lecture may be viewed at Carnegie Mellon’s ETC website: http://www.etc.cmu.edu/global_news/?q=node/42. It’s a model of engaging lecture technique and a glimpse into the making of an extraordinary mind. It is also a good example of video that is well worth collecting and sharing within a campus and with the larger community.


Oral history and THE WAR

It’s no secret that my background in educational television predisposes me to interest in … educational television. Soon, and very soon, Ken Burns’ anticipated new feature The War comes to PBS (premiering Sept. 23). The program features no academic talking heads; this program is all from the point of view of the people who were on the war front and home front in World War II. KET is also featuring programs that share Kentucky veterans’ stories. The project surrounding the program is partnered with the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. Many local stations, libraries, schools and universities across the nation are participating in oral history collection as a part of a wider project surrounding the program and its partnership with LOC. The entire effort is an example of how valuable oral history is as an element in understanding and articulating our past, and how technology like television, videostreaming, podcasting and others can help share those oral histories beyond their primary communities.


Here’s something completely irrelevant … or maybe not. Today marks the purported 25th anniversary of the digital smiley. A Carnegie Mellon professor says he first added the smiley face to computer message 25 years ago. It seems like a little thing, doesn’t it? But consider how cold email can seem when you get a message out of the blue. What did the sender mean? Was he/she angry? Bewildered? Annoyed? Or is this message completely innocuous? We’ve come to depend in some cases upon “emoticons” to help the receiver interpret our “tone of voice.” And now we have so many more to choose from. People even create their own stylized emoticons. Celebrating the digital smiley reminds me that my digital exchanges lack that human touch that many people need. Colleagues, students, Mom … adding an emoticon can add anything from a friendly reassurance to a bit of silliness (which I think we all need a bit of from time to time). What’s your emoticon of choice?

Bb as student retention tool?

The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus (ed tech news) has published a news short commenting on course management systems’ capability of tracking student activity. The article, titled The Course Web Site as Crystal Ball also links to a podcast discussing the topic. At the University of Kentucky, TASC has worked with Blackboard to develop a Student Success tab that provides links to a variety of UK support services. On the instructional side, information to identify potential “at risk” students is being aggregated based on “triggers” chosen by the instructor; for example, an instructor can choose to harvest data to identify students who have not logged in and/or those who have scored below a specific level on an assignment or a test. A batch email may then be sent by the instructor to all of the students meeting those criteria to alert them or provide an opportunity to take corrective action. TASC hopes that these and future innovations will make Bb a valuable tool in support of UK’s focus on student retention.

Beyond YouTube

Online video piqued my interest long before YouTube ever appeared. When I first started working in public media, as an educational technology project manager, my first task was to teach K-12 teachers how use the Internet and find useful classroom resources. That was in 1997, and having just arrived from the classroom myself, I knew that Internet use among teachers was not a priority. Our tech-hound assistant superintendent at Grant County High School couldn’t even get us to use email. But while researching for my first workshop presentation, I found a neat little video that I knew would make the participants either say “Ewwww!” or “Coooool!” It was podcasting before podcasting: a downloadable video from University of Virginia showing the stages of frog dissection. It was a great attention-getter. And it’s still there (with an update): http://frog.edschool.virginia.edu//home.html. I am proud to say that some of my early workshops resulted in local students using that resource, and they are now featured on that webpage!

Here is a small sampling of well-developed favorite sites I’ve found over the years and used in workshops. There are many, many more. What favorites would you add?

The SL Wiki

University of Kentucky has a Second Life wiki. Check it out at http://uksl.pbwiki.com/

Notes on Second Life

Now and then I still post to my former employer’s blog in the area of educational technology. After being introduced to Second Life, I made an entry titled “Second Life? Who has time for the first?” At the time I really didn’t know anything about SL, and found it, for the most part, a black hole for time. I still find it a black hole for my time, but if I watch the clock I can explore with some restraint and look for educational connections.

If you’d like to explore Second Life, don’t be intimidated. Just go to http://www.secondlife.com/ and sign up for a free account. You can go through an orientation that will help you learn how to move and use the tools in SL. If you are an SL loser like me, it will take you some time. Actually, with practice I’ve become less of an SLL, but I still have a lot to learn. Those in the UK community can email me if they have difficulty and I’ll try to help.

Here are some links to help you learn more about SL (also check out the SLEDucating link in my blogroll to the right). There are many more links. Feel free to leave a comment with articles or websites that help build understanding of SL.
Second Life http://www.secondlife.com/
Ohio University Second Life Campus http://vital.cs.ohiou.edu/index.php/Ohio_University_sims
The Infinite Mind on Second Life http://www.current.org/tech/tech0614secondlife.shtml
Meet the New You (School Library Journal – high school) http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/article/CA6403251.html
Campus Life Comes to Second Life http://www.wired.com/gaming/gamingreviews/news/2004/09/65052
Educators Explore Second Life Online http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/11/13/second.life.university/