Archive for the ‘Instructional Technology’ Category

EVENT: Adobe MAX

October 6th, 2009

I didn’t catch all of the keynote today, but there was one big announcement that I wanted to repost here.

Flash01Flash CS5 will include the ability to develop iPhone Applications using Action Script 3.

This is one of those announcements that is both positive and yet a little disappointing. Let’s start with the good stuff — Flash can be a great tool for developing interactive applications delivered online. We’ve all seen examples of Flash at work, with things ranging from online games to animations to video sites like Youtube. People with a creative mind can take Flash really far! Now Flash developers can create iPhone Applications that can be delivered via the Apple iTunes Store (or iPhone developers can use Flash to develop… either way). Sounds great!

Apple and Adobe have not been playing well together when it comes to Flash on iPhones. I’m not pointing any fingers, but I know that I want to pull my hair out every time I have trouble accessing a site on an iPhone because it uses Flash. The hair-pulling will continue, unfortunately, because they have not agreed to permit in-browser Flash support for the iPhone.

Regardless, it is a good first step — now I hope they can take it all the way home!

Some Links:

Now to find out about Connect Pro on the iPhone…. saw a tweet about this (#adobemax #adobemaxgs on Twitter) and didn’t catch it in the keynote. This would be a really great addition!

I hope I have some time to tune in to the sessions tomorrow… it’s always good to keep up on this stuff!

Event: Flattening the Classroom: Building Collaborative Learning Environments

October 5th, 2009

Event website

This two-day virtual event focuses on effective collaboration. I’ve missed some of it, due to some technical difficulties, but what I did catch was pretty interesting!

Diane Chapman – What is Collaboration?

Collaboration – a dirty little secret?
I’m not sure I agree with this statement… at our school, the lack of a potential for collaboration in some of the campus-wide tools is the dirty little secret that isn’t such a secret anymore. A key point made that I do agree with, however, is that collaboration has to be PLANNED in advance. Sure – it can be fun to be spontaneous, but it can get messy very quickly without a plan.

“Plan for inevitable bumps in the road” – This applies to any technology, and is often forgotten when using it.

“Group think is NOT Collaboration” – I love this quote!! “Group think” is when a group gives in to a dominant idea, instead of everyone participating equally. Something that we have to teach groups to remember, and something group members have to practise. Going along with the ideas of the group is not the same as adding your ideas to the mix. Yes, it’s easier to go along with everyone and seems to get the job done faster — but it defeats the purpose of the whole exercise!

The role of creativity in collaboration: unique viewpoints, not equal to chaos, important to collaboration.

Noshir Sarosh Contractor – Understanding and Enabling Online Collaboration Networks

Social collaboration is not as much about who you know, or what you know, but others’ perception of who and what you know. These notions make up different kinds of networks, and the different ways in which they work. It doesn’t just involve a collection of people, but people, networks, data, and the relationships between all of these areas – a “community”.

The best collaborative ideas come out when the community is not made up of people from the same circle – but we still often end up creating social networks with people that are from our area of the world.

Michelle Pacansky-Brock – VoiceThread: Collaborative, Community-Oriented Learning Spaces

What is a voice thread?

Online media “album” featuring presentations, imags, documents and videos. Thse open up into collaborative conversations where users may comment in text, voice, or video. She has used this from w/in Blackboard courses. Users are of varying skill and comfort level – she is there to demonstrate “mastery” (goes along with first speaker, who says that modelling is very important).

Students commented that they liked to hear their peers’ voices and see pictures and images – gave a better sense of the community.

Beryl Levinger – Technologies That Enhance Collaborative, Interdisciplinary Learning

DPMI – an INTENSIVE program, that leaves students with many skills that will aid them in professional life.

Feedback is an important skill…

Use mostly synchronous collaborative technologies for co-creation.

Tool-rich – mastery of a set of tools within a framework, some applied collaboratively and online, but some individually and on paper.

  • Results Framework
  • Logical Framework

Community-oriented – creating social bonds that enable them to work together effectively, and enjoy their time together, seeds are sown for collaboration

Avowedly collaborative – harness collective intelligence, use of wikis

Cheat, steal and be lazy! – DPMI Motto, and my second favourite quote of the day!! – build on the thinking of others! (Ha! I just posted about this topic!) Shared ownership and empowerment to collectively take action.

The ability to collaborate is as important as the outcome of the collaboration.

Collaboration as a learned skill…

Uses Zoho Wiki, Zoho Notebook (a shell that links all of the students’ personal notebooks… where they post various media, notes, etc.), Poll Daddy, Zoho Polls (peer-to-peer feedback), students must present poll results in their final presentation and explain how they used poll results to affect the final product.

Wiki inconveniences (that Google Docs addresses) – wikis don’t handle spreadsheets and diagramming very well, are generally asynchronus (only one student can update at a time). Use Google Docs for this, but link to the docs from within the wiki so that all content is accessible from the wiki.

Twitter – has gotten some students to participate that would normally not (sometimes because they are not as fluent in English, and is an easier method of communication). Yet, feels like a distraction. Still experimenting with it.

CMAP Tools – Synchronous/Asynchronous for mapping relationships

Students appreciate the collaborative aspect of the program MORE after the program than during it. Down the road, they realize that the skills that they have learned in the program are valuable for the real world, and they are skills that not everyone learns.

Telling Stories in Land and Food Systems: Future Advocates & Citizen Journalists

Podcasting – repurposing lectures, but not dynamic use of the technology

Day 2

Janet Salmons – How Did WE Work? Assessing Collaborative Assignments

Students are wary of group work, because they don’t trust their groupmates (to complete their tasks, to take the project as seriously, to provide a certain level of work) or the instructor (to fairly assess group work, to protect the group members from ‘bad’ group members).

  • Assessment of collaborative work requires planning, checkpoints
  • Assessment not only of outcomes, but of the process itself.
  • Assessment of the group and the individuals (not necessarily the same thing! peoples’ contribution differs!)

Balance instructor-driven and learner-driven styles.

Lecture Online?

October 5th, 2009

With all this talk of the dreaded ‘p’ word (that’s PANDEMIC, for those of you not in the University environment), a spotlight has been placed on ensuring courses can continue offsite. We already have the ability to deliver course materials online, quizzing online, assignments online… but what about the lectures themselves?

We’ve probably all seen some examples of lecture content online, and many of us have differing opinions about what is best. There is a big difference between a 1-hour recorded lecture viewed online,  and a free-flowing lecture and discussion where the students are all present and interacting with the instructor and the environment. (Hopefully that’s what happens in a face-to-face lecture, and I’m not ruling that out for online components.)

So what should we be recommending to faculty who want to have an online lecture presence? What is my idea of a perfect online lecture?

If we’re talking about an audio/video lecture, to be viewed asynchronously by students (with no real student participation),  the online lecture components are planned, to the point and as engaging as the technology and the topic allow. When I say ‘to the point’, I think they shouldn’t be “too long” (5-10 minutes is perfect!). That doesn’t mean the whole lecture has to be summed up in 5-10 minutes — but the important concepts should be broken apart into their own separate entries. These may be delivered via a streaming technology (where users must view them online, in a web browser) or something like a podcast (where users download the content, and view offline on their computer or on a mobile device)

On the other hand, an “online class” delivered via a collaboration tool such as Adobe Connect may go for much longer, as there are lecture portions as well as student questions and feedback. This is a less structured model, with its own benefits and drawbacks… and it requires more time. Participant audio and video adds another layer of complexity to this model, but when it works well can result in some really great community building and concept development.

Start to think about some of these possibilities as we plan for offsite learning. The method you choose will depend on the topic, the style of the lecture, the technologies available, and often how tech-savvy the students are.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your ideas and past experiences – we would love to hear them!

Idea Thievery!

September 23rd, 2009

Is it possible to steal ideas? Is it bad to steal ideas?

Whose ideas are they anyway?

OK, so I’m not looking to make big bucks by stealing ideas that other people initiated. What I’m really talking about here is the propagation of ideas in this big blogiverse that exists in the even bigger webiverse. As a blogger, I sometimes feel bad when something I post started as someone else’s idea. Maybe someone posted a great video (that I re-post), or someone posts on a particular topic that I reflect on and add to.

How is this supposed to work?

When it comes to instructional technology, I think it’s best when something sparks other discussions. It starts with one idea – and if it’s a good idea, or at least one worth talking about, we’ll start talking about it. Different viewpoints emerge, some posts refer to other posts that refer to other posts, ideas evolve, experienced people offer anecdotes… and then things happen! Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

So when you see me post about something I saw on someone else’s blog, it isn’t because I haven’t got ideas of my own… it’s because I want to remember what I read, and my thoughts on it, and I want to ‘pass it on’, so to speak.

Feel free to pass on any ideas you’ve found on my blog! Honestly, I’d be flattered to know that someone was reading, nevermind that someone was inspired to repost something I’ve blogged about!

Until next time…

Living & Learning with the iPod Touch

August 24th, 2009

Yes, this is my iPod.Welcome to a new system for my Adventures in Technology!!! That probably means that you’ve never seen this blog before, or you managed to find the trail of breadcrumbs left at ye olde site. A giddy ‘Welcome’ to everyone, as we settle into our new home. I still need to paint, rearrange the furniture and maybe buy a new entertainment unit (I broke the old one in the move), but I’m still happy to be here!

With all of the excitement of moving, I’m feeling a little tired and lazy. Instead of coming up with something entirely new, I thought I’d share some info that I found on another blog (one I’ve mentioned before, Kinda Learning Stuff). I recently got an iPod Touch, and am really trying to fit it into my life, for more than just listening to music. Of course, I want to see how it can be used for education as well!!! I came across this article a while back, and keep returning to it to find another task that I can add (I’ve been adding them little by little… don’t want to overwhelm it with apps and features I will never use!!). The format of the blog post on KLS was to introduce the article they read, then add their own thoughts. Sounds good to me… I’m going to do the same!! Maybe someday we can compile a definitive list!!

Articles of Interest:

Some Highlights:

  • Screen-grab – this is my next thing to play with, but sounds like a great tool to have!!
  • Note-taking – I use this feature ALL THE TIME (mostly for groceries). Granted, it’s not the most flexible tool, and I wish I could load pre-made text files from my computer, but it’s handy dandy. Oh, and you can email your notes elsewhere.
  • Synching Calendar & Contacts – this one saved me… I thought I could only access my Gmail, using the available mail option. Little did I know that I could also synch my Google Calendars and stuff using the Microsoft Exchange part.

Some Additions of My Own:

  • Delicious Bookmarksan app that pulls in your del.icio.us bookmarks and tags. I recently switched ALL of my bookmarking over to del.icio.us and now do not use the internal bookmarking in the browser. Since all of my bookmarks are stored centrally, I can pull them into any browser I like, and yes – even my iPod!
  • WordPressanother great free app, will let you update your WordPress blog using your iPhone/iPod Touch! Yes, you might be able to do this using the browser interface, but the app makes it that much simpler. Pretty handy, if you ask me!
  • WPtouch blog plugin for WordPress – OK, this is not specifically an iPhone app… but it is related to accessing WordPress blogs on an iPhone. I’ve also started testing the WPtouch, which automatically generates an m-version of your blog! While it does strip out the “look & feel” of the site, and is a little wonky when you have large videos embedded in your blog, it’s pretty cool! It works for iPhone/iPod Touch, as well as Android! (sorry, Blackberry)
  • Google Apps (via the browser) – still not 100%, but really improving. I can access (but not edit?) my Google Docs, Picasa Photos, Google Reader, etc. Still painful to use with Google Maps, though.

I’m still exploring, and will hopefully have some learning-specific posts after a little more practise with my new toy.

A Few More Articles:

We love Free! Or do we? We do! But do we?

June 11th, 2009

What is the cost of free? That topic came up in a great blog post I read on the Kinda Learning Stuff blog.

I’m sure we’ve all participated in the discussion around online tools (like blogs, wikis, podcasts – even email) and whether universities really need to have their own, in-house systems to offer them. It seems like the culture is moving away from our offering the needed services, and towards being open to supporting the tools available online.

In my daily job, these things come up all the time. Sometimes there aren’t the resources (human or otherwise) required to implement certain systems – and definitely not for ALL of the systems that people may want to use. I’ve always been of the opinion that if we can offer the services in house, we should. It offers the users a safer feeling environment, a possibility for better user support, possible integration with our existing systems, etc. There’s also the wee issue of the US Patriot act, which makes it difficult for us to recommend or support the use of any hosted online service that uses servers that aren’t in Canada.

Until I read this article, I hadn’t really considered another possibility: free online systems can magically disappear, taking all of your hard work with it! As the ‘Kinda Learning Stuff’ blogger learned the hard way, sometimes companies don’t feel that non-paying customers deserve notice of the end of their accounts (or the entire system!). Very risky!

Do I think that Google will remove all of its lovely services (Docs, Email, Reader, etc.) without any kind of notice? Not likely… it wants to succeed in taking over the universe!! But some of the smaller services could be at risk of going under, and we’d never be the wiser until it was too late.

Thought I’d share that new (to me) insight with you.

Cheers!

Tricky-Wiki

June 2nd, 2009

Why is it so hard to find an appropriate wiki?

 Good question… I’m not sure I can answer that on my own. I’ll admit that I have a set of features that I’m not willing to do without. There’s also a general lack of consistency across wiki tools, which make it hard to compare.

I have actually become a HUGE wiki user in the last year or so, tracking all sorts of projects and investigations on a wiki. Some are on my private wiki, that only I (and a few sys admins!) can see. Some have been posted to one of my group wikis, so my colleagues can possibly benefit from the things I’ve discovered. (FYI: I’m currently using a wiki tool called Confluence, which is a fairly "techie" wiki tool, and may or may not be exactly what we need for our wider University community). 

 What is a wiki?

At its core, a wiki is a collaborative document. Users can all edit the document, and work on it together. Their changes are tracked, so that the different versions of the document can be compared. At the end, there can be a cohesive product document that everyone worked on, without having to be in the same room together!

What can a wiki be?

Another good question. I think we’re still working on this one. It can be a collection of documents that track the progress of a project — or, the documents could BE the project. Wikis are great for evolving projects, where the information needs to be updated at different times, by different people involved. Wikis are great for growing concepts from different viewpoints. In education, wikis are often used for groupwork, for the development of the class materials by various instructors & assistants, for research projects, etc.

What features are important in a wiki?

Here are some of the things that I’m looking for:

 

  • Page hierarchy, so people can build a navigable collection of wiki documents. Since wiki pages aren’t physical, there doesn’t need to be a strict folder structure — just a nice user interface that allows the user to contextualize what they’re doing.
  • Easy to understand navigation of the content you’ve built!! I like tree structures and breadcrumbs (the list of links at the top of the page that link back to the outer layers of sections — you know, like an onion, and therefore Shrek), but they aren’t the only way to go.
  • The ability to easily embed various media types: quicktime movies, windows media, flash, audio files, youtube clips, etc.
  • An easy to use rich-text editor for editing text and embedding things (links, attachments, media, images, etc.) AS WELL as the ability to edit the code (not sure if I require wiki markup, or if I’m OK with HTML — the concept of HTML code for a wiki baffles me a little, but I think I can be cool with it).
  • The ability for a wiki administrator (not just the system administrator) to manage who has access to the wiki, and to what extent. Is it totally closed to the public? Is it viewable by the public, but only editable by a select group of users? That choice is important!
  • The ability for us to host our own server, mostly due to confidentiality issues, but also so that we can have things like authentication using our current my.ryerson accounts and the possibility of creating enrollment-based groups.
  • Auto-saving of documents while a user is working on them. I don’t know how many times I’ve been working on something, just to be kicked out of a system when I click the Submit button and having to re-do EVERYTHING because there was no auto-save.
  • An easy way for users to link to: other pages in the wiki, webpages, users’ email addresses, etc.
  • Change tracking and version comparison.

The key thing, for ALL of these features is that they need to be EASY to use, and ‘not too techie’. 

So, tell me… are these the same things you look for in a wiki? I’m not even sure anyone reads my posts, since I’ve never gotten a reply to my questions sent through the ether. Just like with the blog investigation, input is always welcome – whether you agree with my wish list or not!!

Always wikilicious,

S

The New Wave?

June 1st, 2009

 Google Wave Screenshot - from wave.google.com
Google Wave Screenshot – from wave.google.com

The other day, Google previewed a new product that is *still in development* called "Google Wave". It will be available for use later this year, but if it’s anything like the preview, we are in for a revolution! Does this sound like an exaggeration? It’s not really… the demo totally blew my mind!!

WARNING: THIS IS A REALLY LONG POST. I’M ALMOST SORRY.

To give an overview, before getting into the details, Google Wave attempts to combine the following tools into one single application: email, group discussion, instant messaging, document collaboration, and more! As the developers admitted, it does some things that they themselves hadn’t envisioned (as no tool had offered these abilities before). No, I don’t mean that each of these separate tools are available within Wave — I mean that the concept of the Wave itself (product name, as well as what they call the document that is created) meshes all of these abilities into a single "thing".

A tool like this would offer users the ability to communicate ideas in a non-linear fashion (as opposed to the long string of email replies you see at the end of a discussion), in a way that can be reviewed live or after the fact. Participants can be added at any time, and have the ability to review not only the current state of the document/communication (from here on, simply referred to as ‘the Wave’), but can also use a Playback feature to review every state of the Wave, in order.

Whether it is a collaborative document, or an ongoing communication really doesn’t depend on the tool itself – simply how the participants are using it.

So what does this mean for education? Off the top, it would offer the features that students and teachers are already using (in some schools), in a single tool. The Wave created by a class group could be kept private – or it could be posted to something like a class blog or website, for the public to view. It doesn’t seem that the developers have really considered the possible impact on education, so new uses will likely emerge as those of us in education get our hands on it. For those of you concerned about the Patriot act and users’ confidential information — apparently, self-hosting will be a possibility. I’m not sure if it will be available right away, or how much work would be required to host it… but it gives us some hope!

In any case, my notes during the session, as well as the session video, are posted below.

Here is a good breakdown of Google Wave, in case my notes and blathering have left you more confused.

 


Demoed in Chrome and Safari. Dancing and neener neener…

HTML 5 application

What would email look like if it was invented today?

Gmail combines emails into threads

Wave thinks of the conversation as a shared object, building from a central server. More like a discussion board, than email. Hosted conversation. Can split a message apart, to post responses to specific parts of a message. Can do instant messaging conversing… transmitting live almost character by character (could be dangerous, since it doesn’t give the user a chance to change their mind about sending a post! — ah, they’ve added a checkbox to disable this, if you aren’t comfortable with it.)

 Can add new participants to a conversation at any time. With email, you’d have to make sure the whole conversation is in the reply structure. With this, they just see the whole thing intact. Playback allows you to see the progress of the discussion, from the original *intact* message, and all subsequent additions in the order they were added.

Private reply – Can reply to some recipients, while hiding it from others in the conversation. The tree structure allows you to restrict access to any "branch" of the tree.

Attachments – Drag & drop attachments (photos, etc.) onto the "wave". Image thumbnails appear to the participants even before the full-sized image is completely uploaded to the server. This part currently requires a downloaded plugin (gears?), as it’s not currently part of HTML 5 – but a proposal has been made to add it to HTML 5.

Can essentially create a group photo album, complete with a viewer.

APIs – allow you to embed waves on your webpage.

Example – Embed in Blogger blog – add blog user (bloggy?) to the wave,  and it will be embedded and usable from within the blog. Can respond to the wave from inside the blog itself.
Example – Embed in Orkut? Can embed, can use contacts other than your Wave contacts (she used her Orkut ones).

Waves on mobile devices – shown on an Android device, and an iPhone.

Editing & Document Collaboration – one central copy of the Wave… if you edit anything (i.e. captions on the photos), it will fix in all places it is being displayed/embedded. Not only can you edit your own messages, but you can edit each others’ messages – making Wave a great collaborative tool (instead of needing a wiki). Users who have *already seen the Wave* will see markup to identify the changes users have made, with a message about who made the changes. Playback can also be used to see the progress of the changes. The product of the Wave can be reused in another Wave or possibly exported.

Live, concurrent, editing – Multiple users can edit the same Wave at the same time. You can see the parts that they are changing, and a coloured icon showing where the person is editing. 

Wave Organizing – can use folders, tags, and can even link Waves inside other Waves. 

Are planning to add in features for spreadsheets and other types of document…

Extensions & Robots:

Spell-check – not only checks for spelling, but checks for the context of a word. Example: "been soup" – Waves suggests the word "bean" instead. Also, "icland is an icland" was *automatically* changed to "Iceland is an island.".

Youtube – the link-detection robot can also offer other options for a
Youtube link, including the ability to embed the video in the Wave.

Google search – can be done right inside Wave, and the resulting links or images can easily be added to the Wave. 

Forms – can be used to create forms collaboratively. There are two Wave stages here – the first wave is the Admin wave, used to create the form and collect the results. The second is the resulting form Wave itself, which is sent out to recipients who complete the form. (can be a poll, etc.)

Twitter – the "Tweety" extension allows you to create a ‘Twave", in which you log into Twitter and can update with a Tweet, view the list of updates from those you are following, and actually search Twitter based on keywords. Not only do you see these elements in Wave itself, the updates DO get sent to Twitter.

Rosie Robot — translates what is being typed in the Wave from
one language to another, based on the language settings of the user.
Example: An English user communicating with a French one — types in
English, translates to French on the other user’s screen. The French
user replies in French, which gets translated to English (word-by-word,
phrase-by-phrase) on the English user’s screen. Crazy cool! But how
good is the translation – we’ve all seen really bad translation tools!!!

Gadgets: 

Yes/No/Maybe

Games, like Sudoku and Chess 

 … and Playback works with Gadgets too!

Maps – can embed a map, find a location, change views, zoom in/out, make changes *collaboratively*!

Federation: users can build their own Wave system, give accounts, and the content should still work across Wave systems. (could this work for a Ryerson-based system?). They are planning to open source most of the code, so the alternate systems can look pretty much the same as the central Google Wave system. Even though users may technically be on separate Wave systems, the updates are still done real time.  (Even showed another Wave running inside terminal and looks really super geeky!)

Waves that are not shared with external users will only reside inside the "server closet", and will never be on the Google servers.

— In case you want to watch the whole preview:

Can’t See the embedded video? Click here.

The Twit-xperiment: OUCC

May 28th, 2009

Some OUCC tweets
A sample of the OUCC Tweets

I’ve already shamefully admitted that I’m late to the Twitter game, and like grade school, I’m the last to be picked for a team.

This week presented me with an opportunity to experiment with a task that other Twits have been doing for a while now – Tweeting an event.

I had already found some good examples — I recently went to a music festival, and searched Twitter after the fact for Tweets from the attendees. What I found was a collection of Tweets that journalled the entire event. People posted before the event, letting others know they’d be there, and trying to arrange a meet-up. People posted when they got there, about Montreal, about the places they stayed and the things they ate. Of course, people posted from the event – about the bands, the venue, the vendors and the “Industrial Burgers”.

After seeing this, I thought I might give it a go with OUCC. I managed to find someone on Twitter who was planning to go, and as it turns out we were really the only people Tweeting OUCC!! Hahaha… That said, you don’t need lots of people to successfully Tweet an event. There were people who couldn’t make the event watching the Tweets and sometimes even commenting back. We covered the essential points, and concisely as possible. I thought the end result was pretty interesting.

http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23oucc

OK, now to the specifics. I started by using an iPod Touch to Tweet on the first morning. It has a pretty decent Twitter application (TwitterFon), and it uses a WIFI connection. This worked well in the actual sessions (the Keynotes in AMC, the sessions in TRSM all use the Ryerson WIFI). This didn’t work out AT ALL at the dinners, or in the movie. It would have worked with an iPhone or Blackberry, however. I also found that the iPod touch was a little tricky to type on, so my tweets took a long time and had to be kept pretty short. That meant that I wasn’t putting the speaker’s name in a quote… just took too long, and I’d be missing the next thing they said. I also ran out of battery power half-way through the day.

After lunch on the first day, I switched to a laptop. I found it to be MUCH easier to use for entering text, and add to that the ability to copy & paste, and my tweets suddenly had more context. This also meant that I could quickly find websites that were mentioned in some of the sessions and include them in my tweets, for later reference. The downside of a laptop? They’re bigger to lug around (I didn’t have a NetBook, so…), they’re more distracting to other attendees, and they can get pretty hot on your lap.

I think a small “NetBook” style computer might be a good option for this kind of thing. I don’t know how great they are for battery life, but they’re smaller yet still full-featured.

One of the best experiences I had during this was a request from “the other OUCC Twit” to ask a question of a panel that I was attending. He chose to go to another session, but was still able to get info about the session I attended. Sure – you can do the same thing with instant messaging – but this way, the information is given to ANYONE who may be following us.

This is the essence of Twitter, I think. You don’t need to join a specific discussion forum or topic-based website to find a community discussing certain things. You just need to be smart about your searches. If you’re Tweeting an event, or something that may have a specific topic, add a pound sign to a string and try to get people to include it in their Tweets.

It’s not just about broadcasting your every move – although that’s how some people use it. It’s about finding connections with other users through topics, creating your own little community through the people and topics  you follow, and creating a context on a system that appears to have none. Pretty interesting.

Yikes – that was a long post. I definitely went over my 140 character limit.

OUCC 2009 – Day 2

May 26th, 2009

Day 2 of OUCC 2009 is now "over"…

Today was a short, but full, day that ended in lunch and the dispersion of all of the folks I’ve gotten used to seeing over the last two days. We’ve learned, laughed, broken bread together, and have taken "biological breaks" together (rather, at the same time…). I’ve met people that do some of the same things I do, but at different schools. I’ve made questionable jokes and shared thoughtful insights with people I only just met.

It was a successful conference for me, from every angle.

Day 2 was full of speakers. Again, these speakers had differing topics, but all ended up sharing something or other. I don’t just mean ‘technology’. There’s *supposed* to be a technology spin to everything in this conference, so that’s far too easy!!

For me, the common thread for all of the speakers today was Strategies, Projects and Resources.

The first session was a panel discussion with the CIOs of  Windsor, York, McMaster, OCAD, Laurier and Ryerson. I’ll have to admit that quite a bit of this discussion, as well as that of James Norrie (which followed) was above me, in that I understood the topics but that the actual discussion was meant for my bosses and not for me (much talk of ‘governance’). That said, I came away with some interesting insights. Probably the most interesting series of points had to do with offering students systems (like email), vs. having them sign up for one of the many full-featured and free online systems of their choice. This was a conceptual discussion, not a practical one – so things like the Patriot act were not addressed at length. As highlighted above, it’s a discussion of strategy (whose needs, and how are they served and implemented?) and resources (do we really save much $$ by not offering the services?).

James Norrie’s talk highlighted the way our approach to projects is backwards. The focus tends to be on  Capacity (referring to $$ primarily), then on the projects, then the strategy. It’s important to consider the strategy first, then work out the details of the projects and capacity. He made an interesting analogy that went something along the lines of "If you get the recipe right, you can always play with how you bake the goods."

Our final speaker of the morning, Ann Medina, spoke of being prepared for the future by expecting surprises. She talked of her experiences in the field of journalism, and connected them to her love for video games and how both of these things taught her to be prepared for unexpected changes. Specifically, she discussed how video games can teach you how to strategize and allocate resources, which can be applied to real life.

All of these things certainly apply to anyone working with technology – the changes are so constant, and sometimes unexpected. We need to be prepared to accept the changes, take on the new challenges, and rethink how we do things. It’s part of what we do – and for many of us, part of who we are.

I’ll end this post here… I will be posting a bit of a rundown of my Twitter experience during the conference, which was really very positive.

 Cheers!
S