Monday, June 1, 2009

What's the Proper Attire in Higher Education?

Asked at

Results will be posted here -- go vote (or comment, but see the context at the above link first, please).

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tweaching -- Twitter for Teaching is no April Fool's joke!

Twitter provides a multi-device communication platform for us to interact with each other. For those of us living in the 21st Century, it was a logical step from using Twitter to communicate with friends and acquaintances to applying Twitter in the global learning environment. Unfortunately, someone pranked this trend, and (I think) credited one of the least likely Universities with the idea. Nick Carr reported a new development at the University of Phoenix, where:

Most of the instruction in the Twitter courses will be done through the 140-character "tweets" for which the service is famous, though instructors are also expected to occasionally refer to longer online documents by including "short URL" links in the tweets. "
The Chronicle of Higher Education did some follow up and reported this: Sorry Twitter lovers, no online courses yet. “University of Phoenix is not going to deliver courses via Twitter,” wrote Wendy Paul, executive director of public relations for the university.
So does that mean Twitter for Teachers isn't going to work?

Not even! I do think it's more of a tool than a platform for teaching, though I can see a use for the latter. For use of Twitter as a Tool (I suspect we would call this a Tweaching Twool), I posted earlier on David Parry's use of Twitter in the learning environment ( (I know, cool custom URL -- think it'll catch on?).

And then I learned about Twitter for Teachers, where teachers from all over the world are gathering and writing an eBook to help tweachers use Twitter. The e-book is intended for use by teachers from primary, elementary, secondary and post-secondary schools.

Is it possible the abbreviated lecture notes could be used to enhance the learning environment? Check out Twitter University: The lecture series.

If you are reading this close to the posting time, now would be a good time to check out TFT, as EDUCHAT #3 is coming up soon!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Combining Art with Security

I took my security class to an art exhibit.

Actually, I gave the class an assignment: Take a look at the art exhibit and work in groups to submit bids to provide security for the exhibit.

What do you think?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Should we even consider "Teaching With Twitter"?

I saw a nice overview of Twitter in the learning environment by David Parry, a professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, who talks about using Twitter for his courses.

More at Chronicle Multimedia.

What do you think?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Ideas come from conversations . . . do you think this will catch on?

I was conversing (in convenient-time, on a discussion board) with some multidisciplinary colleagues and there was some talk about using video to supplement the learning environment. I've used videos in both online and offline environments, and always ended up searching for them when preparing for class. One of the folks in the conversation suggested we find a way to share videos.

I recalled the power of Wiki (not -pedia, this was an academic conversation after all) and hopped on over to WetPaint and started up the Video Sharing for Higher Education site. It's open for contributions to all who register, and open for use to all who go there, so if it sounds interesting, go there now (I'll wait).

Here are the main topics we have in mind (add yours as a new page is developed).

Criminal Justice (includes corrections, law, and more).
Healthcare (includes Radiology, Nursing, etc.)
Online Learning
Political Science
Social Media
Terrorism (includes Domestic and International)

The developers at WetPaint say we should be able to keep all of the site’s videos in one place, making them easy to find quickly and organize. Here’s what the gallery page will look like:

What do you think?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Q & A on the need for Social Media Policies in Colleges and Universities

Are there any institutional risk for University staff or faculty using social media? if so what are they?

The risks are the same as for staff and faculty who have cell phones, email and Internet accounts, and are otherwise provided with opportunities to engage the general public. The good news is that most staff and faculty in higher education seem to feel they are in a gated community and don't reach out the public much. The bad news is that those who do have the tendency to forget they are representing the University and may even give indications of their personal biases that are in direct conflict with the purpose of the University, their academic department, and their co-workers.

How is the educational system using or not using social media to advance education?

Some departments (especially those involved in recruiting and placement) are finding ways to engage with the global residents that populate the world of social media. Unfortunately, those who don't are missing out, and so are their students. Individually, those responsible for the mind-stretching of today's students fall short in their understanding of how to reach them. This problem was seen long before social media, so it should not be too much of a shock.

Do you see Educational Institutions incorporating the use of social media policies? If so why?

I see some of them in the beginning stages, but with so few of the decision makers having a grasp on what social media is, their efforts are expected (by cynics like me) to miss the mark and either over-protect or under-protect the institution. For now, I think we could adapt the current policies on communication to the world of social media like the law has adapted controls on telecommunication designed for the telephone to the use of the Internet.

What are you seeing in terms of other Universities using social media? Do any of them have policies?

The Universities that have been forward-thinking are forward-thinking and those in Higher Education who have made a point to reach out to the community appear to be continuing that practice. If you look at social media like a location where prospective, current, and former students hang out (think mall or coffee shop) then you realize the effort it takes for some to reach the point where they 1) see the need to adjust and 2) make the effort to do so. There are the makings of social media policies in a small number of Universities. These should be wiki-like (not written in stone) so as to make use of the social media space without limiting opportunities for learning.

What impact will social media have on the educational process, the relationships between institutions and teachers, teachers and students, etc.

As I wrote in The Emergence of The Relationship Economy, "The Internet has served to circumvent (or reinvent) these imbalanced, power-based relationships by removing the restrictions and leveling the playing field for those who seek information." The piece of the Internet on which social media stakes its claim has uprooted the decades-long practice of information hoarding. Those in Higher Education who base their sense of authority on the control of information will see a rapid degradation of their power base. Those who intentionally and regularly share their knowledge (and happen to be compensated for it) will see an increase in the number of those listening and a duplication and multiplication of their power base.

What issues should Universities have covered in a social media policy?

I think that University policymakers need to examine their current policies and adapt them for this new location. For many, there will be a period of growth and the ongoing adjustment that will require allowing staff and faculty to make mistakes and learn from them.

Do all Universities have a need to address social media?

No, only those that plan to be in business past 2015. Ironically, the style and substance of social media is very similar to the interactive learning environment that online learning requires. This type of learning is growing, especially among non-traditional learners, and the for-profit and private institutions of higher education seem to be the thought leaders in this area. Those who don't plan to have a social media presence will be restricted to the old methods of communication and relationship building. That may work for a few who cater to the older Gen-X and some Baby Boomers, but for those who want to provide a real learning environment to the here and growing Gen-Y (also known as Millenials), yesterday was the right time to get it together.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Connections outside of our field

I've long been an advocate of reaching outside our own little world to 1) make connections and 2) see how many of those connections become friends. In my never ending quest for learning and, more recently, learning about learning, I am reading a book recommended to me by someone who 1) became a connection in my primary field (the criminal justice discipline) and 2) has since become a colleague and friend.

The book is entitled "Toward Improving PhD Programs." I must say that I avoided reading for some time as I have an all-consuming nature (at least that's what I call the obsessive character trait that causes me to read a book to its conclusion, especially one on a topic I am interested in).

Of interest to me was the passage (p. 124) that says:

. . . graduate students usually associate only with those who are working in their field . . . it would be very beneficial if they could be brought into contact with graduate students who are working in totally different subjects.

What do you think?

Hollis, E. V. (1945). Toward improving Ph.D. programs. Washington, D. C.: American Council on Education.