Tuesday, March 25, 2008

LinkedIn Questions & Answers -- Higher Education

I was crafting another LinkedIn question and happened across some previous answers I posted to a recurring theme (and corresponding position). I first got involved in the LinkedIn Questions and Answers when a student of mine asked if there was "this much" interaction outside the walls of academia (my courses, both face-to-face and online, are very interactive).

I'll post only the most recent response, but both questions. There's a link to each if you want to follow up. IN either case, check out my LinkedIn profile, and connect with me if I can assist you in your professional endeavors.

Outstanding classroom spaces

What are, in your opinion, some of the best classroom and training facility spaces you have seen? What constitutes a condusive learning space for you, in terms of space, layout, presentation utilities (boards, projectors), integration of technology, etc. Do you have examples of colleges or corporations with outstanding classroom facilities? Please share.

My favorite conducive learning space is one where a facilitator (instructor, professor, teacher, etc.) and participants (students, scholars, etc.) are able to engage, in an environment that encourages learning and is unrestricted by man-made boundaries. The best learning spaces are actually hybrids - with a live and online interface.

Here's why this is so powerful. In the "normal" class, we break up on a Thursday, having had several stimulating discussions during class. On Friday, one of the students sees a news article (or re-reads the chapter or article we were discussing, or talks with a co-worker), and the light bulb goes on over their head regarding the topic discussed the previous afternoon/evening (meaning they "got it"). By Tuesday, he or she has forgotten the original point made during class, and nothing in that (Tuesday) class discussion seems to be an appropriate place to bring it up, so he or she doesn't. Note that in this scenario, the learning opportunities are limited.

In the unlimited learning environment, or "hybrid" (live teaching supplemented with online interactivity) class, the same student reads the same information on Friday. He or she logs in to the Virtual Classroom, and posts the website of the news article, the page/paragraph number of what he read, etc., and says something like, "when we were discussing the possibility that terrorists were funding their operations with drug money, is this what you were talking about?" Another student then responds with a clarification, "not all funding is from drug money," and another, "and not all terrorist organizations have access to drug money." Another posts another link with an explanation, and a fifth posts a counter-position.

Do you see the difference?

This all happens before the weekend even begins, and every student that logs on (even if they don't post) is reminded of what we discussed in the previous class. The professor shows up for class on Tuesday and begins to set up while everyone else has already started reviewing the material from the last class! Honestly, how likely is that with the traditional classroom?

Another reason I feel this is an excellent tool is that there are some students (often referred to as triple type A personalities) who need no encouragement to participate in class. Others (perhaps more introverted) feel more comfortable thinking about their response before they "go public." The discussion board allows for quality participation by both -- kind of like the Answers section here at LinkedIn.

Does that make sense?

see also E-learning and taking courses online...Like it? Love it? Hate it? Why? If you don't like it - could anything be done to make it better?

And, related to the previous post . . . see this question:

Best advice about networking to students?

Dear all,

In a few weeks I will be speaking to a class of students at the University of Applied Sciences in Krems, Austria. I have been given 2 hours to present the ins and outs of networking. I see this as a very limited time, and ask for your help: If you were to give just one piece of advice about networking what would it be?

I recently presented to faculty my thoughts on the use of Social Networking in the education process, which I think most of the students may already be engaged in, making your presentation a logical extension of their current application. Here are some excerpts, and the link to the paper and presentation (the references are listed there,as well). Let me know if it helps.

Social networks are a powerful foundation from which to develop group identity and cohesion. Social networks are often examined in the context of the small world phenomenon – everyone in the world is accessible through a “short chain of social acquaintances” (Milgram, S., 1967, as cited in Finin, et al., 2005, p. 422)

Many in higher education are using, or to some extent evaluating the use of, contemporary social networking technology such as MySpace or Facebook (Carnevale, 2006; Lamb & Johnson, 2006; Lindenberger, 2006).

Social networking sites allow a personal form of regularly-used communication, much like a mobile phone number or personal email address. With social networking sites, meeting and getting to know people
with whom one shares interests or contacts is not limited by time and space. These sites provide the ability to build a trusted community, which becomes useful to facilitate the introductions of others without being present, share one’s opinions about specific items and events, and share news and information with a pre-screened and pre-selected group of people – simultaneously. The technology allows groups with similar interests to form and share information and ideas in both synchronous and asynchronous communication.

Social networking sites for professionals are a likely extension into the professional world for use by faculty and alumni to maintain contact. Implementing the use of social networks while students attend college would allow faculty to maintain contact with those students as they go
out into the community following graduation. Using social networks to stay in contact with graduates would increase the value of the faculty-student relationship, and might lead to a more loyal cadre of alumni. The perceived value to alumni could be reflected in their loyalty to the university, as demonstrated by a partnership in areas like employment of later graduates, support for athletic organizations, and financial contributions.


I have enough material myself to fill closer to 3hrs, so it's not knowledge I'm lacking, but I thought your advice might help me to prioritise right.

When in Rome - teaching 21st century students using 21st century tools

Here's a link to the ERIC site where my presentation and paper "When in Rome - teaching 21st century students using 21st century tools" is stored.

ED496202 - Engaging the Learner. Annual Instructional Technology Conference (12th, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, April 1-3, 2007)

The slideshow is here.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Yesterday's technology today -

I just finished an educational session for those interested in engaging the social space for a variety of reasons.

If interested, check out Link To Your Education.

And I've finally figuring out how to take a PPT, record narrative, and then add to slideshare, embedded Gvideo, and podcast. I feel so Web 1.0 :-(

I've redone the audio for the last presentation (below). It's available on Archive.Org.

My link to the audio is here.

And I've been playing around with Twitter. It's neat, and so "tech."

A friend recently asked (on Twitter, of course), "Why Twitter? Why now? Couldn't we have done this in a chat room 5 years ago? Is mobile what makes it different? Answer in <140>."

My first thought (while at a stop sign in my car receiving messages on my phone) was:
Twitter, now because it's new but familiar and crosses platforms. We couldn't do opt-in asynchronous chat in 2002.

If you just have to know more about Twitter, check out their Frequently Asked Questions.
Twitter also has a blog . . . and Patricia Mayo does a good overview.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, feel free.

And to automate your posts (if you blog regularly), check out Twitter Feed! If you just can't get enough of Twitter, add it to your Firefox browser with TwitBin.

And I'm wondering how much is too much when we engage for learning purposes in the online world. Does it really help to provide reading, audio, visual (presentations) and a combination (like video)? If so, here's the video (presentation with audio in a video format) for the Retrofitting The Learning Environment Presentation.

There's a VCast link coming . . .

What do you think?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Retrofitting Learning Environments for Today’s Hyper-Networked Students

Where did all my students go? This question is (or could be) asked by faculty all over the world. It is most appropriate in response to the migration of students from one professor to another (who listens to and understands them), or from one University to another (where everyone responds to them). It happens when students realize that their learning environment is the same one their parents had – boring, stifling, and very limited. In this presentation, we will discuss and demonstrate some recent technology developments that easily modernize teaching methods and quickly engage students. Learning environments should not be confined to the classroom – it’s time for them to be retrofitted . . . we’ll look at some examples.

This presentation was prepared for the West Tennessee Technology Symposium, March 6, 2008.

The slideshow is available here. This post was made to fill in some of the blanks from the slideshow (contained in the notes, but not visible without download).
Streaming Audio (to accompany the presentation for the most part)

Retrofitting Learning Environments means
. . . the ongoing practice of radically redesigning learning environments, including all participants, so learning is not stifled, hampered, or otherwise limited by unnecessary restrictions of space, time, topic, or any combination thereof. We need to seriously consider retrofitting the learning environment for today's students -- representatives of the Net Generation.

The term Net Generation was coined by Don Tapscott, in his book “Growing Up Digital.” Though many traditional students are part of the Net Generation, we should not be defining this group based on age, but based on their experiences and their exposure. The experience of the Net Generation gives them the ability to acquire information on virtually anything within moments. The Net Generation has been exposed to information-gathering techniques and technologies that place institutions of higher education in direct competition with companies like Google.

The students benefit when we retrofit the learning environment. The environment is more interactive and makes them more connected to it. These technologies encourage collaborative learning, which enhances the learning experience. Many students and future students are already using social networks. They will easily be able to adapt to the retrofitted environment using communication techniques they are familiar with. This familiarity and the learning environment designed with these tools will foster creativity and imagination – on both sides of the virtual podium.

So, what’s in it for the educators?

Try out a sampling of these solutions (from the slideshow) and see which fit your “style?” In the process, you are likely to experience the joy of learning something new. You are pretty much guaranteed to get envious looks from your peers when your students ask them why they haven’t retrofitted their learning environments yet. You will find that once these techniques are implemented, it will take less time to communicate more. And last but not least, you will have the satisfaction of equipping an entire generation with the tools and strategies needed to rule the world.

The power of a network is related to the amount of knowledge held by the individual members, how much they share with others (and re-use from others), the number of others with whom they share and the capability of the network to generate new knowledge.
For an organization, the equation suggests a few practical steps.
•Hire and retain people who have a high level of expertise (and therefore a large amount of knowledge).
•Hire and retain people who are natural sharers.
•Hire a diverse population of people so that the knowledge they have is varied; i.e., there is enough similarity so that they can understand each other, but not so much that they all know the same things.
•Put in place a work environment that encourages and enables knowledge sharing.

The bottom line is power is knowledge shared.

Through knowledge management you can increase the power of your organization exponentially to solve problems, to invent new methods, and to overcome physical distance (Smith, 2001).
Synergy happens when a group of diverse individuals form and collaborate. When forming a strategic team, it is important to find a variety of personality styles, backgrounds, and experiences. Only by interacting with a heterogeneous group can we experience the real power of collaboration. The results of these collaborations often contribute to the overall knowledge base. Previously established networks can be used to disseminate this collective knowledge.
Preparing for the Future

By capitalizing on the use of social networks while students attend college, faculty and other school leaders can not only strengthen the learning foundation for students, but can also maintain contact with students as they go out into the community following graduation.
College administrators can strategically use social networks to stay in contact with graduates in hopes of garnering a loyal cadre of alumni. For students, taking part in social networks while in college offers benefits for the future. Networking can be a means of establishing connections within the community they will enter upon graduation. As alumni, they can show loyalty to their alma mater by offering employment to future graduates, support to athletic organizations, and financial contribution to the institution.

So what is the Cost for use?

Email - $0 (you already have it or can get a good one for free.
Social Networking site - $0
Instant Messaging account - $0
Skype/Conference Call - $0 for Skype to Skype calls, and very cheap for Skype to phone – worldwide.
Text messaging on mobile phone $? Depends on provider. There are all kinds of plans, and unlimited is the new buzzword.

Communication with students . . .
(get your Master Card memory ready)

Absolutely priceless!

Michael Powell, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, when testing out Skype a few years ago, has been quoted as saying “Change is inevitable . . . I knew it was over when I downloaded Skype.” Skype is an example of a disruption that occurred in the telecommunications business. There are similar disruptions occurring in the higher education business today.

What do you think?


Allen, S., Deragon, J., Orem, M., & Smith, C. (2008). The Emergence of the Relationship Economy. Cupertino, CA: HappyAbout. Available at http://www.happyabout.info/RelationshipEconomy.php

Smith, R. (2001, May 9) Knowledge Management – The Road Ahead. Presented at "Unleashing the Power of Partnerships", the 2nd Conference & Expo of the Staff Exchange Program of The World Bank Group, Washington, D.C.. Available at http://www.rgsmithassociates.com/Power.htm

Links from presentation
Desire2Learn, Blackboard, ANGEL, Epsilen, Learn.com, e-College, Element K, Joomla
Moodle, Gmail, Mail2Web, MTV Message Board, iVillage Message Board, Yahoo Message Board
Slideshare, Authorstream, Google Videos, YouTube videos, GCast, Odeo, BlogTalkRadio, Skype
Free Conference Calls, Evite, Meetup, TringMe, GrandCentral, Blogger, LiveJournal, Wordpress
Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, LiveMocha, Tribe, Bebo, Wiki, Open Courseware