v6.2.3 - moving along, a point increase at a time

Campus Tech 2012 wrap up

Well, one more campus technology conference and expo is done!

The Campus Technology annual summer conference is the nation’s premier higher education technology conference, where leading innovators and experts in technology for higher education guide faculty, instructional designers, eLearning program managers, information technologists, and campus administrators into the new realm of teaching and learning using the latest in applications, social software and immersive platforms.

Initially I was thinking about writing a blog post per day (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday), but I had way too many interesting conversations with presenters, participants, and vendors to be able to do this (brain stops working after a certain point, you see).  So I thought I would pick 3 of my top sessions, and my top vendor of the show and talk a bit about these.

First of all, the keynotes by Mark Milliron (Chancellor of Western Governor's University) on "Deeper Learning Conversations on Technology, Education and the Road Ahead" and by George Siemens on "Meeting the Challenge of Change:  Historical Models of Transformation and Lessons for Higher Education" were phenomenal.  I do believe that they were recorded and they will be available in some sort of streaming capacity in the near future. Keep an eye out at the CT2012 conference website.


1.0 Leaving the LMS: Checking Out of the Hotel California
Scott Helf, DO, MSIT, Chief Technology Officer, Western University of Health Sciences, COMP
Gerald Thrush, Ph.D., Assistant Dean, Pre-clinical Education , Western University of Health Sciences
Matt Curran, Technical Support Supervisor, Western University of Health Sciences

This was a bit interesting, I saw Scott Helf last year at Campus Tech 2011 when he was talking about learning analytics in a session he was leading (on the last day of the conference if I am not mistaken!)  Recognizing the name, and interested in a post-LMS world I came to this session. What they basically did was to replace the LMS with SharePoint.  Now I know what you are thinking, SharePoint sucks, and it may very well suck.  But, it seems that their situation was quite unique, and perhaps not replicable in other institutions.

They had BIG core curriculum courses where they had many students in multiple sections of the same course.  On top of this, because of the different disciplines, some disciplines only undertook a certain smaller percentage of the basic course, while others took close took a more substantial portion of the course.  For example, the MD students (Medical Doctor) may have taken 100% of the course materials in Anatomy and Physiology, while the DO (Doctor of Orthodontics?) may have taken 60%, and the DMDs (Dental Medical Doctor?) may have taken 80% of the course.  In order to save money on courses and not have 6 different courses that are slightly different, students were put into one major course with a variety of colleagues and they completed what was relevant to them (hey! Sounds like a MOOC!).

Thus the LMS was not used for grading, and it wasn't really doing so well with discussions. And, the selective release I guess was getting crazy.  So, they moved to sharepoint where they could share lecture materials, and have discussions around them with a flexibility that a CMS has but an LMS does not.

Interesting, but I don't think this would work for other schools.  I do think that a DIY approach works, it just needs to be planned and executed in a way that makes sense for each individual school.

2.0 Mobile Learning: Applications that Change Distraction to Discussion
Kyle Bowen, Director of Informatics, Purdue University

Last year I was quite excited to go to a similar session to this one, by Purdue, only to realize that their software WAS ONLY FOR PURDUE USERS.  Ah...major fail.  I loved the session last year, but I was disappointed that I could not use these nifty tools.  So, I put it out of my mind.  So much so that I went to the Purdue session again this year, only to be horribly horribly disappointed.

I REALLY LOVED the software.  Purdue has done a fantastic job with Hot Seat, and other mobile engagement software for the classroom such as mixable and jetpack.  What I really disliked, again, was that the software is NOT available for general use.  OK guys,  you can create some kickass software, but you are dangling (what seems to be) a gourmet five course meal in the face of people who have taken off-the-shelf canned goods and tried to make something out of combining them. The consolation prize is that you can sign up for the Studio mailing list to find out when these things might make it to the market, but I guess I want the software now, damn it! ;-)  Seriously though, Great job with the software, and even though they are not available just yet to everyone, their website is worth a look.

3.0 Going Hybrid: Faculty Development for Teaching and Learning Success
Andreas Brockhaus, Director of Learning Technologies, University of Washington - Bothell

The last session that made my top 3 of the conference was the Going Hybrid session.  I have to touch base with Andreas next week or something to see if he can share his materials.  The idea behind this is similar to what UMass Boston did back in the early 2000s when we wanted to enable faculty to use technology in their classrooms.  There was a small cohort of faculty each semester (13 weeks) that came with an existing course, or a new course they were developing, and created media materials, a blackboard session, and used a variety of tools to use technology meaningfully in the class.   The hybrid learning initiative at University of Washington was similar to this. It was a 10 week course, where faculty came in a cohort with an existing course, or a new course, that they wanted to blend.  Right now they are working on a 6 week version of this professional development course.  I would really be interested in seeing what they did. I think blended (even though it seems to have dropped out of favor in the education buzzword category) is something that we as instructors, institutions and departments need to re-examine.

There were many interesting products on show at CT2012, some new, some that I knew of from last year.  I had an opportunity to grab a T-Shirt from Instructure (love their T-Shirts) and a removable tattoo (should have gotten a couple of them!).  The vendor that really wowed me was NearPod. What was amazing, for me about NearPod was that it is a presentation tool and a classroom response tool all in one.  The instructor can stream to his student's iOS devices anything that is on his NearPod teacher console (which can include presentation slide, embedded videos, quizzes, and "clicker" functionality) and students can participate on their iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad device.  They don't officially support android, however they did have NearPod on a Samsung Galaxy Tab and on a Galaxy Phone running at the conference and they would be open to set people up with it.

On top of this, it's a freemium model! For free you can have up to 30 students in your course, and you can have up to 10 lectures worth of materials on their servers.  Not bad! Now I know that you can easily use this with an on-campus (aka f2f) course, but I also think that with NearPod and a Google Hangout you can easily replace a more expensive conferencing software.  What can I say, they won me over and it's worth checking out :)

Finally, Kudos to my colleagues Valerie Haven, my former (day-to-day) coworkers at Media Services and Distance Education & Video Production at UMass Boston for their Innovator Award!

Note to self: talk to Larry Jacobs of Education Talk Radio!
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