[Dear Reader, this is a long post, and a somewhat selfish one, in which I think out loud about the kinds of projects I'd love to work on, in part to get clear myself, in part in the hopes of attracting some leads. You are entirely forgiven for skipping it, though I do hope that buried in here are some gems that you yourself are free to run with if you feel so inspired. I promise to return to regularly scheduled blogging after this. - SWL]
It’s been about a month now since I left BCcampus. It’s been a hugely restorative time, spent writing, reading (both the long overdue “The Whale and the Reactor” and the more recent “I am a Strange Loop“), recuperating and being with my family. And while it was impossible not to ponder a little about my future, by and large I managed to spend the month not worrying about a new job, which was a satisfying accomplishment.
But time has come to turn my attention to the question everyone seemed eager to ask me upon learning I had left BCcampus – “So, what’s next?” Because while this change was a long time coming, I must admit I am without a specific plan (this is the 3rd time I’ve left a position not knowing exactly what was next and so far it’s worked out well – let’s hope the streak holds!)Blue Skies
I’ve got a number of ideas for ventures, both for profit and non-commercial, that I am exploring, but I will leave those aside for the moment. While I do plan to write about them at some point, I need more time to get parts of them in motion. For now I’ll focus on what to me would be “blue sky” projects/positions I’d love to have a go at in the space I’ve been focused on for the last 20 years, which broadly speaking has been post-secondary education, educational technology and knowledge management. I’ve grouped these into 3 rough themes, “Teaching,” “The Networked University,” and “21st Century Literacies.”Teaching
I have had the great fortune to teach in the past, but it’s been too long, and I miss it. In the past the teaching I did was often focused on technology training. I still have a lot to give in that area and would embrace any position that allowed for it, but I also hope to “move up the stack” a bit, as it were, to focus on some issues above the basic use of tools.
There are two “courses” which I am working on outlines and readings for which I would be incredibly excited to teach, because I think both of them have the potential to expose learners to ideas they are not currently encountering and I have yet to see many examples of them out there in the wild.Network Thinking
The first I am calling “Network Thinking.” Far from being a technical course, it is instead aimed at people from pretty much any discipline other than computing (& sociology) and is an effort to help people understand the magnitude (and type) of changes that occur when the network comes-a-calling in their field. Whether it be in education, medicine, government, businesses of many types, etc, I believe we are still at the point of trying to fit networks into old conceptual models, and in so doing are misunderstanding the size of the disruption they represent, and also misunderstanding their strengths and weaknesses. I do think each specific discipline and sector has differences, ones I wouldn’t want to elide, and hopefully we will see more and more domain specific courses and curriculum addressing these issues. But for now it feels like there is some real potential here.Philosophy for Programmers
The second one I am calling “Philosophy for Programmers” and while it IS aimed at technical people, it is not at all meant to be a technology course. Developers make all sorts of choices that have deeply interesting philosophical implications (and heritages) when they create applications, and this course would start to explore the background of some of these choices, and possibly other ways to address them. To take but one example – what are the implications to inclusion and exclusion of modelling users via “personas”? The idea is simply to help technical people become more aware of the implications of the choices they make in how the technology will then shape what it means to be human. The hope is that it will help influence developers to be more reflective and less reductive in the choices they make.
In both these cases I’ve started to collect readings and create outlines (though neither feel like they are quite “ready to go.”) In addition to these, there are many other areas which I know I have the experience and expertise to teach:
- open education / open textbooks
- copyright / intellectual property
- assessing open source maturity
- evaluating technologies
- emerging technologies and their impact on education
- personal learning networks / network learning
- loosely coupled teaching and learning
- interoperability in ed tech
- learning content management strategies and technologies
In an effort to stimulate some employment leads I’m putting the cart a little before the horse here, as my next major series of posts will explore the idea of the Networked University and what it means to create “semipermeable membranes” as a response to the permeating flows of the network. So you’ll have to wait a bit for the full explanation of why I think the following projects and approaches represent an important part of the future (though if you are a regular reader of this blog the reasons are likely already well understood.)University as hackerspace / libraries and makerspaces
I certainly can claim no ownership of this idea as there are now some great examples out there – Joss Winn wrote an early piece that inspires me; one of my nominations for Open Ed 2012 keynotes was Beth Kolko of the University of Washington for her pioneering work on Hackademia; there’s a blog dedicated to all things Maker and Librarian; and even my local university, UVic, has started a Maker Lab in the Humanities. This is a trend I hope we will see more of and I would love to be involved with – not only do I think it represents a new turn, as I’ll describe more in my upcoming series I think innovations like this have a real chance of bridging silos, be they between disciplines, experts and “non-experts,” or “town and gown” that will be crucial for institutions remaining relevant to their local communities.Reputation systems in higher ed; badges, credentialing, formal and informal education
Another area which is already well underway, though I don’t know the extent to higher ed is actually exploring it versus simply resting on their existing credential models. That said, I think they need to, both for the opportunity it represents (to acknowledge prior learning, convert informal credits to formal ones, etc) and for the threat (of people by-passing the increasingly expensive formal option by building up portfolio-based online reputations. The fear I have though is that this isn’t particularly a technology or pedagogy problem but one of business models, and I’m not sure the “owner” of this process (the registrar’s office and others) necessarily see the threat or will be able to adapt to meet the potential.Interweaving institutional resources and open network learning – wikipedia/library mashup service
For those regular readers, this theme will be familiar – that rather than treat it as the enemy, we should start to envision ways in which students’ searching wikipedia can become a gateway to more scholarly resources. The first reference I can find in my blog to some of the underlying ideas was in 2006, which I expanded on in my 2007 Open Ed demonstrator, and more specifically in this 2010 post on annotating wikipedia with OPAC resources. It wasn’t until a conversation with Joel Duffin from Open Tapestry at Open Ed 2010 that they way to implement this at scale for an institution became clear – via proxies and page re-writing. Put simply – I know we can build a system (and hope to demo a prototype soon) that will dynamically annotate any wikipedia page with links into an institutions library catalog to books and articles on that topic. This is but one way in which we can bring our institutions resource back to the forefront for students, and the converse is also true – that we can highlight scholarly resources and educational materials, on the fly, to learners outside the institution with little effort.21st Century Literacies
Finally, in terms of “blue sky” work, there are (at least) two sets of literacies (and skills) I would love the chance to work onExpanding digital literacies
Even if we were to just stick with the current list of digital literacies that have been proposed over the last few years, we have more than enough work helping learners, at all levels, improve on these. But as I’ll argue in an upcoming post (tentatively titled “What the digital literacy crowd can learn from makers and pirates”) we don’t go nearly far enough in helping learners cope with the onslaught of technologies (and their accompanying social issues) they face.Mindfulness in education
This is a topic dear to my heart. I have absolutely no idea how I might get involved with this, yet deep down feel that if there is one change I could help bring about in the world that could make the most difference, it would be to work on getting mindfulness practices (completely agnostic mind you, and very much scientifically grounded) into schools, especially the K-12 system where I think it has the most chance to have a profound effect, but even in higher ed, where it has lots of affinity with study skills and learner success. I only came to serious mindfulness practice myself in the last 5 years, and I WISH someone had encouraged me along this path when I was much younger. Especially in our increasingly distracted, hyper-rational and technologized world, there has never been a more important time to help develop mindfulness.
If any of these resonate with you, if you can see ways in which they might benefit your institution (or indeed ways to move them forward outside of conventional institutions) I would love to hear from you.
What I know I can already do
Still, it’s not always “blue sky.” In addition to the above, there are a whole lot of things I know I can do (and like to do) because I’ve done them before and done them well. You can see my resume for the full blow by blow, but here’s a highlight of the areas of expertise, competencies and technical skills I bring to my work:Areas of Expertise Core Competencies Technical Skills
- Open Educational Resources
- Copyright and Open Licensing
- Open Textbooks
- Open Strategy
- Educational Technology tools & architectures
- Learning Content Management strategies & technologies
- Personal Learning Networks & loosely coupled teaching
- Knowledge Management tools & strategies
- New models of network learning & collaboration
- Emerging technology & software maturity models
- Sustainable and Appropriate Technology and Computing
- Project Management
- Software assessment
- Business Modelling, Systems Analysis & requirements gathering
- Public Speaking
- Critical & analytical thinking
- Facilitating large scale decision making processes
- Integration & synthesis of multiple complex inputs
- PHP / MySQL
- XML / XSLT
- Application deployment & administration on a wide variety of platforms including
If you think there’s a way my expertise and skills can server a need your organization has, I would love to hear from you. At this point I’m considering all sorts of things, from positions to consulting gigs (a page listing some of my potential consulting offerings is available) so please feel free to contact me, either via this form or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you got all the way to the end of this post – thanks! – SWL
Information Literacy—Not Just for Librarians: Issues in Assessment, Teaching, and Application
Editors: Barbara D’Angelo, Sandra Jamieson, Barry Maid, and Janice R. Walker
Information Literacy—Not Just for Librarians: Issues in Assessment, Teaching and Application is an edited collection that will address research in and issues surrounding theoretical, pedagogical, and practical approaches to information literacy (IL). According to the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) an “information literate individual” is able to “determine the extent of information needed, access the needed information effectively and efficiently, evaluate information and its sources critically, incorporate selected information into one’s knowledge base, use information effectively to accomplish a specific purpose, and understand the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information, and access and use information ethically and legally.”
As this definition reveals, IL goes far beyond the traditional image of locating and assessing sources to include understanding and using them. In other words, today IL exists beyond the realm of academic librarians. One example is the fact the WPA Outcomes Statement and the ACRL Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education mirror one another and were created in the same timeframe. Both WPA and ACRL were replying to the same exigence.
Information literacy as a core competency has been endorsed by the Council of Independent Colleges and forms the basis of the Quality Enrichment Plans of many SACS-accredited institutions Yet in spite of the broad currency of the term, there is still no agreed-upon definition or understanding of what IL instruction entails. Calls for more broadly-shared ownership of and responsibility for IL (see for example Fister 1992, Gavin 1995, Norgaard 2003, & Lupton 2004), have been largely unheeded in practice. Research by Project Information Literacy, The Citation Project, and the LILAC Project reveal that the majority of American college students remain far from “information literate individuals” and suggest that focused attention to information literacy is essential across disciplines and specializations, and for this it remains imperative to establish a significant literature that draws on the expertise and vision of scholars in multiple disciplines.
This collection seeks to bring together the work of faculty across the curriculum, including those from academic and professional disciplines, general education programs, writing studies, technical communication, and library sciences. Proposals should address one or more of the following issues or related issues:
- Status of IL initiatives
- Partnerships across disciplines and/or between faculty and librarians
- Impact of new media/technologies on IL instruction
- Impact of assessment and accreditation standards on IL initiatives
- Theoretical considerations
- Pedagogical approaches
- IL as part of a vertical curriculum
- Research in the transfer of IL skills across the curriculum
- IL in theory and in practice
- IL beyond the classroom
- Research on students’ and/or faculty IL practices
Submit abstracts (approximately 200 words) via email by January 31, 2013 to email@example.com.
Governor Brown appears to be focusing his attention on “bottleneck courses”:
As part of the additional $125.1 million in proposed state funds, $10 million has been directed in the Governor’s budget for online strategies to get more students through so-called “bottleneck” courses. These are courses across the system that cause many students to slow their time to degree until they can find a “seat” in that particular course. They are either lower-division general education requirements, pre-requisites for majors or high demand classes. The directed funds would be used for a multi-pronged approach incorporating technology-enhanced learning, student advising and course redesign to ensure student success. Together, all of these efforts are expected to provide thousands of students more access to classes and help them progress to degree.
They will also save the state money. In a state system, every student is subsidized. Reducing time to graduation also reduces budget burdens. So it’s good for everyone. This is a smart, targeted approach that could also form the basis for experimentation and innovation with ed tech. Note the reference to “course redesign.”
I noted this on twitter this morning but it felt important enough to flag it here too. This is a good (though not great) article on an important issue – the fact that “despite the values of freedom and openness, the free culture movement’s gender balance is skewed.”
I don’t doubt on an empirical basis that the author’s statement is accurate, that even compared to the gender balance in technical fields in general, free culture has a gender imbalance. The author identifies 3 potential causes:
(a) some geek identities can be narrow and unappealing;
(b) open communities are especially susceptible to difficult people; and,
(c) the ideas of freedom and openness can be used to dismiss concerns and rationalize the gender gap as a matter of preference and choice.
I’m not particularly sure what to say about (a) other than it seems true. Both (b) and (c) resonate with me because I have been on both ends of these (and they are not always just about gender; “difficult people” and the ideology of freedom and openness can end up marginalizing people for non-gender reasons to. This is something I have been wrestling with for years under the term “the welcoming heart”, cf http://www.edtechpost.ca/wordpress/2008/02/26/northern-voice-08/.)
Yet both (b) and (c) strike me as issues that can (slowly) be addressed. What I often struggle with though (and this is what I kept tripping up in a session with the HASTAC folks at Mozilla’s Drumbeat Festival in 2010, where I WAS that ‘difficult person,’ something I wrote about in “Free & Learning in Barcelona“) is the extent to which one can expand inclusivity and address this problem through structural changes (be they in software, process, governance, policies, etc) versus the extent to which this is a question of consciousness raising and behaviour change that individuals need to engage in.
I don’t mean to set these up as binary choices (though I realize I just have) as clearly to me both are need, and can, happen together. And maybe that is indeed the answer; that each person who can see the issue starts to do their bit, at the level they are able to act at, be it by speaking up, changing their own behaviour, changing a policy, writing code that helps surface the issue, etc., which then help set up virtuous cycles that slowly start to shift this (having just finished Douglas Hofstadter’s “I am a Strange Loop” I am having a hard time not seeing everything in terms of loops now . Does that seem right to you?
Like I keep telling you – I’m a SLOW learner (but have patience, I too may get there some day.) – SWL
Continuing the puppet-animation based (loosely) on the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh has sent Samhat the Harlot to "tame" his rival Enkidu, but when he hears of Enkidu's sexual prowess, he resolves to take matters into his own hands after all. Episode 3 of 10.
On my site: http://edwardpicot.com/gilgamesh/gilgameshpart03.html
On YouTube: http://youtu.be/5YrHd3H2Muk
On Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/56706782
Index-page for the project: http://edwardpicot.com/gilgamesh
- Edward Picot
Twitter tends to send users on to other Web 2.0 sites, but not very often to business sites, according to a new Hitwise report. Twitter differs from email and Web search in these respects.
a higher share of downstream clicks from Twitter.com go to blogs and personal websites than from search sites, social networks, or email services. A larger number of Twitter users are also being sent to news and media sites, which points towards Twitter's growing role as a medium for sharing and breaking news stories.
Google has launched a voice communication platform, called, unsurprisingly, Google Voice. This set of services has been built upon a third-party application, GrandCentral, which Google purchased two years ago.
According to reports, Google Voice includes the following features:
- One central phone number, which can connect with up to six others. "Phone routing" lets the user associate incoming numbers with specific devices.
- Voicemail transcriptions, generated automatically, sent to difference devices, and searchable.
- SMS integration. Text messages can be send from different devices, and in response to voicemail.
- Free conference calls.
- Integration with Gmail. Voice's interface resembles Gmail's.
Onen overall attraction: many of these features are available from separate firms and services. Google Voice integrates them.
Users have to get over a big initial hurdle - getting all their friends to start using a new phone number instead of the old ones. Business cards are to be thrown out, new ones printed. Contact cards updated. Etc. There’s nothing Google can do to fix this problem.
The CIA and NSA have been using Web 2.0 tools for a while, and are going to explore new social media platforms in the near future, according to Information Week. United States intelligence agencies have been using wikis, among others, for a couple of years.
Interesting examples from their current work:
This year, the community is working on a number of new initiatives, such as ramping up search capabilities. For example, the agencies are now working with a vendor -- Kennedy wouldn't say who -- that provides it with the ability to draw a picture and then search for similar images. Semantic search capabilities to analyze sentiment and summarize documents are coming soon, too, but for now Kennedy and his colleagues aren't yet confident in the ability of commercial tools on which it will rely.
Another key focus for the intelligence community's social and information-sharing initiatives this year is a common one: SharePoint. "It's one of those products we can't get by without anymore," Kennedy said, adding that SharePoint is used for everything from unclassified to highly classified intelligence.
First Liberal Education Today post on this subject: here.
(via Prediction Markets group)
Michael Wesch describes using the Smartpen device in class:
In short, it records audio as you write and links what you are writing to the audio (by recording what you write through a small infrared camera near the tip of the pen). When you are done recording you can actually tap the pen anywhere on your page and the pen will play the audio that was recorded at the time you were making that specific pen stroke. Students are already sharing lecture notes in the community section of livescribe.com.
Another attempt to win the Web search crown is on its way, this time from a major digital developer. Wolfram|Alpha is a Stephen Wolfram project, he of the Mathematica math tool. His new project attempts natural language search, and appears with no small ambition:
Mathematica has been a great success in very broadly handling all kinds of formal technical systems and knowledge.
But what about everything else? What about all other systematic knowledge? All the methods and models, and data, that exists?
Release is scheduled for May.
This article offers a good introduction on how to use Twitter's search function. That's not a simple thing, as the piece goes on beyond basic search to show other useful features. "Near", "Since", and "Until" offer an unusual approach to queries, for example.
Social networking sites and blogs are now more widely used worldwide than email, according to Nielson Online. A new report (pdf) finds that such Web 2.0 platforms have outpaced email in a ranking of "most popular online category". Only search and portals exceed social networks and blogs in popularity.
Other useful findings:
- The social network and blogging audience is becoming more diverse in terms of age: the biggest increase in visitors during 2008 to “Member Community” Web sites globally came from the 35-49 year old age group (+11.3 million).
- Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in social networking. Nielsen found UK mobile Web users have the greatest propensity to visit a social network through their handset, with 23 percent (2 million people) doing so, compared to 19 percent in the US (10.6 million people). These numbers are a big increase over last year – up 249 percent in the UK and 156 percent in the US.
An Oxford University project gets users to discuss and better understand reason. The Less Wrong community blog combines posts, comments, a karma reputation rating system, and some (light) moderation to build a distributed conversation.
You might as well say Diigo bought a rival as it is readying the launch of the upcoming Diigo 4.0 platform, which is said to be taking social bookmarking and annotation ‘to new heights’.
...Although [Furl] was one of the first startups to focus on leveraging new technologies to add a social layer to site bookmarking, it never really quite took off the way Delicious did and according to the press release attracted only 1 million users for its service since its inception 6 years ago.
Another campus has published a mobile device application for accessing academic content. Duke University launched DukeMobile for iPhone and Touches, with Blackberry support coming in a few weeks, according to Wired Campus.
According to one mobile apps shop, the service offers:
· Map — Search for Duke buildings by name, pinpoint them on the map and see your relative location, and zoom or pan across the map using the multi-touch interface
· Directory — Look up Duke faculty, staff and students, store contacts with a few taps, and use the e-mail or phone capabilities of your device to connect
· Events — Check out listings from Events@Duke and the student calendar, Buzz, and event locations
· Athletics — Pick up Duke sports news, schedules and up-to-the-minute scores
· Courses — Access the Duke course catalog — including descriptions, times and locations — and tap to map the location or contact the professor
· DukeView — Get Duke iTunes U and YouTube content
Three new iPhone application stores are about to launch, and none of them are authorized by Apple, according to the Wall Street Journal. Cydia Store, Rock Your Phone, and "an online store that specializes in selling adult games" are set to appear. These represent a challenge to Apple's App Store's one-stop shopping. They all depend on "jailbroken" iPhones, devices unlocked to allow more user intervention.
The Wall Street Journal argues that the arrival of such competition would represent a threat to Apple's sale (the company gets a cut from every downloaded app's charge). Apple recently filed a claim that jailbreaking an iPhone constitutes copyright infringement, suggesting they could bring IP suits to bear.
The popular social networking site Facebook is piloting a new format, one which reflects the "real-time Web" concept.
First, users can arrange their front page (or "profile"; introduction here) so as to receive updates from friends as they appear. This is done synchronously, but the most recent content first, and republished as it appears: "Now your friends' posts are streamed in real-time".
Second, users can also aggregate feeds from other, non-"friend" sources, such as news site. To support this, the cap on 5,000 friends is being lifted.
The combination resembles RSS reading, in its timeline structure and aggregator function. It also reminds many observers of microblogging services like Twitter, Friendfeed, or Jaiku, which also publish microcontent as it appears, aggregated by users.
This is the "live Web" or "realtime Web" concept, which sees microblogs and other platforms as advancing the speed of Web conversations beyond Web 2.0 velocities. While "live Web" projects proliferate, no major corporation or platform has managed to get a handle on them so far. The idea has grown in recent months with the rapid rise of microblogging, including high-profile events like the Mumbai attack Twitterstream or the first appearance of the Hudson River plane landing through Tweetpic.
Facebook's move represents a serious challenge to far smaller Twitter, in the eyes of some observers (Facebook just passed 175 million users). Others see the smaller but more complex Friendfeed as the competitor/imitator. In fact, the new "Publisher" feature seems to update the Facebook "Status Window" to an even more directly Twitter-like identity. For example,
Undoubtedly, Facebook does not want organizations, especially those with large ad dollars, to move over to Twitter to build their audiences.
At a larger level, this move can be seen as representing even higher ambitions. "Will Facebook become the world's home page?" asks one commentator, who goes on to add: "[b]ecause that is the direction that Facebook clearly wants to go." This is supported by Facebook's CEO's blog post language - listen to the global terms Zuckerberg uses:
We think that as it becomes easier to connect and share across the social graph, people—as well as companies, governments and other organizations—will share more information about what is happening with them. As this happens, the world will become more open and people will have a better understanding of everything that is going on around them.
The transition to the new feed+profile structure is reportedly due to finish by March 11.
An iPhone application connected to Amazon's Kindle appeared this week. The free app offers a limited version of the Amazon e-book reader functionality. Users do not need to own a Kindle to buy ebooks, but cannot shop directly from their iPhones.