Today NITLE is offering the first instance in an ongoing series, MIV Special Topics videoconference sessions, "Update on Emerging Technologies." NITLE's director of research, Bryan Alexander, will take a group on an interactive, discussion-friendly tour of some of the latest developments, including:
- the Horizon Report
- the latest from the NITLE prediction markets
- mobile devices
- semantic web, going forward in 2009
- browser developments
- glimpses of NITLE's social media study
- some Web 2.0 tidbits: Facebook vs. Twitter, podcasting growth, new Blackboard
- some campus-based projects from participating institutions
For those who miss this session, two more are scheduled: April 8 and May 6.
A request for colleagues to work on a gaming and teaching project in the liberal arts:
Christian Spielvogel, an Associate Professor of Communication at Hope College, is applying for a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education) dissemination grant to develop and implement up to ten Web-based, collaborative role-playing simulations and games for introductory and general education courses in higher education.
Christian is looking for a few authors who might be interested in joining the grant team to develop simulation content for subjects in which learning is well-suited to role-playing narratives rooted in complex systems, processes, or contexts, and can serve as an effective complement or alternative to traditional “top-down” resources and lectures.
Each simulation will be supported by the Serious Sims open-source software platform that Spielvogel and collaborators at Hope College created with financial support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Modeled after social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, Serious Sims integrates networked collaboration with multi-modal content and anonymous online role-playing to enable students to generate knowledge as readers, authors, actors, and audience members.
Content management tools enable authors to easily upload their content, so no programming or design skills are required.
The FIPSE proposal will be bolstered by two successfully tested prototypes, A Marriage of Cultures and the Valley Sim.
Laurie Ginsberg’s (Western Michigan University) A Marriage of Cultures is a simulation intended for anthropology and women’s studies students developed around the narrative framework of a cross-cultural wedding between an American man and a Japanese woman.
Players learn about conflicting views of family responsibility, courtship, kinship, religious identity, and ideals of love as members of the Takahashi and Mancini families in the weeks leading up to Tom Mancini and Aya Takahashi’s wedding.
Christian Spielvogel’s Valley Sim is an online simulation of the American Civil War based on primary documents featured in the award-winning Valley of the Shadow digital archive.
Players experience and debate the war’s epochal events as avatars based on the lives of residents from two wartime communities whose original diaries and letters have been digitized in the Valley archive.
If you’re interested in more information about this grant opportunity, please feel free to view a trailer based on a recent pilot of the Valley Sim prototype at Penn State University, .And feel free to contact project director Christian Spielvogel at spielvogel at hope dot edu.
A National Public Radio (NPR) show explores clickers in the classroom. The report begins by describing personal response systems in a Cleveland State University class, then interviews Austin technology columnist Omar Gallaga to look at benefits and limitations.
When McLennan asks the class a question, the students stare at the question on the screen, on which a countdown appears. When the time is up, they punch in their answers.
Laptops or netbooks - which device will lead on campuses? A new NITLE prediction market proposition:
Campuses will support as many laptops as netbooksby 15 May 2009. ‘Netbook’ means any sub-laptop sized keyboard-equipped computer, such as the Asus Eee PC or the Apple Air.
New to the prediction markets? Start here.
Verification method: a Twitter query, a survey of publications during the final week, and pinging several complementary networks, including NITLE peer communities and others.
The LA Times offers a good introduction to the "tea party" movement, in terms of its use of Web 2.0 to organize for a political agenda.
a wave of images, blog posts and videos from a nationwide protest has been washing across the Web. The protests, dubbed "tea parties" by participants, were held Friday in several U.S. cities including Portland and Washington, D.C. as a response to what demonstrators see as unfettered spending and encroaching government as represented by President Obama's economic recovery plans.
Though even a year ago it would've been a slow and difficult process to chronicle a widely scattered protest such as this, the online community is now mastering the art of high-speed media sharing, a trend that can unite geographically disparate communities via the Web. Much of the sharing is now facilitated by the fast-growing messaging site Twitter, where today the keyword "teaparty" was one of the most frequently used terms. Users sent out a flurry of updates about attendance, links to photos on Flickr and Photobucket, and videos on YouTube and other sites.
The protests appeared to be rather small and did not attract much coverage in the mainstream media. But interested observers had a remote window into the activities taking place in cities such as Tulsa, Okla., Austin, Texas, Nashville, Chicago, Lansing, Mich., Houston, Hartford, Conn., and Los Angeles, where a group gathered this morning on the Santa Monica pier.
Amazon altered a feature on its new Kindle 2 device, in response to pressure from copyright holders. The e-book reader had an automatic function which created audio readings of texts, on the fly. But after print publishers complained about alleged copyright violations, Amazon backed off to make the feature allowable only under individual agreements with rights holders.
[W]e are modifying our systems so that rightsholders can decide on a title by title basis whether they want text-to-speech enabled or disabled for any particular title. We have already begun to work on the technical changes required to give authors and publishers that choice.
One reason for this change could be that Amazon wants to expand its stock of Kindle-ready books, and therefore prefers good relations with authors and publishers.
Previous Liberal Education Today blog posts on the Kindle: here.
Peter Suber, philosophy professor from a liberal arts campus and open access advocate, gave an overview of that publication approach to Harvard University this week. David Weinberger live-blogged notes.
An integration between Google Apps and a course management system has appeared. It's a single sign-on for Moodle, created by Moodlerooms.
With the update, administrators of Moodle can easily set up Google Apps accounts for their students. And students who log into their school's version of Moodle can now automatically be signed in to their school's Google Apps Education Edition service.
Interesting standards note:
Moodlerooms used the industry standard SAML 2.0 and OAuth protocols to securely integrate with Moodle, building on open extensibility features of Google Apps Education Edition. Using these extensibility features, any educational software vendor can take a similar approach to provide user directory synchronization, single sign-on, and user data integration with their service.
(via Meg Stewart, via Twitter)
An experiment in computer gaming was mounted last month, as the ELI conference hosted an alternate reality game (ARG). Now an Educause Webinar has game organizers debriefing players and others, explaining and evaluating what went on. NITLE's director of research is one of the presenters and designers (archive direct link here).
Please consider both a poster and/or a presentation at one of the user community meetings.
(sample image of Top Sites, from Apple page)
Internet Explorer retains a majority share of the browser audience.
Mad City Mystery is a teaching game which uses handheld devices to support a story. Players rely on smartphones to gather and share information about a murder mystery, requiring environmental studies curricula to solve (video).
Players race against the clock (about 90 minutes, for most classes) to provide the police examiner (played by a real person) enough data to open an investigation into the causes of the death.
While the cause of the death is ultimately unknown, mercury found in fish, TCE (trichloroethene) found in the factory where Ivan worked, and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) found in ground water and fish are potential causes. Through the course of the game, players talk to virtual characters to learn life histories and access documents describing chemicals, conduct simulated tests for PCBs, TCE, and mercury, and must piece together an argument about the cause of the death.
Apparently Voicethread is interested in more projects along this line, more closely integrating their platform with course management systems:
We do have additional LMS integration on our roadmap; this is just another step towards making VoiceThread even more useful in the digital classroom.
From the conference description:
For faculty, instructional technologists, librarians, and other staff members at participating institutions who use or support the use of spatial software to visualize, understand, and address human impacts on environmental and cultural systems. Participants will consider how GIS and digital mapping shape the discourse on sustainability within higher education, with examples drawn from research, teaching, and institutional planning and outreach.
With new federal policies for alternative energy, waste reduction, carbon mitigation, and reduced spending on the horizon, sustainability will be a cornerstone of tomorrow’s job market and both a financial and curricular imperative for higher education. We invite you to join us and engage in issues for sustainability that can be addressed with spatial technologies - from integrated institutional management and curricular design -to- carbon accounting and beyond.
Please contact Sean Connin to learn more about this conference and/or review our current list of speakers.
One side effect on academia of the economic crisis could be a boom in free, open academic content, according to Lev Gonick (Case Western). Gonick sees budget cuts as driving institutions to pick up on recent Web developments:
One area where I predict fundamental change is the impact of open educational resources on the textbook market. Traditional textbook publishers have held an iron lock on the industry’s model for too long, and universities have been tacitly complicit of the system. In the Web era, however, this oligopolistic business practice is imploding.
(thanks to Rebecca Davis)
This account describes one parent worrying about their teenaged son, who plays a World War Two game (Call of Duty). So the pedagogical solution appears:
So we compromised. Well, sort of.
I asked Evan to google the Geneva Convention. Then he had to read it and then we had to discuss it. This we did. So the deal is that Evan has to fight according to the rules of the Geneva Convention. If his team-mates violate the Convention then play stops and Call of Duty goes away for a while.
(via Gabriel McGovern)
Notes from eLearning 2009 conference presentation on two course management system (CMS) platforms, Epsilen and Blackboard. Fort Hays State University FHSU considered them together, compared, and selected one. Three faculty members described the process.
- appears to be a total learning plus management system
- embraces Web 2.0, including social networking
- e-portfolio system
- different content management system
Professors then explored the interface, emphasizing the way multiple types and sources of content appeared in each user's display. Classes were built along a lesson sequence. Lessons allow embedding local and exterior content (examples: local Powerpoints, YouTube videos, VoiceThread files). A political scientist described using New York Times widgets designed for Epsilen . Blogs were also supported, which worked for some pedagogical intentions; instructor interface builds in grading blog posts directly.
An English professor described using other Epsilen features, including tracking student "footprints" (where they visited in the course space). Dan Kulmala emphasized the platform's ability to elicit student writing, while Blackboard seemed more oriented in "shuffling content around" - the "Post It" function helped in this, as did other tools. Kulmala then described using the platform to support teaching with a computer game (Civilization IV).
A technology studies professor described students developing e-portfolios, which were then attached to profiles. Epsilen e-ports don't disappear when a student leaves, but are available indefinitely.
Several courses used both Epsilen and Blackboard during the same semester, and the students offered their assessments: transitions were relatively easy. Epsilen came out ahead in usability, especially with younger students. For personal learning style and overall preference, on-campus students preferred Epsilen, while virtual students preferred Blackboard, especially for transition costs. The assessment tool received poor marks from faculty.
FHSU faculty saw the Epsilen company as more responsive than Blackboard to their concerns.
Next on their radar: adding a "learning matrix" to students, enabling assessment over time. FHSU is involved in beta testing this feature, which is supposed to lead to normative, longitudinal assessment. Instructors can create templates and apply them to multiple courses.