It has been an incredible couple of days here in California (L.A. and San Francisco) — meeting with film makers, Hollywood media people (one man who has interviewed practically everyone famous you can imagine), an incredible speaking and meeting people at Berkeley and Stanford, and then to top it off with a visit to see the inside of George Lucas’ special effects studio — Industrial Light and Magic.
During the visit to this studio, my good friend (who recently won some awards for his work here), showed me some of the original props and special effects workings from movies as old as the original Star Wars, E.T., and Ghost Busters, to as new as Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Transformers II.
Other interesting notes and random thoughts…
“Who tells the stories of a culture really governs human behavior. It used to be the parent, the school, the church, the community. Now it’s a handful of global conglomerates that have nothing to tell, but a great deal to sell.” – George Gerbner
Plato said that if he had to choose between controlling the arts or the government, he would chose the arts. He said the government made the rules and enforce people to follow them — but that people willingly internalize and follow the arts.
George Lucas and Steven Spielberg — normal guys that met in or just after college. They did one thing extraordinarily well — learned how to tell compelling stories. They say George Lucas when a kid was what others might consider a nerd – nose in a book, addicted to science fiction.
World is changing, with technology that exists the barrier of entry is lower in having the power to tell stories and capture attention.
Which makes the following questions that much more urgent and essential:
– What impact have these movies had on your life, and on your culture?
– What stories do we want to tell, which frame our view of the world, of each other, and ultimately frame the future?
– In what ways does the new media influence the way that we can tell and receive stories?
Several months ago, before I knew I was going to be directing the Edulink project, I proposed an idea to Andy Gibbons, the chair of the Instructional Psychology and Technology department at BYU, to offer a course on the use and application of web analytics for designing and improving online learning environments, and he loved the idea.
What are my expectations from the course? That everyone in the seminar:
(1) has hands on experience with the application of it with a real case,
(2) has an opportunity to contribute to an academic publication on the topic, and
(3) that our experience together produces knowledge and insights that are greater than any one of us could have come up with on our own.
My experience so far indicates that using web analytics to make and test recommendations for a simple online shopping experience (with metrics like CPC and ROI, measured in $) is a little more straight forward than deciding what set of data to monitor in order to improve online learning environments. But lets face it, with most e-learning there is a lot of room for improvement! -It is pretty easy to see how there must be some beneficial ways that web analytics can help to monitor activity and create insights for recommending and testing data-driven improvements. The initial question of importance is to determine the right KPIs (Key Performance Indicators).
A combination of a summary of the class’s ideas along with my own thoughts over the last couple years of thinking about it will be forthcoming…
Questions for now:
For anyone who might be reading this blog entry – – If you were designing and/or teaching online classes, for example, (as opposed to teaching one face-to-face and being able to see student’s reaction and adjust the experience in the moment) – what kind of things do you think would want to look at to help you make adjustments for the needs and experience of those you were teaching? – Ideally what kind of things do you think you would want to be able to measure and monitor in order to give you insights into what is going well and/or what could be improved – (and for whom)?
I believe that public school systems and universities are going to change significantly in the next 20-30 years. My thinking on these issues has been influenced by people like Lave and Wenger (Communities of Practice), Lev Vygotsky (Zone of Proximal Development), and George Siemens (Connectivism) – to name a few. As one of many changes, technology and the “new media” provides opportunities for students to tie into hands-on working and learning experiences through networks with experts in their field of study (and in some cases, even quickly become one of the experts in the field). Because there is so much to learn, and much that changes so rapidly, one of the most important skills we can teach our students (and learn ourselves) is how to navigate through the immensity of available connections and resources. I am currently experimenting with as many ways as I can think to do this with the Web Analytics class I am teaching this semester.
In response to a post he made today regarding the practical application of his theory, I described what I am doing in my class to apply many of the things that he mentioned. I am copying an adapted version of my post here for any who are interested:
The class I am currently teaching this semester is on Web Analytics. As it is a somewhat new and evolving field, I believe that the student’s I teach can even have an impact in leading and shaping it in the future. So I am doing everything I can think of to get them invested into learning from and contributing to the leading experts and networks.
1. I require them to blog – something that gives me a good feel for what they are learning (or not learning) in and out of class – believing it is something that taps into the idea that you are learning the most when you have to teach others. Sometimes it helps me get a feel for the personal side of student’s too, which helps in building rapport and trust in the class. And it is something that they will take with them after the class is over. [Incidentally it also gives them a chance to analyze the analytics from the visitors to their own personal blog throughout the semester]
3. We also aggregate the blog feeds from other experts in the field onto the same class space.
4. Many of the class activities deal with contributing to the class space – for example, the class was split into groups to study and create presentations on certain aspects of online marketing – to teach the class and post their lessons online (e.g. through BrainHoney). When it came time to present, we had three experts come to our class and act like a panel – giving feedback and additional suggestions to the topics they presented on. We called it “American Idol of Online Marketing” and it was a huge success. All the experts asked for copies of the presentations, so we could direct them to the class wiki to continue to join the conversation.
5. In addition to having a lot of guest speakers, live or virtual, and reading the thoughts of cutting edge experts through blogs and forums, I am putting together an assignment to create a wiki page called “The Who’s Who of Web Analytics” – where class members will have a chance to approach experts, interview them with several short questions, and build at least some kind of a “warm” contact while simultaneously contributing to the class knowledge of who the experts are, what got them there, and what their current thinking is like.
6. We have a hands-on competition available where student’s analyze web analytics data from a fairly large website and make recommendations to the site owner based on the web analytics data how to improve it. They first give their presentations to actual web analytics consultants who pick the top four to present to the actual owners. This is good for class, for the company, and for the consulting organization – who has ended up making offers on the spot to hire some of my class members in the previous semester that I have taught it.
7. I have just negotiated with one of the biggest and best hands-on conferences in webanalytics to allow all of my class members to attend for at least one day. (side note: although I do not know what it has to do with Web Analytics, I personally am excited that Lance Armstrong is one of the keynote presenters.)
In previous semesters I just aggregated student blogs, but this semester I wanted to make a bigger push to get them tied to the actual community of practice. So those are some of the examples I have found helpful in doing that. Some of it has been a little more time consuming to get rolling, but I think now it is starting to be a self-feeding mechanism in a way. I also found one of the most important things I did this semester was to re-set the student expectations on the very first day of class away from what they might typically expect in a class and towards a new type of learning environment.
Of course, I am just learning in all of this myself – muddling through, making mistakes and hopefully learning from them as I go. But I also think it has been a lot of fun so far.
Thanks for your contributions to my thought process as I have tried these new ideas.
Any further suggestions or thoughts about my particular approach?
We had a great PhD day seminar, with about 13 participants from Finland, Estonia, Australia, UK, USA, and Spain. We want to thank Ulla Kakkonen and Eeva Turtiainen for allowing us to use the facilities at The Evangelic Folk High School of Kitee, and Ulla even teaching us about “toivon, valvon, and kiitan”.
In addition to building two excellent snow men (more pictures available at Antony Harfield’s blog), enjoying some s’mores with everyone, and having a relaxing time in the sauna, pool, and steam room — we also had some great presentations and stimulating discussions about a variety of topics.
Below are some of the presentations. Each description is now a hyper link to the corresponding mp3 of the discussion.
Michael de Raadt (from University of Southern Queensland, Australia) conducted a discussion about peer-assessments. (See notes here)
Erkki Sutinen (from the University of Joensuu) presented on a topic that we were asked not to reveal out of the room, but we spent some time brainstorming how to make an exciting new initiative into a feasible reality.
My questions for you again:
Do you listen to these at all?
Are they helpful – or how could they be more helpful?
Should we continue to provide recordings like this?
We still need some work on figuring out the best ways to handle video and audio in this environment (especially for people who wish to join us from developing countries), but at least this represents a start at trying to include people at a distance in these PhD seminars.
I’m sure one day we will look back and think about how primitive these tools are, but for now it is the best we have.
Report by Erkki’s trip to South Africa & Discussion with Marjo from San Diego (unfortunately, although we could hear her great, the mic didn’t record Marjo very well as we tried to capture her voice from Skype into Adobe Connect): (Duration – 00:31:36) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p92688056/
Discussion led by Clint about research by the Gallup organization regarding what is it that people have in common who are excellent at what they do (in business, education, sports, entertainment, etc.). We discussed the one thing they found these people had in common. (Duration – 00:24:50) – For part of this time (starting at about 00:17:00) we broke into groups and I do not think anyone will want to watch that part. http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p38892677/
Presentation by Andres about his research in Tanzania (his audio was not very consistent for us, but you can actually hear the first parts of it better once his slide show starts in the recording than we did in real life). Once you are viewing it, you can also see in the “file share” pod a document called presentation.pdf – click on it and save it to your computer, or you can also find it as an attachment on my blog entry about this PhD day. He has requested that we please review the presentation document and email him any feedback you have for his research! (Duration – 00:17:34) http://connectpro64128288.emea.acrobat.com/p80216809/
I present today at the European Distance and E-learning Network’s (EDEN) 6th Open Classroom Conference. The theme of the conference is “Real Learning in Virtual Worlds”. I have already learned some valuable things and will blog them throughout the conference, but here is one of my initial reactions.
I have sat through a few of the normal boring sessions, occasionally hearing the typical sweeping rhetorical fallacies such as “Video conference is more effective than face-to-face methods”;“Books are worthless and should be done away”; “ICT improves the effectiveness of learning”; and so on.
I suppose that since the jobs and livelihood of these people is tied to ICT in education that I should not be surprised to hear marketing jargon and messages like this instead of scientifically critical and contextualized statements – but I get weary of hearing them (including when they have come from me in the past).
As one example, the “no significant difference phenomenon” seems so well established with regard to media comparison studies that we really don’t need any more media comparison studies or statements. Rather, much more interesting and productive are discussions and experiments with novelties in pedagogy, educational ideologies and approaches (enabled through various media). Especially when they are contextualized to specific situations, assessed in the best way we know how, and published in an open and replicatable way.
What specific problems exist in previous teaching/learning situations?
How do the new approaches solve those problems?
What do we give up in exchange for these “solutions”?
It would be unfair to say that every presentation has been uninteresting or stereotypical, and I have met quite a few people doing very interesting things, but I just wanted to vent my pet peeve. I’ll email more later about things I have learned and enjoyed.
On the positive (and somewhat random) side – (1) the sun was out all day yesterday, and (2) when I came to a cross-walk on a busy street in Stockholm I was pretty surprised when all the cars from both directions stopped so that I could cross. 🙂
To begin with, click here to subscribe to the EdTech Google calender that Ilkka has kindly created:
University of Joensuu EdTech Ph.D. Seminar Program for 21.11.2007
**The tentative schedule will look something like this.
10:00am – We will car pool from the Science Park at to the Kitee Folk High School
12:00 – We will have a short lunch
1:00-3:00pm – Presentations (I am not yet sure if we will be able to broadcast this one to all EdTech students or not.)
So far we have:
1. Michael de Raadt(visiting from University of Southern Queensland, Australia) – will present and raise some questions about Peer Assessment:
Is peer assessment a valid form of assessment?
Can peer assessment save instructors time?
Should students be rewarded for participating in peer assessment?
Can students give accurate subjective reviews of a peer's work?
He will also discuss the approach to distance education (and education in general) from an Australian perspective less formally, if people are interested.
2. AnttiRainio (from the Kittee Folk High School) – will present about TEDIT ? (Towards Equality and Democracy Through IT-education):
TEDIT is a planned project for years 2008-2011 in Lusaka, Zambia. Project is about giving skills to 24 Zambian people to teach computers and to understand democracy and good administration as well as project coordination. Aim is that these people can spread this knowledge and offer basic computer skills education to 200 orphans during the project. In larger scale the project is about enhancing democracy and equality in the Zambian society.
3. EevaTurtiainen (one of our students and also working at Kitee Folk High School)– will present about her “not-so-ready” research plan 🙂
Title “Educational games in mathematics”.
4. Clint Rogers (visiting researcher at Joensuus Yliopisto) – will present about his evaluation of and recommendations for the IMPDET program.
Evaluation of the IMPDET program
3:00-5:00pm – We will have small group discussions and brainstorming sessions.
5:00-8:00pm – We will continue discussions over a nice dinner and time in the sauna, steam room, and pool (Unfortunately for sure we will not be able to broadcast this part). Clint will also be bringing materials for everyone to learn how to make a type of Smores. Yum!
8:00pm – Some will travel back to Joensuu
For those of us who are staying the night, we will watch a movie that one critic said “This film will impact the course of your life forever.” After we will discuss the learning/teaching approaches in it and potential implications for educational technology
As people continue to submit ideas for presentation at this seminar, I will post them here accordingly.
This was at 10:00am (GMT +3) in the EdTech Lab – but as we will be including any of our students or faculty around the world who want to participate, you can go to the World Clock Meeting Planner to see what time it will be for you where you live.
(9:45-10:00) People at a distance should click on the link, and we will work out any bugs before the meeting begins. 10:00-10:10 Welcome and Introductions by Erkki – (and distribution of Halloween Candy by Clint) 10:10-10:30 Presentation by Marjo (from California): about her research and experiences in San Diego 10:30-10:45 Presentation by Temtim (from Ethiopia): Introduction of himself to the research group
10:45-11:00 Short break
11:00-11:30 Demonstration (and discussion) by Illka and Javier of North-South Gateway (e.g. progress on Tug-of-War)
11:30-11:45 Informal discussion on some spontaneous topic of interest
I presented yesterday at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University E-Learning Lab, and was impressed by what they are doing. Although it is not the only thing they do, I quite simply have not seen anyone as advanced in mobile learning functionality – and I think it is because they have a nice combination of (#1) idea generation (hosting conferences and visiting with other scholars), (#2) technical expertise in developing the ideas (with the base of dozens of computer science students working right there), and (#3) the resources to make it all happen (including funding from Intel, China Telecom, BT, etc…).
Prof Shen showed me how students can view a live class room experience from their cell phone, toggling back between views of the teacher, the presentation material (if any), the live class, and at the same time send an SMS to the teacher in real time. I toured one of the “Smart Natural Classrooms” that make this possible. Immediately after each class session, they are archived and available for retrieval at any time, with students even being able to make calls to a call center for additional support as needed. The messages sent by email or SMS are first scanned with a natural language processor that extracts the meaning of the question and sends an automated response based on similar answers to previous questions. If that answer is not adequate, then the student can contact the teacher. The main idea behind it all is to have the class-room experience that people are already familiar with, but simply to extend the audience through mobile learning functionality.
The main current limitations seem to be that only one type of phone is currently compatible with the system (at least it is a Nokia :), but they are already working on extending the options of phones that will work. On the other hand, these lectures are a part of is a premium degree-granting program, so students are willing to pay more to be a part of the university, etc. The desire in China to have a degree from a top university probably can not be overstated. Also, my personal (admittedly somewhat biased) opinion is that they should be using technology not simply to mimic and extend existing class-room experiences, but also leverage the opportunity for student’s to engage in more web 2.0 kinds of learning and teaching experiences. Not just consuming content, but also creating, synthesizing, sharing…
My presentation to the lab today was in two parts: (1) Web 2.0 Paradigms & Platforms for Harnessing Collective Intelligence (with case: Agillix BrainHoney), and (2) Web Analytics and Decision Automation in E-Commerce and E-Learning Contexts (with case: Omniture/ Touch Clarity).
Afterwards – Dr. Minjuan Wang and I toured a part of old town Shanghai – enjoying ice cream bars – the treat in the center being sweet green peas (although Minjuan’s was sugar free, of course).