The FaceBook ... if you are in education you know what it is. If you are in tech, you know what it is. FaceBook is a social networking service that about 85% of the college student population uses. A quick survey of my class this semester showed me that 44 out of 45 students were in the FB. It is amazing how much time and energy students give to their entries and it shows me that with the right mix there are things we can do to design killer experiences:
One thing is to make it easy to connect to others. LMS tools do not do this. They are positioned as a teaching tool first and only ... that is shame as I would love if it my students spent some real time inside our learning spaces.
Make features they want ... right now our CMS/LMS has dropboxes, messageboards, quizzes and all the htings I want as a teacher but nothing for them. There isn't a place to connect with others outside of email, you can't leave quick messages for anyone, and the chat stuff is just so old school.
I am not saying we should be using the FB for our learning spaces, but there are real lessons there. I just read a quick article over at Techcrunch in which they saw FB is pulling 1 million a week via advertising revenue and are in the process of openning the service up to some corporations. Amazing. Can you imagine having access to a friend of a friend toolset inside a huge company! Now think about how a big company could use it to post jobs and capture the attention of almost all the college kids in the country ... adding that on top of social networking would be mighty interesting. At any rate, I am up to 30 or so friends so I am not as pathetic as I once was ... ok, maybe I am but at least I am in the Book.
I got down to DC last evening to prepare for today's "Expert Panel on Technology-Based Learning" that I was invited to be a part of. Let me first say that this is the first time I have taken part in anything remotely connected to the Government. This all day panel is hosted by the U.S. Department of Labor and its intent is to inform them on policy decisions related to technology in education. I am one of maybe a half dozen people here to join the conversation.
I talk at 1:00 PM (right after lunch) on the panel titled, "Emerging Technologies Now and in the Future." My piece of the hour and a half panel is on what we are calling disruptive technologies -- blogs, wikis, podcasting, RSS, and social bookmarking. I get 20 minutes to talk and then we are on the spot for 30 minutes of questions. Should be a lot of fun. I am really looking forward to hearing what goes on today. There are some good people here that will be making remarks in the morning so it should keep my attention. I will post a follow-up after I get home tonight.
Now that I have made the jump to a single Mac setup -- well not completely, but more on that later -- I am doing things very differently. I recently got a new Apple MacBook Pro 15" to replace my oldish 15" PowerBook and my desktop G5 at work. I was getting sick and tired of the constant syncing issues between the machines and just wanted to simplify. My new MacBook is great other than a few annoyances. At any rate, I am slowly taking advantage of a single environment to migrate to a new set of tools to help me manage my digital life ... here are three things I am trying to do differently:
RSS Feeds: My feeds are now (and once again) powered by NetNewsWire Pro. I did this once before after bloglines ate my subscription list, but went back because I was just on too many computers to make it work for me. I am now using NetNewsWire (I am even paying for it) as my primary RSS reader. I have it hooked up with Pukka to allow me to quickly post sites to my del.icio.us account (a critical piece to the puzzle for me). It syncs with my new NewsGator account every-time I quit so my feeds are updated if I am on a different machine. So far I am really liking it ... a few issues, but those are for a separate post.
Blog Posting: Another Ranchero deal ... this post is being created in MarsEdit. Again, I figure since I am on a single machine I can go this route. So far so good, but there are some formatting issues I am trying to figure out. Again, it is hooked up to my NetNewsWire app so I can blog any site instantly from within my NNW. Easy and sweet ... oh and it has spell checking, is Intel native, and gives me a local view of my stuff (the image upload has never really worked for me in WP 2.0, so I really like that feature in MarsEdit).
Email: Not Ranchero ... I use Apple's Mail app ... I like it, but it isn't perfect. What is? But I do like the way it looks and feels. I have added MailTags to it and it is changing the way I get things done. Between keywords and projects I finally have an idea of where messages go. I get about 125-150 messages a day with at least 80% of those needing attention. So now I have folders that automatically move messages around based on tags. It is working so well!
So there it is. By going to one machine I am learning how to take advantage of software to do the work of the web. In the case of the Ranchero stuff I am very happy. Time will tell, but for today I am a happy camper.
Given my recent interest with airport (and other) icons, I found this short film to be wonderful. It is a simple Flash film that is made entirely out of public domain airport/travel icons. Really well done. And BTW, below is a shot of one of my latest finds ... it is even used in the linked film.
Showing the Dead roots with that title ... it is so tired and so used, but what a week. I spent the first half of last week cleaning up after the TLT Symposium and finally finishing up my group's staff review and development plans. I even got mine done ... phew!
The second half of the week kicked off with being picked up by two of my brother-in-laws and whisked off to my time share at Lakeview just outside of Morgantown, WV. Now, for the handful of people who spend any time here, you know I did my undergrad at WVU in Morgantown and loved every second of it. Honestly it is why my one brother-in-law Eric and I bought a week there. Both of us have experience with timeshares, but they are usually in places like Palm Springs, Orlando, and other "nice" destinations. The roots of the MoTown purchase go back a few years. Eric and I were working together at the Solutions Institute and were having one of our typical late night "few glasses of wine" conversations ... I think Eric said something like, "let's buy something on eBay ..." Well, about an hour later and $300 poorer, we were the co-owners of a mid-April week at Lakeview. One of the best $300 I've ever spent.
We try to get down every year to play a little golf and get away. This year we headed out Wed and stayed through to Saturday. Our group was joined by two other firends from PSU ... golf, downtown MoTown, campus, and just plain old fun was what it was all about. I'll post some pictures over at my flickr space tomorrow.
Leaving on Saturday we raced to Bloomsburg to join the families in a backyard Easter Egg hunt -- a local tradition. It was great seeing more friends and family! I will say it was a bit sureal leaving WV to arrive in a button down Easter Egg hunt though. The weekend was rounded out with a wonderful Easter dinner at my wife's parents' house. Then back to State College. Great weekend all the way around. My wife was not only wonderful enough to let me escape for a few days to recharge, but when she realized I really needed to recharge from my recarging, she let me take a nap today! I think I have the world's greatest wife.
After Henry Jenkins' keynote talk I had a chance to talk with him about a whole bunch of topics. We talked about our school systems, the notion of media literacy, games, and so much more. It is only about 30 minutes in length and worth the listen. Wonderful stuff.
Direct link to the podcast is right here!
Wow, what a day! Less than eight total hours, but what a day. The Penn State Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium is over. Looks like we ended up with over 90 posts in the blog, over 120 pictures taken by the community in Flickr, 14 podcasts, and 5 streaming videos of sessions -- all in one day! That doesn't include the pictures of all the people who stopped at the iMac with PhotoBooth running on it.
I can't thank all the people who worked so hard to pull this off! I also can't thank all of you out there who helped with ideas, sent me encouragement to try something different, and dropped links to it yesterday. Now the fun starts -- how do we build on an event like that? That is what my team will start to look at immediately. No matter how you carve it up, it was a great day with all sorts of new things going on.
The Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium kicks off in the morning. I just had dinner with Henry Jenkins, our keynote speaker, and if he tells the same types of stories tomorrow, it'll be amazing. Smart guy.
Do me favor, join us tomorrow via the event blog. We are doing live blogging and podcasting all day long -- from every session. It is the first event at PSU to take advantage of these types of spaces, so it will be interesting to see how it all goes down. Either way, stop by.