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Archive for the ‘News and Information’ Category

Today, thanks to twitter, I came across two editorials from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that are extremely pertinent to education.

Students lost in digital wasteland

and

If it’s not on the test, don’t expect me to know it

Both of these articles deal with the expectations of students vs. instructors vs.  system/standardized tests.

In the first editorial Eric Fox, an English professor, bemoans the shift to edutainment (not the word he uses) from education.  He blames the shift on “packaged minds fresh off the factory farm of iPod, “American Idol” and Facebook, a vast herd of electronic sheep stuffed with fast facts and establishment filler.”  It’s the establishment filler (I might have called it a filter) that Fox has the issue with.

The second editorial written by Laura Braziel a graduating senior at UGA, explains how students can “game” the system and become an honors graduate from a top five journalism school at a major university without actually learning much.  She blames standardized testing.

As someone who works in instructional technology, these editorials are disconcerting.  I have a passion for education and for learning.  I believe technology should not get in the way of learning, but should enhance and deepen the learning process.  I have mixed feelings about standarized tests and their impact on learning and curriculum.  What you think?

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At Berry College, the Staff Advisory Committee regularly schedules staff development sessions.  I attended one of these yesterday; the topic was improving customer service through process improvement and was given by Dr. John Grout.  I’m not going rehash the seminar here, but basically the point was that we (staff) should evaluate our current processes and see if we can eliminate ‘waste,’ thereby making the processes improved.

We were supposed to be thinking of ways that we could improve customer service of our department (in my case, the Center for Instructional Technology).   However, in my position I think one of my main functions can be defined as helping faculty improve processes and improve customer service (i.e. teaching).  I came to this conclusion by looking at the different types of waste (information, process, physical environment, and people (not that kind of waste hehe)) and realizing that many of the faculty I work with are trying to eliminate one or kinds of waste from their teaching.

Not too long ago I had a discussion with another instructional technologist who was very adamant that I should not use what she called ‘convenient factors’ when talking to faculty about emerging and useful technologies.  I disagree with her because I think that faculty can eliminate waste from their teaching and teaching preparation processes by using technology, hence giving them more time to focus on teaching and learning (and maybe some other technologies).

Waste that instructional technologists can help faculty eliminate:

  • redundant input and output of data – create audio/video podcast to explain theories that cause students issues
  • incompatible systems/converting formats – different systems in classrooms and office that cause headaches for faculty
  • noise – maybe not physical noise, but interruptions and the like
  • faulty office furniture/tripping hazards/use of chairs and tables as ladders/unbalanced or unsecured shelving and file cabinets – ok, maybe not a CIT issue here, but an issue nonetheless
  • multitasking – help faculty speedup process, so they get finished quicker and there is less of a need for working on more than one task at once
  • under utilization of talent – I think this applies to everyone
  • lack of strategic focus – too much time spent on administrative tasks, and not on the broad/big picture

Dr. Grout referenced the book Flow in the Office by Carlos Venegas during this seminar.

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The first post on this blog was about ‘alternative’ ways for students to get textbooks.  Since then it seems like I’ve seen/heard variations of this discussion in several places.   Three articles came to my attention that I would like to discuss further.

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Yesterday we had a new blast of anti-Facebook sentiments as the site’s new terms of service was unveiled. For me, and a lot of other people, it was a reminder of how we must all be vigilant about protecting our personal information online.  (Facebook has since reverted to their old terms of service and are taking input from users for the next revision).

Facebook is a bear of a site to try to manage for newbies because of the vast array of contacts that you can have – friends, family, and professional contacts. You may not want all of these people to have the same access to your personal information. For example, you might want your friends to have your cell phone and personal email, but might not want your professional contacts to have that information.

Here’s an example from the Chronicle of Higher Education about a professor at Dartmouth who left her profile to more people than she intended.

Here are some more humorous examples of pictures that should never have been made public (not all on Facebook) from Dan Tynan at PC World.

Of course, these privacy can be managed with a 10-20 minute investment in tweaking the privacy settings in Facebook.   I won’t need to recreate the wheel of telling you how as Nick O’Neill of AllFacebook.com as done a wonderful job (click to read more).

For those of you not on Facebook, I would encourage you to check it out.  Look for a Facebook 101 podcast from CIT coming in April/May.

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Two sites have recently come to my attention Newseum and Newspapers.com.  Both sites work in distinctly different ways, but are similar in the way that sort of aggregate newspaper content for users to find easily.

Newseum

Someone sent me a link to Newseum’s Today’s Front Pages site. It is an amazing tool that allows you to look at the front page of countless newspapers from around the world.

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