eli as stream of consciousness day one

I’ve attended a lot of sessions the last day-and-a-half and haven’t really had time to delve deeper into some of the topics in a way that I’d like to. In the meantime, I thought it would be kind of interesting to do a post that is primarily my internal running dialogue of my experience. So here goes….

ELI Virtual Worlds Sub-Committee. The first session I attended. To be honest, I’m not a member of the committee. Originally thought is was the social media sub-committee meet-up…Lots of discussion on the continued viability of Second Life in higher ed. due to Linden Lab’s (LL) revoking of educational pricing. Your content/data/information is currently not portable. So what are the options for instructors who’ve invested a lot into developing this as a teaching & learning platform? Will a short-sighted (my opinion) price increase impact LL’s access to a potential large market?…I asked the group if they thought augmented reality options were an alternative, and possibly a threat to virtual reality options, such as SL. The group did not think so. Posited that augmented reality was suited for didactic learning but virtual reality allows for higher-level learning opportunities. I’m not so sure about this. I think augmented reality could displace alternate reality. In fact, it may be the natural evolution of things.

Eric Mazur Keynote: Using Technology to Engage Students. Mazur is a physics professor at Harvard. Has the rare combination of intelligence & personality. He did not present or talk as much as he told a story. For once, I found physics interesting and clickers engaging. Mazur shuns factual questions when using clickers opting for the more gray area, where there are not absolutely correct answers, in order to foster discussion & engagement…This seems to upset some folks on Twitter who wanted a ‘right’ answer or wanted to add their own answer choice. IMO this is precisely how Mazur wants his students to feel. The discomfort, hopefully, engages them & promotes dialogue. A much better sound than the sound of one voice talking and a the pressing of buttons…A much better presentation than the session title would lead you to believe.

Randy Bass & The Problem of Learning in the Postcourse Era. I thought this sounded familiar. I think Bass, Georgetown, gave a similar talk at AAEEBL in Boston this past summer (need to double-check my notes)…premise here is that students, according to data, indicate that most of their valuable learning experiences occur outside the realm of a bounded course. Therefore, we need to rethink our curricular model that has courses at its heart…I’m not sure if it was the time of day, or that I heard the talk before, or what but, I had difficulty engaging. I was certainly in the minority. The Twitter stream was buzzing with comments and there were lots of questions from the floor at the end.

The 2011 Horizon Report. This session never fails to disappoint me. Maybe I expect too much. I hold the session separate from the Horizon Report, which I find extremely valuable for me & my job. ELI & NMC have done a great job with future-casting technologies and their impact on education. I don’t always agree with their position on a technology and isn’t that the point of academia: discourse & the marketplace of ideas…Maybe it’s because I find the report so important for strategic planning & framing conversations about teaching & learning that the presentation itself is a drag. Every year I wait for someone on the panel to tell me the story of how they got to where there did this year (see Mazur above for an example) but instead I hear about logistics (then the committee did this. then we did…) followed by innumerable screenshots of examples out of context…The report is the end result of  a year-long journey of discovery. I want to hear more about what that journey was like. Why did the committee choose the technologies they did? What were the determining factors that left something out. How did the committee reach that conclusion? What was that process like? Was there discussion? About what? How was the committee persuaded?

…My best learning experiences always were compelled, internally or externally. At the core is a story. I guess that’s what I’m looking for when I go to conferences. Good stories.

  1. March 4th, 2011

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