Open futures, closed practice?

An interesting post on crumbling ivory towers by Steve Wheeler, where he discusses ideas recently explored in Educause – under open faculties and open futures. Interestingly, this points to continued divergence, and separation of knowledge.

“The bottom line is this: If students find that an important text is protected, or even closed off, due to copyright restrictions (or even, perish the thought, pay walls), they will simply go elsewhere. It will be a fitting epitaph for the ivory tower brigade, that they are increasingly irrelevant in a modern, web enabled academic world, whilst the stars of the show will be those scholars who openly share their work, and who will listen to feedback. IP is not threatened. Academics will still own their ideas. What is threatened is the protectionist, exclusionist ideology that has prevailed for so long in the learned society. What is threatened is the idea that knowledge should ever have been made into a commodity. We may yet see the ivory towers come crashing down.”

Full the entire post here:


iPad Adventure Begins

The iPad: Magic, you all ready know how to use it and its crazy powerful. Or at least that is the claim. Many Universities immediately believed it, and many have been handing them out to students already. Whoa, hold on … we didn’t do that with laptops or netbooks, how come we’re doing it with iPads?

I admit, I bought one on day one, and I like it. But I didn’t buy it to learn per se. Nor has it made me a better learner really. As much as I like it, I am not at all sure that the 95% of conscientious objectors, avoiders and ‘busy’ people will either. So at Macquarie University – We applied for some grant money to investigate and test Apple’s marketing message.

We’ll probably end up with about 40 in the field. Roughly 50/50 split between academic staff and ‘professional’ staff. Over 2 months, we want to let staff have an iPad Adventure, drawing upon ideas of ‘cybergogy’ in that the device has a number of domains that come together to create engagement with whatever you might do with it.

We are looking at four areas: Dextrous (can you use it), Emotional (do you like using it), Cognitive (did you learn with it) and Social (did you do something with others). In those areas, there are numerous sub-sets and possible uses.

The adventure on day one, set’s out to hand out iPads to staff, with iTunes cards and  basic ‘pack’ of information, so that they can go off and explore.

We are asking for a fornightly evaluation to collect data; but also offering staff the opportunity to post reflections on a group-blog. It will be interesting to see if what people make of it – and how that moderates what we think and believe we will do with them in professional development.

I firmly believe that we don’t do enough ‘moderation’ in technology. I wince at the top down ‘roll out’ where some committee determines what is good, bad – worse or good enough for everyone. Teachers often have little input to ‘big decisions’ yet wear the consequences, good and bad.

We may have staff that leave them on a desk for two months, or find a new affinity with technology. But in a large institution, we are going to see a diverse attitudes and use I hope.

So, if you we’re asking someone to evaluate an iPad in the context of ‘engagement’ with technology …

  • What software do you think would be essential for engagement?
  • How does an iPad change the nature and purpose of technology in engaging educators?

I welcome any comments and suggestions … the adventure awaits.

8 months and 1 wiki? – what do we do all day

PLEASINGLY, after several months of persistence, I am finding a softening of academic suspicion over the word ‘wiki’. The Scientists, Computer typs and Educators have been dabbling with Wiki’s for ages of course (under the table) and haven’t really looked up. But, after 7 months of development Wikis are now available to some 2000 academics at an enterprise level. So potentially I’m stuffed if they all want one tomorrow! – But already interest is flowing in for using wikis as learning tools. I’m always amazed how Web2.0 moves once you get past the inertia period.

This is a presentation that I’ve used to prime potential groups of users.

I’d like to thank Tim Allen, who is leaving Macquarie for further study. Without his evaluation, research and attention to detail we’d have crashed and burned. It’s been a long campaign, but now winning more than we lose.