Monthly Archives: March 2008

I Doubt I’m a Doubter . . .

Mike got all up in my grill for criticizing the CMS in education. I am apparently both a dreamer (but I’m not the only one) and a “doubter.” He even accused me of listening to Beach Boys music (I do have a theme song in mind for CMS’s – unless some knows a song dedicated to mediocrity?). I will ignore the fact that I was mainly talking about Blackboard and never mentioned HCPS’s Schoolspace. Although that military mindset is very much like some aspects of HCPS.

Mike, be careful with that kind of talk you’re headed toward a job in the nugget factory and I don’t think that’s what you want.

To put it simply, the use of the CMS in education is very often an admission of defeat. It is replacing agile and targeted with clumsy (often forced or coerced) mass adoption. It’s a cookie cutter response to what are very individual needs.

You want a blog, she wants a discussion board. I (the lord of technology) will give you something that does that (sort of, in the next version- I swear!) and 43 other things you don’t want– only it does none of them very well. Now you should be happy. Right?

I’d much rather work with individuals on tools they can control and tweak to really do what they want. Doing things piece meal and gradually isn’t a bad thing. With the CMS it doesn’t tend to work that way.

Now the CMS really tends to go down hill on the implementation side of things. Too often resources are taken away and this is given in exchange. Things are taken away that people used and liked. If you’re going to do this the replacement better be a big improvement for the users (the admins aren’t important). It also costs in terms of credibility. Every new thing that doesn’t quite work or only sort of works really costs in the end- especially when it’s forced on people.

Then it comes down to the conversations around the applications. CMS’s are “so easy” that teachers just need a brief overview and then they know how to use them. Maybe that’s true mechanically (although I’d argue that most use it simply for document storage). But I’d say the conversations about teaching within these environments is often forgotten. That’s not a shortfall of the CMS but it is encouraged by the way they’re marketed.

Finally, the whole paid CMS concept (BlackBoard money is literally insane) tends to cost a lot of money. That’s not including customization, upgrades, and the servers. It’s money that have more impact on instruction if it was spent on other things- like staffdev on how to actually integrate technology into teaching or just teaching in general.

Sweaty Ballmer

On the fly video mashups

I may have to add Omnision to the tools Jim Groom and I will be talking about this Thursday. We’ll be discussing ways to mashup data without having to sink to the odious business of programming (I’m just jealous because I can’t code). Session title is “Welcome to Non-Programistan” and it’ll be part of the NMC online spring symposium.

So Omnision is a nice way to mash up various Youtube videos at varying points/lengths into one continuous movie. The service also gives you the ability to add comments or allow others to do so (warning: that gets ugly quickly but you can turn them off/on).

The nice thing here is you suddenly have the power to make subtitled videos (like we did with the Baliwood video thing) but now you’ve got a huge catalog of much more varied material. You could really do some creative and interesting work with this.

I’m pretty excited about the possibilities, not Steve Ballmer excited, but pretty excited.
Sweaty Ballmer

Webdesign Rapping

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/a0qMe7Z3EYg" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Couldn’t resist this one. It was originally from boing boing or neat stuff.

Posted on a newly updated WP 2.5 installation. It’s taking some getting used to but I think I like it. As a side note, when they tell you to deactivate the plugins before upgrading, they really mean it. Gave myself a little scare that way.

I Want Video Proof of My Poor Judgement

College professors responding to RateMyProfessor via video on an MTV site


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Professors Strike Back Out

Such. A. Bad. Idea.

I’ve rarely seen college professors come off worse. Nothing says class like snarky replies to anonymous comments on web sites. Better yet, I want to do it in conjunction with MTV (who can’t even get streaming video right on the site). And let’s make it nice and permanent.

If the accusations are false, then you can’t really control it. If they are true, then fix things.

Really, I keep looking back to see if this is a joke. It doesn’t appear to be.

Check out this guy.
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“Don’t expect to be entertained in my classroom. Education is a challenge not an entertainment.”

If I were really smart . . .

and less lazy, I’d draw an extended comparison between the way our education system works and the way our Army deals with technology. I’d base it off this Wired article “How Technology Almost Lost the War: In Iraq, the Critical Networks Are Social — Not Electronic”. I’d reference this O’Reilly article (which led me to the previous article and is the source of all the quotes because I haven’t finished the longer article).

. . . the military’s infatuation with the bright shiny objects that support the big fight while missing the day-to-day realities of counter insurgency operations; a reality that revolves around people.

-Stogdill referring to the Wired article

I’d sure talk about that quote and how school systems and universities tend to latch onto Blackboard and other huge systems which do nothing for teaching (I’d argue they hurt instruction) but sure make big picture administration much easier.

I would really explore the interesting connections between the security needs of the military and education and the resultant huge penalties in terms of software quality and response time.

I really like this concept for a university or a school system-

Instead of one problem = one application, I want a set of services and components that collectively add up to a generative environment for building stuff quickly. An infrastructure designed with agility as a requirement and with provisions for permanent beta. A Command and Control Platform as a Service – think Force.com wrapped around a map – with a vibrant ecosystem of component developers where Ajax scripting sergeants can take “parts off the shelf” and build their own new pieces of TIGRnet while their boots are still dusty. As if CPOF and TIGRnet were just two applications in a Command and Control Facebook platform.

I don’t particularly care about the details- just sign me up for the place that goes with this concept. People should not have to continuously fight organizations in order to reach the level of technology offered to anyone with $90 (or less) and the ability to think of an unused domain name.

So it’s a good thing I’m not smarter or less lazy the post I should write would be pages in length and I’ve wasted enough of your time as it is.

Have a good Easter (or whatever) I’ve got a strange poem to ghostwrite for a fake rabbit.