Jennifer Maddrell's blog

Presentation: Slideshare

I don't care if you call it web 2.0 or a banana split, there are some cool Internet based tools out there! I've been having fun with slideshare (see my "Drupal as a PLE" slide show post). It takes a couple of steps to set up a free account that (for now) requires the added step of requesting an invitation. After that, you can upload your slides to the hosted site, share the link and embed it in a blog. There are also social networking components (kind of like YouTube, but for presentations) which allow you to tag your presentations for easy search by others. Per the slideshare blog, it looks like conferences are starting to use slideshare a means of sharing conference presentations. I wonder if there is a way to sync up the audio or video?

So . . . what did I learn at the conference?

I am really glad I made the trip to Dallas. I got a lot out of the experience. However, it was not necessarily the same kind of experience that I thought it would be when I was planning my trip to Dallas. I was prepared to gather and share resources and new ideas. In reality, that didn't really happen. What I found is that my blog roll provides a far better way for me to get up to speed and stay current on the latest and greatest in the world of education and technology.

Instead, I got to speak with some really inspiring people, validate several of my preconceptions and challenge what I thought I knew about the field. I leave feeling neither let down nor invigorated by the experience, but rather something in the middle. I am definitely inspired to further explore some of the ideas I heard about (mainly in side bar conversations) and I'm ready to jump back into it. For what it is worth, here are some of my take aways:

Distance STUDENTS have the perception problem

Enough about distance learning having a perception problem. I've seen enough in the last few days to know that there is plenty of effort going into addressing the "quality" of online eduction. A great number of presentations have been about research into the state and quality of online education. In fact, there was a panel of researchers talking about the quality of the research to study the quality of online education - I'm not kidding. I have heard MANY times that online course design ideas should be (and are being) used to improve the experience of f2f courses - how is that for turning the perception table?

However, what has given me a sick knot in my stomach are the side bar comments that reveal the perceptions about distance STUDENTS. When you scratch below the surface of seemingly benign comments, you reveal the real perception about who distance students "are". I have repeatedly encountered surprise and disbelief that I am a distance student attending an academic conference ... this from folks who make their living studying and teaching distance students ... so they must know who distance students are, right?

Global Learn Day - Tune in NOW!

Greetings from Dallas! I am sitting in my hotel waiting for two f2f local conferences to begin (AECT 2006 and Educause 2006) while listening to the live stream of Global Learn Day 10 broadcasting session from around the world ... proving once again that all things local can become global in just a few clicks! Here are the "instructions" on how to listen or participate in Global Learn Day. Check it out!

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Drupal as a Personal Learning Environment

Drupal CMS Academy Community Brainstorming Session #4

Drupal CMS Academy Community Brainstorming Session #4

Join us on Sunday - October 15, 2006

5:30 p.m. GMT global times


Do you have a Drupal site up and running? Are you thinking about jumping in to the world of Drupal? Please join us in our next* Drupal CMS Academy community brainstorming session. As part of ongoing CMS Academy planning, we will discuss the nuts and bolts of how to install and administer a Drupal site. We look forward to hearing your questions, suggestions and hot tips about setting up and running Drupal.

Skype + WebHuddle + IM = Free Breeze (Connect) = Skuddle-Chat

At IU, we use Breeze for our online synchronous "classes". However, I just attended an online presentation with the good folks at WorldBridges in which Skype + WebHuddle + text chat were used to create a pretty slick alternative to Breeze, now re-branded as "Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional" since the acquisition of Macromedia by Adobe .... hmmm ... doesn't quite roll off the tongue does it? But ... I digress. This set up included real time voice, video and text chat with desktop sharing. I haven't seen the finished "recording", but it will likely be clunker than Breeze (I mean) Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional recordings given that the individual components will remain on separate platforms. However, for the money (free), it did the trick! Now, what to call it? Since Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional is already taken, how about skuddle-chat? I knew that MBA in Marketing would come in handy one day!

My Introduction to Agile Instructional Design

My professor introduced us to an interesting concept paper about Agile Instructional Design written by Peter Rawsthorme. One thing linked to another (as it usually does) and I have not only gained a new perspective on instructional design, but a new resource for mind bending ideas - see Peter's web site and current blog. At the heart of the paper on Agile ID is the perspective that traditional ID methods can "suffer the restraints of their linear roots." The author proposes that those restraints should be addressed to better consider,

"... time, budget, changing learning theories, increased use of constructivist methods, availability of subject mater experts, changing ID development staff, rapidly changing technology and media channels ..."

Sing it with me now . . . Isn't it Ironic?

H.R.5749: To amend title 18, United States Code, to protect youth from exploitation by adults using the Internet, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Foley, Mark [FL-16] (introduced 7/10/2006)

... and for his backing of DOPA and other legislation to "protect" minors as Co-Chair of the Missing & Exploited Children’s Caucus ...

Drupal CMS Academy

Just pointing to a community notice I sent out yesterday for the Drupal CMS Academy, part of the Worldbridges network. For those interested in learning how to use Drupal, check out the collaborative learning environment that is under development and join us for some live Drupal community brainstorming on Sunday!

Drupal CMS Academy Community Brainstorming Session #3: Join us this Sunday - October 1, 2006

5:30 p.m. GMT global times

Please join us this Sunday (October 1st) for our weekly live Drupal CMS Academy community brainstorming session. This week, we will kick around ideas for the Academy's web site interface. The Academy (as well as much of Worldbridges) runs on a Drupal installation, so we have a lot of options to create, layout and present content on the site. Whether you know a little or a lot about Drupal, we look forward to hearing your ideas about ways to enhance the Drupal CMS Academy's navigation, content creation options and more!

p.s. If you can't make the live session, please check back to listen to the recording at http://www.cmsacademy.net/drupal/ or subscribe to the feed at http://www.cmsacademy.net/drupal.xml

Tools: Creating, Publishing and Sharing Written Text Online

One of the struggles with online learning is finding tools to create, publish and share text based media within the online learning environment. Here are just some of the many problems:

  • Creating: Most of the written text that is created by students and teachers is MS Word based. While it is the best known text based creation application, it has several major shortcomings in an online learning environment, the primary being the difficulty in publishing and sharing the document to an online audience. While the work around is to "attach" the document (to a web page or an e-mail), there is little opportunity for interaction or collaboration. That has helped to drive the interest in wikis, blogs and other web based word processing applications (such as Writely.com) which have their own shortcomings (see below).
  • Sharing: Documents that were originally created for print pose a huge problem in an online learning environment. 99.9% of the time, printed media is shared in online education in the form of scanned pages that are stored in a .pdf files. While I am an Internet junkie and live in front of my computer screen, I now refuse to read scanned documents on my computer. Reading a scanned page formatted with columns is beyond frustrating and unless you pay to upgrade to Adobe Acrobat, there are no interactive tools to highlight, notate or bookmark passages. As a result, I end up printing out reams of paper each semester. Further, as noted above, there is little opportunity for interaction and collaboration with others.
  • Publishing: While Internet based ebooks, wikis and blogs provide a great way to distribute media and collaborate with others, learners are often tied to their computer screens. If offered, the print functionality for these Internet based applications is usually based on a dump to a .pdf or HTML file which often leaves the reader with a poorly formated mess.

That is why I was so intrigued today when I read about a couple of projects that are addressing the current shortcomings of creating, publishing and sharing text based media online:

Mobile: Text Mark

This is cool! Now how to explain it . . . the best thing to do is go to the site (textmark.com) and look at the nifty diagram they have concocted to explain it. In a nutshell, TextMark.com is an Internet based text messaging service where you set up a "message" that others can receive by texting the TextMark main number (41411) and the keyword you set up for your message. So, let's say you are a really cool high school girl's volleyball coach (for the Lady Eagles) and you want to make sure players, fans and parents are in the loop as to what is going on for the team that day. You could set up a keyword (like "eaglestoday") and provide a canned message with details about the team's activity for that day (like out of town game directions, time of practice, etc). Others would just text 41411 with "eaglestoday" in the message and get the daily update. Cool - huh, Britt?

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Trade and Swap Your Books

The Wall Street Journal had an article today (I'd link to it, but you need a paid subscription) about online swap markets for books. While the sites listed in the article differ slightly, they are all an attempt to cut out the middleman in the sale and purchase of used books (and in some cases DVDs, video games and audio books). In general, the idea is that registered users post their material and a point value is assigned based on the market value of the item posted. This becomes the users currency to trade items with others. Each site differs in terms of fees charged by the site owner and for shipping. Hmm . . .

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Akismet: Spammers - Take That!

My lowly little web site turned into a comment spammers paradise last Sunday. I had to delete over 500 comments that ranged from completely irrelevant to the site to downright disgusting. I had tried the Drupal module "bad behavior", but ended up somehow locking myself out of my own site. I'm sure that was due to some newbie mistake on my part, but I turned off the module.  I remembered reading a series of posts from D'Arcy Norman about his success installing Akismet on his Drupal site. I am happy to report that I, too, have had great success with Akismet. Since last night, it properly filtered legitimate comments and unpublished over 45 comments that even made me blush. Thank you, Akismet!!

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Be a Good Conference Attendee, Have a Good Time and Learn A Lot

My mom (to this day) sends me out into the world with the same old family pep talk that she heard herself when she was a wee lass, "Be a good girl, have a good time, and learn a lot." Even if I am just running out to the grocery store, those are usually her trailing words as I go. Therefore, I was kind of inspired when I stumbled on a few places on the Internet spouting a similar mantra for conference attendees. So, go forth and, "Be a good conference attendee, have a good time and learn a lot." But, before you go, check out these resources:

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AECT 2006: Dallas Here I Come!

I just pulled the trigger on my registration to the 2006 AECT Convention in Dallas, TX. It will be a great opportunity to hear some interesting presentations and to meet and greet students and faculty in my program (a very rare treat for a distance student). Also, I'm just guessing, but it looks like the organizers are using a Drupal installation for the "official" convention site - sure looks like Drupal, right? I may try to keep up regular blog posts about the experience if I get a reliable Internet connection while I'm there. Now, to find out about what Dallas has to offer for the "down time" ...

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Listserv: Instructional Technology Forum

Listservs may seem to have taken a backseat to blogs, wikis and community web sites. However, if you work or study in and around the field of Instructional Technology, but aren't subscribed to the Instructional Technology Forum (ITForum for short)- you are missing out on discussions, ideas and happenings in the IT community. No glitz, glitter or Flash plug ins - just pertinent information and thoughtful dialog - go figure? The web site about the ITForum couldn't be more bare bones, but it includes all the "need to knows" to subscribe and track upcoming events, a unique feature of the listserv. This week's event is focused around plans for an update to Instructional Design Theories and Models (Green Book II) with Charles Reigeluth, a professor from Indiana University's Instructional Systems Technology program (Yahoo! shameless program shout out) and Alison Carr-Chellman from Penn State (the 11th school in the Big Ten).

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Finding the Water Cooler in Online Education

In one of my online classes, a few of us have been having a sidebar discussion on the human interaction that we feel as "missing" in an online learning environment.  We've had some great back and forth "conversations" in the asynchronous discussion forum that began when a fellow online classmate made the statement, "I can't help but think someday no one will attend class and there will be no 'campus'." This was followed by a thread of posts noting the human interaction that some feel can't truly be replicated in an online environment.  Here is a partial list of of missed interactions noted by members of my class:

  • hearing people laugh (and I'll add, without net lag), 
  • watching people discover things, 
  • having a whole group of people excited about something at the same time (I'll add again, without net lag),
  • real handshakes, winks, facial gestures (I'll add, not emoticons)
  • Potlucks: great coffee, popcorn, whatever you like to eat or drink

I pointed back to my "Being Spaces" posts from back in June which prompted a referral to the book The Ape in the Corner Office: Understanding the Workplace Beast in All of Us. So, even for us distance students who are putting our hearts, minds and hard earned tuition dollars into this new learning environment, there is still a longing for what I often refer to as "the water cooler".  This theme will be part of a free webcast today hosted by the folks at Innovate  with Robert Sanders, the author of "The 'Imponderable Bloom': Reconsidering the Role of Technology in Education"  (see details below).  In the article, Sanders notes:

Big Game this Weekend!

The worst part about getting an online degree from a university in another state is missing the big football games on Saturday. The planets have aligned and my undergrad school, University of Wisconsin - Madison, is playing my husband's undergrad school, Western Illinois Leathernecks, on Saturday. So, we're sitting at Newark about to get on a plane to go to Madison to catch the Big Game! You can watch it, too, on ESPNU at 2:30 p.m. Central Time. Go Badgers!

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The Word Aggregator Not in Google Spell Check

Not the most earth shattering news (by any stretch), but I found it interesting that the word "aggregator" is not in the Google spell check on my tool bar or in the Flock blog posting tool. The only reason this is worthy of 5 seconds of thought is that it highlights the fact that the tools I find "common" and use multiple times each day aren't sufficiently mainstream to make it into the popular spell checkers. I wonder what kind of answers you would get if you asked the 3 people behind you in the grocery store checkout line, "What's your favorite feed aggregator?" Makes you also wonder about the learning curve to get an entire class set up with an RSS aggregator to follow class blog posts? Hmm ...

Web Office: Point your browser to ...

The Read / Write Web announced that they will be profiling a roundup of web "office" applications. Just a heads up to point your browser or aggregator to Read / Write Web if you are interested in following along . . .

Education is now trendy and profitable ... YES!

I subscribe to a terrific web newsletter at Trendwatching.com. Their September 2006 Trend Briefing just came out and it dissects a growing consumer and business trend that they have been covering for months. Trendwatching has been following the consumer segment dubbed "Generation C " (consumers who want to acquire and share "C"ontent and "C"reativity), as well as the trend toward "Customer-Made" goods. They have melded these ideas into the business concept of providing consumers with "status skills":

You know you are an edu-nerd when ...

... your husband walks in with the mail and exclaims, "Your geeky education magazine is here!" ... and then you spend the next hour reading the September 2006 issue of T&D magazine and the ASTD publications catalog. By the way, here is a link to a list of real-time conferencing tools mentioned by Darin Hartley in the "Beyond the Virtual Meeting" article.

p.s. Only true edu-nerds have already clicked on the links in this post :)

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Mobile: Merriam-Webster Mobile Dictionaries

While I normal limit my referrals to "free stuff", this one falls in the "inexpensive" category. Given that I am a horrible speller, I may just have to shell out a few bucks to try one of the Merriam-Webster mobile dictionaries. For under $20, you can get one with 40,000 definitions, a thesaurus and audio pronunciations. $40 will buy you 225,000 definitions! That's only $0.000177 per word - close to free, right?

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Net Neutrality: All is NOT quiet during Senate recess!

Dozens of grassroot rallys were held across the country to urge Senators (currently on recess) to oppose Senator Stevens' telecom bill when they return to Washington next week.  However, some question whether the bill will see a vote this year given the anticipated early adjournment (estimated at October 6th for upcoming fall elections) and the growing opposition to a bill without strong Net Neutraility provisions.

p.s.  Proud to say that one of my prior posts was used in coverage about a NY rally!  See, if a tree falls (blogger posts) it does make a noise!!

My Podcast in iTunes!

The podcast feed generated by my Drupal audio_playlist module made it through the iTunes Music Store gauntlet. This is the link to my podcast (audio only) in iTunes. I was unsuccessful in submitting a feedburner feed and the main site feed generated by the site. While either feed will work just fine within the iTunes podcast aggregator (at Advanced / Subscribe to Podcast on the iTunes toolbar), they were not "accepted" as a podcast "submission" within the Music Store. It appears iTunes is much "fussier" about the feed when you submit it through the Music Store. Now, I just have to improve my podcasting skills! (Update: I just received a late e-mail response from iTunes that the main site feed was accepted - just delayed, I guess. This is the link to my podcast (all audio, video and .pdf content) in iTunes.)

Project Management: Consultants

In my IU Designing Instructional Systems course, we were asked to share some experiences that we have had with consultants. Working in large insurance companies for over 15 years, I have experience working with a lot of consultants - even some long term consultants who stayed around so long they blurred the lines between "consultant" and "employee". In the mid-90's, I was re-engineered into a totally different job when McKinsey came in and reshuffled the deck at a company that is now out of business (any correlation, do you suppose?) However, most of those stories bring back painful memories, so I'll just share my take-away from these experiences:

Resource: Learning about Learning - Technology - Design (L2TD)

I just opened an IU student listserv e-mail announcing the Learning about Learning - Technology - Design (L2TD) web site. I spent a few minutes checking it out and, while the the content isn't very deep at this point and the concept is not new, it may be an interesting site to follow based on the background and mandate of the site's development team (see below). The familiar concept - a community based portal to collect and share information about learning technology - is based on a now familiar platform - a wiki. While it appears that anyone can sign up to be a contributing community member, the community leaders approve each entry before any content goes "live". As noted below, the site was developed with the support of a National Science Foundation grant. Per the grant, "The project involves pre-college teachers and undergraduate and professional software developers in teams producing interactive software for K-12. In addition to primary goals of studying multidisciplinary collaborative teams and the impacts of the systems they develop on pre-college students, the project also looks at software re-use and collaborative tools needed for innovative applications of IT in education." The founding members are from SRI International and several major US universities, including representatives from Stanford, Penn State and Drexel. Per the site:

Writing Resources

The fall semester of Effective Writing in Instructional Technology is kicking off this week and I am having a great time linking through to all of the great suggested web resources. I've been trying to figure out the best way to capture a "Reading List" of resources. For now, I've created a sort of "mash up" on my site. I'm planning on saving favorite links into my del.icio.us account and then feed the list back into my Reading List. As I add resources, they will feed back into my Reading List (which is "printer friendly", by the way). Well, that's the theory anyway . . .

EdBlogger News: News for Education 2.0

EdBloggerNews is another way to get caught up on "popular" Edublog news. I completely missed this one, but I guess Will Richardson rolled it out back in June! It allows readers to submit and vote on articles related to education - kind of like the Digg for the education community that is a great example of the so called "user controlled content" movement. I spent some time on it this morning and, while some of the articles are "old news" - from a month or so ago, I have come across some interesting content by bloggers I had not previously followed. Users can post using a bookmarklet and follow content updates via an RSS feed. EdBloggerNews is powered by cripynews which describes itself as "a network of community news sites where visitors choose the news stories." Better late than never . . .

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