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Monday morning here at the League for Innovation conference and I was asked by my Macromedia friends to make some remarks at their breakfast session- a packed room of about 50 or so.
And then I was following an awesome series of examples and ideas from Bill and Eric two faculty from Sinclair College that do some wacky (in a good way) and creative things teaching math and psychology.
Below are the notes I made up ahead of time- I did not use the notes (too many bad examples here of speakers reading canned speeches), so I cannot vouch that this was all I said...
1. Sturgeon's Law:
I had not even heard of Sturgeon's law until it was mentioned in a presentation by Bernie Dodge at the MERLOT 2003 conference. Sitting in the audience, with my laptop and wireless network, my instant react? I googled it and found an answer in 25 seconds.
Sturgeon's Law: Derived from a quote by science fiction author Theodore Sturgeon, who once said, "Sure, ninety percent of science fiction is crud. That's because ninety percent of everything is crud."
Not meant to say it is true or that anyone here is NOT in the 10% category, but:
Do everything you can to stay out of the 90%.
And the definition was found in the wikipedia (How many here know what that is? How many know what a wiki is?)
2. Learning and Homw Depot:
Macromedia asked us to speak today to you about how Macromedia tools are being used or benefitting faculty at our colleges.
I have great experience and fondness for Macromedia; I began using Macromedia Director in 1994 and used it extensively for CD-ROM and web projects through the 1990s. In 1994, we built the first Director resource web site, DirectorWeb, opened before Macromedia even had a company web site (the oldest copy I have archived from Feb 24, 1995). There was nothing like it (once you made it up the learning cliff). In 1996 a trip to San Francisco and contacts via the Direct-I listserv created the opportunity to visit John Dowdell at Macromedia who in turn got me in on the beta test of Shockwave (back when the files created were .fgd = Fried Green Director). This led to things now housed in my nojava shop. I taught animation courses in it. I dreamt in Lingo.
We have tremendous use of Macromedia products at Maricopa- scads of Flash, Dreamweaver, FreeHand are in use daily in our system. We cannot even figure out how many! Our collegws are starting to use Contribute for management of college web sites, and they are going to get exposed soon to Breeze if I have anything to do with it.
But this is my own take on tools. We focus too much on them ("What is the best software to build web sites?"), and one of my mantras is that we should focus on the craft, not the tools. I am talking about the art and practice of creativity.
Now the tools are critical, do not get me wrong. Let me talk to you about one of my favorite hangouts, Home Depot. Now I am not a natural craftsman, far fromm it. And buying every power tool in Home Depot is not going to make me build shelves that do not dip, walls that do not slump, plumbing that does not leak-- it is the craft that makes a home project succeed. But what Home Depot does right is embodied by their key asset, all those people there in the orange aprons. They can not only help you use the tools, but they have practice and knowledge in the art of building, repairing, and share it freely and with encouragement. I have been talked out of being expensive parts, referred to specialty stoires, given new ideas to fix things I would have never thought of...
So yes, buy the tools, use the tools, but in education, we need much more of that orange apron stuff- it embodies the just in time, gands on learning we all need ot become better tool users.
3. Dilbert's Boss
Now I want to mention Dilbert's poiny haired boss. You may have seen the cartoon where the pointy haired boss (is he here today?) instructed his assistant to print out all his emails so he could read them. Why do I bring him up? It is because I see on a daily basis the manifestation of our organization that continues to think and act in a print mindset, despite our feint recognition that we are serving a digital organization.
I see it at our printer when I see all kinds of printed emails. I see paper forms that have to be filled out by hand, some even with carbon, rather than digital versions. I see an organization that accepts email as the means of communication, but fritters time with HTML formatted messages or sending simple things like meeting agendas as attached Word documents when plain text would do just fine.
It is Negroponte's distinction of bits versus atoms.
So my challenge to you this day forward it to think, act digital. Not everything has to be electronic (I still prefer my crumpled morning newspaper laid out on a table). But we need to step up and participate actively in this digital time, not shiver timidly on the sidelines. If you are struggling with how to do this, any of you with teen age children at home has live-in experts. You have in your student body a corp of programming, graphic, technical expertise that could rival a large university.
Had anyone noticed the number of sessions at this conference on digital video? I was at one yesterday and the room was packed.
The web did not take off and dominate the educational technology because of some grand plan, or strategic action-- it did it because people found very personal and useful ways to use the technology, buth on the job and at home. Think Amazon.com, on-line travel planning, your grandmother emailing, digital cameras becoming main stream... the personal angle is very important, and is why you should be coming mindful to new things such as weblogs, RSS, wikis, etc.
So this is how you can take on the challenge-- find a personal reason to do somthing digital. Research your geneology online. Go to blogger.com and set up a weblog. Set up a home wireless network. Take your digital camera pictures and create a DVD photo album. Take a digital storytelling class and learn the beauty of video editing.
I am encouraging you to tap into the creative aspects of technology, put aside the powerpoint presentations, the spreadsheets of enrollement analyses-- and use the right side of your brain. This is where you will get into the craft of the tools and where you will find a way to put dents into Sturgeon's Law.
Go create, and set up opportunities for faculty and staff in your system to participate.
I did this without props, and I am not sure what the reaction was-- the group looked a bit deer in the headlights and was either under caffienated or missed my innuendos.
Oh well, I had fun. And I got a cool trinket- a cell phone charger that runs off the USB port of my laptop!blogged October 20, 2003 01:57 PM :: category [ pile ]