Living at the Crossroads: EDUCAUSE IT Institute

This morning I turned the CogDogBlog firehouse of instructional technology for my opening presentation at the EDUCAUSE Instructional Technology Leadership Program 2005 held at Penn State University. I was asked to cover emerging technologies and issues of instructional design.

Firstly, and I started off saying this, I was rather intimidated as the level of expertise in the participants included people with more tech skills than me, and certainly much more instructional design skills. This looks like at the opening a really powerful institute- it is a pilot as a professional development program for people in the Instructional Technology arena. There are 50 participants from all over, and they have been pre-assigned to 10 teams. During the 4 days here, they will be working on a “Making the Case” group project. I missed the opening activity yesterday, a personality inventory based on a Native American medicine wheel that was done by the Shavers Creek Center. By the time I joined at dinner, it was apparent that this is a highly motivated group.

Okay, my presentation on Living @ the Crossroads of IT & ID is another fun effort using Eric Meyers’ S5 template and was adorned with lots of images gleaned from flickr creative commons collection.

The first activity (15 minutes into the show) was having each team create accounts and blogs on Blogger. I had set this up by having 3 different varieties of instructions as handouts. One was 3 pages fully illustrated and explained step by step, the second was a one page text list of steps, and the third one was pretty much “Go to Blogger and click the button”. I wanted them to reflect on the user experience on Blogger and judge whether the trouble spent on creating elaborate instruction materials was necessary.

Actually, it was leaked to them before I arrived that they were using Blogger, and there were questions as to why we were using this tool and say, not the fine blogs that Educause hosts. I took a quick stab at that by reminding them the choice of Blogger was not about the tool (which we tend to focus on too much), but the craft of blogging. Blogger is an important resource because it can be set up quickly, students may be using it already, and it is a free resource for faculty to consider using.

FYI, I created yet another Blogger (not a diary) blog to provide the materials for the workshop. On this site, I removed all references to date/time stamps as actually I needed a different order presented than when they were written (I fudged the dates to get the correct order).

Like I said, this group is pretty active. Many created blogs without even looking at the instructions. Within 20 minutes, all ten teams as well as the group of session facilitators, had new blogs. I urged them to use the blog through the week to document their project and progess. Also, as a demo of the concept of aggregation, I piled all of the new sites to a Feed On feeds aggregator on my server. As an interesting note, the frames view of this collection shows at about 3 hours later, there are 11 blogs with 67 entries. In addition, I popped the same feeds into a public bloglines site.

I then whizzed through an array of what my fuzzy crystal ball sees as technology trends. There are a number of external references in the small text that I did not even get to show.

After a break, I did a rapid overview of the many features of flickr. My intent was to have each team create a flickr account and do an activity where they would post some images to flickr and all tag them to they could be aggregated. There was not sufficient time and some tables lacked cameras, so I walked them through it and suggested they try it later. I did show the flickr syndication on the sidebar of my Crossroads blog site (lower right) – the first time I did a feed based on a specific tag from everyone’s images. This tagset should eventually be a bigger aggregation of event photos this week. More aggregation. Yum.

I did a swift run through ‘design’ from the view of Donald Norman’s Design of Everyday Objects and the ideas from the June 2005 issue of Fast Company on “Design Masters”.

The last activity was to have them look at a “Chinese” menu of three varieties of newer types of web sites that are outside the domain of education content- Columns A was non-linear net narratives, Column B was web sites that create media, and Column C was non-traditional interfaces. They were asked to blog their reactions and the group has been pretty active at doing so. They were very engaged here, and it was hard to pull them away from the computers.

For the last part, I tried to give the Instructional Design minded folks 25 Ways to Beef up their technology skills, and for the techies, 25 Ways to Beef Up their ID skills. This were quick and dirty (doen last night) and not strictly meant to be all inclusive. As a bonus, during the morning session I was able to move that content into a PeanutButter wiki (small pieces!) and link it. Of course, asa PB wiki, you would have needed to be present to get the password, but if you are really burning, you can contact me for the key.

And then it was done. Whew! Now I can relax.

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Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.