Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

[This is the second installment of a series of posts, which will document my own process in giving my fall course a total makeover. I teach Operations Management, an upper division course in the College of Management. This is my first face-to-face course in several years; I’ve taught exclusively online for the past 5 years. I will attempt to re-engineer my course delivery to make use of learner-centered tools, many considered included in the world of Web 2.0. It will be an interesting experiment, one I hope will benefit my students. If you haven’t read earlier posts on this topic, I’ve provided links at the very end of this post.] 

Here it is the third week of the semester and three class sessions have come and gone and I have much to report already (it’s all good). But yes, I’m counting the weeks (12 left) because I still have much preparation in any given week to help my vision of making each session both relevant and learner-centered, come alive.

Here’s a recap of my vision for change in conducting this course makeover:

  1. Replace my lectures (albeit relatively shorter than average) with super mini lectures (max 20 min) which are energized, interesting multi-media presentations. I talk only to shore up what I consider are the most important themes, concepts, or facts for any given class session. Everything else can be found in the required reading or the myriad materials I have posted to the online course site.
  2. Have the students spend most of their 3 hours and 20 minutes together working on relevant course projects mimicking the way the business environment collaborates on projects. 
  3. Incorporate several free Web 2.0 technologies, increasing the time students are serving as active participants in the construction of their knowledge, rather than being passive recipients of it.

Here’s what I changed:

  1. I redesigned my assessment activities to be team-based, learner centered and more relevant.
  2. I replaced individual assignments with more current, team-based activites/projects.
  3. I eliminated my boring bulleted overhead slides from five years prior. I now use the computer exclusively to present, using Power Points the way they should be used, to accent concepts, to link to interesting external sources, learning objects, or videos, and to embed some humor.
  4. I am limiting my mini lecture presentations to 8 or fewer slides.
  5. I eliminated heavy exams and replaced them with “quiz-lights,” reducing the value of their portion of the total grade to 11% (down from 40%).
  6. I eliminated term papers prepared in pairs, replacing those assessment activities with team-based assignments. The outputs for each assessment will be wiki presentations full of multi-modal artifacts. Artifacts can include (not a comprehensive list) useful Web resources/links, paraphrased content, reflections on a topic, Wikipedia definitions, YouTube videos, their own self-made videos or audio files, images, charts, learning objects, or whatever they find relevant to the assignment.
  7. I had the class moved to a computer lab for the entire semester.
  8. I am mixng up some of the class discussions by using live conferencing software (WebEx) – instead of verbal discussion.
  9. I set up a class wiki, where students will publish the results of their team projects and in-class activities. In this way, the results are available for the entire semester, and anyone in the class can add or modify the content over time, add comments, or interesting links. Plus as students are reporting out during class, they have a visual collaborative software to view and work on.
  10. I am allowing enough time in class to provide instruction and practice on new technolgoies introduced.

Early results:

  1. The energy in the room is high and lasts right up until the last minute of class. Last night they didn’t stop working at 9:20. In the past they couldn’t wait to get out of class. Gone are  the yawns and uninterested faces right around 8:30 PM.  
  2. Almost everyone is contributing actively, engaged with each other and many with me as I walk around the room. No one is hiding in the back of the room, under the radar.
  3. They readily formed teams during the seond week with absolutely no prompting on my part. 
  4. They have willingly embraced the notion of team projects, with team scores, if it means less individual “heavy” homework, such as writing two papers on their own or completing 5-6 indivudual problem-based assignments.
  5. At first some were nervous about learning new technologies, but everyone is on board with what has been introduced to date, with very little assistance required. Class mates are willingly helping each other as needed.

Last night I asked my students to at some point in the semester, weigh in on their experience with this course. They are quite aware of the fact that I am trying something radically different. I won’t really know the results of this course makeover until I: 1)see their grades, 2)have more weeks to observe, and 3) (perhaps most important) ask them! As vulnerable as it feels, I will make sure their comments are included on this blog.

Prior post: Part 1 of this series


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If you’re super connected to social networking, use different instant messaging products, have several email accounts, or want to toggle between texting to/from your cell and your computer, the first tool may be for you. It gives you instant access to, and a running stream of your Facebook updates/feeds, blends all of your IM buddies regardless of source, and provides access to your different email accounts, in one neat cockpit.

If you subscribe to several RSS/news feeds, want to read the top sports stories, see the weather, or if you use Mapquest, Wikipedia or visit YouTube frequently, consider personalizing your own Web portal by using the second tool.

Thanks to my colleague and revered tech guru (not his real job), Todd Digby (only coincidental name connection), I configured the following tools just yesterday to streamline many of my Web surfing activities.

  • Digsby: is a proprietary multiprotocol instant messaging application (from Wikipedia). So what does that mean? In about five minutes, you can set up a downloadable piece of software to connect all your instant messaging tools (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc) along with your email accounts, and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter only). My complaint is that I’d like to see other social networks such as Plaxo and LinkedIn offered as well. Here’s what the cockpit looks like:
























When you scroll over the “F” icon -at the left – for Facebook, it brings up your feed, from which you can access your profile, messages, friends, photos. And it all sits down in your icon tray.





  • iGoogle: It’s a personalized Google page, where you can add web feeds and Google gadgets. Much like NetVibes, PageFlakes, MyYahoo. use it as a portal to most of your most valued sites and feeds, saving gobs of time. For us educators, I think it has critical importance for the future of eLearning systems, in that it teaches us how to set up a carousel-like page, with multiple offerings to the myriad tools students can use to construct knowledge. That is how experimenting faculty (such as M. Wesch) are beginning to set up their classes — where the LMS becomes just one tool, not necessarily the centerpiece, functioning more quietly as an operating system (to collect dropbox items, as an electronic gradebook and to issue quizzes).


These feed-driven portals go far beyond the present LMS capabilities, so if faculty want to use them, they’re on their own presently, to set them up and help their students use them. I predict that iGoogle, NetVibes, and the like will become the templates for the next design iteration of LMSs everywhere. That may not be a bad thing, as LMS companies start redesigning for extensibility. I surely hope the next LMS (if there is to be a single entry point), goes  beyond adding only internal/proprietary tools but instead is redesigned to more closely resemble a customized learning space where each faculty member can add external widgets deemed the best for engaging learners and improving outcomes. 

This is just a prediction – but all instincts say I’m on target. Anyway, here’s what my iGoogle page looks like (click on pic to get a larger view):



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I’m an avid follower of Michael Wesch. You may know of him, most notably from his You Tube videos. I’ve been watching quiety for over a year now, and am ready to go full throttle modeling much of my net gen fall course experiment after his “stuff.”

Now we all have access to what he is doing, via his presentation at the University of Manitoba this past June. The university’s Information Services and Technology unit has been kind enough to post it publicly. Do as I will – watch, listen, and learn….at the feet of an incredibly humble master. 🙂

Michael Wesch and the Future of Education
Presentation June 17, 2008
University of Manitoba
66 minutes

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[This is a first post of a several-post series, which will document my own process and reflections of teaching a face-to-face course, for the first time in several years. I will be attempting to re-engineer my course delivery to make use of learner-centered tools, many considered included in the world of Web 2.0. It will be an interesting experiment, one I hope will benefit my students.]

I’m an adjunct faculty member at Metropolitan State University where I teach Operations Management part-time. It’s a good way for me to practice implementing new teaching and learning practices and attempt to model walking my talk, of using constructivist learning methods, where the student is actively engaged with his or her own learning. This is a departure from the “transmission model” of teaching, long practiced at many colleges and universities, where the learner is a passive recipient of information (i.e., the lecture).

The Challenge

I’ve been teaching my course (Operations Management) at Metro State for about 9 years, but am facing an interesting dilemma going into fall term in just two weeks’ time. This will be my first face-to-face course in 5 years. While many faculty are daunted by the process of putting their courses online, I’m panick-stricken at the prospects of teaching back in the classroom – in REAL time. I find this quite ironic, and have asked myself why. Here’s what I’ve come up with:

1. My Pop Culture Examples Have Sadly Aged and I Don’t Know What Funny is to 20+

It goes without saying that as I get older, the students get younger. Teaching online helps to buffer some of the generation gap. (I graduated college in 1973, you do the math.) In teaching face-to-face, I need a ready supply of business examples that relate to my students’ experiences. The last time I faced students eyeball to eyeball, Game Boy and Play Station were the big products on the market. Furthermore when I got to the quality control part of the curriculum, I always referred to the car reservation bit in Seinfeld (anyone can take a reservation, but it’s the holding of the car that’s most important). The last time I did so (before the existence of YouTube), I may as well have been from Mars. I’m afraid my pop culture examples aren’t funny to anyone except my peers. While I don’t believe I have to entertain my students, I do believe in an appropriate amount of interspersed humor during a long night of class. The kids I helped raise are all grown now so I’ve lost access to my personal pop culture observatory.

2.  My Active Learning Methods Need a Makeover

When I first started teaching I used what I thought was an active learning model; small lecture, lots of paired and group activities including case analysis, presentations, debate, etc. Each week I taught the most important nuggets, and each week they worked in groups, talking, then reporting out to the whole class. The short lecture piece is fine, and having them work together is fine; but this “reporting out” thing is just way too passive and old-world . Enter Web 2.0 where students create and publish content – and I have plans to have students use them, right in class.

3. I Have to Get Relevant in My Class Segments

I’m comfortable teaching online, and I’m confident that I’ve done well to engage the learner in the online course. First, I upped the ante by designing a course site and course acitivites that went beyond flat text on a page and beyond what correspondence courses could accomplish. Then I attempted to meet the standards of my own quality rubric for an online course (developed in conjunction with Barbara Keinath). I redesigned my syllabus and course activities to more closely approximate Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good (Teaching) Practice, and to meet various learning styles. And finally I redesigned all of my initial course materials replacing clunky HTML Word docs with more interactive flash elements using lodeStar as my authoring tool. All of my modules had a consistent look, feel, and progression, were ADA-compliant, and contained a variety of interactive exercises.

But this term I’m not teaching an online course. What, oh what do I do with my students for 3-1/2 hours each week for 15 weeks to remain relevant with them? I keep hearing apprehensive faculty refute the notion of pandering to their attention deficit tendencies. I don’t buy this; they have plenty of attention for what they value. To say they have attention deficit to learning the way we prefer to teach is rather ego-centric of us baby boomers, no? I have to get a handle on how their learning minds are wired, and tap into that; that’s the secret of effective teaching these days. Or better said, the secret of effective learning.

It would be very sad if I hadn’t thought this through with only two weeks remaining before the first night of class. Yes, I’ve got plenty of ideas, but this post is long enough.

Stay tuned for the next installment of my personal journey into the world of connecting to the net gen learner.

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It was only a matter of time before someone like myself would wonder whether there is (or will be) such a thing as Web 3.0 (being inclined to scout out future technology trends). So I started a Web search and clearly others have been thinking about this to some extent already. Found a really techie definition on Wikipedia, which is only for the true IT type who wants to read about SPARQL and understands the meaning of semantic data. So then I tried Google which returned 16.1 million items. Ok, so let’s try a few.

Found this one, called “the official definition” from Jason Calcanis’ blog; calcanis.com:

“Web 3.0 is defined as the creation of high-quality content and services produced by gifted individuals using Web 2.0 technology as an enabling platform.”

You may like what Jason has to say next, and find it an all-together refreshing notion which can’t trump the lesser stellar hallmarks of Web 2.0 soon enough:

“Also of note, is what Web 3.0 leaves behind. Web 3.0 throttles the “wisdom of the crowds” from turning into the “madness of the mobs” we’ve seen all to often, by balancing it with a respect of experts. Web 3.0 leaves behind the cowardly anonymous contributors and the selfish blackhat SEOs that have polluted and diminished so many communities.”

Then there is a video taken at the  Seoul Digital Forum nearly a year ago (May 2007), where Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google renders an on-the-spot explanation of Web 3.0. You can watch the 1.5 minute YouTube video but here’s a quick excerpt from it:

My prediction would be that Web 3.0 will ultimately be seen as applications which are pieced together. There are a number of characteristics: the applications are relatively small, the data is in the cloud, the applications can run on any device, PC or mobile phone, the applications are very fast and they’re very customizable. Furthermore, the applications are distributed virally: literally by social networks, by email. You won’t go to the store and purchase them… That’s a very different application model than we’ve ever seen in computing.

Whatever Web 3.0 is, or whether it will even come to bear, you can be sure I’ll keep a watchful eye on who is thinking what about it. 

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Good golly, miss Molly…a teen turned an $8 investment into a million dollar empire providing custom layouts to users of MySpace. The importance of personal networking space inspired this teen to develop a Web site for MySpace users where they can purchase all sorts of fun and colorful custom widgets and layouts, without knowing any tech code. The site, Whateverlife.com, offers “add me” buttons, “message me” buttons, welcome banners, contact tables, and a whole lot more, in addition to the array of customized MySpace layouts.

I know I’m lurking more than participating in many of the social technologies lately (they are coming at us so fast), but I’m amazed at how smart many of these young users are (this one in particular). Their know-how with networking technology is most definitely teaching us a thing or two as we decide on the merits of these tools for academic applications. 

Check out the now 17 year-old teen’s rags-to-riches story.  And check out the her Web site at whateverlife.com.

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I went to see Dr. Michael Wesch present last week at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis. While his name may not yet be a household word, his viral video on YouTube, “The Machine is Us,”  may very well be. Published in February 2007, the video has received 3,634,385 hits on YouTube, as of this morning. 

Wesch is back with two new videos.

In A Vision of Students Today, students from his classes surveyed themselves and presented the results in an interesting and captivating way. Here is a preview of what you will see in the movie, (made in I statements by the students):

  • 18% of my teachers know my name
  • I complete 49% of assigned readings, only 26% are relevant to my life
  • I buy hundred dollar textbooks that I never open
  • I will read 8 books this year, 2,300 web pages & 1,281 facebook profiles

In Information R/evolution, Wesch contrasts the old ways of storing and organizing paper information with the new digital information age. Excerpts from the video include:

  • Wikipedia has 7.5 million articles from nearly 283,000 contributors (as of Oct 2007) 

  • We organize the information ourselves which is stored without folders or restricted categories  

  • We no longer just find information; we can make it find us

The release of both videos occurred in the same week as Wesch’s presence here in Minnesota. Here are some notes I took from his talk, which closely followed his Information R/evolution video:


     91% of YouTube videos is original material; there are 71 million blogs, and 60 billion emails. Less than .01% of  information today is on paper

      Blogging teaches us that anyone can be a creator of content; Wikis show us that our information can be better than the content of professionals, and RSS feeds have taught us that information can find us

     We are still using the assumptions of paper information in our current teaching:

o    That information is scarce, something Marshall McLuhan noted in his 1967 book, The Medium is the Message (which came out when I was a sophomore in high school)

o    That information requires experts

o    That information is a thing (i.e., book)

o    That information is located somewhere (on a shelf, in a folder)

o    That information is categorized


Today, he said, we originate materials ourselves, without folders and without bounded categories. We don’t need complex hierarchies to find information and links alone (and social bookmarking) are enough. 


So what’s the lesson in the ubiquity of new digital media, according to Wesch?


It’s the students who will be deciding how information will get sorted and prioritized on the Web. It’s their clicks that determine what gets on the front page of Digg or gets most tagged on Del.icio.us. It’s how we train them in media literacy that is key. He imagines two possible scenarios for the future:

  1. We don’t adequately train our students in media literacy, in which case the vast amount of information will be produced by a handful of people who have the money to push out information they want us to see. At which time, info WILL again be scarce and we’ll see even more advertising.
  2. We do adequately train our students, in which case we get lots of information and content creation from many people. This will be fertile ground for librarians, who can then play a key role in creating informational value in the links.

To adequately train them, among other things, Wesch said we need to teach students how Google, for example, works – where first-returned results can be the product of those who pay their way to the top. We need to teach them how the filters work so they can be better informed.

Links to learn more about Dr. Wesch:


His bio at KSU: http://www.ksu.edu/sasw/anthro/wesch.htm

His blog, Digital Ethnography: http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/

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