Got Social?

Looking for research

Looking for recommendations of articles that discuss:

* the issue of “no significant different” when it comes to f2f vs. hybrid/online learning
* when one section of a course is taught hybrid/online and the other f2f – if a comparison is made
* what type of student takes online courses at a traditionally brick/mortar institution, and why

Any leads greatly appreciated.

iBooks Community

On February 22nd the ADP Center and the Emerging & Instructional Technology unit co-sponsored a roundtable discussion called “Apple’s iBooks and iTunes: It’s Complicated!”.

The meeting was a great success and the UStream recording can be found here.

As promised during the meeting, here is the information about the community that the ADP Center was gracious enough to create and host for us.  In fact, Gregg Festa has already posted a very interesting info graphic.

I hope you’ll all consider signing up and contributing.  I also hope you’ll consider forwarding the information below to your colleagues so we can create a vibrate and engaged community around these issues.

To join the group, go to and join the site.  Membership is moderated (to help avoid sp*mmers), but once you get the notice that its been approved, go to GROUPS and click on iBOOKS/iTUNES PILOT PROJECT and click JOIN in the upper right-hand corner.

Anyone can follow the discussion but you need to join the site and the group to participate.

You’ll also notice a Twitter feed there which is based on the hashtag #msuibooks.  If you’re on Twitter, make sure to add your Twitter name to the Comment Board.  When you post to Twitter, about the topic, make sure to include #msuibooks in your tweet.

Is WTF vulgar or inappropriate

I’m organizing a roundtable discussion on the use of social media in education.  To get attention, and as an example, I’m thinking about using the acronym WTF in the title.  Is that vulgar or inappropriate.  Does WTF mean the same thing as what the three letters stand for?  Has WTF been seen on TV or heard on radio?  I think it has.  What do you think, take my survey:

[polldaddy poll=4810473]

Walking the Tightrope

In November of 2001 my then new work colleague Roger Salomon and I made a conference presentation on being a distributed technology leader.  This is currently located on a server that could go away someday so I decided to move it to someplace a bit more permanent.

This was a fairly new idea, having high level distributed technology leaders located, and under the leadership of, the academic school or college.  There have always been individual faculty who played leadership roles, in their department, or even at the larger level (school, college).  This was, however, an idea thats time had come.   A year later EDUCAUSE started the Distributed Technology Support Constituent Group and it became one of the fastest growing and most active of the groups.  There was a real desire, and need, for these two side (us/them, central/distributed) to talk with each other and see that many of the issues and challenges were not unique to just their school.

Walking the Tightrope: Middle Management – The Distributed Leader

By AJ Kelton and Roger Salomon

Depending on the structure and scope of the university or school, a distributed leadership model of management for information technology integration provides many benefits to both faculty and the technology structure alike. In this article we will define the distributed leader as it fits into our campus environment. We will also provide a description of the technology structure of both of our academic units, how they fit into the campus paradigm, and discuss what the benefits and potential stumbling blocks might be for other institutions.

Initiated by the Academic Deans, Montclair State University (MSU) has, over the last three years, aggressively moved from a structure where all services and support were provided by a single, central unit (IT), to a distributed structure, funded and located within the academic units directly.

The “distributed leader” (DL), or Tech Liaison as we are referred to at MSU, is the technology person designated to support a specific, defined organization such as a school or college made up of associated departments. Ultimately, all financial issues are central to the university itself, but the line of responsibility changes when the Tech Liaison answers to the Dean and faculty directly as opposed to the IT structure, which is administrative in nature.

Distributed leadership should be constructed so that the TL can see the issues of technology that are important and explain to the academic side, in a language clearly understandable, why things are the way they are. Additionally, having the TL within the academic unit has many of its own benefits. The technologist can act as a champion for the needs of the faculty and staff with a good knowledge of why these needs are important and how to best move forward to help implement them.

Although each unit, and the IT relationship to that unit, is unique, there are some similarities that transcend all units. IT provides basic services such as email, ISP, network access, telephone, networked printing services, as well as first and second level help desk support when needed. The basic concept is that IT “brings service to the door”, and with the exception of telephone and network wiring services, the “local provider” is then responsible for all other services.

The distributed leader is in a unique position when answering only to the specific unit/college. As opposed to the centralized structure, whose responsibility is to the university campus as a whole, each DL concentrates his/her attention on the specific faculty and staff members in that particular unit. This allows him/her to gain a greater understanding of specific faculty and staff needs by being on the “front line”. The TL is not only able to understand immediate concerns, but also plan for future needs as well.

The College of Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) is the largest academic unit at MSU, representing 40% of the total semester hours taught. The CHSS is comprised of 6 Humanities departments and 7 departments of the Social Sciences as well as many Programs, Institutes, and Centers, with a combined faculty of approximately 170. In addition to full time faculty, the CHSS is supported by nearly 20 administration and staff members as well as roughly 200 adjuncts each semester.

The formal title for the “tech liaison” in the CHSS is the Coordinator of Administrative and Education Technology (CAET). As head of the Administrative and Education Technology (A&E Tech) unit, the CAET reports directly to the Dean of the CHSS. In addition, there is also a Technology Services Specialist (TSS) who concentrates on database and web services, in addition to assisting with the in-house technical student staff. A&E Tech deals with all issues that relate to education and administrative technology which include: computers, printers, scanners, faxes, copiers, software, and locally operated teaching labs. The CAET manages the CHSS Tech Team, which (as of the Fall 2001 semester) employees 5 student technicians and 3 student assistants.

The School of Business (SBUS) consists of five major departments and employs 68 full-time faculty members, 17 part-time adjunct professors, 8 administrative assistants and an Information Technology/Services (IT/S) Coordinator. Also known as the tech coordinator, the IT/S coordinator reports directly to the Dean and assists the entire school in the implementation and use of technology in their work. The tech coordinator normally has two student technicians reporting to him, whose responsibilities are to trouble-shoot hardware and software, make repairs, and give onsite training to faculty and staff of SBUS. Along with these responsibilities, at least one of the technicians is proficient in web authoring.

The technological needs of each department diffuse to individual faculty members. The scope of faculty knowledge ranges from the most advanced or power users to those who don’t even check their own email. That is where the importance of the TL comes in. The ranges of knowledge are not endemic to just the School of Business and the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ faculty, but throughout the academic schools and administrative departments.

Although we feel the benefits to this paradigm far outweigh the negative aspects, there are some issues that become relevant when dealing with local support. Having a technology administrator and technical staff located in the same building as the constituents using their services can be a real challenge to productive work scheduling. It is difficult under any circumstances to explain to someone standing directly in front of you why the numerous prior calls need to be handled first.

In addition to being in the middle of “the action”, it can, at times, be a challenge for the TL to be physically removed from the central IT structure. It is essential to the success of a DL model that there be a good working relationship between the satellite (distributed) information technology structure and the central technology unit. The impact of the physical distance between IT and the TL will depend on this relationship.

Finally, without a finely tuned network of technicians or in the absence of an excellent relationship with the central technology structure, getting away to conferences such as this one becomes a difficult challenge.

Negatives notwithstanding, it is our opinion that the positive aspects of this paradigm outweigh the negative. Having an office within the building of those being served allows for quick response to issues and problems. Whether large or small, the faculty knows they can go a short distance to get help. In a centralized structure, response is often not immediate. If a call came in from the SBUS to the central Help Desk, located on the other side of campus, a return phone call, let alone a physical response, takes longer than with a TL in each academic unit.

Along with the close proximity of each TL, knowledge of each faculty members’ personality, knowledge level of technology, and technology needs provides a great advantage. As situations arise, the TL has a better understanding of particular problems and an easier time in solving them. In addition to the TL’s understanding of the faculty, the faculty members also become familiar with their TL, providing a continuity of service and support. This continuity is furthered by the direct report relationship between the TL and the Dean. Regular and direct access to the Dean allows for a smooth and balanced integration of technology while keeping an eye on, and in relationship to, the larger issues faced by the specific unit.

The goal is to establish a ‘one-stop shopping’ feel, where faculty can bring any technology issue and have their questions answered or at least have a dedicated starting point. It can be very frustrating for a faculty member to not know which IT department or representative to call to have a simple question answered. The distributed leadership model provides that starting point.

Training that concentrates on unit-specific needs is also a very positive result of the DL model. Such training may involve formal classroom training, IT organizational meetings and even attending trade conferences. At trade conferences like Syllabus, TLs can obtain an abundance of tips and suggestions from others in their field. Tech Liaisons should attend specific sessions that focus on faculty development and support issues, emerging educational technologies, and other sessions that may focus on a particular school or department.

And the knowledge is not only gained at formal sessions. As with all conferences of this type, networking with other support people, between sessions, at lunch, in the vendor halls, etc., is an excellent way to exchange knowledge.

It has been our experience that the distributed leadership model of information technology services is superior in providing the greatest benefit to both faculty and staff. By being able to provide fast and specialized support, as well as being able to focus on the academic side of technology, the Tech Liaison structure has worked well at Montclair State. Given the construction of the university or school, this model should certainly be considered as an integral part of total information services provision.

Course Assessment

I am looking for samples of course assessments, specifically those that are used in hybrid and online courses.

A course evaluation is the kind that students complete at the end of the course, evaluating the course and, usually, the instructor.

If you know where I can get my hands on samples, either link the URL in the comment field below or email me a pd or word document to keltona at mail dot montclair dot edu.

If you don’t have an examples, but want to have a discussion here (which would also be helpful), do you think course evaluations should be any different for face-to-face classes, hybrid class, or online classes?

“And Justice for All”

I am attending the National Network for Educational Renewal (NNER) 2009 Annual Conference and had the privilege to present with Dr. Leslie Wilson and Dr. Laura Nicosia, both from Montclair State University.

Our presentation was titled “And Justice for All: Using Artificial Environments to Create Community and Teach Diversity”. We had a large, and active group, who stuck around after we were done to continue talking to each other (and to us) about the content of the presentation. We actually had to move the conversations out into the hallway so the next presentation could get rolling. That was fine, since the coffee and fruit tarts were out there. :-)

Here is the link to the presentation. I’ve posted it here in my blog, instead of directly to my networks, to provide a place for those who are interested to be able to post comments and, perhaps, continue the dialog.

Google Forms glitch

I’m having a problem with Google Forms, there seems to be a glitch and I’m trying to find out if there is a way around this.

I’m working with an amazing colleague who is teaching a class using a particular peripheral item. We’ve create an assessment in Google Forms and provided it to all the students in two of her classes.

In order to test to be sure the form was working properly, and also that it could be accessed via a mobile device, two “test” entries were done. There were on lines 1 and 2. I deleted lines 1 and 2 but the number of responses in “SHOW SUMMARY OF RESPONSES” under FORMS in the Excel sheet Google Forms creates and feeds data into is still showing the original number of entries (which is the total number of students who took the survey plus 2, the 2 test entries).

The data generate in SHOW SUMMARY OF RESPONSES is really handy, and now its inaccurate (by two entries). Is there a way to update the data that feeds into SHOW SUMMERY OF RESPONSES to reflect the number of rows actually in the current spreadsheet.

I already tried to copy the spreadsheet but the SHOW SUMMARY OF RESPONSES indicates that no entries have been made. My guess is that the SHOW SUMMARY is tied to the entries as they come in and now what is in the spreadsheet.

I also checked the HELP section in Google Docs and did find responses in the forum, but most did not address my issue and the one that did I couldn’t follow what the submitter was saying.

If anyone has info on how to do this, please let me know here (so others can know as well).

SnapSession: MeGlobe

I ran across a web based chat tool called MeGlobe ( that claimed to be a type of universal translator. I tell it what my native language is and then I can talk to almost anyone, almost anywhere in the world. I wanted to kick these wheels a bit so I put out a note asking if anyone in my network spoke a language other than English fluently.

Dr. Gina Miele, a faculty member in our Italian department here at MSU, agreed to create an account and indicate her native language as Italian.

The user interface was a bit confusing at first. After a few minutes both Gina and I figured out how to add each other on our friends list. I send along my first IM but it did not pop up automatically for her. She had to click on my name in order to see the IM.

The translations were not particularly good, and I’ll get to that in a second. I’d rather focus on what I saw as one of the really good things. The program allows you to edit the responses that are provided. If Gina and I were only IMing, and she didn’t speak English and I didn’t speak Italian, this would have been no use. However, since Gina speaks both languages and we were on the phone with each other that the same time, it was possible for us to correct the translation.

I like the fact that the translation can be updated. It useful in the case we set up above. Otherwise, this is a hybrid between an IM client and a translation program life Babblefish, it’s almost like Babblechat.

The first time we fixed the translation and tested the same phrase, it worked. The second time we tried that, it didn’t work – it gave us the same wrong translation it had given us before. In fact, one time, I spelled a word wrong and when the translation came back, it came back with the word misspelled. So, like Wikipedia, where people can update information and it does not necessarily have to be totally accurate, the same is true here. So now we’re looking at Babblechatapedia. Our big question from this was, are these changes and updates universal or only to our conversation. So, in other words, if Gina wrote Ciao, Bella, and I decided to tell the system that this meant “Your breathe smells”, and we corrected it enough times, would others see it?

From what Gina was telling me, the translation used the wrong “person” many times is very formal and often mistranslated word that can have multiple meanings (like “live” as in what city as opposed to “live” as in, “live it up”). It also didn’t get colloquialism at all, but that is to be expected.

All in all, it translated with a good accuracy about 7% of our IMs (no including repeats) and with understandable accuracy about 15%. Now, there is a caveat. The English to Italian translation was not horrific. As Gina said “someone in Italy could understand the translation. They might chuckle at the word choices, poor sentence structure and incorrect grammar, but they would understand.” The Italian to English translation was bad, and sometime so bad that it was unintelligible.

Not wanting to end on a sour note, Gina and I both agreed that this is a great step forward, albeit it has a long way to go. This is working toward becoming a very useful tool and when the accuracy gets better, I’d love to test it with one of our language courses.

As a final note, they have a really cool clock on the top of the page with a drop down menu that has lots of cities around the world. So you can pick a city and the clock will change to show you what time it is in that city. Not only with the time change, but the clock is white during the daylight house and black during the nighttime hours. Great touch. Keep up the good work, MeGlobe, a work in progress but a good start.

February CHSS Hybrid/Online SIG Meeting

Welcome to the blog and live blog of the February CHSS Hybrid/Online SIG Meeting. Today’s meeting will be taking place in Dickson Hall as well as using a pilot version of Wimba Classroom.

In addition to a presentation by Patricia Kahn, Director of the Technology Training and Integration division of the Office of Information Technology, I will also be demonstrating a product we have just started a pilot project for called CoveritLive, which is a live blogging tool. You have seen me use it here in the blog before and I will be using it for today’s meeting as well.

Please feel free to join the conversation between 12pm and 2pm. You can join by simply entering your comments at the bottom of the CoveritLive insert below. Please know that comments, at least the first one, have to be moderated. So if there is a delay in your comment posting to the blog, give me a few moments to approve it.

[UPDATE: Unlike Blogger, which allows iFrames, WordPress (.com, at least, not sure about .org) does not. So, unlike Blogger where the CoverItive session would appear right here inside the blog, you need to click the link above and it will open a separate window.]