Got Social?

Old posts never die, they come to WordPress

I’m tired of trying to maintain more than one blog.  I didn’t do this on purpose.  Over time, I’ve started one blog, then another, then another.  As mentioned recently, I’ve finally decided I like WordPress the best (at least for now).  So what I’ve just started doing is to bring old blog posts from other blogs to this blog.  Since WordPress allows one to date (or pre-date, in this case) a post, I can keep the time line continuity.

So, if you follow this blog, you will begin to see posts pop up that are predating today’s date.  Now you know why.  Feel free to comment on these older posts if you wish, it might spawn a new post – who knows!  :-)

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.]

Considering Enterprise Version of CoveritLive

Recently the folks at CoveritLive (CiL) have announced an enterprise version of their product. Those who follow my blog know that I have used CiL in the past to blog events, such as presentations, etc… The enterprise version of CiL is free for education and so the CHSS is considering what options might be available to us in this regard and if this is an opportunity we want to consider.

This afternoon at 2:30pm EST I will be doing a run through of both the back end and front end of CiL with our CHSS Director of Technology Services, Milos Topic.

So come back to this blog at 2:30pm and just type a comment in the appropriate field below. You won’t see it now, but around 2:30pm when I “open” the event, then you will see a field for visitors to comment in.

[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.]

Need help with video

I have dipped my toe in the pool of video making. I have several faculty members who will be using Second Life this semester and a request was made to produce a few “how to” videos the instructors can assign their students the first week of school. This way, when we meet as a group the second week they will be well on their way.

The first video to make is obviously how to sign up for an account. I’ll follow that up with how to change your password, how to down load the application to a computer (or flash drive), and how to navigate the start of NMC’s Orientation Island.

I’ve never made a machinima or video like this before. I’ve toyed around with doing it, but never actually tried to make a real nice one. So today, I set down to make a video of how to sign up for your account.

Here is the result:

This is what I did to create this video.

First, I downloaded Snapz Pro, the 14 day free trial, and shot the sign up process. I then imported the resulting .mov file into iMovie. I created the introduction, added the titles, music, sound effects, and then saved it. Then I SHARED it as a QuickTime file and saved that to my desktop. That is what I uploaded to YouTube.

The first time I did it I used the WEB option, but that was SO small, and unreadable, so I then saved it as WEB STREAMING. You see the result. The only other option I saw was “ORIGINAL”, which would have made the file too big to upload to YouTube.

I don’t know why it is so fuzzy. Any help anyone can provide would be greatly appreciated. We really need it to not be fuzzy and I have more to do for classes to start next week.

It would be useful to the community to post your comments here; however, if you’d prefer, you are welcome to email them to me directly.

Social Constructivism – “you are here”

Monday, January 12, 2009

Like on a map, I’m looking around academically for the big red spot that tells me
“you are here”

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Frost, Robert. Mountain Interval. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920;, 1999. 12 January 2009.

Recently I posted to my social networks a request for “who and what should I be reading about social constructivism”. I got the following responses:

* Dewey
* Gee
* Werstch
* Activity theory
* Vygotsky
* Jonassen
* An article by D. Robbie and L. Zeeng, published in the International Journal of Learning, called “Engaging Student Social Networks to Motivate Learning: Capturing, Analyzing, and Critiquing the Visual Image.”
* An article (or is it a series of articles, I can’t tell at first glance) I believe is titles “Philosophy of Technology Meets Social Constructivism” by Phillip Brey, from Twente University, in the Society for Philosophy and Technology. The link for that article is

Dewey, I’m guessing is John Dewey.
Gee probably has to be James Paul Gee
Wertsch must be James Wertsch

I’m seeing a trend here – I’ll take People With the First Initial J, Alex.

Lev Vygotsky is of course a must for this. I should probably read JeanPiaget also, although clearly Piaget is less about social constructivism, but still.
David Jonassen I’ve already run into, so he is definitely on my list
The two specific articles provided are definitely going to be looked into.
I’d also found Starr Roxanne Hiltz and Frances K. Stage _ I’ll be looking into them a bit more.

This is clearly a great start – but there has to be more. Is there a specific work you like that deals with constructivism, specifically social constructivism?

If the theoretical hair on the back of your neck stands up when you think about social constructivism (a lot of hooey, you think), then what should I be reading that you believes supports that viewpoint. Academic need to be critical thinkers – we need to be able to take a 360 degree look at something. I might not end up agreeing but at the very least I’ll have a better idea why I’m focusing on this.

Post your thoughts here – or reach out to me by email, through Facebook, or through Twitter.

Language, Race, and Power

Today I’ll be covering the MSU Center of Pedagogy 2009 Advance. We’re meeting in the 7th Floor Conference Center of University Hall on the campus of Montclair State University. See the LiveBlog below for details throughout the day AND you are invited to add your own comments, which will appear in the blog and, if you have questions, I’ll be able to ask them on your behalf.

[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.]

SLER makes the Highlights of 2008 list

Each week, on Tuesday night, from 5:30pm to 6:30pm Eastern time, I host the Second Life Education Roundtable, or SLER for short.

The meetings started last spring. I was looking for a place to meet other education professionals to talk about issues that were important. Nothing met at a time that was convenient for me so I decided to start my own meeting.

I determined that I wanted it to be a place where everyone would feel welcome, and anyone could chime in when the wanted. The best way to do that would be for everyone to sit around a round table – no head of the table, everyone can see everyone else, etc…

The idea took off and at one point we were hitting from 40-50 people each week.

This last Tuesday we held our first meeting of the year and had a blow out. The meeting featured Chris Collins, Sarah Robbins, Jonathon Richter, Jeremy Kemp, Anthony Fontana, and Daniel Livingston. It was our first “panel” discussion – where each of the panelist talked briefly about their view on the potential, possible, and probable future of higher education in virtual worlds.

We had 90 people at one point. I had to cap the sim at 90 (meaning I blocked any more than 90 from coming in). I wanted to make sure we did not crash out. Even then, close to a dozen people that I know of were IMing me and others to try and get in.

Certainly the response was mainly for the star power of the panel. If you don’t know those people, Google them!

How nice to have as a follow up to our best and biggest meeting ever, to be featured in the Second Life Highlights in Education 2008 blog.

Montclair State University has made an exceptional commitment to Second Life. They trusted me nearly 2 years ago when people were still really joking about virtual environments. They have committed resources, time, and great support, for all the work that is going on – not just the Roundtable.

A small but dedicated faculty is engaged in what is going on. Congrats to everyone from MSU – the nod to the SLER is only one indication of the great work that is going on.

SnapSession – DimDim

For today’s SnapSession I’ve decided to look into DimDim. DimDim is a web based collaboration tool. According to their main splash page, you can – “Host web conferences for up to 20 people free.” and they claim its the “worlds easiest web conference – lets you deliver synchronized live presentations, whiteboards, and web pages while sharing voice and video over the Internet – with no download required.”

The sign up process, including glancing over the main web page, took me – literally, less than 3 minutes. They don’t ask for a ton of information up front, there is always an option to update SETTINGS and information later on. This is smart in that it gets people in fast. I suppose, they run the risk of NOT getting this information, but clearly this is a strategy of doing what is good for the user as opposed to the company.

The first time you sign in, after setting up the account, a pop up comes up that asks you if you want help setting up your preferences. One could opt out here and go right to the main page or fine-tune some of the settings. The options seemed fairly straight forward, although I did not take too much time trying to figure things out.

The main options presented (biggest buttons) are to join a meeting or host a meeting. Quite logical, since that is really what most people are coming in for. Since I didn’t have anyone to chat with at the moment, I decided to poke around a bit.

I wanted to see what would happen if I started a meeting, without someone to join me. When you start a meeting, it asks you what features you want to include – so you can say yes to voice, but no to video, or any combination of 6 or 7 things. I like the flexibility of this – options, but no bells/whistles that aren’t needed for each instance – and things can be changed for the next time. Then, before beginning, it asks you for permission to use the voice and camera – I like this a lot. This tells me they care about privacy, somewhat, but also that THEY want to make sure YOU know you are now “on.”

One thing I could not figure out, when I started the meeting it did not automatically find my built in web cam. It was picking up my voice from the mic, but not the video.

At first I thought the only way you can get people to your conference is to use the built in email invite tool. I did find that there is a way to get a URL and give it to people, but it was not intuitive as to where it was. Perhaps going through one of the tutorials would be beneficial, but the point of these SnapsSessions is to see how much can I figure out in 15 minutes without help or tutorials.

One other good note, people can dial in – they give you a phone number and pass code – so one does not even need Internet access.

Another plus, you can share your computer screen, but something needs to be installed in order to do that.

So I started the meeting and sent the URL out to my network. A few minutes later, someone signed in and joined my meeting. When she joined in I started recording the session. We were able to chat – ALMOST in real time. There was a delay of a second or two and if you don’t have a headset on, you get that “Yankee Stadium Announcer” feedback loop. So everyone needs headsets! I thought the video might work if someone joined me, but we still couldn’t figure out how it worked. If someone out there knows, please let me know.

When the preset time to end the meeting came up (that was one of the settings I played around with), it asked me if I wanted to extent the meeting – nice feature! I said yes and we continued for another few minutes.

When she signed off, I stopped the recording and a pop up let me know that each recording session is separate and that if I hit record again it would overwrite the first one. Then it asked me if I was sure I wanted to stop. When I said yes, it told me that once I ended the meeting (as opposed to the recording), it would put it together and eventually email it to me. That’s ANOTHER cool feature.

Here is what I got in the email:
You have a recorded DimDim Web Meeting session that can be viewed or downloaded.



Click here to view Recording

Click here to view Chat Transcript


Click here to download Recording

Click here to download Chat Transcript


Clicking the “view recording” opened a web browser and gave me a black screen with the video only – but the audio was really pretty good.

I’d like to get a group together to test this out – a bigger group. If you’re up for it, leave a comment here or email me directly.

All in all, this product gets a thumbs up. Easy to use and fills a need. This could work for a classroom, although not as well as Wimba Classroom. But it is an alternative for small groups, impromptu groups, or meetings.

Undergraduate Students and Technology – Part 6

Continuing commentary and opinions on content of The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008.

On page 14 of this report, after briefly discussing the Digital Divide, the authors launch into a discussion on Social Networking Sites, or SNSs. Based on the responses to their surveys “Overall, 85.2% of respondents are now using SNSs” (p14).

Although they had close to 100 institutions participating in the 2008 survey, there were only 44 institutions that had participated in the three years (p14). Of those, there was an increase in usage of 14% over 36 months (74.8% to 88.8%) and that daily usage is up 26%! (32.8% to 58.8%).

In the conclusion of the Executive Summary, the authors indicate that they “found a widespread attitude about IT resources – no matter how students thing about tem – are best situated in learning environments where technology is balanced with other learning activities, especially face-to-face interactions with faculty and students in the classroom.” (p16) This is not entirely surprising to me since I’d have to guess that the vast majority of the institutions surveyed were primarily traditional brick-and-mortar institutions. There is certainly a representation of students who have taken hybrid, blended, and even entirely online courses, but the statistics might be different if there were a few entirely online institutions represented.

If you are interested in having your institution participate in the 2009 survey, the URL for more information and the survey is

The Introduction is titled “Reshaping Campus Communications and Community through Social Network Sites”, was written by Nicole B. Ellison from Michigan State University, and begins on page 19.

On page 21 Ellison refers to an article from the New York Time, written by Brian Stelter and published on January 21st, 2008, which indicates that MySpace is the “largest SNS in the United States”. I don’t have the reference handy but I do remember recently hearing that Facebook has since surpassed that. If anyone knows where that information is (or if I can find it again), please go ahead and post it into the comments.

That’s all for now, more on this next time.

Undergraduate Students and Technology – Part 5

Continuing commentary and opinions on content of The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2008.

I’ve decided to forgo the discussion about students and plagiarism; I’ll save that for another day, and go on with the discussion from the ECAR paper.

“The majority of comments, however, were negative. Four themes emerged – that the lack of face-to-face interaction detracts from learning, that online courses facilitate cheating, that technical problems still exist, and that online courses require students to “teach themselves”, making the course more demanding.

Ok – wow – where do I start with this.

1. Lack of face-to-face interaction detracts from learning
Ok, so I’m not sure I disagree with this, but probably NOT for the same reasons as the students. I do believe that it’s important to be face-to-face during a portion of the class. I hold with high regard whatever is happening, physically, when two or more people are in the same place at the same time. Call it vibes, call it aura, call it energy, call it whatever you want. However, this “thing” does not exist when people meet in cyberspace (or don’t meet at all, if the non-face-to-face portion is asynchronous.)
That’s my perspective, and I’d guess a small percentage of student think the same thing. But I’m willing to bet that there is more behind this for most students. We’ve seen that students are social and we’ve also seen that they don’t want their social networking tools to be taken over by the educational process. But it is that very social thing that students get from each other. They make friends, they develop relationships, they distract each other, they cover for each other, they do a lot of things that can’t be done when one is sitting on campus in his/her dorm and the other is at home in her/his bedroom, and one is at Starbucks.

2. That online courses facilitate cheating
Ok – so students are worried about cheating? LOL, no really? Students are worried about cheating? ROFLMAO!!!!! Oh, pull the other one! I’m not going to paint all students with the same brush, only MOST of them. I think the only reasons students are worried about cheating, most of them, is that they are afraid someone is going to get credit for cheating and a) they won’t be able to take advantage of it, b) they think it will make them look worse, of c) all of the above! There is this belief out there that classroom learning is a race, and that only so many people can get “good” grades, and if someone gets an A, and they cheated, then I might not get as good a grade because that other people took my A. I don’t buy the lion’s share of the bell curve of students care about cheating.

3. That technical problems still exist
This one still cracks me up, especially today. They have no problems teaching themselves how to use mobile devices, social networking spaces, and advanced video or computer games, but they think Blackboard is too hard to learn! I’ve actually had students tell me they couldn’t watch the YouTube video I assigned because it wouldn’t work on their computer

4. That online courses require students to “teach themselves” making the course more demanding.
To me, this translates to “Holy crap, look at all this work I have to do which I can’t fake now because I can’t sit in the back of the class an pretend that I read, answered, followed.” The use of technology actually makes the students do the amount of work they would have had to do had they participated in the class as it was designed. This is, of course, based on the idea that the course was designed properly. There is always the case that a technology is NOT being used properly and that, in fact, the class is harder then it would have been if it had been offered in person.
The other part of this is that students want us to give them the answers, because they believe learning is being able to tell us what we want them to tell us when we test them. We (and I mean society here) have these student so accustomed to the pitchers/vessels way of learning that if we are not giving them the answer, well, how are they going to know what to tell us back on the test. You want US to come up with the answer, they ask? Are you kidding, just tell me, so I can get a good grade on the test.

My goodness, there is so much more wrapped up in that. Perhaps I’ll come back and revisit that sometime, for now I’ll wrap up and move on in the next post.