Saturday, October 10, 2009


Real-Time Collaboration Tools

I received my Google Wave invitation last Thursday night, but only know one colleague who has an account, so I haven't spent a lot of time playing with it. In the class that I am teaching using free/open tools, we thought we would try Google's Sidewiki to facilitate collaboration. This tool only works with specific browsers, and software must be downloaded and installed. Even though I did that on my Mac (Firefox only) and my Windows XP netbook, I am getting inconsistent results. I am finding it to be buggy (I see different things in the sidewiki on the same pages, depending on which Google account I am using... not good). So, we are going to try a different solution:

EtherPad has the real-time collaboration of Google Wave, but doesn't require an account invitation or even a log-in: you just click a button on the first page and you are ready to edit. Click another button, and you can invite collaborators. Copy the URL, and you can share the site with others. At first, I embedded a Public EtherPad into a Google Sites page in our course, and we edited it there. Later, I replaced the "live" page with a recording of the entire session. There is a Play button and a Time Slider to play back the document. Paste in a URL, and it is converted to a link automatically. We didn't add any multimedia, like you are supposed to be able do with Google Wave, but our focus was really on the conversation in text. We will use this tool in our class as an example of a real-time collaboration tool.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009


Some Interesting New Links

Google Wave – how will it change the online learning landscape?

This blog entry, from a university in New Zealand, points out the potential advantages of Google Wave over a traditional Learning Management System (LMS). I love the quote,
"On every investment, one expects at least some positive return. As far as LMS’s go the students actually get none! All the work they do in a course over the semester is lost as the courses on LMS’s are recycled for use next semester. As far as the notion of ePortfolios go, Google Wave will have a huge impact upon selection of what tool to go with and a positive spin for the students who’ll be able to showcase all of three years work to prospect employees." 
Amen! I am so anxious to get my hands on Google Wave! I hear a beta release is due out September 30, 2009, to a select group of users. Other recent blog posts:

A Virtual Revolution Is Brewing for Colleges -

Will the Internet Revolution have the same impact on Higher Education as it has on the newspaper industry? This quote is disturbing to me:
The typical 2030 faculty will likely be a collection of adjuncts alone in their apartments, using recycled syllabuses and administering multiple-choice tests from afar.
To me, that statement reflects a misunderstanding of both teaching and assessment.

Ask-Dr-Kirk: E-portfolios A Useful Tool For Both Students And Faculty 

The attachment on this page is by J. Elizabeth Clark, Professor of English, and Bret Eynon, Assistant Dean for Teaching and Learning, both of Laguardia Community College, CUNY entitled "E-portfolios at 2.0—Surveying the Field" published by AAC&U, Winter 2009. This is a good overview of the current issues in implementing ePortfolios on a national and international scale. Providing a good counter-argument to the Washington Post article, the paper identifies the Four Major Drivers of Portfolio Use:
  1. pedagogical change in higher education, a growing interest in student-centered active and integrative learning
  2. technological capacity to document and publish diverse forms of student learning online... and the experience of learners with social networking tools
  3. the pressure for increased accountability in higher education, facilitating a more classroom-based and faculty-driven alternative form of assessment
  4. the need for “an education passport,” a way for mobile students—and professionals—to represent their learning and carry it with them as they move from one setting to another.
One emphasis of the LaGuardia ePortfolio is their attention to visual rhetoric in students' portfolios [increasing personalization and creativity]. A quote from this article supports the notion that the loss of visual richness in "fill-in-the-blanks" types of ePortfolio systems does not allow the level of student engagement that an ePortfolio should encourage, along with my issues of balancing student ownership with institutional accountability:
Through e-portfolios we have an opportunity to harness the power of imagery and digital media to advanced cognitive processes. If standardized presentations become the norm, it may jeopardize student enthusiasm and miss an opportunity to connect academic discourse to the visually rich multimedia universe. (p.21)
...if e-portfolios are only assessment tools, without value or meaning to the students who create them, they will lose vitality and become an exercise in discipline and surveillance. (p.23)
Another Amen! The article also quotes me (about different approaches to ePortfolios and assessment) during a panel at the ePortfolio Conference held at Laguardia in April 2008.

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Monday, June 01, 2009


New Google Tools

The Google I/O Conference last week provided a glimpse at some very exciting new tools, some available now, some in the near future.

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