A little of this and a little of that.
BTW, the photo has nothing to do with anything. It's just a pretty tree that I saw in a cemetery in Mt. Pilot, NC. (actually Pilot Mountain).
Catching up on my blog reading now that I'm back home. Here are a few of the gems:
Recommended add-ons for Firefox 2 from TechCrunch
Web 2.0 tools for classroom use by Solution Watch. The link is for Part One and then there are links for Part Two (web office) and Part Three (blogs, wikis, photos, video, etc.) on the right side of the page.
Web Accessibility article from the BBC. If Target Corp can get sued by a blind student for not being able to shop at their website, what makes us think that we won't be sued for inaccessible web courses? That's one reason why I've made an issue about this (again) lately.
At the MnSCU CAO/Dean meetings this past week I was again opining that the Cluetrain Manifesto should be required reading for all higher ed administrators. I found a little video where one of the authors David Weinberger talks about the common misconceptions that people hold on to about the conversations that the book promotes as essential.
"(Cluetrain stuff:) We've confused building a business with building a fort. The walls try to control customers/ employees/ partners by controlling the flow of information. But the Net has knocked those walls down." (From Weinberger's blog)
Would you buy fabric if you couldn't sell the clothes that you made from it? This is a good example of how the whole idea of property (intellectual or otherwise) is getting totally convulted. This whole flap is just another example of the whole World is Flat discussion. One person posts an opinion about something and soon the whole blogosphere is chiming in and choosing sides. That's much more fun than having the discussion at the local coffee shop with three uninformed patrons. Thanks to Stephen for the heads up on this one.
Cory Doctorow's original post at Boing Boing
Response from the fabric seller
A rant from a culture author who appears to have a very interesting book.
Another rant from a fiber expert (check out the comments for much more fun)
Thanks to Wesley for a pointer to the Persuasion Map for helping students write an essay.
I'll be checking out Toufee ASAP for making flash video and presentation files for free.
Lastly, a tip of the cap to the excellent blog Creating Passionate Users by Kathy Sierra. Her post titled "Better Beginnings: how to start a presentation, book, article..." is really good. Her points of not starting at the beginning and not starting with the history are right on target. I had the good fortune of missing a session at the CIT where one of my friends said the presenter spent the first 20 minutes telling all about herself and her school. OMG!! You have to wonder how many people walked out during that 20 minute period. I would have after about five minutes.
Saturday, October 28, 2006
A little of this and a little of that.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
The League's Conference on Information Technology (CIT) is over. This year it was held at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Q #1. How many sessions on how to make podcasts do they really need in the session schedule?
Q #2. Why on earth did they think that a bunch of people interested in Ed Tech would want to sit around and listen to a keynote by a Republican U.S. House Rep (Sue Myrick)? Why would we want to listen to ANYBODY from the most do-nothing Congress in the history of the United States?
Q #3. Why did so many scheduled presenters just not show up at all? I've never seen so many cancelled sessions and others that didn't happen even though they weren't officially cancelled.
In closing, I should say something good about the conference. Okay ... my third presentation of the day on Monday was outstanding! Actually, I'm not (quite) that full of myself ... that's really what several people said at the end of the session, and even others when I saw them the next day. It was another presentation titled Web 2.0 Whirlwind. We basically got through 36 different web-based application, tools, and freebies in 60 minutes. All of that with a very slow Internet connection. Here's the handout for the session. Here's a link to several other presentations.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
In about an hour we board the van/limo that will take us to the airport to return home. We will be in travel status for about 27-28 hours depending on the prevailing winds. Saigon to Taipei, Taipei to Los Angeles, L.A. to Minneapolis, and MSP to Duluth.
We have had a great trip and made a great many new friends in China, Hong Kong, Macau, and Vietnam.
The photo is of the sunrise outside our hotel window overlooking the Saigon River. Over and out.
We began our last full day in Saigon with a trip to the U.S. Consulate offices to talk about American- Vietnamese relations, student visas to study in the U.S., immigration to the U.S. from Vietnam, and other things related to the business of the Consulate. No cameras allowed at the Consulate, so no pictures to share for this.
After the meeting, I attended a lunch hosted by SEAMEO at a very nice restaurant. The food was excellent, the company was good, and the house that had been converted into a restaurant was very cool.
Some things I learned about Vietnam today include:
- 40% of the Vietnam GDP is generated in Ho Chi Minh City.
- The U.S. Consulate there has 40 U.S. staff members and over 200 Vietnamese staff members.
- U.S. is the largest export market for Vietnam, but not for education (Aussies).
- There are over 500,000 foreign students studying in the U.S.
- Those foreign students bring about $13 billion into the U.S. annually.
- Approximately 3,670 Vietnamese students are studying in the U.S.
- That number has increased about 16% annually for several years, with over 30% increase in the past year.
- 75% of the Vietnamese students in the U.S. received their visas at the Consulate in HCMC.
- They also administer the Fulbright program at the Consulate.
- The per capita annual income in Vietnam is $653.
- 1.7 million Vietnamese students took the college entrance exam (for Vietnam schools), but most are denied access to higher education.
- The granting of student visas is getting looser all the time thanks to improved relations between the two countries.
The recruitment fair on Wednesday afternoon was very active. We gave out almost all of the materials that we had with us and talked to many more seriously interested students and parents than at the fair in Hong Kong. It appears as though the higher ed market in Vietnam is ripe for U.S. educators to attract a good number of students.
This evening we had a farewell dinner with the whole group. Only a small part of the group is going on to Hanoi tomorrow with the largest part heading home in their various directions. It was a festive (rowdy) group as they were preparing to say their goodbyes and relaxing after a grueling trip throughout Asia. Some of us stayed a bit later than the others and generally made pests of ourselves while the staff waited for us to leave.
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
Tuesday in Saigon was another good day. After breakfast, the group attended a joint press conference with the VACC (Vietnamese Association of Community Colleges). The VACC is very newly formed and was modeled after the AACC. I believe they said that there are eight community colleges in Vietnam, and all were represented by officials at the press conference.
One of the many opportunities for collaboration that they spoke about was in the area of online training. This was my first good opportunity to talk about the collective power of Minnesota Online, my role on the MnOnline Council, and the possibility of a serious partnership between the VACC and MnOnline. The President of the VACC, Mr. Khanh Pham Tiet, and I had a good conversation about the possibilities related to online collaborations, and he promised to send more information for MnOnline to consider regarding becoming an associate member of the VACC.
The press conference was hosted by SEAMEO, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization, at their regional training center. Apparently, all of the community colleges work together through SEAMEO and it was also necessary for the IIE and AACC to work through SEAMEO in order to get the invitation to visit Vietnam at all.
We had a very nice lunch at the top of the Grand Hotel in Saigon. Those seated at our table included (l-r) Ms. Phan Thi Ngoc Mai, Program Manager for SEAMEO Overseas Study Development; Mr. Than Trong Minh, Dean of English Language Training, Teacher Development, and Training; myself; Juh-muh-suh Boogey; Judy Irwin of the AACC, and Dr. Do Huy Thinh (“Ting”), Director of SEAMEO.
After lunch we had a break to take a rest, as they say, and then it was off to the Marie Curie School in Saigon. We were greeted by several thousand enthusiastic students of various ages as we walked through the building and courtyard on our way to an assembly hall where several hundred seniors and juniors were waiting for our presentation. Basically the purpose of this was to describe to them the benefits of an American Community College education, what they could expect if they attended one of the nearly 1,200 member schools of the AACC, and to encourage them to attend the Community College recruitment fair on Wednesday afternoon at the hotel.
In the evening we were hosted by the American Consulate in Saigon in a reception for both the AACC delegation and the VACC leaders. It was a mostly informal opportunity to mingle and chat about possibly collaboration opportunities between the two countries. We finished the evening with some dinner and shopping and a few new adventures to tell the gang back home when we return. Along the way we included a stop at the rooftop of the Rex Hotel because someone in our group (remaining nameless) wanted to see where the helicopter evacuation took place during the fall of Saigon.
Monday, October 16, 2006
Monday was the first day we had where all we had to do was travel. No meetings, no fairs, no need to get dressed up, no need to rush around like crazy people. We spent the morning packing our many bags of luggage and boxes of fair materials, but were able to take our time doing it since we weren’t leaving for the airport until about 1:15 PM.
We had a nice bus ride to the airport with plenty of room to stretch out for the 45-minute trek from the hotel. It would have been a good day to stay in Hong Kong since it was a bit more sunny and clear than the past few days. The air was pretty decent on the day we arrived from Guangzhou, but has been extremely smoggy and murky ever since.
Getting through the Hong Kong airport was pretty much a breeze. Security is not very tight at all. No need to get undressed, no need to remove all forms of metal or fake metal from your person before walking through the scanner, bags are given the most cursory look on a video monitor (no opening and searching), and the employees are actually polite and friendly. In other words, it’s nothing like trying to get on a plane in the U.S.
The flight to Saigon was very nice aboard Cathay Pacific Airways. They are a top-ranked company in all of Asia. Not just a top-ranked airline, but a top-ranked company. This flight was only two hours long but they still served a full meal, with complementary beverages (all types), and a very friendly manner of dealing with you. Again, why is this so hard.
BTW, you can Ho Chi Minh City me all you want, but many people here still call it Saigon and many places still include Saigon in the name including the Saigon Airport and the Legend Hotel Saigon where we are staying. Besides, Charlie Daniels has never re-recorded his song to sing about being “Still in Ho Chi Minh City.”
It was dark when we arrived so we really didn’t get to see much of the city on the ride to the hotel from the airport. We got a large van-type taxi/limo to take us to the hotel. There were three of us and 12 bags and boxes. It took about 35-40 minutes to get from point A to point B. Cost? Exactly $12 American. The driver was happy with his VN$50,000 tip (about 3 bucks). Yes, the exchange rate is over 16,000 Vietnam dollars to one U.S. dollar. At the hotel desk I exchanged some money and walked away with a cool $3.2 million in my pocket.
Rita went shopping first thing with some of her new AACC friends. She has a real hard time joining a group activity … NOT. All of the days here in Saigon are scheduled very tightly. We are going to make an executive decision to skip the least important event in order to get to see some of the sights of the city. We will still be at all of the most important functions, but I really don’t want to spend all day and all night of each day in meeting rooms or at other official functions. Gee whiz, there needs to be a little bit of personal time allowed.
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Sunday was the recruitment fair in Hong Kong at the Conrad Hotel. There were 95 schools represented, about 70 universities and 25 community colleges. The universities were pretty busy and the rest of us were not. Still, we learned quite a bit about how best to tackle a fair like this, what materials to bring, and what info is most important to the prospective students.
The Hong Kong fair was quite large and well attended, but yesterday at Macau was much better as far as the number of students who really found out about LSC.
After the fair we had a free evening, after all, it was Sunday night and it seemed like an appropriate time to relax a little bit and work a little less. So, we did what any normal person would do … we went shopping!
We went to a crazy marketplace in Kowloon across the harbor from Hong Kong city. Rita had already spent several hours there while the rest of us were working the fair, but she needed to go back and we needed her to be our tour guide. Several blocks of outdoor street mall where vendors set up every day right in front of the other business along the street. Maybe they're owned by the same people, we don't know. These shops were open until 11 PM on Sunday night, so they clearly approach the market experience a bit different than we do. It takes a certain type of person to put up with the crowds and the merchants, and all of that … but we definitely had a couple of people who fit that description in our group.
Saturday, October 14, 2006
Up early Saturday morning for a trip on the Turbo Jet Boat to Macau. AACC had arranged a “mini-fair” at Macau the day before the big event at the hotel in Hong Kong. It takes a little bit over an hour to get to Macau from Hong Kong on the boat. It’s a pretty nice way to get there, however it does sound a bit more cool (turbo jet ride!!) than the reality of the whole deal.
We met with the Principal of the Pui Ching Secondary School for about 30 minutes, and then went to where the fair was to be held to make final table preparations. We also spent some time out in the school yard where middle school students were engaged in physical education classes (I think). They were playing basketball, table tennis, badminton, and other things. Then it was off for a Dim Sum lunch at a nearby restaurant and a few minutes of shopping before returning to the school for the fair. I bought a couple of polo shirts for 39 Hong Kong Dollars each (about $5.50 USA) since it was cheaper to buy new ones than to pay $65HK to have my other shirts laundered at the hotel.
The fair began with a surprisingly large attendance of Macau high school kids and parents. Stephanie was our Macau-native interpreter and we spent a few minutes briefing her before the fair began. After a 30-minute address to the whole group by a representative from Miami-Dade, the students were free to roam from table to table talking to campus reps and picking up materials of interest to them.
Jim, Rita, and I were all at the fair but there was only room for one campus rep and the interpreter so Rita and I excused ourselves after about the first hour and went for a bit more shopping and a quick bus ride to some of the Macau casinos. Macau is making a major push to be the next Las Vegas. It’s definitely not as large or glitzy as Vegas, but they are building new places and apparently their gaming revenues are increasing dramatically. We were at the Sands Casino for a couple of hours and then walked through the fake Roman Coliseum, fake Volcano, and finally the real skywalk back to the pier to catch the 5:45 PM Turbo Jet back to Hong Kong.
After we got back to the hotel, we left with Jim, Anonymous, and Becky for the Peak Tram incline (or funicular) railway to the top of one of the mountains where you have a big view of Hong Kong, Kowloon, and the harbor. It was still sorta hazy (okay, it was very hazy and smoggy) so it wasn’t a great view, but still pretty good. I enjoyed the extreme angle of the ride both up and down the mountain. Then it was off to the Street Carnival which was really quite crazy and fun.
All in all, we had a productive day with our first ever International student recruitment fair, and several slices of fun as well.
Friday, October 13, 2006
This morning we left Dorian (the rock star) behind in Guangzhou and the rest of us went to Hong Kong to meet up with a delegation led by the American Association of Community Colleges. This group has already made three stops for CC recruitment fairs in Bangkok, Chang Mai Thailand, and Seoul. They arrived in Hong Kong this afternoon about the same time that we arrived from Guangzhou.
We took the train from Guangzhou to Hong Kong thanks to the arrangements made by the super-efficient Mary from the Foreign Affairs Office at GAFA. It took about an hour and a half to make the trip, then about a 30 minute taxi ride to the Conrad Hotel on Hong Kong Island. The Conrad is a very fancy and expensive place (think Conrad Hilton) and is quite a change of pace from the Experts’ Hostel at GAFA. The Hong Kong experience is very different from the China experience. Very expensive and much more modern than we have experienced for the past week, but we’ll get used to it.
Soon after unpacking our bags the group went to the U.S. Consulate for a briefing about the process of getting visas for Hong Kongers to travel to the U.S. for education. They have an approval rate of 98%. Students who can’t demonstrate the ability to pay, or whose name comes up as a match with the terrorist list are typically denied (or delayed), and just about everybody else gets to go. If only it would be like that for our 12 GAFA students who want to travel from Guangzhou next summer to Duluth. We still think that we can pull it off but we are going to have to do many more things rather than just cross our fingers and click our heels.
After the Consulate meeting, we were free for the evening. We went to “dinner” with "Anonymous" and Becky, two very nice people from Hawaii. Rita and I Skyped the kids at about 9 PM Hong Kong time before they went off to school for the day. I was going to Skype into an admin meeting back at LSC at 11 PM Hong Kong time. Can you see a potential problem here? There was a gap of almost two hours in between the two calls, I was exhausted from another day of hustle and bustle, and I hadn’t yet unpacked my personal alarm clock. So, I set the alarm clock in the room to wake me up and the stupid thing didn’t work, at least not the way I expected it to. So, sorry to the group back home for missing the meeting.
Thursday, October 12, 2006
Thursday in Guangzhou was another marvelous and exhausting adventure. We began the day with a breakfast meeting with Daniel K who is an American faculty member at GAFA. He has lived in Guangzhou for almost 20 years and previously worked for the U.S. Consulate in the city. We were unable to meet with current members of the Consulate, but Daniel was gracious enough to meet with us and give us solid advice about the steps we can take to ensure that the 12 GAFA students can get visas from the Chinese government to travel to the USA for the LSC workshop next summer. We have a long checklist of items to provide which should create a mountain of evidence of the value of the trip and to help ensure that the students will in fact return to China.
Next, Wenzhi took us back to the old campus of GAFA where a retired faculty and world renowned Chinese printmaker was having an exhibition and was being honored by the Academy. An unexpected pleasure was getting the opportunity to meet the highest ranking GAFA official (president, I guess) where we had a brief chat and a photo opportunity. She was very enthusiastic about the student exchange program that we are working on and welcomed us warmly to the campus.
Then it was off to Foshan where Wenzhi’s empire is located. Before going to her studio, factory, kiln, and all her other stuff … we had an unbelievable lunch Be Fair Tom Restaurant. Wenzhi introduced us to the man who designed the restaurant, Huang Qiang-Hua. It is an absolutely gorgeous place. Again, his generosity was overwhelming as he went out of his way to welcome us to Foshan. We also enjoyed spending time with “Johnson” who is one of the GAFA students who is hoping to travel to Duluth next summer for the workshop. He is a really terrific guy and a great artist.
After seeing all the stuff that she owns there we decided to rename it to Wenzhitown. OMG! What an amazing lady. The work that she has done there is nothing short of incredible. About a block away from her studio/store is a Ceramics Museum where she created a huge amount of art for both the exterior and the interior. We spent all of the afternoon touring her places and then also went to Foshan’s largest ceramics factory where she introduced us to three more world-renowned artists. On the way back to Guangzhou we had one more incredible meal to finish off the day and our waistlines. This one was Cantonese-style and it was really terrific. Before dropping us off, Wenzhi brought us to her apartment overlooking the Pearl River. Her apartment is basically like an art museum and it also has an incredible view.
Tomorrow we leave Guangzhou and leave behind many new friends. We’ll be in touch though as we have many plans to make and details to iron out for the various exchange opportunities that are now before us. Jim, Rita, and I will catch up tomorrow with AACC delegation in Hong Kong. We have higher education fairs in Hong Kong and Ho Chi Minh City as well as a side trip to Macau before returning home. Wow, I’m tired just thinking about it. Oh well, there’ll be time to sleep when we get home, I mean, when we get old.
Wednesday was another very good day in Guangzhou. We started the day meeting with Fang Linling, Director of the Foreign Affairs Office at Guangdong University of Technology. During the meeting we were joined by Jingle Chang, the International Officer for the Foreign Affairs Office. This was very much intended as a simple meet and greets just to learn more about their university and tell them about LSC. I was hoping that they had a strong distance learning program (they didn’t) that we might be able to talk about possible collaborations. It has been very challenging to learn anything in advance about many of these schools, as many of the English-speaking websites are light on info or don’t work at all.
As the meeting progressed we actually started to get excited about a couple of possibilities that just appeared out of nowhere while we were talking. They are anxiously awaiting our proposal for an English language immersion workshop for many of their faculty members. They want to improve the English skills of many of their faculty members and think that time spent in the U.S. would be the best way for them to learn the language rather than an English instructor traveling to Guangzhou. We think that is an excellent idea and where better to learn English than in Minnesota. Yah, you betcha!
There were no plans made for a lunch with the Tech University, but the meeting went so well that they invited to lunch and took us to the only good restaurant on University Island which happens to be where we lunched on the previous day as well. No worries, it's a great place and we just like viewing all the live seafood waiting for slaughter (more on that later). Jingle Chang is a very funny and fun guy. We liked him right away and he must have liked us too. He entertained us during lunch and throughout most of our visit at Guangdong U. Both he and Director Lingling were very gracious hosts.
In the afternoon we visited the GAFA old campus and met world-renowned ceramicist Professor Zhang Hai Wen. He has done some incredible research on replicating some of the amazing ceramics and glazes of the Song dynasty. He is a very gregarious and friendly man, and extremely generous. His work is amazing as is the work of so many of the artists from GAFA. His porcelain tea cups and saucers are absolutely beautiful and unique.
To top off the day, we went to a large outdoor mall shopping market where we spent several hours. Edward took good care of us and we returned to the apartments exhausted and fulfilled. We probably could have used several more hours there, but there just isn't enough time for very much play with all the work that has to be done.
Also, before I forget, let me eat crow (that’s nothing compared to some of the stuff we’ve had this week) for complaining about the crappy Internet connection here in China. It turns out that it was my crappy Ethernet cable that was the problem. I became suspicious when everyone around me had fast connections. Gulp.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Yesterday (Tue.) was a fantastic day spent with folks from the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts. It was all GAFA all the time, and was a great deal of fun and very successful.
At 9 AM we met with Professor Tong Huiming, the Deputy Director of the GAFA College of Design; Zhang Meiqin (Mary) Deputy Director & Translator from GAFA Foreign Affairs Office; Prof. Wenzhi Zhang; and Edward Peng from the Foreign Affairs Office. Edward has been helping us every step of the way, and it is truly amazing to see how much he, Mary, and many others have done to make our stay enjoyable and productive. They are truly providing first-class service to anticipate our needs.
The morning meeting went very well as we discussed the details of the summer 2007 Wood Fire Kiln Workshop/Conference to be held at Lake Superior College in Duluth. We are inviting 12 students from GAFA to come to Duluth for the two-week hands-on conference to learn new techniques along with many other participants from America and elsewhere. We also discussed several other exchange possibilities. They are eager to build on this first student exchange with the possibility of one semester or one year student exchanges. They are also very interested in additional faculty exchanges such as the one that brought Wenzhi Zhang to LSC for a semester and has brought Dorian Beaulieu to Guangzhou several times for shorter periods. It was a very successful meeting with more ideas expressed than what we can realistically handle in the next few years. However, we came away with some clear action items to ensure that the first student exchange will be a success.
We had an excellent lunch with everyone from the meeting and were joined by Vice President ZhaoJian who has responsibility for International Affairs for GAFA. He was very pleased with the report he received about our morning meeting and we had a great business lunch with much more discussion about the student exchange and possible faculty exchanges. At left he is shown presenting LSC with a Chinese symbol of good luck, to keep us safe from harm (terrorists).
In the afternoon we met with about 30 students who are studying ceramics at GAFA. The meeting began with about 20 students telling us individually (in English) about who they are, why they are interested in ceramics, and why they want to come to Duluth for the workshop. It was great fun to see these students so excited about the adventure that lay ahead. However, only 12 will receive invitations to come to America so this was also a little bit competitive where they felt that they had to impress us in order to get an invitation.
Jim, Dorian, and I talked about what their two weeks in Duluth would be like, showed some pictures of the area, showed the LSC 12-minute video, showed a couple of ceramics videos from LSC, and answered their questions. Dorian is a total rock star over here. So many people know him from his previous visits and he is held in such high regard.
The session ended with Jim, Rita, and me sitting at the wheel and throwing a pot. For Jim and me it was the first time ever, and it was the first time in over 20 years for Rita. We all did it successfully with about 30 or 40 of our new best friends watching and helping and having fun. The battery on my video camera gave out just before that, but we’ll probably get some photos from some our Chinese friends since there were flashes going off on a regular basis.
Dinner to end the day was, shall we say, “interesting.”
Monday, October 09, 2006
We had our first meet and greet that same afternoon at Guangzhou University (1 AM Minnesota time). This picture was taken when we presented a framed photograph of Lake Superior to Mr. Li Yi, Director of the International Office of Guangzhou University. We came away from the meeting with some very real possibilities for creating student exchanges of either 2-4 weeks during the summer or for a full semester. The full semester option would entail students from Minnesota schools going to study Chinese language, literature, history, culture, etc. at Guangzhou University and students from Guangzhou coming to Minnesota to study potentially a wide variety of subjects. GU has had a couple of exchange relationships in the works that haven't actually panned out due to inaction on the part of the American partners, so we have an opportunity to put up or shut up.
I'll keep this short since I have the world's slowest Internet Connection here at the Fine Arts Academy. Not sure if this will post at all. The picture (linked) in very small because that is all I could get to upload, larger files just timed out.
Blogged with Flock
Thursday, October 05, 2006
iBarry just completed a six-year study of himself that involved using himself to analyze just how freakin' incredible he has been on more than 22 million original thoughts on more than 6,000 academic topics. He is expected to put out a press release about it any day now.
According to a recent press release, "iParadigms just completed a six- year study of student work that involved using Turnitin to analyze the originality of more than 22 million term papers from more than 6,000 academic institutions."
Somehow, they didn't conclude that Turnitin Sucks! Apparently, the end justifies the means, especially when you are passing judgment on yourself.
Technorati Tags: Plagiarism, Tunitin
Posted by Barry Dahl at 1:03 AM