Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Video of Tag Galaxy

I'll be in Memphis this summer two different times, looking for some Blues and Bar-b-que. I saw a tweet this morning about Tag Galaxy and checked it out. Cool way of searching for tagged Flickr photos and creating a globe of photos from the galaxy of possible photos. You can drill down as far as you like, in any order that you like.

Here's a short (2.75 min.) video showing how Tag Galaxy works. I decided to look for Beale Street photos related to the Blues. Worked great.

BTW, I'm still a bit peeved that my own photos don't show up when doing any of these kind of Flickr photo searches. Maybe before I renew my pro membership they'll have to make that work properly for me - or no soup for you!

Here's a still shot of the Universe of Flickr photos tagged with Duluth.

And then a capture of the photo globe created of Duluth pictures.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Electronic Football Anyone?

John O'Brien showing an early version of a video game (without the video). Session at the 2008 Minnesota e-Learning Summit at Normandale CC. Session title: What's Next? Next Generation Faculty & Teachers. Yes, he's a superstar.

Michael Wesch Keynote

At the Minnesota e-Learning Summit.

I Love Anonymous Evals

I tend to live by the mantra "put your money where your mouth is." That's one reason that I tend to have the reputation of being willing to say things in meetings that other people are thinking but are unwilling to give their voice to. I actually think that speaking your mind is a good (and healthy) thing, but as you can imagine I have a certain bias since that's the way I am.

Each administrator at my college is evaluated by the masses every two years using an online, anonymous survey instrument. When I say masses, that actually means that the masses are invited to submit the evals, but most choose not to do so. This year it was my turn again. Only about 30 people chose to submit an eval about me. I'm not going to bore you with whether the evals were overall favorable or unfavorable, because that is not my point or even remotely related to my point.

I want to take this opportunity, dear reader, to share with you the negative comments that people were willing to write in the open-ended questions at the end of the survey. For example:

For the question - This administrator could improve upon the following:

  1. Communication with fellow staff
  2. Could improve on communication and planning skills.
  3. Look for opportunities to interact with staff and faculty.
  4. He needs to make use of more of the online faculty--a select few seem to be favored for various tasks, opportunities, committees, etc. He may need to get to know the various faculty a bit better. There seems to be a fair amount of comment from people who think Barry does not like them. I think he does not know them, and doesn't work at that as a priority.
  5. Tendency to find fault with others
  6. Can be (mis?)perceived as arrogant.
  7. Being more patient.
  8. Barry is a bit too impatient with routine tasks and routine pace of some procedures and tends to favor newer, more visible and faster-moving projects over them. This can, at times, make some people worry a little about the fate of the routine tasks.
  9. Willingness to listen.
  10. Attending department meetings so that faculty can communicate directly with administration about curriculum and technology issues before approaching the Dean.
  11. improve communication with their division, have division meetings, meet with departments within their division
  12. He needs to remember what the typical teaching schedule is like, perhaps teaching an online course once in a while to stay in touch with where our students are coming from. He is gone so much it's hard to feel like he really has an idea about our issues.
  13. Take time to listen to us more, he started something, and we were very wary of the intent. The intent seemed genuine, now please continue it. There is a potential for great growth, this is not a complaint, rather lets keep on doing this we fell valuable. One little thing when we e-mail please respond or tell us directly, passing things through the managers it isn't given to everybody and has caused some rough spots and confusion.
  14. Somewhat arrogant to others.
In the final category of Additional Comments:
  1. He is either the dean of online education and then in charge of the hiring and evaluation of online faculty, or he is not-the divided responsibilities between him and the deans is a problem.
  2. Get the impression that Barry often takes advice from others just for show and already has his mind made up as to what he is going to do.
  3. He can be distant at times, is sometimes gracious, and sometimes is almost rude in his abruptness. I am not sure that his people skills are his strongest area, and that really is hard on the staff and faculty he works with, as they are insecure about how he feels about them, and whether he knows and values their contributions and abilities.
Yes, there were positive comments, but I don't really care much about them either. In my experience it seems that people will share positive feedback with you to your face, but negative comments tend to only be served when your back is turned. It's easy to say the nice things, but it takes guts to say the more negative things and then face a possible rebuttal or at least hear what it sounds like to have those words come out of your own mouth.

This is why I find the anonymous evals to be of almost no value whatsoever.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Collaborative Toonbooking

Primarily for experimental purposes, about five of my fellow MooseWorks members joined me for a live online collaboration session. We used the Vyew web conferencing service so that I could share my screen with the others while we jointly built a Toonbook using Toondoo.

The premise for the cartoon was as follows: two aliens are trying to convince a third alien that he should start using Twitter. I just totally made that up so that we would have a topic to work on. I mainly wanted to see how well it would work for the five of us to try to co-write the dialog among the characters. Here is the result. (Link to the Toonbook in case the embed below doesn't work for you.)

Now none of us are claiming to be the funniest clown at the circus, so the dialog could be better I am quite sure. However, we just ran with several of the ideas that were brought forth via the telephone conference call and through the text chat window in Vyew (more from the chat window). It took less than an hour in total and we probably would have had it done in 30 minutes except that I forgot a few things about how to make a Toonbook. Once we got on track it flowed pretty smoothly.

Mooseworks is a Ning-driven social network specially created for people working in e-learning within Minnesota. There is currently well over 100 members and growing. Live events like this is a feature that we hope members will bring to the table.

This was a fun experiment. Thanks to Pam, Jackie, Mary, and Michael for participating.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Positive Feedback

I offer several workshops each year on college campuses around the country. One thing that I am hoping to get better at is following-up later to see what impact the workshop might have had on the teaching and learning for those who attended. I prefer to wait at least six months after the workshop to find out what has happened in an effort to give them sufficient time to have explored and possibly adapted some of the tools and techniques from the workshops.

Suffice it to say that there is at least occasionally a response that warms my heart. This is one response from a workshop I did in Michigan during October 2007. I think it's safe to say that she is my star student:

  • After the workshop, I started a personal blog to test the waters. I now have 3 blogs, one of them is professional.
  • I have inspired and guided two family members to begin blogs
  • I have several flickr accounts for my blogs
  • I am playing with converting our website to a wiki. It is launched, but a work in process.
  • I use bloglines to track 60 blogs.
  • I trained a teacher to use the podcasting software to incorporate audio into her online class.
  • I have trained my co-workers how to use flickr for sharing their digital photos and how to use picnik to edit them.
  • I have attended a second workshop of yours for reinforcement
  • There may be more examples, but that's it for now.
Most participants in the workshops don't start using as many tools right away, but several report getting started with a couple of the tools shortly after the workshop. Still many others report that they just don't have the time to start doing anything new. More about that later.

Monday, May 05, 2008

All Rise - Court in Session

I'm finding All Rise (click image to enlarge) to have some possibilities for both fun and serious business. As their About page says:

AllRise was built to:

  • Supply a smart mechanism for people to take out their agressions toward injustices.
  • Build a community of people that have something to say or to protest
  • Fill a void for people who want to debate in a smart and comfortable way, by suppling an innovative tool for debating
Right now it is very new (for example, only 33 votes for the verdict in The People versus Google) and it is only intended for fun. Nothing wrong with fun, but I could see this platform being used for a bit more serious debates if the creators would allow it. For example, if you could create a private group of users where you could debate a serious topic facing your school or other community or group.

I heard about this first on TechCrunch and then requested an account for their private beta. I was given a free pass within a day so I'm not so sure that the private beta is all that tough to get into. The service is based in Israel and you will see some butchered English on the site, but overall I find the site design to be appealing and the concept is a good one.

Okay, now having said all that - I realize that this is not a serious website. But still, I like it. Is that a crime? For a much more serious rendition of a similar concept, visit Debatepedia.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Trying out Songza

Emily Chang at eHub has once again pointed to a potentially useful tool. Songza is a little bit like iMeem, although doesn't yet seem to have as much functionality built into it. First thing I noticed is that Songza is built on the Skreemr music search engine. Apparently one way that they are solving their copyright issues is by providing mostly live versions of songs, and some of which are clearly not the "official" version such as from a live album. Still, I was able to find many songs that I liked and able to build a playlist of songs to be saved for my next visit, such as this version of Black Betty.

iMeem has a better interface, has more songs available, allows you to save more than one playlist, and allows you to embed a playlist as opposed to a single song as shown above from Songza. As of this writing, I very definitely still prefer iMeem, but I'll be keeping my eye on Songza.