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January 30, 2008

Croquelandia: Julie Sykes

She discusses her work in terms of "synthetic immersive environment".

• She wanted to emphasize collaboration in croquelandia
• Error correction -- low risk, low emotional feedback
• Digital divide -- study abroad can be moved into digital environments for those students who can't afford to actually pay for a true abroad program

Pragmatics of language -- how we talk about things is different in different languages.

Culture of use: students saw being in the environment as a game that they wanted to play late at night.

IM View -- 3D chat functions

January 29, 2008

Belle Wheelan, Accountability in Higher Education


• Students aren't even graduating from high school (only 60% in the south)
• Unskilled workers for the workforce
• Students lack some basic skills in math, science, information technology, critical thinking, analytical skills, and writing
• There are fewer visas, and therefore fewer foreign workers in engineering
• Baby boomers are retiring and exacerbating the problem
• Expanding global competition -- we're woefully low in science and math skills relative to other schools
• Changes in American labor markets -- the skills that we need in a knowledge economy are very different
• Exploding growth of knowledge
• Innovations in technology


• Promote service learning, and get students out and working in the community
• Link course thematically and create cross-disciplinary efforts
• Develop strategies to ensure matriculation and graduation.
• Work with ethnic minorities to help them prioritize and get to college
• Train more women in science and math

The commission is looking for:
• Access to education
• Affordability
• Private vs federal loans
• Accountability
•• Student learning
•• National tracking system
• Transparency
•• Graduation rates
•• Job placement rates

The problem is that these things don't always capture the positive things that are happening. Some community colleges, for instance, have high levels of transfer -- students leave and go to other schools. If they only focus on graduation rates those folks wouldn't be considered a success.

ETS Report: "A Culture of Evidence: Postsecondary Assessment Assessment..."

She advocates for an approach in which accountability is viewed as ensuring that you are meeting student needs and progressing.

January 28, 2008

Second Life for the First Time: Learning to Use a Virtual World on a Real Campus

April McKettrick and Teshia Roby talk about using 2nd Life in ther classroom.

She is using 2nd Life for a wide variety of uses.

• She's holding class even while she's here at the conference -- her students are in 2nd life giving PowerPoint presentations.
• She collected PP and then she uploaded them to 2nd life.
• She's holding a digital poster fair for he class for today.

Her tips for using 2nd life:
1. Have a purpose
2. Involve resources early
3. Make sure its available (they have scheduled outages)
4. Scaffold the assignment -- get students to feel like collaborators in an experiment; make sure they know to act within the code of conduct for students.
5. Get student feedback
6. Share your experience
7. Be fearless but not foolish

She sees fits for schools of education, libraries, hospitality, business, hospitality, etc.

They had a graduation in second life, and streamed them live in second live.

What Wikipedia can teach us about the new media literacies

This keynote session focused on the controversy surround wikipedia and how it can/cannot and ought/ought not be used.

Henry Jenkins discusses the project of New Media LIteracies at MIT. He begins by discussing some of the historical discussion and controversy around using Wikipedia as a new media source.

A focus from the Macarthur Foundation and NML is about to negotiate and evaluate information online.

He emphasizes participatory culture, which he defines as:
• low barriers to artistic expression
• strong support for creating and sahring your own creations
• informal mentorship
• members feel their contributions are relevant
• some degree of social connection between members

He challenges the notion of "digital natives" and "digital immigrants", because digital immigrants tend to absolve themselves from participation.

• Social skills and social competencies -- he makes a Vygotskian argument that New Media LIteracies that to write and to send a message is a central part of the New Media LIteracies.
• Requires participation
• Take into account youth's cultural lives, but also discusses the emerging cultures of the media themselves
• Skills and access are unevenly distributed for a variety of reasons
• Changes the discussion to media ethics
• Play off-line as well as online -- online activities are making their way into offline cultures and mores
• Build on existing research skills and curricular framework, and are integrated across the literacies

He identifies three core challenges:
• Participation gap: unequal access to opportunities, experiences, skills, and knowledge
•• Pew center: 55% of youth have produced media online -- what about the other 45%
• Students don't think about how the media (such as games) are really powerful and may give them information and misinformation
• The ethics challenge -- students aren't socialized about how to make important decisions about what types of materials and information about themselves they should put onlne

New Media LIteracies:
• Collective Intelligence (the ability to pool knowledge)
• Judgment (the ability to evaluate the reliability and credibility)
• Networking
• Negotiation

Wikipedia is not a consumption point -- it is a process of participation. It is not set of articles, it is a set of people involved in a process.

Wikipedia, in qualitative terms, tends to be about as accurate as an Encyclopedia Britannica article on the same subject (Nature article). Wikipedia's ability to evolve makes it more temperally accurate.

A game of "how to get from topic a to topic b in as few clicks as possible".

He believes that Wikipedia is actualized collective intelligence -- we all know more together than what we each know individually.He takes the notion of "experts" and expertise, and seems to be coming down squarely on the size of collective intelligence. So new media literacies are really about learning how to focus knowledge about listening to and collecting knowledge from multiple types of experts.

While I like this idea in theory, it seems to me overly naive. Expertise is real -- a group of non-nuclear physicists will likely never produce a working system for nuclear fission. Doesn't that require expertise?

Alternative reality games -- where people engage in long-term, complex knowledge scavenger hunts. I would like to explore this further.

Systemic bias -- why does Isaac Asimov get so much airtime, more than Woodrow Wilson, in wikipedia? He frames the question as "What knowledge matters to whom in what context?" He suggests that diversity matters in a knowledge culture, which has access points.

Six questions to ask:
1. Who made it? And for what purpose?
2. Who is the target audience? How is the message tailored?
3. What is the different techniques?
4. What messages are communicated? Systemic bias?
5. How current, accurate, and credible in this message?
6. What is left out?

January 24, 2008

Cognitive load and Web 2.0 technologies

I've been noodling on this idea of cognitive load and its relationship and how Web 2.0 technologies might be used to address issues of cognitive load as they relate to the news media. Assuming one could address the challenges associated with extraneous cognitive load (from the technology itself), could we begin to use syndication and aggregation (and disaggregation) as a means of reducing cognitive load and allowing people to make more and better sense of the news related to a topic? I feel a study coming on...

New MacSpeak dictate

Apparently there's a new, sexy game in town for speech recognition software, and it's getting rave reviews. It's called Mac Speak dicate, and costs $99. Might be worth checking out if you love this stuff.