Patched

Tenured Radical is asking the question that should be required reading for every CIO, CTO, LMS suitor, and higher ed tech commentator: if computers are such a blessing to higher ed, how come their use is actively extending the working lives of their users to such a damaging degree? The series of events she describes will have elicited low moans of sympathy from all of us working in writing-intensive courses online: an innovative learning task set up to use a…

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Competitive advantage?

It’s not really my business, but it seems to me that the promise that competition delivers consumer benefits is in the “If I had a dollar for every time … ” category of overuse. Mostly this proposition seems to be based on the assumption that if I’m selling lemonade next to someone else selling lemonade, we’re going to compete for the lemonade market either by offering superior or cheaper lemonade, and either way, the passing parade gets a better deal…

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One of these things is not like the other

Ploughing through the Pew Research report on whether university presidents think the same as members of the general public when it comes to the value of online learning, I’m thrilled to discover that the opposite of online isn’t bricks and mortar any more. Such a relief, as this image is wearing out from its current overuse in Australian media commentary as a symbol of both capital investment in the physical fabric of universities, and cultural investment in traditional teaching practices,…

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Actual results may vary

Here’s another quick finding in the tealeaves of educational technology prediction. Providing you can get through the argot of the deals, mergers, acquisitions, takeovers, and patent showdowns, sometimes you find yourself face to face with the poetry of the safe harbor statement. It’s hard not to read it over and over to check that it still says what you think, and that it says it so beautifully. The safe harbor statement is a get-out clause currently derived from the Private…

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Shy?

Here’s one for the “learn something new every day” box. Last week Middle Seaman, via More or Less Bunk, alerted me to the idea that “the shy cannot learn.” It’s an intriguing diagnosis, not to mention very bad news for shy people everywhere, and I went off in search of its origins. Like any aphorism in translation, the exact deficit represented by shyness is really a matter of the intent of the original, and I’m not here to argue about…

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Extraordinary company

Higher ed tech writers are chewing the cud over the not very surprising news that Blackboard is partnering up with major content publishers Cengage, Macmillan, Pearson, John Wiley & Sons and (last year) McGraw-Hill, and that McGraw-Hill itself is now friending everyone in the LMS world.  The language of this new set of deals is that of the soothing murmur: students will now be able to transition seamlessly from Anywhere U via their LMS to centralised content repositories managed by Big…

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Showing up

At the midpoint of the LMS evaluation marathon, I’ve been cooling my heels with an appropriately dressed colleague at the “social media in higher education” professional conference previously mentioned. What’s the difference between a professional conference and an academic/disciplinary conference?  Just about everything, from the business attire dress code to the regularly refreshed glasses of iced water and the bowls of mints and the corporate pens and the sit down lunch and the fairly decent coffee with little pastries and…

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Suits and punks

A few more thoughts from the world of LMS vendor demonstrations: A big LMS is now typically so big, and can do so many things, that a vendor with a two-hour timeslot has to make some tough choices.  Which are the hero tools, the unique selling points, the defining parts of the proposition? Which are the has-been features that look like the other guy’s stuff?  At the moment, the answer to the former seems to be content builders, assessment workflow,…

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Going forward

One of the challenges facing a higher education institution trying to choose a new learning management system is the blind taste test that passes for product demonstration. Typically this involves being hustled through a demo site that’s been populated with made-up students in imaginary classes exchanging imaginary one-liners with each other via a discussion board, while imaginary academics set up imaginary course content, and the whole thing flows through to imaginary gradebooks or generates imaginary tracking reports. Because the number…

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That’s right, we’re not from Texas

End of semester.  Winter.  Grading and student feedback, plus those odd moments that make you stop and think, like the shine on a wet pavement. Students who write and say that they appreciated being in class with someone whose first language wasn’t English because they learned something about a bigger world.  Students whose first language isn’t English writing to say that it was being in an online class that made it possible for them to participate at all. Given the…

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