jump to navigation

Taking the Long View: Ten Recommendations about Time, Money, Technology, and Learning by Stephen C. Ehrmann November 14, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : higher education, technology , comments closed

How can a degree program, general education program, or other course of study make substantial, widely appreciated improvements in who learns, what they learn, and how well they learn it? Under the right circumstances, such improvements are possible. What follows are suggestions, some counter-intuitive, that increase the chances of their being successful and sustained.
Don’t implement a change strategy by delegating each part of it to a different stakeholder—this recommendation for faculty, that one for the information technology unit, a third for administrators, a fourth for the assessment staff. Instead, work with a team composed of people from all those groups and more.
* Simultaneously upgrade content, deepen learning, and improve the program’s ability to attract and retain a variety of students.
* But in doing so, take your time.
* Use technology as a lever for change, but slow down. Don’t leap from one hot technology to the next.
* Find ways for faculty and students to save time.

Before elaborating on these suggestions, I’ll explain why they allude to time so frequently.

Two Working Assumptions About Time

First, to really take hold, any change initiative needs to be sustained for perhaps a decade. That’s how long it can take to improve outcomes and then for potential students, employers, benefactors, and other stakeholders to recognize that the program is now producing better graduates.

Second, any improvement strategy must cope with the fact that many key players would prefer not to get involved until they have more time and money, a day that will never come. As C. Northcote Parkinson once observed, work expands to fill the time available. That’s especially true when the people are energetic and committed. The best faculty and staff will already feel over-committed by the time someone approaches them with a grand idea for improving their programs.

Similarly, spending tends to expand to use up all available revenues. Howard Bowen called this phenomenon “the revenue theory of costs”: “Universities will raise all the money they can and spend all the money they raise.” Spending is determined by local revenue history, not by some fundamental truth about how much must be spent in order to achieve a particular level of educational quality. These local spending patterns don’t change much from year to year, because budgets are embodied in the skills and routines of the current staff and in facilities.

Parkinson’s and Bowen’s theories help explain why, at institutions rich or poor, any proposal for dramatic action is likely to greeted by a sincere, “Sounds intriguing, but at the moment I don’t have time to think about it, and anyway we don’t have enough money.”

Once a pattern of spending is established, it seems a necessary condition for getting the work done. But there’s a surprising corollary to Bowen’s rule. The conviction that “we can’t improve results unless we get new money” can be overcome if the changes are made slowly enough. Therefore major improvement can begin even when budgets have recently been cut and everyone is feeling desperate. In fact, financial duress can be a powerful motive to pull together and move in a new direction. And if the change also offers a way to save time, the effort may attract faculty and staff who would not otherwise give it the time of day.

The first five recommendations below are designed to achieve the kind of educational improvement that could meet these requirements: time-saving in the short term and ultimately beneficial for the “who, what and how” of learning. The final five recommendations are offered to guide campus teams in carrying out such improvements.

Five Recommendations for Improving Teaching and Learning (with Technology)

Recommendation 1: Identify a need so compelling that many stakeholders respond, “We can’t not do it.”

Unfortunately, higher education has always suffered from attention deficit disorder. Many academic programs are distracted by new needs and opportunities long before their old needs are actually met. So to achieve improve educational results, the need had better be compelling enough to attract faculty, staff, and benefactor attention over the many years it will take to improve outcomes and then for stakeholders to become aware of the improvement. Such sustaining needs often relate to the program’s sense of identity, pride, and economic security.

Some years ago, I talked with a faculty member about how his labor studies department had come to teach its degree program off-campus at union halls. He explained that they’d seen another university’s labor studies department do something similar. Once they realized that a competitor was already offering such a program, he said, “We couldn’t not do it.”

Recommendation 2: Focus on changes in research methods, creative work, or clinical practice that are technology enabled, time saving for faculty and students in the short term, and transformative in the long term

Until a few decades ago, faculty and students used pens and typewriters to write. Editing was so time-consuming that many students would write only one draft before submitting their work. Then word processing became affordable. It offered enormous time savings in editing.

Moreover, as the use of word processing spread, the nature of writing began to evolve. In many disciplines, that led to changes in teaching. Some faculty began breaking assignments into stages, with students getting feedback at each stage as they revised their outlines and then their texts.

Students learned to refine their thinking through this continual rewriting. At Reed College, for example, by the late 1980s, graduates with four years of experience of rethinking their work seemed to be writing more tightly reasoned senior theses (Ehrmann, 1995). And this kind of critical thinking is one of the most important outcomes of a college education.

Writing is not the only activity to benefit from the three t’s of technology, timesaving, and transformation. The nature of research has changed radically as resources have moved online. In statistics, timesaving technologies for calculation have gradually revolutionized techniques for analyzing data. In classics, first-year students can research Greek texts, sculpture, and archaeological data through the multimedia representations at their fingertips, so that their learning can become more multi-modal and interdisciplinary. In biology, sophomores can apply their first lessons in genetics to data gleaned directly from the Human Genome database.

By using the three t’s, academic programs can achieve three kinds of improvement simultaneously:


What students learn: Students use techniques and resources that are closer to cutting-edge work in the wider world.
* How they learn: The research program of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) has uncovered a set of high-impact practices that improve the outcomes of a college education: first-year seminars and experiences, writing-intensive courses, collaborative assignments and projects, undergraduate research, diversity/global learning, service learning and community-based learning, internships, and capstone courses (Kuh, 2008). Almost all of them can be implemented more successfully when faculty take advantage of the three t’s to have their students do more engaging projects in research, creative work, or clinical practice.
* Who can learn: these technology-enabled projects and assignments can also attract and retain more kinds of students: place-bound ones, for instance, or commuters.

Because the next two recommendations each rely on a relatively small number of technologies, they too can save money on software and staff development.

Recommendation 3: Share a collection of easy-to-create, easy-to-update, and inexpensive instructional materials from which students can learn as they work on their research, creative work, and clinical experiences

As they each do a course project, student #1 may need to learn somewhat different things, and at different moments, than student #2. Lectures and textbooks alone won’t suffice when learning needs diverge. But faculty and librarians can assemble online learning resources to help meet the needs for individualized learning and review: brief tutorials, short video demonstrations, video clips from lectures, online bibliographies, self-quizzes, simple simulations, and so forth.

Acquiring and organizing such resources must be easy, quick, and inexpensive if this practice is to become more common. Tools such as free, customized Google search engines enable faculty to help students find what they need from a faculty-defined set of resources. And because the materials are stored online, students can study and work on their projects day and night, from anywhere they happen to be.

Recommendation 4: Extend and enrich interaction among students, faculty, and others with whom they work and learn

The sophisticated, engaging assignments suggested by the three t’s often involve interaction among students: Learning communities (a high-impact practice), team projects, debates, student reports on complementary topics, and peer critique are all examples of this kind of interactive learning. Modern communications technology makes it possible to carry on such interaction when a class is not in session.

More importantly, such technologies can help faculty and students carry on kinds of conversations that couldn’t easily have happened otherwise.


Since the 1980s, Project ICONS at the University of Maryland has engaged undergraduates from different institutions and countries in online role-playing simulations to help them study international conflict and negotiation.
* In the early 1990s, pioneers at the California State University system realized how hard it was to teach about race and class when the students on a campus came from similar ethnic and economic backgrounds. Using the system’s interactive video network, such a course could enroll a diverse group of student registered on different campuses and drawn from different parts of California (Young, 1997).
* Today, teams of students living different countries and registered at different universities work together in virtual teams to do projects in global management in a OneMBA Executive MBA Program, a joint offering of five business schools (including the Kenan-Flager Business School at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) on four continents.

Technology can enrich academic conversation in other ways as well. In the early 1990s, a philosophy professor remarked to me, “I never talk philosophy with undergraduates. They just aren’t up to that yet. Ah, but email! When we exchange email, they have enough time to think about what they’ve read and to compose what they want to reply. We can have very productive philosophical exchanges using email.”

In the 1980s, Starr Roxanne Hiltz did research suggesting that, while non-native speakers of English at the New Jersey Institute of Technology averaged lower grades than native speakers, in online courses their grades were the same as those of native speakers. Like the philosophy students, the non-native speakers in online courses had more time to interpret what the instructor and other students had said and then to reply; they wrote just as much as native speakers and could fully participate in the faculty-student and student-student interaction that is so important to effective learning (Hiltz, 1994).

Technology costs need not be prohibitive if the program uses the same tools each year with increasing sophistication. People are accustomed to the idea of a standardized email program that doesn’t change every year or two. It also makes sense to agree on tools for document sharing, for scheduling, for conferring and working together on documents from a distance, and so on—a standard constellation of tools for collaborative work that make it easy to include people from outside the institution in conversations and joint projects.

Recommendation 5: Rather than tracking only whether all students are learning the same things, assessment should also attend to divergent learning

The defining question of traditional assessment has been, “To what extent has each person achieved all the learning goals dictated by the program?” This attention to uniform impact assumes that the goal of the program is to teach everyone the same things and therefore focuses only on those attainments.

However, in an academic program that also fosters empowerment, the uniform-impact perspective must be complemented by asking, “What are the most important things that each student has learned, regardless of whether others have learned those same things?” This unique-uses perspective regards the program as an opportunity that different students use in different ways, with qualitatively different and sometimes surprising results (Balestri, Ehrmann, and Associates, 1988).

Faculty members grading student essays or projects engage in unique-uses assessment. First they assess the work of each student, providing feedback and judging the quality of that student’s work on its own terms. Five projects may each earn an “A,” but each for a different reason. After each student’s work is graded, then a search for patterns across the entire group may begin. Are students excelling (or not) in similar ways? Are there similarities in the errors they make or the problems that they experience? Unique-uses assessment can be improved by having more than one judge, using appropriate rubrics, and collecting student work in portfolios.

Summary comment about recommendations 1–5: Try to address who is to learn, what they are to learn, and how they are to learn simultaneously

Upgrading content, deepening learning, and improving enrollment or retention may sound like three conflicting goals. For example, some faculty members see content coverage and deep learning as conflicting priorities. And some assume that any effort to increase enrollments is, by definition, a threat to excellence, or vice versa.

But long ago books and printing presses had that triple impact: compared with earlier times when learning occurred only through conversation, demonstration, and experience, each reader could learn from many experts, living and dead, and each expert could reach more learners across space and time. Meanwhile, publications helped those scholars include more in their teaching. Today, as we’ve seen, digital technologies are being used in similar ways to produce a similar triple benefit.

Corollary to recommendations 1–5: Distance-learning programs often aspire simply to make their quality comparable to that of on-campus programs. Instead they should use technologies to improve what and how students learn. By the same token, faculty using digital technologies to upgrade content and improve pedagogy on campus should make some of those courses into hybrids—more of the presentation and interaction online and less time spent face-to-face—so that more students can register.

Five Recommendations for Implementing Sustainable Improvement

Recommendation 6: Help faculty take safe, incremental steps that cumulatively meet an indentified need

Facing heavy demands on their time, faculty are more likely to try something new if it takes very little time to understand, invent, or develop and little time or risk to try. A teaching idea or resource becomes even more attractive if its results are likely to be timesaving and easy to see.

At the TLT Group, we refer to these as low-threshold applications (i.e., technologies) and activities (e.g., assignments, techniques), or LTAs. “Low threshold” is a relative term: a particular resource might be quite easy for one person to adapt in a particular context but “high threshold” for a different instructor with different skills or working in a less supportive environment.

To make the quickest, easiest progress, faculty should search the world for appropriate LTAs. “Not invented here” should be a point of pride, not embarrassment. Faculty shouldn’t have to do this alone, however. Librarians and student assistants, for example, can help faculty with the quest for the most timesaving, effective techniques and materials.

Recommendation 7: Encourage peer support among faculty as a way of discovering, adapting, and sharing relevant LTAs

No one should be expected to create most of his or her own teaching ideas and materials. And no institution has enough support staff to provide that aid for every instructor. So for an academic program to improve, faculty must help one another. Here are some ways to facilitate that mutual aid:


Develop and sustain faculty communities of practice. A typical community might be organized around a course that all its members teach, ideally including faculty from several nearby institutions. By meeting online frequently (and occasionally face-to-face) and briefly, members can share problems, discover remedies, trade experiences, and support one another.
* Identify faculty teaching fellows in each program who are already respected by their colleagues as sources of LTAs. Provide the fellows with extra resources (e.g., travel support, release time) to help them help their colleagues.
* Make it easy for each faculty member to announce occasions when colleagues can visit a course and see a particular teaching technique or technology in action. Kapi’olani Community College has done this for years.
* Use surveys to identify and harvest LTAs from faculty: Just two- to four-sentence descriptions should suffice. Each LTA should include the name and email of the person who has described it so that interested faculty can contact the author of the abstract. Organize the LTAs into relevant categories, as the TLT Group has done with the “Seven Principles: Collection of Ideas for Teaching and Learning with Technology.” Use newsletters, email, online posts, and paper bookmarks to spread such teaching tips to colleagues.
* Help faculty share their ideas by helping them produce flyers, Websites, and short video clips.
* Encourage short (five- to ten-minute) faculty-led workshops about teaching ideas and resources as agenda items in departmental faculty meetings, each introducing a teaching idea or resource (a strategy pioneered by Todd Zakrajsek at Central Michigan University).

All six of these ideas help develop relationships among faculty, within and across institutional lines. When faculty gain experience with each other’s teaching suggestions and needs, communication about new ideas becomes quicker, easier, and more credible. For example, when someone remarks, “I’ve just tried something in my course and it worked for me,” colleagues are more likely to pay attention if:


The speaker already knows their situation and has made the suggestion specifically to meet a need of the listener.
* The listener already knows that the speaker has been in a situation similar to theirs.
* The listener already trusts the speaker’s judgment on teaching and learning issues of this sort.

The interested listener can simply copy what the speaker did originally. That’s quick, easy, and should work well enough. Later, if the first try proved rewarding, the new user might spend a little more time adapting the idea. Try (then tweak) is more timesaving than Tweak in order to try.

Recommendation 8: Train, equip, and support all faculty and staff to evaluate their own programs and practices

As used here, “evaluation” is an intentional inquiry into one’s own practices with the goal of improving that practice. When a program is groping its way forward, it’s important for everyone to discover the effects of what they’ve been doing so that they can each decide what to do next.

Thomas Angelo and K. Patricia Cross have developed a collection of “classroom assessment techniques” that faculty can use to improve learning day-by-day. And the Flashlight Project has online tools for “Asking the Right Questions” (ARQ), available at http://www.tltgroup.org/Flashlight/ARQ/Index.htm. Each tool is supported with workshop materials, making it easy for faculty to learn to do the research in just a few minutes. Several ARQ tools focus on issues raised by the strategies in this essay (e.g., identifying and lowering barriers that prevent some students from participating fully in online discussion or a virtual team).

It makes sense for academics to evaluate their practices in order not only to improve learning but to save time by reducing burdensome activities. For example, at the University of Pennsylvania, Pope and Anderson (2003) studied the costs of undergraduate engineering laboratories. They assessed the cost of the most burdensome activities (e.g. training students to use equipment), then created ways to save time (and money) on those tasks while also improving education. For example, routine training was switched from the lab to online tutorials. That freed up valuable (and expensive) lab time for teaching engineering. Breakage was reduced as well, further cutting costs. Result: undergraduate labs became more effective and less expensive.

Courses are not the only source of data for discovering how to improve an academic program. Some institutions, for example, have extensive programs of co-operative education. Drexel University is one such institution. Drexel has also defined a set of learning outcomes for its graduates. The TLT Group has begun helping Drexel create an evaluation program that will enable both employers and students to rate the importance of those outcomes in each co-op experience and to assess each student’s skills. These reports, summarized across all students in a degree program, should provide faculty with both a measure of the value employers place on each skill and the faculty’s success in teaching it. Over time, the evaluations could also provide evidence of programmatic improvement.

Engaging employers in an evaluation such as this also has another crucial advantage: It helps spread the word about the efforts the program is making to improve. Remember, the goal of these ten recommendations is not only to improve a program’s outcomes but also to help the wider world realize that they are improving.

Program-wide evaluation of student progress can also motivate faculty and staff to keep inching forward, even when they don’t see immediate evidence that their work is making a contribution. First, capstone courses and e-portfolios can shine some light on what students have learned. Second, studying how teaching and learning are changing across the curriculum can provide additional insight into whether all the small improvements are adding up to a cumulative change.

Recommendation 9: Slowly realign the experiences of faculty and staff to the needs of the evolving program

Some curricular reforms have surged, then faded, because not enough faculty had the skills and experiences needed to teach the new courses, especially once the original innovators were replaced over the years. Imagine, for example, biologists and mechanical engineering faculty who three decades ago went straight from graduate school to teaching and who are now asked to teach students for careers in biotechnology.

There are many ways for programs to acquire a new experience base: e.g., formal training, changes in hiring, changes in reward systems, externships, adding adjunct faculty with professional experience, and moving some education off-campus (e.g., through internships).

Recommendation 10: Develop coalitions to sustain the initiative

Implementing these recommendations requires extensive collaboration both externally (with other institutions and organizations) and internally (among faculty, staff, and students).

External coalitions: When several institutions and organizations get together, each partner may gain resources and opportunities. For example, by working with agencies around the world, the Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has created a global network of sites where its students and faculty can work on community projects for months at a time.

Such coalitions can help the outside world recognize that the program’s outcomes have improved in important ways. For that and other reasons, the planning team ought to assemble an advisory committee representing the outside groups that have a stake in the program’s improvement, groups whose support could guide and support that progress (e.g. employers, government officials, alumni, guidance counselors, and academics from other institutions).

Internal coalitions: Librarians, technology specialists, facilities planners, admissions specialists, and other support staff need to work with faculty to plan and carry out programmatic reforms. Similarly, faculty should be integrally involved in planning changes in technology, libraries, learning spaces, and admissions.

These ten recommendations are an agenda for exploration rather than a set of settled principles. For example, Recommendation 2 asserts that the three t’s provide a foundation for a gradual, major expansion of high-impact practices. Can this improvement be made at any time in any discipline, or would it work in only in a few disciplines and only every decade or two? Recommendation 4 calls for enriching online collaborative work. What sort of technology platform is low threshold for almost everyone and yet supple enough to evolve smoothly as the program develops? Recommendation 7 calls for large numbers of faculty to engage in sustainable communities of practice. How can such communities be organized at sufficient scale and low-enough cost? How can they remain an attractive-enough experience so that faculty continue to participate?

Technology has advanced sufficiently to be a critical tool for improving the outcomes of degree programs. In the next decade we ought to test the power and explore the limits of these ten recommendations for making such improvements.


I couldn’t possibly acknowledge all the sources for the ideas assembled in this paper. But it’s important to recognize the long-term, crucial role played by the ideas and friendship of my colleague Steven W. Gilbert. Although I had encountered ideas about incremental, slow progress toward major improvements long ago, for example, Steve’s work over the last decade on “low-threshold applications” and “frugal innovation” helped bring these issues to the center of my own thinking.


1. Angelo, T. A. and Cross, K. P. (1993) Classroom assessment techniques: A handbook for college teachers, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

2. Balestri, D. P. and Ehrmann, S. C. (1988) Ivory towers, silicon basements: Learner-centered computing in postsecondary education, Academic Computing, McKinney, TX. Associates

3. Bowen, H. R. (1980) The costs of higher education: How much do colleges and universities spend per student and how much should they spend?, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

4. Ehrmann, S. C. (1995, March/April) Asking the right question: What does research tell us about technology and higher learning?. Change. The Magazine of Higher Learning 27:2, pp. 20-27.

5. Ehrmann, S. C. (2010) Asking the right questions: Engaging mainstream faculty in the scholarship of teaching and learning, Accessed January 5, 2010, at http://www.tltgroup.org/Flashlight/ARQ/Index.htm.

6. Hiltz, S. R. (1994) The virtual classroom: Learning without limits via computer networks, Ablex Publishing, Norwood, NJ. (Human-Computer Interaction Series).

7. Kuh, G. D. (2008) High-impact educational practices: What they are, who has access to them, and why they matter, Association of American College and Universities, Washington, DC.

8. Pope, D. and Anderson, H. Ehrmann, S. C. and Milam Jr., J. H. (eds) (2003) Reducing the costs of laboratory instruction through the use of on-line laboratory instruction. Flashlight cost analysis handbook: Modeling resource use in teaching and learning with technology, Version 2.0, The TLT Group, Takoma Park, MD.

9. Young, G. A. (1997) Facilitating difficult dialogues: Diversity, distance and dialogue (CD ROM), California State University, Hayward, CA.

Stephen C. Ehrmann is an associate clinical professor of learning technologies and senior coordinator of special projects in the provost’s office at Drexel University. He also serves as senior consultant with the Teaching, Learning and Technology Group, which he co-founded in 1998. Ehrmann was formerly senior program officer with the Annenberg/CPB Project, where he created the Flashlight Program for the Evaluation and Improvement of Educational Uses of Technology in 1992. Previously he was a program officer with the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and director of educational research and assistance at The Evergreen State College.

Some thoughts from Michael Wesch November 11, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : higher education, technology , comments closed

The following text is drawn from notes taken during two presentations by Professor Michael Wesch at George Mason University on October 3rd and 4th of 2010, as he participated in Mason’s Innovations in Teaching and Learning Conference.

The conversation is around the ways and means and pathways that can serve to take educators from knowledgeable to knowledge-able. The more we get to know about our students (and we should be students of them, for we must know the ways they make sense of their dense digital mediated social networks and their place in the world), the more we realize that they, unlike some prior generations, are meaning-seekers. Unfortunately they are seeking meaning while experiencing dual existential crises.

What am I going to do with life? What am I supposed to be? What am I supposed to learn? Their search is for both identity and recognition, two notions that can be both at odds and complementary to each other, depending on the context and the press for authenticity.

So, the best way to get to study students is to pay attention to the questions they ask in the classrooms, in your offices and in the “commons”. Half of the students surveyed in Michael’s classrooms testify that they do not like school, but all of them report that they like learning. Where is the disconnect?

Educators must come to understand, as we grasp the variety of digital interfaces that mediate our students’ relationships and the density of their social networks, that there is something in the air, in and out of the classroom: the digital footprint of billions of people in near constant contact with each other.

So we ask, what’s at stake? Dr. Michael Wesch spent considerable time doing research in Papua New Guinea. As an anthropologist, Michael was amazed do discover the relationship between identity and media. In Papua, there was no media. What about identity in those terms? Many of the villagers when Michael arrived had no names; they had no need for them. Their identities were clear as they were solely in relationship to other villagers. Then the New Guinea government decided that they needed to know who these people were, to count them for a census. This required the assignment of names. All of a sudden, everyone had “proper” names, which they referred to as “census names”, and now the census is re-writing the society. The law shifts from relationships to individuals creating an “authority” class; those that are chosen to learn to read and write and count, and hence qualified to make decisions for the village. Reading and writing empowers only a few, elevating them to a position of increased power and authority, an elite. All of a sudden there is media. Media changes the power structure. And, while everyone is overpowered by it, not everyone is enjoying the situation. There is no “opting out”. Media of any sort mediate relationships. Media change, and relationships change, resulting in change in culture. Niel Postman declared in the mid 80’s that we were “amusing ourselves to death”.

Michael notes that people want to be on TV because they want to be seen as significant, and poses the question of why we think any given person ought to (or ought not) be on TV. This desire to be seen as significant is an outcome of the self-esteem movement. He uses the term “Generation Me”, not in the narcissitic sense, but in the sense that the current college student generation is searching for identity and recognition.

We know ourselves through relationships with others. New media creates new ways of relating to others, and therefore new ways of knowing ourselves.

So, we need to rethink things. We in the academy point to the need to teach critical thinking to mitigate the negative effects of media, but that is not enough. In this new age, we need to go one step further and help our young people find relevant information, and offer the tools to block and filter the plethora of that which is irrelevant. We need to rethink Commerce, as it’s already gone beyond our common notions. Look at eBay (buy anything), Zilock (rent anything), SwapTree (trade anything), Prosper (borrow from real people), and the “Square” (accept credit card payments on your smart phone) as examples of new models. We need to rethink Government, look at Do Tank, who says “the Do Tank strives to strengthen the ability of groups to solve problems, make decisions, resolve conflict and govern themselves by designing software and legal code to promote collaboration.” We need to recognize the things that are ubiquitous; a context aware semantic social network of things is evolving around us, things that talk to each other.

Michael spoke to us about the extensive use of video, especially via YouTube, as learning tools and change agents. He particularly makes note of the Numa Numa video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60og9gwKh1o) and the ways in which this video became a world-wide cultural touchstone. There were so many remixes, remakings, and everyone seemed to know the original work.

He and his students find a YouTube video…a Dove Soap commercial, for example, type “pwn” before the “youtube” in the url in order to download the video via “Sony Vegas” (a video editing tool), then edit and combine the original video and audio with other video to make video statement. We need to emphasize moving beyond informational literacy toward creation; toward “meta media fluency” and digital citizenship.

The notion of digital citizenship opens up significant opportunities for development along polarities: from openness to control, self-determinism to surveillance, community to isolation, participation to distraction. We are already seeing new media producing results along these spectrum, from the wonderful to the tragic. Michael claims that YouTube offers the “freedom to experience humanity without fear or anxiety,” or the opportunity for connection without constraint.

Students believe that learning is about acquiring information, not transformation, and that information is a scarce resource, the control of which is a source of power and authority. Micahel quotes Marshall McLuhan sayin, “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” Michael suggests that we look at a few on line projects that are examples of innovations in media: UP: The Uncultured Project. com, particularly at Shawn’s postings and use of media to bring huge monies to Bangladesh http://uncultured.com/. Also look at Opsound http://opsound.org/ . Opsound is a gift economy in action, an experiment in applying the model of free software to music. Musicians and sound artists are invited to add their work to the Opsound pool using a copyleft license developed by Creative Commons. Anyone is encouraged to contribute sound files to the Opsound’s open sound pool. And take a look at Open Street, a free Wiki-based road map that blows Google Maps away. See Etherpad for a non-profit Google Doc option, Yahoo Pipes, a powerful composition tool to aggregate, manipulate, and mashup content from around the web, diggo, a very smart web-based bookmarking application, Netvibes, the “first personalized dashboard publishing platform for the Web. Digital life management, Widget distribution services and brand observation rooms. (this is a very nice “reader” akin to the Google Reader, Feedlooks, and NetNewsWire.

So, the question is, how do we change our message? Technology alone is not the answer.

In the early Internet, form and content were inseparable. Now that is no longer the case.

Knowledge-ability is a “practice” that represents three inter-dynamic forces:
Thoughtfulness, which includes having knowledge and imagining.
Communication, which includes hearing, listening and sharing.
Empathy; the ability to imagine your way into someone else’s perspective.

Real problems don’t have answers; we educators trust that the disciplines can act to solve them. Students should be meaning makers, not meaning seekers.
Michael suggests we see An Anthropological Introduction to YouTube: Final Project http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU on YouTube or at his working group’s blog at http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?p=179.An Anthropological Introduction to You Tube

Teens text every 10 minutes, Nielsen says October 15, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

It turns out that teens are texting pretty much all the time. Precisely, they are on average sending and receiving text messages every 10 minutes of every waking hour of every day of the year, according to a new study released by Nielsen.

According to the report on cellphone use in the second quarter of the year, Nielsen found that teenage girls are thumbing their way to new texting records ahead of boys. In total, cellphone users ages 13 to 17 sent and received an average of 3,339 texts a month, up 8 percent from the second quarter of 2009. Girls averaged 4,050 texts, and boys sent 2,539.

Text messaging – because of ease of use and fast transmission – is what 43 percent of teenagers say is their primary use for a cellphone. That’s why, according to Nielsen, the first they thing look for in a phone is a QWERTY raised keyboard, as opposed to touch screens. Two years ago they said the primary reason for having a cellphone was for safety factors.

And teens are using more Internet applications. Because of more picture messaging, gaming and e-mail, the average data consumed by teens rose to 62 megabytes in the second quarter compared with 14 megabytes in the second quarter of 2009.

By Cecilia Kang | October 14, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories: Consumers, Kids Online, Mobile

Texting generation doesn’t share boomers’ taste for talk August 10, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

(Courtesy of the Sunday’s Washington Post)
By Ian Shapira
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, August 8, 2010

Jane Beard and Jeffrey Davis didn’t realize how little they speak to their children by phone until they called AT&T to switch plans. The customer service agent was breathless. The Silver Spring couple had accumulated 28,700 unused minutes.

“None of the kids call us back! They will not call you back,” said Beard, a former actress who with her husband coaches business leaders on public speaking.

A generation of e-mailing, followed by an explosion in texting, has pushed the telephone conversation into serious decline, creating new tensions between baby boomers and millennials — those in their teens, 20s and early 30s.

Nearly all age groups are spending less time talking on the phone; boomers in their mid-50s and early 60s are the only ones still yakking as they did when Ma Bell was America’s communications queen. But the fall of the call is driven by 18- to 34-year-olds, whose average monthly voice minutes have plunged from about 1,200 to 900 in the past two years, according to research by Nielsen. Texting among 18- to 24-year-olds has more than doubled in the same period, from an average of 600 messages a month two years ago to more than 1,400 texts a month, according to Nielsen.

Young people say they avoid voice calls because the immediacy of a phone call strips them of the control that they have over the arguably less-intimate pleasures of texting, e-mailing, Facebooking or tweeting. They even complain that phone calls are by their nature impolite, more of an interruption than the blip of an arriving text.

Kevin Loker, 20, a rising junior at George Mason University, said he and his school friends rarely just call someone, for fear of being seen as rude or intrusive. First, they text to make an appointment to talk. “They’ll write, ‘Can I call you at such-and-such time?’ ” said Loker, executive editor of Connect2Mason.com, a student media site. “People want to be polite. I feel like, in general, people my age are not as quick on their feet to just talk on the phone.”

The bias against unexpected phone calls stems in good part from the way texting and e-mail have conditioned young people to be cautious about how they communicate when they are not face to face, experts say.

Deborah Tannen, a linguistics professor at Georgetown University who studies how people converse in everyday life, said older generations misinterpret the way younger people use their cellphones. “One student told me that it takes her days to call her parents back and the parents thought she was intentionally putting them off,” she said. “But the parents didn’t get it. It’s the medium. With e-mails, you’re at the computer, writing a paper. With phone calls, it’s a dedicated block of time.”

Tannen, 65, worries that texting may fall victim one day to the same neglect that phone calls now face. Her generation’s feelings, she said, are perfectly captured in a recent New Yorker magazine cartoon that shows two older, balding men sitting at a bar. The caption reads: “I used to call people, then I got into e-mailing, then texting, and now I just ignore everyone.”

Ethan Seidel, rabbi of Tifereth Israel synagogue in the District, can’t get many of his congregants younger than 35 on the telephone. Seidel, 52, often invites young, new members to his family’s home for welcome dinners, but his gesture too often doesn’t even merit return calls. “One member seemed only slightly apologetic for not returning the call,” Seidel said. “I was floored by that. They say, ‘I never answer the phone anymore.’ ”

One of Seidel’s congregants, Lianna Levine Reisner, 26, a development director at a nonprofit group, said her peers have phone gripes of their own about their elders. “My parents call and leave voice mails. They do that a lot,” she said. “I might listen and realize they’re not saying anything other than just, ‘Call me.’ I am not much of a phone talker.”

Not only are people making fewer calls, but they are also having shorter conversations when they do call. The average length of a cellphone call has dropped from 2.38 minutes in 1993 to 1.81 minutes in 2009, according to industry data. And between 2005 and 2009, as the number of minutes people spent talking on cellphones inched up, the number of cellphone messages containing text or multimedia content ballooned by 1,840 percent.

Land lines are disappearing. Verizon, the nation’s second-largest land line carrier behind AT&T, says its hard-wired phone connections have dropped from 50 million in 2005 to 31 million this year.

“Here’s the issue: We don’t want to talk with each other most of the time,” said Naomi Baron, an American University linguistics professor who published a paper in June called “Control Freaks,” dissecting how Americans communicate online and on mobile devices. “In a very profound way, our lives changed when the remote control was first introduced: You didn’t have to watch what you didn’t want to watch.”

The difference in communications preferences has created a palpable perception gap between young adults and their parents. Beard said that when her niece, Lindsay Spencer, 20, “is in classes at the University of Maryland, I’ll never hear from her — until she comes over to do the laundry. We text multiple times a day. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have a clue [what’s going on] in her life.”

Spencer, who was raised by Beard and Davis, said Beard’s perception is skewed. “I think I call her more than I text,” she said in a rare phone interview.

But Beard is understanding about the change in ways of conversing. “Parents are like, ‘They’re controlling who they talk to,’ ” she said, “but so did we when we screened people with answering machines.”

Not all parents are quite that open to new ways. “My mom gets offended,” said Muggaga Kintu, 32, an administrative assistant at Walter Reed Army Medical Center who prefers texting or calling on his own time, when he’s not around patients. “She thinks I don’t want to hear from her, and that’s not the case. The other day, she called me when I was at work, and I told her, ‘Instead of calling me, can you text me?’ She said, ‘What? You don’t like to hear from me? You don’t like the sound of my voice.’ ”

Reisner said her parents intrude on her day with questions they deem urgent but in her reality are not. “My dad calls asking me about the details of my travel plans, and they’re not in my head, they’re in some e-mail, so I say, ‘I will e-mail you everything,” she said. “I know my parents are offended. I’ve asked my mom not to call me during the workday if it’s just to chat. We came to an agreement. I know she felt bad. She wanted to feel connected to me.”

Answering a phone call requires a certain amount of psychological energy, she said. “I put it off because there’s something confrontational about someone calling you,” she said. “You have to gear up for it.”

Sometimes Reisner gets phone calls from other synagogue members asking her to take on leadership roles, but the calls go straight to voice mail. She wishes that she could respond by e-mail. That way, in true Washington fashion, she could calibrate a more careful response instead of being put on the spot.

At Tifereth Israel, the waning popularity of phone calls has become such a controversial issue that Seidel fired off an essay in the synagogue’s April bulletin, lamenting that no one calls him back anymore.

About 10 people, he said, hadn’t returned his calls so far this year. Technology, he said in an actual phone call, was diluting his rabbinical status.

Mason Live updates from John Prette July 30, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

We began the light marketing campaign with emails, e-Files, and a Gazette
Article for the faculty and staff letting them know MASONLIVE is here and an official email system for students of George Mason.Everyone –

The month of July has been busy for MASONLIVE. During July alone we added nearly 3000 additional students to the system bringing the total to over 4100 students now using MASONLIVE as their email system. With Orientation humming along, we’ve turned our attention to the existing students and start of semester. Here’s what’s going on:

* We built and released the accounts for nearly 3000 students who have
already been through their orientation sessions.
* Based on student feedback, we reworked the MASONLIVE home page to make the help materials more visible.
* We completed development of the Opt-In process (transition from MEMO to MASONLIVE) for existing students. It is now being tested with a mid-August release date.
* We developed an extensive marketing plan which is set to kick-off on 8/9 and continue full force in late August when students and faculty return to campus.
* We had articles posted on Gazette and Connect2Mason
* We refined our list of FAQs about the system organized into multiple
topic areas and the list is expanding as needed. You can find it at http://masonlive.gmu.edu/faqs.html .
* Remember, there are 8 Tutorials (Getting Started plus 7 others) describing how to use
features of the system such as: first login, changing passwords,
configuring smart phones, and linking accounts. See http://masonlive.gmu.edu/tutorials.html for details.
* The Faculty/Staff tip sheet is under final review and will be posted shortly. It will be sent to all faculty and staff and available on the website as well. The updated draft is available in the “Marketing” section of organization in the myMason
portal in the “MASONLIVE Marketing Materials” folder.
* Based on additional feedback, we are re-evaluating the necessity for student wage employees to continue to have MEMO accounts in addition to MASONLIVE. This may become an as-needed item where only students who require use of email for their wage positions. More info to come.

If you wish to learn more about MASONLIVE, please do not hesitate to check out the website – http://masonlive.gmu.edu.
There is tons of information.

Thank you and feel free to ask any questions


a review of a new tool courtesy of PC World and the Washington Post online June 16, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

Free Nitro PDF Reader Blows Away the Competition

Preston Gralla
PC World
Wednesday, June 16, 2010; 8:19 AM

Nitro PDF Reader (free) is the most powerful free PDF reading and creation tool you can find, performing many tasks usually only available in for-pay PDF tools. As a PDF reader, it’s lighting fast. For example, it opened a 174-page graphics-heavy PDF nearly instantly–faster than any other PDF reader I’ve tried, including FoxIt Reader, Nuance PDF Reader, and Adobe’s own PDF reader, among others. It lets you search, zoom in and out, rotate pages, and more, pretty much everything that you’d expect from a PDF reader.

Among Nitro PDF Reader’s many tools is a PDF-to-text converter.

It does more as well. You can add notes, highlight text, type text into a text box, insert a signature into a PDF and much more, including commenting on other people’s notes. Nitro PDF also does a very nice job of extracting text and images from PDF files. The program will even take a form scanned in via a scanner as a PDF file and let you type directly on the PDF form.
If you’re looking for a free PDF tool, Nitro PDF Reader is the one to get.

Facebook CEO announces revamped privacy settings May 28, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

Facebook CEO announces revamped privacy settings.

Cool new tool ANIMOTO May 28, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

This new web based media production tool only requires a set of photos and perhaps a small video clip and YOU can create a 30 second video message for the Orca flat screens. OTI is happy to walk through the process for you or create the first several.

Boston College’s Advancing Studies Undergraduate Course Catalog Goes Immersive April 23, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

BOSTON, MA – April 23, 2010 – During his opening address at the Immersive Education 2010 Summit, James A. Woods, Dean of Boston College’s Woods College of Advancing Studies, today announced that the college’s undergraduate courses will be offered as fully immersive distance learning classes through the Immersive Education Initiative. Starting with 4 classes this fall, the entire Woods College of Advancing Studies course catalog is expected to become fully immersive over the next five years. Standard Boston College credit is issued for immersive Advancing Studies courses, with no distinction made between the amount or form of credit given for traditional in-person classes. Students enrolled in immersive classes attend entirely within an online immersive learning environment, using open and freely available technologies endorsed by the Initiative, and may therefore reside anywhere in the world.

Following the announcement by Woods, Aaron E. Walsh, Director of the Immersive Education Initiative, invited Summit attendees to review the Advancing Studies undergraduate course catalog and apply to teach courses remotely using immersive education technology. Walsh stated that faculty who teach immersively will be paid a highly competitive professional rate, and will teach in short “blocks” that accommodate their otherwise busy schedules. Immersive faculty can teach part-time (for as little as 6 hours a semester), in the evening or weekends, and from wherever they reside.

During their respective opening remarks at the Summit both Woods and Walsh explained that every member of the Immersive Education Initiative is eligible to teach Advancing Studies courses immersively. Criteria for teaching immersively, and faculty application forms, can be obtained from the Director of the Initiative.

“It is with confidence that the Woods College of Advancing Studies will offer its undergraduate courses as fully immersive distance learning classes through the Immersive Education Initiative. Beginning with five classes this fall, we will work toward all of our courses becoming fully immersive. Academic credit will be given for the immersive courses with no distinction between credit for immersive and traditional in-person classes. Students enrolled in immersive classes attend entirely within an online immersive learning environment, using open and freely available technologies endorsed by the Initiative, and may therefore reside anywhere in the world. I hope that some of you will indicate your intent to become instructors in our effort,” commented Woods.

Registration for the following immersive Advancing Studies classes is now open. To register, or to obtain more information about these and other courses, visit http://bc.edu/schools/advstudies

* MT 34101 Web 2.0: New Era of Web Technology
* MT 35801 Video Games and Virtual Reality
* MT 35101 Discovering Computer Graphics
* MT 38101 Building Immersive Education Virtual Worlds

Thousands of Members Worldwide

The Immersive Education Initiative is a non-profit international collaboration of universities, colleges, research institutes, consortia and companies that are working together to define and develop open standards, best practices, platforms, and communities of support for virtual reality and game-based learning and training systems. Thousands of faculty, researchers, staff, administrators and students are members of the Immersive Education Initiative, which is growing at the rate of approximately 100 new members every month.

About Immersive Education
Immersive Education (ImmersiveEducation.org) combines interactive 3D graphics, commercial game and simulation technology, virtual reality, voice chat (Voice over IP/VoIP), Web cameras (webcams) and rich digital media with collaborative online course environments and classrooms. Immersive Education gives participants a sense of “being there” even when attending a class or training session in person isn’t possible, practical, or desirable, which in turn provides educators and students with the ability to connect and communicate in a way that greatly enhances the learning experience. Unlike traditional computer-based learning systems, Immersive Education is designed to immerse and engage students in the same way that today’s best video games grab and keep the attention of players. Immersive Education supports self-directed learning as well as collaborative group-based learning environments that can be delivered over the Internet or using fixed-media such as CD-ROM and DVD. Shorter mini-games and interactive lessons can be injected into larger bodies of course material to further heighten and enrich the Immersive Education experience.

About the Media Grid
The Media Grid is a public utility for digital media. Based on new and emerging distributed computational grid technologies, the Media Grid builds upon existing Internet and Web standards to create a unique network optimized for digital media delivery, storage, and processing. As an on-demand public computing utility, a range of software programs and Web sites can use the Media Grid for delivery and storage of rich media content, media processing, and computing power. The Media Grid is an open and extensible platform that enables a wide range of applications not possible with the traditional Internet alone, including: Massive Media on Demand (MMoD); Interactive digital cinema on demand; Immersive Education and distance learning; Truly immersive multiplayer games and Virtual Reality (VR); Hollywood movie and film rendering, special effects, and composition; Real-time rendering of high resolution graphics; Real-time visualization of complex weather patterns; Real-time protein modeling and drug design; Telepresence, telemedicine, and telesurgery; Vehicle and aircraft design and simulation; Visualization of scientific and medical data.

The Grid Institute leads the design and development of the global Media Grid through the MediaGrid.org open standards organization in collaboration with industry, academia, and governments from around the world.

To learn more about the Media Grid, Immersive Education or the Education Grid visit:
MediaGrid.org, ImmersiveEducation.org and TheEducationGrid.org

the Playing for Change Project April 10, 2010

Posted by michaelgalvin in : Uncategorized , comments closed

As we talk about using traditional and new media to transcend barriers of time and space while enhancing feelings of connection, this project stands as a great example, as street musicians from around the globe collaborate on one piece of music, playing along with the layers of sound that preceded them.