Archive for the ‘My Blogroll’ Category

Kiko Denzer on my Blogroll

August 5, 2008

I think its worth making some notes about why I add people to my blog roll.

In this case its Kiko Denzer, author of Building a Mud Oven and other books. I used his book to create my oven, and have been pondering the lessons that it is teaching me about the difference between how I live and how the oven wants me to live.

Its also worth noting that the Google Blog search for “mud oven” produces some very interesting results. In fact, I just re-ran the search to make this post and Google had already added my previous post “Oven Luck” to its results — in about 3 minutes. Further worth noting is there is now RSS of Blog searches, this has important implications for my previous strategy pieces on being a Web 2.0 organization.

Worldware ePortfolios as tools for educational entrepreneurs

August 21, 2007

Recently John Gardner posted some thoughts on Entre/Intrapreneurs, and what roles especially they play in a university. This sent me to looking for the blog of Clayton Christensen author of Innovator’s Dilemma. What I found was not specifically Christensen’s blog, but an interesting group blog from his consulting organization. I added that to my blog roll because I’ve found ideas in the book shape my thinking about trends around me at Washington State University.

For example, I’ve been thinking about Innovator’s Dilemma in the context of BlackBoard Course Management System and alternatives that may exist to that (increasingly expensive) tool. Alex Slawsby’s post gives me some further insights in applying the ideas of “interdependency” and “modularity” that I think play well with my own Web 2.0 and ePortfolio thinking.

BlackBoard is an “interdependent” system (if I understand Slawsby), with many tightly linked modules. This produces an internally efficient product, but at a cost to the customer. We (WSU) the customer are looking for alternatives that are “good enough” and at lower price points. SharePoint 2007 looks to meet that goal. It also is an interdependent system, but less specialized, it is a collaboration tool used in many business settings. As a course management system, it does not have all the features of BlackBoard, but many faculty don’t use most of the features, so SharePoint may be “good enough.” And for the University, which can amortize the cost of SharePoint over many other collaborative uses, it might be at a lower price point as well. Ehrmann calls tools like SharePoint, developed for other markets and applied to education, Worldware, and argues that they deserve special consideration for being both valuable and viable.

In a previous post, Slawsby discussed a potentially more disruptive, and more modular approach than even SharePoint to challenge BlackBoard’s CMS — online services offering free storage or other free resources (eg Google Docs). These ideas begin to beg the question, what part of the instructional IT should be outsourced completely?

I would have previously said that the University can’t outsource its instructional applications, because the University needs to manage the identity (the login ID) of its students — because it has scores and grades tied to those student identities. I would have said, “You can’t have a student just using Blogger, how would you know who they were or that the work was authentically theirs?”

Enter the student, who is increasingly “swirling” (taking courses from two or more educational institutions concurrently). The student is treating the university programs as modules (Slawsby’s term), mixing and matching courses to make independently concocted programs. The student may use one institution as a home base, bringing in credits toward a degree, or may be jumping around, ultimately looking for someone to credential the melange.

I recently wrote about an electronic portfolio as the core learning platform. In that thinking, the portfolio serves as the place to present to a specific audience the collection of learning experiences and the value and meaning that come from those experiences. Those experiences are probably not test scores or even a transcript, but more authentic products of learning, work, and avocational activities. Such a portfolio should not be a broadcast, but more like a blog, be open to comment, a place for the learner to present her current state of thinking and seek input to evolve understanding.

Which brings me back to my interest in Dr. Gardner’s post on Entre/Intrapeneurship in the University. He says, “It [entre/ intrapreneurship] must be embedded in our WSU culture and our curriculum.” Given that swirling students are already acting like educational entrepreneurs, and Google continues to move in directions that allow those students the potential outsourcing of elements of our instructional IT, I think the time for Dr Gardner’s conversation has already arrived.

Global University Rankings Web 1.0 and Web 2.0

July 25, 2007

Ignore the Global University Rankings, its Web 1.0
This site uses counts on inbound links among 300 universities to develop a rating scheme for each of the universities. Its a “reputation” type of system, the more times that other universities link to your university, the higher your university’s ranking. The chart shows that Washington State University’s ranking of 123 results from substantially fewer links (its nonlinear) than top rated schools.

It would be interesting to locate the AAU schools and see how many links we need to become AAU-like. Which begs the question, what would WSU need to do differently to move up the ranks from rank 123?

There is a tension in this plan, because it expects the university community to work from within the university’s domain to build its reputation. We can debate if this blog constitutes “good” content, but as the rating system above works, it will not attract more score for WSU, since its not within university’s domain. And its not here, for reasons I stated when I launched it — basically, who’s reputation do I want to build anyway?

First step to getting more links is to put good content into our website. Competing with putting content on the web site is putting it in refereed publications. Until the university changes how it thinks about self-publishing and building a reputation in Web 2.0, terms its not likely to win this battle.

Analysis of Global Rankings in Web 1.0 terms

The Web 2.0 Analysis
The Global University Rankings are trying to be reputation based, but the reputation needs to be earned wider than on other university domains. As designed, this is the Broadcast model, but reputation is really about community. Its unlikely that our Marketing or News organizations will be building many links to other universities, and the same applies in reverse. So the linking needs to come from students, faculty and staff, pointing at good work at other places. That sounds a lot like communities of bloggers, linking one another and resources they find useful. Students and faculty would blogroll the university if they found selfish reasons, such as good networking, would come from connecting to the university.

So, where I get in this analysis is that, in a Web 2.0 world, users will build from the platforms that work for them, and those are not necessarily platforms within the university domain. Further, I think there is an argument here that the university is ill suited to establish the platforms that are needed — because the platforms, like Flickr or del.icio.us demand larger numbers of participants to be rich and interesting than the university can muster.
The Web 2.0 analysis