Monday, December 21, 2009

Digital Learners - Pay Attention

This video is a couple years old, a little long, and frankly makes me sleepy, but it's well worth the watch. A lot of interesting points embedded throughout. My favorite - "it's not attention deficit, I'm just not paying attention." Encourage your colleagues to watch this before they leave for their holiday break, or maybe when they return in January.

Video: Digital Learners
‘Since most of today’s students can appropriately be labeled as ‘Digital Learners’, why do so many teachers refuse to enter the digital age with their teaching practices? This presentation was created in an effort to motivate teachers to more effectively use technology in their teaching.’

Monday, December 14, 2009

What Skills Do Our Students Need?

Phil McKinney has some interesting thoughts on what skills kids/students need to be learning. He frames the discussion by comparing attitudes of parents in the U.S. versus those in China. Interestingly, Math and Computer Science skills - a key focus in the U.S. - is not high on the priorities for Chinese parents. I think this is probably due to the huge emphasis and investment the Chinese government has on Math, Science and Technology education. As a parent, I don't need to stress these skills at home, if the school system is already delivering them. Instead I can focus on filling in the gaps - the missing skills that my kids need. The question is, "What are these skills?"

The community within which I work - technology education - has become increasingly interested in stressing problem solving skills and more recently, entrepreneurial skills. While problem solving has always been at the core of Engineering, Math, and Computer Science, educators are starting to move away from the traditional approach of "showing" students how to solve problems, and instead focusing on creating an environment where students explore and discover how to become better problem solvers. It's not as easy as it sounds, because it requires educators to give up some control in the classroom, step out of their comfort zones, and adopt an approach to teaching and learning that is to most, unfamiliar. One area where I think we're still lacking is in creative problem solving. We still don't do enough in this country to encourage creativity. I'm not sure creativity is something we can teach, but it's definitely something we need to nurture in our kids.

The importance of entrepreneurial skills - traditionally in the domain of Business and Business Administration - are only now beginning to gain attention. As the economy has struggled and I've considered how to make my students more competitive, I come to believe that every student should be exposed to entrepreneurial skills. Entrepreneurial skills should be taught across the curriculum, so that students in every discipline - art, history, political science, engineering, and computer science - are all taught important entrepreneurial skills. These skills are valuable not only to the sole proprietor or students hoping to begin a startup business, but also students working in virtually any environment. Maybe we call it entrepreneurial literacy and begin to make it a college-wide requirement. There are already a handful of schools doing this - some only in specific programs, but this needs to become a national trend.

Don't even get me started on the last of the skills McKinney addresses - cultural understanding.

US vs China Parents – What skills do children need to be innovative?
A recently published report based on the Newsweek-Intel Innovation Survey, shows that US and China parents don’t agree on what skills are critical for children to have when it comes to innovation.

So, what are these critical skills?

Creative Thinking/Problem Solving Skills: Children need to be taught how to think rather than how to memorize. Its not about finding the one right answer for a test but instead the ability to search out all of the possible answer to a question to find the optimal solution. Critical thinking and problem solving skills should not be a stand-alone subject but instead taught across all subjects. For example, thinking through the range of options a given historical figure faced and then determining what would have been the alternative outcomes. Did that person make the right decision?

Entrepreneurial Skills: Its not longer about having deep expertise in a given area but to also have the broad understanding of how a given idea is transformed into an innovation. Understanding the structure, steps and process of running an organization is a fundamental skill that everyone needs to have.

Cultural Understanding: The world is flat and getting flatter. The ability to understand and collaborate with a global ecosystem of employees, partners and customers are table stakes. Without them, your at distinct disadvantage that will become more severe.

What are parents to do? Find opportunities for your kids to gain the experience and skills needed to win the emerging economy. Get them involved in Junior Achievement so they understand business and how to be an entrepreneur. Get them on a FIRST team so they learn how to invent, create and collaborate. Put them in situations where they have to work with others from different cultures such as an international internship.

While we as a society need to change the educational system to ensure we are producing the best employees possible, its the parents that can have the most positive and immediate impact. If we don’t, what jobs will our children be equipped to have when the creative economy takes over?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What Do Leadership and Vision Look Like?

Does you school have someone like Jacqueline Moloney? Someone who can see the future and is in a position of leadership to do something about it? Maybe we need to start hiring more people like Moloney!

International Award for Online Education Goes to UMass Lowell
The most prestigious international group of colleges and universities that offer online learning recently presented its top honor to UMass Lowell Executive Vice Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney, a pioneer in the field.

Moloney was the only American and one of two educators to receive the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual award at the Sloan Consortium's annual international conference.

'The 2009 recipients have demonstrated exceptional leadership and real success in advancing online education,' said University of Illinois Prof. Burks Oakley, award committee chairman.

UMass Lowell has won all Sloan-C top awards, except one added this year, for excellence in programs and faculty development. In 2008, UMass Lowell and UMassOnline received the Most Outstanding Online Learning and Teaching Award. Sloan-C ' an offshoot of the Sloan Foundation for higher education excellence ' is dedicated to integrating quality online learning into mainstream higher education.

Moloney's honor is for 15 years of advancing online education. She launched UMass Lowell's program when other institutions did not see the need, and under her leadership, it grew from 400 students and a few courses to more than 12,000 online enrollments and full degree programs, including an MBA.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is This The Mythical Apple Tablet?

Supposed Apple Tablet Video Surfaces
Late Friday, French website posted a YouTube video it claims is footage of the mythical Apple tablet that has long been the source of many a rumor.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

How to Download a YouTube Video

This story is cross-posted on Web 2.0 Tools for Teaching

Every semester, we get questions from faculty regarding the use of YouTube videos in their classes. Faculty, whether they're teaching online or face-to-face, have become accustomed to integrating YouTube video in their instruction. Most often, faculty use the video to highlight or illustrate a particular point or to seed a discussion or point of instruction. Faculty have gotten fairly adroit at grabbing the embed code from YouTube and embedding a video in their online course or faculty web page. Likewise they have very little difficulty grabbing the link and sharing it with students, either online or in a powerpoint presentation.

The issue that we're asked about most frequently is "How do I download a YouTube video?" The reason faculty may want to download the videos are many and varied. Most often cited are a lack of or slow Internet connection where they'll be using the video, or a fear that content on YouTube may disappear from semester to semester. There are many techniques for downloading content from YouTube. Some are fairly cumbersome and require multiple steps. The technique we illustrate in the video below is one of the simplest we've been able to find. The key to this approach is the use of a bookmarklet (bookmark + applet), which looks no different than the bookmarks we've all been using for years, but provides a lot more functionality than a vanilla bookmark.

You can grab the bookmarklet and read the instructions for yourself at the Google Operating System blog. So without further delay, here's the video - once you've mastered this technique, feel free to download our video;)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

More on College Tours on the iPhone

I discussed the College of Charleston's iPhone app in the blog post College Tours on the iPhone. Here's a video from the college demonstrating the app:

College Tours on the iPhone

college of charleston app.jpg
This is a great idea. Every college should be working to develop an app like this.

College develops iPhone app to connect with potential students
The College of Charleston has launched the nation's first app designed as a supplement for students looking to tour the university.

Calling it 'the very first interactive and self-guided university campus tour app,' the College of Charleston has released an app intended for potential students looking for more information on the campus and its history.

The app features over twenty locations in and around the Charleston campus with accompanying text, pictures, and video for each. The 'College of Charleston Tour' app also uses GPS assistance to show the distance to and location of each of the places of interest around the university.

The videos are narrated by College of Charleston students and provide a brief tour of each location along with facts and information about each.

From the college's website:
Welcome to the very first interactive and self-guided university campus tour App for the iPhone and iPod touch. Featuring videos, photos, and more than 20+ beautiful locations on the historic College of Charleston campus, the tour is directed by students.

Titled “College of Charleston Tour,” the App is a free download available on iTunes that features Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) assistance, 18 videos of campus and nearly 60 images of life at the College of Charleston.

Four College of Charleston students narrate and provide a unique perspective not currently offered by any other university App. Viewers will get an insider’s look at the College and see inside nearly every building, including the President’s House.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blackboard's Acquisition of iStanford Development Company Begins to Pay Dividends

I understand from colleagues that the in-house Blackboard app for the iPhone is terrible. While their own development seems to be struggling, they have so much cash on-hand that they can make strategic purchases to gaps in their business. This purchase made sense at the time and seems to be reaping benefits.

Blackboard Adds BlackBerry App for Mobile Web Platform
Blackboard has added the Research in Motion BlackBerry to its list of supported devices for the new Blackboard Mobile platform. Mobile Central (formerly named MobilEdu) was initially optimized only for users of Apple iPhone and iPod Touch devices.

Originally developed by San Francisco-based Terriblyclever Design, a company acquired by Blackboard in July 2009, Mobile Central is branded for each institution and accessed by users who download their institution's application.

The application gives users the ability to search course catalogs and view campus maps, e-mail teachers and classmates, and receive real-time updates on course schedules, campus events, news, and sports. In addition, institutions can use Blackboard application programming interfaces to customize and personalize the interface and functionality of the program.

On the mobile front, Blackboard also offers a free application called Learn for iPhone, which specifically provides updates from a Blackboard course. The company said in an FAQ on its Web site that it will continue making that program available.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Google Wave and Journalism

I've been playing with Google Wave since the end of September. It's still very buggy and chaotic. In spite of these problems, I see tremendous potential for Wave as both a communication and collaboration platform. One colleague has suggested the Wave would be a great evaluation tool, my students are spending countless hours playing collaborative sudoku, while I haven't quite found my killer Wave application - yet. Here's a great blog post describing uses for Wave in journalism.

You might also be interested in some earlier posts on Wave:
How Google Wave is Changing the News
It’s not too often that legacy media learns a new mass communication tool along with its audience. But that’s exactly what’s going on now because of Google Wave. Although it’s still invitation only and in preview, the real-time wiki collaboration platform is being used by some media companies for community building, real-time discussion, crowdsourcing, collaboration both inside and outside the newsroom, and for cross publishing content. Google Wave may seem familiar to older users of the Internet, who have been using the parts that make up the whole of the platform for years. Wave, however, brings those pieces together cohesively to allow users to share photos, embed videos, and converge other Google applications such as Google Maps and Google Calendar to create customized blocks of user-editable content on the fly. Here are four ways that newsrooms are using Wave.
  • Using Waves to Foster Engagement
  • Using Waves As ‘Town Squares’
  • Wave as a Newsroom Content Planning Tool
  • Turning Blog Posts Into Public Waves

Muni-WiFi, the MPAA, and Illegal Downloads

Actually download - singular. There might be more to this story than meets the eye, but on the surface it's pretty scary. MPAA shuts down entire town's muni WiFi over a single download
The MPAA has successfully shut down an entire town's municipal WiFi because a single user was found to be downloading a copyrighted movie. Rather than being embarrassed by this gross example of collective punishment (a practice outlawed in the Geneva conventions) against Coshocton, OH, the MPAA's spokeslizard took the opportunity to cry poor (even though the studios are bringing in record box-office and aftermarket receipts).
Mike LaVigne, IT director, said the number of people who access the Internet using the connection varies widely, from perhaps a dozen people a day to 100 during busy times such as First Fridays and the Coshocton Canal Festival.


Because it's a single address used by many people, it's difficult to tell who made the illegal download, although the county plans to investigate the matter.

Joost Is Now Officially Dead

Wow, that happened fast. It wasn't too long ago that Joost was the new media darling.

Joost Is Now Officially Dead – Assets Acquired By Adconion Media Group
Adconion Media Group announced this morning that it has acquired certain key assets from Joost, the ill-fated online video service started by the infamous Kazaa and Skype founders Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed, but it’s likely a firesale that isn’t bringing any returns to Joost’s investors.

Liberal Arts in Jeopardy?

Interesting that I just had this identical discussion with a couple of colleagues from the "other side" of the college - history and political science. The purpose of our meeting was to identify potential areas for new courses and programs. My colleagues were probably justified in thinking that we were being asked to examine market and economic trends in the hopes of figuring out which career programs and courses we could pursue. The key word being market, which leads to marketable courses and programs. My colleagues see this as a myopic reaction to a down economy. They make the point that in difficult economic times, all students - including liberal arts students - will be unable or unwilling to pay for a pricey four-year college education. Students will instead opt for completing their first two years at an affordable, quality community college. What do you think? Liberal Arts in Jeopardy?
As colleges across the country continue to cinch their belts, both administrators and students have been forced to decide which sorts of programs are good investments and which are now unaffordable luxuries. And with students sweating a cutthroat job market that favors specific skills, many in higher education have been left wonder how the recession stands to affect the liberal arts.

That was much on the minds of liberal arts leaders gathered here at the annual meeting of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences. How to maintain the appeal of ‘an education for wisdom and virtue’ as families and institutions fixate anxiously on their bottom lines was the question of the day.

‘We need to think about how it is that we preserve the things that are important,’ Dan Wakelee, associate dean of the faculty at California State University at Channel Islands, ‘so that when things stabilize, we’re in a position to accommodate students and continue to offer liberal arts programs that have made us distinctive in the past.’

Liberal arts institutions must take an active role in convincing students and parents that pursuing a liberal education will enrich them as people without compromising them as job-seekers, said Kristin Fossum, an associate dean at Pomona College.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Where Do You Sit in Class?

While this is true for students, it's also true for faculty attending meetings. For the record, I move around from "nearest exit" to "back row" and to "against the wall." My days of "front row" and "mid-centre" are long gone.

Cartoon by Jorge Cham

Via eLearning Blog.

Project Lead the Way Partners with Prometric for Assessment

PLTW must have been doing some sort of assessment prior to this? You don't train 12,000 teachers and counselors to "serve" 250,000 students without assessing the quality of the materials, the training, and the instruction? Right?

Project Lead the Way Embarks on 5-Year STEM Assessment Program
Project Lead the Way, a not-for-profit organization that promotes engineering and biomedical sciences through project-based learning, has launched an online assessment initiative to monitor the progress of 200,000 high school students per year for the next five years in order to help track their learning in STEM subjects from middle school to high school and beyond.

PLTW partnered with assessment vendor Prometric for the project. Online assessments will be administered in schools as an end of year test and will provide PLTW with information on the students' cognitive development, college readiness, core subject understanding, course schedule, and math and science grades.

Project Lead the Way programs are used in 3,000 classrooms across 50 states and the District of Columbia. PLTW has trained 7,000 teachers 5,000 counselors and currently serves 250,000 students.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Winston Churchill Life Lessons

Henrik Edberg at The Positivity Blog shares some great life lessons from Winston Churchill. I excerpted the key headings; click the link to read more Winston Churchill’s Short Guide to Life: 6 Essential Fundamentals
fundamentals from Churchill on how to improve your life.

1. Focus on what you are doing right now.

‘It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.’

‘It is always wise to look ahead, but difficult to look further than you can see.’
2. Be concerned about action.

‘I never worry about action, but only about inaction’
3. Be an optimist.

‘The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.’

‘Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.’

‘I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.’
4. Be persistent. Don’t give up.

‘Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential’

‘If you’re going through hell, keep going.’
5. Don’t lose the enthusiasm.

‘Success is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.’
6. Remember, most troubles never happen.

‘When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened’

Projector + Magic Wand = Smartboard?


A pretty standard product announcement - two new DLP projectors,

InFocus outs two new DLP projectors for classrooms
InFocus has released two new DLP projectors meant for the business and educational markets with the IN3902 and IN3904. The main difference between the two is the former's native 1024x768 resolution and the latter's 1280x800 resolution.
until you get to the description of the LiteBoard Wand
Shared between the two is compatibility with InFocus' LiteBoard technology, which allows users to interact with the projectors, annotating, appending and highlighting projected content with a wireless remote called the LiteBoard Wand.
If you have or find video of this in action, please share! The ability to present directly from a USB device is pretty cool too.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Very Moving Video from Veterans Day

Taken at Arlington National Cemetery. You can see the outlines of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama near the end - at about 5:09.

Via Swampland -

MS Disputes Copying Mac OS X

Microsoft is disputing the claim - by an employee - that the UI of Windows was copied from Mac OS X. I wonder if they are also disputing the claim - from the same employee - that Windows 7 is more stable than Mac OS X. As the post from Microsoft says, this employee's "comments were inaccurate and uninformed." Memo to Steve Balmer: You gotta get your people under control.

How we really designed the look and feel of Windows 7 - Windows 7 Team Blog
An inaccurate quote has been floating around the Internet today about the design origins of Windows 7 and whether its look and feel was ‘borrowed’ from Mac OS X.  Unfortunately this came from a Microsoft employee who was not involved in any aspect of designing Windows 7. I hate to say this about one of our own, but his comments were inaccurate and uninformed. If you’re interested in learning more about the design of Windows 7, I suggest reading this AP story with Julie Larson-Green as well as these WSJ (membership required) and Fast Company articles. And here is one of many blog posts on the E7 blog discussing the design process of Windows 7.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twitter in Google Wave

Interesting idea a Google Wave extension that provides a single authenticated Twitter account, with access to post for everyone in the wave. Sort of an alternative to using using hashtags at a conference, although less open (have to be in the wave) and could raise some security concerns.
twitter in wave.png

iPhone as an Environmental Monitoring Tool

As more and more add-ons such as this get developed, educators, entrepreneurs - really anyone - will find great utility for an already useful device. Imagine a class of environmental science students in the field, collecting and recording pollution and GPS data.

NASA brings chemical sensor to iPhone:
If you are in need of finding out if there is ammonia, chlorine gas or methane in the air around you, there’s an iPhone app for that. A researcher at NASA's Ames Research Center has developed what NASA calls a proof of concept of new technology that would bring compact, low-cost, low-power, high-speed nanosensor-based chemical sensing capabilities to cell phones.

The device NASA researcher Jing Li developed is about the size of a postage stamp and fits in the iPhone to collect, process, and transmit sensor data, NASA said. The device senses chemicals in the air using a ‘sample jet’ and a multiple-channel silicon-based sensing chip, which consists of 16 nanosensors, and sends detection data to another phone or a computer via telephone communication network or Wi-Fi.

Li along with researchers working under the Cell-All program in the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate developed the app.

Cell-All is designed to provide greater chemical detection capabilities in cell phones. Cell phone owners could use their phone’s GPS to provide sensor location information to emergency operation centers, NASA stated.

Blogger Banned From Campus

Thankfully it's not me ... Quick Takes: Ave Maria Bans Blogger From Campus
Ave Maria University has banned a blogger who has been critical of the university from the campus, The Naples News reported. University officials said that the blogger, Marielena Montesino de Stuart, has demonstrated 'an ongoing and open hostility' to the university, and that as a private institution, it has the right to restrict access to campus. Stuart responded by saying: ‘This is another way in which the university’s administration silences public opinion, which is a violation of our constitutional rights.'

Here Comes WiMax

A nice collection of WiMax-related photos from Flickr. I particularly like the coverage map for Portland.


Photo by hawken king -

Clear Coverage Map.jpg

Photo by Jason McArthur -

Wimax Connected!.jpg

Photo by Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten -


Photo by kawanet -


Photo by ヌンヌン -


Photo by kawanet -

UD01NA を USB で接続してみた.jpg

Photo by kawanet -

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Really Cool Video The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Cool Ad Watch -

Advertising BaseNation by JUL & MAT from JUL & MAT on Vimeo.

MS Claims Windows 7 More Stable Than Mac OS X?

Reader BertJ just left a comment on my post "Microsoft Copied Mac OS X?":

Wait. 7 has registry and it's more stable than FreeBSD with the mach kernel? What am I missing? I just rebooted my Mac Mini that had 21 days of uptime b/c I upgraded to 10.6.2.

I'm with you on this Bert.

Microsoft Copied Mac OS X?

At least that's what Microsoft is saying ...
Microsoft official admits Windows 7 design inspired by Mac OS X
When it looked to redesign its dominant operating system after the struggles of Windows Vista, Microsoft reportedly turned to Apple's Mac OS X for the 'look and feel' of Windows 7.

Simon Aldous, partner group manager with Microsoft, told PCR that the graphical style of Windows 7 -- which he calls 'Vista on steroids' -- was inspired by the look of Apple's Mac OS X. The new Windows operating system launched in October.

'One of the things that people say an awful lot about the Apple Mac is that the OS is fantastic, that it's very graphical and easy to use,' Aldous said. 'What we’ve tried to do with Windows 7 -- whether it's traditional format or in a touch format -- is create a Mac look and feel in terms of graphics. We've significantly improved the graphical user interface, but it's built on that very stable core Vista technology, which is far more stable than the current Mac platform, for instance.'

How Inductors Work

Great video explaining how inductors work.

How inductors work

Clay Shirky on The Social Media Revolution

Great interview with Clay Shirky!

The Social Media Revolution
Here is a great video interview with Clay Shirky (author of Here Comes Everybody) from GRIT TV on how Social Media is changing everything from news and media to business and communication as we know it (this is well worth the 24 minutes):

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Online Distance Learning

Here's a great episode of ATETV that discusses online learning. If you haven't looked at online courses recently, it may be time to reconsider teaching and learning online.

From ATETV Episode 8: Online Distance Learning Brings Education to Students Anywhere

Video of Lawrence Lessig at Educause

Earlier, I posted a quote from Lawrence Lessig's presentation at Educause 2009. Here's video from the presentation. As always, Lessig is impressive, not only in the content of the talk, but also in the presentation style and the visual quality of the slides.

via Cory Doctorow at boingboing

Goodbye Sage on the Stage: Interactive Teaching in Physics

I've been playing with Google Wave lately. A colleague in a "Educators Wave Directory" shared this video with the group/wave - not sure what a wave member should be called. How about surfers!

I've been trying to encourage faculty to move away from the traditional lecture style approach to teaching - the so-called sage on the stage - to an approach more rooted in asking questions, encouraging exploration, and letting the students shape their own learning. It's not easy to do. It's unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and often chaotic. BUT, when it's done well, the results are amazing to watch. Here's a great example of how to transform your teaching style from Physics Professor Eric Mazur. It's interesting that Mazur altered his approach, not because students were doing poorly, but because students were passing exams without understanding the fundamental concepts.

From Questions to Concepts: Interactive Teaching in Physics
How can you engage your students and be sure they are learning the conceptual foundations of a lecture course? In From Questions to Concepts, Harvard University Professor Eric Mazur introduces Peer Instruction and Just-in-Time teaching -- two innovative techniques for lectures that use in-class discussion and immediate feedback to improve student learning. Using these techniques in his innovative undergraduate physics course, Mazur demonstrates how lectures and active learning can be successfully combined.
Photo by mikebaird -

Monday, November 09, 2009

Don't Blame the Internet for Your Loneliness ...

... he typed, alone on his computer.

Americans Are Lonelier, but Don't Blame the Internet, Report Says
Americans tend to have fewer close confidants today than they did two decades ago -- but that isn't because they're all huddled over their computers playing World of Warcraft or reading the Volokh Conspiracy.

A report released Wednesday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests that the Internet and other new communication technologies have, if anything, a modestly positive effect on the size and diversity of people's friendship networks.

The study found that using the Internet is associated with having more, not fewer, intimate friends. And Internet users are generally no less likely than nonusers to maintain face-to-face ties with their neighbors. Bloggers, for example, are 72 percent more likely than the general population to belong to a local voluntary organization.

So the common fear that old-fashioned kinds of social capital will evaporate as people spend more time online doesn't seem to be warranted.

But not all the news in the Pew report is sunny. The authors, who include three scholars at the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg School of Communication, found evidence that Americans' friendship networks have shrunk significantly in the last two decades. The Internet isn't to blame for that trend, the Pew authors say, but the trend seems to be real.

Lawrence Lessig at Educause 2009

'You Geeks Have to Become Radical Militant Activists'
The face of evil, projected 20 feet tall on a screen behind Lawrence Lessig, belonged to Britney Spears.

The face of good belonged to composer John Philip Sousa.

Mr. Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor, was giving a keynote address at Educause 2009. He argued that intellectual property in education had been taken over by an exclusive-rights model represented by Ms. Spears, the pop diva. That model has pushed out another one based on community collaboration—represented by the composer of 'Stars and Stripes Forever,' who longed for music created by neighborhood singalongs.

The 'ecology of education and science,' Mr. Lessig said, is inherently collaborative, and it is being strangled by copyright-law principles based on exclusivity.

It is time to fight back, he told his audience, adding: 'You geeks have to become radical militant activists.' Scientists and educators are busy creating, he continued, so it is up to chief information officers and other information-technology specialists to devise ways to make those creations both legal and widely accessible.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Genius at Work

Wow - this is amazing stuff. As one of the comments says "Absolutely nothing like a deadline to focus your efforts…" Clearly Wright had the entire site plan committed to memory and had worked out the plans in his head. Or maybe it just came to him in those 3 hours ...

Video: Ken Burn’s documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright
Ken Burn’s documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright shows Wright did the actual drawings for the famous Falling Water house in less than three hours!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Digital Forensics

Very cool example of digital forensics applied to a forty-year old iconic photograph.

Andy Plesser: Iconic Lee Harvey Oswald Photo is no Fake, Dartmouth Professor
The backyard photo of Lee Harvey Oswald, holding a rifle and Marxist newspaper, was called a fake by Oswald when he was interrogated by Dallas police after his arrest.

The image had fueled conspiracy theorists who said the image was faked, and pointed tot the unusual shadows.

Now, Dartmouth Professor, Hany Farid, a computer scientist and authority on forensic imaging, has determined definitively that the image is, indeed real.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Silicon Valley Versus Boston’s Route 128

Great piece on Silicon Valley versus Boston's Route 128. I'm particularly interested in how the openness of Silicon Valley spurred growth as the corporate-siloed Route 128 lagged behind. Consider your own professional learning network (PLN) and your interactions with colleagues. How easily do you and your colleagues share information? Does your network - formal or informal - foster openness and innovation or are you trapped in a silo?

The Valley of My Dreams: Why Silicon Valley Left Boston’s Route 128 In The Dust:
In the 1980’s the Silicon Valley and Route 128 looked very similar—a mix of large and small tech firms, world class universities, venture capital, and military funding. If you were betting on one you’d have been wise to bet on Route 128 because of its longer industrial history and proximity to a large number of high quality educational institutions (Harvard, Yale, Brown, MIT, Tufts, Amherst) and proximity to Bell Labs and other large corporate research centers. You remember Bell Labs, right? It’s where the transistor was invented. Now, aside from big biotech breakthroughs, Boston is a distant second nationally to Silicon Valley in technology entrepreneurship. So, what happened to Boston?

A young professor at UC-Berkeley, AnnaLee Saxenian, wrote a book in 1994 which answers this question. At a time when Boston still thought it was the powerhouse of the tech industry, Saxenian declared Boston the loser in the tech race and explained why it would only fall further behind. This book was titled Regional Advantage: Culture and Competition in Silicon Valley and Route 128. It kicked off a firestorm of criticism from the Boston elite. Saxenian also alienated friends at her alma mater, MIT.

She noted that Silicon Valley had an amazing dynamism about it. There were extensive professional networks, job hopping was the norm, information was exchanged openly, and the culture encouraged risk taking. The Silicon Valley ecosystem supported entrepreneurial experimentation and collective learning. In other words, Silicon Valley was a very open network—a giant social networking site working in analog before the concept of such a thing even existed.
[emphasis added - MQ]

This organizational mechanism was in sharp contrast to that of Route 128. Dominated by large, vertically integrated, and secretive minicomputer producers such as DEC, Wang, Prime, and Data General. Technology, skill, and know-how were trapped within the boundaries of the large corporations.

More on DNA in Higher Ed

DNA Swab for Your Job
Many colleges now require criminal background checks of all new employees. But the University of Akron -- in what some experts believe is a first -- is not only requiring a criminal background check, but is stating that new employees must be willing to submit a DNA sample.

The requirement was added quietly and is now receiving attention -- and criticism -- because an adjunct faculty member at Akron quit this week, citing the new rules. 'It's not enough that the university doesn't pay us a living wage, or provide us with health insurance, but now they want to sacrifice the sanctity of our bodies. No,' said Matt Williams, who had been teaching four courses this semester in the communications and continuing education programs.

The new rules at Akron were adopted by the Board of Trustees in August, but most faculty members only learned of them in a recent e-mail list of announcements sent by the university to all employees. The rules state that background checks will be performed on all candidates selected for employment and that all offers will be 'contingent on successful completion' of the check. Further, they state that all applicants 'may be asked to submit a DNA sample.' The rules specifically state that all employees, including faculty members, are covered.

Laura Martinez Massie, spokeswoman for Akron, said that the university would not comment on the resignation of Williams. She also said that to date, the university has not collected DNA and has no plans to do so, but is 'merely reserving the right to do so.'

While some colleges have added background checks or tightened screening procedures in the wake of incidents involving their employees, Akron faculty leaders said that they knew of no recent event involving employees that would have suggested a need for such a policy. 'Any reasoning behind this is known to administrators only,' said Stephen H. Aby, a librarian and professor of bibliography at Akron. Aby is also a past president of the university's chapter of the American Association of University Professors (which represents full-time professors at the university) and has been investigating the issue for the AAUP there.

Many faculty members 'have been taken aback by the sweep and invasiveness' of the policy, Aby said. He added that the AAUP was not consulted in advance, and that some believe that imposing the rules now violates the union's contract. He said faculty members want to know why DNA would be collected, what would happen with the samples and how any information would be used -- and that the policy suggests complete discretion on all such matters would go to the administration.

While Aby said that he and his colleagues are bothered by the DNA requirement on principle, he also thinks it is a strategic mistake for the university.

'If a university adopts such an abhorrent policy, if you are competing for top faculty and these faculty members have options, I can't imagine this would be a good draw,' he said.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Hiring, Higher Ed and DNA

dna_strand_o.jpgYes DNA! UA hasn't collected any DNA yet, but is reserving the right to do so. Making this a requirement of the hiring process could have a real chilling effect on academia.

Is this an isolated incident or a disturbing trend? Imagine a young educator, just out of grad school, with huge student loans. Given the choice of submitting a DNA sample and getting the job versus maintaining their privacy and remaining out of work - which would they choose?

The Daily Dish

In an unprecedented move, the University of Akron is requiring that new employees should be willing to give their DNA to administrators. One adjunct faculty member has already quit over the issue. Scott Jaschik reports:
Laura Martinez Massie, spokeswoman for Akron, said that the university would not comment on the resignation of [Matt] Williams. She also said that to date, the university has not collected DNA and has no plans to do so, but is 'merely reserving the right to do so.'
Declan McCullagh digs deeper:
It's true that the University of Akron's DNA-testing policy isn't designed to weed out potential employees with, say, a gene linked to breast or prostate cancer that could make them more expensive to insure -- which is what [the 2008 Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act's] drafters were most concerned about. Instead, the school's ultimate purpose is the more conventional one of a criminal background check.

That doesn't matter, says Jeremy Gruber, president of the Council for Responsive Genetics in New York City. 'GINA specifically prohibits employers from requesting or requiring genetic information,' Gruber says. [...] Gruber believes that, in theory, there may be a way for the Akron administration to implement its policy in a way that complies with GINA: 'If the university had sufficient handling safeguards to demonstrate that they were collecting biological samples and sending the entire sample on to the federal government for testing without taking any steps to analyze the sample they might not be in violation of GINA.' But, he adds, if the FBI relies on fingerprints for background checks, why is a DNA sample necessary?

Friday, October 30, 2009

High School Dropouts

Wow, that's an amazing number of dropouts per day.

Flypaper: Education reform ideas that stick, from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute


Number of students, on average, who drop out of high school every day.  1.3 million drop out each year.

The Daily Beast: America’s Dropout Crisis

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Turn a Windows 7 Computer Into a WiFi Router

Looks like a great project for my wireless class.

Turn Your Windows 7 Computer Into a WiFi Router In 5 Minutes, Free & No Hardware is a new service we just found out about. They've sussed out how to make any Windows 7 computer into a WiFi hotspot.

Installation is simple. Go to the website, click the big, shiny button, run the .exe file, follow the prompt. You'll then see a Connectify logo in the notification tray. It's party time! Choose a name, set up a password, and click the big, shiny button. Congratulations. You're now a software-based wireless router. It took about five very obvious clicks and was truly so easy a caveman could do it.

Origami Tea Bags

These aren't in production yet, but these would be so cool for entertaining or for gifts.
origami tea.png
(Pic) Origami Tea Bags Designed To Expand As Tea Steeps - PSFK
Russian designer Natalia Ponomareva has developed an origami bird tea bag concept, designed to expand as the tea steeps. While not yet in production, Ponomareva has expressed interest in making the concept available for commercial use.

H1N1 and the Internet

Many colleges have contingency plans to move classes, students, and faculty online should there be a significant H1N1 outbreak. While most consider issues such as ramping up capacity in online learning systems and training more faculty to teach online, I doubt many consider that this crush in online learning could bring the Internet to its' knees.

Shelly Palmer: Government Agency says H1N1 Epidemic Could Strain Broadband Networks
A report released by the US Accountability Office said that if 40% of employees and students were at home sick, there is a high likely hood they will be on the Internet, hence causing broadband congestion. While 40% of the workforce being affected by H1N1 may seem ludicrous, the government agency suggests precautions, like slowing data transfers in order to fuel financial markets and security networks, may be necessary if such a scenario were to happen.

Happy Birthday Internet

arpanet.gifIt's hard to believe the Internet is already 40 years old. Today, as you check your e-mail, tweet, surf, or shop, think back to what the world was like forty years ago, when the Internet was just an idea. Also consider the commitment this country had (40 years ago) to funding research and development in science, technology, engineering, and math. If the collective we (citizens, President Obama, and Congress) could renew that commitment, imagine what the next forty years could bring!

40 Years Ago: The Message that Conceived the Internet | LiveScience
On Oct. 29, 1969, UCLA student Charles Kline sent the first message over the ARPANET, the computer network that later became known as the Internet. Though only the 'l' and 'o' of his message ('login') were successfully transmitted, the interactive exchange ushered in a technological revolution that has — as anyone alive long enough to witness the shift knows — revolutionized human interaction.

'This ARPANET experiment that we're essentially celebrating right now, while it's not the Internet it is certainly one of the foundations of the Internet,' said Vinton Cerf, vice president and Chief Internet Evangelist at Google. Cerf, along with Robert Kahn, Chairman, CEO and President of the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), are considered the fathers of the Internet as they created the so-called TCP/IP protocol that allowed various independent networks to link up to form a network of networks, or the Internet.

That was 40 years ago Thursday, and since then, the ability to communicate with others, share information and just be connected has drawn more than a billion people online. And so the ARPANET, and later the Internet, was both supported by and fostered innate human nature — the need to be social and share information.

'Don't let anyone tell you that information is power,' Cerf told LiveScience in a telephone interview today. 'It's information-sharing that's power.'

photo Courtesy of The Computer Museum Archives

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Chasing the iPhone

John Gruber nails the reason why it's so hard for everyone playing catch-up to the iPhone. Android 2.0, the soon-to-be-released Verizon Droid, and features like turn-by-turn directions in Google Maps should make things interesting. Competition, spawned by the success of the Droid or even the Palm Pre are important for this device category to continue to experience growth and most importantly innovation!

Daring Fireball: Jim Dalrymple on the iPhone Platform
You know who thinks the iPhone 3GS stinks? Steve Jobs. No one is working harder on an ‘iPhone 3GS killer’ than Apple.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Path of a Roomba


This Would Be Perfect for a Roomba Commercial
Well the above, from Signal Theorist, is the Roomba coverage over a half an hour. A camera was setup, the lights were turned off, and the above is a long exposure shot of the Roomba's path. Not bad huh?

We Don't Need No Stinkin' Newspapers

That at least seems to be the general consensus. The Daily Dish
The Boston Globe's circulation is down 18 percent in one year; the San Francisco Chronicle's is down 26 percent. The WSJ is actually stable.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Steve Ballmer on Today Show

Steve Ballmer launches Windows 7 on the Today Show.

IT Trends for the Next 5 Years

Top 10 IT management trends for the next five years
Client virtualization was first on the list. Gartner's other trends are ranked from those that are well under way to the more emerging ones further down. Here are the others:

No. 2: The amount of enterprise data will grow about 650% over the next five years, the vast majority of it unstructured, or not included in any database.


No. 3: Green IT is about efficiency, prompting the business to ask 'how IT runs its shop and what they're spending' on energy.


No. 4: A closely related trend to Green IT is what's called complex resource tracking, which gives you the tools to monitor energy consumption as well as automate energy usage to optimal levels.


No. 5: Companies are beginning to realize that if they don't allow workplace use of Wikis, Twitter, or Facebook, to communicate for business, 'people are going to use it anyways, they'll find a way around it,'


No. 6: Companies are trying to unify as much of their communications as possible, tying in Web communications, social networking and other platforms


No. 7: More and more people are utilizing applications for mobile and wireless applications that are either free or modestly priced.


No. 8: The energy cost of supporting a server will exceed the cost of the server in three years. It is helping to usher a 'build what you need' approach in the data center.


No. 9: Mashups created by users are also something that IT has to manage.


No. 10: Cloud computing, particularly a private cloud, separates users from the technology decision because it turns IT into a set of services.

Friday, October 23, 2009

BGT on the Motorola Droid

Nice preview of the Motorola Droid (on Verizon's network) from the Boy Genius Report.

Motorola Droid Preview

The Motorola CLIQ was a pretty big disappointment for me personally, but oh man does the Droid make up for it. Sure, there’s a little hype sprinkled in because this is the first Android 2.0 device I’ve had the pleasure of using, but once you move past the initial ‘wow’ factor, the Droid really delivers. Whether it’s Verizon’s ad campaign or Motorola’s that pits the Droid against the iPhone it doesn’t matter. The Droid isn’t an iPhone competitor because nothing at this point in time is an iPhone competitor besides the new iPhone. And things don’t have to be right now. Everyone can eat. So will the Motorola Droid be successful? Absolutely, we think. It will eat in to BlackBerry sales, Windows Mobile sales, and positively murder any lingering Palm Pre sales. It’s that good. Did you notice how Verizon still hasn’t announced the BlackBerry Storm2?

We really enjoyed using the Motorola Droid and think you’re going to love it. It’s not as straight forward as an iPhone and  a little more involved than a BlackBerry, but if you’re up for the challenge, so is the Droid.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Charts and Graphs

Personally I love visuals, but here's a great counter-argument against visuals from How I Met Your Mother. An Addiction to Charts and Graphs | FlowingData
Haha, Jason Segel is hilarious. In this episode of How I Met Your Mother Segel's character Marshall has an interesting addiction that I think many FD readers can relate to:

hat-tip to Flowing Data

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The 20 Coolest Jobs in Information Security

The 20 Coolest Jobs in Information Security

  • 01 Information Security Crime Investigator/Forensics Expert
  • 02 System, Network, and/or Web Penetration Tester
  • 03 Forensic Analyst
  • 04 Incident Responder
  • 05 Security Architect
  • 06 Malware Analyst
  • 07 Network Security Engineer
  • 08 Security Analyst
  • 09 Computer Crime Investigator
  • 10 CISO/ISO or Director of Security
  • 11 Application Penetration Tester
  • 12 Security Operations Center Analyst
  • 13 Prosecutor Specializing in Information Security Crime
  • 14 Technical Director and Deputy CISO
  • 15 Intrusion Analyst
  • 16 Vulnerability Researcher/ Exploit Developer
  • 17 Security Auditor
  • 18 Security-savvy Software Developer
  • 19 Security Maven in an Application Developer Organization
  • 20 Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Analyst/Manager

Education as Milk

Interesting quote from Jeb Bush - former Governor of Florida. I think the idea is a bit simplistic and impractical when applied to education - in a class of 30 you can't give everyone their own 'flavor.' In spite of that, I do think it leads to some interesting and maybe provocative thoughts and discussions.

Jeb Bush on education and milk
‘You can get flavored milk — chocolate, strawberry or vanilla — that doesn’t even taste like milk,’ he said. ‘Most of the time, there is a whole other refrigerator case dedicated to milk alternatives — like soy milk, almond milk and rice milk. They even make milk for people who can’t drink milk.’

‘Who would have ever thought you could improve upon milk? Yet, freedom, innovation and competition found a way.’

Via Joanne Jacobs

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Monday, October 05, 2009

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sunday, September 27, 2009

China Goes Green - What Are We Waiting For?

Great piece from Tom Friedman in today's New York Times.

The New Sputnik
Most people would assume that 20 years from now when historians look back at 2008-09, they will conclude that the most important thing to happen in this period was the Great Recession. I’d hold off on that. If we can continue stumbling out of this economic crisis, I believe future historians may well conclude that the most important thing to happen in the last 18 months was that Red China decided to become Green China.

Yes, China’s leaders have decided to go green — out of necessity because too many of their people can’t breathe, can’t swim, can’t fish, can’t farm and can’t drink thanks to pollution from its coal- and oil-based manufacturing growth engine. And, therefore, unless China powers its development with cleaner energy systems, and more knowledge-intensive businesses without smokestacks, China will die of its own development.

I believe this Chinese decision to go green is the 21st-century equivalent of the Soviet Union’s 1957 launch of Sputnik — the world’s first Earth-orbiting satellite. That launch stunned us, convinced President Eisenhower that the U.S. was falling behind in missile technology and spurred America to make massive investments in science, education, infrastructure and networking — one eventual byproduct of which was the Internet.

Unfortunately, we’re still not racing. It’s like Sputnik went up and we think it’s just a shooting star. Instead of a strategic response, too many of our politicians are still trapped in their own dumb-as-we-wanna-be bubble, where we’re always No. 1, and where the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, having sold its soul to the old coal and oil industries, uses its influence to prevent Congress from passing legislation to really spur renewables. Hat’s off to the courageous chairman of Pacific Gas and Electric, Peter Darbee, who last week announced that his huge California power company was quitting the chamber because of its ‘obstructionist tactics.’ All shareholders in America should ask their C.E.O.’s why they still belong to the chamber.

China’s leaders, mostly engineers, wasted little time debating global warming. They know the Tibetan glaciers that feed their major rivers are melting. But they also know that even if climate change were a hoax, the demand for clean, renewable power is going to soar as we add an estimated 2.5 billion people to the planet by 2050, many of whom will want to live high-energy lifestyles. In that world, E.T. — or energy technology — will be as big as I.T., and China intends to be a big E.T. player.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Borders Books Educator Appreciation Week


via Lynne Wolters

Working on Commission

Are you ready for this future?

Seth's Blog: Everyone gets paid on commission

The Washington Post recently laid off a columnist because his blog posts didn't get enough web traffic.

Of course, in the old days, the newspaper had no real way to tell which columns got read and which ones didn't. So journalists were lulled into the sense that it didn't really matter. The Times quotes Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU, ‘It’s an unusual public rationale for serious newspaper people, that’s for sure.’

Wrong tense. It's not going to be unusual for long.

In fact, in a digital world where everything can be measured, we all work on commission.

Computer Science Humor

Building on the technology humor meme started today with Physics Humor.

Other People’s Responses to the fact that I am a Computer Science Major « GraphJam: Music and Pop Culture in Charts and Graphs. Let us explain them.

New Microsoft Tablet

You might have missed this weeks' product announcement from Microsoft, stealing a little thunder from the Apple tablet rumormill. Interesting concept - will be great if they can pull it off.

Physics Humor

this isn't happiness.™ Peter Nidzgorski, tumblr

The Idiot Box

Does this picture from the explain why U.S. STEM1 students are lagging behind their counterparts in other developed countries?

The idiot box

1 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Watching the Leaves

If you enjoy watching the leaves chage color here's a site to track the progress in northeast.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Ostrich Egg

How many people would this feed?

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

War Driving on the iPhone

Very cool WiFi app for the iPhone.

Here's the radar view:

and the lust view:

You can view access point details -

Even find free wifi

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, September 21, 2009

Teaching Scientists and Engineers Entrepreneurship

Here's a great article from BusinessWeek, that details Duke University's efforts to integrate concepts in business and entrepreneurship into their science and engineering programs. Many community colleges have centers for and programs in entrepreneurship. While Duke's PhD+ sounds like a great idea, I think teaching entrepreneurship is something we should be doing at every level (two-year, four-year, masters, PhD, and maybe even HS) and in every program. Imagine architects, interior designers, programmers, network administrators, writing, journalism - virtually any discipline - to setup their own virtual shop to market and sell their services.

Turning Research into Inventions and Jobs
Another hindrance to commercialization of science: Very few scientists are equipped to go into business. They do not know the difference between an S Corp and an LLC. They don't know how to navigate a state or local permitting bureaucracy. And few have a clue about marketing or managing company finances in a way that could withstand an intense audit.

These mismatches ensure that stunning amounts of stellar science remains tucked in the lab forever.

If we want to create jobs, we must first train scientists how to start companies. Tom Katsouleas, dean of Duke University's engineering school, has a potential solution, called PhD+. For PhDs who wish to start companies and have marketable technologies, Katsouleas proposes that the federal government provide funding for training in entrepreneurship to teach the lab geeks how to get along better in the startup world.

The program offered by Duke goes even further than training and education in business, but also provides an incubator, seed funding, lab space, as well as connections to venture capitalists and successful entrepreneurs.
Here's how PhD+ would work. Marketing, finance, HR, and product development would all be taught to chemists, physicists, and computer science students and professors enrolled in the program. Scientists who successfully run a gauntlet of these courses would then graduate into an incubator program that matches them with successful company founders or senior executives in their field as well as top-notch providers of the professional services required to launch a science-based company. The scientists would also get a nominal amount of seed funding as well as lab space and other basic ingredients to help them achieve critical mass and bring their concept close enough to product stage to interest venture capitalists or angel investors.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Ask Donna: How Do We Improve Computer Science’s Image?

Donna Milgram fields a great question from one of her readers. Like Donna, I think it would be great if some of the high-tech companies would step up and promote Computer Science careers to women and girls.

I wonder how that happens with a dearth of women in leadership positions in any of these companies. The only high-profile women I can think of are Marissa Mayer of Google, Yahoo's Carol Bartz, Carly Fiorina - formerly of Lucent and HP, and Meg Whitman, former CEO of eBay. These are just of the top of my head, so I might be missing some, but also notice that two of the four are no longer at their companies and a third (Carol Bartz) is dealing with a difficult situation at Yahoo - embattled doesn't quite describe it. So maybe a better question - How do we get more girls and women into the boardrooms of our high-tech firms?

Question/Answer: How Do We Improve Computer Science’s Image?
Question from Wechie’s Comment of 8/21: There seems to be hundreds of separate initiatives to encourage girls to study computer science but there remains an image problem. How can we get an industry wide campaign going to improve the image of computing?

Donna: Yes, Wechie you are correct, there is a huge image problem. American Association of University Women’s Study, Tech Savvy: Educating Girls in the New Computer Age (2000) which you can download for free, documents the image problem among girls and many other studies have gone on to replicate these findings.

I would like to see one of the major computer giants – such as Apple or Electronic Arts – use their marketing savvy and department to team with a nonprofit (such as us) to develop a multi-media marketing campaign (YouTube, facebook, TV commercials, Posters) that could create a more positive image of computer science for women and girls (and men!).

Math Humor


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Did You Know 4.0

Did You Know 4.0:
XPLANE is happy to present Did You Know 4.0 — another official update to the original ‘Shift Happens’ video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist.

As Garr Reynolds mentions over at Presentation Zen this morning, yes, this project was created with ‘off-the-shelf slideware’ (Keynote and GarageBand, actually, along with Photoshop and Illustrator). Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Design and development by XPLANE.

For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit The Economist’s Media Convergence conference site at, or stop by for all things Did You Know.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Do You Trust Your IT Staff?

IT Manager Worked at U. of Georgia While Facing Felony Charges
An information-technology manager at the University of Georgia who had access to students’ personal information worked in the registrar’s office for nearly a year after he faced felony theft-by-deception charges related to his data-handling position at a different organization. [What happened to checking references? - MQ]

William Ora Mullen pleaded guilty to those charges and accepted a 10-year prison sentence on April 28 – the same day he gave a letter of resignation to the university. The letter gave May 12 as his final day of employment.

But the university didn’t learn of the charges until May 6, when Mr. Mullen told the university’s office of legal affairs about them, said Tom Jackson, the university’s vice president of public affairs.

Mr. Mullen, who had access to sensitive information like students’ Social Security numbers, was immediately denied access to campus servers on that day. His passwords were also changed. Still, he remained employed by the university until May 12. Mr. Jackson said most of those days were ‘logged as sick days.’

The charges against Mr. Mullen, who was hired by the university on March 5, 2008, were brought by a former employer, Habersham Metal Products, where he was also an IT manager. He was responsible for purchasing, managing the company’s servers, and strategic planning, according to an article in the university’s student newspaper, the Red and Black.

Mr. Mullen was accused of creating a fake company called Rappaccini-Ga. to quietly obtain company products and payments ‘by deceitful means,’ according to court documents, between August 2005 and March 31, 2008 – including several weeks after he began work at the University of Georgia.

Since Mr. Mullen’s resignation, the university has run two audits of its servers – one by the university’s IT department and one by internal auditing — but neither showed evidence of any foul play, Mr. Jackson said.
[Why no external audit? - MQ]

‘We found nothing to indicate that those files had been transferred, although we can’t say for certain that he doesn’t have them,’ Mr. Jackson said".

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

What Makes a Good Boss?

Is your boss a good leader? Review this list of 18 characteristics - how does you boss score?

8 Characteristics of a Good Team Leader

  • ready to go to bat for the team
  • presents team needs to organization and organizational needs to team
Focused on Organizational Effectiveness:

  • balances people and work
  • keeps ‘productivity’ and ‘quality’ to the forefront
Grooms ‘replacements’:

  • shares leadership role
  • creates leaders
Good communicator

  • willing to listen
  • able to express

  • pursuer of progress
  • and developer of people
Creates positive expectancy.

  • sets high expectation levels
  • sets and expects high standards
Models expected behaviours:

  • consensus decision-making
  • risk-taking
  • empowering
Able to deal with problem team members:

  • creative problem-solving
  • coaching
  • power to remove

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Enrollment Management

Johns Hopkins problems illustrate how difficult enrollment management really is. Even a school as well-resourced as JHU struggles with it.
With families strapped for money and financial aid harder to come by, pricey private colleges were expecting a lot fewer undergraduate students this fall. Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore was so sure of this that it decided to accept more students than usual. Turns out, the school's estimate was way off and it's now scrambling to accommodate the extra students.

Is Academic Credit Worth the Money?

Joanne Jacobs links to a really interesting experiment in free learning. Particularly interesting is the no-cost study abroad program. I think initially, most employers will resist hiring prospects with knowledge, but no degree or academic credit. In time, employers will figure out how to assess these potential employees and hire them.

If I needed a python programmer, I would gladly consider a kid who learned to program through self-study and free online courses. The challenge for academics such as myself will be to make the case for what value academic credit and a degree add to a students' credentials. As self-study and free online courses become more mainstream and accepted, making that case will become more and more difficult.

Free learning: Yes to Romanian, no to physics
Josh Dean of Popular Science tried out free, no-credit online courses to see if he could actually educate himself. The answer: Yes to Romanian and Kitchen Chemistry (why cooking works), no to physics and biology.

His Free Online School Rules:

  1. You get what you pay for. ‘Free’ means no asking questions in the middle of class, which can be a dealbreaker with a subject as potentially confusing as physics.
  2. That said, it might help if you actually buy the textbook.
  3. Free online learning is not going to teach you anything substantial overnight, or in a week (unless you are Rain Man, in which case you’re just memorizing anyway). Plan to do a whole course.
  4. There are few things better than hot bread made with your own two hands, especially when you understand the science of why it’s so delicious.
  5. We are at the beginning of this experiment, not the end.

Dean tells the tale of two recent college grads who’ve designed a no-cost study abroad program using MIT’s OpenCourseWare. Ann Nguyen and Alison Cole will work on environmental engineering projects in India, while ‘using the syllabi from MIT OCW’s courses in ground hydrology, soil behavior and aquatic chemistry to construct a program that will study arid-land restoration.’ They’ll run up no grad-school debt, but they’ll also acquire no academic credits. Will future employers be impressed? That remains to be seen.


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