About Me

Education, the knowledge society, the global market all connected through technology and cross-cultural communication skills are I am all about. I hope through this blog to both guide others and travel myself across disciplines, borders, theories, languages, and cultures in order to create connections to knowledge around the world. I teach at the University level in the areas of Business, Language, Communication, and Technology.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

No child left behind, but the teaching profession trashed

Imagine being an oncologist or hospice healthcare provider and being told that you will be evaluated on how many patients die. If many die, you will be fired.

What does this have to do with education? Well, according to NPR, the president wants to extend no child left behind legislation and to include a provision for states to develop ways to evaluate teachers.

Let's begin with the NCLB. This was legislation that, while good intentioned, changed our educational system from one of creativity, innovation, and critical thinking to one of testing and numbers. As long as your children "pass the test", they have been educated. Likewise, students that can't pass the test are not educated. As a college professor, I can't tell you how many of my students have high SAT scores, test well, and yet flounder in my class. My teaching style is strong on analysis (many have not been taught how to analyze, come to their own conclusions, support their analysis, and--where they really fail--convince others of their ideas). In fact, some of my brightest students have entered college using an alternative method (starting non-matriculated, excelling in their profession and then going back to college, or community college first) when they did not "test" well.

In 1968, France was finally pushed to move from an educational system that tested from the cradle as it was found to be ineffective and unfair. It put too much stress on young children and made education elitist so that those with the means would rise to the top. How many innovations do you think came out of France in the 1960's. How many innovations came out of the US from the educational system many felt was too "touchy/feely" (think of the high tech industry and when those innovators were educated in the 1960's, 70's and early 80's)?

If NCLB is passed, however, (which will be the only way states can get federal dollars for education), the new provision for teacher evaluation will go into place. Which leads me to wonder where politicians have been for the last century. Have you never heard of teaching licenses? How is this different than a doctor's license? If a teacher has been found guilty of an impropriety, their license is taken away!!!!!!!!!!!! So why must we now put an additional "benchmark" on teachers? Children are people, just like patients are people. Some people die because they are sick and no medicine will help them. This does not mean that healthcare providers aren't trying to make them well. Likewise, some students will not achieve the lofty learning goals especially when a child may not have hit the maturity to reach those goals or they are dealing with issues such as malnutrition, poor healthcare, and lack of housing. This does not mean they will not make progress, just that they won't achieve the "benchmarks" outlined by politicians that know nothing about child development (or poverty or homelessness for the most part).

On the surface, this evaluation sounds good (again, why do we need it when we have licenses). However, in NY state, the teacher's union, administrators, and general public negotiated a formula in which test scores were included but did not amount to a major percentage. The board of regents, which overseas educational policy in NY, totally ignored this and set their own policy putting a substantial weight on test scores.

So why would I want to be teacher in NY state? Teachers in NY state make less than stockbrokers, nurses, lawyers, engineers, and many entertainers, yet they are responsible for raising our children, many times from before age 5 and after age 16, the required legal age for children to attend school in the US. They currently are required to have 2 masters in order to teach high school (one in their subject area and one in education) along with 200 hours every two years in additional training. They are not allowed by law to strike so many times they are forced to work without a contract. They are, in essence, powerless. And yet, when there is a raise in taxes, the teacher's union is blamed for the cost of education. How can that be? Isn't it possible that it is the unfunded mandates that push up the price of education?

It is time that we start looking at our society and stop trashing the profession of education. We have mechanisms in place (licensing requirements) that should be enforced for teachers that are not working. I don't always agree with my daughter's teachers, and I need to negotiate/speak to them to understand the situation. There does not need to be law for that. Please repeal NCLB and stop "evaluating" teachers who are evaluated on a daily basis by administrators, colleagues, parents, and students.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Curating, filtering, and increasing traffic

This week, my computer mediated communication class will be looking at filtering and curating, and the impact these have on traffic to sites. So with that in mind, I decided to write a brief primer on these topics.

Defining curating and filtering

My understanding of curating is the identification and categorization of resources. In the context of computer mediated communication, curating can be done by individuals for their own purposes, creating their own categories that work for their own personal uses and learning. I use curating in a number of ways: resources for classes, resources for my research interests, resources to share with family and friends on common interests, conversation starters.

Online, I use a number of tools and processes. My main tool over the past 5 years has been delicious.com. This program allowed me to access online resources from one of the three computers or 4 or 5 locations in which I work. In class, I am able to access websites for my class by going to sites tagged for the class (i.e. ACOM 203). I then can choose the resource that is relevant for the class and the lesson I want to teach for that day. I have instant access to the resource (as long as my internet connection works), which was not possible without the computer.

Filtering, on the other hand is keeping out information that may not be relevant or meet my needs. Like curating, it is focused on identifying resources. However, filtering is a way to avoid information overload. The key to filtering is finding the correct way to search for resources (i.e. the ideal key word, the correct network to access) and choosing those resources that meet my needs. This requires an ability to skim resources, identify their authors/purpose, and evaluate content.

Increasing traffic

The purpose for most who are active on the internet is to increase traffic. For example, organizations want customers to read their blogs, bloggers want increased traffic to their blogs, individuals want their youtube videos to "go viral", those on twitter want to build their followers. The more traffic to a site, the greater legitimacy it is given in cyberspace.

In the past, "experts" decided on what was relevant and who should have access to resources. With CMC, popular content becomes "expert" resources. If someone is able to access the computer, they are able to produce a resource that may be perceived as "expert."

Tools for increasing traffic

So it is important for anyone involved in computer mediated communication to know, understand, and use tools that will increase traffic. Some of these tools include:

  • labels, tags, and key words: people who look for resources using search engines input key words.  Blogs, facebook, photos, videos, and even webpages usually have the ability to identify their pages on the internet by using labels or tags.  It is important to use tags or labels that your audience will use for their searches.

  • Hashtags: twitter and a growing number of social networking programs use hashtages (a # followed by a keyword identifying a group or category, i.e. #ualbany, #running, #curating).  Related to this is the @ sign which identifies an author, as on twitter.  @comprof1 would identify anyone who wrote about me using my twitter name.

  • Links: using links to other sites that might increase traffic (i.e. from "experts" in the field or reporting agencies) can sometimes increase traffic.  Some of these sites have employees that track the links and either ask for the link to be removed (if they feel it is ruining their image) or may use a back channel (backlink) to the post/resource.

  • Using multiple channels: Whenever I blog, these days, I post to twitter the topic and the fact that I have posted something.  Some also use this when they upload a new video on YouTube or link the video onto their facebook page.  The more channels used to publicize a resource, the greater exposure to new potential traffic sources.  Related to this is that the greater the traffic in a concentrated time slot, the better the chance that the resource will be picked up in search engines or "highlights" in the social network programs like linkedin or blogger. Related to this is having various channels available for spreading the resources, e.g. facebook or twitter buttons on a blog, automatic updates on linkedin when you tweet something, or "most popular" posts or videos listed on a blog.

  • Commenting on others blogs, youtube videos, and/or facebook. The more visible a user is the greater the chance the user will be "checked" out by others.

  • Filtering and curating tools

    In addition to hashtags, tags, and labels, filtering and curating tools may include:

    Favorite: By identifying something as a favorite, others may access the resources or a resource may be retrieved for future use

    Page counts Programs such as google analytics or stat counter allow your page's statistics to be shown on your internet page (i.e. blog, webpage). This not only allows you to identify your audience, but also allows your audience to identify how "popular" your page is and where your audience is located.

    Ratings: By allowing others to rate your content, you are allowing for a review process from the public. Beware, however, that this might result in negative as well as positive traffic. Likewise, the ability to remove negative comments will aid in decreasing negative feedback that could be detrimental to building up traffic, but may also make curating and filtering less valuable.

    Notes and descriptions: Putting the resources into context helps to contextualize lists. Programs such as sticky notes, one note, google docs, and delicious not only help to identify resources, but also allow for evaluation of resources and explanations/links within categories.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    Developing networks, readers, and interaction online

    In my Computer Mediated Communication class, we currently are looking at the affordances of online communication technologies and how they affect communication. As part of the class, I had my students try out different technologies for 3 categories of CMC affordances: Broadcasting, interaction, and networking.

    Broadcasting is the ability to deliver a message to a large group of people, usually including information. Interaction is the ability to have communication between more than two people. The purpose of interaction is to transfer information, give and receive feedback, and create shared meaning. Networking can be broken into two parts, 1) developing a network and 2) accessing a network to find information, create common or shared meaning, and/or to problem solve with others (crowd sourcing).

    In many cases, students would try out the same technology, such as twitter or facebook, but using it slightly different so they could determine the affordance of that technology for a particular purpose. I then had them reflex on the experience and answer a series of questions about communicating for those affordances. Below is a summary of what I feel are necessary for effectively broadcasting, interacting, and networking online.

    The questions

    I had my students fill out a form to answer the following questions for each category of affordance (e.g. attributes for broadcasting, attributes for interacting online, attributes for networking).

    1. Technology: What attributes should you be looking for when choosing technology?

    2. What information do you need to know about the audience?

    3. What guidance will your audience need to communicate with you effectively?

    4. What training or experience will employees need to use the technology effectively?

    5. What time constraints will the technology impose? Users? Audience?

    6. What resistance or potential problems may impede communication?

    7. What is the purpose of communication?


    The most important aspect of CMC in broadcasting is to know the audience. In choosing technology, it is important to know where your target audience will go to get the type of message you want to convey to them. One good resource is an infographic that ad-age put together (found on aging online) on how different generations consume technology, broken down by technology, time of the day, and age groups.

    One important aspect of CMC for broadcasting is to have a feedback mechanism to insure that the message you intended is the message that was received to the targeted audience. Using a tool like google analytics or any other web page collection code is important to ensure who is seeing the message, how they got to your site, where they went while on your site, etc...

    Interactive CMC

    Just like broadcasting, online interaction is dependent upon the audience. However, choice of media and the level of familiarity that an audience has with the technology you are planning to use becomes more important. One of the observations my students and I made when they used different interactive technologies was the level of frustration a technology created when they were not sure how to use it. In addition, technology that had instant guidance built in (through prompts, online support) resulted in more communication.

    For example, I noticed that most of my students asked me at some point in time how they were supposed to use Prezi, the online group editing feature providing interaction with their classmates. Even though they could find that out through training videos available on Prezi, they did not take the opportunity to do so because it was too time consuming and less frustrating getting direction from a person. One reason for this was the time constraint they were working under in class. However, another factor was their preference to ask targeted questions rather than having to find the answer on their own by filtering a lot of information.

    Another aspect of interaction is the understanding of the communication protocols used by a technology community. I found, for example, that my students were much more comfortable interacting on facebook (on which many of my students were members) rather than twitter. Even those that had twitter accounts that they used on a regular basis felt uncomfortable "interacting" on twitter. Once they were shown some of the features (i.e. retweet, reply) and communication protocols (i.e. use of hashtags, search) they began to interact more on twitter.


    While many of the Millenniums are comfortable with social networks, if you asked them to explain how to create a social network or communicate in one, most would not be able to explain them. As I have told my students, in our class, we are looking at ways to improve and "manipulate" networks to maximize its use, especially in a professional setting.

    Creating networks requires an understanding of who is in your network and how you can maximize the social net outside of your own network. Communication in networks is based on "what can be" or potential help. This requires getting to know and trust members of your network before you need them. It also means being aware of who can help you when.

    The second part of the networking is to actually access those within your network when you need them. This may require interaction, the ability to create a ripple effect (getting those within your network to access their network), and planning out your communication in a more strategic way. For example, my students were asked to find out information from their networks on Linkedin, twitter, and facebook. Many of them were well versed in using their facebook networks, but not as familiar with twitter or linkedin. Identifying those within their network that could answer their question or who had access to experts was important. So was feedback from the network. In some cases, my students had the answers but did not know how to access the locations of those answers (i.e. twitter mentions or searches using hashtags). Likewise, some of them tried so share their answers but others did not see them.

    Student evaluation of CMC tools

    In the weeks to come, hopefully my students and I will be adding to our insight on CMC. You can help by looking at their reviews of online tools and how they affect communication.


    Van Den Dam, R. (2010). How social media is redefining broadcasting. Broadcast Engineering, May 1. Available at: http://broadcastengineering.com/production/social-media-redefining-broadcasting-0510/index2.html

    Alcatel-Lucient White Paper (2011)New communication behaviours in a Web 2.0 world — Changes, challenges and opportunities in the era of the Information Revolution. Available at: http://enterprise.alcatel-lucent.com/private/active_docs/Communication%20Behavior%20in%20a%20Web2%200%20World_ALU.pdf

    Boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). "Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. Available at Library in eholdings database.

    TECHNOLOGY SPHDC (2011) Exploring the potentials of computer mediated communication (blog post). Available at: http://www.sphdc.com/exploring-the-potentials-of-computer-mediated-communication.html

    Sunday, September 18, 2011

    A traditional model of organizational knowledge creation

    Unfortunately, I still haven't figured out how to include my word graphics into blogger and since I don't have a lot of time to figure it out, it will just have to be left out of this post. I have included in the references a bibliography of all of the references used in my literature review (of which I have posted most of it over the last couple of months.

    The Traditional Model

    The traditional model used by organizational learning theorists begins with the depth of knowledge. This can further be linked to depth of knowledge being greater as it is internalized (Yaklief, 2010), as exhibit 2 illustrates. Most literature distinguishes between content knowledge, which is held outside of the individual; competency, which is usually identified as tacit knowledge developed through interaction with a worker’s or organization’s context and environment; and expertise, which is performance based. The greater the level of internalization of knowledge, the greater perceived depth of knowledge (Allee, 1999; Herling, 2000; Yaklief, 2010). Information becomes content when there is a situation to apply it (Nonaka, 1999, Yaklief, 2010), but does not require a depth of understanding to access or transfer. Competency, as discussed earlier, requires experience to understand and develop skills that become tacit knowledge. Although explicit understanding may not be necessary, the ability to apply information to action requires a greater depth of understanding, than the simple transfer of information from one person to another. Expertise requires both an understanding of the environment and the context of information for knowledge to be applied effectively and efficiently (Herling). This understanding requires a deep understanding of the information so that knowledge can be recreated and negotiated depending on the social and cognitive requirements of the situation.

    The second variable often used in organizational knowledge creation is the location of knowledge and the work processes that create knowledge. There are 4 locations often used: the individual, intragroup, intergroup, and organizational. Knowledge can be created by the individual through reflection or developed through interaction at the intra- or inter-group levels. Once created, individual, groups, departments, or the organization can control the dissemination and access to a larger number of people. As exhibit 3 illustrates, the larger the group to control and store knowledge and determine processes to create that the knowledge, the more distant knowledge is from the individual. This has implications for agency and ownership as knowledge that is created by and for the organization may be perceived as being owned by the organization (Ende & Lungsford, 2001).

    Based on these two variables, a traditional model of how organizations perceive knowledge and knowledge creation can be developed (exhibit 4). Current organizational learning and knowledge literature identify and categorize 12 different types of knowledge depending on the location in which the knowledge is created and the depth of knowledge. These categories include: Resume and portfolio of work, credentials and degrees (including licensing), performance standards, group documentation, group processes, group outcomes, information processing, interdepartmental collaboration, specialization, institutional or organizational memory, organizational learning or training, and knowledge management.

    Individual content knowledge: Resume and portfolio of work
    . Unlike formal schooling, individual content knowledge is not necessarily assessed through testing (Diaz, et al, 1999). As mentioned previously, content knowledge is explicit. Therefore, there needs to be some mechanism to access it, measure it, transfer its use, and, in some cases, store and retrieve it. One way in which individual content knowledge is evaluated is through a list of knowledge, as found on resumes, and/or through an individual’s artifacts that are created in the workplace. These artifacts can be represented using a portfolio of work which the individual provides as evidence of their knowledge. An individual takes personal ownership of this work and the resume, using it to demonstrate his or her content knowledge.
    Sometimes this content knowledge is transferred in the form of presentations, interviews, or workplace dialog. However, even this mode of communicating content knowledge is often backed up with resumes and work artifacts such as reports, products, and work records.

    Individual competency: Credentials, degrees, and licenses: Unlike individual content knowledge, individual competency has an element of skill, understanding of processes, and situated application of content all of which indicates tacit workplace knowledge. While individual content knowledge can be listed on a resume and demonstrated using workplace artifacts, tacit knowledge is more difficult to represent as it is not explicit. In the workplace, therefore, minimum tacit knowledge (or competency) is often expressed using credentials (such as work experience), degrees, and licenses or certification. These credentials not only imply a level of content knowledge, but also a certain level of experience and understanding in the application of the content.

    It is important to note that the level of competency is based on the types and combination of credentials, degrees, and licenses for a particular situation which indicates the level of internalization of the content. For example, a graduate with an associate’s degree in accounting may be competent for recording inventory, but not creating a company’s tax return. The implication is that the degree does not include sufficient experience to create a tax return. However, that same graduate with a CPA indicates additional work experience which would allow for greater tacit knowledge and understanding of the environment to enable he or she to create a tax return. The certification represents tacit knowledge that the degree on a resume or a filled out tax return (artifact) alone would indicate (content knowledge) which would make a professional qualified to apply content to multiple situations.

    Individual expertise: Performance standards: Building on individual competence, performance standards valuate different competencies and the level of knowledge created through individual experience (Allee, 1999; Herling, 2000). While performance standards may be developed externally, these standards attempt to measure the level of internalization or expertise of an individual. In other words, they try to quantify the level of understanding and apprehensive knowledge of the worker. The focus of performance standards is on the application of content and the ability to negotiate understanding within multiple environments and contexts. There is an understanding that while the environment and contexts change, the outcomes (performance standards) will be constant. As a result, an individual will need to be able to adapt to the environment and context (creating and recreating knowledge to do so) in order to achieve consistent outcomes. To be successful, therefore, an expert will need to have a deeper understanding of the content, work processes, and social structure of the environment in which performance standards will be used to valuate the individual’s work.

    Intragroup content knowledge
    : documentation: Within a group, the content that the group uses and produces is represented through group documents such as reports, memos, agendas, and correspondence within the group. This documentation can then be used to store and transfer knowledge created by the group to those outside of the group, either physically located in another place, located temporally in a different space, or occupying a different social sphere.

    Not all individual members of the group may have the same interpretation or level of understanding of the content. Through group filtering and curating, documents become a record of the group’s content knowledge or shared cognition (Cannon-Bower & Salas, 2001). The content located outside of the individual’s knowledge and understanding becomes the property of the group, representing explicit knowledge that the group can agree upon (Ede & Lundsford, 2001).

    Intragroup competency: group process: Through the negotiation of group processes and interaction between members of the group, group norms and mental models are created (Boland & Tenkas, 1995; Conceicao, Heitor, & Veloso, 2003; Jehn & Mannix, 2001; Mohammed & Dumville, 2001; Moreland & Levine, 2001) which then become the basis for evaluating the group’s competency. While individual members may have differing levels of competency, the group must be able to work collaboratively to achieve group norms and defined level of competency. The group process becomes the structure within which content and tacit knowledge, in the form of expected levels of application of the content, are defined. It also becomes a tangible representation of tacit knowledge for both group members and those outside of the group (Conceicao, Heitor, & Veloso, 2003; Yaklief, 2002).

    Intragroup expertise: group outcomes: At the group level, group outcomes measure the performance of the group as a whole, rather than individual members. The ability for the group to apply their shared cognition towards a problem or dynamic environment requires more than individual expertise, but rather a shared expertise created through group interaction and knowledge creation (Herling, 2000; Yaklief, 2010). While a group
    may have members with expertise, the group outcomes indict how well expertise is used in creating and applying collective knowledge within the group. The greater the mutual interpretation of the content and processes within the context of the group work, the greater the level of group knowledge created and the more efficient group outcomes, according to organizational management literature (Allee, 1997; Jehn & Mannix, 2001; Mohammed & Dumville, 2001; Moreland & Levine, 2001). The main difference between group process and group outcomes is the level of performance, as group outcomes valuates the group process. In other words, group processes create a shared mental model and group outcomes valuates the level in which those processes have been internalized by the group to create efficient and effective work practices.

    Intergroup content knowledge: Information processing: Content knowledge between groups requires the storage and transfer of information that other groups can access and interpret within their own contexts. Information lies outside of the context in which it was developed (Nonaka, 1994; Yaklief, 2010), thus it is not necessarily knowledge until it is processed by the group(s) using it for their own context. Access to the information is dependent upon the individual group(s) making their own content and information available and the individual group(s) accessing and processing the information for their own context based upon their perception that the information will be relevant for their own needs.

    Intergroup competency: Interdepartmental collaboration/conflict: While many groups create their own norms within which they are working, often they are unaware of these norms until they are exposed to other groups (Hagtvet & Wold, 2003; McGrath et al., 2000; Moreland & Levine, 2001). Interaction between groups can result in cognitive dissonance which may result in the redefining and/or realignment of norms and meaning (McGrath et al; Mohammed & Dumville, 2001). Cognitive dissonance can be the result of differences in tacit knowledge, in which groups have differing understandings based on apprehensive knowledge which cannot be identified. The resolution of the dissonance creates norms and new perspectives which in turn may result in the creation of comprehensive, tacit, and new content knowledge.

    Without interdepartmental collaboration or conflict, individual groups lack the opportunity to reinterpret intergroup content and negotiate meaning. Content from other groups may be transferred, but interpreted using the norms and discourse created within their group. This limits cognitive dissonance and perspective taking which contributes to knowledge creation and deeper understanding of the content.

    Intergroup expertise: Specialization: As groups develop their identity in relation to other groups, performance standards are established based on intergroup negotiation (Mc Grath, et al, 2000). This negotiated identity can be termed specialization, which then translates into negotiated performance standards. In order to maintain the group’s identity in relation to the other groups, a group needs to continually perform at the expected level or renegotiate/realign intergroup expectations. As a result, specialization is not a stagnant concept, but rather a dynamic renegotiation/realignment. This requires the creation of new knowledge and the ability to apply content and processes to a changing environment, as well as the ability to understand social and cognitive factors impacting the work environment.

    Organizational content knowledge: Organizational or institutional memory: Organizational or institutional memory is storage of information perceived as being owned by the organization which members can access when needed. The interpretation, valuation, and use of the information is dictated by the organization, even though individuals and groups may have a different interpretation that deviates from the official organizational memory. The organizational interpretation becomes static knowledge that can be stored for use by those who were not even a part of the organization when the knowledge was created. In addition, the interpretation of the organizational knowledge can be reinterpreted to align with the organizational culture as time and distance require.

    Organizational competency: Organizational learning or training: Organizational competency is the minimum standards of organizational behavior in which knowledge is embedded in the cultural routines and processes developed through training and learning. Through the establishment of organizational culture and behavioral expectations, individuals develop tacit knowledge which then helps to shape cultural and behavioral expectations (Brandt, 1992). As a result, learning and training at the organizational level establishes work processes and an organizational culture which helps to capture and structure tacit knowledge at the organizational level (Cook & Yanow, 1995).

    Organizational expertise: Knowledge management: Most knowledge management literature identifies knowledge management as the ability to access knowledge embedded in the organization (Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne, 2003; Cook & Brown, 1999; Cook & Yanow, 1995; Nonaka, 1994). The deeper knowledge is embedded and the broader that knowledge is distributed within an organization, the greater the level of internalization of knowledge at the organizational level. This means that knowledge is not held by just one person to be lost when that person (or group of people) leave the organization. Likewise, the ability to access and share information through dialog, work practices, and development of shared organizational culture allows the organization to create synergy that goes beyond any individual’s level of understanding. This knowledge (especially in knowledge based industries) becomes the organization’s product. As a result, the management of knowledge becomes more than access to embedded knowledge; it becomes the organization’s identity.


    Using this model as a starting point, it is important that any study on collaborative workplace writing looks at the different types of knowledge that are being used to accomplish the writing task. These types of knowledge include tacit, explicit, collective (or organizational), individual, social/relational, and cognitive. Because this study begins with the premise that knowledge is constructed, dynamic, and influenced by both social, political, and cognitive factors, it is important that the study be conducted in authentic or natural occurring context. It is equally important that the context in which the collaborative writing project takes place is studied in order to situate the creation of knowledge within the various levels that knowledge creation can take place; namely the individual, group, departmental, and organizational levels.

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    Friday, September 9, 2011

    Categorizing and identifying CMC tools

    Computer Mediated Communication does not exist in a vacuum. CMC consists of both the tools of communication (apps, software, equipment) and the process of communication (sending and receiving of messages). It is important, therefore, to try to distinguish how different tools affect communication. A starting point for this blog should be how to make distinctions and analyze a specific tool's affordances.

    One framework that can be used is to distinguish between Web 1.0, 2.0, and 3.0.. While the web 1.0 (emails, webpages, static content) and web 2.0 (blogs, social networking sites) definitions are fairly consistent, the definition for web 3.0 is still in the evolution phase. For some, web 3.0 is the semantic web in which the control of content is based on the computer program which gathers information from the user and customizes it. For others, web 3.0 is the portability of information that can be found, collected, and recreated it multiple sites. One thing that all agree upon is that the web 3.0 is dynamic and restructures data to customize its use by the end user.

    Another way to assess the affordance of CMC is to use the categories created by Herring (2007). This consists of two different sets of factors: medium and situation. The medium factors describe the possibilities of a tool (app, software, equipment) whereas the situation describes how a tool might be applied.

    A good example of this is facebook. Facebook was originally created as a secure spot in which college students could interact with each other to create a social space. However, others found this secure place to be useful in other ways. Schools/teachers used it as a learning space in which students could keep up with work, share ideas outside of class, and link to resources. Teenagers used facebook to keep in contact with friends outside of school, meet new people both within their school and out, and to keep up with tends and happenings. Businesses began to use facebook to interact with customers and provide customized information to be broadcasted through a network of targeted audiences. The tool itself, the medium, had standard attributes. However, how that tool was used was situated, resulting in different uses of the medium for different situations.

    In the weeks to come, students will identify the medium and situate it in their own experience. They may also identify whether a tool falls into the Web 1.0, 2.0, or 3.0 categories.


    Herring, S. (Classification) (2007) A Faceted Classification Scheme for Computer-Mediated Discourse. Language@Internet (4). Available at http://www.languageatinternet.de/articles/2007/761/index_html/

    EPN (2008) Evolution Web 1.0, Web 2.0 to Web 3.0 (video clip on YouTube). Available at:

    Nonprofitorgs (2010). Web 1.0, Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 Simplified for Nonprofits. Available at: http://nonprofitorgs.wordpress.com/2010/01/28/web-1-0-web-2-0-and-web-3-0-simplified-for-nonprofits/

    Friday, September 2, 2011

    A new student blog

    My class is writing a blog on computer mediated communication and technology. Check it out in the weeks to come. My first post to introduce the blog is here.

    Monday, August 8, 2011

    Expertise, competency, and content

    Three terms, expertise, competency, and content, are used interchangeably with knowledge, especially in the context of workplace learning and training. However, they may have multiple meanings depending on the theoretical constructs of the research. Therefore, it is important to discuss and define each of these terms as they relate to knowledge.

    Content Knowledge

    The traditional form of knowledge often is referred to as content knowledge. This is knowledge that can be possessed (Nonaka, 1994), as “what is known, or the corpus of knowledge that does not belong to any particular individual or context (Yakhlef, 2010, p.39).” Knowledge of content can be measured, identified (especially lack of content knowledge), and/or recorded and stored for use by those who would not ordinarily have access to the knowledge. As a result, content knowledge can also be abstracted for use by those that have never required a particular content knowledge, nor have had access to an environment or situation that required that content (Yakhlef, 2010). For example, a teacher in a rural area without access to internet service may not have access or use of learning management system (LMS) software. He or she may learn about the software, how to use it by using reading a textbook, or even receive some hands on training away from his or her classroom. However, he or she would be prepared on how to use the software should his or her school install the software, and be able to formulate ways in which to use the software in his or her teaching should the opportunity arise, without ever having to use the LMS.

    Because of the ease in measuring content knowledge, most training and professional education focus on transferring content knowledge at the individual, group, and organizational level (Cook & Yanow, 1995; Yakhlef, 2002; Yakhlef, 2010). However, with the advent of the internet, for an individual to possess content knowledge is not as important as for an individual to be able to access and know how to use content knowledge. In other words, individuals need to have skills and experience to use content knowledge efficiently and effectively. This is then known as competence (Herling, 2000; Yaklief, 2010). Content knowledge without competency means an individual may have difficulty performing his or her work or changing his or her behavior as the situation requires (Herling, 2000; Laufer & Glick, 1998).


    Herling (2000) defines competence as “an ability to do something satisfactory-not necessarily outstandingly or even well, but rather to a minimum level of acceptable performance (p.9).” At the organizational level, the competency model of management is based on the identifiable skill sets needed to efficiently perform required work and the overall capacity among workers. Organizations need to identify skill sets, gaps in the skill sets, potential problems due to the gaps, and ways to manage/train so that the organization can perform efficiently (Herling, 2000; Sanghi, 2007). Training to develop competency may include interdepartamental cross-training, interaction with experts to develop performance expectations, guided practice, and the opportunity to engage in dialectic reflection (i.e. negotiating meaning with others) (Goodwin, 1994; Herling, 2000; Laufer & Glick, 1998; Sanghi, 2007;Yaklief, 2010). Content knowledge plays a part in competency training in that trainees must first either have the content knowledge or access to content knowledge in order to develop the skills that lead to perforance which demonstrates competency.


    Much has been written about organizational expertise, especially in the context of differences between the expert and novice. One common theme is that expertise requires a depth of understanding based on experience. An expert not only knows what (content knowledge) and how (competency), but also why and when to use knowledge (Allee, 1997). This requires a certain level of tacit knowledge about the domain and/or environment in which the application of knowledge is required (Sternberg & Horvath, 1999). Expertise requires the translation of content knowledge into practice, applying knowledge to the environment, problem, and/or situation, modifying content through discursive processes (Laufer & Glick, 1998;Yahlief, 2010).

    Although researchers may not agree upon the order, many differentiate generalized expertise and specialized expertise. Specialized expertise is knowledge that comes from experience and learning within a specific domain, such as aerospace or endocrinology within the engineering and medical professions. Through focused interaction with the environment, professional artifacts, and other professionals within a community of practice, in-depth specialized understanding is created (Herling, 2000; Sternberg & Horvath, 1999; Yaklief, 2010). This specialized understanding often is then converted into content that can be disseminated back into the community of practice or to outsiders (who may then be interested in joining the specialized community of practice). While an individual may have a specialization, expertise requires knowledge within the domain that the community recognizes as important. Without the social acceptance of the specialization, there is no expertise.

    Disseminating Content, Competency, and Expertise in the Workplace

    Generalized expertise can either be developed through application of a specialized expertise across domains (Herling, 2000) or through a deep understanding of the domain as a whole, within multiple specializations within that domain linked together to create general expertise (Allee, 1997; Herling, 2000). Herling defines expertise as “displayed behavior within a specialized domain and/or related domain in the form of consistently demonstrated actions of an individual that are both optimally efficient in their execution and effective in their results (p.20).” He bases this definition on three componants required for expertise: knowledge, experience, and problem solving. In this case, knowledge is equivilent to content knowledge.

    For this paper, we will differentiate expertise from competence and content knowledge through the depth of knowledge and understanding. Content knowledge can be defined as the information and explicit knowledge that can be stored, accessed, possessed and translated/abstracted outside of the situation/environment in which it was created. Content knowledge is static and is minimally impacted through social interaction except through the social valuation of the content knowledge. In other words, if the content knowledge is not identified as being valuable it may be lost, and if it has perceived exceptional value, it may be controled. Competency can be defined as the minimum skills and understanding of processes needed to effiently perform tasks within a given environment or situation. This requires tacit knowledge to conform to the situational and environmental requirements that impact performance. Expertise can be defined as a depth of understanding through experience, content knowledge, skills, and discoursive interaction with multiple settings, artifacts, and others. Expertise is dynamic in that knowledge and understanding is constantly changing as deeper meaning is developed through interaction.

    A person who is perceived as having expertise and the ability to apply that expertise to varying, yet specific situations is an expert. Herling contends that an individual first specializes, using specialized content knowledge. Eventually, the competency in the specialized field will be added to an individual’s overall general knowledge moving an individual from competent to an expert in a specialized area to a generalized expert. However, as discussed above, some individuals may first have competency in a domain, then develop a general knowledge about that domain learning about different componants of the domain, then develop various specialties within the domain to understand the socio-cognitive aspects of the domain. As a result, new content knowledge is developed to give a deeper understanding of the domain.

    Knowledge can then be desiminated through a group, department, or organization. Content knowledge is accessed by an individual, group, department, or even organization (in the form of training materials). Through interaction (both social and cognitive) with the environment and the content competency is developed. The longer that one performs competently in a dynamic environment (such as the workplace) the more expertise is developed. This expertise is then captured through artifacts such as finished products, reports, discussion, curriculum, and training which then can be desiminated to novices, in which the process begins again. Knowledge creation, therefore, is a dynamic process, rather than the static form that content knowledge represents (Allee, 1999; Cook & Yanow, 1995; Herling, 2000; Sanghi, 2007; Yaklief, 2010)


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    Thursday, July 28, 2011

    Organizational learning theories

    My dissertation not only looks at distributed group collaboration, but also how that effects organizational learning. The following is my discussion on organizational learning, including how I differentiate knowledge management from organizational learning.

    Organizational Learning Theories

    There are two prevailing schools of learning theory at the organizational level. The first is based on the idea of organizational knowledge management in which knowledge is codified into information which the organization and individuals can access, monitor, acquire, and store (Allee, 1997; Contu & Willmott, 2003; Raelin, 2008). Similar to Kolb’s (1980) apprehensive and comprehensive knowledge, this school of organizational learning theorizes that the process of codification creates knowledge which can be stored and accessed for use when needed by those within the organization (Raelin; Yakhlef, 2002). Organizational knowledge then becomes the aggregate of individuals’ knowledge and experience (Allee, 1997; Cook & Yanow, 1995). As Raelin describes DiBella, Nevis, and Gould’s three-step approach to organizational learning from a knowledge management perspective, knowledge is acquired, shared, and utilized by members of the organization. Rouwette and Vennix (2008) describe the information processing approach used within knowledge management which includes attention to identification of problems, encoding information so group members create shared meaning, store information perceived as valuable which creates organizational memory, create informational retrieval processes, create workspace processes that support organizational culture, and create communication structures that support sense-making and feedback from individuals and groups within the organization.

    Knowledge management based theories of organizational learning begins with codified knowledge that can be retrieved and stored from members of the organization (Cook & Brown, 1999, Nonaka, 1994). For knowledge to be useful, therefore, individuals need to be able to transform tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Knowledge that cannot be codified would not be useful to the organization as knowledge would not be able to be retrieved and stored for use by others within the organization. As a result, organizational processes need to be structured so that tacit information can be transformed into codified knowledge thus resulting in organizational learning. Using Anderson’s ACT cognitive model, Nonaka explains, “declarative knowledge has to be transformed into procedural knowledge in order for cognitive skills to develop…it can be argued that transformation is bidirectional (p. 18).” In other words, codified knowledge needs to be in a form that fits into organizational procedures, but also organizational procedures can produce knowledge that then needs to be codified for organizational use.

    My working definition of knowledge management is the access, monitoring, acquisition, and storage of organizational information which is codified into a common format in order for those within the organization to participate in sense-making, group decision making and problem solving, and the creation of shared mental models at the group, departmental, and organizational level. While organizational learning may need to access some forms of knowledge management, organizational learning is not synonymous with knowledge management. In addition, not all organizational learning requires knowledge management, although knowledge management might augment organizational learning.

    The second school of organizational learning theory is based on organizational members’ social and cultural interaction with the environment, often through the establishment of communities of practice within the workplace (Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne, 2003; Cook & Brown, 1999; Cook & Yanow, 1995; Nonaka, 1994). Those within this school of organizational learning believe that learning within the organization is not based on individuals possessing needed knowledge, but rather learning is a construction of knowledge within the organizational environment. Cook and Yanow go one step further by placing learning into the organizational culture which establishes patterns of activity that create knowledge. They define organizational learning as, “acquiring, sustaining or changing of intersubjective meaning and/or the artifactual vehicles of their expression and transmission, through the collective actions of the group (p.280).” In other words, it is the interaction with the environment, stimulated through organizational practices such as collaborative writing, project management, and both formal and informal group discussions that create organizational learning opportunities. These work activities, both cognitive and social, create both tacit and explicit knowledge through social interaction and the organization of work patterns (Cook & Brown, 1999).

    Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne (2003) further define the organizational learning process as “ a social process mediated by artifacts. This view thus emphasizes the importance of culture, communication, and group activities in organizations (p. 843).” While the first model presented above (knowledge management) assumes that knowledge is created and possessed at the individual level and is then dispersed collectively at the group and organizational level, this second model (constructed knowledge) theorizes that there are different types of knowledge created at each level (individual, group, and organizational). Organizational learning, therefore, is influenced by the social environment, organizational culture, and work patterns that are the result of political influences within the organization’s powerstructure (Akgun, Lynn, & Byrne, 2003; Cook & Yanow, 1995; Nonaka, 1994). As a result, not all organizational knowledge can be culled and transferred to others within the organization (often through training) because the knowledge is imbedded in organizational practices and culture.

    Both Cook (1995, 1999) and Nonaka (1994) concluded that there is implicit or tacit knowledge that is created within the confines of organizational boundaries. Looking at work patterns in various industries, they both concluded that knowledge is created through perspective taking, meaning making, and dialog necessitated when there was dissonance or differences in understanding within the work patterns. Perspective, meaning, and the form that communication takes are dictated by culture. In this study, we will use Cook & Yanow’s definition of culture:
    We define culture in application to organizations as a set of values, beliefs, and meanings, together with the artifacts of their expression and transmission (such as myths, symbols, metaphors, rituals and ritual objects), that are created. Inherited, shared, and transmitted within one group of people (p. 388).”

    Therefore, those who adhere to the second theory of organizational learning would conclude that organizational learning is bounded by organizational values, beliefs, and meaning, and transmitted and stored using organizational forms, formats, and processes that create the myths, symbols, metaphors, rituals, and ritual objects that become organizational artifacts representing the organizational culture. As a result, knowledge that is embedded within the organizational culture, would change when used outside of the environment in which it was created. Knowledge, therefore, can be dynamic as its affordance is dynamic (Cook & Brown, 1999).

    The second theory of organizational learning has broader implications as knowledge could be created and transmitted both formally and informally. In the knowledge management perspective of organizational learning, knowledge is viewed as something that can be stagnate and captured for others outside of the culture and environment in which it was created. In the constructed perspective of organizational learning, knowledge may be converted from implicit to explicit formats, but any knowledge captured would need to be modified (or recreated) for a specific environment. As such, the process of knowledge creation could be learned, but the content would change depending on the environment.

    Organizational learning is distinguishable from knowledge management. Organizational learning may not result in operational or behavioral changes at the individual, group, or even organizational level, and as such may be difficult to measure. In fact, Cook & Yanow (1995) give examples in which organizational learning may make subgroups or individuals less productive. Rather, organizational learning is the interaction that results in deeper knowledge and understanding at the organizational level. For this study, I will use Cook & Yanow’s definition of organizational learning:
    The acquiring, sustaining or changing of intersubjective meanings and/or the artifactual vehicles of their expression and transmission, through the collective actions of the group.


    Akgun, A., Lynn, G., & Byrne, J. (2003). Organizational learning: A socio-cognitive framework. Human Relations, 56 (7), 839-868.

    Allee, V. (1997). The Knowledge Evolution. Newton, MA: Butterworth-Heinemann.

    Contu, A. & Willmott, H. (2003). Re-embedding situatedness: The importance of power relations in learning theory. Organizational Science (2003) 14 (3), 283-296.

    Cook, S. & Brown, J. (1999). Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational knowing. Organization Science, 10 (4), 381-400.

    Cook, S & Yanow, D. (1993). Culture and organizational learning. Journal of Management Inquiry, 2 (4), 373-390.

    Kolb, D. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as a the source of learning and development. Englewood-Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc.

    Nonaka, I (1994). A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organization Science, 5(1), 14-37.

    Raelin, J. (2008). Work-Based Learning. San Fransisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

    Yakhlef, A. (2002). Towards a discursive approach to organisational knowledge formation. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 18, 319-339.

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011

    Nuts and Bolts of twitter

    So I now have been using twitter for almost 4 weeks now. And there are some nuts and bolts that I would have liked to have known before I started. This post is meant for those that don't use twitter (or use it regularly). Anyone who is more experienced than I am, please feel free to add on insight or tips in the comments area.

    Retweet, mentions, and favorites

    It took a while for me to figure out these options. I could intuitively figure out WHAT retweet was. However, unlike the "reply" option, retweet just rebroadcasts without comments. However, I wasn't sure WHY you would use this. After using twitter for a while, I figured out how most people use this.

    Each person has their own social network which is slightly different than anothers. Retweets allows you to pass information (or questions) on to those that may not have access to all of those within your social network. In other words, it helps to broadcast your comments/questions to a wider audience. I saw this happen when I posted a question to those who were studying for a Phd who had children, how they found time for thinking. This was then picked up by a group studying for their phd (#phdchat) and soon I had a lot of answers.

    An alternative to just clicking on the Retweet button is to mark a tweet with RT (retweet). This allows you to comment on the retweet and not just pass on the information. For example, if you had a particularly good link in a tweet that you think a group would be interested in you cut and paste the tweet, starting with RT, then put a comment or hash tag to identify why this is important.

    This brings me to the third way you can bring attention to someone else's tweet: the hashtag. The hashtag begins with a # and identifies a group or topic which others might be interested in. For example, many who are tweeting at conferences will use an agreed upon hashtag to identify all tweets having to do with that conference. You can then search for all tweets using that hashtag. This is how the Phdchat group identifies its members.

    Another option tweeters have is to engage in a dialog about a topic. You do this through the reply button (if you move the cursor over the comment it will come up on the menu below). The reply will then be saved as an exchange. You can have a long chat just by using the reply. It took me a while to figure how to access the dialog and sometimes I lost the thread of interaction or missed others contribution to the dialog until I found the feature that allows you to see contributions to a thread through the reply button. In the upper right hand corner of the tweet is an open comment icon (the type you see in the comic strips). If you click on that or the little arrow that pops up, you'll get the dialog that includes all people that contributed the discussion.

    Finally, you might find something that you feel is very important and want to save for the future. This is when the "favorite" button comes into play. I was marking things as favorite, but then wondered how to retrieve it. So I tweeted to my followers and got the answer back immediately (this is one of the things that useful in twitter: immediate answers from your network). Go to profile (menu up at the very top, next to "home") and click on favorites. Those tweets you marked as favorites will be listed. This comes in handy when you want to "bookmark" favorite resources.

    Communicating Using Twitter

    Twitter was originally designed for mobile technology. As such, a tweet is limited to 140 characters. For those, like myself, who are used to writing rather long sentences/comments, this can be challenging. Over the last 4 weeks, I have found that I need to think differently when writing for twitter. In fact, I think one reason that twitter is popular among businesses, but not academics is because of the writing style.

    So here are some hints for writing for twitter:

    1) Use truncated words when possible (i.e. U, R, 4, b/c, w/, etc...). Learn the tx spch such as RT commonly used in twitter. I find that most people use their own forms of abbreviation. Research has found that English speakers can decipher words as long as there is the initial and final sounds spelt out.

    2) Simplify your words. Use "hard" rather than "challenging". I feel that I have gone back to my business writing roots when using twitter. Most academics are used to using large words and complex sentence structures. Twitter requires that you use direct sentence structures and words.

    3)Learn to write without punctuation (unless lack of punctuation will make it difficult to understand your tweet) and spaces. Most of us learned that you have two spaces after a period. This is at least one less character you will have for your tweet.

    4) Twitter has a new ability to shorten your links' url. It used to be that you would need to use an outside ap (tinyurl was the most popular). Twitter now automatically shortens the link so you have more characters to explain what the link is to.

    As I mentioned above, these are only some of the suggestions I have from 4 weeks of being a twitter user. Please add any suggestions you have in the comments section.

    Thursday, July 7, 2011

    What creativity, time, and interest can produce

    I have often felt that the current focus in the US system has lost is creativity. As China focuses their research on moving to a more creative system, the US has moved to "standardizing" which kills creativity. Pushes in creativity within the educational system has resulted (usually after a lag time) of great prosperity. This can be seen in the 60's and the 90's.

    This spring and summer, my daughter had more time on her hands. She also attends a school that is 100% project based learning. One of the unexpected results of project based learning is the increase in creativity. The initial focus of the school was to improve STEM education. However, where students excel on standardized tests was English and History. Why? I believe it is because these topics allow for greater levels of creativity within the testing assessments. However, STEM needs personnel that have a high level of creativity.

    With this in mind I began to think of what conditions are needed (and that her school includes in their curriculum, including STEM). If STEM assessments began to include creativity in their assessment, teaching within STEM would need to change. So what would need to be included? In looking at the work my daughter has done over the last 3 months, I would say that creativity needs time (to try things out), interest (see Dr. Margaret Haviland's post on project based learning to see how to integrate student choice into the curriculum), and student accountability/self direction.


    My daughter set a goal to get on the dance team at her dance school despite the fact that she did not know how to tap dance. She taught herself how to tap using YouTube and spending three hours a night a week before tryouts practicing. When she got stuck, she would ask me (6 years of tap). She used both online tools and personal experts to help her to learn something that was needed to achieve a personal goal she set. Part of the goal setting was due to her school, as was finding resources to achieve that goal. However, the other part was time (she did this during a week off from school) and passion (not for tap, but for dance in general).

    During the month of May, my daughter finally found herself with time on her hands as school work was winding down and she no longer had any extra curricular activities (plays, dance). She took this time to play around with audacity, a program she had learned about school. She has been very focused this year on developing her music skills, both in her piano/keyboarding skills and singing. She spent hours putting recording her singing and putting together harmonies. This was the result:

    The entire piece is her voice (6 tracks) that she figured out and recorded on her own.

    Finally, again using a combination of YouTube and experts, my daughter has taught herself to sing. Again, this is something that she takes seriously and wants to be able to do without hurting her voice. She has acquaintances who have lost their voice (as teens) because of improper use.

    Sunday, June 26, 2011

    The end of the school year in New York State

    I know that I have a number of readers of this blog from New York state. However, many are from outside of the state and the country. I am always interested in the blogs that I read, about learning what their end of school year is like. So I decided to write a "cultural" piece about how students (at all levels of education) end their school year in our state. Interestingly, it has not changed much since I was a child (in the dark ages of the '70's and my mother assures me it was much the same when she was a kid in the '40's).

    Our school year starts late (first week of September, just after labor day or the first Monday of Sept.) and ends late (third week in June). In addition to finals, high school students take the regents exams, which goes back as far as my mother's time. Regents exams are curriculum based topical standardized exams (i.e. algebra, geometry, living environment, foreign language, world history, english, etc...). These exams are given usually the second and third week of June which is why our school year is so long.

    At the grade school level, the last week of school usually has a number of half days involved. Students help the teachers pack up the classroom, have some fun activities such as school field day (outdoor activities and games), school picnic, or other community building activities. This is also when the kids get the assignment for the summer (usually summer reading requirements).

    At the university level, most schools end in Mid-May. There is usually the end of classes the first week of May, followed by a "reading day" in which students can study for exams. Exams may be anywhere from 4-10 days depending on the university. The weeks leading up to the end of the semester, students start looking for summer or permanent jobs. Even during finals week, many students go home, returning their possessions they use during the year to their homes or moving into off-campus housing (for the following year) and/or looking for summer jobs. This year was especially hard for our region to find summer jobs as many of the chronically unemployed and senior citizens now work the traditional summer jobs year round so temporary part-time employment is not available. As a result, many college students are working retail and camp jobs, often the jobs taken by high school students.

    After finals week, there is usually a week of activities for graduating students culminating in the graduation ceremonies.

    High school students don't graduate (for the most part) until the third week of June. Often, high school seniors are done with their regents exams so most seniors are finished with school by the first week of June. Between exams and graduation, seniors take their class trip, attend their senior prom (formal dance for those outside of the US), participate in College orientations/registration (although this may happen throughout the summer) if they are attending college or begin job training (for those going to work right out of high school). For those with jobs (which I mentioned is low this year) they begin to work a full-time shift.

    After the graduation ceremonies, either the day or weekend of, or during the summer, most students have graduation parties. These parties can either be elaborate (rented hall) to simple (family in the backyard) or anywhere in between (combined with others, at a park, etc...). Usually, the students receives cash to use in college or to establish themselves (i.e. deposit on an apartment) if they are going to be working full-time. Throughout the summer, graduates will attend parties for their friends. My son has 2-4 parties a weekend, every weekend until he leaves for college in August.

    Interestingly enough, college graduation usually does not result in a big party. It is high school graduation which is considered the important milestone. The other important milestone (though not as much as high school graduation) is the transition from Middle School to High School. Often there is a middle school graduation, at the end of the school year. Most people I know have a small family party to mark the middle school graduation, but more often than not, this is celebrated by going out to dinner. Some schools also have a formal dance, but often that is the private schools rather than public schools.

    Once the school year is over, many families take a vacation. Depending on the year, the end of the school year might fall close to the end of June which allows for an extended vacation over the 4th of July holiday. At any rate, most people in New York take their vacations the end of June, or first week of July or during the week before Labor Day (the end of August). Most camps start right after July 4 and do until the first or second week of August.

    So how does this compare to the end of the year for where you are? I'd be interested in knowing what some of the rituals are for others outside of NY state.

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Mobile Technology: An instructor's viewpoint

    I was a member of a panel at a recent CDETG conference on Mobile Technology. CDTEG is a group of people interested in integrating technology at the higher ed level. The group, started by a classmate of mine, is comprised of instructional designers, members of ITS, employees of educational technology developers, professors and instructors, and administrators/Educational Technology policy makers in upstate/northeastern New York state. The organization is set up to create a dialog and share information about issues around educational technology at the university level.

    This last meeting was on mobile technology, something that I have noticed is a growing trend in my classes. I thought it might be useful for my readers to read about some of the take aways from the conference that I will be including in my teaching this year.

    1) One of the first speakers was a project manager for an online syllabus developer, Itellidemia. I had never thought of the mechanics behind mobile technology (partly because I don't use apps on any of my own mobile technology...my phone is just that: a phone, not access to the internet). However, since many of my students use their phones and pads/tablets as their access to the internet, it is important that I understand the technical requirements behind apps.

    2) There are two different types of apps: read only and interactive. As the presentation by the project manager at Intellidemia and the ITS programming team from the College of St. Rose explained, Native Apps are those that are designed to work with a specific device. For example, St. Rose developed an interactive registration app where students could check on the status of a class during registration, and be put on a waitlist to be notified via their phone when a seat opened up. This required customization between the different phone types (i.e. droid, blackberry, iphone). The other type of app is a read only which means that the app is webbased in which a phone can access the web for information but cannot interact/change information. Student notifications of events or class cancellations used this technology for mobile technology. An instructor or administrator would need to access the site via a computer or Mac, and once the information was changed, a mobile technology formatted version would be available to students via their mobile device. Technologically, this is a lot easier for ITS departments to program, but it also means less customization and interaction.

    3) Students need intrinsic motivation to use apps and mobile devises educationally. In my own experience, (this was part of my presentation), you can offer alternatives that students can access mobilely, but ultimately it is up to the student to decide which tool (if any) they want to use or will engage them. For example, I had a very interesting program I assigned, that students could down load onto the ipod or watch using their laptop. I thought students would prefer this to reading a boring article about the same topic. However, about half of the students did not do the assignment. Some students just preferred to read rather than watch a video on line.

    Our discussion at CDETG concluded that not all students like to use technology to learn, nor do they have access to mobile technologies that will interact with the material. So it is important to provide alternatives for students. One affordance that mobile technology allows is different means of access depending on student preference for learning.

    4) Often, instructors are unaware of the opportunities/affordances of new technology. Also, because of the wide range of technologies and limited time faculty have, there is resistance to changing or adopting new technology. It is important, therefore, to identify faculty members that might be interested in integrating new technology into their teaching and use them for pilot programs.

    Empire State College (I was a member of their adjunct faculty at the advent of online learning) does a good job of getting their faculty to use new technology by choosing volunteers they will train and support during pilot projects, then getting the faculty to recruit colleagues who become interested when they see what can be done with the new technology. They used this format in mobile technology, drawing faculty from education, business, science, and humanity departments. Each faculty member created a pilot program for their own course, which was then assessed by the ITS department. The results were disseminated during the required annual training sessions. Having concrete goals and outcomes for the pilot programs helped convince faculty members that there was a role in education for mobile technology.

    5) A major consideration for faculty is that they don't have time to learn all of the possible apps or different types of mobile technology available for their students. The group concluded that a faculty member does not need to know how specific devises work or what apps are available. Rather, they need to know what technology can do and have their students find specific apps or instructions on how their particular devise works.

    Among the affordances instructors and instructional designers need to consider are a) how the technology will be used (read only or interactive), b) formatting so that it will be accessible to mobile devises (i.e. format is narrow and/or in small chunks so it will be easy to find read on a smaller mobile device), c) why the technology will be accessed mobily, d) when (in what context such as class, homework, administrative updates, etc...) mobile devises will be used to access course content/activities, e)support available to the student and faculty in developing mobile content (level of ITS support, support from the devise or app).

    In my own teaching, I know integrate mobile technology into my classes by sending students out of the classroom to work on activities and keeping in touch with them as I (and other students) stay in the classroom. I also allow student to access resources through their mobile devises on certain activities. Sometimes I will have them begin without their mobile devices, then allow them later in an activity to access the devices.

    This summer, I am trying to learn more about mobile devices and technology that interact with it. This is one of the reasons why I am playing around with twitter (yes, I plan to send students out of the class room and use twitter to communicate with them). One tool I am going to try out is a create-your-own app site recommended at the conference.

    Related blog: The Instructional Design Guy