Friday, June 18, 2010

Where is the Media?

Today, our class spoke via video conference to Julie Lindsay from the Flat Classroom Project. I feel that I've begun to use the word "inspirational" too much in my class blogs, but once again, I found myself moved by what I heard. In addition to hearing Julie talk about her experiences with the program, we viewed video created by students from around the world who shared stories in their own words of what their lives are like. We also saw examples of how students across the globe were working together, learning more about each other and perhaps developing friendships and respect for their differences.

Like many projects, Julie shared that the program started small, a conversation between the students of two colleagues who had the same view of the world. It has since grown into something that should be celebrated. As I listened in awe to what is taking place, I wondered why this program is relatively unknown outside of the educational community. Where is the media coverage of something this transformational and important to the world? The story needs to be told.

Image from Microsoft Office clipart collection

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Virtual Worlds - Exciting or Lonely Places?

Yesterday, our class visited Second Life and I'm still struggling to resolve what I think about it. The technology behind it is certainly remarkable and the locations built by others are imaginative and enjoyable to navigate. In addition to entertainment, there are sites that are very educational. I enjoyed my travels there with my avatar and found myself lost in the experience, not even hearing the conversation going on around me. Yet, while I can't explain why, the experience also seemed lonely and empty. While fascinated, I wasn't quite comfortable being there.

I plan to visit again to explore and try to resolve these thoughts. I also plan to think through practical applications of Second Life in higher education, academic as well as business (i.e., admission process). What has been your experience with exploring virtual worlds? Can you offer me your insight?

Photo from Personal Library

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Improving the Quality of Life through Technology

This morning, our cohort visited with the President of Virtual Interactive Families to learn more about their web-based interactive system that brings families together. As their web site reads:

“We are Virtual Interactive Families dedicated to improving quality of life and strengthening the family unit…even in our days of a mobile society. Distance is not a problem. You can still read the bedtime story, join the birthday party, collaborate with a colleague, or deliver training from a distance. Our service allows families and loved ones to stay connected through their own Internet-based page, created for you at the time of membership purchase. It allows you to connect with others from a distance in real time audio and video. Only one party needs the membership---you invite others to be your guests. Our specialty is providing senior care and housing organizations with connections so your residents do not feel isolated…..”

I found the mission and goals of the company inspirational. It is not often that you hear about bringing technology to the elderly to improve their quality of life! Very admirable.

The video conferencing system was well thought out from a technical standpoint. It can be accessed from a browser with no need for additional software or plug-ins. The system uses standard IP ports, making it compatible with most firewall configurations. The encryption feature also allows the system to be used in business or medical settings where security and confidentiality are required. The quality of video was quite sharp, with the user interface easy to navigate.

Thanks to Virtual Interactive Families for a thought provoking and inspirational visit!

Image obtained from the Microsoft Clip Art Gallery

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Web 2.0 - Questions and a Plan .....

Today's on-site EIT class was terrific. The information being presented continues to be exciting and it was great fun to officially meet my fellow students, whom in many ways I was already getting to know through their posts and online dialogue. One of the highlights of the day was listening to CoolCatTeacher. Her mastery of web 2.0, her communication style and her obvious talent as an educator was impressive and inspiring.

As the day progressed and the class worked through tools and strategies, I couldn't help but think of potential implementations for the organizations that I am affiliated with. After years of experience delivering on-site technologies, web 2.0 and cloud computing adds a completely new dimension for me to consider. As always, new possibilities come with new questions and challenges to work through. Some of the questions currently racing through my mind include: What are appropriate and acceptable uses in a business environment? What are the criteria for determining what qualifies for cloud computing and what doesn't? What are the legal implications of storing data off-site and do service provides offer the protection necessary for compliance?

Being the (uncontrollable?) planner that I am, here is the beginning of my high-level strategy to answer these questions and to start the implementation process.....

  1. Create a Personal Learning Network (PLN) to begin researching, discovering and reaching out to learn how others are implementing these technologies in the same environment.
  2. Gain experience with web 2.0 learning communities by working with colleagues to build an IT focused learning community.
  3. With the knowledge gained, establish best practices, including appropriate uses and boundaries, for web 2.0 implementation in a business environment.
  4. Using the established best practices, identify and implement web 2.0 solutions for each of the organizations supported. Examples may include RSS feed for employment opportunities, learning communities for staff development, social bookmarking for athletics staff, etc.

Are there other strategies and/or tasks that should be included in this plan? What other questions need to be addressed prior to implementation? I've many questions to answer and am anxious to begin!