One of the best things we get to do here at Penn State is host the annual TLT Symposium. It is an amazing event that we have grown over the last few years and has become quite the centerpiece to launch new thinking into the teaching and learning space. We try really hard to not only highlight the killer work of our most innovative faculty, but to invite keynotes that align with our thinking for the year. I believe it is critically important to think about where we want to nudge the communities’ thinking and bring speakers to our events that can lay the foundation for our own work. More and more it is clear that bringing the right people to campus is a key ingredient to changing the culture and pressing forward.
A few years ago we really wanted to raise the awareness around the importance of remix culture and Creative Commons so we had Lessig join us — less than a year later we adopted CC 3.0 as an accepted licensing model. When we wanted to draw light on the importance of open and social learning we brought David Wiley and danah boyd to campus … no coincidence that we’ve launched our first centrally designed fully open CC licensed online courses built on our social blogging platform. When we wanted to inspire faculty to think about how to engage students in large classrooms we brought Michael Wesch to share his stories … I guess that has something to do with our push to work with faculty in pumping up engagement opportunities in sections of Communications 110 (300 students) and Sociology 119 (725) students. At times it almost looks like we are thinking about this stuff.
So when we had a chance to invite Clay Shirky to be our keynote for the 2011 Symposium we jumped at it. His new book, Cognitive Surplus, is an excellent example of how we are thinking about tapping into our own communities to push our agenda forward. Having Shirky here will inspire new thinking and will challenge all of us to rethink how we can leverage the relationships we’ve created to do even more in the coming year. As always, I am excited by the prospect of another Symposium and of its potential for impacting our campus.