Memo to the RIAA: Better Check on Bush

It just sort of cracks me up that President Bush has an iPod is such big news. For the second time in recent memory, all the big news outlets ran coverage of the “First iPod” … what really gets me is that the one is in my favorite (old school) news outlet, the New York TImes by reporter Elisabeth Bumiller actually had this quote in it:

The president also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy and his chief media strategist in the 2004 campaign. Among them are “Circle Back” by John Hiatt, “(You’re So Square) Baby, I Don’t Care” by Joni Mitchell and “My Sharona,” the 1970s song by The Knack that Joe Levy, a deputy managing editor in charge of music coverage at Rolling Stone, cheerfully branded “suggestive if not outright filthy” in an interview last week.

The key there is that the line that says, “The president also has an eclectic mix of songs downloaded into his iPod from Mark McKinnon, a biking buddy …” Correct me if I’m wrong here, but isn’t that stealing music? As a matter of fact, it is. You just can’t do that! I’ve been following the discussion over at the excellent Corante blogs, When Are You Going to Sue the President? Some great pointers to the coverage, but the best is perhaps the fact that Siva Vaidhyanathan promised he’d ask RIAA President Cary Sherman and actually did! The answer from Mr. Sherman’s answer: “We’re only suing uploaders, not downloaders.” Well that clears that up, I’m sure my students here at PSU will be happy to know it. Check out the whole 3.5 hours from the Cornell sponsored debate here.

I’ve Been Saying This For A While …

For some reason I decided to take a look at some of my student’s blogs from last semester in my IST 110 class. If you recall from some of my posts, I had all my students create their own blogs … not that all of them continued to use them, but it exposed them to the technology. I also replaced the use of our University-wide LMS, ANGEL with a standard blog for class communication. I did do some fairly decent post-assessment and evaluation related to the students’ overall satisfaction and as I’ve posted here before, they were mostly happy with how it it worked as a course communication environment. Then today, while just surfing some of their spaces, I came across this post from one of my students who will go nameless:

“So I don’t know about these personal blogs. What’s the point in sharing your thoughts to all sorts of strangers on the internet? Well guess that must be why this is only my second post. However, I found the course blog to be really effective compared to angel…man what a pain in the ass. But anyways the class blog was great for helping others with posts and encouraging us to talk about class related material outside of class. Hmm haven’t ever done that before.”

Its that last little bit that makes me think these types of spaces are SO much better than the stuff we as educators are pushing on our students. I think its time we start to look at these tools much more critically … I know we are and it would be great if more people would join us. If you’d like to see more of the results from the survey we did, check out my talk from the ADC Leadership Institute.

Blog Wrap-Up: Fall 2004 110 Section 04

I have to hand it to all of you, you’ve done an amazing job with keeping things fresh and real at the Class Blog this semester. If you remember, I started the semester with a plea to participate and a flat out declaration, that “this is a grand experiment.” Well, for my money, this has been a great success! One of the things that I really love is that there is an open forum that illustrates the thread of the class this semester … something that I could never have provided had we done this in ANGEL or without all of your comments and insight. This thing can live on well beyond the artifical boundaries of the semester … it can provide you and other sections with a home base to build new experiences on. I know I enjoy going back and looking at your comments and I anticipate that other students (from 110 and other courses) will be doing the same.

Bart Pursel and I have looked over the results of the survey so far and it looks interesting — may even interest you all! As we get it coded and uncover trends and results, we’ll post them here. I extend an invitation to continue to visit the Class Blog — not sure where it will go or how I will use it in the coming weeks, but if the web trends indicate people are still showing up, I’ll continue to post. I know that if I teach next Fall (and it is an IF), I will coninue using the Class Blog — and I will actually just keeping going here so the new students can see what its all about … I thought from the get go that a multi-semester communication environment would be a kick-ass thing … what a great foundation we’ve created!

Looking back at the themes this semester, file sharing was without a doubt the primary one … we did jump around a bit, but there are a ton of great resources in the archives. Use them as you see fit — a lot of the thinking belongs to you.

It may come as a surprise to you all, but several of the posts and your comments have been a mainstay at several other sites exploring the benefits of educational blogging. In other words, you’re almost famous — look for the royality checks any day now. At any rate, I just wanted to extend a very serious thank you … thank you for a great semester, for the outstanding effort, for putting up with my crazy schedule, for showing up and talking in class, and for being a great group to work with. I appreciate it all very much and I want you to remember, you can drop in and talk shop with me anytime. Take it easy and I will be seeing you all around–>


A Little Audio Feedback — Websites & Grades

I’ve gotten a barrage of emails with URLs for your websites the last several days. I have to say, I am very happy with most of the results. Some of you really did a great job organizing and communicating “your story” … I know my expectations seemed big for this little project, but most of you rose to the occasion and produced dynamite results.

As far as grades go, let me say that I will be looking at them all very critically in the next week or so. I don’t want any of you stressing over points here or there. I want you to be focused on finishing your problem solution and getting prepared for the final. I know who’s done what, who has been contributing, and what you have put into this class … grades are a means to an end … I am concerned with the things you take away from the class. I am hopeful that you’ve enjoyed it as much as I have and that you have a new found respect for the power of technology as a driving factor in your world … I am also hopeful that you get the whole process orientation we’ve been working on since day one … my favorite professor in college used to talk to us about the “Five P’s of Success: Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance…” I know, a little corny, but he is so right. Click the link to listen to a little audio feedback from me–>

Discussion Activity 11

A week away from Thanksgiving … the time is flying by. I have to say up until recently, the activity at the Course Blog has been great. Maybe my posts haven’t been as interesting? At any rate, please keep those posts coming … the Discussion Activity for this week is a little late, so you have until Sunday at 5 PM to finish it. I really struggled with this one … in years past, I’ve gotten some decent responses, but I’ve just never really liked the idea behind this one. The Solutions Institute builds software — some of it we even sell to people … most of it however is used in educational settings to support IST. I understand the whole designing and developing IT applications and it is a critical piece of knowledge to have if you are going to be a part of any development effort. With that said, some of the things that are going on in industry do disturb me … I don’t want to give away too much, so I’ll just give you the question.

Discussion Activity

More and more, software giants are selling beta versions of their software to end-users. Beta testing has traditionally cost companies a lot of money to perform properly. However, they receive very valuable feedback from the beta testers. With this new trend, they are receiving both feedback and a revenue stream. Is this appropriate? Should end users pay for incomplete, unstable software and provide mission-critical feedback?

A Few Ideas … What Do U Think?

Ok, so I went to a good talk on Friday to listen a guy from one of IBM’s research labs … he talked about eLearning and focused a lot of attention on how to provide quick, customized content to learners. Now, he was coming at it from a training perspective, so it’s a little skewed relative to what we do, but there are some really good ideas to port over. As I was listening, I felt like most of it was sort of ho-hum, but it did get me really thinking about how I could start to make our courseware (like the 110 topics you all are reading) a little better … it also made me want to ask you all what you think. Here are a couple of quick questions for you:

Right now if you click into a Topic you get the opportunity to select any lesson and then from there, navigate through a series of pages … back when we started the Online IST project we felt it was critical to “chunk” the content so it could be easily read … over time, I have gotten less and less impressed with that approach … for one thing, it makes printing really tough. The other thing it does is make it tougher to move around whole lessons at a time to let faculty and students build new topics quickly and easily – in other words, it screws with the concept of modularity a bit. Here’s the question … how would you all feel if each lesson was really one long html page instead of the 6-15 screens they are now? Let me know, I am ready to make a change.

How important would it be for you all to have quick search capabilities from within the syllabus or a given topic? I know it would be cool during a lecture if a point came up I could quickly find the information I was looking for with a simple, google like search. Why don’t we have search now you ask? Well, we got huge push back from faculty because they felt that would allow cheating during “open browser” exams … I am at the point where I care less about them and more about what you guys think … so, what do you think?

I doubt many of you are taking advantage of rss feeds for news or podcasts, but I do … I also think you’ll all be using it within a couple of years as the whole Internet experience moves towards an end user centric approach. RSS allows you to select what feeds you like and the content is delivered to you automatically … in other words, if you read five times a day, with an rss feed, you’d never have to point your browser at it — the content would be downloaded to you in the background as it changed. What I am thinking about is how we could add rss capability to the syllabus so you could subscribe to all sorts of news — IST stuff, other blogs, news sites, sports, whatever and it would show up for you … what do you think?

The syllabus now gives you some basic communication capabilities — direct links to individual emails, team emails, and IM status. I have gotten good feedback on the whole IM status thing, but I’d like to take that further … I am looking for ideas. You see, I came up with the whole IM status thing from two experiences … the first was at a big meeting at Apple that showed me IM is not a toy, but the other was by asking (and watching) students what they want the most — they said IM! So the SI team put it in. I use it all the time to get to you guys. The question is, what the hell do you think would increase the social connectedness of out of class communication?

You guys have been a great group and I think you are starting to get the whole teaching with technology thing, so I would really value your ideas. Leave some comments and help us make Edison Services 3.0 kick ass … what do you think?

Discussion Activity 10

I can’t believe we are in the double digits discussion activities! This semester is blowing by … its been fun so far. Anyway, you ought to spend a little time reading Topic 10 … it will give you some good insight into the types of systems you’ll need to plan for when solving the 110 Challenge. Ok, here we go …

Discussion Activity

Computers that can evolve to improve themselves have been fantasized in science fiction books for years, but something similar has occurred at the University of Sussex in England. Adrian Thompson (Center for Computational Neuroscience and Robotics) works with computer chips that can manage their own logic gates by testing new designs and choosing the best configurations for a particular task. Two technologies make this possible: evolutionary algorithms are computer programs that can rapidly generate variations in their own code to evaluate and select the most efficient code; and Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs), which use transistors that appear as an array of logic cells to change their value and connect to any other logic cells as they are programmed. When these two technologies are brought together (shazam!), circuits can become more effective than similar circuits designed by humans using known principles. There is one problem — Adrian doesn’t know how it works.

So if a management system, which is a critical system, has been built using a working technology such as evolutionary algorithms and FPGAs, but we don’t know how it works, should we implement this technology? Is this technology reliable? Explain the possible advantages and disadvantages, potential for success and potential risk in your opinion.