ETS Talk is Back!

For the second week in a row we have produced an ETS Talk. After several weeks of talking about it we decided it was time to get back on the podcasting bus … that and the fact that we are close to crossing over the 50,000 downloads to ETS Talk from our iTunes U space sort of motivated us.

Last week we had my 13 year old niece in the studio asking about teen use of technology … it really blew our minds listening to her. A good show. So good in fact that it pushed us to go back into the studio (my office) and deliver ETS Talk 57 this week. We spent lots of time talking about all sorts of things, but one thing we really focused on was how to think about measuring new IT services for success. It seems like with the kinds of things we are doing, simply counting people isn’t enough. More and more we struggle to rethink what it means to illustrate success. At any rate, you can go to our iTunes U space and give number 57 a listen. I’d love to hear any thoughts.

ETS Talk 35

This afternoon the ETS Talk Crew sat down and produced ETS Talk 35. Sort of a milestone … we spend the better part of 45 minutes talking about Digital Commons and the examples cming out of the project, some RSS thinking that has been going on around the office, and think out loud a bit about FaceBook and some of the growing angst related to it. Always fun to get a new episode out the door. Jump over to Podcasts at Penn State to grab this week’s ETS Talk.

Nothing about the iPhone

I thought I would check in just to say that this post has nothing to do with the iPhone. I just wanted to point out that we will try to do an ETS Talk this week … Summer is a crazy time and it makes it hard to keep things moving as consistently as the other times of the year. I’ve actually been getting more feedback about the podcast while it has been “off the air” the last three weeks … lots of people asking when the next one would come. I even had one listener ask me to stop saying only 8 people are listening. She said it made her feel like one of a handful of pathetic people — sorry about that! At any rate, we will try to drop an ETS Talk this week, so stay tuned!

Show Notes

For the first time in my podcasting career — it spans several years now BTW 😉 — I have added show notes to the entry. Funny, it is the one thing iTunes U doesn’t give us. At any rate, take a listen to ETS Talk 27 and let me know what you think … about the show and the notes.

Be a Pligg

For several years a couple of us have wanted an easy way to rate and organize content that students submit. Sure, we have a the typical CMS/LMS tools, but we have always talked about something much more simple and much more open. When Digg hit the web a couple of years ago we thought the model was perfect — a place where users submit content and then the community does the rest. All we wanted was that environment … enter Pligg. A little piece from their site:

In a world with so many Content Management Systems fighting for control it can seem nearly impossible to pick out a perfect CMS to suit your needs. That’s why Pligg exists, because we know that no CMS is going to offer a perfect out-of-the-box experience for every user. The net would be a boring place if every site looked and acted the same, so be different! Pligg’s dynamic structure allows users to quickly and effortlessly install and customize their sites.

What it all means to me is that I can quickly create a site that lets users submit content and control (through action) where that content lives on the site. I have a Pligg demo site running on one of my domains … take a look.

I see two areas where this stuff could be very helpful — at the course and at the organizational levels. We talked about this during ETS Talk 27 this past week, but I think it is worth repeating here and hoping that the community will participate in some sort of conversation around this thing — in other words, I could use some help thinking about what I will write about.

In the classroom this could be used as a sort of “Leader Board” where students could constantly submit and review content in an ongoing basis. The best content consistently rising to the top of the site. If you made it part of the assignment process you could create a very interesting way to view student and faculty contributions over the course of the semester. I have wanted to let my students be much more active in both contribution and quick assessment — this may be the way.

At the organizational level I think it could be very useful as well. As an example, the new Blogs at Penn State platform has allowed the vast majority of my staff to start blogging out in the open. I would say that at least half are blogging on a regular basis and their posts have been very insightful on many levels. A few weeks ago I discovered how to aggreagate posts together quickly and easily using Google Reader — that has been very helpful. But what if we wanted to take it to the next level? What if we wanted to see how the community would react to not only the content in their blogs, but also at all of our community hub sites and the general web? Pligg could offer us a very unique opportunity to create a new sort of meta hub for community based sharing and control. Solid and informative posts rise to the top and stay sticky longer — that would be a good thing. I am wondering if this could be viewed as the ETS News site — with our press releases competing with staff content … it could just prove to be very interesting.

I would really like to know what others think about adapting a digg model to support learning and organizational communications.

ETS Talk on the Directory

Every Friday Allan Gyorke, Chris Millet, Brad Kozlek, and I get together to just talk. We record these conversations and call them ETS Talk … our little weekly podcast is really just an opportunity to take an hour every week to think out loud. We’ve recorded 27 of these which is actually sort of amazing given the schedules we all keep. It is honestly a highlight of my week.

How sweet was it to learn tonight that ETS Talk is featured on the new iTunes U directory from within the iTunes Store. Not sure we are worthy given the company we are keeping in the featured section … hmm, let’s see, yeah we’re next to Coach K’s Leadership Conference, an entry from the MIT Open Courseware initiative, and a few other notables. So, if you want to listen to four guys (with the occassional guest) talk about our perspectives on teaching and learning with technology and other stuff, jump on over and take a listen!


Game On!

By my own admission, I am not much of a gamer. Back in the day when I was a kid I would play text based games by Infocom on my 128K Mac … after that, I’ve stayed away from computer games for the most part– small amounts of time here and there, but serious addictions. Sure, I’ve had game consoles, but other than my Wii I haven’t gotten the fever like most of my friends have since way back in the day. We’ve been doing a lot stuff in Second Life, but like we said in ETS Talk 25, SL isn’t a game.

The last couple of weeks I have been into a game though — not a million dollar production, but a simple little Flash game called, Desktop Tower Defense. I was at my sister’s tonight for a picnic and all the guys were talking about it. Let me say it is good. Two things make it perfect in my mind … the first is the simple game play. Those of us raised on the simplicity of the Atari 2600 know that one button is enough. The second thing that makes it really interesting is the social component. They make it really easy to set up a group and play against your friends. Just really smart stuff.

Looks like people are noticing. I came across a nice little post over at Giga Om that nails it. We need to be thinking about games in education, but we cannot ignore the simple options out there. Things don’t have to be over the top to work. Desktop Tower Defense is the proof.