On the Fly Crowd Sourcing

At the recent TLT Symposium I started to see tweets flying around about how much people wanted to see sessions in other rooms … clearly in an event like the Symposium the scheduling keeps one from catching concurrent sessions. We’ve always talked about capturing all the sessions for reuse, but the cost has just been too great. There has also always been this sense that the production quality is too limited — issues with giving speakers microphones, capturing slides, lighting, and the like have always pushed our planning groups to nix the idea. This year was no different, but when the Tweets started flying I replied with:

What I didn’t expect was for people to go to the Media Commons demo area and borrow iPod Touches and take up the charge themselves. I was in a standing room only session listening to Michael Elavasky talking when I noticed the person in the picture below leaning against the wall next to me. He had grabbed a Touch and was capturing the session. Is the quality perfect? Nope. Does that matter to me? Nope. The fact of the matter is that we now have access to so much more history of our own event because the people attending the Symposium both wanted us to capture it and did the amazing part of actually chipping in and doing it!

Because Twitter connected the community a call to arms was heard and a solution was identified and acted upon. The proof is below.

2011 TLT Symposium Reflection

Last Saturday I attended the 2011 Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium here at Penn State. This event is my responsibility, so I will try to give an unbiased reflection on the day itself — if that is possible. My first Symposium that I attended was in 1998 and it was very different than what has been going on the last few years. We have really upped the expectations of the event on lots of levels — we now attract around 450 attendees, work to recruit the best keynote speakers available, and receive well over a 100 proposals. All of those things are really big changes. I am really proud of the people who work like mad (without “event planning” in their job descriptions) to make this thing happen at this scale every year.

For the last five years we have increased the use of technology in and around the event to try and build more buzz and excitement. Several years ago our hash tag (this year it was #tltsym11) was a twitter trending topic and the use of blogs and iPod Touches (for video capture) has steadily increased as ways to capture and share the event. In the last couple of years I have sensed a huge level of engagement from the staff and a small number of faculty, but this year it was pure energy from the word go across the board. I’m not sure if the community has caught up with the early adopters or if there was something different in the air. Our faculty presentations were without a doubt the best we’ve ever had. Several TLT Faculty Fellows presented their work and their rooms were over flowing. They were like visiting rock stars … so cool to see that kind of energy and change happening on my campus. I can only imagine what our new class of Fellows will bring to next year’s event.

One thing I’ll note is that it seems like the strategy of aligning keynote speakers to annual themes is paying off … the Symposium is now a celebration of the hard work faculty have done through the previous year and a call to arms for the year in advance. I have written about the notion of keynote alignment before, but it seemed evident that Wesch’s keynote last year made an impact on the kinds of talks our faculty gave this year. I am hopeful that our keynote’s talk this year is just as impactful. I will say that Clay Shirky was fantastic and he made several points that are still resonating in my head. His keyntoe is embedded below and well worth the hour. The other thing I think I should mention is that Clay came in early the day before and spent the Friday afternoon with myself and a group of faculty for a two hour conversation … it was an amazing opportunity to engage him in ways that one can’t at a more formal event. If you have the chance to sit down and have a conversation with him, take it! I can’t say enough about his willingness to participate and how gracious he was with his time. I think it made his keynote that much more meaningful to me.

I won’t go into details relative to the sessions I attended, but I will share two more thoughts related to the energy of the day. I have never (and I mean never) seen more people stay from 8 AM until the last bell at our event. The break areas were packed, the sessions were packed, even the halls were packed. The closing session was a panel I moderated on student and faculty expectations of educational technology. What I learned is worth a blog post all by itself, but it was so much fun to get to talk directly to students and compare their reactions to what we do with what we actually think we do. I loved it … It was a great day to be a member of the PSU’s teaching and learning community.

Photo Credit Brad Kozlek


If you live your life working to innovate inside the academy all you have to do is watch the first minute and a half of the above scene from the Hudsucker Proxy and you’ll find yourself in very familiar territory. I especially love that the same questions get asked over and over without even waiting to hear an answer. In my experience the questions are mostly a smoke screen to draw attention away from the real issue — fear. Want to know what I love about the people who will show up at the 2011 TLT Symposium this weekend? They ask questions not to divert attention, but to actually work to understand the potential answers. Bring your questions and your passion … it is on! My favorite time of the work year has arrived!

Keynote Alignment

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.

Join us at the TLT Symposium

Just a quick post to point out that our keynote, Michael Wesch, will be streamed live this morning here at the TLT Symposium. We would have liked to stream all the sessions, but we will be recording them to post later. At the minimum, stop by this morning and participate from afar.


Yesterday I got to spend a few hours with Mike and several PSU faculty talking mostly about digital scholarship, engaging students, and managing the shift that is happening under our feet. Both sessions were wonderfully insightful discussions that I wish we would have captured. I’ll do my best to reflect a bit more on those and the Symposium in general, but for now please stop by and watch!

TLT Symposium 2010!

It is hard for me to believe, but it is time again for the annual TLT Symposium here at Penn State. This has turned into quite the event over the last several years — we have well over 400 registered this year … and that is for a PSU only event being held on a Saturday! I continue to be amazed by the outcomes and the efforts that go into the event. The thing I love the most is how the energy from our community just pours out of every single session. People from all over the State of PA will be here sharing ideas, talking in the halls, and building new connections that will be of real lasting value. The program this year is so strong … it is actually tough to figure out what sessions to attend — from Michael Wesch’s keynote to the final keynote of the day it is packed with plenty to inspire.

As in year’s past we will be both streaming and archiving big portions of it, so be sure to check the Symposium site for those details. I love how the energy of this event is built around the idea that it is both the start of another year of innovation and the celebration of what has been done in the recent past. Most of us will be locked into the event starting first thing tomorrow through Saturday night when we’ll collapse. I can’t wait to get things started!


A Tale of Two Sites

This is just a quick post to share something I found very interesting and well written — even if it does come from the (fake) Secret Diary of Steve Jobs.  The post, “Why the mainstream media is dying” shares a tale of how the blogosphere can go after a story unencumbered, while someone as powerful as the NY Times can simply move right on by.  Not sure I totally agree that once the newspapers are gone we won’t notice, but I will say that the landscape is moving so quickly under our feet that we may not have time to care.  I don’t know, but I thought it was a terrific illustration of what is happening.

Every once in a while you get to see a mainstream outlet cover a story right alongside a blog, so you can put them up against each other and see why one was so much better than the other. This week TechCrunch and the New York Times photo provided just such a lesson.

via The Secret Diary of Steve Jobs: Why the mainstream media is dying.

Symposium 2009

Today kicks off the TLT Symposium weekend and I couldn’t be more excited. Throughout the year I travel to events across the country and it is always so cool when I can sit back and watch our own kick off and inspire people right here at home. This year is our largest Symposium to date — over 400 people are registered! The theme this year is “Reimagine” … we are placing that in front of all sorts of concepts — scholarship, literacy, portfolios, etc. It is a powerful message at the right time. We’ve followed an arc of sorts in the planning of these events over the last few years — first we introduced emerging web 2.0 stuff, then we brought a view into how to implement them in the classroom, last year we highlighted faculty doing great things, and this year the focus is on students and outcomes. A really nice four year cycle.

The Symposium team, led by Jeff Swain, have done an amazing job. Everything is first rate — down to the posters, the program, and every other single little detail. We’ll have two keynotes from David Wiley and danah boyd that I think will inspire the collective audiences. Last year we had Lessig who blew open the idea that we should all be rethinking copyright and I know David’s message of open education will help us take the next step. danah will spend time sharing critical insights into the social web and how our audiences participate … it is going to be great! We’ll have man on the street interviewers, a video production team, a demonstration room showing off our Educational gaming initiative, and so much more. The keynotes will be recorded and shared as they happen and all the sessions will be blogged and twittered (watch the hashtag #tltsym09). All in all I expect it to be a great event. Take a look at just one of the videos we produced leading up to the event.