Educause 2011 through the Backchannel

Inevitably one member of the Ed Tech team must stay behind during Educause to meet the needs of the faculty we serve. This year I stayed behind and happily helped numerous faculty.

In between working with faculty I stayed up on what was happening in Philadelphia not through attending the conference online, but instead, I attended the conference vicariously through everyone’s Tweets to #EDU11 as well as some of the session specific hashtags.

There were so many good postings that I’m not sure I could recount them all. I’m also certain that I will be unable to properly give attribution to each Tweet owner, so thank you All.

My goal for this post is simply to list some of the resources/statements that I latched on to through the backchannel.

The first resource that caught my eye was BiblioBouts from the University of Michigan.. Engaging students in finding high quality information, BiblioBouts uses game theory and Zotero to build their research skills and gain experience evaluating the resources and research skills of their peers. This is a great approach to a topic difficult for students to comprehend but essential for their academic success. Supported by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services (IMLS), there is no cost to other institutions for playing BiblioBouts so give it a try.

Another tool that was mentioned is Google’s App Inventor for Android, currently in Beta. I’m intrigued by the object-oriented interface that appears to be built on MITs Scratch platform. Indeed, I believe the Tweet mentioned that this was one of the joint Google/MIT projects, but don’t quote me on that. I’m extremely excited to see what I can build. I’ve been “playing” with a variety of app makers, particularly those revolving around augmented reality, but many are for iPhones/iPads. It would be nice if App Inventor could be cross-platform, but so goes the battle of the OS.

I was happy to see that someone posted the link to LectureTools. I’ve seen students taking notes on PDF’s, on PowerPoints, and on Word documents during class. In some cases, students are also being asked to engage with some form of response system, often separate from the technology they would normally bring to class with them (laptops or cell phones). Faculty, too, often have to juggle various technologies at once to achieve their goal of greater student engagement during lecture. Streamlining this into one technology seems like it may fill a need for many faculty. I looked at this in beta and even received a very nice webinar demonstrating the tool and it’s potential. I think it’s time to take a look at Lecture Tools again work with faculty to trial the program.

The Tweets weren’t all about tools, though those are nice takeaways. I have to say that I was thrilled to read the tweets particularly when I noticed that the themes within the backchannel reflected the themes referred to some of my current professional reading including

  • Now You See It by Cathy Davidson (2011)
  • A New Culture of Learning by Douglas Thomas and John Seely Brown (2010),
  • Helping Students Learn in a Learner Centered Environment by Terry Doyle (2008).

The common themes that I read throughout the backchannel chat were:

  • Rethinking education
    • Flipping the classroom
    • Blended Learning  vs Online Learning vs Traditional Learning
    • Learning is social.
    • Collaborative, real-world relevant learning
    • Student engagement, problem-solving, higher order thinking
    • Course design “teams” not us vs them
  • Analytics for student success and retention
    • Pew Internet Study Data
    • ECAR study data
    • Gates Foundation in Higher Education

I could probably write more, but I’ll keep this posting short. Next conference I’ll attend through the backchannel will be #WCET11.

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