Here are the notable changes to Academic Commons between February 1, 2014 and February 28, 2014. We're a week late on this, in a sense, because we (that is, I) write this update only on Friday, and this is the first Friday after the close of February.
Just one this month: WP QuickLaTeX
From the plugin author, this plugin "Insert formulas & graphics in the posts and comments using native LaTeX shorthands directly in the text. Inline formulas, displayed equations auto-numbering, labeling and referencing, AMS-LaTeX, TikZ, custom LaTeX preamble. No LaTeX installation required. Easily customizable using UI page. Actively developed and maintained." You can read more at the WordPress plugin page or at the QuickLaTeX homepage.
No new themes this month. See one out there that you'd like? Reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Caveat: Themes must be on the WordPress site itself or from a WordPress-recommended vendor and must work painlessly with our installation. We're on version 3.5.2 as of today, just so you can check.)
Though it's not a fix per se, we want to mention that we are working on a fix to the deep-linking problem. Currently, if you follow a link to something other than the homepage of a restricted site, the login process ends with you getting unceremoniously dumped onto that homepage rather than your intended destination. This happens whether you are trying to reach a post, page, or the Dashboard. We're very close and hope to have this fixed before the end of March.
On the third and final day of ELI, I managed to get my barbecue-stuffed self to three sessions, only two of which were worth the effort. The first one of the day was S. Craig Watkins from Texas speaking on "Beyond the Digital Divide: Reimagining Learning in a World of Social and Technological Change". While the presentation had flaws, it was ultimately an engrossing examination of a new sense of the notion of a digital divide. Where a decade ago the term was used to discuss issues of access, primarily along economic lines, Watkins reframed the argument to look at issues of participation and mastery. I do wish he had included data on racial/ethnic groups other than white, African-American, and Latino in the presentation.
Session #2 for the day was another chance to see Gardner Campbell in action, this time in talking with a team from Virginia Tech on "Living, Learning, Cyberspace: A Program-Wide Blogging Initiative for Virginia Tech's Honors Residential College". In fact, one of the key strengths and weaknesses of the session was that the team included — gasp — a student. While the student was a self-described introvert and struggled having the majority of the session on her shoulders, it was also a rare opportunity to see a fledgling learn and to watch communities of practices replicating themselves before our eyes. As Lave and Wenger noted in their original work, "legitimate peripherality can be at the articulation of related communities," and a conference such as ELI is a clear example of an that interstitial space.
Of the third session, the less I say the more charitable I will be. To be brief, I'll just say that Catherine Casserly's talk on "Sharing and Protecting Ideas and Knowledge in the 21st Century" misjudged her audience substantially. Put another way, if her introduction to Creative Commons and their licensing offerings, as well as OERs, was new to the majority of the people there, I don't think it's a conference I'll benefit from attending any further.
(There's an archive of the tweets at The Archivist, in which I am ambivalently proud of featuring prominently. The links above and in previous posts to the sessions will take you to pages containing video if there is any.)
My second days in new environments are always radically different from my firsts. I don't believe I'm alone in this. And in using 'radically', I mean very much that they are rooted differently than the first days. The first day is always a little giddy, usually from greater or lesser sleep deficits, and often contains overconsumption of something. The second day is when the tired catches up with me, particularly if the new environment has involved communicating in a second or other language or negotiating a second or other culture.
So it has been also with ELI 2012 in Austin, Texas. Yesterday kept me up for 21 hours and included a barbecue dinner that couldn't be beat. Today started with a business videoconference and found me settling in to more nearly routine tweeting. Yesterday featured a provocative and energetic keynote as well as a lively panel debate and the chance to meet one of the icons of reflective blogging and learning, of reflective instructional technology. Today's roster of sessions was much less exciting and much more get-down-to-business. Barbecue was the primary connector thread, it seemed, with another visit and another feast that couldn't be beat.
What most drew my attention today were two sessions in fairly different veins. The first was a trio of short presentations in a nontraditionally configured session space. As a way of promoting their wares, a prominent furniture provider donated (I will speculate that it was donated, but that may be insufficiently cynical of me) various sorts of chairs and tables to allow setting up a space with both adequate presenter-fronted room and adequate breakout areas. The design was nothing terribly counter-intuitive or unusual, but I would vote for it being the norm rather than a pure presenter-fronted design. Continue reading →
It's been a whirlwind day, and I've been more or less up since 3.30a EST this morning, so I won't guarantee lucidity or accuracy. But that just means that I am being unafraid about getting into the messy business of learning, to paraphrase Gardner Campbell.
At times, the fissures between those we could broadbrush as pro-analytics (J. Campbell, Fritz) and anti-analytics (Bass, G. Campbell) loomed large. Campbell (G.) and Bass spoke of long timeframes and patience, Fritz and Campbell (J.) spoke of what we can do now and of timeframes less than 5 years. Bass used a coinage of "slow analytics", explicitly connecting with the Slow Food movement. Campbell (G.) began with comments about his background with Milton, Bass discussed his 20 years of engagement with educational research and noted his PhD; Campbell (J.) and Fritz didn't refer to their backgrounds at all and spoke of the need to address issues of scale. Continue reading →