Articles from the Web

Different perspectives, same power to the message

Crip Chronicles: I Guess I’ve Been Holding My Breath…

I only today found out that one of my former colleagues at Stanford had a blog of her own.  I’ve always known her to be intelligent and witty and funny and a lot of other great things, and she is one of the people whom I always intend (but often fail) to find when I visit campus.  Every single conversation I have ever had with her has been a good one.  I am honestly pondering how accurate of a comment that is right now and stand by it.

So, it is entirely hilarious and appropriate that her blog is titled the “Crip Chronicles.” 

And it is not at all surprising that I am honestly, truly moved by what she writes in the linked post.

With great power comes great responsibility. And some people have weird interpretations of how to be responsible

Prop 8: The Ad That Upset the Mormon Church | Crooks and Liars

Hey, if you have massive influence, and can pay almost entirely on one’s own to sway an entire campaign…why not use it, eh?

Post to follow, but between T. Boone Pickens putting Prop 10 up on his own (I support that), the Mormons pushing Prop 8 all on their own (no on that) and then you think about how much money Obama has spent on this campaign, to the point where he himself might cause reform…how does one make an educated decision anymore? 

Possibly best description of what an instructional technologist is

What is an instructional technologist? at bavatuesdays

Jim Groom does a tremendous job describing what an “instructional technologist” means to him, and I think it’s a pretty damn good description in general. 

And I think it’s completely logical that he has no interest in going into administration.  Some are administrators.  Some are instructional technologists.  Some are integrators, some are connectors, some are innovators.  Some are a multitude of these personalities (a la Thomas Kelley’s The Ten Faces of Innovation). 

Me?  I think I’m someone who could have been an instructional technologist but is equally passionate about administration and doing administration the right way.  So maybe that’s the way I go.  And hopefully I’ll have a “Jim Groom” working with me while I’m handling the administrivia.  Someone that passionate about doing that kind of work. 

Good stuff.

OPEC concerned about “protecting” oil prices. Are you kidding me?

Oil, Gas Prices Fall – OPEC Expected to Step In | Daily Fuel Economy Tip

So OPEC is worried that the price of a barrel of crude oil will drop below what would have been an earth-shattering record in the minds of many just a year or two ago (but is lower than it was a month or two ago).  They are worried that the price will be…merely incredibly high rather than astronomically so.

So they are decreasing oil production to maintain and “protect” the price of crude. 

We are so far up the creek on energy dependence that I don’t even know what to say.  I was re-reading the pros and cons of one of the propositions in this year’s election, which would increase the adoption of natural gas as a measure to reduce our reliance on foreign oil.  Even though it’s a pretty blatant prop for the energy plan from T. Boone Pickens, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing unto itself.  It’s still a sound plan. 


Open Source – the lustre finally goes away

Report: Pure Open Source No Longer a Viable Business Model – ReadWriteWeb

When I worked at Stanford, I was able to watch, firsthand, the open source project that has since become Sakai.  This is a multi-university, complex project to develop a learning management system designed for universities, by universities.  This would be in comparison to Blackboard, which is owned by a company and run like one at times.

The idea all along was to offer the application as open source once it was all “done.”  However, the team ran into a number of obstacles, and that’s just what I saw myself.  For instance, the type of back-end database.  Ours was Oracle, but you can’t really launch an open source product that relies on Oracle.  So a mySQL version had to be built. 

This article is different – it’s about offering an open source project and then building a business model around it that will actually make money.  But the truth, and I think anyone that has tried to actually maintain a business around an open source project will second this, is that it’s not easy to build around such offerings.  At some point the effort to continue development overwhelms the benefit of the project and the revenue stream cannot sustain the costs.

I’m still a big fan of open source products.  But I don’t see myself developing an open source business.

Finally – someone gets “it” on laptops, classrooms, and law schools

SSRN Author Page for Jana R. McCreary

I confine my commentary about the state of academic technology (technology implemented in the pursuit of bettering teaching and learning, as compared to technology as an enabler or productivity and getting work done) and law schools to this blog and a select few colleagues here.  I had a few posts in the past about this article or that, which were lost when my blog database imploded.

But, finally, here is an article that looks at laptops in a much more even-keeled light, based on research and ethnographic observation rather than just opinions and presumptions.

The basic point is that while students do surf the web and that most of that surfing is not class-related, they also benefit greatly from the enhanced note-taking capabilities that laptops offer.  And the benefits largely outweight the disadvantages.  At the same time, the author makes an extremely reasonable suggest of a “laptop-free” zone in each room, so that those who prefer to take notes by hand are not bothered by those furiously typing away.

I have been arguing the point, very subtly, that it’s about how a laptop is used, not whether one is used or not, that is the issue.  And that indeed applications such as OneNote or NoteBook make a real difference in how students take notes.  And, with those tools, it becomes easier to manage a classroom full of students, many of whom do jump out to surf the web now and then.