Technology is everywhere, and nowhere

I just came out of a meeting where the various deans at the School of Law met with directors of some of our major centers (Global Law, High Tech, and Social Justice) to talk about how the centers and the school might work better together.   It was a lively discussion, with contributions from just about everyone.

I did not say a word.

Why?  Well…because, when it comes to technology, it is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  Just about anything that anyone wants to do – connect with alumni, improve the learning experience, etc – can use technology.  And when I say technology, my job is to make sure that we’re doing technology the “right way.”  Not just throwing it out there, not just spend ing money on something that we think will work.  But putting a solution together that adds the most value.  That is compelling.  I define “technology” very broadly, from whiteboards to computers to smart boards to walls to…you get the idea.  Instructional technology, servers, e-mail, collaboration tools.  Technology, and my department’s area of jurisdiction, if you will, is very broad.

So, unless I am raising my hand for every sentence, I keep my mouth shut the whole time.  

Weird experience.  

ps – if I had felt technology was ignored or undervalued by any of the people in the room, that’s a different story.  But I think my colleagues all have a good understanding of what my department does, and where I do and do not fit in.  Just to be clear.

One never has enough resources, but that doesn’t hurt any less

I know that every manager faces the issue of not enough resources.  I can’t think of anyone I know that has enough or too much, certainly.  There’s always one project that one wishes can be done, but can’t due to budget, resources, etc.

But that doesn’t make it hurt any less.  We operate basically with one person-per-area, which means almost no redundancy.  It’s a small staff so once we try to build staff redundancy everyone is doing 3 jobs.  I’ve done what I can to reduce the issues – we’ve taken all of our servers virtual, we’ve been pushing the use of students to get more and more everyday work done, etc.  But some things require full timers, and when all hell breaks loose, like it did yesterday (and bleeding into today), that means someone stays for 40 straight hours getting servers back up and running.

I know this.  I know we could use more resources.  I know that there are not any additional resources to be had.  But that doesn’t mean I can sit here and not be immensely bothered by it.

educause 2008: oversleeping is the theme so far

This has been a frustrating educause in many ways.  I have met up with many people.  And many of them even remember me from the various times we’ve met in the past, which is in some cases surprising.  And almost all of them have been great with whom to speak and share ideas.  That part has been excellent.

But I have overslept for 2 straight days, missing the first session each, and I didn’t get out to some of the events last night.  And I flat-out forgot a discussion group I meant to go to last night (though I did so while chatting with someone so that’s not a bad reason.

So far it’s been positive, but the oversleeping from jet lag is really annoying.  It’s been hannging onto me like a foggy cloud for at least a day longer than I had expected.

Edit:  I’m actually having a great and productive time here.  Just was grumpy this morning.  I am frustrated about the jet lag.

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.