Friday, June 15, 2012

NMC2012, Day 2 Highlights

Here's a quick recap of yesterday's NMC12 breakout sessions. I decided to skip the morning plenary- 2 hours of 15 minute presentations is a little too much for me, and I can get those on iTunesU anyway ;-). Yesterday's breakout sessions were mostly interesting (and I had quite a few interesting side conversations!)


Exploring a Tablet Application for the seminar Classroom

With Eric Gordon from: Emerson College

And Drew Harry from: MIT


This was the first session the day (and if I am not mistaken I had seen something like his last January at the NERCOMP mobile session). We've seen tablet (or laptop) applications that tap into the backchannel in large lectures to capture the pulse of the classroom, but the idea behind this particular application was to tap into the "backchannel" in small lecture group (15 or fewer, based on the design of the application) and the idea is to be able to propose topics for discussion and to track discussion topic time. There was also a component where the transcript of the topics, comments made, and time spent were sent to students after the seminar session.


This was an interesting application, albeit buggy - which made it crash no fewer than 7 times in that 90 minute session (at which point my submitted topics and elapsed time disappeared!) Despite the buggy nature of the application it seemed like a good start, especially from a learning analytics perspective!


One of the things that stood out was the naming of things. The presenters started with back channel vs front channel....they didn't like it because the back channel never makes it to the front (I disagree). Then they went with a theater metaphor - back stage vs front stage, where information from the back stage could come to the front stage, but the information in the back stage is not as privileged? So they went with the front stage, side stage metaphor, but at the end of the day, it seems like no matter what naming convention you choose, you are still trying to capture the chatter, and bring forward ideas for discussion.



Opening up the Classroom.

With: Magi Almirall from Universitat oberta de cataluny


This session was pretty interesting, although sparsely attended. It was interesting to see what some of our colleagues in Europe are doing - too bad I didn't see anyone from Asia there :) Maybe next year? In any case, I have mixed feelings about this presentation because I am not sure what the focus was. We started off with mobile learning (cool!) because a lot of students at the open university are commuters (like I am!) and do some of their studying en route to somewhere. The problem started when we were talking about twitter clones, and other open technologies. So I guess it was about open source in the classroom? Hmmm... I don't know. It was an interesting group of people though, and I hope I bump into them later on to see what else the Open University is doing :)



Open CourseWare's Vision for the Future

with: Stephen Carson from MIT


This was the final session of the day (if you don't know the 5 minute lightning rounds that I skipped) and it was about the future of OCW. One thing that I learned was that OCW is essentially a publisher - not a learning objects repository. I knew that it wasn't a learning object repository, nor a course place, but I had a hard time describing OCW to others. In order to setup the future projections of OCW, the presenter had to setup where OCW came from, and some other players in this open market, so it was interesting to see the rationale for the creation of OCW and the form it took. It would be nice if UMass Boston had their entire course catalog in the UMB OCW.


One major problem with this session (despite all of the information I got about open resources!) is that coming out of this session I wasn't really sure what the future of OCW is! Maybe the future holds more collaboration, and tie-ins with other services like wikipedia and openstudy? I can't tell :-)

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