Friday, February 27, 2009

Death of a CoP

I was reading this blog post earlier this month about the collapse of the TR-DEV community of practice on an eLearning blog.

Now Communities of Practice (or CoP) is something of an interest to me. In the MBA program I viewed it from the lens of enabling employees to share knowledge within the company. In the Instructional Design program I've created a CoP of faculty, students and alumni as a space to meet outside of class to share ideas, comment on each others work for feedback purposes and share any good jobs that come along. In my personal life I am a member of several boards to keep up with advances in different technologies.

Now, what happens when the board owner or owner of a CoP decides to call it quits?

Who owns this data? Can someone in good conscience just delete the CoP like the TR-DEV list did? For example, I am a member of the NewtonTalk community which deals with all issues Newton (apple newton that is). The list has been active for a decade now and there is lots of good knowledge that's been developed. A lot of history. If the list maintainers just had enough (after all we all have personal lives to attend to), the deletion of all of the list's resources would amount to a brain wipe given that this list is THE preeminent resource for newton owners.

Even if the community is no longer supported, even if you aren't accepting any more members, you shouldn't delete it.

I am of the belief that if you don't want to manage a CoP any longer, find someone who is interested. No need to give us such a valuable resource.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

There is no grammar

Just as I've started taking a course called "structure of the English Language", which deals with English Grammar, here comes a blog post called "there is no grammar".

OK, now that the other blog got your attention, I think that I agree with the original blogger. Grammar is a construct made up to understand the language we speak. From a language learner's perspective though is it useful to start learning grammar from the get go?

Whether you agree or disagree, the article is interesting to read. I think that we shouldn't be so grammar heavy in intro courses to language, however we should learn the rules eventually. Verbal communication only gets you so far, and not knowing the intrinsic, abstracted, rules of grammar will only hurt language learners in the long run if they wish to gain proficiency in a language - IMHO.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Cloud Computing

Do you know what cloud computing is?

If not, Check this out (even if you do, check it out anyway. Common Craft make awesome videos):

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What is your MBTI profile?

Back when I started the MBA program (in 2004) I had to take a Myers-Briggs Type Indicator test. At the time I was an INTJ. I was told that people change over a period of time, so since it's been 5 years since I last took the MBTI (give or take a few weeks), I decided to take it again.

This time I am an ISTJ
I am:
* moderately expressed introvert
* slightly expressed sensing personality
* moderately expressed thinking personality
* slightly expressed judging personality

Here is a more detailed description of ISTJs from
Guardian™ Portrait of the Inspector (ISTJ)
The one word that best describes Inspectors is superdependable. Whether at home or at work, Inspectors are extraordinarily persevering and dutiful, particularly when it comes to keeping an eye on the people and products they are responsible for. In their quiet way, Inspectors see to it that rules are followed, laws are respected, and standards are upheld.

Inspectors (as much as ten percent of the general population) are the true guardians of institutions. They are patient with their work and with the procedures within an institution, although not always with the unauthorized behavior of some people in that institution. Responsible to the core, Inspectors like it when people know their duties, follow the guidelines, and operate within the rules. For their part, Inspectors will see to it that goods are examined and schedules are kept, that resources will be up to standards and delivered when and where they are supposed to be. And they would prefer that everyone be this dependable. Inspectors can be hard-nosed about the need for following the rules in the workplace, and do not hesitate to report irregularities to the proper authorities. Because of this they are often misjudged as being hard-hearted, or as having ice in their veins, for people fail to see their good intentions and their vulnerability to criticism. Also, because Inspectors usually make their inspections without much flourish or fanfare, the dedication they bring to their work can go unnoticed and unappreciated.

While not as talkative as Supervisor Guardians [ESTJs], Inspectors are still highly sociable, and are likely to be involved in community service organizations, such as Sunday School, Little League, or Boy and Girl Scouting, that transmit traditional values to the young. Like all Guardians, Inspectors hold dear their family social ceremonies-weddings, birthdays, and anniversaries - although they tend to be shy if the occasion becomes too large or too public. Generally speaking, Inspectors are not comfortable with anything that gets too fancy. Their words tend to be plain and down-to-earth, not showy or high-flown; their clothes are often simple and conservative rather than of the latest fashion; and their home and work environments are usually neat, orderly, and traditional, rather than trendy or ostentatious. As for personal property, they usually choose standard items over models loaded with features, and they often try to find classics and antiques - Inspectors prefer the old-fashioned to the newfangled every time.

Queen Elizabeth II, Harry S. Truman, Warren Buffet, Queen Victoria, James K. Polk, and J.D. Rockefeller are examples of Inspector Guardians.

To take the MBTI for free, head over to

Monday, February 16, 2009

Which chart type to choose?

I came across this easy to use guide regarding which chart type to use depending on your data type and amount.

It's in Spanish, but it's not that difficult to decipher (or shouldn't be anyway).

Download the PDF here

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The right to read

Recently I came across and article called the right to read

It's not long, and it's a short sci-fi story.

With all the talk about ebooks this year being the in thing for 2009, and my own experiences with ebooks, I think that it's worth while to read.

Now while this story is rather bleak and it points to a possibility, an unintended consequence of DRM on our media and its effects on education.


For Dan Halbert, the road to Tycho began in college—when Lissa Lenz asked to borrow his computer. Hers had broken down, and unless she could borrow another, she would fail her midterm project. There was no one she dared ask, except Dan.

This put Dan in a dilemma. He had to help her—but if he lent her his computer, she might read his books. Aside from the fact that you could go to prison for many years for letting someone else read your books, the very idea shocked him at first. Like everyone, he had been taught since elementary school that sharing books was nasty and wrong—something that only pirates would do.

And there wasn't much chance that the SPA—the Software Protection Authority—would fail to catch him. In his software class, Dan had learned that each book had a copyright monitor that reported when and where it was read, and by whom, to Central Licensing. (They used this information to catch reading pirates, but also to sell personal interest profiles to retailers.) The next time his computer was networked, Central Licensing would find out. He, as computer owner, would receive the harshest punishment—for not taking pains to prevent the crime.

To continue reading click here

Monday, February 9, 2009

Abstract Madlib

A little beginning-of-semester humor from PhD

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Convicing others to blog - or not

I recently came across a blog post on engaged learning dot net called convincing others to blog.

I read it and I found it quite interesting.

As someone how's got four blogs already, I know that there is value to speaking about things you like and topics where you may be a subject matter expert. The time commitment to blog is not very taxing. If you know what you are talking about you can write a blog post in less than 15 minutes. This could be your coffee break for instance. If it helps your company, event better!

I know that people realize that there is something valuable for the company if the higher-ups blog about the product. After all, how can you work for a company if you are not jazzed about what they offer. It doesn't matter if this is Apple's new widget or a University's MBA program.

I tend to talk about blogging to classmates and friends (and sometimes coworkers), but I never pressure them to open a blog. I prefer to lead by example. Writing does not come natural to many people. They can sit and talk a mile a minute about something that they are interested in, but schooling has ingrained a certain type of writing in our minds, which can be a pain for most people.

People think of writing (even blogs) as something that needs an intro paragraph, and ending paragraph, at least 3 body paragraphs, and topic sentence for each paragraph, something that ties it all in, proper punctuation, citations , references and so on. This is not as easy as speaking to someone. Thus I tend to let people read blogs, and then decide how they want to create their own, if indeed they do want to create one.

One problem I have with corporate blogs is over advertising. The CEO (or other exec) may write about something interesting that they saw in the news, or some conference they went to that was of interest, but they tend to have a lot of product placement in their blog posts and that turns me off.

I read the UMass online blog for instance. I am really interested in what people have to say as professionals in learning management and in online education, but as a reader I turn off when I see a mention similar to
At the risk of overly commercializing my New Year’s message, at UMassOnline it has never been easier or more convenient to continue learning.

Testimonials are good, but sometimes, as a reader, I feel like I am being hit over the head with advertising.

So my advice?

Blog about what you love. It's OK if what you do in your day job isn't what you want to do in the evenings or the weekends. If you can't write something about your industry, don't. Also, even if you do love your industry and your company, don't beat your readers over the head with mentions about where you work - chances are the header of your blog mentions your company, and don't talk up your product unless you really use it. The hair club for men comes to mind as a good example of this principle: "I'm not just president of X, I am also a customer"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ning versus the Campus Portal

I came across this Educause North Atlantic conference presentation file relatively recently. As someone who has created a Ning social Network for one program (and helped develop a Ning network for another), I thought this presentation was interesting. I really wish there were an associated podcast with this powerpoint file because the powerpoint alone does this presentation little justice

One of the common reasons people (IT folk) don't like Ning, at least on my campus, is that it's not something they control, and they claim that they subscribe to similar functions in blackboard. As someone who's working on his third and fourth Master's degree, I have never seen this implemented for any of my studies, and it's something that is useful to the student and the alumni population!

So what is wrong with portals (asks the slide?)
Portals = enterprise technology; central control

Web 2.0 = open source; distributed management

A dirty secret – portals are supposed to offer more levels of distributed management and open source content, but few are using them that way

It's the distributed management that really pushed me toward Ning. While I am the overall manager of the site (having created it), there is an ability to make other people managers of different areas, and let many people work toward the maintenance of the site. In contrast with a campus portal, since it is single-sign-on base, once you graduate you can no longer log in, and you have other people in charge of your network. For me, as a student/alumni association officer, it's more important to know that there is continuity and ease of use so that when I do 'retire' from my role as an officer others can easily pick up the baton.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Librarianship is dead. Long live librarianship.

OK, now that I've got your attention, I decided to create a complimentary post to this blog entry called instructional design is dead

Much discussion has been had on publib recently about the downgrading of librarianship as a profession.

One comment says:
I certainly wouldn't suggest that we should make our cataloging
systems deliberately arcane or complex simply to justify our existence(s). But there are libraries and library systems who are working hard to downgrade the profession and thinking about making libraries increasingly bookstore-like makes me wonder who, in this new model, will be at the Information Desk?

Things change in life. So do libraries. If you do the same old thing decade after decade, your position will be downgraded as newer customer service models evolve, newer technologies come into the limelight and people expect more and different kinds of services. It's up to the library folk to provide a value added for their communities and maintain their professional standing.

A subsequent respondent says:
I completely support the MLS as the basic qualification for a librarian. But there are special challenges, especially in urban areas and rural areas. I'm sure that there are many excellent library directors, for example, on publib who don't have the MLS.

I disagree. Having looked at the MLIS curricula from respected library grad schools I think that the type and amount of knowledge your get from an MLIS is not work the monetary and time investments that you need to make to obtain one. In addition, many of my colleagues who are MLIS librarians say that it is just a union card. Period. Requiring an MLIS pays too much attention at what you do in 12-18 months rather than your skill-set as an employee elsewhere. I know many people who would be better librarians than librarians I've met.

Finally, Carol comments:
This may rub some people the wrong way and I'm sorry for that but I strongly believe that minimizing or discrediting professional standards does not help the profession. And libraries that lack regular professional staff are missing a core piece of what makes a library a library - no two ways about that. Sometimes you have to make do with what is available, which is understandable, but by and large professional, degreed, and accredited librarians are the most highly qualified people to perform their role.

I actually agree with Carl. Where I don't agree is that an MLIS is the only path to become a librarian. There are many avenues, in my opinion, to become a librarians depending on the position. A library director for instance can have an MBA instead. A systems librarian can be someone who's been in IT for a long time or have some Masters in an IT field. A children's librarian can be someone with a Masters in Education, and so on.

There are many jobs in libraries from "librarians" and someone with an MLIS cannot possibly cover everything through a 10-12 course curriculum that has no BA/BS equivalent, so you need to cover everything you would learn in a BA/BS and what you would learn in a Master's level degree in 10-12 courses, something that is not possible and falls flat on its face.

Yes you need professionals. Yes librarianship will be reborn. The MLIS is not the only way to get to become a professional librarian.