A Thousand Tweets

At the recent NMC Retreat, the hashtag #NMChz had 998 tweets over the three days (at least that I could capture with Archivist).

I copied the text of the tweets, removed NMChz and RT as two obvious repetitious terms, and then dumped what was left in Wordle.

Interesting results:

Wordle: NMCRetreatTweets

Click on the image above to see the full screen version.  The retreat focused on the future of education and the role the Horizon Report could play.  After Horizon, “learning” was the most used word.  Other words that popped out at me were “thinking”, “future”, “online”, “new”, “trends”, and “change”.  What strikes you?

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Day Two at NMC Retreat

Day Two at the NMC Future of Education Retreat was just as amazing as the first night, if not more so.  Take one hundred colleagues from higher education, K12, museums, and corporate technology companies and have them think out loud for a day…that was the process at this retreat.  Just look at the sticky notes on the board to the left:

Lev Gonick started us off this morning with a description of work Case Western Reserve has done to extend into the Cleveland community.  The problem was framed with three numbers.  Kids in Cleveland who attain a degree – 8%.  Women in Cleveland with diabetes – 33%.  Families in suburban Cleveland in poverty – 57%.  His premise – if everyone in the community (not just inside four walls of institution) had unlimited bandwidth, what opportunities would now be possible?  Could an institution of higher education begin to impact health, poverty, social good, or the local issues any community has?   If bandwidth is infinite and everyone has a mobile device, would institutions of learning change their structure?  David again captured the discussion.


Rueben Puentadura then walked us through two hundred thousand years of human history, mapping out the need for socialization, mobility, visualization, storytelling, and finally gaming.  This was mapped to emerging technologies from the past eight or so Horizon Reports.  More discussion around the table, resulting in:


We then shifted gears to discuss transformations.  Over the course of the rest of the day, we worked in groups to visualize changes and emerging trends.  What surfaced was something David Sibbet termed VUCA – volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.  The image below backs that up!

The social media was very busy.  Using Archivist, I captured 613 tweets from today, as well as this social graph of twitter users of the hashtag #NMChz:

Obviously, it will take days to process what happened over ten hours today…but this gives a feel.  The energy level in the room never dropped, and I felt very lucky to swim in this stream with these amazing colleagues!


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Our First Session at the NMC Horizon Retreat

I’ll reflect more tomorrow…but this evening was fascinating.  Malcolm Brown of Educause was our initial thought leader, and in 6 minutes, he suggested we look at the Horizon Report as a process of design thinking, working on “wicked problems.”.  David Sibbet then facilitated our initial session trying to capture some hindsights about the Horizon Project process.  We did small group discussions first, then as each group shared and built on the conversation of others, an amazing visual representation emerged. The first picture shows David in action, while the other two capture the drawings that emerged.

(…and we will continue doing this tomorrow through eight more thought leaders.)


An interesting start….


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What is the Future of Education?

I have no real idea … just some notions, but I am lucky enough to be attending a neat retreat focused on just this question.

I am attending a retreat hosted by the New Media Consortium, which publishes the Horizon Report annually.  With well over one million downloads and 27 translations in the past ten years, the NMC Horizon Report series annually charts the landscape of emerging technologies for teaching, learning, research, creative inquiry, and information management.  I was on the Board of Advisors for last year’s K-12 report, and found the experience rewarding and enriching.  Some forty of us from around the world examined a range of technologies and focused in on those we felt collectively would emerge in the next year, two to three years and five years down the road.

This year will be the tenth year for the Horizon Project, so Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC, and Lev Gonick, VP and CIO at Case Western Reserve University and Board Chair Emeritus of the NMC, have invited one hundred of us from current and past boards of advisors to come together January 24-26, 2012 in Austin to reflect on what technology will mean to educational institutions in the next decade.  The are calling this retreat “The Future of Education.”

Their goal as stated at the above retreat website is to “…produce a 30-page-ish report that does two things:  One is to capture meta-learnings drawn from our research of ten years into the uptake of technology, which technologies seem to be “sticky” and persist, which are generative (in the sense of shaping perceptions that allow subsequent technologies to take traction) — and how to know one from the other. The second is to use those meta-learnings to frame a set of recommendations for strategic technology planning to inform the next decade of decision making across all sectors of education.”

One of those “sticky” persisitent uses of technology in education is the online education movement.  This past week, my colleagues and I at the VCU Center for Teaching Excellence launched our first totally online faculty development initiative for faculty who want to teach online.  Eighteen of our colleagues are in the first pilot of this online “course”…though course is not quite the right word.  We have crafted a learning environment and have 18 fellow faculty along for the ride.  They have done well this first week getting to know one another, researching the pedagogy behind online teaching, and in some cases, struggling with learning in an asynchronous environment.

But while I do believe “online” is a part of the future of education at both K-12 and higher education levels, I am not as sure about other aspects, such as terms like:

  • course
  • degree
  • discipline
  • professor
  • class
  • semester
  • …the list could go on

Bill Gates and Salman Khan certainly are interjecting some radical ideas about the future of education and the use of online learning…as are others.

So, while I am enjoying the launch of our online faculty development initiative – it follows established models of online course design.  I am looking forward to having my thinking pushed the next three days as we grapple with the future of education and the role technology might play in that future.

{Photo Credit: Mark Chapman, Steve Jervetson}



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