Just completed the first day at BbWorld 2009 in Washington DC. The setting has been wonderful – the new Gaylord Resort in National Harbor. Bud Deihl and I are attending together and it has been fun hearing his perspective on the various sessions.
There has been an active Twitter backchannel linked here, so check that out.
Seth Godin of Tribes fame gave the keynote, substituting for Sir Ken Robinson. While I hated to miss Sir Ken, Seth gave a great talk. In many ways, it was an expanded version of his TedTalk earlier this year. But one take away was that education was the one industry Ben Franklin would have no problem recognizing. He likened those of us in education to workers in a balloon factory. It is nice work and we enjoy creating our balloons, but every now and then, a unicorn comes along and makes us nervous. I would like to think that our work in online learning is one of those unicorns…and I kind of like the analogy!
After the keynote, I attended “Back to Basics: Five Elements of Exceptional Technology Enhanced Learning,” by Stephen Laster, CIO, Harvard Business School. It was a good session and about 120 attended this session. His five elements:
* Learning Styles
* Cannot give every student every choice, but you can drive expectations on how learning will be delivered
* Also consider Teaching Styles
* Course design is like creation of symphony
* A flow that comes naturally
* Design starts with objectives and outcomes and navigates based on learning and teaching styles
* BIg Question – How much mass customization can be support?
* While not perfect, students are pretty good at finding info
* My comment to him – all learning is now online – he agreed
* New notion of teams
* Collective learning models
* Leveraging Unplanned Opportunities
* New communication norms
Laster suggested that these elements gave a common language that geeks and non-geeks could get behind. He did note that there was no need to mention technology – that technology should now be assumed to be transparent. He also suggested that the overhead in education is administration, and that the internet makes higher education ripe for consolidations.
Jarl Jonas of Blackboard discussed Creative and Proven Ways to Keep Students Engaged. It was somewhat a sells pitch for Release 9, but I did agree with his roles of instructors in an online class:
o Space Planner (Suggested students see our classes as blindfolded musical chairs)
* Consistency, flow
* eClass online model – Explain, Clarify, Look, Act, Share, Self-Evaluate
* First Impressions
* Keep Out the Welcome Mat
o Pace Setter
* Manageable Segments
* Vary Discussions
* Connect to Content
* Alternative Assessments
* Connect to Each Other
* Students as Teacher
* Connect to Faculty
*Model what you are expecting of students
The corporate keynote after lunch was focused on welcoming Angel, as well as discussing strategic direction for Blackboard NG – universal access, increased ability to measure results, and increased mobile applications. Ray Henderson discussed customer support and transparency, and Michael Chasen announced that Blackboard had just acquired TerriblyClever Design, creator of the iStanford mobile phone apps.
We attended two more sessions in the afternoon. The one on Constructivist Approach to Distance Ed showcased some interesting use of videos but never really discussed constructivism. The other was on faculty development and why faculty fail to come to training. Their bottom line was that one cannot force training, so they have shifted their efforts to web tutorials and tip sheets.
We wrapped up the day at the poster receptions. Bud and I talked to some interesting folks from Valdosta State University (smartphones in ed), West Virginia University (course design), and Texas Womens University (Quality Matters assessments).
Looking forward to tomorrow – Bud and I are on first thing in the morning discussing weaving the social web into Bb to make it more of a learning portal. I hope we pop some balloons!