Educational Technology and the Social Web

June 25, 2008

Collaboration Tools

Filed under: Collaborative Technology — Ken @ 1:26 am

Collablab logo

I am attending an afternoon session/meeting of the New England EdTech Group at Boston College. Today’s topic, moderated by Peter Hess from MIT, is collaboration software or more specifically software that enables screen sharing, slide annotation, white boarding, VOIP, polling, chat, file sharing, session recoding, and shared controls amongst participants. Meeting notes are kept at: http://collablab.wordpress.com/

The session is off to somewhat of a rocky start. The Yugma application that was to lead of the demonstration is preventing us from launching a session. Although disappointing this illustrates an important aspect to using this type of technology. It is not always reliable and stable so test, test, test before you use it for real.

We’re now looking at ooVoo and its slick interface for video conferencing. This application can support up to three participants at no cost.  ooVoo represents each participant in small window and offers additonal features for managing contacts. Jay Collier from MIT is joining us from across the river at MIT and is describing a joint project he’s working on to develop a more robust online presence, the IKE Project, Internet Knowledge Exploration. 

We’re now looking at Vidyo, conferencing with Jeff Dill in New Jersey. The video throughput is very nice although we currently don’t have audio.  Disappointing but I think par for the course. 

All of these services look intriguing but I am not sure they are ready for prime time.  Some of the schools represented in the room are sharing their experiences with some of the different applications that are out there. My very informal synopsis is that these tools have yet to secure a major role although they have small toeholds in several schools across several disciplines.   

Phil Knutell from Bentley is discussing his school’s collaborative spaces recently added to the Bentley Library as a part of a $24 million renovation. They built 24 collaborative study rooms outfitted with large LCDs, PCs, and DVD players. Room availability is visible to students as they enter the library and allows students to self-manage room scheduling through PeopleCube.

Phil brought Centra to Bentley from University of Michigan in 1999.  They started using Centra with faculty teaching to their laptop but then branched to a hybrid classroom model. Bentley currently has 13 hybrid classrooms which are used for synchronous teaching and communication.

Phil uses Google docs to teach his course in some very creative ways. He uses it for presentations, polling, syllabus and as a central tool for student projects. On the classroom management side he manages class logistics, TA assignments and duties, and version control when creating syllabi and class assignments. 

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June 21, 2008

RSS & Widgets: How to put your law school on iGoogle, My Yahoo, Facebook, and MySpace

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 3:15 pm

Live blogging from CALI 2008: Len Davidson from the DuFour Law Library at Catholic University of America has created several widgets for students to access library resources.  DuFour has not made it’s widgets publicly available yet so it’s impossible to provide usage statistics but stats from UPenn’s library say .4% of UPenn students use their widgets (from widget box) to access their library resources.  The take away here is widgets are easy to build but it’s difficult to get target audience to use them. Business Week has published a couple of articles on widgets and their effectiveness. There are many resources out there that talk about widgets or widget tools. Magtoo is a cool widget that stitches pictures together into a one panorama picture. Len has a nice review on his blog.

Laptop Hard drive encryption

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 2:06 pm

Live blogging from CALI 2008: Thomas Ryan and Timothy Divito from Rutgers School of Law – Camden are discussing laptop encryption. They recommend all deans, department chairs, faculty, clinical staff, admin staff, and clerical staff have encrypted drives. They posit that most laptop thefts are not for the purposes of identity theft but rather for the system itself and that the majority of thefts are inside jobs. Regardless of the impetus, rules and regulations require disclosure of the theft to all who may be affected. This is obviously an undesirable situation.

They reviewed many different products but are highlighting two today: Free CompuSec and Truecrypt. CompuSec’s nicest feature is GlobalAdmin which is a central management system. CompuSec supports Windows (2000, XP, Vista) and Linux and has additional sw packages such as single sign on, encryption of CDs, Floppies and other removable storge, single file encryption, SafeLan (for network storage) and VOIP encryption. Time for encryption: 40GB drive, 3-4 hours, 80GB, 6-7 hours.  

Truecrypt now offers full disk encryption. It is an open source product. It differs from CompuSec in that its original purpose was to encrypt individual files. Accordingly, it’s install is very quick-only two files. TrueCrypt forces you to burn a rescue disk with the key while CompuSec stores this key in a file which you can store anywhere-USB key, network share, CD, etc.  TrueCrypt is recommended for single laptop encryption for advanced users while CompuSec is recommended for multiple systems because you can use the same key for each system. 

It seems easier to deal with full time employees of an institution if the hardware is owned by the school. What is less clear is how schools deal with students who often use their personal machines when working on client files particularly in clinics. What policies and procedures should be in place to protect client data on student machines?  Should schools ban the use of student personal machines when working on client cases?  Should schools provide students with encryption tools?  Or should schools mandate students have encryption software much like they would mandate the use of an administrators password?  There are no easy answers here but it’s clear schools need to do something to address the risk of confidential information becoming exposed due to theft or loss.

June 20, 2008

Radical Evolution

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 1:40 pm

Book Cover of Radical Evolutio    Live blogging from CALI 2008: Joel Garreau is a student of culture, values, and change. Most recently he is the author of  Radical Evolution  Joel is a reporter and editor at The Washington Post and principal of The Garreau Group, the network of his best sources committed to understanding who we are, how we got that way, and where we’re headed, worldwide. He has served as a senior fellow at the University of California at Berkeley and George Mason University, and is an affiliate of the James Martin Institute for Science and Civilization at Oxford.

OK. Let’s see where this goes. Joel is describing a scenario of super humans, enhanced human beings, silent messaging…this is interesting. He’s arguing that Moore’s Law is leading us to a place where this kind of ability will be possible. Look around, he suggests, Barry Bonds, Dolly the sheep, brain implants, these technologies are here and are advancing fast.

I think I’ll read his book.

June 19, 2008

Joining Deliberate Practice Methods with Technology to Advance Legal Skills Instruction

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 7:19 pm

Live blogging from CALI 2008:  Larry Farmer is a true proponent of deliberate practice.  His work on using deliberate practice is compelling.  While deliberate practice is not for every type of law class there are subjects where it is applicable.  MediaNotes supports this type of practice.  He developed this software to support deliberate practice in his teaching of interviewing and counseling skills. Students capture their work using MediaNotes and a web camera. Student reviews their video and makes comments on salient moments in the video. Adjunct faculty member reviews video and provides additional feedback. One interesting note…students are told if they excel in the class they will be entered into a pool to participate as adjunct faculty the following year.  Each class, four to five students really buckle down on the work because they want to teach.

Implementing a digital repository using BePress Digital Commons

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 6:36 pm
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Live blogging from CALI 2008:  This presentation is a view from two schools, University of Georgia Law School and University of Maryland School of Law, about their implementations of BePress’ IR technology.

IR: an institutional repository is a means to collect the intellectual digital output of an organization; includes a variety of formats, provides open access to materials, collects and orgs output into one virtual location.

SSRN v Digital Commons:Digital Commons by BePress
Factors to consider:
Level of promotion: SSRN favors the individual, while digital commons prioritizes the institution.
Depth of Content: SSRN contains only text documents; digital commons allows a variety of file formats to be included.
Search Engine Visibility: SSRN at one time only allowed search engines to look at metadata. This may have changed recently.

Their conclusion: SSRN and DC are not redundant; each serves a different population.

Obtaining Content:
– building buy in is key but you need to build a strategy to promote awareness.  they populated each category with one representative document and included at least one document from each faculty member
– ease of submission is critical. you can deploy direct submission and/or mediated submission. Mediated gives more control over the content.
-Feedback to faculty is provided in digest form on weekly basis.
– Clear content policies should be developed. for example, they created a popular media category to distinguish this from scholarly content. And they encouraged faculty members to set up selected works pages.

Copyright Procedures:
1. Assume permission from your own authors
2. List out all existing publications and sort by type, e.g., journal entry, book, etc. and manage copyright with centrally. Do not put responsibility on the faculty member.
3. Batch requests for contacting each journal to ask permission to upload identified articles both to Digital Commons and the author’s own web page (selected works).
4. For newer works, encourage authors to include these rights in any future publication agreements.

UM School of Law also uses BePress. They include student work as well as faculty.  They use it in a similar moderated manner as University of Georgia.

BePress is a hosted solution and provides a niche service to higher education.

Online Services for your Law School

Filed under: Education and Technology — Ken @ 3:43 pm

Live blogging from CALI 2008:  USC Gould School of Law has implemented iTunes U, You Tube, and Google Apps in the last year.  USC Law relies on central university for network, email, and CIFS. Law students complained about email the most so USC Law IT looked to Google apps for mail. Students have mail, calendaring, documents, and sites, and will eventually have blogs. USC Law decided to move to Google Apps because they felt it would grow with  student expectations.   IT prepared a well rounded training web page but found that most students didn’t need training.  50% of their student body was using Google mail prior to migration. USC Faculty and staff are on Exchange for mail and calendaring. However, USC Law has accepted the issue with subpoenas by agreeing to work with Google’s general counsel to fight the subpoena but since Google owns the content, they ultimately can do what they want.  This is a huge red flag in my opinion.  USC developed a YouTube channel for the purposes of outreach.  They set up a main University channel then each school in the University have their own channel. USC Law is not using it for class recordings yet but has primarily added content for prospective students and advertising.  USC decided to have adds on their videos; YouTube shares 50% of ad revenue with host institution. USC also set up a spot on iTunes U. USC students only see content for the classes in which they are enrolled.  They also have a public view for non-USC students.  Apple limits USC to one terabyte of space.  USC law has used profcast to sync audio with powerpoint slides before uploading to iTunes U.

Transforming Legal Education

Filed under: Education and Technology,Social Software — Ken @ 2:12 pm
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I am here at the University of Maryland School of Law attending CALI 2008.  I will be live blogging for most of the sessions I attend. Here’s the opening plenary.

The title of this year’s conference is Transforming Legal Education.  John Mayer is opening the session with slide montage of all previous CALI conferences to Alice Cooper’s “Eighteen”. The opening plenary is by Paul Maharg from Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He recently published a book “Transforming Legal Education”.  His themes for today: signature pedagogy, transactional learning, SIMPLE (SIMulated Professional Learning Environment), Into the future.

Transforming Legal Education book coverA main focus of his book is how simulations can be used in the teaching of law. Thorndike and Dewey in the 1920s had opposing views of how we understand education. Thorndike’s view won out according to Maharg, a view that emphasized a teacher dominated classroom. Dewey promoted experiential learning. See Dewey’s Lab school for more information. Four key themes to Maharg’s book: experience, ethics, technology, and collaboration. Maharg’s school promotes transactional learning, a specific form of problem based learning that is distinguished by active learning. In Educating Lawyers (Carnigie Study) the signature pedagogies are surface structure, tacit structure, deep structure, and shadow structure which are fundamental features of the case method. Marhag argues that his four key themes align with the signature pedagogy themes but this exposes gaps in how law is taught. For example, our use of technology is based upon the characteristics of deep structure, we’re forced to deploy technology in a way that fits outcomes of deep structure pedagogy.

Glasgow School of Law has developed an open source simulation environment that promotes transactional learning. It is being used not only in the teaching of law but other disciplines such as social work and architecture. A demonstration of SIMPLE shows us a very clean interface and an example project in the tool. Students are divided into groups of four, documents are prepared by adjunct faculty and they mentor and guide the students. The student’s goal is to achieve a settlement in 12 weeks. Project criteria include a body of evidence that is used to measure student learning and progress. Student feedback says that they learn extended teamwork, real legal fact finding, real legal research etc.  Plagiarism and free loading are guarded against because of the style of teaching, situational, project, collaborative work.

Going forward, SIMPLE will grow to include 3D simulations, perhaps data from Google Earth, and other resources to make it a more rich environment for learning. A little more on transactional learning from the SIMPLE web site:

What is transactional learning?

The common denominator in the use of the SIMPLE application is the legal transaction. The team has developed the concept of ‘transactional learning’, with the following characteristics:

  1. It is active learning – transactional learning goes beyond learning about legal actions to learningfrom legal actions.
  2. It is based on doing legal transactions – students learn about the practical realities of legal actions.
  3. It involves reflection on learning – for example documenting a file, thinking across transactions, reflecting upon group process.
  4. It is based on collaborative learning – students help each other to understand legal concepts and procedures by discussing issues, reviewing actions in a group, giving peer feedback on group work, and so on. In other words, students begin to learn how to leverage knowledge amongst themselves, and to trust each other’s developing professionality (learning about know who and know why, as well as know what).
  5. It supports holistic or process learning – in seminars and lectures and in their reading students engage with ideas and form understandings of legal concepts, documents, actions and the like. However such learning is ‘part to whole’ – the SIMPLE application provides opportunities for ‘whole to part’ learning, and for learning about legal process.

Blog: http://zeugma.typepad.com
Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/paulmarha
SIMPLE Foundation: http://simplecommunity.org

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