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NITLE Conference: LMS at LAC : 4-5, and lunch (consortional support; Ellen Anderson talking about stuff; lunch discussion on open source support) October 31, 2006

Posted by ficial in conference, LMSLAC2006.
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More NITLE conference sessions:

“Sharing our Strengths: A Consortial Approach to Supporting Pedagogical Innovation Through Faculty Fluence in Information Technology” [quite a mouthful] by Christopher Chase (faculty) and Jeremy Whately (IT) of Claremont McKenna

  • largely a report on a particular project they did that involved collaboration between 5 colleges
  • [this presentation was very fast – I had a hard time taking notes and absorbing what was said; it might have been better to cut about 1/3 the content]
  • two of the main accomplishment of the project were developing a team of student IT specialists (who were trained and certified by the program) and teaching a series of workshops on pedagogy and technology. The presenters found it effective to pay people to show up to the workshops as a way to get faculty to attend. [Some at the conference expressed displeasure with this in informal discussion afterwards. My initial thoughts were similar – i.e. that we should have to pay faculty extra since learning to teach is part of their job and they’re not more or less busy than anyone else workign a job. However, on further reflection I think I’m OK with it. It’d certainly be nice if we could get people to workshops without bribing them, but if a small bribe is what it takes to get them to learn about teaching with technology then it seems an easy price to pay even if we shouldn’t really have to do it.]
  • Chris Chase talked about various reasons he likes using a CMS:
    • as a way to present/distribute material [basic admin stuff]
    • all out-of-class communication is electronic – fast and retained
    • good for examples, supplemental reading, links to other resources, etc. – a way to provide support for enthusiastic students
    • availability of new tools – pre-quizzes, electronic drop box, archiving old student work as examples (with permission)
    • [the last point is the one I found most interesting – what are the pedagogical tools/tricks that the technology lets you do (or do better) what you otherwise could not? The pre-class quizzes (i.e. for knowldge evaluation, not for grading) seem especially appropriate]

[not much in the way of specifics that I found useful in the previous talk, but it spawned a number of ideas:

  • presentation topic: How to prepare a selection of workshops
  • workshop idea: how to write a blog, and why
  • offer workshops to faculty and staff at other local institutions
  • new student orientation should have a tech component
  • workshop idea: using blackboard (or any other C/LMS) effectively
    • minimum necessary content
    • best practices (consistent use, demo/tour at class start, use in class, etc.)
    • how to use the new tools available (quick quizzes, discussion boards, social software, etc.)
    • what reports should you care about and how to use them
    • using student examples]

Ellen Anderson from Bates, talking about stuff – her co-presenter couldn’t make it for some reason, so her original talk (“Building Pedagogical Fluency:…”) got changed on the fly. My notes on this talk are pretty sparse

  • used Drupal to provide supplemental support and used the LMS largely just to link to the appropriate drupal pieces [a neat idea in some respects, but account provisioning then needs to be handled on yet another system.]
  • [open questions: Who owns departmental content? What is the required branding/trademarking of pages associated with the college? Why drupal (seems a fine choice, but the options considered and reasons for going with drupal would be nice to know)?]

There were two other talks at the same time as the previous two – the conference split into two tracks. While nice in some regards, it meant I had to miss some talks I would have liked to have seen. This problem popped up again later when I had to miss a couple of talks I wanted to catch because I had to present in a different track.

Over the lunch (edible but uninspiring) I sat with a bunch of folks talking about open source LMS support. I’d originally read the topic as meaning ‘support for open source LMS’, but it was really more about ‘open source support models for LMS’. However, it being a largely informal discussion, the actual conversation coverd both those and more. I don’t remember many specifics resulting from the discussion, other than most people there were thinkning about Moodle when thinking about open source LMS, and that the IT support needed (in rough FTE) is about the same for open source products as it is for closed commercial systems like blackboard.

The next two talks were about LMS and social software, which is a pretty rich topic and so will wait for another post.

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