2015 week 22 in review


Another super-busy week, with not much that would be interesting to anyone who isn’t me. But:

  • Worked with my fantastic team to start planning our presentations for D2L Fusion next month in Orlando.
  • Worked with my fantastic (and growing for the summer) team to plan the summer learning technology and spaces research agenda. I think we’ve got a really solid plan, and will be starting focus groups and interviews with instructors and students asap to find out what their needs are
  • Met with folks from the Taylor Institute building project, to find out how we can best fit the new Faculty Design Studio into the new digs. We’ve reserved one of the new project workrooms for it, and will need to tweak the furniture plan to accommodate things like giant 4K displays, scanners of various flavours, video cameras, etc…
  • The Provost team had a town hall gathering - lots of interesting things going on in the larger team (with props from the Vice Provost Teaching and Learning for the great conference we held recently). Also, the campus dining centre makes some great pizza.
  • Almost forgot! We finally unboxed our new 3D printer/scanner - an XYZPrinting DaVinci All In One 1.0. Very cool rig. We did a quick test print, then tried scanning something small. Then, we spent a few hours recalibrating the printing bed. Doh. We’ll figure that part out.

first scan


  • via Scott McLeod: Asking students to work in complete isolation - none of us work in isolation. why do we expect students to learn and be evaluated in isolation? [Joe Bower, on Alberta’s K12 Provincial Achievement Tests](http://3 Reasons why Alberta’s Provincial Achievement Tests are inappropriate). 1
  • Phil Hill: Worth Considering: Students can have their own perspectives on edtech initiatives. You can’t say you’re a learner-centric institution if you don’t include the learners at the same table as instructors when planning major edtech initiatives. We do, and the student perspectives are consistently amazing. They come to the table as professionals, often more prepared for discussions than staff members are.
  • Brandon Grasley: How to become an edtech leader.  Some good points there. I’d argue it could be much simplified to:
    • Be an active member of the communities (there are many communities spread across a campus)
    • Care about what you’re doing
    • Care about what others are doing
    • Don’t try to run everything. The Community has to lead.
  • Michael Hart: Why Blogging Is Key to the Future of Higher Ed.  Go Gardner Campbell! Handing out bags of gold like they grow on trees or something.2
  • Rachel Woodward: University of Calgary researcher mixes comic books and academic thought. On Nick Sousanis, and his work on comics (and book Unflattening)
  • Jon Kruithof: What If… We Made the LMS Truly Modular? I’d love to be able to actually plug together the best of various smaller pieces. Best discussion platform. Best content management. Best feedback system. Best notifications. We spent a lot of time before our LMS RFP, trying to frame the whole modular-vs-monolithic argument. Monolithic won because it’s a) technically possible, b) possible to license, and c) supportable. For now.
  • Dan O’Reilly: Innovation key to new Taylor Institute building in Calgary. I had no idea the new building was such a feat of engineering. I mean, I know it’s an awesome design, and it’s going to be epic working in the space, but the level of design and craftsmanship going in at all levels is mindblowing.
  • David Weinberger: Reddit vs. CNN: My take. My take is not that Reddit or The Crowd is necessarily fantastic at this, but that CNN is mind-numbingly bad at it. They let clowns in front of the camera to ask stupid almost-questions because people will watch. And if they watch, advertisers will give CNN money. Advertising is making us stupid. Which segues perfectly into…
  • Audrey Watters: What Happened to Educational Television: The Story of ‘The Learning Channel’. What started as a noble experiment in using cutting edge technology have educational resources reach people in remote regions devolved into My Big Fat Boo Boo Little 600 Pound Gypsy Wedding Dress Commander marathons. Because the network had to chase advertising dollars. And advertising is making us stupid. Also, we desperately need to separate ownership of the networks from the content producers. Mass media is horribly vertically integrated, on top of being almost exclusively advertising-funded.
  • Jim Groom: Resignation. And The Reclaim Code. Frankly, I’m still kind of reeling from his announcement. After a decade of awesomeness at UMW, he’s walking away at the top of his game, to pivot and jump into Reclaim Hosting full time. That’s awesome, and takes some serious brass to make a jump like that.3 I know The Tim and Jim Show is going to continue to do amazing work, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with. But, I’m reeling because Jim was basically my compass for “we can do innovative and unconventional things within higher ed” - a small shop transformed UMW, and cast ripples around the world. Edupunk. DS106. Domain of One’s Own. Some really great stuff came out of their little lab4 at a small college in basically-rural Virginia. And UMW will continue to do awesome things because the whole team is fantastic. I’m curious to see how Jim’s role shifts as he moves to The Periphery of Academia.


I’m working on putting a patio and firepit in the back yard. Making good progress, but I’ll be reasonably happy if I don’t see another brick or shovel or wheelbarrow for awhile. Almost time for s’mores…


  1. Sadly, The Boy is going to miss the last round of grade 6 standardized exams, because we’re dragging him to Orlando for 10 days while I go to 2 conferences. Life experiences trump standardized testing. Actually, not sadly. It’s already noticeable how his teachers are cramming in suddenly urgent topics as the exam dates approach. ↩︎

  2. only Gardner could get away with calling a blogging platform RAMPAGES!! ↩︎

  3. I jumped from Academia back in 1998, and spent a couple years building a Multimedia Learning Management System - on CD-ROM, even - before The DotCom Bubble Burst and I wound up back on campus. ↩︎

  4. in collaboration with a lot of people at a lot of other places, but UMW was definitely the epicenter of it all ↩︎

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