Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Internet of Things...will we get there?

I was first introduced to the Internet of Things (IoT) concept in 2008 while attending an experiment/presentation by a small tech team from France. The team was demonstrating spimes they had created; I was fascinated by the smart objects and have been following the IoT movement ever since. (And more recently, it's closely related and often used synonymouslyInternet of Everything.)

Spimes aren't mentioned much anymore but the IoT seems to be picking up steam, in the newsand social media at least, the past year. Many are hearing about the IoT in 2014 for the first time. I remember a similar resurgence in mainstream interest around 2011/12.

In 2011 Cisco published this post and infographic showing that the number of devices connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth and more. Still, we haven't really scratched the surface yet of what is being predicted. Some of us who have been following the IoT movement for a while are wondering if/when the predictions will come to pass.

A recent post by TechCrunch titled The Problem with the Internet of Things takes a look at issues surrounding some of our not quite yet smart objects and connected homes. 

Below is a five minute video about The Internet of Things by IBM. Published in 2010, it was the time I felt the most optimistic about IoT development.

Emerging technologies and concepts with huge potential (a world of connected things is a life changing concept) always pique my interest. I anticipate all kinds of possibilities and applications, especially health and educational applications. Educational technology has been a focus of mine for years as an academic librarian and adjunct instructor. Education (and our lives) would not be the same if the IoT comes to pass as many are forecasting.

To better understand the IoT and the potential impact on our lives and society, view the excellent 17 minute video below by Dr. John Barrett, The Internet of Things. Dr. Barrett explains basics of how the IoT works, and how it could enable new ways of interacting and learning with things we encounter in our world. Six practical and educational applications are illustrated (starting at 4:57 in the video). Hint, remember the Star Trek Tricorder

The most sobering aspects of the IoT are related to security. Dr. Barrett states "Security under the IoT has been called a shocking vulnerability, but it's also a major opportunity." In my own non-techie mind, I feel the security challenge, and privacy concerns for some, has to be a major roadblock to the IoT moving forward. 

Kelly Brown, IT Professional and Academic Director for University of Oregon AIM Program, looks optimistically at the opportunities for those with enterprising minds in his recent IoT post
There are ample opportunities for entrepreneurs who can not only come up with a way to embed devices in everyday things but also those who can develop the interconnection between devices and who can do a deep dive in to the data to create meaning.
He goes on to list "three important steps that need to take place to make the Internet of Things a reality." I do hope our schools and universities are providing students the skills that are needed to move us forward. 

This post provides good background information for those who would like to know more about the history of IoT: Brief History of the Internet of Things

The Fow Community has created a nice simple visual of the IoT in this infographic (click to expand). Notice the experts' predictions of where we'll be in 2020. Who do you believe? Will we get there? Comments are welcome. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Innovation + Disruption in Higher Education

I'm embedding the Google+ post below because I think it's important.
The symposium is three hours long and I honestly thought I'd watch about 15 minutes. I ended up watching two hours and hope to catch the third hour soon.

A four minute introductory video was uploaded to youtube that I've embedded below but it only barely touches on what Clayton Christensen was trying to get across to the higher ed leaders.
Scroll down and click the Innovation + Disruption Symposium by Colgate University link in the Google+ post and give it 15 minutes of your time, then decide if it's worth watching more.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rethinking College - Exploring the Future of Higher Education

Update August 30, 2014: #Newshourchats for Rethinking College took place August 26th through the 28th. If, like me, you were too busy with the start of the Fall semester, you can catch the twitter chats that have been posted by PBS NewsHour on Storify.

Shared this earlier today on Google Plus (G+). Since it's easy to embed a G+ post in a blog, and because I want to keep this one for posterity (could be interesting to look back on a few years from now), I'm posting here as well.
The videos linked below seemed more balanced than some I've viewed on this topic. PBS NewsHour did a nice job working to cover different sides of the issues in an unbiased manner. Hoping for further insight from the upcoming twitter chats.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Library Publishing and Open Textbook Initiatives

"The cost of college textbooks has skyrocketed in recent years. To students and families already struggling to afford high tuition and fees, an additional $1,200 per year on books and supplies can be the breaking point."

- Fixing the Broken Textbook Market 2014 report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and The Student PIRGS.

In addition, according to the report "65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive. The survey also found that 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course. More than half of the students felt significant concern for their grade." 

Our university president recently commented to the faculty senate that the cost of textbooks has become a major factor for students in attending college. His comment aligns with the quotes and report above. 

Update: Open Textbooks: The Billion Dollar Solution - 2015 report by The Student PIRGS.

A couple of years ago I worked with my university's director of educational technology to help faculty create textbooks for specific courses. We demonstrated how to get started building ePubs in a couple of faculty workshops by using articles in our library databases (when license permitted), OERs, library e-book chapters (when permissible), and their own writings. We also chose a platform that would allow all students to access the books regardless of what type of device they might be using. From the Android OS to iPhones and tablets, laptops and desktops. A couple of our tech-savvy faculty gave this a good try. In the end they reported that the time and effort involved in getting the textbook ready for the course (with limited IT and library help), was simply too great. 

Shortly after my experience with creating our homegrown textbooks, I heard about the SUNY Open Textbook Initiative. “SUNY Libraries are working with faculty to reduce costs to students, promote authorship, invest in readership, and support teaching and learning."

-Cyril Oberlander, Director of Milne Library at the State University of New York at Geneseo and the Principal Investigator for the Open SUNY Textbook Project. 

Over the past year I've been exploring and learning about a variety of open textbook initiatives. I’ve curated a set of articles and videos on open textbooks and library publishing initiatives on for those who are interested.  

Academic libraries have been increasingly involved with this movement, and there are a number of initiatives around the country that are gaining momentum. A recent library publishing conference I listened in on via the #LPforum hashtag on twitter mentioned several initiatives that were making good progress (see link to curated articles above). I’m looking forward to reading the Library Publishing Forum 2014 proceedings when published later in the year. A couple of blog posts that were written about the event helped fill in the gaps from twitter, this blogger did a nice job summarizing.

Though it's still early, successful open textbook initiatives are beginning to have greater impact. Learn about Rice University OpenStax textbooks in the videos below. There are quality peer-reviewed open textbooks available now that I feel comfortable recommending to faculty as an alternative to costly textbooks. However, the numbers are still small.

It was encouraging to read that over 2,500 professors had signed the open textbook statement of intent to include open textbooks in their search for the most appropriate course materials. But we need faculty members to make a commitment to using open textbooks or OERs for their courses. We also need more quality peer-reviewed open textbooks from which faculty can choose. This is where involvement and participation in the open textbook movement by libraries like mine could help. 

Small universities do not typically have the resources to start an initiative for publishing open textbooks. However, we are part of a consortium of 37 colleges and universities in the pacific northwest known as the Orbis-Cascade Alliance (OCA). One of the OCA [library] directors, Faye Chadwell, the University Librarian at Oregon State University (OSU) and director of OSU Press, was a featured speaker at the recent Library Publishing Forum. This news piece was shared in the #LPForum twitter chat and alerted me to the work already begun at OSU: OSU open textbook initiative aims to reduce student costs, enhance learning. Another OCA member librarian, Karen Estlund, Head of the Digital Scholarship Center at the University of Oregon (UO) Libraries, also presented at the LPForum. 

I would love to be involved in writing a grant for an Orbis-Cascade Alliance Open Textbook Initiative. We could solicit one textbook from each institution, providing some cash to the lucky professor who gets chosen at each school, with half of it payable when the book is complete.  If we could get this rolling and get a batch of texbooks every year, we would soon have a collection that would matter, and that participating schools and others could use with pride.  

Definition and characterizations of Open Textbooks - simply put, college texts offered online under a license that allows free digital access and low-cost print options. 

Would love thoughts from others about library publishing and open textbook initiatives. How doable is it? Are the challenges too great? Would the benefits to students be worth overcoming challenges that arise? Seems to me they would. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Educause Connect: Portland

Portland, Oregon was the first of three test cities for a new model of Educause conference event known as Educause Connect. Tag line: Solve, Network, and Grow - Less "Conference." More Professional Development. Below are my thoughts as a participant and presenter (now known as "content leader").

Online pre-conference meetings were scheduled for content leaders and included our designated learning track facilitators. The meetings were designed to help us learn about the new learning format and how it was different from past conference events. We learned that changing to the Connect learning format meant our sessions were to be less about presentations and more about facilitated dialog, conversations. Like we often hear in higher ed, it's time to end the sage on the stage. And they really meant it. Before our second pre-conference online meeting we were notified to be ready to tell the group what specific interactive strategies we would use during our session. Preparing for that meeting helped my colleague and I to nail down a couple of tools to use during our session.

The first tool we chose was TodaysMeet along with the #EConnect14 conference hashtag for those on twitter as a back channel. (A benefit of TodaysMeet is that it works on most devices and no login or account is required to start using.) Participants were asked to introduce themselves in TodaysMeet at the start of our session to familiarize them with the tool. I asked a couple of questions during the second slide; after that the session participants led the way with questions and comments throughout (some raised hands to speak, some spoke out, and others posted on TodaysMeet). My co-presenter (or co-content leader?) was able to address questions being posted on TodaysMeet and those raising their hands, while I shared and forwarded slides, and conversation ended up flowing nicely.
The other activity for engaging the group was to participate in a rubric activity created by my colleague and co-presenter, Professor Anna Berardi. The rubric activity was well received. Unfortunately, due to the level of participation in discussion, we ran short of time and the activity had to be rushed. We would rethink that strategy for next time, perhaps mentioning a discussion cut off time at the start and beginning the rubric activity sooner.

In the end, I thought our session went well (evaluations coming soon, and we'll see :) ). It helped that the keynote speaker, Kevin D. Jones, talked about the value of failing, that it was okay to fail and if we weren't failing we weren't taking risks, weren't learning to trust, weren't really learning at all, and that was a negative fail. At least that's how I heard it. Bottom line, the keynote was encouraging and helped me relax as did the new format. I found it easier to share and have a conversation rather than the more traditional presentation format. Overall, I liked the new Educause Connect learning format and I'm looking forward to sharing takeaways with librarians and others at my university.

Regarding sessions: A session by ASU librarians has piqued my interest in digital badges and I plan to further investigate. I ended up jumping over to the Mobile/BYOE track the second day and was fascinated by CSUN's tablet initiative. And I thoroughly enjoyed the future trends in mobile session.

I attended the Educause Regional Conference in Portland in 2012 and have attended the larger Educause ELI conference in the past. The new Connect format helps in making connections and allows for deeper learning in a particular track. The last day of the conference, with the exception of the closing keynote, was mostly conversational led by our track facilitators. In our case, the facilitators for the online learning track, John Farquhar and Crista Copp, did an excellent job throughout. Their role in the event was helpful and important, they kept us on track. Good facilitators seem key to the success of the new format.

The PDF of our presentation is on the Educause Connect page in the box below with the exception of the rubric created by Professor Berardi. We're working on writing up our experience for publication and will include the rubric at that time. Our slides have been uploaded to Slideshare.