Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Learning Spaces by Design

On October 25, 2011 I was a guest presenter at the Education Environments Symposium held at the Dekalb Office Customer Experience Center in Alpharetta, GA. The title of the presentation was, "Learning Spaces by Design- How we can revitalize teaching, learning, and collaboration." The objective of the session was to review a wide variety of learning space designs throughout the U.S. and the world, and to cover 10 core design space concepts that should be included in any learning space project. Both successes and failures in learning space design and integration were illustrated and explained. The Center was filled with innovative and ergonomic settings and designs.

One of the most intriguing featured elements was the innovative "node" chair which promotes flexible mobility and collaborative seating. The striking ergonomic design provides the opportunity to redefine the traditional "front of the classroom" and helps to empower both the student and faculty member to creatively innovate the teaching and learning activities. The seating design also provides a "cubby" place which is particularly helpful in cold weather climates where students have heavy clothing, backpacks, and other items. Considering space, place, and teaching and learning activities can greatly enhance the educational and social experience.

Another innovative design which was featured was the media:scape concept. This innovative product provides collaboration through a variety of seating arrangements, switching of computer signals from
collaborators, and also HD video conferencing options. To share computer screens, collaborators merely have to click a "puck device" which displays their specific computer screen. The product is described as having the ability to break down "barriers and democratizes how people access and share information by allowing....participants to contribute to their ideas- equally, quickly, and seamlessly." You can learn more about the collaborative features of the media:scape concept by viewing this video:

This event brought faculty and staff from universities, colleges, and school districts together with architects to learn and discuss the key design concepts of ensuring the effective creation and integration of learning spaces. The key takeaways from this presentation were the core 10 Key Design Concepts:

Teaching and Learning
Space utilization
Interior Architecture
Translucent technology
Social media integration
Emerging technologies

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Has WI Connection Through Social Media

When hearing the news media talk about Occupy Wall Street #OWS , it is important to look deeper into what the movement means on a global and personal scale. One attempt to gain a better understanding of the OWS phenomenon, and to provide some context to the discussion, is through an innovative use of CNN's iReports. Anyone can become an iReporter. Basically, after signing up for an account, an individual anywhere in the world with Internet access or a cell phone can immediately upload a photo, video, or narrative of what they are experiencing. It brings important global and local issues to the forefront, anytime, anywhere, and about anything of importance to the iReporter.

For OWS, CNN iReporters were asked to report on their impressions on the issue. This provided an opportunity to research the use of social media in politically charged environments, and how OWS affects people's lives. In this example, a person in La Crosse, WI was interviewed on how
Occupy Wall Street Was Inspired by the Wisconsin Protests affected him. In the article, Craig explained that the political protests in Wisconsin help to inspire the people in New York to begin the Occupy Wall Street efforts. He continued by saying that he is been unemployed for over a year. In his words, "We need to connect the dots from what is happening in Wisconsin, to what is happening in New York." Through the iReports, we can gain some context on OWS throughout the world through the personal stories of those who are affected. Social media provides the mechanism for us to better understand issues, and people.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Impact of Social Media in Politics

On October 7, I had the opportunity to present the session, "The Impact of Social Media: Authentic Learning in Politically Charged Environments." The session was part of a day long workshop hosted by the University of Wisconsin System Learning Technology Development Council (LTDC). The entire event was entitled, "Authentic Learning with Digital Media." You can follow the Twitter feed from the conferencer at #LTDCWRS.

My session graphically showed how social media can reinforce, influence, and change opinions in politically charged environments- in this case in Wisconsin beginning in February 2011. By showcasing CNN iReports, YouTube, and Twitter feeds, a chronological case study illustrated how social media can present fact, and fiction, to the world. Over 90,000 CNN iReport views, 500 global comments, and numerous press announcements help to put the polticial upheavel in Wisconsin in context, augmented with examples of how social media played a pivotal role in shaping and changing opinions.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Creating a Sense of Collaboration

When we want to create an environment which engages faculty with learners, we need to consider creating spaces that promote discussion and collaboration. First we need to have curriculum which promotes opportunities of collaborative learning.  Then, we can focus on some of the ways we can enhance this experience through a series of design and technology options. 

An innovation room conceived to complement collaboration
Selecting tables and chairs with wheels helps to promote an environment of flexibility and innovation.  In addition, providing plenty of "analog" white boards encourages the sharing of concepts and ideas.  Providing a main projection screen, along with flat panel monitors located around the room provides the opportunity to direct attention to the front of the room, or to group work. 

In this room faculty have the flexibility to select multiple video sources in the front of the room, or to the "group work" at one of the three flat panels around the perimeter of the space. The faculty also have full control of lighting and presentation sources via a touch panel at the podium.  This innovation room make the learning environment flexible, engaging, and very collaborative.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Learning and Social Meeting Spaces Redefining Learning Experiences

250-seat auditorium and teaching podium
As new academic buildings are conceived and constructed, considering teaching and learning activities along with social interactions are important issues to think about.  We are at a point where we need to consider what we want as outcomes of our space design, before we put faculty, staff, and students into our environments.  At the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Centennial Hall was developed with an eye on the past 100 years of the university's existence, and an eye on the next 100 years.  There are a number of key concepts that personifies how we can blend teaching and learning, and student and faculty interactions.  In the building there are traditional lecture halls of 250 occupants. These lecture halls are carefully sloped for easy access, provide exceptional sound treatment and accoustics, comfortable seating, full HDCP digital switching capability, and dual screen projection.  In addition to traditional seating, the building also has innovative collaborative, flexible collaborative spaces.  

Open areas with comfortable seating promote interaction

The building also provides large open areas for students and faculty to interact, network, and collaborate. These open areas provide comfortable seating, wireless Internet, and pleasing color scheme and lighting.  In providing multiple effective learning environments, coupled with open meeting spaces, a cohesive and integrated space can promote learning and social interaction.

Open areas with good lighting and digital signage

In future reviews, I will anlayze in more detail specific learning spaces within the building, and explain how certain spaces can enhance interation and collaboration during the teaching and learning activities.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 11, 2001 Remembered

On September 11, 2001, we all watched in disbelief of the terror attach on the U.S.  We had just finished remodeling our Wing Technology Center with the latest in classroom technology and new learning space environments.  I was very proud and gratified of the result. Then, early on September 11th, we all watched the stunning events of the fateful day unfold as the video and images were projected in our new classrooms throughout the building.  Here we had the latest technology to enhance our learning, and there on the screens were images of tragedy and destruction. Several days later, I asked and received permission to put an American flag, framed on red, white, and blue burning, on the front of our new building.  When I look at this photograph a decade later, I can still clearly remember what I felt and thought on that day. 

Friday, September 02, 2011

Social Media in Politically Charged Environments

I recently presented a first-in-a-series session on the use of "Social Media in Politically Charged Environments." This in-depth and well documented project, includes images, videos, blogs, YouTube video, and Twitter feeds as it portrays the impact of social media on the political environment in Wisconsin since February 2011. Included in the presentation are CNN iReports which were tracked through the U.S. news media, and worldwide. Screen shots captured the dramatic speed and distribution of information throughout the world. In addition, comments highlighted and documented the high emotions of people globally, on the political issues and environment in the state. Analytical data highlighted from selected YouTube videos through "YouTube's Insight" illustrated the age group, gender, geographic location of the viewership. Faculty at the presentation were engaged and, at times, overwhelmed of the emotion from the documented videos.

One faculty commented, "I was at the March 12th protests in Madison, and seeing the video makes my hair stand up on the back of my neck." Another faculty member, who originally was from Iran reflected, "I thought this footage was from Washington, DC!" I informed her that no, this was shot in Madison. She continued by saying that these protests look like the ones in Iran over 30 years ago.

More presentations and writings are planned for this topic. If you'd like to know more, or contribute, please let me know. Let's discuss, collaborate, and learn.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

21st Century Classroom Technology with Cisco

Recently we hosted a workshop, in cooperation with Cisco entitled, "21st Century Classroom Technology." We had a variety of guests from around the U.S. via Cisco/Tandberg HD teleconferencing. The first guest speaker was Dr. Lance Ford who provided a dynamic and engaging presentation on how to incorporate smartboards and video into the teaching and learning process. To see and learn more, click on the Cisco presentation link below. http://tinyurl.com/3rss4vy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To Empower With Technology

I just completed a new video entitled, "To Empower With Technology." The concept of the video is to illustrate how today's college students perceive technology in their lives and in their education. The program touches on social networking and communications, and challenges the viewer to consider how technology empowers us all. The program recently "kicked off" the EDUCAUSE Midwest Conference held in Chicago, IL. It preceeded a keynote address by Michael Wesch, best known for his engaging videos, The Machine and Us (over 11 million views) and also A Vision of Students Today, (over 4 million views). Michael was referred to as "the explainer" by Wired Magazine. He is an Associate Professor of Cultural Antropology at Kansas State University.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Conversations with Michael Wesch

I had the pleasure to meet, and also convene a discussion with Michael Wesch at the EDUCAUSE Midwest Conference held in Chicago, IL. Michael had been referred to as "the explainer" by Wired magazine. He is a cultural anthropologist that explores the effects of new media on society and culture. As a professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, his YouTube video, "A Vision of Students Today," has over 4 million views. He spoke to the audience at EDUCAUSE Midwest and commented on the challenges of living in an environment of "soundbite communications" and how media mediates our relationships. You can learn more about Michael's fascinating work at: www.ksuanth.weebly.com/wesch

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Madison College Convocation-Constructing New Opportunities for Learning

On January 4-5, 2011 I had the opportunity of providing the keynote address, "Dynamic Technologies to Engage Learners" and also two breakout sessions entitled, "Building Bridges to Innovative Learning Environments." The theme of the Convocation was, "Constructing New Opportunities for Learning." I found the experience exceptionally well conceived and planned. The college writes that the event is used as a strategy for promoting learning, discussion and development of common ground about teaching and learning among faculty and staff." Some of the topics covered included, teaching and learning, learning space design, student sucess, active learning, and student engagement through technology.
My keynote session was given in the Mitby Theater. It is an excellent facility that seats approximately 1000. Madison College was recently successful in securing $133 million dollars in funding to aid in the construction of new facilities and to incorporate innovative teaching and learning environments to the campus. The Convocation was an excellent first step for both faculty and staff to understand and be a part of the process.