The cost of attendance has been more than justified by the learning, technology exposure, and networking opportunities.
I’ve been attending the Campus Technology 2010 Conference in Boston for the last few days, and I learned a good deal in most of the Conference Sessions that I’ve attended. I heard some folks gripe a bit about some of the sessions they attended, but I was generally quite pleased with the ones I sat in on (although, I will admit that a few presenters could have benefitted from some work on their presentation skills).
I also learned a lot at some of the vendor booths, and appreciated some of the “Technology Classrooms” that were offered (25 minute vendor presentations that provided insight into their solutions). Add to that an outstanding Keynote Presentation by Harvard Business School CIO Steven Laster, and you have an experience that was worth repeating (I intend to return next year).
Here are some highlights from my experience.
“Teaching with Web 2.0: Case Study and Analysis“ by Mihaela Vorvoreanu, Assistant Professor, Purdue University
Professor Mihaela Vorvoreanu presented a wonderful case study in which she and colleague Dr. David Sears compared outcomes in a Public Relations course which had several Web 2.0 tools and activities purposefully woven into the instructional process, versus a ‘control’ Communication Theory course which had minimal use of such tools. The Web 2.0 technologies integrated into the PR course were Twitter, Skype, and Blogs. The outcomes assessed were: Motivation, Learning, Teacher Relationship, and impact on Career Success (as measured several years after the course).
The analysis shows clear correlations between the use of the tools and positive outcomes in the measured areas. This study has not yet been formally published, and I don’t wish to do any disservice to Ms. V and her colleague, so I won’t share any more about it at this time.
“Forecast for Malibu: Cloudy with a Chance of Virtual Computing”, presented by IT Directors Gerald Flynn and Thomas Hoover of Pepperdine University
These gentlemen shared an informative presentation that reviewed three different virtualization efforts they have helped to implement, with varying levels of success. All of these solutions offered great cost savings opportunties, coupled with enhanced functionality for the user community.
Their most successful virtualization project involved the use of virtualized hardware solutions from NComputing. These solutions can be used to provide multiple user stations from one computer, utilizing one of their relatively inexpensive devices, plus monitors, keyboards, and mice. I’ve been hearing a lot about these types of systems lately, and will likely look further into them, and do a feature post on it in the coming months.
The next technology they tried was virtual storage from Xythos. While this was easy to implement and administer, adoption was lower than expected (they think they need to work more at spreading the word, and helping users get up and running with the solution), so they have not yet realized the returns they hoped for.
Finally, they tackled virtualized applications using Citrix’s Xenapp technology. This ended up being a good deal more complex to implement and administer than originally envisioned, but they are still moving ahead, and intend to move towards full virtual desktops in the future.
“Virtual Support Center for Geographically Dispersed Faculty and Students”, by JoAnn Gonzalez-Major, Senior Instructional Designer, University of Anchorage (her colleague Amanda Albright, who is a partner in the work discussed, was unable to attend)
Ms. Gonzalez-Major and her colleague have done an impressive job of putting together an array of services and training opportunities to support the 1200+ geographically dispersed faculty who in turn support the 20,000+ students spread across the University of Anchorage’s multiple campuses.
One of the training and support solutions that really struck home was the web based tutorials and FAQs that they have developed and deliver via Moodle. Faculty and Students have a robust set of tutorials at their disposal, and can (and do!) use the FAQ system to self-help themselves to answers to many questions. When they can’t find answers there, they access Tier 1 support, and if they can’t help, the request is passed onto Tier 2 – any support issues that make it that far result in the development of a new FAQ!
JoAnn explained that while this may seem like a time consuming process, the time saved by enabling the community to self-help themselves clearly outweighs the effort that goes into documenting these solutions. The time saved can then go into further proactive training and self help solutions generation.
I intend to write feature posts about one or more of these sessions, so there’s more to follow. I’ll start by reviewing the excellent Keynote Presentation that HBS CIO Steven Laster conducted on Wednesday morning, “The Road Ahead: Driving Innovation in the ‘New Normal’“. A key take-away from this presentation was Mr. Laster’s “8 Factors For Success”. These ideas are fundamental concepts that can help ensure the long term success of IT Management in any institution, and I look forward to sharing them here (with sincere gratitude to Mr. Laster for granting his permission to do so).
In the meanwhile, if you’ve already attended a Campus Technology Conference, perhaps you are already sold on the value. If you haven’t, you would do well to budget some some funds and set aside the time to attend next year’s session (which will also be held in Boston, in July).
Related Posts (if the above topic is of interest, you might want to check these out):
Let’s stop misspending education technology dollars
This year’s major U.S. Education Technology Conferences
5 Reasons Why Educators Need To Embrace Internet Technologies