Gaining Transferable Skills in Graduate School

I was pleased to participate in a panel discussion on the importance of acquiring and developing transferable skills in graduate school.

Once again, It appears I’ve earned my reputation as Dr. Doom when it comes to talks about the prospects of graduate students. However, I hope my points are taken seriously. It’s time for graduate students as well as non-elite graduate programs to face the facts: you (or your students in the case of programs) are highly unlikely to ever come within sniffing distance of a tenure track faculty gig. Hell, over-production of Ph.D.’s has meant that even SLAC gigs are unlikely due to the massive numbers of elite-school Ph.D.’s looking for TT work.

While articles like “We Must Prepare Ph.D. Students for the Complicated Art of Teaching” by Derek Bok are well-intentioned, they are ultimately unhelpful. Those teaching jobs are gone and they aren’t coming back. Even the horrid conditions of adjunct work won’t be available much longer as advances in personalized and adaptive learning platforms move into automation of much of the intro-level coursework that contingent faculty are given to teach.

We need to be re-thinking the Ph.D. in terms of praxis: the ability to apply theoretical, substantive disciplinary knowledge alongside skilled practice applied to meaningful tasks.

Fooling ourselves will get us nowhere. I’m happy that the University of Kentucky is taking steps to help its graduate students prepare for non-ac/alt-ac careers, and I look forward to working with the UK Graduate School to help our amazing grad students prepare for their futures.

PS 545 Spring 2013 American Political Thought

Welcome PS 545 students!

Until we can get you added to the course Evernote Notebook, I wanted to provide you with a copy of the syllabus and a link to this Friday’s readings. Please remember to sign up for an Evernote account (free!) as soon as possible so that you may access the course Notebook. For course updates, please remember to check the #ps545 hashtag on Twitter regularly.

The Night Before #BIF8

Once again, I’ve been given the privilege of attending the Business Innovation Factory’s Collaborative Innovation Summit, affectionately known as BIF-8. Once again, as happened the night before BIFs 5 & 6, I can’t sleep. I’m too excited. You see, I’ve been looking forward to this two-day summit for months. The energy, the sheer delight of the participants, speakers and the BIF team themselves in pushing art, science, engineering, business to the bleeding edge and building something new and amazing, things that push us forward as a society, as a civilization. This energy is pulsing through me right now, that anticipation of being delighted in the creative work of men and women from a variety, no, a blurring of disciplines.

I tell my students and co-workers that I come to BIF to fill up my Idea Tank for the year. And it’s a powerful fuel. I’m looking forward to hearing from Susan Schuman of Stone Yamashita Partners. Keith Yamashita’s talk at BIF-6 was the highlight of that summit for me, and I am eager to hear Susan discuss how the SYPartners spinoff Unstuck continues to help us figure out, as individuals and as teams, how to move past The Dip, how to get past those barriers that keep us from becoming the most “us” we can be.

This notion of becoming extends beyond just the self-making of becoming unstuck. There’s also a motif of placemaking for these Unstuck selves that we’ll hear about from Carol Coletta and Beth Coleman. I had the pleasure of meeting Carol briefly at the DGREE conference in 2010 when Carol was with CEOs for Cities, and I continue to be impressed now as I was then at Carol’s commitment to helping communities become Unstuck by harnessing the power of those things that make us most human – our art – and harnessing that to make our places more human as well. Beth’s work in transmedia and digital placemaking (such as her work exploring the city as platform) is an important companion to Carol’s work with ArtPlace. We are digital beings as much as analog these days, and the places we make must reflect this nature as well. To be more fully human, to be truly unstuck, we and our places must reject Digital Dualism (though I suspect BIF storyteller Sherry Turkle will have something to say about that!).

These human spaces and places must have infrastructure to hold them together. Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, and Dries Buytaert, creator of Drupal, will explore critical elements of the transportation and informational mesh that will enable this analog and digital placemaking. But this mesh is human in nature as well. Valdis Krebs, Dave Gray and Carne Ross will all be provoking us to think more deeply about the networks that connect us, the possibilities of network organization to unleash creative business potential, and the future of building international networks to build a more just and peaceful world.

But it isn’t just the storytellers that make such a special event; no, it’s the participants that do that. I’ve always said that the great thing about BIF conferences is that the attendees are as world-class as the storytellers. Saul Kaplan, Chief Catalyst of the Business Innovation Factory, recognizes this and has designed the BIF summits to have ample time and space between storyteller sessions to allow for what he refers to as Random Collisions of Unusual Suspects. It’s nothing short of magic.

This year, for me, it began with warm greeting hugs from BIF Student Experience Lab leader Chris Flanagan and the amazing and inspirational Deb Mills-Scofield and moved right into the InnoBeer meetup where I finally got to meet BIF community manager Katherine Hypolite and employment innovator Frank Gullo (which immediately sparked some thoughts on badges as signaling artifacts to boost employment for college grads).

As I drained the last of a pint of an excellent pumpkin spice ale, I looked around at all the people sharing ideas with these big goofy grins on their faces. I went to Tweet out a clever statement about it when I saw the same goofy grin reflected back at me in the glass of my phone. And it struck me: these are my people, my tribe. These are the reasons I keep coming back to BIF summits each year – to share in the buzz of like-minded people dedicated to Building the Wow in their fields, to fill up my Idea Tank, to, in no uncertain terms, put my shoulder to the wheel with people Instantiating the Future.

I may not sleep at all this week. See you at the Trinity Rep in the morning for Day 1 of BIF-8.

Quick thoughts (and a 2×2) on Models of Online Course Production

I’m beginning to suspect the ecosystem of online course production will end up looking something like this:

Online Models Quadrant v1 (c) 2012 Christopher S. Rice, Ph.D.

The chart also needs additional axes to capture social layer, enrollment size (small/traditional or full-on MOOC), and whether learning is meant to be formal or informal. iTunesU certainly looks to be shaping up into a lower-right quadrant offering, but with their recent Piazza partnership, looks to be attempting to add on a social layer.

I’m just not convinced that every university, even with venture funding from groups like 2Tor and Gates, has the ability to generate large numbers of high-quality courses. Nor is there really a need for them to. Universities will likely produce a smaller number of hi-fi courses in their core areas of excellence and then accept transfer credits from other online sources that meet an agreed-upon set of quality and technological standards. This also creates a potential market niche in the lower-right quadrant for high-level, high-quality experience aggregators who can blend these disparate courses into a highly customized and personalized degree program, including support services, etc. Something like the bastard step-child of Western Governor’s University, iTunesU, New Charter University and Athena University.

Well, as it turns out, looks like someone’s trying to explore that lower-right quadrant. MIT, P2PU, OpenStudy & Codeacadamy are collaborating on a concept they’re calling “Mechanical MOOC”: http://www.hackeducation.com/2012/08/21/the-mechanical-mooc/. Looks like they’re using email lists to distribute links to curated, remix able online content instead of RSS. They’re using OpenStudy for the engagement piece, with the idea that students join cohorts, can “fall back” a cohort if they want to pause the course instead of dropping out (a big Coursera/Udacity problem).

It’s an interesting modular approach to building a MOOC: surface content from a variety of sources, pull together an engagement piece from another provider, provide collaboration tools from yet another provider and work through yet another provider to curate and facilitate all of this. No central LMS to manage the process.

In a way, I really like this model. It’s very related to the modular approach of cMOOCs (like Downes’ gRSShopper architecture) and DS106 in the lower left quadrant. I suspect, based on Michael Feldstein’s recent piece on Blackboard’s platform strategy (http://mfeldstein.com/blackboards-new-platform-strategy/), that Bb is thinking about this approach as well.

Is the opportunity for disruptive innovation in online learning in that bottom right quadrant?

To succeed in this rapidly changing landscape is going to require a wholesale rethinking by universities of their online/distance learning programs.

 

Teaching & Learning Center 2015: A Day in the Life

The following is a fictionalized scenario, a day of a life of a teaching and learning center based on some futuring work I did for an internal planning retreat for the Center for the Enhancement of Learning & Teaching (CELT) in Summer 2012. I wrote up this scenario based on the outputs of several workshop exercises designed to get the team thinking about the Center’s “business model” and services repertoire and how we can change this to continue to add value to our faculty, students and administration as the university adapts to the changing landscape of higher education in the United States.

 

“Well, Dr. Smith, I think it might improve your students’ engagement with the course if you interacted with them more often in the activity stream of the class Google Circle. Perhaps 2 or 3 additional comments or responses each day would do the trick,” Suzanne said. She enjoyed working with UK’s new crop of Virtual Professors, even though her only face-to-face contact with them was over Google Hangouts. It had been weird conducting faculty consults with faculty who never came to campus (or even lived in Kentucky) at first, but the economics behind the outsourcing of certain programs really couldn’t be argued. In today’s economic climate, it was simply too expensive for UK to build a Transmedia Communications department that was on campus full time. In order to keep costs down, UK had simply contracted with a group of Ph.D.s who worked together virtually for several universities to deliver Transmedia Studies education. CELT, however, was still responsible to help these Virtual Faculty improve their course delivery and student engagement.

Suzanne had been eased into this way of working after CELT hired its first virtual staff member a few years ago. Again, communicating and working with a team member who was never physically present in Lexington had proved challenging, but the use of Google Hangouts and the CELT Google+ circle had made it much easier. In fact, most CELT team members used Google+ (like Google Chats and  Circles) throughout the day to update each other on their status and location, and often to open a quick Hangout to discuss a teaching and learning problem or to bring in a backup team member virtually for a few moments. Speaking of which, now that her 9:30 consult was over, it was time to check in with Steve one timezone back in Wisconsin. Steve was a great team member – always present, always engaged with the rest of the CELT team. CELT had really needed his skills in hybrid course design, but due to family, he had been unable to move to Lexington. With the infrastructure CELT had begun putting in place a few years earlier, it was easy to accommodate him.

After her meeting with Steve to discuss their research project with Dean Speaks and the College of Design on an analysis of the studio education model and how to apply this to other disciplines, Suzanne hustled out the door to her 11am meeting with the Department of Multimodal Communications to discuss best practices for moving their program into a fully hybrid mode due to increasing problems with space on campus. Enrollments had increased over the past few years, but new classrooms had not yet come online due to the political in-fighting in Frankfort, and UK had not been able to save enough money from the cutbacks to build new spaces. With UK’s classroom physical plant aging, more and more programs had begun to move to hybrid models to make the best use of remaining spaces. UK had merged DLP and CELT a few years ago to acknowledge the reality that all classes were now on a continuum somewhere between fully face-to-face and fully online. As she ran out the door, Suzanne waved to her colleague Anna, who was busy in her office providing real-time instructional support to Dr. Jimenez’s Entrepreneurship MOOC, which had broken the university’s previous enrollment records with 12,000 students around the world.

After lunch, Suzanne took her laptop down to Coffea to recharge and to enter her client meetings and other notes into Highrise. It had been a successful meeting with the Architecture faculty. They had finalized the plans for the Center’s SOTL project for the year and started a Google Doc to begin collaborating between the 5 faculty members and the 3 CELT team members on the findings and write-up of the project. Suzanne wanted to get the notes on her interactions with the Architecture faculty into Highrise not only to be able to collect the data for CELT’s accountability reporting to the Accountability Based Budgeting committee, but also to be able to share this information with her fellow CELTics for their later consultations with these faculty members.

Speaking of which, her director, John, just messaged her on Google Chat. What can you tell me about Dr. Blake and Dr. Murray in Political Science? Jane and I are meeting with them now to talk about doing some course redesigns around Project Based Learning? Suzanne pulled up their client files on Highrise and sent the links to John and Jane, who promptly pulled up the files on the Highrise app on their iPads. She also sent him the link to the Backpack page on PBL for good measure. Wait for it, she thought. 3…2…1…  TEXT FROM JOHN: Can you join us via Hangout? She smiled. It was great to be able to join the meeting virtually rather than have to run across campus in this blazing heat. A quick 15 minutes later and Suzanne was updating the CELT wiki page on Project Based Learning thanks to some data that Cory, the CELT grad student dug up after a quick text message from Suzanne during the meeting. Yikes! Her iPhone 7 buzzed. Time for the meeting with IT!

She packed up her gear and walked up to Hardymon to meet with the Business Intelligence team from UKIT to discuss the new real-time student analytics tool they were using to send data from HANA to Google Glass. The idea was that, by sending student data from the SIS and campus LMS that data on student performance could be sent to the instructor in real time as an augmented reality overlay during class, viewable through a Google Glass unit the university had received as a grant from the Google.org Foundation. After the meeting, Suzanne stayed behind for a bit to talk to the ATG director about their workshop tomorrow on Teaching with Augmented reality. Most students now had smart phones that could deliver a quality AR experience and several teachers were now hopping on board the mLearning revolution. CELT and ATG had anticipated this trend a few years ago and had begun preparing to be able to offer such services.

<bee-deep! 3pm!> Her phone reminds Suzanne that it’s time to run over to the Little Library for a CELT meeting with faculty from Anthropology, Business, Design, Fine Arts, Engineering, Biology and Philosophy to discuss progress on the interdisciplinary Design Futures degree program the university is developing. John sends her a quick text message: Still in the Political Science meeting with Jane. Bring Steve in to help until we get there. Thx! Suzanne sends a quick GChat message from her phone to Steve: Can you help out with the DF meeting for a bit? A quick reply is forthcoming: No problem, Suze. Beam me in on this Hangout. A link is in the chat reply. Suzanne enjoyed the work CELT did these days as a trusted advisor to departments and faculty on campus, helping them to develop new programs and course redesign to meet the needs of an increasingly consumer-oriented student population. The university had begun to change rapidly to meet these needs, and thanks to careful foresight and planning by CELT a few years ago, they were ideally positioned to help the university through this transitional period. Fortunately, this was a really efficient meeting. Most faculty had gotten used to using Sharepoint and Yammer as a collaborative tool and the workflow process in SAP and the UK Protal made it really easy to confirm who had done and seen what prior to a meeting. All parties were well-prepared and Jane’s facilitation skills really helped move things along.

So, Suzanne, John and Jane were able to arrive back at CELT HQ a little early to prepare for the weekly “Teaching and Learning with CELT” webshow. CELT had put its studio to many purposes over the years. Lately, CELT had turned to producing a weekly 15 minute webcast packed with teaching tips and sometimes, interviews with key partners, faculty and willing administrators. CELT’s staff had grown to about 15 after the merger with DLP and some investment from the previous President, but there still weren’t enough bodies to do all the work. Webcasts were one way CELT tried to use technology to reach a broader audience. Steve appeared via Hangouts and the conversation with the four of them (plus Samir, their able GA) was free-flowing and informal, focused today on ways to use text messaging in the classroom. Yes, text messaging was pretty old school, but it had proved to be a gateway to other ed tech for some slower-adopting faculty.

A quick 20 minutes later and Suzanne was finally back in her office to catch up on email. While some of the collaborative technologies like Google+ and Yammer had served to greatly cut down on email, nothing, it seemed, could kill that beast for good. She also took the time to hammer out a quick blog post on the Google Glass collaboration with IT and put it in the editorial queue for John’s approval.

<bee-deep! 5pm!> Yes, it was a little “good night, John-Boy,” but today’s CELTics liked to end their work day together by grabbing some coffee together in their break room and discussing the days events. It wasn’t required, but their Director, John, always came and encouraged the rest of the team to come by, let off steam, and share their learnings for the day. Everybody came, though not every day. It was a great bonding ritual that helped everyone to stay connected as a team and get to know each other and their passions and current projects better. It had become even more important once CELT had merged with distance learning and started to grow a bit.

Half an hour and some strong coffee later, Suzanne was on the bus back home. She pulled out her cell phone to send a quick email to Bai Lin, their CELT associate in China to help prepare her for some potential issues Steve had identified might come up for this evening’s online courses so she could offer some support. Once the university decided to schedule late night hybrid and online courses to ease enrollment pressure and meet student demands for a more flexible learning schedule, CELT had to provide service round the clock. Hiring a teammate at UK’s China distance branch that was opened this year made it possible to do that without asking anyone in Lexington to stay up late and work the night shift. Oh, occasionally there was a quick call for help on GChat, but those fires were quickly doused. She powered down her phone with a smile. What a great day! Busy, but incredibly satisfying. She loved her work with CELT!

Cell Phones or Digital Swiss Army Knives: Getting faculty over the hump

Over at The Next Web, Paul Sawers discusses the findings of a recent O2 survey that indicate that our phones really aren’t thought of as (primarily) voice communication tools anymore:

“Smartphones are now being used like a digital ‘Swiss Army Knife’, replacing possessions like watches, cameras, books and even laptops,” says David Johnson, General Manager Devices for O2 in the UK. “While we’re seeing no let-up in the number of calls customers make or the amount of time they spend speaking on their phones, their phone now plays a far greater role in all aspects of their lives.”

This has been the case with me for a while now, but it’s a sentiment that appears to be spreading. Which is why I have such a difficult time understanding why so many faculty members are so hell-bent on eliminating cell phones from their classrooms. Many faculty seem to be immovably possessed of attitudes like this:

Instead, I took advantage of the good feelings in the room as an opportunity to outline my cell phone policy, strictly enforced for years: No cell phones in class, ever. If I saw one out or heard a ring, I would ask the student to leave. I wanted to make the point that while students are in class, or doing anything for that matter, they should give the task at hand their undivided attention. It should be noted that there was no equivalent policy against doodling, staring out the window (in the rare instances when there was one), or staring at a classmate’s tight clothes.

While the faculty member in this IHE article eventually comes around to the value of cell phone use in teaching writing due to his own experimentations with the various uses of a cellphone in his daily life,

For some time, I continued to believe that by and large [cellphones] still didn’t belong in the classroom. Until recently, that is. A few months back, I was listening to a radio program about Tony Schwartz, a New York field-recording specialist, whose work dates back to the 1950s. I was in the car, stopped at a light, and without a pen to write down information about an upcoming event on Schwartz, I pulled out my phone and, in an instant, recorded a voice memo. Later, after listening to the voice memo, I was reminded that I wanted to record a poem I had been working on. I printed out a draft, and instead of opening my laptop, I took out the phone.

Light bulb!

many more faculty stubbornly refuse to see that, rather than carrying phones with them to class, our students are carrying fairly powerful Digital Swiss Army Knives with them everyday. Digital Swiss Army Knives with camera, video and audio recording capabilities with decent markup and manipulation tools. Digital Swiss Army Knives with content creation AND consumption abilities. Digital Swiss Army Knives with powerful messaging tools allowing students to connect not only with their fellow classmates and their instructor better than ever before, but also to open up their learning and learning networks to an increasingly global community.

To be fair, there is always the danger that students will be distracted by some of the more attractive and easily used features of these Digital Swiss Army Knives. But, as anyone who’s been teaching for a while can tell you, students have always been able to use a pen(cil) and paper to distract themselves during a class period. But we’ve always taught them how to use these available tools for learning and discovery. Can’t we do the same with these Digital Swiss Army Knives?

My suspicion is that many faculty members are trapped in an outdated notion of the cell phone as a device for voice communication and text messaging, and this affects their ability to conceive of potential uses for these devices in their teaching and in student learning. Faculty developers and enterprising education innovators might be better served, then, in trying first to use data like the O2 report, the Horizon report and the ECAR study to teach faculty about what these Digital Swiss Army Knives are today, rather than starting first with ideas for incorporating them into the classroom.

UPDATE (7.2.12, 6pm): John Gruber makes exactly this point about smartphones like the iPhone being disruptive to laptops more than traditional concepts of “the phone” here:

The iPod’s success fooled almost everyone (including me) into thinking that Apple’s entry into the phone market would be similar. The iPod was the world’s best portable media player; the “iPhone”, thus, would likely be the world’s best cell phone.

But that’s not what it was. It was the world’s best portable computer. Best not in the sense of being the most powerful, or the fastest, or the most-efficient to use. The thing couldn’t even do copy-and-paste. It was the best because it was always there, always on, always just a button-push away. The disruption was not that we now finally had a nice phone; it was that, for better or for worse, we would now never again be without a computer or the Internet.

We need to talk to educators in terms of how to use the mobile mini-computers/Digital Swiss Army Knives their students are bringing into the classroom, not how to make use of cell phones.

The Transformation of Higher Ed: More than just “ed reform”

I was fortunate enough to have someone pass on to me this video by Michael Marantz this morning: “The Future is Ours.” Take a quick look (it’s only 2:14):

The Future is Ours from Michael Marantz on Vimeo.

It was a very welcome reminder on a Monday morning that in the end, those of us working for the transformation of higher education (in the United States and around the world) are doing this for a higher purpose than just “reform” or “efficiency” or “modernization.” No, in the end we want higher education to become something larger, something fundamentally connected to that human drive to make of our societies, our world, something inspirational and magnificent, something that “pushes the human race forward.”

So as we start another week of working together to produce our desired futures of higher education, let’s remember that our goal is to drive the human project forward. Design and work backward from that goal.

My OpenClass Teaching and Learning Experience (Pearson CiTE 2012 Presentation)

Cross-posted from the Experience Design Works blog:

Last month I had the opportunity to speak at the Pearson CiTE 2012 conference about my use of OpenClass – Pearson’s new LMS/Learning Platform – in the course I taught at the University of Kentucky this semester.

I love using OpenClass, and it’s really opened up what I can do interms of project-based learning and active learning activities in the classroom. Here are a few of the highlights from my presentation:
A lot of what drove my interest in using OpenClass emerged from the data Experience Design Works uncovered in an engagement in 2010 with the University of Kentucky where, in the course of a deep dive into both the Faculty and Student experiences for using Blackboard for teaching and learning, we found that things like clean, intuitive UI and the ability for a teaching and learning platform to enable (rather than hinder) student collaboration are of critical importance. After seeing OpenClass demoed at Educause 2011 in Philadelphia, I felt that OpenClass possessed great potential to address all of the major Faculty and Student pain points we identified in our study. But I wanted to “dogfood” OpenClass before I could recommend it to faculty and clients.

Also, the Experience Design Works team has a strong belief that we are already in the beginning stages of a fundamental, structural change in Higher Education. Not just a change in the tools we use to teach or how we design our courses and the classrooms in which face to face classes are held, but a change in how we teach, how we design learning experiences and how we support those experiences. In many ways, Higher Education is going through the same sorts of transformative disruptions that the music and print journalism industries have experienced.

To build the Social University, however, we need a toolset and environment that supports collaborative inquiry and writing. The architecture and deployment of the traditional LMS, in many ways, can serve as a frictional environment that delays the emergence of what Experience Design Works refers to as the Transformative University. Next generation Learning Platforms, such as Lore, Helix, GoodSemester and, of course, OpenClass are in many ways better positioned to enable Higher Education institutions to evolve into the Transformative University.

In my own teaching and learning efforts, I’ve always had to build a toolkit out of whatever tools I could find that would enable the type of active learning and constructivist/connectivist pedagogies I believe in so strongly. Recently, Google Apps have provided a strong and integrated ed tech toolkit that really allows teachers interested in more active, project-based/problem-based, team-oriented learning to do the types of activities they’ve always wanted to be able to do, without the technology that can enable such activities getting in the way. OpenClass, with its clean, simple (but highly customizable) UI and strong Google Apps/Gmail integration was a great way to make using those tools even easier.

This Spring, I used OpenClass and Google Apps to teach a project-based learning course in Kentucky Government and Politics. I teach this course as a futures thinking course and the students spend the semester building up to the production of a multimedia scenarios project examining the implications of today’s trends and policy decisions for the Kentucky of 2032. The Collaborations feature of OpenClass made it insanely easy to share documents with students that they could then work on during class (there’s nothing that warms my cold, cold heart more than 25 students sitting in project team circles with their laptops and iPads out working on deliverables) and that they could also share with me when it came time to submit individual and group assignments. The Collaboration feature was such a hit with the students that they began to wonder why it didn’t work with Google Sites, Blogger and other tools!

Let me also say that being a part of the Pearson OpenClass Design Partner program has been a real blast. The support they provided while testing a rough beta product has been amazing. It was also great to be a part of a community of other people passionate about building learning platforms for a transformative learning experience for students. Whenever anything went wrong, the OpenClass team was right there to help!

While I really enjoyed using OpenClass, I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t say that there are a few things I’d love to see in future versions of the platform:

  • Extend Collaboration to work with other services like WordPress, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
  • Integrate Google+ features like Circles, Profiles and Hangouts.
  • Allow granular controls over what gets shared with the outside world and what stays in the classroom environment.

That said, however, I was extremely happy with my OpenClass experiment this semester (as were my students) and I look forward to using it in future courses and following the future of this next-generation learning platform from Pearson!

 

Smart Social Media: Building & Marketing a Strong Personal Brand

Cross-posted at the Experience Design Works blog:

I had the great pleasure to kick off  the first Social Media Week at the University of Kentucky a couple of weeks ago with a presentation on building a strong personal brand using social media for college students. We had several undergraduates in attendance, as well as a good number of advisors and student affairs professionals who were eager to learn more about helping students to use social media effectively. Some of them were eager to take the tips they learned from the presentation and put them to use in boosting the social media presence of their units on campus!

Smart Social Media

View more presentations from Christopher Rice

A key part of a robust student experience must include preparation for the world outside the campus, whether that be finding employment and building a career, or jumping into the world of entrepreneurship. Many institutions are beginning to work with their students to think about responsible social media use, but far fewer are helping their students to go beyond “cleaning up” their social media presences and think about how to effectively leverage social media platforms to build their professional presence and networks, as well as showcase their work portfolio and skills. Similarly, we feel that career centers on campus need to help their students go beyond cultivating a profesional appearance and a well-crafted resume to thinking about how to build a strong personal brand that helps them get noticed.

I’m looking forward to working with campus career centers and student affairs organizations in 2012 to help them design a student social media experience that helps students build strong personal brands through effective and smart use of social media. If you would like to learn more about bringing me to your campus to give a talk or workshop on Designing a Smart Social Media Experience for Students, please contact me on the Edufuturist website, email me directly at christopher [at] edufuturist [dot] com or send me a message on Twitter at @ricetopher.

To learn more about how to work with Experience Design Works, please contact us on the EDW website, email me directly at chris [at] experiencedesignworks [dot] com or send me a message on Twitter at @ricetopher.

Distributed Labs for Sciences in Higher Education

This post by John Timmer on “How to run a successful research lab without having a lab” at Ars Technica really got me thinking this morning.

One of the real difficulties with online or distributed higher education in the sciences is the problem of lab spaces. How, other than using an online simulation, do you get lab time for students in the sciences when they may rarely, if ever, come to a central, physical campus. An additional, and related, dilemma is that for many universities, they increasingly lack adequate, modern lab infrastructure due to successive years of budget cutbacks.

One possible way to solve this dilemma might be for universities to divest themselves of labs altogether, instead renting lab time from a network of independent co-working labs. Imagine if a university were to outsource all of its lab costs and maintenance to an outside provider or providers. Students could use a “lab fee” to book time at any number of community labs (like any other co-working space), perhaps subsidized by universities paying a larger membership fee to these private labs to secure booking privileges for their students. Universities could arrive at cooperative agreements with community labs in other cities to provide lab opportunities for their online students, much the way we already do with proctoring centers and agreements.

If we can outsource housing, food services, test proctoring and IT services, why not physical lab space as well?

I’d like to explore the capital requirements and potential business models for this type of service in more detail.

Originally published at my faculty blog, christopherscottrice.wordpress.com