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  • October 2008
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Second Life Presenters – Get a Clue

I attended a couple of terrible conference sessions recently. The topic of interest was higher education uses of Second Life.

Before I get into the SL portion of this rant, let me start with another pet peeve. One presenter introduced herself and immediately followed with “By the way, I hate PowerPoint, but it’s the best way show something.” Translation: I don’t know whether it is the best way to “show something,” but it’s the only way I know how. She proceeded to use PPT in one of the classic examples of Death by PowerPoint with slides that were nothing more than her lecture notes (for her benefit, I assume) and a few poorly made screen shots of empty spaces in SL.

Also within the first five minutes she said, and I quote, that she has “dabbled in Second Life.” That’s exactly what I was hoping for – a one-hour presentation from somebody who has dabbled with the topic at hand. Whatever possessed her 8 or 9 months earlier to make a conference proposal about using SL? Possessed does seem to be the proper term.

She went to talk about how they were building a teaching and learning environment within SL. She said their goal was to create a place with a PG rating, to provide a safe place for the students to interact. She admitted that they had no safe guards in place, but that they would ban people if they caused trouble. She said they really haven’t had any trouble yet. I pointed out that griefers rarely hang around uninhabited spaces within SL. That’s just not much fun for them. I’m not positive that she knows what a griefer is.

The whole topic of appropriate behavior was basically brushed aside. Regarding the monitoring of student behavior in SL, she said, “We don’t monitor them in first life, so why in Second Life?” Excuse me, but we do monitor them in FL when they are in our learning environments – we just don’t continue to monitor them (much) after they leave our campuses or networks. For the record, I’m not too concerned with monitoring student behaviors in SL either, but I am concerned when people just make inaccurate statements in order to not deal with the question at hand.

There were two things of which she seemed particularly proud. They have built a classroom in the sky and another one underwater. “You can do whatever you want in this flying classroom,” although she gave no examples of what those things might be. “You can show your PowerPoint on the screen under water. Oh boy, that’s what we’ve been missing from a quality education. I’ll grant you that it sure would be more difficult to show your PPT under water in first life, so this sounds like a great opportunity for someone to show their underwater basket weaving slideshow while actually (OK, not actually, but virtually) under water. Yes, technology enables us to do fabulous things.

I was troubled by the screen shots that never showed any avatars on their educational island. I asked how much the space was getting used. “I believe they are using it, but I’m not really sure. I’ll be using it this week for the first time myself.” At that point, 25 minutes into the presentation, I decided that I needed to leave the room before my head (especially my mouth) exploded. So, I did. I wish I could report out on the last 35 minutes, but right now all I’ve got is yada, yada, yada; blah, blah, blah.

Along with a couple of lousy presentations, I also saw a good one. Here the presenters were actually using SL, including one presenter who was back in New York state and was presenting and commenting in world. Not only was it far more effective to use SL as the presentation platform, but we actually had presenters who knew what they were talking about, who have taught real live students in SL, and who can give some concrete examples of useful things that can be done in world. They admitted to some of the lame things that they had tried, and took credit for some of the cool things that they have created. If you’re looking for some of the good examples of how higher ed is using SL, take a look at SUNY Live or search in world for Monroe CC. This presentation was really quite outstanding.

CC Flickr photo by Hiro Sheridan

LSC in Top 10

The Center for Digital Education and Converge magazine have selected 31 community colleges as outstanding examples of technology delivery in higher education. The fourth annual Digital Community Colleges Survey identifies and spotlights colleges that provide a high level of service to their students and faculty through information technology.

Lake Superior College has been selected at #10 for mid-sized colleges (between 3,000-7,500 students) in the U.S.

The survey examined areas of technology ranging from online admissions, student access to transcripts and grades, information security and infrastructure, to weather and campus security alerts and online library capabilities. Some of the factors that most likely set us apart from some of the schools include our online enrollments (25% of total enrollment), our uses of Web 2.0 technologies including school-branded blogs and wikis, and our efforts at green computing procedures.

The goal for next year is to move higher on the list.

Heading for CIT2008

I leave Saturday morning for Salt Lake City and the League for Innovation’s 2008 Conference on Information Technology. The League conferences are always quite large and very smoothly run. I am involved in a total of five presentations during the conference, but I wanted to take a look at what else I would be doing during the four days.

I took the key words from all the session titles at CIT and fed them into Wordle.net. This is what I found about the content of Track #1: Emerging and Future Educational Technology

Now I don’t want to be a jerk, but this sure seems to be dominated by Microsoft, Adobe, and Certifications such as IC3. Maybe they should rename this the vendor track.

The word cloud for Track #2:  Teaching and Learning seems a bit more to my liking.

And last but not least, I combined the titles of the remaining (smaller) tracks 3 through 7 and came up with this:


There’s sure to be something in that cloud worth attending.

Teaching with Technology Conference

Minnesota State University, Mankato will be hosting a one-day conference titled Teaching with Technology. Friday, November 7, 2008 at the beautiful Mankato campus. I have the pleasure of participating throughout the day.

At their website you can view the rest of the sessions during the day and register to attend. This is a free conference. I am very much looking forward to participating.

Twitter instead of Blogging?

One reason that I haven’t been posting much to my blog lately is that I spend most of my time on Twitter. Microblogging really does take the place of “real blogging,” at least most of the time. So, I’ve posted my last 80 tweets below just so you can get a sense about what I’m tweeting about. Clearly, most of these things would never make it into a regular blog post, but taken as a whole, they probably equal the content of a normal blog post.

I’ve got 6 people ready to eat this tonight. Corn dog w/fries.http://tinyurl.com/3fycrv 
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 Two hours to kill in Seoul before going to the Fulbright office for overview of Korean Ed System and Korean Agents for recruitment. 
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Bought unique eel skin wallets in Itaewon shopping district of Seoul. Now off 2 bed. Visiting US Embassy, then Fulbright office on Monday. 
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The little 250ML can of Dew is about 8.5 ounces. Hell, I usually buy the 1 liter bottle back home. Of course that one is diet, this one isnt 
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Finally a Dew in Asia. Vietnam has none, but Seoul does. No need to update my avatar pic from last year – me and Korean Dew still works 
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Frustrating. None of the TinyURLs that I click on will open, but regular links in Twitter do open. What’s up with that? 
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Allergic to something here in Korea. Major sneeze fest since getting off the plane. Did I bring drugs? 
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Just checked into hotel in Seoul. Heading to sportsline.com to check out college football and MLB scores, then need a power nap. Itaewon l8r 
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Wish I was going home instead of Seoul. I’m tired and want to sleep in my own bed. Did buy some funky shoes today tho, they’re cool. 
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Waiting at airport for flight from Hanoi to Seoul. How much did I save with this overnight flight? Will it be worth all the bother? 
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Taxi drivers in Hanoi try to rip you off for 4-5 times more than taxis in Saigon. We took 4 rides today, and was taken for a ride each time. 
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Will spend Saturday touring around Hanoi. Then fly 2 Seoul, but not until late night. Hanoi Horison Hotel is sort of nice, but service sucks 
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Just finished the first ever AACC fair in Hanoi. Only about 200 students today, but that was HCMC two years ago. This year HCMC had over 700 
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@john_st_clair I compare hybrid to F2F, not to online, since hybrid is an alternative to F2F but it is NOT an alternative to online for most 
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@ajwms Only 5% use proctored exams. Seems to be a stable number, or slightly decreasing. 
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I must be following like-minded people. Tweets from twits I follow were running about 5 to 1 against Palin. Yea. Do I need more diversity? 
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Missed the last half of the debate to attend a scheduled visit to a high school in Hanoi. Four pages of Tweets helped me catch up. Thanks. 
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This isn’t a debate! This is where she takes her time to talk about what she wants to – regardless of the question being asked. 
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We have John McCain to thank. Usually when you say “thanks for the warning,” it is said in jest. So thanks John. Thanks for the warning. 
JF. Won’t the hair spray going into her left eye cause her to go blind? 
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Wow, millions of small business make over $250,000? Really Sarah? Do you know the difference between revenues and profits? 
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soccer game reference by Palin in first two sentences of debate 
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@cburell Clay, do you still want to get together when I’m in Seoul? I arrive this Sunday. Sun&Mon nights open, booked Tue PM. Leave Wed morn 
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Has anyone read the book titled Now is Gone? I was expecting great things, but not so much so far. Primer on New Media for Execs & Entrepren 
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Seems to be a fair amount of buzz about the VP debate here in Vietnam. I find that odd, but U.S. news gets a great deal of attention here. 
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Finally a blog post. What I was reading today. http://tinyurl.com/43fnpj 
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@BryanAlexander For presentation content – Michael Wesch. For presentation style – tough call, most of them need more panache (incl.me)
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Let me clarify. If you were facilitating the meeting that you were calling, wouldn’t you be able to attend on ALL of your proposed dates? 
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I like MeetingWizard, but if you were calling a meeting, wouldn’t you be able to attend more than 3 out of the 7 dates you proposed? WTF? 
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Still get a bit disturbed when my food is looking at me. That’s why I didn’t order this at a Saigon restaurant. http://blog.lsc.edu/signs/ 
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Visited the US Embassy in Hanoi this afternoon for the first time. Not nearly as locked down as the one in Beijing. That surprised me 
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While flying from Saigon to Hanoi I finished reading Presentation Zen. Finally the motivation to push me over to a new presentation approach 
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Baseball playoffs!! Finally something other than soccer on ESPN here in Vietnam. Not even one rugby game this year, which I love to watch. 
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@doolittlen Hi Nancy. Are you jumping back in the Twitterverse? 
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Can’t find my entry/exit card for Vietnam. That could make leaving the country a huge problem. Today I’m off to Hanoi,so I don’t need it yet 
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Community College recruitment fair concluded in Saigon. Acceptance (awareness) of online learning is better this time. Enrollments?We’ll see 
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65-yr-old Chinese lady sentenced to death in Vietnam court for a counterfeit banknote scam she ran in several southern provinces. Severe. 
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@javabeanboy Kids definitely aren’t coddled over here as in the U.S. But still, a little bit of safety precaution can go a long way. 
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New helmet law in Saigon. Only applies to adults on scooters or motorbikes. Kids can ride w/out helmet (an do). Does that seem backwards? 
1/2 page ad in Saigon Times Daily. Fly to Manila for $19 US. Subtract $5 if traveling w/out check-in baggage. Dinner in Manila sounds good. 
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Wondering why the staff at the Majestic Hotel think that my Do Not Disturb sign does not apply to them. Who else could I be talking to? 
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Should have used UStream for my session with 5th graders today. Skype is too flaky. Everything worked well when tested 10 min ago on UStream 
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@wcgaskins click PBwiki settings, users: then you’ll see “If your students don’t have email addresses, create accounts for your students.” 
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WebCamMax and Skype kept crashing my computer – blue screen of death while trying to have conversation with my son’s classroom from Saigon. 
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In 30 min. Skype call from Saigon into my son’s fifth grade classroom in Superior, WI. I’m ready with photos, video, and Vietnam fun facts. 
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About 70% of Vietnamese student visas to study in the U.S. were for students headed for community colleges in the states. Big change from B4 
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28% current inflation rate – yet my beer, dinner, hotel room and knock-off watches (same-same) cost the same as they did two years ago. 
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Other Vietnam data. Only 10-15% of the population who are college eligible can attend in country. Not enough supply (seats) for the demand. 
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Fun Facts from Education USA meeting in Saigon today. 70% of population is under 35. Per capita income = $835 US, but many are nouveau rich 
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Off to Education USA and IIE office in Saigon for morning meeting with the higher education ground forces here in the country. 
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Just finished welcome dinner for the American Assoc of Community Colleges hosted by the Vietnamese Assoc of CC. Good people, good fun & food 
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A few hours left before we meet up with AACC group for the rest of the Asia tour for recruiting int’l students. Dinner tonight with VACC. 
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Left comment on Tim Stahmer’s post about teaching keyboarding in grade school. Feel blog post comin on. http://www.assortedstuff.co… 
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Wow -live game updates on NFL.com only available in North America. Oh well.all my teams lost today. 
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Beautiful Monday morning here in Saigon. Looks like a nice day after a major 3-hour deluge yesterday afternoon. Rainy season is no joke. 
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My hotel in Saigon must have fast connection. No time lag on Skype calls home. Audio sucks, but that is coming from USA. Fine here to there. 
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Having much better luck with Google Chrome these days. Much more quick now and hasn’t crashed in days. This is what others were talkin ’bout 
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Guessing that all my friends in Tennessee are pretty happy about the big 4-0 start by the Titans. Surprisingly impressive w/K.Collins at QB? 
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Up in the middle of the night in Saigon to follow the NFL. My two teams (Broncs and Vikes, in that order) are losing. Second half comebacks? 
Sunday is not nearly as busy here in Saigon. Hustle and bustle is only 75% of a normal day. Off to the market. 
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@jth and Puck’s girlfriend(s) 
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Have verbal agreement with three agents in Vietnam to send students our way for e-learning. Now the hard part – contract approval by legal. 
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Checking American college football scores online – nothing on tube here in Vietnam. All you can eat of other football (soccer). No thanks. 
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Another big rainstorm 2nite in Saigon. Will be even more humid tomorrow, if that’s possible. Very hot-it will suck when I wear a suit Monday 
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@austindeb2003 Hi Deb, and welcome to Twitter. Did you go to Gruene Hall for a singer? JJW is my all-time fav, although REK is now my #1. 🙂 
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Today in Saigon I can get to all the sites that wouldn’t load yesterday. Wikipedia, YouTube, Facebook, and Ning, for example. Very odd. 
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Twins are losing their mojo. Glad that Sox are also losing. Since my Padres stunk this year, I gotta pull for my #2 team – GO TWINS!! 
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Just finished breakfast on the roof of the Saigon Majestic Hotel. Return to room to see McCain-Obama on CNN. Did I miss McCain’s war story? 
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Will McCain continue to bitch about Obama not joining him for town hall meetings? Did anybody really think that was an issue? 
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Uninstalled TOR after last China trip. Looks like I might need to get it back. If they block websites here, wouldn’t they block TOR, too? 
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Wow, can’t get to Flickr, Facebook, Ning, or YouTube here in Vietnam. Never happened to me previously. Great Firewall of Vietnam? Huh? What? 
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Watched Iron Man on the long flight to Asia. Enjoyed it much more than I expected (yes, low expectations) and now want to own it. Thumbs up 
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I haven’t seen blocked sites before in Vietnam, but I can’t get to YouTube even though other sites are working fine. Are they blocking? 
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Meeting with an agent (study abroad headhunter) in a couple of hours to see if we can do business together. First of several such meetings 
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31 hours in travel status. Now checked in and unpacked at Hotel Majestic Saigon. This was my least fun travel day to Asia. LAX really sucked 
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@Goamick That STARlink wireless network is available now, they just won’t any of us access it yet. They keep saying … soon, soon! Sure. 
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Last day in the states for a while. Crazy busy tying up loose ends. I need to get to the bank. They won’t accept tattered bills in Asia. 
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@bwatwood PPT slides (using clicker q’s again) will be up sometime soon, but the wiki link is already here: https://barrydahl.com/resour… 
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@maryn OMG! That eSchoolNews article is crap. Here is the real story:http://tinyurl.com/6kkbyw Their lack of research is appalling. 

What I was Reading Today

Today, I was mainly reading a couple of newspapers in Vietnam. Some of the stories just jumped off the page at me. For example:

A 65-year-old- Chinese woman was sentenced to death for her role in leading a counterfeiting ring. Over the course of two years she was responsible for the equivalent of about $300,000 US in fake bank notes. So let me see if I have this straight. An Asian woman gets the death sentence for $300 thou, while in the U.S. we have liars, thieves, and greedy bastards who are getting bailed out for $700 billion in counterfeit mortgages, easy loans, and poor insurance decisions. They get nary a slap on the wrist and the taxpayers pay the freight. Yep, that sounds fair.

5 university students in Hanoi are sharing a 5 square meter single room because they cannot find affordable housing while earning their education. They are apparently developing some very close friendships during their college years.

Although this story was first reported about a year ago, the Viet Nam News had a little blurb about it yesterday. Did you know that raising kangaroos for meat consumption instead of cattle and sheep would help reduce global warming? It seems that kangaroo flatulence does not contain methane gas and would therefore be more eco-friendly.

I also finished reading the book Presentation Zen, (Garr Reynolds) which I highly recommend. More on that later.