Web Site Story – CollegeHumor Video

CollegeHumor videos continue to get better and better. I love this one.

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Tweets from my Peeps 06/29/09

A few of my Twitter favorites from today. Good stuff from smart people, and a few of my own thrown in for balance.

fncll You’ve prob already seen, but this article on multiple intelligences, genius and wishful thinking hits a sweet spot imo http://bit.ly/zdddW

Starfish360 RT @barrydahl IHE: Comm Colleges & High Schools to create free, online courses in a program being drafted by Obama admin. http://is.gd/1i3AF

shareski Tom Carroll pulling a Prensky, assuming young people are highly connected. They are connected but not really for learning. #necc09

aaronleonard RT @barrydahl DOE report: The use of video or online quizzes – freq encouraged for online education – “does not appear to enhance learning,”

busynessgirl Wolfram|Alpha can easily plot two graphs with natural language: http://tinyurl.com/m8j4u3

ajwms RT @barrydahl: Finding value in paper about “Edgeless Universities” by Peter Bradwell (Demos) via Jane Hart @c4lpy http://is.gd/1itFL

jasongreen From NY POST – Don’t Get that College Degree http://bit.ly/12CtYM

barrydahl New Keynote proposal for EAT-IT 09: “Professionalism and the Jekyll and Hyde Effect” – still accepting more. #EATIT09 http://bit.ly/18372w

barrydahl 3rd Keynote proposal for EAT-IT 09: “Hot Technologies to Change Everything!” Want in on the action? #EATIT09 http://bit.ly/18372w

ReedForCongress Tomorrow is our first financial deadline. Please donate @ http://tinyurl.com/kvcso3 to help show that we can win against Michele Bachmann!

Generation Y – a Huge Baloney Sandwich

baloney-sandwichLast week I experienced one of those keynote speakers that makes me shake my head in disgust – both at what she had to say and at the probable fact that she gets paid a handsome sum of money to say it. I don’t want to call her out personally for a few different reasons, so I won’t mention her name or company – but some people will probably figure out who I’m talking about.

A major part of the presentation was subtitled: “Generational Overview.” She starts out by identifying five different generational groups. Out of those five groups, she felt compelled to make up her own names for four of them. Even Baby Boomers were not called Baby Boomers. To not give further credence to much of her baloney, I will not use her made-up generational names. I will refer to the target generation as Generation Y, although I prefer my own made-up name of Digital Net-Gennials (it is tongue-in-cheek, rest assured).

She starts out by talking about the youngest generation (some (not her) would call them the unimaginative name of Generation Z) and detailing several traits for the group that she identifies as being from 0-13 years old. These traits include:

  1. their brains are different – “physically different!” (forget all that evolution stuff, it doesn’t take millions of years for brains to change, it’s taken less than 13 years to happen)
  2. they are being raised with robots (not by robots, just with robots)
  3. they are THE smartest generation (gee, and they’re barely out of elementary school)
  4. they are the first creative class (does this mean the first group born after Richard Florida’s books were published?)
  5. they dream differently than the rest of us
  6. they’ve already become consumers who demand “do it my way”
  7. they can multi-task at 4 or 5 levels (she hasn’t read Medina’s Brain Rules, has she?)
  8. the sagging economy is causing kids to share bedrooms (where does this crap come from?)

She then shows about 5 or 6 examples of new kinds of schools (some specific such as Benjamin Franklin Elementary in Kirkland, Washington and the Microsoft School of the Future in Philadelphia) as well as how schools are teaching with Web 2.0 tools, SMART board and SMART tables. What an incredible overstatement. Sure this is happening, but at an incredibly low rate of adoption. However, many people in the audience left with the opinion that this whole generation is being immersed in new learning technologies in the elementary and middle schools.

Next she moves on to Gen Y. This section begins with Michael Wesch’s video: “A Vision of Students Today.” Then her slides (fully copyright protected, you won’t find them on the net) go into great detail (err, baloney) about this generation.

  1. They will live 5 to 7 years less than Boomers. (Yep, forget all those advances in medicine, health knowledge, etc.; their average life expectancy has decreased significantly in no time at all- “it’s irreversible!” due to ingested hormones and antibiotics)
  2. This will be a “hero generation” because every fourth generation is one (“research shows”)
  3. Understanding this generation means you understand the future (they are the experts about the Net and all things digital – oh, please!)
  4. They share their knowledge on Wikipedia (really, how many of them write articles on Wikipedia?)
  5. They share their thoughts on Twitter (bull, Twitter users are older)
  6. They share their fantasies on Second Life (again bull, very small % use SL)
  7. They are natural collaborators (natural? as in DNA?)
  8. Innovation is a part of life (they will be innovative heroes, apparently)
  9. They insist on integrity
  10. Kids are now the authority on how to interact with a personal computer (gag me with a two gig stick of RAM)
  11. They think money comes from a wall (I’m not making this up, but she is)
  12. They do not read from left-to-right and from top-to-bottom (really? none of them?)
  13. The last song they listened to on their iPod continues to play in their mind even when they should be listening to you. “Believe me,” she says (I don’t believe her)
  14. They have 4 times the sleep deprivation of previous generations (wow – that’s the average per person for the Gen Y-ers?)
  15. Gen Y has been raised by looking down all the time (Nintendo and other hand-held devices, apparently). Their vision is terrible, especially peripheral vision which has caused more side impact collisions for this generation (where’s this research to be found?)
  16. They are vitamin D deficient
  17. Their immune systems are creating “superbugs” (she cites that the MRSA rate has doubled, but I can’t find any evidence that makes this relevant to the lifestyle choices of young people)
  18. Forget chairs and desks – “They should be learning on the floor – they love it!”
  19. 93% is the magic number – they spend 93% of their time inside and household pollutants are 93% more damaging than outside pollutants (and this presentation is 93% baloney)
  20. This generation believes that the car companies are getting what they deserve for helping to ruin the planet (even Gen Y-ers who grew up in Michigan believe this, according to her)
  21. The whole world (except the island of Fiji) is breathing “China Dust” (Fiji must be well located)
  22. This group will return to the 60s mentality and create a revolution (over green issues, I suppose)
  23. “Their brains are wired differently. There’s tons of research available” (although she doesn’t cite any)
  24. They have a narrow visual field, but “they will see 10 times more things than I will within that narrow field”
  25. “Their jobs will change often, so you should too” (that’s a direct quote – I guess I’ll get my resume’ in order)
  26. They use digital technology 20-30 hours per week. “It’s evolution!” (Yep, first came opposable thumbs and walking upright, then came YouTube)
  27. “They are actually tactilely-deprived” in explaining why Webkinz were a hit with a generation raised in a hard-surfaced environment
  28. They have a greater sense of smell and greater sense of touch compared to previous generations (any data on this?)
  29. “What’s happening in India and China will blow you away” (cited a couple of university engineering programs – another example of picking a few non-representative examples and applying them to the whole population)

I could go on, but those are the highlights gleaned from my 8.5 pages of handwritten notes. The biggest problem that I have with presentations like this is not all the baloney – it’s that this person stands up there as an “expert” and most of the audience members seem to be believing everything she has to say. OMG – this is so wrong on so many levels.

I gave the keynote on the first day and gave just a couple of snippets from my one person debate about Gen Y. I was asked (in advance) to not talk very much about the generations since the day two keynote was all about generations. I obliged, but did have to slip in a few pieces of point-counterpoint about some of the generational drivel that has been driving me crazy. On the long drive home I speculated about what I would have done differently if she had been the first speaker and then I was the second. My guess is that I would have felt compelled to debunk much of the baloney that she was sharing during her talk. I wonder how that would have gone over with the conference organizers – probably not very well.

Am I wrong? Is she right? Can I get a refill on my prescription of crazy pills?

Baloney (or bologna, if you prefer) sandwich photo (CC-3.0) courtesy of UNC – Chapel Hill

Use of I.T. Special Allocation

During the next few days we will be excited to finally open our new Technology Support Center (TSC) at Lake Superior College (LSC). The construction and remodeling have taken much longer than anticipated so several of us are anxious to begin serving students in the new space.

Apparently not everyone shares our enthusiasm. One anonymous college employee has criticized the use of the special I.T. dollars for this project. In particular, this was the second year that each MnSCU campus received additional dollars from the system specifically dedicated for use with local (campus-based) I.T. projects. We call it the “I.T. Special Allocation” although there is probably a more official name for this initiative that I just don’t know about.

The employee stated that using the special allocation for this project was an improper use of funds. I actually can’t say for sure one way or the other, but my interpretation is that we have acted properly. The guidance for the use of these funds comes from a MnSCU memo dated August 8, 2007 with the following subject line: “Guidance on College/University Spending of FY 08 IT Allocation.” The same guidance was used for the FY09 funding as far as I know.

Quoting from the first paragraph: “Your spending allocation should, overall, be consistent with the final legislative language which states: This appropriation includes funding for operation and maintenance of the system, including technology infrastructure improvements to deliver more online programs and services to students.”

Continuing, “Also, in order to ensure that the special IT funding allocation is spent in accordance with the Board of Trustees’ intent, each College or University should allocate this special funding in support of the appropriate institutional efforts in implementing the 8 key projects proposed in the 08-09 legislative funding request. These 8 key projects are consistent with the legislative appropriation language and include: Network and Data Center Modernization, Security Management, Identity Management, Retooled Administrative Systems, New Technology Architecture, Student Services and Online Learning, and Faculty Research and Development.”

The document goes on to define those eight key IT projects within which it would be appropriate to spend the special allocation of money. The two relevant areas in particular are as follows:

  • New Technology Architecture
    • A new, flexible technology architecture will enable innovation and preserve the ability of individual institutions to systematically customize and enhance core, systemwide applications while implementing identified best business practices and preserving data integrity and systemwide business/academic seamless operations. A modular architecture will allow us to realize the benefits of economies of scale while still allowing for institutional variation within an interoperable technology framework.
  • Student Services & Online Learning
    • Investments in our online learning and electronic student services will allow us to keep pace with increasing demand while also expanding access and opportunities for the growing pool of non-traditional learners. Enhancing online functions will go beyond learning and include online career planning, disability services, advising and business functions. Around-the-clock help and support for accessing the new online services will also be provided.

Ignoring the incredible corporate-speak for the moment, I believe that these two categories justify the spending of the dollars on this project at LSC. A little background is probably in order. We opened a new building in August 2007 and in that building is the current Student Technology Center (STC). The STC is an open lab where students can go to get technology help or just to use a computer as needed. There are about 55 computers in the lab. At the time that we opened the lab we heard student complaints (via Student Senate) that the lab was too small and that students had lost open computing space on campus. At the same time we had another space that had been used for several years and was known as our e-Campus which was also the help desk for online students. In other words, there were two help desks, one for on-ground students and one for online students.

Part of the plan that we made to address the Student Senate concerns was to continue to have two open computing labs on campus but only one help desk – sort of a one-stop shop for student help needs with technology. Thus we decided to expand and remodel the small e-Campus space into the adjoining much larger space. That new space is the STC that we are ready to occupy. The other space will be converted into a quiet computing lab – in other words, no help desk services will be available there. Overall, we are attempting to meet the identified student need for more access to technology infrastructure and we believe that we will provide better service to students including our online students.

It’s not much to look at just yet, but in a few weeks it should be a busy hub of activity on campus.