Lovin the Eee Pad. So far

In case you missed it in the news last year, I was an unhappy iPad owner. Bought version 1 and found it to be just an expensive toy with very few features and incredibly overpriced. But that’s just me. Clearly.

I found some sucker to take it off my hands (thanks Witt), and continued on just fine with life after the iSpaz. During that same time frame I was loving my Droid phone – and have found the Android OS to be what I want it to be – which really just means that I’m not tied to Apple and the much-hated (by me) iTunes.

So I’ve been keeping my eye on the many different Android-based tablets that have been coming out. I was taken by the Toshiba, interested in the IBM, and amazed by the ASUS (Flickr-CC photo at left by blogeee.net).

I figured that amazement was better than being taken or just interested – so I got transformed by the Asus Eee Pad Transformer. Here’s a little collage that shows my delight in getting it ready for use. Click on the graphic below to enlarge it.

So what’s to like? How about:

  • Screen: The Asus is larger (10.1 vs. 9.7) with more pixels (1280X800 vs. 1024X768)
  • Design: The Eee Pad has a far less slippery backside
  • Cameras: Both front-facing and back-facing cameras on EeePad have more megapixels than iPad2
  • Storage capacity: i bought the 16GB version, but it has a microSD slot that can hold another 32 GB – so the iPad loses on that front as well
  • Battery life: with the optional keyboard/case, the Asus can give you 16 hours of unconnected usage. Comparing just the tablets themselves, the iPad2 eeks out a small win here
  • Apps: I was surprised to find that it automatically installed all the apps that I have on my Droid. That was a great time-saver for me because I would want most of them on the tablet as well.
  • Freedom: I still have no need to reinstall iTunes (ever again)
  • One word: Flash

What are my first-day beefs with the EeePad?

  • The built-in speakers sound terrible. haven’t hooked up my ear buds yet, but they have to sound better (I hope)
  • The Eee Pad weighs an extra 2.5 ounces – which is sure to cause me severe back pain
  • Okay – who decided that Eee Pad was a good name? Eeeeeeeekkkkk

2010 Sloan report: Say What?

It started out as an innocuous tweet from #DTL2011 by @Quinnovator, as shown below:

I have no doubt that Clark Quinn heard this directly from the presenter’s mouth in a session at the conference. Everyone else in the room heard it too. Because it was retweeted many times (more times than the 6 shown above), many other people around the Twitterverse saw this stat as well. It was even retweeted by the U.S. Dept. of Ed.

Only one problem. It’s not accurate. Don’t blame Clark Quinn for spreading misinformation. Don’t even blame the session presenter, whoever that was. The blame for the misinformation goes directly to the Sloan Consortium, and the way they chose to represent and describe some of the data from their 2010 report – Class Differences: Online Education in the United States.

I’m guessing that the conference presenter got his information from page 12 of the report which includes the table shown below (except for the red graphics that I added).

This table has VERY misleading captions for the last 2 columns. The column in the middle contains the crucial data for this table. The number of students taking at least one online course. The numbers in the next two columns are based on that center column – a) the growth rate from year-to-year in the number of students taking at least ONE online course, and b) the percentage of enrolled students who are taking at least ONE online course.

The caption says: “Online Enrollment as a Percent of Total Enrollment” and for Fall 2009 that would be 29.3%.

NO!! That is totally wrong. If an educator says that online enrollments make up 30% (or even 29.3%) of the total enrollments, then they DON’T mean that 30% of the enrolled students are taking at least one online course.

It doesn’t mean that at all – but now there are hundreds of people out there who think that online learning somehow comprises about 30% of the total course enrollments in the U.S.

Great data table – NOT!!

A Note about the Madison Conference

As I write this, the 27th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning (#DTL2011) is kicking off with the first day of pre-conference workshops. For several years I was a regular attendee of this fine conference, and I usually was a presenter for these same pre-conf workshops. Many people I know simply refer to DTL as “the Madison conference.”

I stopped attending altogether a few years ago. As the distance learning administrator for a 2-year school in Minnesota (no longer true), I couldn’t justify the cost of the conference given that there is almost nothing there for someone trying to learn new things that apply at 2-year colleges. The conference is very much focused on input from very learned people who hail from research universities (not that there’s anything wrong with that). If you want to sit through sessions with several dozen newly minted (or nearly-minted) PhD’s telling you about their research topic – then this is the place to be. I actually find that stuff to be interesting, but rarely applicable when I would return to the 2-yr campus.

During my last year of attendance, I realized that I was having a hard time finding sessions that were being led by people from community colleges (or other forms of 2-yr schools). So I went through the entire program and took a census. As memory serves, there were 135 different sessions to choose from and SIX (yes, 6) of them had presenters from two-year schools. I’ve done similar checks of the online schedules during each of the past few years and found almost identical results.

I just did it again. Here are the results with total number of sessions followed by 2-yr sessions in paren):

  • Keynotes:  3  (0)
  • Workshops:  20  (0)
  • Demonstrations:  24  (2)
  • Discussions:  32  (1)
  • E-Poster Sessions:  12  (0)
  • Lightning Sessions:  22  (4*)
  • Information Sessions:  64  (3*)
  • VideoShare Sessions:  9  (1)

In total, there are 186 different sessions scheduled at the conference (wow, that’s a lot), and 11 of them (or 9, if I don’t include the generous scoring as mentioned below) come from people at 2-year colleges.

* The asterisks indicate that I included one session that comes from one of the Florida state colleges that are no longer 2-year schools. I included them as 2-year schools since their tradition and experience still mainly lies in that arena.

With other conference choices that are much more relevant to community college people – why would they choose to spend their shrinking budget dollars on attending DTL? 

Don’t get me wrong, someone like keynoter Clark Quinn  will have valuable information and ideas for all attendees, no matter where they’re from. But still, if you want to learn about what’s happening at 2-year campuses (clearly a great source of information about DL), you need to hear from people who work in those schools.

Before I get accused of railing against this conference, let me tell you a couple of things. 1) The people who organize and coordinate DTL each year are absolutely fabulous – I love ’em. I got to know them fairly well during the years that I attended and they are totally first-rate. 2) The DTL conference is a very well-run conference. Good production value (like for keynotes, etc.), great location, friendly people, etc. etc.

In closing, let me suggest a couple of possibilities:

1) DTL should consider a separate track for people from 2-year schools and actively recruit presenters and attendees for these sessions. There needs to be more than 11 sessions sprinkled throughout 186 offerings. I know someone who could help with that task.

2) Failing #1 above, someone should organize an early August e-Learning conference specifically focused on innovations and best practices in the 2-year schools. Again, I know someone who could make this happen (so should I?)

(NOTE: your comments are welcome. I’ll turn off moderation for a day or two to allow immediate throughput.)