Mar 08

ODCE2008 – Chancellor Eric Fingerhut Addresses ODCE2008

Remarks below are liveblogged/paraphrased from the event, all mistakes in translation are mine!

– We know that education is not a key priority, it is THE priority. We know that the single greatest determininant for a young student’s economic success is their educational attainment.

– Our political leaders are making higher education a priority. The governor and General Assembly have increased educational funding. The governor froze tuition at every public univerisity and community college for two full years, we’ve increased financial aid for over 100k students to make college more affordable. General Assembly created Choose Ohio First, scholarship programs, and dynamic programs in the sciences to keep students in the state. We’ve partnered with the Dept of Dev 150 million research scholars program, that can then attract research support. We need to recognize the level of committment that’s been made and the support received.

– If we take this additional support and step back, of course that’s what we should be doing, this additional support that the elected leaders of this state have been able to provide, its more than a statement of priority, it’s also a vote of confidence – we have the capability to do what the state needs, but also creates a responsibility, we have to live up to that responsibility. It’s my responsibility to lead us with a system that ranks with any in the world, in us has been places a responsibility to lead the resurgance of Ohio as a leader in a world economy.

– My hope is that we won’t need a separate conference to talk to faculty about usinng technology in educationm, my hope is that ever faculty member, every administrator, will be aware of and part of the technology revolution that is sweeping the world. I hope you will take this back to your institution.. our entire system needs to be built around technological innovation. This truly is changing the way we do education.

– Couple things we think are important: We know that the single greatest indicator of how much a student will earn is their level of education, and single greatest indicator of the state’s growth and progress is the over all educational attaianment of is citizen, so our committement to the people of the stateof ohio, we are going to increase the educational attainment level of the state continually. But that’s not enough, if everyone isgoing faster thn we are then we’refalling behind, we also have to close the gap between the states and natons that ae ahead of us. We rank 38th out of 50 states. If you look out across the world, we’re not raising our educational attainment as quickly as states and nations around the world.

– Need to do three things 1) graduate more people 2) keep them here 3) attract more talent.

When we talk about increasing graduation rates, lots of people have ideas about how to do that, but when I talk to people about keeping them here or attracting more talent, people say I’m not sure if that’s my job. But we are involved with internships and coops, we create new businessnes with research advances, we can help create livable communities around our campuses that no one wants to leave when they graduate.. Schools of renown attract talen, to want to teach, do research, so what we’re saying is that we will be held accountable, not just for graduating more students, but by helping keeping them here and attracting more talent.

Two major areas – 1) extensive network of public universities and community colleges (some stats, wow more schools than I realized!) 2) also have impressive private institutions .. so strtategy number 1 -build out of these institutions a collaborative system that enables all of our citizens to identify and find a high quality education opportunity. University System of Ohio. The states that have succesfuly built collaborative systems out of their individual parts, so they aren’t competing against each other but collaborating to compete with the world, so we are working together to build a system inn which we have 4 year unis that are building programs of national and international renown. Education Within 30 Miles of Every Ohioan. Also working with High schools to better prepare students to enter college and begin to experience hgih school their senior year, Seniors to Sophomores program.

One of the things we have not done well, every one of our public institutions is OUR public institutions, not just your local, we have institutions across this state, great programs, we want everyone to know all of the schools in ohio belong to us.

Second strategy – work with the private institutions to identify what the state needs, and create incentives to help us meet those needs. Private institutions are private for a reason, they can do what they want to do, pursue their religious or community missions, but where our goals overlap, we should work together.

– In closing, none of this works if we dont have an integrated technology infrastructure to support. No reason why a new community college course at Owens isnt immediately available to students across the whole state. Integrated network of innovation and rapidly spread it across the system. How do we make sure we have all of our students have access to the same level of education, we CAN do that today, the technology exists. (Does he mean greater articulation agreements?) We believe information technology is a core of .. we need a single core technology infrastructure to support this mission.

Question: Everyone in this room knows that information technology literacy is a core competency in today’s global market, yet we don’t see information literacy classes as core components of our degree programs.

Q: I’ve heard 230k enrollments as the goal for new enrollments, what proportion online? Do we know?

A: No, don’t think we can separate out who is an online student and who is a traditional student, instead we’re seeing blended courses.. How do we expand our capacity without expanding our facilities? That’s the question we’re looking at.. Think it will take merging technologies.

Q: The folly of expecting A when we’re doing B.. What do you plan to do systematically to address competition between instititions? What’s the reward system..

A: Dont really like the word Master Plan, but that’s what it’s called, this plan is to be delivered to governor and gen assembly on nMarch 31st, no big secret. Once we clearly set our goals and we determine the metrics to measure our progress, then we must align our funding system to those goals and to those metrics. Where the rubber meets the road is where we talk about money, so we have folks looking at what changes in our system will support these goals.

Some examples – We know for example that the most of the money that goes is based on enrollment numbers so it makes sense for a school in Cincinnati to compete with a school in Columbus then you are in competition for the same students,. but competing over numbers doesn’t get us where we want to go, sop we want quality programs that will attract quality students to both programs.. the idea that both schools will create identical programs of high quality, so differentiating their programs and we will reward the quality advancements.. as opposed to just measuring enrollments. At the same time our community colleges in particular will neeed to be funded for increasing enrollments. We want to reward collaboration, we want to focus on how institutions can collaborate as well.

Q: STEM programs that HSs and unis can work together?

A: The general assembly created .. new STEM schools, partnerships between high schools and universities, we’re sorting through proposals, have two so far. At the same time that we awarded those HSs, we also awarded funding to programs of excellence, HSs apply for these funds to allow them to expand excellent programs, and then those become models to spread them across the state. We have funding from Battell (or partnered with? missed that).. In the Choose Ohio First scholarships, a number of them focused on STEM teachers, and also if we increase the number of students who study STEM, we want them to be more successful when they get to college.

Q: Read about a program in Kentucky that targets adults who already have SOME college but never finished their degree, would that be something that would work in Ohio?

A: Yes to some extent, we really want to comprehensively reach all adults. What KY is on to, applied to Ohio, we are national average for HS students going on to college, but we’re 38th over all because we have a low education level among adults in Ohio, that’s the history of the state, heavy industrial and agricultural state, so how do we turn that around? We can go after those who have some education, but we want to be open to all adult learners.

Schools need to be aware of best practices, so those ideas spread quickly. That’s something a unified system will provide. We’re going to report on our school’s progress in a very transparent way, too.

Q: If higher education is really the priority, when is the state going to reward students for attending college and attending state schools? In GA, the HOPE program pays students if they maintain a B average.

A: Hope we can make a compelling case that going to college IS the payment. We want to make it affordable, accessible, and possible, but not pay people to go to school (paraphrased). Think Georgia’s goal was to keep their top students in the state, we can do that by having affordable programs and quality, best possible quality at affordable price. We’re focused on raising the overall quality.. Any student addmitted to one of our schools will be able to go, based on demonstration of family need. We are also trying to expand educational opportunities because we know ppl aren’t choosing between UC and Harvard, trying to decide if they can go at all.

Q: Talking a lot about sharing resources and networking in higher education, what efforts are happening for use on the high school level?

A: We created little silos around technology (E-Tech, SchoolNet, Ohio Learning Network, OhioLINK) which made sense at the time, in todays moment we have to recognize that we’re all really doing the same thing, the governor’s Seniors to Sophomores, Ohio is one of hte lowest states in the nation to make it possible fo rhigh school students to get college credit, clearly these barriers are breaking down and need to break then down between high schools and college, we talk about the silos but don’t do anything about it. Whatever we create should be seamless between the two.

Q: How are we going to increase access and affordable when we’re not even prepping students for college?

A: I’ve been Chancellor for a year, and here’s what’s gnawing a my but, we at higher ed point our fingers at K-12 and complain about students coming in the pipeline, so I can promise you that a cornerstone of higher edi in this sate, we’re goibng to roll up our sleeves and make sure that every student knows what it means to do college level work and is ready to do it.

Q: What is the state doing to break down the barriers between Ohio and other organizations and agenencies?

A: When we spend time competing with each other we’re not telling the story of our excellence..

(Will come back and fix typos and mistakes later!)

Mar 08

ODCE2008 – SL Bootcamp

Preparing to head out of town for the Ohio Digital Commons for Education 2008 conference in Columbus, OH, where I and some colleagues will be giving a Second Life Bootcamp workshop and showcasing the University of Cincinnati island and talking about how we constructed the space. Will be back on Tuesday evening and will check email when I can. Hoping the workshop goes well!
posted by Fleep Tuque on OLN Island using a blogHUD : [blogHUD permalink]

Jan 08

Awaiting Horizon Report 2008: No Virtual Worlds

Discovered this little nugget over on the Not Possible In Real Life site. The author talks about Second Life in 2008 with Larry Pixel aka Larry Johnson, CEO of the New Media Consortium (NMC), a big mover and shaker in the educational arena of Second Life, Forseti Svarog aka Giff Constable, COO of the Electric Sheep Company, and Seifert Surface, a brilliant mathematician who created the tesseract house.

If you’ve never heard of the Horizon Report, it is a collaborative annual report from the New Media Consortium and EDUCAUSE that surveys emerging technologies that will impact education in coming years, and I highly recommend it, especially for instructional designers and others involved in educational technology.

In any event, I’ve been looking forward to the 2008 report and spotted some surprising words from NMC CEO Larry Johnson in the interview:

Larry Pixel: NMC Virtual Worlds plans a big announcement after the first of the year. It will come out first in the NMC Campus Observer, about January 10th.

Also, the NMC’s highly influential Horizon Report (75,000+ copies downloaded or purchased in hard copy in 2007) will be released in late January. The contents of the 2008 report will be announced on the wiki next week.

Notably, this will be the first year since 2005 that some form of virtual worlds is not mentioned in the Horizon Report. I am not sure if that means it is now mainstream for edu, or if it is passe, but among my Real Life constituency, there are many many established projects, and many of these are clearly reaching mainstream faculty and other groups. Within the NMC, virtual worlds are still important, but are no longer considered the set of hot emerging technologies they once were.

I’d say the 2007 Horizon Report was a key piece of ammo for me when I first approached my dean about the possibility of using Second Life at the University of Cincinnati, and I wonder if its absence in this year’s report might be a blow to later coming faculty and IT staff who are making the virtual worlds pitch at their own institutions. Hopefully there are enough reports and data from other sources in 2007 to bolster their efforts, but I’m still surprised to hear that it won’t be included in the 2008 report.

It also means I’m even more anxious to see what the 2008 report _does_ hold. Will let you know when I find out!

Dec 07

Education in Virtual Worlds: Predictions for 2008

The Virtual Worlds Management Industry Forecast 2008 report spawned a host of predictions from other bloggers, and several commenters suggested I do the same when I reviewed the report. I think the general predictions have been pretty well covered so I’ll stick to the topic nearest and dearest to my heart: Education in Virtual Worlds.

Following the report’s question format..

What are your top 3 trend predictions for 2008?

1. Second Life will continue to be the virtual world platform of choice for educators in 2008. While competing platforms are coming online in droves, university and college administrators are conservative about investing in new and poorly understood technologies. In countless committee meetings, early adopter faculty and IT staff will have to show hard data to skeptical department heads and Second Life is the only virtual world platform with a critical mass of educators, institutions, grant dollars, and burgeoning research to provide that data. What the administrators don’t know and nearly as important as the data, however, is that Second Life is also the only platform with a large enough and diverse resource base to provide freely-given documentation, training, websites, and technical support that educators need to deliver results – a level of support that isn’t currently provided by the host institutions or Linden Lab themselves (though the power of the 4,000 some educators on the Linden Lab hostedSL Educators email list can’t be underestimated).

2. Traditional Course/Content/Learning Management Systems will belatedly establish project teams to explore how they can cross-over into virtual world territory. The big players like Blackboard and Desire2Learn will look at the ground-breaking work of the SLoodle project and the continued spread of the open-source Moodle CMS and wonder where the heck their heads were in 2007. Though there won’t be any major implementations of virtual world technology in these other platforms, internally there will be a lot of head scratching, planning, and development, which will be poorly implemented in 2009.

3. College presidents will demand proof of ROI more vigorously than any CEO in 2008. Though the cost of entry to stick an institutional sign in the virtual world yard is still relatively low, as more educational institutions develop virtual presences and programs, the cost in both time and money to build, document, and deliver courses in these environments will explode. Early adopters will be forced to defend their work in a climate of tightening budgets and the increasing corporatization of edu culture, which will yield better metrics and research study designs that will be utilized to better effect by the private sector in late 2008 and into 2009.

What goals have you set for 2008?

The University of Cincinnati Second Life Learning Community has grown from a handful of members to over 30 faculty and staff from nearly every college, and in 2007 we hosted 7 classes on our island. Beyond increasing growth of the learning community and the number of courses that explore Second Life as some component of the course, my 2008 goals include:

1. Research: Complete and publish results of a second study of educational institutions in Second Life to build upon the initial benchmark. The second time around, I hope to explore not just “who” and “what kinds of spaces are being built”, but also take a more comprehensive look at the type of educational activities that are being conducted. Are educators just delivering traditional PowerPoint slides and lectures in the virtual world, or are they doing something else?

2. Sustainability: Funding, funding, upgrade computer labs, funding, more support staff, funding, better documentation and support infrastructure, and did I mention funding? I suspect I’m not the only one working 60 or 70 hour weeks to make education in virtual worlds a reality, and if we don’t find a way to make these nascent programs sustainable, we’ll all suffer massive burn-out. In return for more institutional support, we’ll be expected to deliver on the promise, but we can’t deliver on the promise without more institutional support, so solving this chicken-egg dilemma is a high priority in 2008.

3. Collaboration: Identify and challenge departmental and institutional barriers that hinder opportunities for collaboration. Virtual worlds knock down more than just geographical barriers, they also facilitate the holy grail of interdisciplinary curriculum – digital design students can help create models and learning spaces that are programmed for interactivity by computer science students to facilitate social science research, and there’s nothing to stop this from happening across institutions as faculty find researchers from other disciplines who share similar interests from different perspectives. The technology makes it possible, it’s just a matter of discovering what cultural and procedural barriers are standing in the way.

What challenges do you expect 2008 to bring for education and the virtual worlds industry?

1. Throwing off the “games” label: 2008 will be the last year that educators have to explain that virtual worlds are not games, not because the perception disappears, but because mass media will do the job instead. Virtual world applications for other serious purposes will be discussed in newspapers and tv shows and other traditional media ad nauseum, and by the end of 2008, anyone who still thinks any animated simulation on a computer is just a game was living under a rock.

2. Integration: Educational institutions have spent millions of tax payer dollars integrating student information systems, HR systems, grant and research funding systems, payment processing systems, and more. All of this data and infrastructure exists to automate the day-to-day business processes previously done manually, and yet with closed virtual world systems, we’re back to manually creating accounts, enrolling students in groups, giving curriculum and items by hand.. Virtual world platforms that intend to be adopted by institutions will have to enable integration with institutional systems and infrastructure or be outdone by competitors who do. This is a key barrier to widespread adoption, and newcomers to the virtual world playing field will begin to address this need in 2008.

3. Scalability: The interface must be user friendly. The initial experience must be idiot-proofed (even a PhD won’t get you off of Second Life’s orientation island, and that is ridiculous.) The documentation must be free, easily accessible, and clear. The tools for teaching must be easy to find and plentiful to accommodate different teaching styles. The platform must be stable, reliable, and allow more than 2 or 3 concurrent classes in the same space. Virtual world platforms that get the basics wrong will lose educational users in droves in favor of the platforms that get them right. Second Life in particular is on the hotseat in this regard, educators are itching for a way to test their theories on a platform that makes it possible without it feeling like a root canal, and 2008 may be the make or break year.

A number of new platforms are launching in 2008. What are the biggest impacts this will have on education and virtual worlds?

1. The education separatists will get their wish and discover that closed, sterile, disinfected virtual worlds are boring as hell, but they’ll persist in using them because it’s safer and easier to defend to administrators. Their students will see the experience as one more horrible institutional misuse of a cool technology and adopt open virtual worlds in ever greater numbers.

2. New degree programs will begin to emerge that focus on the interdisciplinary cross-section of organizational leadership in online environments, virtual worlds, and pedagogy. Ok, I’m hoping to find a program like that in 2008, so let me know if you find one. 😉

3. The most highly paid “instructional designer” positions will require experience with 3D modeling, social networking, and virtual worlds. Nascent departments and sub-units with expertise in virtual world platforms will begin to develop in IT departments at educational institutions across the United States, and in some other nations where virtual world technologies are being aggressively pursued.

How will all of this change education in 2008?

It won’t change anything except on the margins. A few students in a few courses in a few institutions will get a revolutionary educational experience that radically changes their view of the world and their place in it, but the vast majority of institutional resources, staff time, and equipment purchases will be continue to be spent on flat web technologies and endeavors. Enormous amounts of resources will continue to be poured into crappy course management and e-portfolio systems that don’t properly utilize Web 2.0 technologies yet, let alone incorporate virtual world tech. Pockets of innovation, under-funded and under-supported, will continue to grow, however, and faculty will lead the charge as they become aware of grant and research opportunities that they can’t take advantage of because of this lack of institutional support. National and professional associations will develop virtual world Special Interest Groups and these will show rapid growth among young faculty and early adopters across disciplines, but it will be several years before virtual worlds in education begins to approach anything like mainstream adoption.

So there you have it, just in under the wire! I’ll look forward to seeing how off the mark I am at the end of 2008, but until then, a Very Happy New Year to all – especially the educational community!

Dec 07

Digital Immigrant Bookworm Goes Native Butterfly

Perpetually behind on my blog reading, but today I caught up with Intellagirl’s Ubernoggin and got sucked into her Response to Jenkins, Prenskey Regarding Digital Natives post.

Intellagirl’s analysis points to two key phenomena that differentiates the Digital Native from the Digital Immigrant – exigency (need) and medial hauntings (previous experience with earlier technologies that lingers on). Now “medial hauntings” doesn’t quite roll off the tongue and until I read further, evoked images of severed limbs screaming BOO! from dark closets (oh MEDIAL not MEDICAL), but I think she’s onto something there. Certainly she addresses the kind of fear that I’ve seen in so-called digital immigrants, who already have a community of people to share thoughts with at church or the bowling league or whatever, and who are afraid to press a button in case it breaks or click a link in case there’s no way to go back, that sort of thing. And it brings to mind my own complete aversion to all things web based for years – my command line BBS works just fine thanks, I don’t need any of this newfangled blog crap! I BBSed from 1994 to 2006 and largely ignored blogs and blog culture because I had an interface that I was comfortable with and a community to share my thoughts with and what _need_ was there to change? So in that example, Intellagirl’s analysis hits it right on the head – I had no need and the few attempts I’d made at blogging were painful because I didn’t know what the heck I was doing and I kept saying to myself, “Pushing the spacebar to get new content is so much easier!”

This Digital Native/Immigrant dichotomy has been sticking in my craw because it doesn’t quite explain ME. By age demographic, I should be an immigrant. By socio-economic background and access to technology and gadgets, I should be an immigrant. By all sorts of measures and characteristics used to describe the two groups, it seems as if I should fit squarely in the immigrant category, but clearly I do not. Intellagirl’s post is the first I’ve seen that begins to get at an explanation that makes sense, not just on a macro level, but on a personal level. My adoption and wholesale immersion into the BBS/MUD community in the mid 90s was born out of great need, I was away from home, poor as a church mouse, out of my social element, and desperately seeking to connect with other people, and that technology provided something that my limited social and financial circumstances could not – COMMUNITY. I was moving constantly, like a bag lady, from apartment to apartment and state to state, but with the magic of the intarnets, my friends traveled with me wherever I went. Further, limited experience with previous technologies left me with no old habits to break, at the time I discovered email and UNIX talk and telnet, I was a fairly clean slate and picked it up quickly.

OK, so finally an explanation that begins to make sense.. Hm.

But there’s something else about my own personal experience that has been ricocheting around in my head and always comes to the forefront when I listen to one of Philip Rosedale’s speeches about how navigating 3D virtual worlds is innately more intuitive than navigating word-laden webpages. I think there’s truth to that and it seems to me that we’re entering a new .. phase, era, whatever word you prefer. But let me go back for a moment to the ricocheting thought, which is that I think my digital native behavior was/is extremely influenced by my lifelong addiction to reading. I was the kind of kid that would rather read a book than do just about anything else. If I was in the middle of a good story, nothing short of prolonged shouting could break the spell, to the annoyance of friends and parents alike. Somehow I transcended mere “literacy” and I’m sure there’s some academic term for those of us who become immersed in the written word and visualize it with such clarity that the “real world” ceases to exist while we’re in it. (I bet Henry Jenkins knows that word.)

So, being such a reader, the world of BBSs and MUDs and entirely text based virtual worlds wasn’t just an easy transition to make, it was like the holy grail – an interactive story that I was part of, that I wrote and changed and played a role and wow, what a dream come true. Webpages didn’t interest me quite as much, except as an information source, because they were like magazine stories, way too short and eventually full of too many pictures, when what I prefer is a nice big meaty novel that will take at least two or three days to read. And so I stayed in my text based virtual worlds for a very long time. Long after other BBS friends adopted LiveJournal and Blogger and reveled in posting pictures and links and video clips that could never appear in the old telnet window.

Until EverQuest, that is. MMO + RPG + 3D = love at first sight. I still remember the thrill of it: the beautiful scenery, the long walks across unexplored territory, the adrenaline rushes, the late nights, the empty Mt. Dew cans. Then DAoC and WoW and various single player games in-between (NWN, Deus Ex, Sims, etc.). And somehow, between 1994 and 2006, I transformed into a Native butterfly, an advocate for technology in education, a creator of digital content, a camera, mp3-player, cell phone carrying junkie, a 1337 translator with some old skool credibility, tivo equipped and subscribed to so many blogs, and now tweeting my life away for all to see. Indistinguishable from a so-called Native, except that my text messaging thumb dexterity is woefully inadequate.

I hate these terms, Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, because they imply all sorts of connotations that do more harm than good, and because my Women’s Studies 101 classes taught me to _always_ be suspicious of false dichotomies. It is not an either/or choice, rather there are continuums of related skill-sets and proclivities and if you look deeper under the skin of a Digital Native, you will find more complexity than a single word can possibly describe. Sure the 17 year old chained to his cell phone can text message while eating, driving, and talking, and sure his ipod seems to have grown fully formed out of his skull, but can he use a search engine effectively? Can he write a coherent paragraph with correct spelling and grammar to save his life? Increasingly, I think that answer is NO and that is worrisome.

Jenkins writes:

At one time, the digital immigrant metaphor might have been helpful if it forced at least some adults to acknowledge their uncertainties, step out of their comfort zone, and adjust their thinking to respond to a generation growing up in a very different context than the realm of their own childhood. As Prensky concludes, “if Digital Immigrant educators really want to reach Digital Natives – i.e. all their students – they will have to change.” Yet, I worry that the metaphor may be having the opposite effect now — implying that young people are better off without us and thus justifying decisions not to adjust educational practices to create a space where young and old might be able to learn from each other.

So, what would digital multi-culturalism look like? Can we come up with a different set of metaphors to talk about these issues?

I say we MUST come up with a different set of metaphors, because to circle back to Philip Rosedale’s point about the intuitive navigability of 3D virtual spaces, if we don’t figure out a better way to talk about these concepts, the so-called natives will run so far ahead into the virtual world, that the wisdom of the text-based and physical world might be lost altogether. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this chilling report from the National Endowment for the Arts about current literacy rates. It strikes fear into the heart of this digital [whatever], because the power of all of this technology is tremendous, and while those who have accepted the term “digital immigrant” feel cut off or dismissive or frightened or too old or whatever it is are sitting around reading newspapers and drinking coffee at church and thinking that things like Second Life is just a game, the world is going to change around them, so fast it will make their heads spin if they’re still around to see it, and the certainty that this is coming fills me with such urgency, I just can’t shake it.

It keeps me burning the candle at both ends, and now we’re at the end of 2007 and my resolution in 2006 to figure out this blog crap, to bring Second Life to my campus, to work even harder to be the translator between the “immigrant” and “native” camps has been one of the most exhausting and stressful, yet wonderfully fulfilling years of my life. I’ll save the reminiscing for a different long rambly disorganized thinking-out-loud post, but at the end of all of this, I’m thinking we have a lot of work to do and we can’t do it fast enough. I don’t know if Digital Multi-Culturalism will cut the mustard, either, because that implies some acceptance of the status-quo that I don’t want to accept. I want to be intolerant of intolerance in the digital sense. I don’t want to just talk about it, I want to smack the hand that reaches for the phone book instead of a search engine. As I reach the ripe old age of my early 30s, I finally have come to understand that not all old people are wise, but there is wisdom in age and experience, and frankly, I fear we’ll lose that wisdom when the “natives” put down their video games and start harnessing this technology to change the world around them.

I think, moving forward, that we need to challenge those words wherever we see or hear them, because they are perpetuating a concept that we can’t afford to continue.

Dec 07

Virtual Worlds/Walled Gardens, SL-Dev, and UC State of the University

[Edit: Good grief, it’s the State of the University, not State of the Union. (!!) Recovering political junkie reflex.]

Interesting article in the Christian Science Monitor about big business and Second Life. Tackles the interoperability-slash-walled garden issue, and quotes Metanomics series host Professor Robert Bloomfield of Cornell University, who I recently met during the discussion on Higher Education in Second Life for the program.

The article states that 20 major technology firms, including IBM and Microsoft, have agreed to explore ways to connect virtual worlds. My thought, is Google on that list?

On another note, I was talking with a couple of long time SL residents who didn’t know about the existence of the SL-DEV listserv. Now I am not a scripter or a coder or any label that would imply I could program my way out of a paper bag, but if you want to know where the technology behind Second Life is heading, there’s no better source for info. Sure half to two thirds of the posts zoom right over my head, but even scanning the subject lines tells me what’s the Hot New Topic with the opensource/dev community, and that’s good to know.

President Nancy Zimpher delivers the 2007 State of the University address

Next up, I finally got a chance to view University of Cincinnati President Nancy Zimpher’s State of the University 2007 address. Since she came to UC, her focus on how the university integrates with the local and regional community has resonated with my own sense of priorities, and I am pleased to see that continue to be her focus, in addition to the Master Plan and UC|21 goals for academic achievement. I lived in Clifton for 6 years, and while I miss the convenience of walking to work very much, I don’t miss the noise, the crime, and the grit nearby. As long as economic redevelopment doesn’t just mean shifting vulnerable populations further away from a walled-garden campus, then I am all for finding real, sustainable solutions. She also mentioned the Strive project, which aims to create an educational pipeline to ensure that students complete the _entire_ educational process, from pre-school through to college degree. Good stuff!

Also from President Zimpher’s speech, the Brookings Institute: Blueprint for American Prosperity: Unlceaning the Potential of a Metropolitan Nation. I confess, I haven’t read it yet, but her talk seemed quite apropos considering the recent conversations I and others have been having about what makes a community work in the virtual world, and I think there is much to be learned from real world examples too.

Finally, any SL residents, I beg of you to please vote for the JIRA issue to increase the 25 group limit in Second Life. Even if you haven’t hit that ceiling yet, it is a major major obstacle for those of us who have, and I can’t believe it has less than 400 votes. Sheesh.