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In the '2009 Educause' Category...

Educause 2009 – Day Two

Thursday, November 5, 2009 4:47 pm

I could go in chronological order in this post, but that would require me to “bury the lead” and talk about Lawrence Lessig’s presentation in the middle of the post! Lessig is a rock star in my world and it seems only right that when writing about a copyright guru I “steal” his bio from his website!

Lawrence Lessig is a Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and founder of the school’s Center for Internet and Society. Prior to joining the Stanford faculty, he was the Berkman Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, and a Professor at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

For much of his career, Professor Lessig focused on law and technology, especially as it affects copyright. He represented web site operator Eric Eldred in the ground-breaking case Eldred v. Ashcroft, a challenge to the 1998 Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. His current academic work addresses a kind of “corruption.”

He has won numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, and was named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries, for arguing “against interpretations of copyright that could stifle innovation and discourse online.”

Professor Lessig is the author of Remix (2008), Code v2 (2007), Free Culture (2004), The Future of Ideas (2001) and Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace (1999). He is on the board of the Creative Commons project, MAPLight, Free Press, Brave New Film Foundation, Change Congress, The American Academy, Berlin, Freedom House and He is on the advisory board of the Sunlight Foundation and LiveJournal. He has served on the board of the Free Software Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Public Library of Science, and Public Knowledge. He was also a columnist for Wired, Red Herring, and the Industry Standard.

Professor Lessig earned a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.”


Lessig opened by discussing how in the past copyright had a tiny role at the turn of the century as the law was technical and difficult and only applied to a small group of businesses. Then things changed, and now copyright reaches across the spectrum, the law is more technical and difficult to understand, but applies to so many daily transactions. We collide with copyright constantly in our lives. It all changes because the platform we use to get access to our culture has changed. The current paradigm is that if we don’t secure this money for professional creators of content they will not be incented to create this content. But where is the role of the amateur (all those remixers on YouTube) in keeping culture alive?

Educators and scientist rather than questioning copyright have embraced it over the last 20 years without enough skepticism Lessig says we should all feel entitled to question the legal system (as lawyers do) rather than just roll over! Scholarly journal costs are blocking access to knowledge except for the richest Universities.

Necessary evils are still evil and should be avoided. It should not take years and over $500,000 to re-clear the rights to the “Eyes on the Prize” series. Documentaries suffer under current laws. Items will turn to dust before some items can be transferred and preserved

What to do about this? Well, Lessig thinks changing the law is hopeless. So he likes to change the norms with project like Creative Commons. He said we all need to be radical militant activists on this issue!

The Google Book Search Project was his next talking point. He has concerns the settlement is pushing us toward a radically complex model that pushes books toward the same issues faced by film (documentaries in particular!) He quoted Drucker that “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

He wondered how to convey to lawyers that the current system is a failure that can’t work in the digital age? Copyright is essential, he is not a copyright abolitionist, he believes it needs reworking. He is a great speaker and if you ever get a chance to hear him, take it!

The e-books session was at capacity and also very engaging! Robin Schulze from Penn State discussed their program with the Sony Reader 505. (The new model, 700 series is more interactive, highlight underline, annotate) This reader has no backlight, long battery life, and is readable in daylight. Sony E ink is great for readability. Sony loaned the readers and the put them to use in English 30. Sony is a single use device on purpose to encourage immersive reading. Those running the study were struck by the reviews that commented on the coldness of the device. One described it as “The book John DeLorean would have designed.” The lack of interactivity and custom fonts made it hard to get everyone on the same page. It became obvious that everyone wanted consistent page numbers.

At the same time the students did not say it hindered their general comprehension. This discrepancy was hard for those conducting the pilot to reconcile! Students said the ebooks did not seem friendly or companionable. Need to change patterns of infant instruction in reading and need to include more interaction, Flash, and features that change/augment the reading experience! (Do what books can’t do now!)

Kindle was not interested in partnering with any of these schools!

Next I attend a Google Wave Demo. I’ve written and talked so much about Google Wave in the last few months and I still don’t have an account! Still, I can’t wait for an account for myself and accounts for all my friends and coworkers so we can start collaborating with this new tool! I do have some concerns that it will be a paradigm shift that will require some change in my processes!

The program “I’m Thin and Green” : Reducing the Desktop Carbon Footprint while Offering Anywhere, Anytime, Computing Services, was led by Richard Toeniskoetter of Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff who described the school of 15,000 students on a mountain campus (between Sedona and the Grand Canyon) 7,000 additional students statewide (elevation 7000ft) as one that is epitomized by small class size.

They have a goal to be carbon neutral by 2020. They engage and educate the community both locally and globally and offer hands on sustainability learning opportunities to students. Both the Business and Engineering buildings are Gold LEED certified and the Applied Research and Design building is Platinum LEED certified.

Thin clients in use there use only 4 watts of power, with no need for UPCs as the data is all saved at data center. Hotdesking allows a session to follow you anywhere. Questions like offline usage (Network is down?) and licensing were important when considering this switch. Thin clients allow the applications in a lab to be changed at a moments notice, but do require the infrastructure to support this new model of computing. These clients are goof for about 80% of users, but not for those who heavily use multimedia. He said resistance to thin clients is natural and we should not force it where it does not fit. For those wanting more information he suggested reading an article by Karla Hignite in Business Officer, Oct 2009 on thin clients.

This post is getting too long, so I’ll end with the wild program “Bricks and Mortar Libraries in the 21st Century: An Oxymoron? This was a Point and Counter Point session between Suzanne Thorin and Richard Luce. Thorin said the library as place is dead and we need to move on. She said new discovery tools and resources are all digital. ILL is a scanning activity, only buying books on demand of faculty; we are moving our books off-site. Students use us as social study space with their laptops, still quiet spaces, often not using our services on those laptops. She described roving librarians, saying we have abandoned the reference desk and that our organizational structures are “a blast from the past”. She said we need to stop counting numbers of books and other things that don’t show what we do. She also said we should count how we impact student success and retention and scholarly publishing instead.

Then Richard Luce spoke saying that she had been talking about print v digital, not about the library as place. He said we came here today (to Educause) to interact with one another. The library is a place to be with one another. There is a social, community, role, with libraries becoming classrooms and laboratories. Library is the neutral/mutual location on the college/university campus.

This was a wild session with too much point and counter point to capture, but you get the idea. I think it is interesting that ZSR has made many of the transitions discussed, creating quiet study areas, cool new collaborative spaces, and doing more with instruction.

Finally, some quick stats! There are about 4000 attendees at Educause this year, over 6000 if you count all the vendors, and there are over 1000 people participating in the online Educause conference. Oh, and I’m the only person from WFU here!

Educause 2009 – Day One

Wednesday, November 4, 2009 5:49 pm

After spending the better part of a day traveling and with only 14% power left on my iPhone (I never like to get below 20%) and with only six minutes before the close of registration on Tuesday night, I checked in at the Educause 2009 registration station and collected my conference materials! For those of you who may not have heard of Educause, it is a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology. This year the conference is in Denver.

I’ve never been to Denver, and on the walk back to the hotel after registering, I discovered that since the blizzard last week things had warmed considerably and many other attendees were enjoying the weather and the 16th Street pedestrian mall near the convention center. I was wiped out after a day of travel and hit the bed early to be ready for the general session early Wednesday.

Wednesday began bright and early thanks to crossing two time zones, and this gave me a chance to catch up on email, exercise and plan my session strategy. Diana Oblinger, the president and CEO of Educause opened the general session, reminding us that Educause is not just a conference, but a community. The planners of Educause 2009 asked for feedback and listened. There are more on managing the enterprise in a tough economy and more sessions on sustainability issues. The Point/Counterpoint sessions are back as are the Lightening Rounds sessions where multiple presenters offer new ideas at a fast pace. As many of you at ZSR know, there is an online conference option this year and a new feature, Educause Central Online, where you can connect with colleagues and chat with Educause staff in the online conference virtual meeting hub.

The keynote speaker was James C. Collins Author of Built to Last, Good to Great, and How the Mighty Fall. (We have them all in ZSR!) Collins spent much of his time discussing the five step-wise stages of decline he found in his research and outlined in How the Mighty Fall. He also focused what makes some good organizations become great. He states that “greatness is not a function of circumstance, but rather a matter of conscious choice and discipline”, and that “good” is the enemy of “great”. His research focuses on the business sector rather than the social sector, but he states that the results are applicable and the two are both necessary for a successful country. He has some interesting ideas about leaders and leadership, and his “Hedgehog Concept” is an interesting model to determine where you can be the best based on skills, resources and values. I plan to read some of his work, but it isn’t currently available for the kindle reader!

During my first pass through the exhibit hall I decided to shoot some video and post it on YouTube!

The E-Portfolio Lightning Round was great! While it was familiar content it was good to see where various schools stand with E-Portfolios and to see that they are various uses. While some use them to show a student’s work to potential employers, many are only using E-Portfolios as an assessment tool. Some even used Google Sites to host the portfolios. Helen Barrett’s name always comes up when discussing E-Portfolios. She was described as the “mother of E-Portfolios” by one speaker. (Helen will be visiting WFU in the Spring.) Jeffrey Middlebrook from U of Southern California described their blog-based solution as a “blogfolio”. The University of Wisconsin is using the Desire2Learn E-Portfolio application. I also saw a demo of the open source portfolio add-on to Sakai.

In the Cloud Computing session “Cloud Computing and New Research Services: A Case Study”, The speaker. Beth Secrest, took a poll of the group before beginning, and there were only two librarians and many IT professionals present. Beth is the program officer for IT services for the Association of Research Libraries. She began with some definitions. “Cloud computing refers to the applications delivered as services over the Internet and the hardware and systems software in the datacenters.” She then defined “campus cyberinfrastructure” as serving the underserved and average rather than extreme scholar. It is flexible, agile, scalable, and sustainable. Needs to be implemented fast or users will go find these sources on their own! She described using SAAS Service: FormSpring. In the past a class or a researcher would send database specifications to IT and wait for a response. This method is much more interactive. There are challenges and policies to create. Questions come up such as who owns the data, and who can create the form. Newer tools include backup options and more export tools. In their pilot there was only one interruption of service for only a few hours and the service reported not only the outage, but which users were affected by it. The pilot collaboration with Ithaca went very well! The reason for using FormSpring for the study was that ARL did not have the infrastructure internally to manage the technology of this research project. Beth stated that “Cheap and Simple” can often be “Good Enough” (This is exactly how I feel about Google Sites!)

More to come in tomorrow’s post!

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