Professional Development

The Future of Education: The Horizon Project Retreat

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 5:29 pm

Immediately following ALA, I was extremely lucky to be able to attend The Future of Education: The Horizon Project’s Tenth Year Retreat.

Since I first learned of the Horizon Project, I have been impressed with it. It’s an annual report, with editions for higher education, k-12 education, and museums, about the technologies that are on the horizon. Each report focuses on six technologies over three time horizons as well as naming some contextual themes that are applicable across the board.

Several years after first learning of the Horizon Project, I saw some discussion on library blogs about how libraries weren’t represented, so I decided to throw my name in the ring to see if I could be involved. I was fortunate to be included and the first report I contributed to was the Higher Education edition for 2011. I also contributed to the 2012 Higher Education report. The process of creating the reports, itself, is an amazingly efficient and productive modification of an onlineDelphi study, and I’d be happy to blog or chat about it if you’re interested.

Horizon name badge

The retreat, itself, was for anyone who had served on any of the advisory boards over the past 10 years. It was organized by Dr. Larry Johnson, CEO of the NMC, and Dr. Lev Gonick, VP and CIO at Case Western Reserve University and Board Chair Emeritus of the NMC. It was held in Austin, Texas at the Hyatt Lost Pines Resort. The location was ideal. It wasn’t in the city, so we weren’t tempted away the way we might have been otherwise in the evenings. This meant that for the entire retreat we were all in one space, thinking about the same thing.

The event was comprised of group discussions, nine speakers featured on the NMC’s YouTube channel under 6 minutes with, and the amazing facilitation of David Sibbet, which is hard to understand unless you take a look at his visual representation of the event. Sibbet is a master at visualizing ideas, and I think every one of us probably wished for an ounce of his ability in that area.

At the Horizon Retreat

As you can see, this event incorporated various communication technologies as you’d hope it would. iPads outnumbered all other computers as best I could tell. (I felt a little old-fashioned with my MacBook Air!) They brought in speakers via videoconferencing technologies. Tagging was used extensively.

The pace of the event was quick, as we’d get a little bit of introduction, hear a speaker, have structured small group discussions, bring back the big ideas to the group, and watch as Sibbet illustrated the discussion we were having. The structured group work was built around specific points they wanted us to come to conclusions on–which took a bit of getting used to for me but I ended up really liking it. It reminded me of some of my teaching exercises, trying to make sure we don’t always do the same group work and mixing up the types of interactions.

The main ideas from the retreat are captured in a Communiqué. The ideas in this document are “megatrends” that are impacting all educational institutions (libraries included) around much of the internet-connected world. The executive summary, if you don’t want to pop over there, is:
At the Horizon Retreat

  1. The world of work is increasingly global and increasingly collaborative.
  2. People expect to work, learn, socialize, and play whenever and wherever they want to.
  3. The Internet is becoming a global mobile network – and already is at its edges.
  4. The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based and delivered over utility networks, facilitating the rapid growth of online videos and rich media.
  5. Openness – concepts like open content, open data, and open resources, along with notions of transparency and easy access to data and information – is moving from a trend to a value for much of the world.
  6. Legal notions of ownership and privacy lag behind the practices common in society.
  7. Real challenges of access, efficiency, and scale are redefining what we mean by quality and success.
  8. The Internet is constantly challenging us to rethink learning and education, while refining our notion of literacy.
  9. There is a rise in informal learning as individual needs are redefining schools, universities, and training.
  10. Business models across the education ecosystem are changing.

There was brief discussion of including a library-related topic as one of the ten, but there weren’t enough library folks at the retreat to get the votes necessary to include it. If you read the communiqué, you’ll note that libraries are mentioned under many of these 10 megatrends. In fact, there was brief discussion of if there should be a libraries Horizon Report as their is a Museum one. I’d lean towards keeping libraries integrated within the existing documents, while increasing librarian participation. I think I can contribute more about libraries to a higher education discussion, and I’d rather librarians be at that table. Likewise, a school librarian could really contribute to the k-12 report. I’d like to see public libraries represented somewhere, though.

And, since we have a library focus here, I thought I’d include Marsha Semmel’s (Director of Strategic Partnerships at Institute of Museum and Library Services) talk.This talk was given to an audience with only about 5/100 librarians, so she was definitely introducing people to standards of the field as well as pushing on some boundaries.

The Horizon Retreat was an amazing opportunity, and I–frankly–was frequently surprised to find myself included at the table in these discussions. I look forward to seeing what else comes of our work over that week. If you’re interested in following along, you can on the (surprise!) wiki!

NCSU/UNCG/Duke Meet Up

Monday, January 25, 2010 4:57 pm

transparent reference desk and large screen monitor

On Friday, Susan, Erik, Jean-Paul, and I went to NCSU for a gathering of librarians working at the intersection of libraries, instruction, and technology.

This gathering has evolved quite a bit in the past few years. The first meet up was at UNCG, when Steve Cramer got in touch to see if we wanted to share information about some of the new and interesting work happening at both our libraries. We got together here next, and extended the invitation to NCSU as well, since we knew they were doing some similar types of projects. Then, NCSU hosted and invited someone from Duke. We’re now at the point of having to think more carefully about the purpose of the group, what size we’re comfortable with it growing to, and how to maximize the time for those involved. Along the way I set up a wiki, which the group is using to keep track of what we’re covering.

So, this was the first time this group met at NCSU, and it was a really good time. We had a packed agenda, and ended up spending most of our time on specific projects from each institution. This was a really good use of time, though, to see what people are doing and to go a little further in depth with each project.

NCSU:

  • GroupFinder is a project created to get around the fact that many cell phones don’t work within the library. Students can use the GroupFinder website to let their friends/classmates know what part of the library they’re studying in. Students can see this information on the website or the large display panels around the library. When doing usability testing on this, library staff approached people in their coffee shop saying they’d buy their cup of coffee for 5 minutes of their time. This gave them all kinds of relevant feedback that they incorporated into the product.
  • Wolfwalk is a project that is still in development, but is one I’m really interested in and that I cited in the Top Tech Trends panel. It’s a step towards augmented reality, where they’ve created an app that displays photos from their archives for wherever you happen to be standing. It’s really neat, and I was glad to have a chance to actually see it in action. Again, I think there’s a lot of promise in augmented reality (further down the road) and this is one example of how libraries can really do some interesting and useful work in that area.

UNCG:

  • Google Forms for assessment: UNCG is using Google Forms to collect data on all kinds of things. They highlighted using it for pre and post assessment for one-shot instruction sessions, but also for stats for reference and instruction. We talked about how it would be useful to have a bank of assessment questions to share amongst different institutions.
  • Assignment Calculator: Like many libraries, UNCG has implemented an assignment calculator. However, the really interesting work they’re doing with it comes from the next steps… They are looking at how to build in social features. For example, including ways to share assignments with groups for collaborative papers, or having the calculator send Tweets to students about deadlines as they come up. They’re also looking at how to incorporate faculty input for specific resource to look at in the process of writing a paper or deadlines that professors might have along the way that are slightly different from the ones given by the calculator.

WFU:

  • Susan discussed the Social Stratification course and some of the ways it has impacted the larger campus.
  • Erik explained the mini studio, how we came to host it, and the service we offer.

People seemed very interested in both of our topics!

Libguides:

We also talked about instructional technologies in general, and spent a good portion of that time on LibGuides. We were pointed to usability studies from the University of Michigan. Fascinating stuff!!

I think this is a really interesting group, because all the institutions are fairly forward looking about instructional technology, but we’re all very different. UNCG and NCSU are state schools that face some different restrictions than Duke and WFU. NCSU and Duke are research 1 schools, and UNCG is still really big compared with WFU. We also have very different staff sizes and organizational charts. Yet, with all these differences, we still face a lot of the same issues, and could possibly collaborate in some areas.

The WFU crowd left at lunch, part of the group due to meetings back here, and me so that I could go see my soon-to-be nephew. However, the group is continuing discussions virtually about what type of future it might take on. Let me know if you have any ideas or recommendations!

Duke CIT Showcase

Monday, April 27, 2009 4:36 pm

I was very fortunate to spend Friday at the Duke CIT Showcase. I attended a bunch of interesting sessions on the Duke Digital Initiatives, video feedback on assignments, alumni readers/critiques, a student’s perspectives of blogs in the classroom, iTunes University, and the physical arrangement of classroom space. James Groom, of the EduPunk movement gave the keynote.

I am constantly impressed with Duke’s Center for Instructional Technology. I’ve been paying attention to them for a few years, but really became a fan after attending last year’s showcase. The showcase is really for the Duke community, though they’re kind enough to invite those of us who do this type of work, too. The presentations are all by Duke faculty for Duke faculty, focusing on really cutting edge or interesting ways of incorporating new technologies into the classroom. I normally feel really up on this type of thing, but both times I’ve come away with new ideas. The keynote is normally (at least based on the past two) a nationally known innovator in educational technology.

From the sessions I attended there were two main themes of the day:

  1. There is a benefit to having the “real world” view student work.
  2. Providing audio feedback allows you to give students more feedback.

I am totally down with theme number one. This is why I try to put so much of the courses I work with online in public places. This is one of the reasons I avoid traditional learning management systems (like Blackboard). Point two is new to me. Though I love multimedia, and think of it a lot for student assignments, I hadn’t thought about all that it could provide by incorporating it into my grading. I have a few FERPA related things I want to work through (for example, I would assume spoken comments are FERPA encumbered, so do we have to keep those off the network?) but I definitely want to find ways to incorporate this. It actually reminds me a bit of the old-school tutor model, where you could have conversations with students (or, at least, more conversational feedback).

Out of the showcase came a few things I want to try:

  • A syndication plugin for a blog, rather than using FriendFeed, for my next class
  • Voice comments in lieu of written comments

Another theme for me, though not a major theme of the showcase, was that information management issues are increasingly intertwined with educational technology issues. Again, this is one of the reasons why I tend to think that librarians are in an excellent place to lead here. As faculty start having questions about archiving, indexing, and preserving the scholarly material created by a class, librarians are in an excellent place to be able to answer them.

Great stuff, and certainly worth the drive! I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re up to next year.

TRI-IT

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 10:47 am

Last week I attended TRI-IT, representing the library. Tri-IT is an informal group of people who work with instructional technology in Triangle and Triad universities. It’s a mix of people, from IS departments, from teaching and learning centers, and from libraries. Several of the Wake Forest University ITGs attended as well.

Blogs, wikis, and podcasting are still hot topics, as most of the sessions I attended focused on these tools. I participated in a panel discussing how different departments in different institutions address educational technologies, so I spoke on our support of our blogs, wikis, and podcasts, and talked about the cycle of experimentation, piloting, supporting, and hosting that we’ve developed for instructional technology.

The highlight of these meetings, for me, is the round-robin report, where each institution talks about what they’re working on. Most everyone talked about the economy and its impact on their work. Some are restructuring how they approach their work to streamline their services. Most are working with Blackboard 8 as well as piloting open source course management systems like Sakai and Moodle.

It was a good day, and I was glad to hear what everyone was up to. It was also nice to connect with some of the UNCG library folks in attendance and see other familiar faces. Duke said they’d host next time, so look for another report in the fall!


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