Liberal Education Today:

Archived Blog

This blog has moved

It’s moving day for this blog, friends. Liberal Education Today is being integrated into the unified NITLE blog central this afternoon, as we noted earlier this week. (See also, this post.) At the same time, it’s stepping out into the Twitterverse, and we invite you to contribute to that conversation.

So adjust your URLs accordingly:

  1. The new home page is http://blogs.nitle.org/.
  2. The RSS feed is http://blogs.nitle.org/feed. (thanks to Stephen Downes for the comment reminder)
  3. The Twitter hashtag is #NITLE.

See you there, and there!
(image from Klearchos Kapoutsis)

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Posted on February 12, 2010 at 11:32 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: News: NITLE

Integrating liberal education and engineering

A Symposium on Engineering & Liberal Education is being held at Union College this summer.

In recognition of the need to expand our understanding of what it means to be a liberally educated citizen, this symposium will bring together select academic leaders and scholars to explore different models for integrating engineering, technology and the traditional liberal arts.

The dates are June 4-5.  More information about the program is available from that site.

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Posted on February 11, 2010 at 9:24 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: General News · Tagged with: ,

Open content resource from California

A new Web resource for academic open content has been launched by a group of west coast campuses. The Open Educational Resources Center for California is a portal or aggregator, bundling together searches for open textbooks, general educational resources, open courseware, Web 2.0 open media, and open quizzes.  There are other features, too, including a training center, discussion fora, and some social networking.

NITLE just offered a MIV program on open content this week.  Is your institution increasing its engagement with open content?

(via Jose Afonso Furtado via Twitter)

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Posted on February 10, 2010 at 10:01 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Learning Objects · Tagged with: ,

Buzz: Google ramps up social networking

Google upped its social networking ante on Tuesday, with the launch of a new serviceGoogle Buzz is a microblogging engine, related to Facebook status update and Twitter.  But the differences are important, and possibly of moment to academia.

Buzz lets Google users compose short messages, a la Twitter or instant messages’ “away” status.  Buzz users can follow other users, creating a personal content stream.  One may direct a single post towards another user with the “@” tag, also a la Twitter.  Users can add content from some other services to Buzz, such as YouTube, Flickr, Google Reader, or(Google-owned) Picasa; this is reminiscent of Facebook’s multimedia support, and the variety of services Twitter users can exploit (TwitPic, for instance).  Users can also select the audience for an individual Buzz, from the world at large to various defined private groups.

However, Google integrates Buzz into Google accounts and other Google services, which leads to key differences:

  1. One’s Buzz account comes preloaded with Gmail contacts, based on a user’s email addressbook and some data about personal connection based on frequency of GChat and/or Gmail use.
  2. Buzz actively recommends other users’ Buzz content.  We should recognize such a recommendation engine from other Web services (i.e., Amazon).  It is so far lacking from other microblogging services.
  3. Buzz-es appear in Gmail, and can be replied to therein.  This email integration might prove popular with audiences deeply invested in email.
  4. Buzz applications for Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone: mobile device platforms are already in play.  Google Maps should play a role here.
  5. Buzz feeds can be syndicated through RSS and other services, unlike competitors.

Google Buzz represents a strongly competitive move.  It targets Twitter: one may connect the two, or choose not to.  This could either draw users away from Twitter, or create a Google-based presence within the Twitterverse.  Buzz also competes with Facebook, a company noticeably absent from Google’s announcement content.  Microsoft may be another target, either because of its Hotmail email service, or for collaboration tool Sharepoint.  Microsoft’s Social Connector service is in the line of fire, too, especially with its impending Outlook integration.  Mobile services which combine digital information with physical location, such as Yelp or Foursquare, could well be targets. One last competitor: Yahoo, who launched an Updates feature in 2009 (and who has an unrelated site called Buzz).

Critics have addressed several points.  First, Google has a poor track record in the social networking space, with many initiatives either failing or simply not taking off (at least in the USA; Orkut has a global following).  Second, Buzz seems to be something other than an open social network, suggesting another silo or walled garden approach.

Questions are many.  Can Google Buzz users B/buzz people through other online identities, such as different email providers?  Will Buzz results appear in the general Google Web search?

Your turn.  What’s your experience with Buzz?  And what are your thoughts?

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Living Stories: new journalism experiment

An experimental Web site offers an interesting approach to journalism. Living Stories, a collaboration between the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Google, consists of a series of major topics. Living Stories aggregates several news streams and information sources under each such header, including a slideshow, an introduction, curated articles, recent coverage, and two timelines.

For topics covered, this could serve as a powerful resource.

(via KnowledgeWebb)

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Posted on February 9, 2010 at 4:49 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Communications, Learning Objects, Uncategorized · Tagged with: , ,

Blackberry leads smartphone market, while Apple and Google close in: new study

The Blackberry continues to lead the American smartphone market, while Apple’s iPhone continues to grow in second place, according to a new studycomScore examined ownership from late 2009, and found the following market distribution:

Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android platform grew, while the Blackberry and Palm slipped.

Americans’ leading use of smartphone was for text messaging:

(via Mashable)

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Posted on February 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Communications, Infrastructure Support · Tagged with: , , , ,

NITLE blog integration ahead

Some changes are afoot for NITLE blogging. We’re integrating our three current blogs (Techne, Liberal Education Tomorrow, and Perspectives) into one NITLE-mega-blog. Three reasons: as we’ve been blogging, we noticed topics continually crossing between blogs. One unified megablog will therefore be more clear, and will help us explore the integration of inquiry, pedagogy, and technology in, well, a more integrated way.

Second, the integration also helps us bring together diverse readers into a single space. We hope this level of integration helps facilitate connection and exchange between readers via comments and guest posts. (Yes, guest posts – let us know if you’d like to take a crack at one.)

Third, we want to take the conversation hosted by this blog in particular to another level. Specifically, we’ll be heading out into the Twitterverse to promote conversation about liberal education–today and tomorrow. We’ll use the #nitle hashtag to do this, and we invite you to join the conversation. Our goals: crowdsource intelligence around emergent trends in liberal education; facilitate connections between thinkers across the NITLE Network and beyond; place the NITLE conversation in circulation with many other conversations relevant to learning and teaching with technology. We encourage you to start using the #nitle hashtag with your tweets, and to use it in combination with other hashtags of interest.

The new blog will launch this Friday, February 12, and use this URL: http://blogs.nitle.org/. All previous content from the current blogs will remain available, although some URLs will change. (Current links will redirect to new ones.)

Watch this space, and get ready to update your bookmarks or RSS feeds. And, as ever, we’re eager to hear from you along the way.

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Posted on February 9, 2010 at 2:57 pm by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · 4 Comments
In: News: NITLE · Tagged with: ,

Teaching writing in a social media age: one recent example

A writing instructor describes her recent exploration of increasing student engagement in a writing class by using digital media.   Vance explains: “As technology shifts, so does our means of persuasion; if students do not explore this, they will find their skills quickly out of date.”

This meant several approaches, including a public class blog.  Blogging appealed for for several reasons.

  1. “it forces them to take more accountability for their words while teaching them the power of communication. “
  2. “This made the assignments more communal in nature and reinforced that writing is meant to be shared… Requiring students to blog, contact people outside their classroom, and post writing on the Internet teaches them to engage with the community, gives their writing more significance, and supports rhetoric – a term that, by definition, implies community.”

A second technological strategy required students to collaborative create a digital video.  “My goal was that this would provide continuity between assignments, while reinforcing one of the fundamental ideas underlying this class: rhetoric is found in a variety of media, not just writing… Always, the emphasis was on these crafts as rhetorical devices.”

Appropriately, the instructor made a video to complement her article.

(via Ed Webb via Diigo)

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Posted on February 8, 2010 at 9:49 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · 2 Comments
In: Best Practices, Pedagogy, Weblogs · Tagged with: , ,

Internet Explorer retains browser market lead

In the competitive world of Web browsers, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer continues to lead, according to new statistics from Net Applications.

The aggregate of all versions of Internet Explorer (IE) – 6.0, 7.0, and the new 8.0 – constitutes more than 60% of the browser field. Alternative browsers, both commercial and open source, continue to compete. Firefox (FF), an open source signature achievement, is the world’s second-most-popular browser, being the choice of about one quarter of Web users. Google’s Chrome is now in third place, with 5.22%, displacing Apple’s Safari.

browsers2010Jan

Additionally the 8.0 version of IE is in the lead as an individual version, picked by over 22% of surfers.

browser_share_2.1.2010

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Posted on February 6, 2010 at 8:14 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Infrastructure Support, Tools

Facebook as new reader: a new player in journalism?

Could Facebook become a leading portal for news consumption?  One observer thinks it already is, and will grow in that role.

Facebook is the web’s most popular subscription-enabled place to read news; be it from links shared by friends or by becoming a Fan of news organizations like Facebook is now encouraging. That doesn’t mean that Facebook is yet a better news-reading service than dedicated RSS readers are. But it has certainly caught on as a way to read news far better than dedicated news-reading software has.

How does Facebook work as a news portal?  Let GigaOM explain:

two different ways — both by picking up news from the friends you follow through their news feeds and status updates, but also by becoming a fan of pages from news outlets such as The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN and so on.

According to Hitwise, RSS readers remain generally unused, and search engine sites serve to drive the leading amounts of news traffic.

News and Media clickstream

One downside to this, according to the previously cited GigaOM:

One thing that might be hindering this process, however, is that most major media outlets are still only sharing a fraction of the news they have on their web sites through Facebook — and even then, it’s often the “soft” features or lifestyle issues rather than hard news. Many of the leading sites such as the New York Times and The Guardian use their pages in part for contests and other promotional items as opposed to news, although that could be changing as they get used to being on the network.

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Posted on February 4, 2010 at 10:59 am by Bryan Alexander · Permalink · Leave a comment
In: Communications · Tagged with: , , , ,