As promised, I took the tags everyone wrote on their name badges (the tags on the tags) and created a wordle tag cloud. It gives a pretty good view of the diversity of topics we all came to learn about, or discovered at the event. Even within the diversity, of course, there were some common themes–fun to see that great minds think alike. And I’m very glad to see that “community” seems to be the biggest!
Click the thumbnail on the right to see the full (large!) image.
This is a follow up to the question that was asked at CUNY WordCampEd regarding Zoe Sheehan Zaldana’s use of rotating headers in her course blogs… some themes have built-in support for rotating headers– Neoclassical and Atahualpa are the two we’ve used most often. We got them to take Flash by simply locating the the rotating image function in each theme and swapping in “.swf” as the file type.
Importantly, these hacked themes were isolated on our WPMu installation via the Userthemes plugin so that other users on the system had access to the unhacked theme (the Flash hack knocked out the image swap function, though it would be pretty easy, I believe, to allow for both).
Here’s a folder with each hacked theme.
You’ll see that each theme enables rotating headers differently… there’s also a rotating header plugin, but it’s not highly rated and I haven’t tested it out.
Here’s a few of Zoe’s Course blogs, for closer perusal:
Art 3059: Designing with Computer Animation
Art 3061: Digital Photography
Art 3041: Special Topics, Digital Imaging
Art 2052: Computer Based Image Making
Last Friday’s CUNY WordCampEd was a remarkable success, as over one hundred enthusiastic members of the CUNY system gathered to discuss various ways of using WordPress in education. This was a signal day for open source at CUNY, one whose reverberations will be felt for a long time to come.
Here are some accounts of the day from around the web:
- Jim Groom, “Open By Design” Keynote Address streamed courtesy of Dave Lester Many thanks to Dave for streaming Jim’s talk on the fly. This kind of quick thinking and open sharing exemplified the spirit of the day. At the height of Jim’s talk, two rooms of CUNY WordCampEd attendees were joined by roughly 50 remote viewers who watched via this online stream. Here’s a photo showing how Dave did it.
Reactions from around the web:
- Michael Cripps, “WordCampEd@Macauley”, Michael J. Cripps 23 May 2009
As Groom put it, the Blackboard model is actually at odds with so much of what a university is really about. A university is about an investment in people. Blackboard is an investment in technology, in a corporation, in a package or a box. The open source software itself is free. Of course, this doesn’t really mean “free” in the sense that it requires no support. (Continue reading)
- Jim Groom, “I Bleed CUNY Blood”, BavaTuesdays 25 May 2009
What happens at CUNY is not a luxury of wealth made possible by bountiful endowments, but a fundamental belief in the idea that everyone in the world’s greatest city has the right to a college education that is both affordable and meaningful. An education for all classes of the city; a university system premised on the possibilities of any and every one, and one that is willing to forego financial and academic discrimination to attain it. Now such a mission for a campus this large is impossible to understand at the aggregate level, it can only manifest through the relationships between people, and it is precisely there that CUNY is richer than any other university system in the US—which given the nature of New York City’s population is comprised of some of the most fascinating, unique, and truly remarkable stories you could find anywhere. A truly heterogeneous and polyglot system that couldn’t be further from the archetypal image of college framed by bucolic, ivy-festooned campuses—CUNY is a bustling, non-stop engine of difference and change, a space where populations and cultures from campus to campus may be as different as they are from country to country. (Continue reading)
- Luke Waltzer, “Towards the Next Stage of EdTech at CUNY…”, cac.ophony 29 May 2009
A new edtech model for CUNY should acknowledge this progression from the bottom up, and imagine ways to project it outwards throughout the university. One of the arguments for centralizing administration of BlackBoard was that the community colleges had fewer resources than senior colleges, and centralization of course management software was assumed to make resources more equitably distributed. Of course, now every school has an equally bad solution. But the notion that those of us with resources should share the wealth with the colleges who have less is an important one. I can see a model where senior colleges host WPMu installations for community colleges (using domain mapping), and share support– though, the community colleges– many of which have as many instructional technologists as does Baruch– must pony up support and resources when they can.
Grow from the bottom up and then transplant. (Continue Reading)
- Jeff Young, “Colleges Consider Using Blogs Instead of Blackboard”, Chronicle of Higher Education 5 June 2009 (Print Edition)
Mr. Groom is an instructional technologist at the University of Mary Washington, and he was the keynote speaker at an event here on how to better run CUNY’s online classrooms. The meeting’s focus was an idea that is catching on at a handful of colleges and universities around the country: Instead of using a course-management system to distribute materials and run class discussions, why not use free blogging software — the same kind that popular gadflies use for entertainment sites?
The approach can save colleges money, for one thing. And true believers like Mr. Groom argue that by using blogs, professors can open their students’ work to the public, not just to those in the class who have a login and password to a campus course-management system. Open-source blog software, supporters say, also gives professors more ability to customize their online classrooms than most commercial course-management software does.
Organizers originally expected around 20 people to show up to the daylong meeting, which included technology demonstrations and discussions. But they ended up having to book an overflow room to accommodate the more than 120 attendees.
Blackboard, whose course-management system is used throughout CUNY’s campuses, has become particularly unpopular there this semester after a series of technical problems. In March the Blackboard software was offline for three days, making it impossible for students or professors to access material for many courses.
“When Blackboard is down, it’s like the door to the college is nailed shut,” said Joseph Ugoretz, director of technology and learning at CUNY’s Macaulay Honors College, explaining that some professors use the software to administer quizzes and teach online.
- Mikhail Gershovich, “Blackboard, This Song is Not About You: More on CUNY WordCampEd”, cac.ophony 5 June 2009
What’s especially striking about the Chronicle piece is that it presents CUNY WordCampEd as motivated by the flight of a cadre of CUNY professors from Blackboard to blogging software as an ad-hoc alternative. “The meeting’s focus,” writes Jeff Young, “was an idea that is catching on at a handful of colleges and universities around the country: Instead of using a course-management system to distribute materials and run class discussions, why not use free blogging software — the same kind that popular gadflies use for entertainment sites?”
I take issue with this description on a number of levels, not the least of which is that it trivializes the tremendous pedagogical power and content management capabilities of a fully-realized, highly extensible, open source web publishing platform like WordPress and characterizes the event as animated by a simple opposition: blogs vs. Blackboard. In fact, CUNY WordCampEd was driven by something much much bigger and far less simple: a collective recognition that 1) the open, social web offers rich possibilities for transforming teaching, learning and the sharing of knowledge and creative work that we are only beginning to tap in a meaningful way here at CUNY and 2) that proprietary, closed learning management systems (LMS), in addition to their various other deficiencies, cannot keep up with the ways in which the social web is continually changing. (Continue Reading)
- Joe Ugoretz, “What is that these tools do do?”, Prestidigitation 14 June 2009
The LMS really offers nothing unusual or particularly useful in terms of learning, or in terms of learners. Its strength is in managing learners. Assessing, enrolling, record-keeping, attendance verifying, assembling and collating assignments–those are all management tasks, not learning tasks (again, I’m being a bit too emphatic about this–I think the lines might actually be blurrier, but I do think it’s an important distinction).
The actual learning activities–discussing, exploring, engaging, thinking, collaborating–those are not assisted by Blackboard any better than they are by WordPress (or many other platforms). In fact, in those areas, Blackboard is often worse. Often much worse. Because Blackboard is built for management, it privileges closing and limiting. Open platforms don’t. (To be more specific, I’m talking about the model of the class and the semester and the assignment for a grade, all of which are absolutely central to Blackboard, to the point where multi-class and multi-semester and public self-evaluated or peer-evaluated work is almost impossible within the system).
The whole reason for CUNY WordCampEd was not to show how to replicate what Blackboard already does. The management tasks are already done by Blackboard. It was to see (and to show) what else we can do with our students. Outside of a learning management system, or a learner management system, or any kind of “management,” what happens when students (and faculty) have ways to connect with each other, with other classes, with themselves at later points in time (after a semester is over), with the wider online community? (Continue Reading)
More posts will be added as they appear. And it’s not too soon to start getting ready for next year!
Thanks to everyone for coming, and special thanks to Joe Ugoretz and the Macaulay Honors College for hosting the event.
This is the first CUNY WordCampEd. And this is our blog! Please check your program for a username and password, log in, and start posting. We want your reflections, responses, and ideas about the day and what you’re learning and talking about.
Since we’re all using the same username at this point, try to remember to sign your posts with your real name and campus.
Macaulay Honors College