Anya Kamenetz Interview, Sakai Conference 2010 from Michael Feldstein on Vimeo.

Michael Feldstein has put up my Sakai Conference keynote (starts at 23 minutes in) as well as a short video interview that’s embedded above.

Sakai, if you don’t know about it, is a major open-source learning management system (an LMS is like an enterprise software solution for universities, providing platforms for electronic gradebooks and web pages for courses and that kind of thing; Blackboard, whose conference I’m speaking next week, is the much-maligned Microsoft of LMS companies).
His post, as usual, is an excellent, generous and detailed response, especially to the educational tech and instructional design challenges posed by the university functions I identify as content, socialization, and accreditation. Consensus: much work remains to be done.

I was really excited to get the opportunity to address this audience of educational CTOs and CIOs, and I’m very excited to be speaking to a broadly similar audience at Blackboard’s developers’ conference for their API, which is called Building Blocks. My message to both of them is somewhat like Valerie Casey’s message to the crowd at South By Southwest Interactive: You tech people have real tools at your disposal to solve real problems in the real world, so take charge! She was speaking about interaction design and its impact on sustainability. I am interested in how educational technologists can address the issues of cost, quality and access in higher education.
I was talking about this to a good friend who does open source web development. He was talking about working with a team of quants for one of their specialized clients (not, but picture a similar niche retailer), and how amazing it was to get detailed realtime feedback on every single design change.
(For a university, examples: Should we start registration in April or January? Should math study groups meet once or twice a week? Do students learn Spanish better in 3-week intensives or 12 week semesters? Do first-generation students do better in their own dorms?)
“It’s so weird that universities are the birthplace of all this amazing technology and yet they don’t eat their own dog food,” he said.
Yeah, it is weird.

4 Responses to “If Education Were as Advanced as”

  1. Hi Anya,

    I’m always trying to make that point to people about social media and building the personal brand. It takes a lot of commitment to become known enough to reverse the flow of knowledge from outbound (I search for information and share it) to inbound (people contact me about stuff I should know). Social media is such a good channel for this, yet a lot of people just don’t get it.

    I think you don’t even have to write a book of be a public figure to be a connector… simply a micro-celebrity in your own field. Any thoughts on this?

    You did a great job at the Sakai conference BTW.


  2. admin says:

    Thanks Mathieu!
    I don’t think you even need to be a microcelebrity–just a contributing member of a community. For example, If you join Twitter and are careful about who you follow you can instantly build a network of people who make you aware of information that you need to know. If you yourself take it upon yourself to post interesting links and thoughtful replies to others’ links, the flow improves even more.

  3. What about the term nano-celebrity instead then? As long as at least one person associates your name with a topic, you’re golden ;-)

  4. Peter Keane says:

    I think one of the central challenges/problems we run into in higher ed, is that the entire structure is based on vertical, not horizontal integration. Silos abound, and it is ingrained in the department-specific, discipline-specific tradition. This Op-Ed (“End the University as We Know It”) captures the problem quite well, at least from the academic side of things.

    I’d argue that we see the same characteristics in higher ed IT. Integration *across* boundaries is an absolute must, and it is turning out to be a quite a difficult nut to crack. This is something I have addressed on my blog, from various angles, a number of times (most recently The web itself is based on a set of quite elegant principles ( that actually have great applicability to a system like a university. Until we can break down the silos and develop cleaner “protocols” (in the figurative as well as literal sense) for operating across boundaries, we will not be able to make the great gains in efficiency and productivity that we sorely need to make.

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