a blog about technology management

Educause 2006 – day 1

Here I go with some reflections on the conference. You can find a lot of pictures on flickr to get a sense as to what the event looked like.

Convention Center

The first day opened with a big general session, Uncovering the Science in Computer Science: Challenges for the 21st Century – Vinton G. Cerf. He had an interesting outfit (captured here by this guy who was blogging 2 rows in front of me) that only reinforced my impression of him as a cooky (meant in the warmest way) computer science professor. He talked about how computer storage and processing power has grown exponentially but programming speed has not had nearly as great a multiplier. Towards the end he came to his focus of how sputnik gave the big push to K-12 science and technology education (not to mention the creation of the internet) and now global warming is the next sputnik. The global warming crisis should spur another K-12 push and more computing power is needed for simulations. After that he had a little sidenote about an Interplanetary Internet that really blew my mind. He’s working on protocols to allow satellites to act as network nodes for transfering data (packets) through space. With 4 satellites around Mars we’ll have a 2-planet Internet eventually.

Providing a nice bookend to my talk on Thursday, I attended Student Evaluations: A Comparison of Online vs. Paper Data Collection at 10:30 AM. This was a comparison done at the U of M just next door to Augsburg! I was reassured as they found similar trends that we have. Their 4 questions were:

  1. Is the completion rate different?
    Uh, yes. 55.9% online vs 76.7% paper in their 314 course pairs.
  2. Is there a difference in distributions?
    Yes, but…. On their 7-point scale they had more 1,2,3 and 7s online. But just a little more. The distributions still look the same. The middle wasn’t completely absent, just a little absent.
  3. Is there a difference in average ratings?
    No significant difference in means.
  4. What are the common perceptions of each format for faculty and students?
    Using focus groups they heard typical comments. Check their resources for more details.

This is a good study to add to anyone’s list of resources.

Next up at 11:40 AM was From Labs to Collaborative Spaces: Development of Temple University’s TECH Center. This was a huge consolidation of 120 labs throughout the instituion. There was a lack of classroom spaces and rooms needed to be reclaimed. The resulting space is awesome. The Teaching & Learning Center, an “ask a librarian” service, as well as Admissions is housed there. For students there is a 24-hour help desk, a cyber cafe 13 breakout rooms, 6 specialized labs. In total there are 600 desktops and 100 laptops in the space. It’s been a big hit for recruitment as well as the prime spot for students to work all hours of the day. You can see more at http://www.temple.edu/cs/techcenter/. It really addresses the needs of an urban institution with a large non-resident population. It gets me thinking about how we address the needs of our non-resident students.

The afternoon brought the 2:15 PM session The Changing Place of Space. The now well-known Emory University Cox Hall project is used to provide guidance to Emory’s next building project. The session gave some good suggestions — combining curricular and co-curricular activities, quality matters, it takes a campus to support learning spaces, establish standards, focus on everything. They have many pictures on flickr.

Before poster sessions, the day wrapped up with a 3:50 PM session Letting Go of ResNet. Three small colleges (2 with old old residental networks) contracted with Apogee to run their residential networks. Though it did feel like a bit of an ad for Apogee, the colleges did find their staff could now focus on issues really about education. Students get a free basic bandwidth service (64 kbps) to the internet but could upgrade speeds for a cost. They get a fat pipe (100 mbps) to campus resources for free too. It does look attractive as resnet is becoming a bigger and bigger distraction to IT departments. However it is not cheap — Apogee’s website notes $3-$20 / bed / month. But once you calculate the staff time spent (by multiple fulltime staff) on resnet issues it might not seem so bad.

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