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Author: Pam Patterson

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ELI 2012 – Living and Learning in Cyberspace Blogging at VA Tech

Panelists: W. Gardner Campbell, Dir., Professional Development and Innovative Initiatives, Shelli Fowler, Exec. Dir. of Graduate Development Programs and New Pedagogies, Jennifer Sparrow, Dir. of Emerging Technologies and New Ventures and Robert Stephens, Assoc. Prof. of History, Principal, Honors Residential College. Other examples of student blogging at VA Tech, – this is not the same as the residential blogging initiative, these blogs are running off Google’s The take away here is that blogging is an easily accessible tool for students to create connections between real world experience and their academics.

A  blogging initiative was started to provide students with a platform for making learning connections across disciplines. VA Tech is running WordPress blogs for about 300 students in the Honors residential college. Students are given a blog as incoming freshmen. It’s introduced into the residential college because it provides longevity. Students will live and study together (across disciplines) for 4 years. There is a faculty adviser who provides guidance but for the most part there are no specific requirements. No specific requirements proved to be the biggest hurdle for the students who wanted to know what the topic of the posts should be, how much they should blog, how often and what’s the grading requirements? The faculty member finally gave into the desperate pleas for structure and said they had to post at least 12 times, and he was reluctant to give that requirement. The 300 students posted between 3000 and 5000 posts. Students had a conceptual problem at first. Blogging was not a word processing, term paper grading arena, but a multimedia platform for ideas, civic discourse and connection with a larger community. This was an arena to aggregate the individual’s learning experience.
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ELI 2012 Conference – Featured Speakers

The annual ELI conference in Austin opened with a keynote address by Adrian Sannier from Pearson Publishing. It included this cheery quote from H.G. Wells, “Human history is more and more a desperate race between education and catastrophe.”  Wells died in 1946 and as our speaker pointed out, we’ve been on the verge of a technological revolution for 50 years. So it would seem that while we’ve been preaching revolution we’ve been practicing status quo. The art of teaching in the classroom hasn’t change for quite some time but there are signs of the disruption of the status quo from the bottom up as we see more and more access to expert information for free. There is a democratization of information that decentralizes and leverages expertise at the scale of the individual rather than in a classroom setting. The revolution is taking place all around us but it still hasn’t taken place in the classroom. Faculty use LMS (learning management systems) but mainly for administrative purposes. This talk was a call (once again) for those of us in the technology field to drive innovation. Creative destruction has to happen at every level of the enterprise (ITS re-org anyone?). Are we still stuck because of the resistance to not challenging the status quo? As the discussion becomes more and more about the science of education and less about the art of education, it means that things are about to change. Some suggestions from our speaker include: community based research activity, new models of progress based collaboration and the discovery, and the creation and distribution of digital materials. Pearson Publishing has introduced Open Class ( What is OpenClass? Here’s the info from the web page: “OpenClass is a dynamic, scalable, fully cloud-based solution that stimulates social learning and the exchange of content, coursework, and ideas — all from one integrated platform. Of course it has all the LMS functionality needed to manage courses, but that’s just the beginning. OpenClass actually advances education by using social technology to encourage collaboration and communication for students, faculty, institutions, and administrators around the world. OpenClass also features an idea exchange that will make it easy to find and share the latest teaching approaches, educational content, and curriculum.”
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Divine Blogging

Professor Giuseppe Mazzotta’s course, ITAL310: Dante in Translation. “[attempts] to place Dante’s work in the intellectual and social context of the late Middle Ages by relating literature to philosophical, theological, and political concerns.” Carol Chiodo, Ph.D. candidate in Italian, led a section for the course. She decided to use a…

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Elihu Rubin,  Assistant Professor of Architecture and Political Science, and his students have been creating a New Haven building archive. His current course, “Urban Research and Representation” explores the utility of research and representation techniques and presents that work as a multi-media group exhibition in the form of  an interactive web-map…

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Digital Scholarship Sites

While listening to the Digital Campus podcast out of George Mason Univ., a biweekly podcast about how digital media and technology are affecting learning, teaching, and scholarship at colleges, universities, libraries, and museums, two sites authored by Lisa Spiro, director of the Digital Media Center at Rice University’s Fondren Library…

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