Thoughts from UBC e-Strategy Townhall – Jun 21, 2007

I attended the 7th Annual University of British Columbia (UBC) e-Strategy Townhall on Thursday. This is the third one I have attended and once again it was a top notch event with about 400 people registered. The theme this year was “Keeping Pace with Students” … a challenge I think about all the time.

Here is the program: e-Strategy Townhall program

Open Source Student System – Had a few moments to speak with UBC’s Senior IT Strategist Dr Richard Spencer about their collaborative, open source based Student System project. UBC will be partnering with 4 other universities to build an SOA based student system. All the partners are committing significant resources to this 5 year project. I will be watching closely how this goes.

Dr Diana Oblinger, Vice President Educause was the keynote speaker (via video conference). The focus of her talk was “Keeping pace with students through learning technologies -Education for life 2.0”.

Some points she made:

  • It is all about connections and being connected with technology
  • Action oriented learning
  • Students are just kids and just because they are great with technology does not mean they are mature
  • Younger kids will be even better with technology

I really liked this point. We are moving from a “Command and Control” society to a “Connect and Collaborate” model. How very true as I sit here writing this blog post!

Skill differentiators that will make successful future graduates:

  • expert thinking like pattern matching and meta cognition
  • complex communication like negotiating creating trust etc

With all the free tools available to students (mySpace, Facebook, Flickr and Second Life just ot name some), the implications to Higher Education are that learning will move forward from:

  • world to the desktop – sitting at a computer and bringing content to you
  • alice in wonderland – immersive environments (games and simulations) – learn as you do
  • ubiquitous computing – learning can be everywhere

Dr Oblinger left us with a challenge to help “Create the future … through how we educate our students”. I hope to link to the slides once they are available.

After a short coffee and great sweet buns, a Student Panel discussion took place. Lots of Q&A about:

  • blurring of work and home lives
  • digital dirt and cleaning up your digital identity
  • aggregation of information
  • institute based email for students is not a their priority

People talk about the activity they want to enable not so much the technology to do it with.

After lunch, I attended a session Associate Professor Dr Don Krug called “Game On – Learning, Digital Media, and Virtual Education”. Don started with a game and got everyone engaged. I have to think about how I can do that in my talks. Cool.

  • games teach lessons. What are the values??
  • Virtuality ** important concept – need to do some reading on this
  • does a digital data (ie data from Hubble telescope) get correctly represented visually

This last point was the best:

“Adults use computers (technology) as a tool … Kids use computers (technology) as a language”

Another valuable day that gave me lots of ideas to think about … one being that our IT Services department at BCIT needs to do this soon!

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