End of a Term

I haven’t looked at my site or the archive of posts to know when I last posted an update on this site. Everything has changed, yet nothing has changed. Since I decided not to put together an update last week, here’s some updates for those of you interested…iTunes U. I am officially absolved of any responsibility with this project. It definitely hasn’t gone the way I had hoped or anticipated, but the project has been taken over by another department on campus and I am now an as-needed consultant. I still get support tickets for people who want help, but I now forward those requests to the leading department. As for my initial goals with the project, I don’t foresee any of my goals being accomplished now that the project is over. However, due to the turns that this project has taken, there is nothing I can do about them. Ce la vie.WordPress. The service is still up and running. I’ve received 1 request for a new plugin, to which I’ve filled out the paperwork and am waiting for the anticipated time frame for it to be completed. I did receive a request for a custom theme, to which I promptly denied their request. Other than that, it’s been pretty slow moving. Nothing else I can do…Video on Demand. Kaltura and its integration with Sakai is being tested, but there’s no time frame for the implementation to be completed or for the pilot to get started. I’m stuck.WebEx. The platform is up and running. The Lilly Conference on College Teaching did a pilot broadcast using WebEx Event Center during the Conference, however it didn’t work out so well. The audio and video was not great, but that’s due to a learning curve with the software – hopefully we can use the software better next year.Changes for next year… There are some. Most notably, my group will no longer be part of IT Services. We will be moving to Academic Affairs. This can be a good thing, but also a not-so-good thing. We don’t know (yet) who we will be reporting to, specifically, or what services will move with us, or, or, or… I’m not sure how I feel about it, and I likely wont’ have an opinion until a few months into the change…

Week Ending September 28, 2012

This week hasn’t been entirely productive in terms of projects that I’m working on. There are actually some projects that are in the works that I’m holding out for. I highly doubt they’ll get started soon, however.iTunes – This project is at a standstill. University Communications is supposed to be working on updating some documentation for me to make available on our support site. However, I haven’t received anything from them in a while. Given everything that is going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if this project dies before it even gets finished. I don’t think that we’ll be able to get enough people to use the service to have made the effort worthwhile. The more I talk to faculty, the more I see how proprietary they are and how unwilling they are/would be to make their work open access. I guess we won’t know until we get started, but still.WordPress – Things seem to be stagnant, but at this point, I’m alright with that. The regional campuses are up and running and Oxford will be getting started in the next few weeks. Nothing much else to report there.e-Text Summit – This is a new thing that I started working on this week. Basically, it’s a 1-day event for textbook vendors to come together with our faculty and students to talk about and explore the use of e-Texts in their courses. We have the date set and the rooms reserved, but now it’s an advertising game. I’ve sent the vendor invite to 2 people, and 1 of them has already bounced back to me. I need to start working on advertising for faculty, but I’m waiting on other people to get me names of who to target…Video On Demand – This is a project that I’m waiting to get underway. I’m supposed to be on the project, but have yet to hear anything about meetings or responsibilities. It’s a waiting game…WebEx – Same as Video on Demand. Another waiting game for the project to start…

Week Ending September 7

This week has been a complete blur. There’s a colleague of mine who is a manager and always complains about how many meetings they are in. I look at their calendar and I think that they are completely insane. I compared my schedule with theirs this week and one could easily mistake my schedule for that of a manager. But I am not. And I am tired. And let me also add that next week is not looking much better. Such is life.WordPress. We have lift-off (kick-off, to be more exact). Yesterday was the first kick-off event for the WordPress service. We were at the Hamilton campus and approximately 10 people showed up. The event went smoothly and everyone was very excited to get started. I did find a few kinks in my system for creating accounts, but it’s nothing that I can’t correct and change for the future. Today’s kick-off is at the Middletown campus and we are expecting to have a similar turnout. Awesome!!iTunes U. I can’t even begin to explain my frustration. Our contact at Apple has been the most unhelpful person. We are down to figuring out 1 technical piece that should be obvious, but isn’t. Apple’s documentation tells us to do something, but doesn’t tell us how to do it. We’ve asked our rep with Apple and his response… read the documentation. Duh! I have read it and the answer isn’t in there. We have a meeting scheduled with Apple next week, but I am not really interested in meeting with them (especially face-to-face) if they insist on treating me like an idiot via email. We’ll see what happens. Until that meeting, we are at a standstill.Other projects. I’ve started working with a faculty learning community on redesigning courses for online delivery. Yesterday was the first meeting and the instructor that I’m paired with is really easy-going. Should be a fun time!Trainings. I’ve started doing most of the trainings for our group. It seems like a lot of work with advertising, designing the outline, and delivering the training. I’ve been at it for a few weeks now and things are going very well. I’m getting excellent feedback / response from faculty so I know it’s paying off. The next training topic begins next Wednesday and I’m hoping that the momentum continues.Here we go!

Week Ending August 10, 2012

We have movement!!For those of you that have followed my weekly updates for more than 2 weeks, you probably have a hunch as to what is finally moving…WordPress. It is true, WordPress has been approved for academic use cases. University Communications had been holding up this project for the better part of 1 year, and after my weekly emails asking for status updates, they have given us permission to move forward. Unfortunately, we haven’t received the “okay” to move forward with administrative uses, but 1 small step for man… I spent some time yesterday working on a roll-out plan for the regional campuses, which looks to be moving ahead. The official launch of WordPress at MUH will be on September 6 and MUM will see the launch on September 7. My goal in the next week is to create as much training documentation as possible and to put together the training outline. Oxford will see a soft-rollout, with no official launch date. I wish Oxford instructors were banging on the door as much as the regional campuses, but I’ll take what I can get.I will be drinking in celebration tonight!!iTunes U. There hasn’t been much movement this week. We’ve started working on banners to use in the public site, and I’m still trying to find 1-2 instructors to push this project forward. If you know of anyone, let me know.Other updates. I spent some time in e-Learning retreats over the last week. I’m hopeful that the drive we’ve shown in the last week continues over time, but I am afraid that it will diminish once the semester starts. Luckily, everyone that was involved in the retreats is very much a cheerleader for e-Learning, so we’ll see what happens.That’s all for this week. TGIF!!

Week Ending July 27, 2012

Well, here we are. Another week bites the dust. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to be in the office this week. I was summoned for grand jury duty and Monday was my first day. It turns out that due to a friendship that I have with one of the assistant prosecutors, the judge thought that I wouldn’t be able to keep an unbiased opinion of the possible cases we’d hear. So at that point, I was told not to volunteer and that I couldn’t be selected this time around. Anyway, I was supposed to be out all week, but I was back in the office on Tuesday.iTunes U. Apple has made some significant changes in how iTunes U is set up and how courses can be created. It’s unclear as to how these changes will impact the validity and quality of courses offered through iTunes U, but they are beneficial to us in the short run. Instructors can create up to 12 “private” courses, each holding up to 50 students, without being affiliated to a specific institution. These private sites can only be joined by students if 1) they have the private code, which they use to request access and 2) they use the iTunes U iOS app. I’m not sure if students can use the desktop iTunes app to access the course after they are granted access to the course, but there is no way to use the desktop app to request access.These unaffiliated courses will not appear in any public-facing iTunes U site. This means that if an instructor creates an unaffiliated iTunes U site, it will not show up in the institution’s iTunes U directory. There is a way for these courses to be linked to the institution’s public directory, but the important thing is that this is not an automatic process. I have a meeting this afternoon to talk about how this new process will impact the relaunch of our iTunes U channel. More to come…WordPress. If you know the history of this project, you shouldn’t be surprised that we haven’t moved forward. At all. We are still waiting for University Communications to allow us to launch this service. With less than 4 weeks until the fall semester starts, it doesn’t look good…Well, I think that’s enough for this week. More next week about the iTunes U project, because let’s be honest, it’s probably the only project that will make headway. 

Week Ending July 6

Wow, it has been a LONG time since I did an update. For some reason, I can’t remember to block out time on my calendar on Fridays to post updates. Anywhoo, here’s a quick rundown of what’s been happening in my world of instructional design.iTunes U – We’ve been trying to pin down the Apple rep to get some information about why we were rejected for a public iTunes U site. We FINALLY got him on the phone and found out that it’s likely because we don’t have enough content. I tried to explain to him that we’ll likely be more successful with iTunes U if we have a public site first. It would be easier to convince instructors to use the service if they can see exactly how it will look. We already have a private site, but it’s not the same. I think he heard what we were saying, but I don’t think it will help in getting a public site.WordPress – Absolutely no progress has been made with this project recently. We are still waiting for University Communications & General Counsel to approve the social media policies. It’s to the point where no one has any answers as to the timeframe. It’s frustrating and I’m becoming less and less confident of the service being made available before the start of the Fall semester. I have no clue what we’re going to tell instructors. This project was supposed to be an “easy win” for IT Services, but I’m confident that if the service isn’t available by the start of the term, the project will have backfired.Video Working Group – I’m not sure this is an actual project, rather than a group that I’m facilitating. We had a very low turnout at the last meeting, which I’m chalking up to it being the summer hours. When we do meet, however, we do make some good progress in making sure that we are all up to date on the university projects around video.With it being the week of July 4, there has been very few updates. Next week we have an all staff meeting in IT Services where we find out the results of the reorganization and how our group will be effected.Tschuss!

Week Ending May 25, 2012

Well it’s apparently been quite a while since the last time I posted some updates. To be honest, everything is pretty status quo at the moment. Summer sessions are in full swing and other than that, everything is quiet on the Western front. Here are some status updates.iTunes UWe have made some progress with the project. We found out that creating a public iTunes U site is done separately from our private site, so that both sites could technically exist side-by-side. We completed our application for the public site, however we found out that it had been declined. University Communications & Marketing (UCM) is following up on why we were declined. Hopefully I’ll have some updates on this the next time I post.WordPressThe WordPress platform is currently at a standstill. The “pilot” term has ended and we are at the point of making a decision on the future of WordPress. I can’t remember if I mentioned this previously, but WordPress falls within the social media policies that UCM is creating. I’ve been pestering them for updates and it seems that the draft has been sent to General Counsel and the other approvers of the document. I’m hopeful that the policies will be finalized in the next month, however I’m also realistic that this could drag on for much longer. In the meantime, my list of potential users is growing rapidly…Video Working GroupThe group has met several times in the last 2 months and has made some headway. We are currently drafting our first statement of direction, using Video on Demand as the guinea pig. Once we finish this document, we’ll begin looking at statements of direction for the other main projects. Then, it’s on to the use cases…Training & Support SiteOur training & support site for Niihka, our instance of the Sakai Learning Management System, is undergoing a refresh. I’ve been working on creating training videos for all possible tools/tasks and ensuring that the videos are consistent and specific. Along with each video, a PDF with step-by-step directions for those that prefer text instructions rather than video. As of this morning, I have 4 videos completely done and another 3-4 that are close to being complete. I haven’t begun the PDFs, however I expect that those will take some time. Hopefully I’ll have some of them done in the near future. In addition to making the videos available in Niihka, I’ll also be posting them on a YouTube channel that I’m creating so that users can view the videos outside of Niihka. My hope is that we can use these videos as contributions back to the Sakai community.I think that’s it for this time. Next week I’ll be in Washington D.C. for the Lilly Conference. Since I probably won’t make any progress on my projects, I may forego a weekly update. Thanks for reading!-M

Week Ending March 23, 2012

I’m writing this post with 1 eye closed because I have something in it and I can’t seem to get it out. I realize that has nothing to do with my weekly update, but I have a feeling that this post is going to take longer with 1 working eye.I know that I skipped my update last week. I’m not really sure why, but I did. And I’m sure you didn’t notice. If you did happen to notice, I’m sure you didn’t lose any sleep over it. Enough with the stalling, let’s get to the updates.iTunes U – Things have been moving pretty slowly with this project, which I’m not too bent out-of-shape about. We’ve been having a hard time finding out who has the admin rights to the service and until that happens, we are at a standstill. I’ve looked at and printed out the marketing information that Apple provides. It’s pretty basic and boring, but I wanted to at least make sure I’ve read through it. I’ve also realized that the documentation doesn’t apply to classes, because instructional uses of iTunes U most likely won’t be worried about marketing the service. I have our social media specialist working on tracking down the University admin for the service and until then, it’s a waiting game…WordPress – As stagnant as a flooded sidewalk after a rain, this project is going nowhere fast. We have made small updates the system to help with spam comments, but other than that, it’s pretty slow-going. The pilot users are underway and I haven’t heard from them in quite some time. My plan is to send the pilot users a survey at the end of the term about their use of the service so that we can make some modifications before letting the entire University into it. Since I haven’t heard from the users in a while, I’m hoping that means that WordPress is satisfying their needs, and not that they’ve chosen to stop using the service. As for being able to roll out WordPress to the entire institution – we are still waiting on the social media policies to be approved by University Communications and General Counsel. I’ve sent my latest thoughts/questions back to the authors and I’m hoping that the policies are approved in the near future.Video Exploration – This is a new committee working group that I’ve been asked to not only participate in, but also spearhead. Basically, a study was done in Fall 2010 that looked at the numerous tools that support video at our university. From what I’ve seen in the results of that study, there are close to 36 different technologies to support video. Talk about overload! This working group consists of people from Classroom Technology Services, Networking, University Libraries, and myself. We’ll be talking about use cases for video and ensuring that there are easy-to-use technologies that can support the use cases. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t know a ton about all of the technologies that we implement, but you know what they say… “fake it ’til you make it.” And that’s what I plan to do.I can’t remember any other projects that require an update at this point. If I remember something else, I’ll be sure to include it next week.Ciao!

Weekly Update, March 2, 2012

It’s been a while since I wrote my weekly reflections, mainly because last week I had been at the Instructional Technology Council eLearning Conference. I did quite a bit of blogging about the conference so I didn’t have much else to report when Friday rolled around. If you want to read about my experience and the sessions at the Conference, feel free to click here.This week has been a mix of catching up and getting ahead. Next week is spring break, so I wanted to get as much done as I could before the campus goes silent. The middle of the semester is close if not here, which means that we have all been busy with SGIDs. Before I left for the Conference, I only had 1 SGID scheduled, which is pretty low for me. This week, however, I did 3 SGIDs and I have another 3 scheduled for the week after spring break. I’m not sure why the numbers are low this semester, nothing has really changed in the University community (that I know of). Well, the extra time allows me to do some other things…I did my 2012 goal setting shortly before I left for the Conference, which went just as expected. I have about 6 projects that I want to work on this year, all of which are completely attainable. I guess I shouldn’t say that because I thought WordPress would be an attainable goal as well. Anyway here are a few goals that I have for this year:

  • iTunesU – Miami does have an iTunesU installation, however it’s a private portal that is only available by authenticating at the University. In my opinion, this approach hurts the University’s public image and any chance we have at contributing to the “open university” community. I’ll have more about the open university and open education thoughts later on, but to get your feet wet, be sure you read about Cable Green’s closing keynote at ITC12.
  • WordPress – As you should know by now, I’ve been advocating for WordPress since I came to campus in February 2011. We’re so close, but completion of the project is being held up by social media policies for the University. I’m hoping those involved in making the policies can complete them in the coming year and we can finish the WordPress project.
  • Podcasts/Webinars – Since I arrived in 2011, my group has not done much by way of providing short-form professional development. There are 2 groups on campus that do “faculty development,” one being CELTUA and the other being my group. Our faculty development traditionally focuses on tech trainings and “how-to’s,” however we’ve not done much of those lately. Attendance at these trainings usually are low and oftentimes canceled due to low attendance. My suggestion to counter this was to regularly publish podcasts with “quick tips” for the University community to take in at their leisure. Also, I think that by offering webinars to the community, instructors from all of our campuses can tune in from their own offices, hopefully increasing attendance. My goal is to start this in the coming month or so, I’m just working on topics and presenters.
  • Department blog – Our group recently started a blog where we talk about a variety of topics, from new technologies, to highlighting inspirational teaching at the University. I’m the one in charge of setting the post schedule and making sure that content is updated/accurate. It’s an ongoing project that we hope to get rolling more quickly than it has been.
  • Training and Support with Niihka – My last goal is to redesign/reorganize the training and support site for our LMS. When we launched the LMS, we populated the site with tons of information for both faculty and students. Now that the LMS is in its 2nd semester of full usage, it’s time to revamp the site to clean it up and ensure that the information is accurate. Due to the amount of work our Learning Systems Coordinator has on his plate, I’m going to take on this project.

That list is not all-inclusive, but it’s definitely a large load. Here’s to hoping I can achieve them!

Week of February 6, 2012 – Oops

As I write this, I came to the realization that I didn’t post last week’s reflection. Hmm, this annual goal is going to be harder than I ever anticipated—and it’s only February!! Ah well, on to this week’s update…Instructional Technology Council LogoOne of the things I have been stressing about this week is my presentation at next week’s conference. I leave on Friday for the Instructional Technology Council e-Learning Conference in Long Beach, CA. I’m very excited to go seeing as it’s been 2 years since I have been with my instructional technology colleagues. I started going in 2009 (?) when I met @cmduke and @sherrymn, who ended up becoming good friends of mine. I was still a Masters student but when I graduated, I moved to the great state of Texas to work with them. They gave me an opportunity to gain experience as an instructional designer which then allowed me to take a position here at Miami University. Since the 2009 Conference, I’ve kept in touch with a lot of colleagues, including @barrydahl, @busynessgirl, @hhwebb, and @ajwms. When I started at Miami in February of 2011, I wasn’t able to go to that year’s conference and I felt like I had really missed out. Anyways, I’m presenting with a panel of colleagues (including some of those listed above) next week at a session titled, “eLearning Digital Story Slam.” The group of us will be presenting digital storytelling using a variety of tools and methods. I decided to create my digital story around the implementation of WordPress at Miami University. I’ve created the visual aspect, but can’t decide if I want to add an audio component. I suppose I should, if nothing else because the Prezi is fairly “slow” without it. Anyway, I will most likely be using Jing to add audio to the presentation early next week. I also need to document my processes into the Google Site that we’ll be showing the conference participants. Man, I feel like I have a lot to do!!I’ve been doing some support with WordPress, mainly troubleshooting some of the complications that CELTUA has been running into with their site. It’s not too surprising, they are always making my life complicated. đŸ˜‰ I’m running into a problem with our group’s blog. There are things I want to do that I know are technically possible, but because of the limitations we’ve put on end-user access to themes and the PHP. As much as I know we need to have these guidelines, as a WordPress designer in my free time, it makes me yearning for more. I guess I’ll continue looking for free themes that might work for us…The course design projects are essentially completed from my perspective. I haven’t heard from the instructors in about 2 weeks (or more) and the last time I did, things were moving swimmingly.Our group had a “retreat” yesterday where we spent the morning talking about our vision and how to proceed with our services from this point forward. With IT Services across the university under scrutiny, many of the things we want to do and accomplish has to wait to see how our group will be changing (if at all) in the near future. 2 of the new items that I volunteered to investigate the feasibility of were 1) short podcasts (audio and video) about edtech topics, and 2) 30-minute topic-specific webinars. I think both would be fun and can be useful, however I’m not sure how to get the word out. One of the things we started talking about yesterday was marking/advertising our group and the services we provide. Since we are within the division of IT Services, it’s our (maybe just my) understanding that we have to use the official IT Services channels for advertising our events and such. I brought up the idea of creating a listserv for ALT clients to advertise webinars, seminars, workshops, etc. that we put together. The listserv could be made up of anyone that uses our services (SGIDs, course designs, 1-on-1 consultations, etc.). We didn’t come to any decisions yesterday about how to move forward with marketing strategies and I expect we’ll be talking about it in the coming weeks/months so that we can begin re-branding ourselves.Well, I think that’s all for this week. I’m hoping to set aside time on Friday morning before I leave for the airport to write a weekly update. I’m hoping for that one to include info on iTunes U at Miami University.