Re-Thinking Thanksgiving

During this season of thanksgiving, it seems right to share a link to a blog called “News from an Acorn“.  Take just a quick moment to open this link; for those too busy to read even one more thing, as the title suggests, there are NO WORDS, really there is no need for words.

Simply take a moment to listen to these photos with your heart and be grateful for all the many blessings you have in your life – both large and very small.  If you are someone that needs a few more words, click here to learn more about the child and artist (retired CIA disguise expert).

Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

RAA#5: Fostering Innovation in a Mashup-oriented Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration Environment

Soriano, J., & Lizcano, D. (2007). Fostering Innovation in a Mashup-oriented Enterprise 2.0 Collaboration Environment. Universidad Politecnica de Madrid. Madrid.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to promote the idea that workers in the firm are “co-producers” of the software services they are suppose to use each day, as well as the content it contains.

Methods:  The method used for the study was a case study analysis of Telefonica –  a firm that manages customer service trouble tickets through their large scale knowledge management team.  A detailed description of the company’s operating procedures, business concerns and existing IT limitations were elaborated upon.  The authors then described how in a “grassroots” movement, a portion of the organization created a Ent2.0 Mashup solution that allowed for better customer service and improved solution gathering.

Main findings: The main finding of this study were the descriptive aspects of the firm as they implemented Ent.2.0 tools that fostered collaboration and information sharing; namely how the firm was able to improve their organizational processing through the use of wikis and their “EZWeb” business mashup tool.  The authors suggest the following from this case analysis:

  • associates must feel empowered to  support the content and personalizing aspects of the Ent.2.0 tools
  • knowledge workers must be able to add their improvement ideas to the tools.
  • community based collaboration activities need to be supported and fostered.
  • for success, the IT department needs to begin to embrace the SoaS model (managing the services vs. deploying/supporting applications)

The authors also propose this agile and supportive process will reduce IT backlog activity, while creating operational flexibility and improving service.
Analysis:  I found this study informative in terms of being one of the few academic case studies that I was able to find on Ent.2.0.  Not only did it demonstrate to me one possible approach for a case study write up, but the writing style was clear – easy to read and was clearly “sign posted” with the key points they wanted you to consider and walk away with from the study.  They provided a great background of the company’s problem with current systems, and what lead to the initial inquiry of an Ent.20 solution to be sought out.

If there was a downside, they really didn’t have any “bad news” to report in this study.  Perhaps there just wasn’t any, but since they made a point to mention the implication that Ent.2.0 deployments will have on IT departments, I suspect they could have spent a bit of time discussing how the IT department of Telefonica probably wasn’t all smiles with this deployment.

I would strongly suggest this as a reading to learn about Ent.2.0 in the workplace, as well as a great example of case study.

Adobe Connect: Not quite “Pain Free”…

Tonight we had the chance to try out Adobe Connect for class.  I have been a part of AC in the past, mostly for business calls with clients abroad.  In my prior experience, AC worked in an “all or nothing” way; either my clients could get in and everything worked well – or the system just never was able to deploy for them/me.  Each time trouble shooting was a random act of discovery, and the truth was – I was never really able to figure out what caused the complete failures.

In an effort to “beat” that situation for tonight’s class, I carefully entered the meeting room yesterday, tried out my head set and local DSL line and everything was PERFECTO!  I was anxious with anticipation and looking forward to stress free presentation; it was not to be.

In spite of Adobe’s website which claims: ” Ease of Use:  Adobe Connect web conferencing is a flexible solution that is easy to set up. Deploying Adobe Connect is quick and pain-free with no downloads necessary! Adobe Connect runs via Adobe Flash Player which is already installed in 98% of Internet-enabled desktops.  Attendees can easily join web conferences at the click of a single URL, with no download required! The only requirement is a web browser making the setup and use of Adobe Connect extremely simple for users from all types of backgrounds.”, the experience was NOT pain free.  The night was wrought with miscellaneous lock ups, sound outages, terrible echos, problems with video and personally (though maybe my PC’s issue again) mic issues.

I have to say, when compared to Google+, Adobe Connect was impersonal, it was much nicer to see everyone’s face in G+, and frankly – I think G+ had less operating issues.  That said, Adobe Connect – DID ALLOW for us to use whatever format slide deck we wanted to use, and there was no “weird auto-reformatting”  of the decks fonts/backgrounds like what happens in G+.

We aren’t the only ones having issues with Adobe Connect and it made for a bit of a stressful night waiting to present.

As I sit here typing this blog, my neck has a cramp from holding my cell phone against my shoulder since the mic wouldn’t work throughout the 3 hour conference call.  Other than that – it was another lesson learned by me for why F2F makes for a better overall learning experience, well… except for the pajama pants.

Bad Endings & Cyber Stalking

After reading numerous articles, reviewing statistics and watching youtube media clips about cyber stalking, (the following articles to name a few:  http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/psychology/cyberstalking/5.html , http://womensissues.about.com/od/violenceagainstwomen/a/CyberstalkStory.htmhttp://writing.wikinut.com/My-cyber-stalking-horror-story/lxihxqeu/ )

It seems that women find themselves frequently the victims of cyber stalking, often due to relationships that end badly.  A few articles suggest that cyber stalking is just a Web 2.0 version of the “old fashioned” stalking behaviors that have been around for ever, but the ease of launching “attacks” and the size of attacks that can be launched grows exponentially with the mass media Web 2.0 tools.  The broadcast nature of Web2.0 also makes for more victims from cyber stalking; whereas before, perhaps being stalked was someones “secret”, now through the web one can not only torment you – they can effectively engage your entire network to work against you.

I believe it is some of the best nature of women that opens them up to cyber stalking; not wanting to hurt someone, attempting to be responsive to someone else’s needs, trusting people with our personal information and or trying to end a relationship on some sort of “amicable” note – when it is really impossible to do so.  That said, women might want to take a note from our male counterparts and be more direct about situations, be clear about limits, de-personalize bad behavior – acknowledging it for what it is – bad behavior.

No one deserves to be cyber stalked  – or stalked for that matter, but I believe women in particular need to reconsider the precautions (or lack there of) that they are taking to protect themselves.  First and foremost, women need to surround themselves with healthy relationships so that cyber stalking  – or any form of stalking doesn’t even enter the picture.

RAA#4: Education Generation Net – Can U.S. Engineering Woo and Win the Competition for talent?

Chubin, D., Donaldson, K., Olds, B., Fleming, L. (2008). Education Generation Net – Can U.S. Engineering Woo and Win the Competition for talentJournal of Engineering Education, July, 245-257.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to determine what matters to the next generation of engineers when considering long term life after school.

Methods:  The method used for the study was a comparative study looking across generations for attributes based on data collected from a wide variety of studies.  Some of the comparisons put forth were anecdotal in nature and did not have data to support the comparisons.

Main findings: There were MANY findings in this study, but here are some key points:

  1. Generation Net students are self-directed learners who want outside classroom experience
  2. Active and collaborative learning had the highest learning outcomes for Generation Net students
  3. Generation Net more outwardly focused on how to impact the world.
  4. Generation Net is increasingly interested in global experiences

Analysis:  This was one of the first pieces I came across in engineering education that began to discuss and think about engineering not as a homogeneous group, but as distinctly different people with different value systems, etc.  The literature review does an excellent job setting up the problem and creating a sense of urgency for the problem.

While there is little real analysis, there are some light statistics and one correlation table to highlight relationships found between students reasons for entering into engineering and their interaction with faculty.  I feel this piece was probably an icebreaker to get the conversation started by using a lot of highly regarded reference materials.

It really was a “call to action” piece for engineering educators to begin thinking about what we need to do differently to engage this new generation for the long haul.  I enjoyed seeing how these engineering educators viewed the situation from inside the academic setting out.

RAA#3 The Impact of Goal Focus, task type and group size…Collaborative learning discourses

R. Pfister & M. Oehl(2009). The impact of goal focus, task type and group size on synchronous net-based collaborative learning discoursesJournal of Computer Assisted Learning, 25, 161-176.

Purpose:  The purpose of this research was to determine if goal focus, type of task and group size affect learning outcomes and the use of chat based tools.

Methods:  The method used for the study was never specified however it was a form of mixed methods study involving 140 students volunteering to participate in learning group experiments in which their responses to various instructions were monitored and tracked.  Student  filled in a questionnaire regarding their computer experience, e-learning, chat and web enagement, and lab activity.  From that a regression model was formed.

Main findings: The main finding of this study suggest that task type and goal focus influence the overall collaboration effort, and the type of referencing and coding of messages.  Further, the addition of optional learning protocols assisted/supported collaborative learning.  Goal focus did NOT however have an impact of improved learning.  The type of task did NOT impact the type of referencing and typing activities.

Essentially, the learning protocol is more beneficial tor teaching tasks than learning tasks, and the larger the group, the better the learning outcome.

Analysis:  When I read this piece I was really hopeful to find some new nugget of information related to web based/collaborative learning; in particular so I could think about how to carry it forward to the industrial setting.  Unfortunately, the heavily jargoned study made it difficult to follow in spite of the fact that the researchers did a noble job of providing jargon definitions.

No where in the abstract or methods section did it discuss if the study results would be qualitative or quantitative in nature; you had to read through the entire article and review the tables to finally see it was a quantitative regression analysis.  In addition, the experiment was limited to a single recorded incident of about 45 minutes.  I am not sure how you assess if an intervention impacts learning after 45 minutes of time, so that was a bit of a problem for me with the study.

The origin of the article was Germany, so perhaps some of the nuance explaining the study was lost in translation.

There were some interesting findings and in the last 3 pphs of the study, the researchers finally shared the “so what” of the finding – of which were very clear and instructional to follow.  There seemed to be a lot going on in this research, and simplifying it may have not only lead to a clearer study, but cleaner results also.

Dumb – No, Distracted – Maybe, Impatient & Lazy – Definitely!

Maggie Jackson’s intro to her book Distracted, and Nicholas Carr’s article “Is Google making us stupid” definitely makes you take a step back and reconsider the effects that social media is having not only on our culture but on our physiological beings.  I for one can say that the thought of my brain being altered because of my recent Tweeting, Blogging, and time on the internet is more than a little unsettling.

Do I really believe these tools make us dumb or distracted, I say no to maybe on the short term.  It is something new; we can’t possibly understand what the long term affects might be to our eyes, brains, reflexes, etc.  If the use persists we need to be concerned.  Like the loud music hippies and Yippies of my GenX generation, they really did suffer long term hearing loss…   it was real, even if they didn’t believe it at the time.

What I am positively sure of in the short term, is that these tools have made us lazy.  Does anyone actually walk into a library any more?  How about write a long hand letter on special stationary? I feel that their is value in taking time, taking stock and reflecting in a moment that is all ours.

Definition of impatient: Updating Facebook in the bathroom stall…and sending photos to a friend.  Yep, I heard it all “going on”.

That I am especially sure can wait…