I came away with three conclusions from my time at the 2012 NMC Summer Conference.
1 – Travel size does not mean TSA approved
2 – No matter how tired you are room service is never a value
3 – Drake University should be very proud of what is has accomplished (as far as media usage in the classroom is concerned)
While I’ll save the details of the first two points for another time, the third deserves some more thought. I recently returned from the New Media Consortium’s Summer Conference, hosted by MIT in Cambridge, Mass. The NMC conference highlights emerging technology in teaching and learning. More than 500 faculty members, administrators, specialists and technology professionals were in attendance from across the country.
One of the great moments for me was the “Five Minutes of Fame” presentations. During the event selected members are given five minutes to present on their latest design or innovation. In what can best be described as an all-academic version of The Gong Show, including the gong but minus the ridicule and platform shoes, presenters were literally “on the clock” in front of an audience of peers and professionals. Multimedia usage, course modules, student portfolios and off-campus collaborations were all on display. A complete listing of the presentations is available for viewing at the NMC’s iTunes U site.
Highlights included UMBC’s “Multimedia Literacy Lab”, a one-credit class designed to integrate rich media and visual assignments across campus without taking away from classroom time. Providing an overview and introduction to digital storytelling tools, they found that in addition to technical skills that students were improving writing, communication and presentation skills in other classes as well.
Basic Lesson Learned: Skills are always transferable.
Case Western Reserve University’s story about the time that a professor assigned more than 250 students to complete a video project when only 16 cameras were available rang home for me, having personally been in a similar situation. What was more impressive was how Case’s New Media program came up with a solution that allowed all the students to complete the project using readily available software and creative-commons licensed media.
Basic Lesson Learned: There’s always a solution.
The common thread that I was able to take away from these presentations was the importance placed on creating a safe environment for students to allow them to create and innovate. Basically allowing schools to be a place to take risks and learn from it. Speaking with my colleagues and counterparts from across the nation, I feel like we’ve done that here at Drake for our students.
Sitting in the audience I found myself saying “Yeah, we do that already at Drake” over and over again. It’s one thing when you’re comparing us to other masters-level institutions of comparable size and budget. It’s another thing when it’s compared to major state-supported research institutions.
Some may argue that because of Drake’s size it’s easier for us to meet new paradigms in technology faster than our sister institutions, from the sheer fact that we probably don’t have as much to change as larger schools do. But we’re all dealing with the same pressures and demands, hopefully scaled to our enrollment. The question then becomes how to best meet those demands before our time is up.