Monday, 29 October 2007

Educause ...

Educause, for those of you who don't know, is the biggest university IT conference in the US, and for that reason draws people from all over the world, including me.

In fact it's probably the largest in the world and as a consequence provides an unrivalled opportunity to meet vendors and discuss things, see new cool and sexy things, etc.

Also allows people to present papers on things they've been doing, etc.

So if you work in IT in universities, sooner or later you end up at educause. In my case it took me more than 20 years, but that's because I worked in the UK for 17 of them, and the UK does its own thing (some of which I helped organise [shameless plug for past career]).

So Educause. Theme was all about collaboration, often targeted towards VLE's (Virtual Learning Environments - a much better term than LMS, Learning Management Systems), and by extension identity management, after all you need to know what roles, or in a student context what courses, someone is signed up to to manage access.

There also was a great sense in which US universities were grappling with the web 2.0 phenomenon, either in how to engage the attention deficit generation and stopping them going off and using resources outside of the course material, or indeed how to build wiki's blogs and the rest into the learning experience, especially the desire to provide a social networking environment.

One got the distinct impression that a whole lot of universities were not enamored of the participation age, and there was a great difficulty on adapting to group share rather than individual efforts.

Along the way there were some interesting snippets:

Email outsourcing:

Microsoft and Google locked in a battle to handle outsourced student email and calendaring. The intereting thing is that Google had done a deal with Umea in Sweden, and given that Sweden is kind of sesnitive about personal data that was good.

Microsoft were handing out windows live test accounts. I'll blog on this separately once I've played with windows live, but it's an open secret that windows live will provide exchange integration allowing faculty to stay on locally managed exchange and yet integrate with the students on windows live.

yahoo and by extension zimbra were not making a pitch for anything although it's my guess they're trying to catch up.


keep notes and references? used endnote? tried furl, digg and the rest, try zotero. A little firefox plug in that lets you track references and cittations, personal archives of websites and the rest.

What's more, the coming server edition will allow you to build server baswed portfolios of what you're working on for input to varios reporting processes as well as sharing with colleagues in the field. Google for it. It's worth it


the conference was kind of uneven. Some presentations were better than others. Most were fairly mediocre but the trade show was good.

Overall pretty interesting.