A Humble Request for Input and Suggestions

We’ve got two presentations looming in DTLT for which I’m looking for suggestions.

The first is a one-hour presentation (which we’ll be doing twice) for incoming freshman that we’ll be offering (concurrently with a number of other sessions offered by UMW departments) on the Friday before classes start. We’ve settled on the general idea of showcasing free, (primarly) web-based tools that we think all students should know about. This is sort of an attempt at introducing the toolkit we used with Steve’s globalization freshman seminar last fall. So, we’re planning on showcasing toolks like Flickr, del.icio.us, bloglines, and wordpress.com. But, we’d like to expand our offerings, and I’d love to have folks contribute to this quick-and-dirty wiki that I’ve set up for gathering ideas (PW: techtools).

Our summer student aide, Joe, is going to take on the task of creating a persistent resource (Web site) that gathers and presents information about all of these tools (and perhaps ones we can’t fit into our allotted time). I’d like to think of this as the start of a “student outreach” piece for DTLT, since so much of our work with students is “limited” by the mediation of our interaction with faculty. That’s not a bad thing, per say, but I think we’ve got an important message that it would be nice to sometimes take directly to the students themselves.

The second presentation will be that Friday night. We’re scheduled for 75 minutes in the University auditorium to talk to the entire, incoming freshman class. The basic focus of that session is “Social Networking Technologies and Today’s University Students.” The idea for this was sparked by a meeting of last year’s TLT Fellows, in which we discussed Tracy Mitrano’s article, “A Wider World: Youth, Privacy, and Social Networking Technologies.”

When it came time to plan Orientation this spring, we were tapped to frame this larger presentation around some of the ideas in that article and any broader issues about the implications of social networking on the life of the University student that we want to talk about. In keeping with Mitrano’s article, this will not be a fear-mongering session about the perils and pitfalls of social networking. Rather, we’re trying to imagine a way to have a “healthy,” (is that an awful word, or what) balanced, engaging conversation (with 800 students) about how social networking tools can foster connections and engagement that might actually have some interesting implications for the practice of education.

As I write this, I’m fully realizing that it’s going to be a challenge to present something that is entertaining but also encourages deep thinking about the ways in which students engage with their lives online — particularly for an audience of that size. We don’t have the answers yet, but we’ll work hard to find them before August 24th. To that end, if you’ve got any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions about this presentation, we’d love to hear them. Feel free to comment here.

We’re thinking about using this larger presentation to showcase a project that I’ve been thinking about for a long time. Sparked by a scene in the TV show My Name is Earl, I’ve been thinking for quite some time that it would be interesting to start a collection of clips and scenes from film and TV that directly or indirectly deal with the use of technology for teaching and learning. We’re working on generating a list of ideas for this, and we’re hoping to spend some portion of the 75 minute presentation showcasing those clips (We’ll have to figure out how to work that into the social networking theme, but I’m sure we can make that work). So, I’ve set up a second quick-and-dirty wiki for anyone who’d like to contribute ideas on that project. (PW: techclips) Assuming we can operate within the parameters of fair use, we’ll make available the short clips we capture, if anyone else is interested in using them.

Update: I’ve added passwords for the wikis above. For some reason, I had the recollection that when I’ve created public PBwikis in the past, I didn’t need to give people a password. But, I was wrong. Ooops!