Help us help you–participate in the ECAR survey

Many WSU faculty (50% of them, to be precise) have been receiving requests to take part in a national survey of faculty attitudes towards technology at the university. The survey is being run by Educause, the national educational IT organization. This is the second year this survey has been run, and last year’s survey produced some interesting results about faculty interests and desires around everything computing-related.

Last year’s results, which are available in ‘infographic’ format here:

Some relevant findings from last year:

  • Nationally, fewer than fifty percent of faculty are satisfied with IT support for research.
  • Opinions on the use of smartphones in class are mixed, with about half of faculty banning or discouraging them and only a third encouraging or requiring laptops (I myself don’t see how I could ban smartphones, and I’ve taught classes where laptops were required because we were all learning how to use some online tool).
  • Many faculty feel they could be better at using web-based content and online collaboration tools in their courses, but there was less enthusiasm about social media as a teaching tool.

There are two versions of the survey, one that takes about twenty minutes to half an hour, and another that takes only ten minutes. Whichever one you choose, your participation will be greatly appreciated, and will help C&IT plan our investments for the next couple of years.

Look for a reminder and your personalized invitation to join in the survey tomorrow. If you don’t get one, you’ll be asked to participate in a more general survey of IT satisfaction that all other faculty, staff and students will take part in later this semester.

LOL…OMG! What can go wrong on Facebook–Jan. 30 at 1 PM in Bernath

Facebook and similar social networks are now so commonplace that the creation of Facebook was recently a major motion picture. And most of us have some kind of presence on FB, if not some additional ones (faculty and staff also use Linkedin and Plaxo, among others). On the other hand, we’ve all read about the problems that can be created if the wrong thing ends up on one of these sites. Matt Ivester (‘eye-vester’) learned a whole bunch of things when he started JuicyCampus a couple of years ago as a gossip site for universities and their students. He thought it would be fun (LOL) and it very quickly turned nasty. Very nasty. As in lawsuits and death threats (OMG). He has since written a book about his experiences, aimed primarily at high school and college students (although all of us could learn something from him). The book is, funnily enough, LOL…OMG!

EDUCAUSE, the national educational computing organization, to which Wayne State belongs, is presenting a national webcast with Matt Ivester on January 30 at 1 PM. It’s free and we’re streaming it live in Bernath Auditorium.

If you use Twitter you can ask questions (@address will be available just before the webcast).

You can find out more about this event here

As an extra added bonus, Ivester is permitting free downloads of his book (for a limited number of days) at the site mentioned in the link above.

If you can’t attend live, the event can be streamed to your desktop (probably mobile device too). Watch this space for additional details. It will also be archived, so you can watch it later, at your leisure.

Yet another reason to write your congressperson

A new bill being considered by the House would essentially give a few trade organizations the power to shut down anything on the web they don’t like. All they have to do is allege that it is storing unauthorized copyrighted material. While I can sympathize with artists who feel they are being ripped off by downloading, the potential for abuse of this law is enormous. More details here (commercial link includes an ad).

Educause, which is the national organization for university IT professionals (both the technical types, like network engineers and CIO’s, as well as those deeply involved in online learning and IT in the classroom), has released a formal response to the latest draft of this particular bill.

The response can be read here:

Unintended consequences–federal laws to protect children online probably endanger them instead

Here’s a nice example of how passing a law to fix a perceived problem can backfire and make things even worse than before the law was passed. Here’s an article by libertarian Adam Thierer, but referencing a study by dana boyd, who gave a great talk on young people’s views of privacy on Facebook at the recent EDUCAUSE. We’re working on screening her talk in the next couple of weeks.

Welcome to Proftech!

Geoff Nathan is a Professor of Linguistics in the English Department, and the Faculty Liaison to C&IT, a dual role he has held since 2002. For almost fifteen years he has schooled himself in the technology, politics and sociology of university computing. In addition to serving on the C&IT Leadership Team he is active in the national university computing organization EDUCAUSE.

ProfTech will have several goals. I expect to serve as a conduit to and from C&IT on issues of importance to Wayne, and especially with respect to faculty. I hope to highlight aspects of C&IT’s services that might be of interest to faculty, explore new technologies and also convey your concerns in these areas to C&IT’s management team. In addition I will talk about some of the issues facing IT nation- and world-wide. Many of these issues have larger ramifications in philosophy, politics and lifestyles, and I follow these developments and wory about how they affect academia.

Under most circumstances I will welcome comments on my blog, with the sole restriction being that civility should be maintained.