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January 20, 2012 / Cameron Campbell

iBooks Textbooks: a publication ghetto? New iTunes U: a stealth LMS?

NB: these are very very rough, initial thoughts, not totally fleshed out, but I wanted to get them out there while I’m thinking on it. Credit where it’s due, Christine Daviault (my lovely wife) pointed out the ghetto problem. Before you accuse me of something, breathe and realise this is written on an Apple machine, by a guy who works in higher ed, who’s just thinking aloud.

First, some context…

Right so Apple’s education announcement happened in the very early hours of this AM (afternoon in PST I guess). You can watch a video and read a bit about it from Apple here. Before the announcement there was a really interesting read on Cult of the Mac about how this is the opening salvo of Apple’s war on Amazon. You can read it here. There are already a lot of comments on the technical at various places: Loop Insight has coverage of the event that highlights the main features of the announcement, another good roundup can be found at engadget.

I haven’t had a chance to play with any of the new tools yet, I’ll get to that next week, but here’s my thought: Let’s accept for a second that the goal of this is to, at least partially, cut out the various middlemen (publishing firms and other distributors). We then are left with the idea of authors or independent publishing companies/project groups (I’m thinking of a faculty member partnering with a designer/design group at their university) producing books. So far, all good (though, as Harold Jarche said on twitter: “like I said, it takes a monopoly (Apple) to defeat the academic publishing oligopoly – both ways, the public loses”) but here’s the problem: the advancement/tenure process. If I self-publish a text book, which might make me more money, and will definitely give me more control over it’s contents (if not the distribution stream), will I get the same amount of credit towards my publication points as I would if it were published with a textbook publisher?

My guess is no. And my guess is that it might take at least three years (this is academia after all) before institutions change this sort of attitude. Thoughts?

UPDATE (that was fast eh?): then there is this on the EULA for the iBooks authoring tool

Stealth LMS?

If you go Engadget’s closer look at the new iTunes U, you’ll come across this:

As an example of this new remote method of learning, the company demoed a Chemistry course at its event, showing an overview, syllabus, credits and even the professor’s office hours. Tabs are placed along the right side of page with options for Info, Posts, Notes and Materials, allowing teachers to send updates direct to the app and students the ability to jot down important highlights. Wondering about integration? A simple tap on these pushed assignments will transport students direct to iBooks, where their specific coursework lies in wait and, once completed, can be crossed off on the provided task list.

The app can even be used for course registration, eliminating the frenzied rush typically associated with such events. It’s all available to download on the App Store right now at no cost in 123 countries. So, if you’re on Apple’s participating list of schools and you’re rocking an iPad, go ahead and get to virtually cracking those books.

To me, that sounds very much like a LMS lite, there’s no mention of assessment tools – or at least no details of them yet – though this doesn’t mean they aren’t there or aren’t coming. In some ways this announcement may well be the more important of the lot, but it seems to have escaped a lot of people’s notice.

January 20, 2012 / Cameron Campbell

Year in Review

Realistically, we’ve been blogging so infrequently that reviewing the year is about the only way to make this relevant. Last year, from an external point of view, was extremely trying, to say the least. The February 22nd earthquake, and subsequent aftershocks with all the damage, disruption and mess it caused to everyone’s lives (not to mention lost lives and homes) well and truly threw a spanner into the works on a lot of fronts. Add to that days off for snow (yes real “we can make snowmen and forts” snow), rejiggering of the schedule etc etc, well you get it (and if you’re reading this locally, you lived it).

On a professional front the FLI team scored a number of successes, started work on some external projects and helped teachers come up with some new ways of helping their student’s learning. ( Here’s our FLI Report which went out to various administration people around the University community).

Anyway, welcome back after you vacation and here’s to a happier, easier 2012

September 12, 2011 / Cameron Campbell

Training thoughts

Years ago I worked at McGill University for The Daily. I was ad designer, computer tech, emergency production night support, bottle washer and head geek in charge of video gaming on my lunch hour.

It was an interesting job that allowed me to meet a lot of smart, ambitious uni students, many of whom have gone on to do really cool things since. We worked with a printing company on Montreal’s south shore and every semester I tried to get at least the editorial core/production team out to the press for a tour.

My theory was that the students would be more able to get their work done by deadline if they knew who it was they were keeping at work late. I also realized that the production of a newspaper, especially for people who’d grown up with laser printers on their desks, is a pretty abstract concept. So we’d go and see the film guys, how the plates were made, the offset web press, the finishing room (folding machines! Collators! Woo!). I don’t know that it helped much in getting the paper done, but I thought that everyone involved should have a vague idea about what went into actually printing the paper.

Recently I gave a little how-to lecture as part of Marketing 101. The students have been presented with a scenario where they are starting a small Pizza company and have an angel investor willing to help them out with start up costs etc. The wrinkle is that the investor is overseas and won’t be coming in for a meeting. So the small company must pitch itself via video delivered on YouTube. My role was to create a how-to hand-out and then come into the class and run them through the steps needed to upload video to YouTube.

I think that it’s been about 2-4 years since I last spoke to undergrads. I’d forgotten that they they stare blankly. I’d forgotten that some of them look like they are falling asleep. I’d forgotten that none of them ask questions (actually, I got two. Teacher friends tell me that this is a huge victory for me.). I’d also forgotten how the built space of teaching can be totally counter to any ideas I have about collaborative learning and “flipping” the classroom (rooms with seating that steep should have gladiators and lions at the bottom – but I digress).

So, my solution to this is that I’m going to make a pledge: at a bare minimum I’m going to attend a bigger class (this one had 180 students registered) once a semester from now on. Ideally I’d like to give at least one partial lecture per term, but I hardly count as a subject matter expert in most fields that Universities grant degrees in, so that’s not practical.

September 6, 2011 / Cameron Campbell

Applying the learning outcome concept across an institution, or, I’ve been thinking a lot

So, I was thinking about learning outcomes and graduate profiles and what it is that we do at tertiary institutions. I was also thinking about how to make sure that we clearly explain what we’re on about when we talk about aligning assessments with outcomes and then figuring out what we want students to learn (I thought about a wide range of other things. Sadly, none of these are germane to today’s posting).

So, here’s what I came up with (bearing in mind it’s a bit rough and needs some more thinking). Even though you should start with the learning objectives as your first step I’ve gone and put it in the more “natural” direction of “stuff learned” “learning assessed” “learning objectives met” (a really good, short article on this very subject can be found at the Chronicle of Higher Ed: “Planning a Class with Backward Design“):

Course level:
Learning activities that feed into ==> Assessment to verify that LO has been met ==> Learning Objective

Program level:
Papers that feed into the degree ==> Assessments across the various papers ==> granting of Degree/gaining of employment in chosen field

Institutional level:
Lincoln (or any Uni) teaching method/facilities/teachers ==> Assessment (This is the vague bit, perhaps we should be looking to the Graduate Longitudinal Study New Zealand) ==> Graduate profile

August 3, 2011 / Cameron Campbell

Metrics that confuse me

Recently I was involved in a conversation where the number of faculty and students that used a specific tool came up.

It was noted that a fairly low percentage of both used, campus wide.

Everyone in the room nodded wisely (I think I even pulled on my beard in a thoughtful way) and we all agreed (or almost all of us) that this was an issue (or a problem).

Then, as often happens with me, I wondered off and had a proper think on this.

In my mind educational theory, technology and blended learning are all like a buffet.

One takes what one likes, what’s appropriate for the time of day or your dietary restrictions and one moves on.

The goal of the buffet is that everyone gets fed with something that they like and works for them, not that everyone eats each and every dish.

Shouldn’t learning technologies be the same?

June 22, 2011 / helenfli

2020 – The Ideal Graduate

2020 – The Ideal Graduate

Library, Teaching and Learning (LTL) recently launched a document that describes a teaching and learning scenario at Lincoln in 2020.  It got me thinking and the following is a personal response to the scenario.  It does not represent any sort of official FLI response.

I hope to stimulate debate and discussion around the issue I have outlined below and expect to see many comments posted in response to the following. 

While the LTL Scenario document paints a delightful picture of the environment in which teaching and learning will occur, it struck me as somewhat cart-before-horse.  I know, from personal experience – Dad had harness ponies – there were occasions…  moving right along…, that that approach can be counter-productive.  The Scenario doc describes the factory; we should, I believe, be thinking hard about the product. 

I’ve done a bit of reading around what the ‘product’ (Lincoln graduate) might ‘look’ like in 2020.  It appears that they might need to be quite different beasties from the current version.

There is a growing recognition amongst education institutions, at both secondary and tertiary levels, that the attributes required of graduates in 10 years time will be considerably different from the present.   A number of renowned educational institutions have recognised that they need to address the issue of ‘employability’.  Studies have been done in order to better define what that means in 2020.  Birmingham has produced a resource kit to enable HEIs to equip students with the skills emerging as those required for the 2020 graduate (interesting that they did this in 2006!).  Albright College is currently developing its 2020 strategy.  Bristol has worked on a definition of employability and produced resources for students accordingly (again -2006!).  Other organisations have instituted ‘Ideal Graduate Project’ teams. 

HEIs have long been aware that their ability to attract students lies in the employability of their graduates.  2020 is not too far off!  Strategic approaches need to be addressed now so that the necessary changes filter throughout institutions and change management practices embedded to ensure that the changes actually occur! 

We might have a bit of catching up to do here!

Forecasts are appearing that predict more than half the jobs will require the graduate attributes listed below and employers will be demanding an increasingly higher level of skills.  The focus is moving from the need for knowledge in a particular area to a much wider range of thinking/application skills, referred to as ‘transferable skills’, ‘graduate-skills’ or ‘ holistic skills’.  The subject knowledge students need isn’t in today’s textbooks – it’s happening now.  HEIs are concerned with the need to provide well over and above ‘mere subject knowledge’. 

A variety of studies have been done in an effort to more clearly define the essential transferable skills.  Those skills listed below appear in pretty much the same order in such studies.   Reading should probably be categorised under Masteries, but it was singled out and emphasised on occasion.

I think we should take careful note of these; are they explicitly taught, are they assessed and are they actively encourage throughout the curriculum?  I think we can take it as read that these skills are essential.  Our students will be competing in a global employment market in 2020.  I believe the Teaching and Learning strategy needs to be developed with a focus firmly on transferable skills, with the redevelopment of the teaching side of the equation ensuring that these skills are assertively taught and actively assessed. 




To meet the needs of employers in the 2020 job market, the ideal graduate will have the following attributes:

Thinking skills Critical thinking


Critical reflection


Ability to synthesis and innovate

Masteries IT



Solid grasp of scientific fundamentals

Higher level of academic rigor

Reading skills Speed reading

Analytical thinking

Able to digest and comprehend complex idea and concepts

Communication skills Articulate – oral and written

Able to work in teams

Able to learn in teams

Build relationships

Build networks

Socially confident

Global Knowledge Understanding of a diversity of cultures

Multilinguistic a distinct advantage

Comprehension of global aspects of business

Learning skills Knowledge of self as  a learner

Monitor own situation in relation to learning requirements

Recognise and address gaps in knowledge and skills

Personal skills Strong ethics

Good work habits

Personal responsibility for time management and prioritisation

Positive attitude

Area of specialisation In-depth knowledge of own area

Practical application of knowledge

Able to identify changes and trends

Identify impact and significance of changes and trends

Able to respond quickly

How and where to acquire needed knowledge quickly and efficiently



May 18, 2011 / Cameron Campbell

What we’re up to

So it’s been a while since this blog has been updated. The earthquake of February 22nd has knocked the stuffing out a lot of different projects and shortened the semester here at Lincoln University.

The good news, as those of you who work here know, is that we sustained no real new physical damage to our brick and mortar structures. That said, the damage to the people side of our community is still to be completely understood. We know that students are struggling a bit more and I think that everyone in Canterbury/Christchurch is a lot more short tempered and tired.

Enough about the shaking, we’re now busily beavering away at Semester two courses, sitting on committees about Moodle 2 and working out some new, exciting tools to pilot for both Semester two and over summer school 2011.