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Finally able to write about the other sessions I attended today. One about the use of iPods in English Composition classes was particularly interesting. The professor (from Miami Dade Univ.) based his comp class around James Bond (great idea — no Cliff Notes for the books, great fodder for composition in comparing the books to the movies, and the students love it). He taught two sections and for one handed out iPods and created podcasts with supplemental material like a ‘Villians Gallery’ and other content for students to listen to and watch outside of class. For the other class, the same material was available on the web. The grades were significantly better in the one with the iPods. He found that his student athletes, especially, would listen to the material on the bus, on the treadmill and on the trainers tables. He thought the students who benefited the most were the ones who were at risk of falling through the cracks — those who needed just a bit more experience with the material to be successful.

In a different look at the same issue, however, was a professor at the poster session who surveyed his students about iPod use and found that they did not want ‘educational’ material encroaching on their ‘recreational’ device. They very clearly saw the dilineation between work space and play space and never the twain shall meet…..
This question about how far into student spaces we should venture before we start to get pushback was the topic of a discussion session I went to. Lots of discussion about how schools are using wikis, blogs and even Second Life but no consensus about how far we should take it. Anecdotally there is a lot of evidence that students don’t want grown-ups in their spaces, but also anecdotally you have some success stories about faculty using Facebook groups successfully in classes. I think the key is to know your students and your campus culture. The group did recognize that a lot of the social software technologies that we are experimenting with (RSS aggregators, Second Life, etc.) have yet to ‘catch on’ with undergrads, and there is some evidence that even Facebook is becoming less popular with college students as High School students are now allowed and employers and grad schools are now looking at profiles in hiring and admission processes.

The general session this afternoon was on disaster preparedness and recovery. Presented by people from Southern Miss. Univ. and LSU we got a first hand look at how disasters can affect all areas of a campus even when your campus is not the one hit. Southern Miss. was nearly completely wiped out by the storm, LSU just had all of the issues around being an evacuation point. They gave good advice – and sobering account of how Katrina affected so many. I know I’m going to go home and make an inventory of our house and store it online somewhere I can get to it even if the house is gone!