Category: Technology

  • The Magic of a Yellow T-Shirt

    Kent & Magic

    I have told this story a hundred times already, but am finally getting it posted more than a year later.  I must admit my Mario Andretti experience from a previous post runs neck and neck with this one at the top of my ‘brush with fame’ list, but both events were very cool.   In April 2016 I  got a selfie with Magic Johnson at the 2016 Ellucian Live conference in Denver, CO.  Below are the events leading up to this ‘magical’ moment. 

    It was a lot of fun There were 8500+ people in the room so what are the odds that I would be one of the four people to get a selfie w/ Magic. I suppose it increased my odds when I sat in the front row and wore a Laker shirt. There were 8499 suits, ties and jackets in the rooms so I guess the one dude in the bright Laker shirt stood out. His keynote was pretty awesome as well! A side of Magic Johnson and his work that I never knew about. It was sincere and transformative (Learn more about the Magic Johnson Foundation here). Magic had hopped off the stage and was telling the story of his various educational ventures, taking selfies with people and being the personable guy that he is.   He made the rounds and came up the aisle behind me toward the end of his keynote address.  He walked right by me and takes a left back toward the center the auditorium.  Suddenly he stops turns around and looks at me and says,

    I’m gonna get a picture with the guy in the Laker shirt (aka me)

    It was wild after the selfie as I walked through the hoards of Ellucian Live attendees.  People were high fiving me, saying, “hey there is the Laker guy” “I wish I had a selfie with Magic” etc. I have also included in the pictures below a twitter screen shot that cracks me up. My 15 minutes of fame I suppose. Oh and yes after getting a picture with Magic there were some very exciting sessions throughout the rest of the day…Nothing else even close.

    The story of the Laker shirt I am wearing makes the Magic selfie even better. I am not really a Laker fan, however, we had a meeting with all of our college CIOs and Presidents scheduled during the Magic Johnson keynote on Monday morning. I whined a lot about missing the keynote because of the meeting so I bought the Laker shirt, which I was going to wear as a protest at our scheduled meeting. I mean how often do you get to hear a Magic Johnson Keynote address.  As it turned out with all of the snow and travel cancellations for the eLive 2016 conference we had only had 1 of 7 presidents who ended up coming. The meeting went on but I went to the keynote and got my picture taken with Magic!!!!!!

    The final picture in the album is a doctored/ photoshopped picture of Larry Bird, was shown earlier today (the second day of this conference) and is really pretty funny. Here is the story…. This tech conference is sponsored by our tech vendor which doesn’t humor me often. However, as a followup to the Magic selfies they were actually pretty funny and pulled one on us this morning. They started by apologizing for a wireless outage yesterday and stated that they had an unauthorized entry to one of their data centers and someone actually unplugged some of their wireless equipment. They said ironically the equipment was housed in a data center they were leasing from Magic Johnson Enterprises However, they reported that their surveillance cameras had captured the following picture during our keynote yesterday……Yes they briefly diverted our attention from the fact that their wireless was terrible yesterday and still is today.  

    What did I learn from all of this?   There is probably a marketing lesson in this one about standing out from the crowd. I will leave that one to someone else.  I learned Magic is doing some amazing work in the educational realm and that it pays to wear a bright yellow Laker shirt (even if you are not really a Laker’s fan) when the other 8499 people are wearing dark colored jackets and suits!!!!

    The Keynote the day after Magic was great as well. 

    Today’s keynote by Deng Adut was pretty amazing. This session reaffirms that I have lived a sheltered life, including growing up in Baca County, which I often take for granted. Adut is from the Sudan, was smuggled out to Australia by his brother and taught himself to read using the Bible and is now an attorney In Sydney Australia donating much of his time to refugee issues. Here are a few key quotes from the session but the final quote I think applies the most to what we are doing with many of the historical Baca County stories and pictures.

    “I am product of war. I was a child soldier. I was shot 4 times. My brother smuggled me out of the Sudan”

    “So many died to help me. When I walk out of here I feel I owe a debt to society”

    The knowledge you gain from your ancestors and your education is not yours, It is societies and you must pass it on”

    Here is a link to a video with more detail about his life.

  • For Your File Naming Convention add "and The Hat size of the Nearest Squirrel”

    I have been involved in moving 2 institutions to Google Apps.  I love and fear what I am seeing as we enter a new era of Digital Asset Creation.  It is so easy to creat documents and digital assets that the volume becomes overwhelming.squirrelblog with cluttered desktop-2017-04-25I love the collaborative nature of these tools and all the other advantages, but we do create an awful lot of….stuff.   I have written on this issue before and thought it was time to update my discussion of file naming best practice suggestions,
    First I will repeat my disclaimer from the original post:

    “ I am organizationally dysfunctional by nature.”  

    I have forced myself to make some adaptations to that natural state so that I could remain gainfully employed.   This post is one of the ways I have adapted to working in the very fast paced world of IT management.”
    The importance of this discussion came together for me a few years ago while still employed in Oklahoma.  On one particularly busy/hectic morning, I received at least a half-dozen emails with attachments all named “Kent”   There were a few Word documents and couple PDF’s and maybe even a spreadsheet or two. I was in a hurry and I was frustrated that I had to open each and every doc to find out what it contained.  
    Normally, it wasn’t that big of a deal to just open the doc to see the contents, but on this particular day, we were “getting hammered” as things weren’t going as well as I would have liked. I was in a hurry and didn’t need the hassle of opening each document to see what it contained.  It was at that point I began researching a document naming scheme which would provide a means for communicating key document information to the user at a glance. It was also helpful that we were beginning to research Document Imaging systems and really I got the basis for this from that world.  If this were a recipe I would also say add a dash of Digital Asset Management whose roots really come from the.  This makes a lot of sense as on day-to-day basis department or project staff is constantly sharing documents via online cloud-based storage, network storage, email and portable media storage devices and as a result, it can be easy to lose track of what a document contains and which version is which.  This brings us to
    It probably sounds like I have spent a little too much time reading Dilbert and just for the record Dilbert’s advice on this issue is:

    “The committee decided that the file naming convention will start with the date, in the order of month, year, day…then a space, then the temperature at the airport, and the hat size of the nearest squirrel…”

    File Naming Best Practice Rule #1  
    “You should be able to figure out what the file is about with a simple glance”
    Consider file names such as:

      • DSCN0619.jpg
      • C-1956.jpg
      • IMG0006.png
    • 819.eps

    These file names convey very little information about the images within and thus make them difficult to categorize. The impression made with the above example can be compared with this example below from Onison, a company which works in Digital Asset Management:
    Their specific focus is on images but contains two features which should be included in any file naming convention/rule  for any type of system and any type of environment
    Best Practice  Rule #2
    Always Include the date
    Best Rule #3
    Always Include a description
    Rule # 4  The only permitted characters in your file naming scheme are a-z, 0-9, underscore, dash, and the period before the extension.
    Putting the key document information in the title has several benefits, (1) it will assist your project team members to quickly identify the project, department/function, document title and version/revision number without having to open the document and scan for updates and (2) this information will assist in the development, management, security, storage/retrieval and the eventual deliberate destruction of the document.
    Implementing a document naming convention in a project/department/organization goes a little further than just sending out an interoffice memo or ‘All Staff’ email. Project staff need to be trained (ideally as part of their induction into the working group) and a focal point (usually the project administrator) needs to be appointed to advise on how to implement the project filing when questions arise with a resource document for reference.  
    Rule #5 Include all pertinent info, but not too much.
    I got the following note from my original post on file naming and thought it important to tell that there are real world implementations where this concept is especially important.  

    “It is especially relevant for me / us in TWR program distribution, as we get myriads of files for distribution and need to handle them at a glance.  In addition, about 4 years ago we began research on a DAM/MAM system which we desperately needed.  The first release of that can be seen on:  We are / will be using this internally for our worldwide distribution “backbone”, for partners to provide programs to us and make them available, then as SaaS for other Christian organizations.  The filename structure is absolutely critical to correct functioning and allowing automation.”

    Back to filenames: a brief excerpt backs what you discussed, from our documentation to producers:

    • File name structure (needs to be in the following order):
    •  Language ID (Example: FRN for French)
    • Dialect ID after Language code (Example: EST for Armenian – East dialect)
    • If there is a dialect, use the language ID as the first 3 letters
    • followed by the dialect
    • ID (second 3 letters) without space or any other character in between.
    • Please make sure that all language, dialect, and program name abbreviations
    • match the ones TWR-Europe is using.
    • Language and dialect codes are given to the producer by the TWR Broadcasting
    • Correct: GER_TTB_1205_210698_0845_Gen1.MP3
    • Example: HYEEST_TTB_016_250203_1925.MP3 for Armenian language with
    • Eastern dialect.
    • Department and are taken from the Ethnologue language code index.
    • Program Name ID as assigned to the producer by the Broadcasting Department.
    • (Example: use TTB for “Thru The Bible.)
    • Program Number
    • Date of airing (format: ddmmyy) The year should be written in
    • 2-digit format based on
    • the last two digits of the year. (Example: 2003 = 03, 2000 – 00)
    • Starting time of airing in UTC (format: hhmm)
    • their information
    • The scripture passage, transmitter, frequency, etc

    All of the above is a long example but it certainly was great reinforcement that I was on the right track with this concept
    What we want:

    • Consistency
    • Include the date every time
    • Save you and your employees some time

    What we don’t want:

    • Complicated titles which are overly time consuming to create.
    • If users need to refer to a manual just to name an asset, there’s a good chance the convention will not be adopted.
    • Also keep in mind that local acronyms and abbreviations may not make sense to all users that access the system.   
    • Spaces in filenames are bad

    A Note on Digital Asset Management
    In the modern world, many geeks will tell you a file naming convention is so 2004.  They will say you need to think about Digital Asset Management (DAM) Even with metadata, filenames can also be critical in differentiating things like color space or resolution. While the DAM can easily differentiate between these objects via metadata, humans have a little bit more difficulty.
    Humans name things. That’s how we’re built. While DAMs do reduce the necessity for encoding metadata in filename/path (thankfully!) there is it is still useful to have some differentiation between similar objects.  Also, some Mac users have a terrible habit of putting bullets, percent signs, and other punctuation in their filenames (Smith).
    Is this worth doing?
    I know this method saves me time on a personal basis, but some people want a more detailed summary of the benefits.  Ed Smith in a Sept 2011 post shows a great way to determine ROI for implementing DAM  but minus the purchase of a Digital Asset Management.
    For this example, I’m going to consider how much time and therefore money is saved by DAM. You can also do ROI calculations based on:

      • Spending less on stock photo purchases
      • Decreased licensing fees or fines
      • Selling or licensing asset collections
      • Avoiding print overruns
    • Spending less on desktop software and hardware upgrades

    Let’s say we have 5 people that each make around $50,000 each year and waste 1 hour each week searching for images. We’ll consider an investment of $3,000 into DAM ($2,000 for software and $1,000 for hardware).
    First, we figure out how many hours are wasted each year:
    5 people x 1 hour wasted searching each week x 52 weeks in the year = 260 hours wasted each year
    Next we determine how much money that time is worth:
    $50,000 average salary / 2080 work hours in the year = about $24 dollars an hour
    260 hours wasted each year x $24 dollars an hour = $6,240
    Now we know that it “costs” $6,240 annually to find images. Let’s figure in that DAM cuts the time it takes to find images by 75%:
    $6,240 x 75% = $4,680
    In this case, we can save $4,680 a year with DAM. Now, let’s see how that compares to what we spent on DAM in the first year:
    $4,680 savings each year – $3,000 invested in DAM = $1,680 net savings in the first year.
    In this case DAM saves $1,680 in the first year, and potentially even more during the following years when little to no additional money is spent on the DAM.
    We’re almost done! We just need to turn these numbers into a percentage, which is the ROI. The ROI is calculated as the difference between the savings and cost of the investment, divided by the cost of the investment. If that last sentence hurts your brain when you read it, here’s what the calculation looks like:
    (Savings from DAM – Investment in DAM) / Investment in DAM = ROI
    Let’s plug in the numbers:
    (4,680 – $3,000 )  / $3,000 = 56%
    In this scenario, our DAM system provides a ROI of 56% in the first year. If this DAM was a savings account, I’d put all my money in it (especially in this economy!)
    Of course, there are other intangible benefits from DAM like brand consistency, improved customer service, and improved morale. Combining a solid ROI with the intangible benefits can help you make a good case for DAM in your organization.

    A Practical Example:

    For example, If I created a Word file about creating a file naming policy on February 15, 2012, it would look something like this.


    1. A) yyyymmdd-B) Document-ImagingC) DepartmentD) filenaming-policy-creation-E) kdb-F) v01-G)H) doc
    2. A) Reverse Creation Date-B) ProjectTopicalArea-C) department-D) document-name-E) creator intitals-

    Possible Add ons for further depth if your going to have multiple versions of a doc.  You may want to rely on the versioning capabilities of tools such as Google Docs for this

    1. F) version number-G) revision number-H) file name extension  as shown below:

    When document version number is final I usually add the word FINAL if it is the final version of a document
    One other thought on this issue:
    I read somewhere recently that in a file naming convention where you want to consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO) you might wish to substitute a period for an underscore.  I need to do some more reading on this, but the basic concept is:
    Sometimes I have a second date reference if the document references another date or document with a specific or important date as shown in the example below:
    Notes on Some of the Components

    1. Reverse Creation Date

    Computer filing systems such as Window XP sort numerically and alphabetically, as such, using the reverse creation format “yymmdd” will ensure the file automatically list in order of creation. Some people may not like to use the “yyyy” format, as in “2006″ but I think it easier to see the year in four characters although some may say, “why add more characters to your file name than you have to?”
    Project Topical Area Name
    Obviously, there are millions of combinations and permutations for project name abbreviations and I have read a six letter code has proven to be quite effective. The first 3 letters in this scheme are for the client organization and the second 3 are for the project abbreviation.  However, I have decided to simply come up with a list of topical areas and I do usually spell it out as again I want something I can reference at a glance without having to convert in my head what it means.  However, if saving characters to a person then creating appropriate abbreviations such as shown below may be important.
    Example: Project Topical Area or Category
    BU- Budget
    PL – Planning
    PM – ProjectManagement
    TRG – Training
    SCRC -Screencapture  (Note: This may not make sense for some, but I use it all the time)
    Example: Department Acronyms
    HR – Human Resources
    SEC – Security / Risk Management
    LEG – Legal
    VEH – Vehicle Fleet Mgt
    LOG – Logistics
    DOIT – Department of Information Technology
    PRO – Procurement
    FIN – Finance
    FAC – Facilities Management
    INV – Inventory / Material Management
    INF – Information Management
    Document Name
    This is pretty straight forward but a word of advice, try to keep it brief to prevent your file name from becoming too big. A way to do this is to not use spaces instead use capital letters to distinguish between words.
    If you want to have some other options for identifying documents you may look at something like the following suggested method for version and revision numbers.  I don’t use these, but often in many systems this or a similar scheme are often used.  
    0.01 – 0.89 = DRAFT
    0.90 – 0.99 = REVIEW
    1.00 = FINAL (client version)
    1.01 – 1.89 = DRAFT for second version)
    1.90 – 1.99 = REVIEW for second version)
    2.00 = FINAL (re-released client version)
    There are obviously many ways of doing this, however, I’ve found this document naming convention to be quite useful in keeping track of what I am working on.  When you get hundreds or thousands of documents you must sort through to find a specific single doc you have created you will appreciate having some sort of organizational system
    Smith, Edward. “File Naming Best Practices for Digital Asset Management.” DAM Learning Center | Digital Asset Management Knowledge and Inspiration. Dam Learning Center, 25 Apr. 2011. Web. 16 Feb. 2012. <>.
    Background Reading and Resources:      Onison

  • League for Innovation 2015: The New Challenge of Doing Less with Less

    I have been under the weather so I apologize for not getting this out sooner.   At any rate I have attended several League for Innovation conferences over the years and have always been amazed at the solutions presented and the dedicated professionals who are doing great work in challenging circumstances.   The League for Innovations annual Innovations conference profile pages tells us,
    “the conference regularly attracts a diverse group of community college educators, administrators, and staff from around the world. These attendees are the decision-makers and influencers from their respective colleges who are seeking innovative solutions to issues affecting their campuses.”  
    I think if you look at the workload of community college faculty and staff you have to be even more amazed.   The difference between the work environment of faculty at more traditional colleges and that of faculty who work at community colleges was driven home for me during this trip.   I had the privilege of eating dinner with a former colleague, his wife and one of his wife’s former elementary students.  The former student taught at one of the many prestigious Boston-area universities and at one point in the conversation it was noted that the former student taught one (1) section of their specialty and two (2) labs. Meanwhile, my former community college colleague taught  5 classes (15 credit hours) every semester.
    This reminded me that innovative solutions are not a luxury at the community college, they are necessary for survival.  Heavier workloads,  underprepared students, and often fewer institutional resources almost always mean that community college college faculty must be among the most dedicated people in the teaching  profession.   I think we just get used to our work environment and take it for granted how much effort is involved in teaching so many students semester after semester.  My hat is off to all that teach and work at this level.
    The 2015 League for Innovation at the Community College in Boston was again a great treat for me in other ways.  I spent most of my time attending sessions about data and analytics tools.   There is more and more pressure to report and comply  and  to  do less  with less.   I heard that term spoken more than once and I hope that the continued dedication of faculty and staff at this institutions offsets this troubling trend.  We all understand doing more with less….but admitting we must do less with less is one of the great challenges of the future.   Here are a few of the key statements I heard related to this topic.
    CC’s will strive to serve all but will turn some away because of completion concerns
    IPEDS is the  data have to use to tell our story and it doesn’t tell the CC story well
    I do hope accreditors want to be partners rather than compliance police
    I think most institutions will be reeling from compliance fatigue
    Modal experience for Community College Presidents is now 1-5 years ,3 years ago it was  6-10 years, 6 years ago it was 11-15 years
    The pressure on the book publishers was also mentioned in more than one session I attended.   Here is my favorite comment,
    It is not my job to fix the BROKEN publisher model
    It seems OER is gaining traction to the point that many of the doom and gloom predictions about book publishers may finally start coming true.   If they don’t have a plan B, now is the time.
    I also did my presentation Sunday.  A small but enthusiastic  showed up and we had a great discussion about our experience rolling out LaunchPad as a replacement for our campus portal with single sign on capabilities.  Here is the description and a link to the presentation resources
    Is your campus portal more cluttered than your worst closet at home? This is a light and cheery look how Casper College changed their campus intranet to LaunchPad’s device agnostic cloud desktop for customized content aggregation and single-sign on (SSO).
    League for innovation slide 2017-04-03-11.40.47
    Link to my League 2015 Presentation Materials:
    Twitter at the League 2015
    I also had a chance to meet in person a couple of tweeters with whom I have had many twitter interactions.   Professional networking continues to be a primary reason for using this particular social media tool.  Additionally, here are always so many sessions reporting on schools doing so many good things it is hard to get to your fill of all that you want to see and do.   The conference Twitter feed was busy but not that much busier  than 2014.   There were roughly 1% more tweeters in 2015 than in 2014 and about a thousand more total tweets than in 2014 as shown in the chart below:
    Twitter at League Conference
    Top Tweeters for #innma were as follows:
    League for innovation top tweeters
    The League has also made available conference materials for about 6 weeks at the following location:   
    2015 League for Innovation Presentation Materials
    Other Resources You might find useful from League 2015
    EdReady   EdReady was the most intriguing product I saw and it is FREE! Per their web site:
    EdReady can be used to check mastery in a course of study, to plan for college and career opportunities, and to prepare for commonly used placement exams, such as AccuPlacer, Compass, SAT, and ACT. High school and GED students, homeschoolers, and adult learners will benefit from
    Rodney Hargis wrote a really great blog post about online learning and the newfangled elevators at the League for Innovation 2015 Conference.  If you want to know about the challenges of newfangled elevators….and  online course design this is a really great post.   He was actually referred to on Twitter as the “Elevator Blog Guy”
    elevator tweet at league for innovation conference
    Here are the control panels for the newfangled elevators at the Boston Marriot Copely.
    elevator tweet at league for innovation conference
    That is all I have for now.  Hope you find some of it useful.

  • The Mouse is Watching You

    I always feel like somebody’s watching me


    Keeping up with all of the new technology coming at us is a difficult if not impossible  task.  If you watch this blog you know that I have been privileged to attend some amazing events and participate in some amazing activities which has helped me keep up with some of what is happening in the technology field.  Once again, after attending the Hewlett Packard Higher Academic Summit, I can tell a similar story.  I had a tremendously eye opening week and all I can say is that some of the things I have seen as hypothetical, fiction and futuristic are here. I cannot tell you about most of the event because of a non-disclosure agreement but will share some observations about some products I had the chance to touch which are already on the marketplace.  I will also add a few thoughts about the technology Disney now uses in their Florida resort and my opportunity to present with Berj Akin, CEO of Classlink, on our rollout of the LaunchPad personal cloud desktop at Casper College.
    Immersive Technology
    Immersive reality is getting very real even at the desktop.  I have told some before my idea of good technology will be when I can watch on demand without an expensive monthly TV plan a holograph of football game of my choice without a screen cluttering my living room and it only costs me 99 cents.  I finally think we are almost there.
    During this trip I took an amazing virtual field trip through a human heart this week using HP’s Zvr Virtual Reality Display The display is sold with or without hardware and lets you view stereoscopic 3D content using included glasses.  Using a laser pointing stylus I was able to reach into the screen and pull the heart toward me.   It was like I could hold it on the end of a stick and observe the parts.   With a click here and a click there I was able to touch a part of the heart and have a display window to the right show me the part I was pointing to on a 23.6 in display which puts out a 1080p image into each eye from the 1920×1080 screen.
    A few more clicks and I was able to take a trip inside and through the heart.  Unbelievable.
    The other product I was able to experience was the Hewlett Packard sprout which now brings us a machine that uses a touch mat and in-built 3D camera as its main controls.  The keyboard and mouse are optional extras.  The HP’s Sprout looks like an all-in-one PC with a couple of exceptions. Sitting on your workspace at the base of Sprout is a giant touch pad called a Touch Mat. It is a dual-purpose digital canvas on which images can be scanned and also manipulated. On top of the monitor is A 3D depth-sensing camera/scanner which records objects placed on the Touch Mat. The top cameras are able to scan physical objects placed below it, creating 3D models of them which can then be moved, rotated, resized, edited with the computer.
    I placed my hand on the mat snapped a picture and immediately I was able to drag a digital bracelet which had already been scanned on top of the newly scanned hand and wrist. I was also able to change the color and texture of the bracelet.  I can see a lot of uses for design in visual arts programs for example. I can also see some great applications for interactive video conferencing situations.  According to the sprout website the unites are currently $1899.
    The Personal Cloud Desktop
    The final part of my trip was assisting Classlink CEO Berj Akin with a presentation/ discussion of the Casper College’s rollout of their personal cloud desktop product, LaunchPad.  
    We didn’t have a portal when I arrived at Casper College in 2011.  We also had some serious budget constraints and other priorities when I arrived so the the portal and single sign on (SSO) options we explored…were not an option. We rolled out an instance of Moodle, our campus LMS, as a temporary portal which we called our Gateway. However, we knew our search was just beginning.  
    A one stop self serve environment has also been a desire.  Our temporary Gateway (aka portal) mentioned above quickly headed where every portal seems to go.  A cluttered collection of junk worse than that mess of a storage shed in your back yard. (My apologies to those highly organized people without this cluttered shed problem). Our search continued in 2013 and after doing a proof of concept with LaunchPad we moved  students faculty and staff in August 2014 to  “a personal cloud desktop” from ClassLink .
    LaunchPad has provided a single place to access core resources without having to use multiple logins.  Currently those core resources are defined as:

    1.    WebAdvisor
    2.    Moodle
    3.    Gmail & related tools
    4.    Digium Switchvox (Phone)

    Other resources for which Classlink has connectors already built numbers in the hundreds of applications and can be added at the users discretion to the default core services discussed above.
    launchpad screenshot
    We recently worked with Classlink to add functionality which we are calling the Casper College Resource Library.  This is an area that would provided access to resources tools etc specific to Casper College.  I tell users to think of this as your Casper College “App Store” for the Casper College resources that you use everyday.   The best part is:

      • If you want to add a link to the Library but your co worker doesn’t, you can add it and they don’t have to.  
    • If you want quick and easy access to the campus forms but someone else doesn’t,  it is easy to add it as a resource to your LaunchPad Desktop and they don’t have to.

    You can create a virtual work space that allows you to work the way you want to work.
    We  started with 21 resources in the Casper College resource library and we can work with our Classlink to create more when you find a resource you would like added.  If there is a login required to access a resource we  can also work with our vendor to create a connector for single sign on (SSO) so that you do not have to remember  “one more login” for that resource.   Below is a link to a short video we created which introduces our users to steps they can take to begin customizing their work space.
    In general we have found LaunchPad provides the following benefits:

      • Same “portal” for students and employees
      • Single Sign On (SSO) capabilities
      • New modern interface
      • Users are now able to manage their individual Google Apps password
    • Google mobile apps started working for users

    Cool Tech On the Edge of Creepy
    Now for a piece of my visit which is on the border of magically creepy. Upon checking at the Grand Floridian I was given something Disney calls a MagicBand. Forbes stated in a 2013 article that the MagicBand,

    will make tickets, hotel keys, cash and credit cards as unnecessary for its visitors as pants are for Donald Duck

    Indeed I discovered that the MagicBand was my passport to my room, purchasing food, and all else that is in the Disney proclaimed happiest place on earth. For purchases I did have the option to attach a credit card number to the account and band.  I thought the wristband shown below interesting and so I began a quick search about the Disney rollout of the Magicbands.  As I learned more I keep thinking- creepy is now becoming normal.  The one piece they don’t really tell you about at check-in is that the band also is used to track everything people do in the parks and personalize the experience for visitors.  The two most common phrases in articles I read about the billion dollar MagicBands which were:

      • Orwellian
    • Mark of the Beast

    The Orwellian adjective was popularized when the book “1984” was published in 1949 and discusses the official deception, secret surveillance and manipulation of recorded history by a totalitarian or authoritarian state.  Other common terms coming from “1984” include Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, Room 101, telescreen, 2 + 2 = 5 and memory hole.    
    The Mark of the Beast is in reference the Bible’s Chapter of Revelation where the mark acts as a seal for the followers of Antichrist and the false prophet (the spokesperson for the Antichrist). The false prophet (the second beast) is the one who causes people to take this mark. The mark is literally placed in the hand or forehead and is not simply a card someone carries. The primary passage in the Bible that mentions the “mark of the beast” is Revelation 13:15-18. Other references can be found in Revelation 14:9, 11, 15:2, 16:2, 19:20, and 20:4. This
    The recent breakthroughs in medical implant chip and RFID technologies have increased interest in both Orwells 1984 and the Mark of the Beast spoken of in Revelation chapter 13.    After my most recent experience in “the happiest place on earth” my thoughts really were going back to training earlier in my life on both 1984 and the Bible.   
    Many good teachers of Revelation disagree as to the exact form of the mark of the beast. However, it certainly seems that implanted chips, an ID card, a microchip, a barcode that is tattooed into the skin, or simply a mark that identifies someone as being part of an Orwellian society or faithful to the Antichrist’s kingdom is certainly possible with technologies we are seeing today.  
    Everyday is a learning experience.   I am thankful for the opportunity to get to see new and innovative products and how it will impact what I doing as we continue to look for new and improved solutions for higher education.  

  • Observing the Rising Dragon was my start with Blogging

    The dragon is sometimes used as the national emblem of China in the West.  We are told:

    Chinese dragons are legendary creatures in Chinese mythology and Chinese folklore. The dragons have many animal-like forms such as turtles, fish, and imaginary creatures, but they are most commonly depicted as snake-like with four legs. In yin and yangterminology, a dragon is yang and complements a yin fenghuang (“Chinese phoenix”).
    Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck for people who are worthy of it. With this, the Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength

    I was visiting the other day with a fellow blogger and I got to thinking about my not so recent, trip to China in 2008.    The question was posed….

    How did you get started blogging?  

    My Answer?
    I got started blogging in 2008 when my employer in Oklahoma sent a contingent on a trip to China to sign a cooperative agreement with Chuxiong Normal University (CNU).   I wanted to provide a live narrative of our trip so I explored several options and settled on using Ning as a platform to write a blog and post pictures.  I am not sure I really had any plans beyond documenting the trip, but I have been jotting down stuff that I have been doing and telling a few stories in a public forum ever since.  The narrative of that trip is a great reminder to me of the many great friends and experiences I had during my time at Western Oklahoma State College.  I was on the trip to help the institution explore technological options for video conferencing / sharing and we did, in fact do a video call from China back to my office in Oklahoma. One of my fellow travelers, Denise Phelan wrote in her journal on June 18, 2008

    We also met with the Distance & Information Center, where Kent was in his element.  It seems that “computer” is a universal language.  

    For the techies reading this we connected from a MacBook Pro (shown below) running an open source H.323 client called XMeeting.    
    That particular video conference was one of the coolest tech experiences of my educational career.  Live interactive video from a place that is really a mystery to most Americans.  My recent conversation about creating that blog did jog several other memories from that trip.   
    One of our observations from that trip was that even though this was a more rural part of China that infrastructure of all kinds was being built at a dizzying pace.  Most of the roads were new and construction was occurring everywhere we went. CNU was building a new 20,000 seat arena.  The fabulous hotel we stayed at in Chuxiong had been a rice paddy only a few years earlier.  All of the signage was in Chinese and English.  Someone even noted that in contrast to the dead and dying main streets many of us from rural America see lining our main streets that shop after shop lined the streets of the cities we visited.   Scaffolding was made of bamboo and throughout our 15 day adventure, we only saw one tractor.  While reliving a few of these adventures during this conversation I commented that several of the English faculty at CNU who had visited Oklahoma in the 2005ish time range did not have cars when they first came to Oklahoma but nearly all of them had cars by the time we visited in 2008 the following comment was made,

    Alot of people don’t realize how rapidly China grew during that time frame

    I said no they don’t.  We were not in Bejing or one of the other larger cities but rather the Yunnan, one of the more rural portions of the country.  That memory of new infrastructure, rapid growth and all of the local shops is what spawned the title for this post…well that and the fact that I might never again have the opportunity to give something a Bruce Lee type movie title.   I thought for this blog I would share a few more pics…yes never before released pics of some of the construction scenes we saw. Note that in these pictures you will see very little machinery.  Here you go… and stay tuned for more…


  • Three MOOCs Provide Opportunities for Learning About Gamification…Right Now

    If you want to learn about gamification the timing may be right for you.  There are two upcoming MOOCs on Gamification with January 27th and March 17 start dates and a third one

    with  a learn at your own pace schedule.  

    University of Pennsylvania’s  Kevin Werbach’s Gamification course on Coursera begins Monday  January 27th  and is an introduction to the concepts and practices of gamification.  Following this course you will  be able to think about applying gamification to your business or your life, and to connect gamification with other fields such as marketing, strategy, IT, psychology, and design.
    Iversity’s Gamification Design MOOC  begins March 17th and  teaches the basics of Gamification with a highly practical approach. Their focus is on how to design gamified experiences in real life.  Students  will be able to gain knowledge in areas such as: game design, psychology, management, or education.  Their stated main goal will be to understand and master the principles of gamification to design experiences that make things more fun and engaging.
    The third one, Openlearning’s Games in Education: Gamification  has different roots, but still presents general principles of gamification that can be applied to the full range of the learning spectrum, ranging from people with severe disabilities through to post-graduate and professional development applications

  • Why Higher Ed must change and how IT can help

    There are truly monster sized challenges in effectively delivering quality technology services in higher education. The size of the monsters small schools are facing are smaller than the larger institutions, but proportionally the threat is the same.  We  really need each other and we need options…and we need to understand Dragons.  Why do we need to understand dragons?  Lets start with the Urban Dictionary definition for dragons:
    Definition # 1:  The Beast of all Beasts
    Example:  Thou shalt not slay thy dragon, thy dragon shalt slay thou.
    Definition # 2:  A mythical creature resembling a reptile. Usually huge and ridiculously powerful; often flies or spits fire and/or venom out of its mouth. May be benevolent or pure evil; usually depends on what part of the world the legend is coming from. People often like to role play these creatures online.
    Example:  “I have a plastic dragon on top of my monitor.”
    Definition #3: A large lizard who’s only weakness is medieval swords
    Example:  I tried to shoot the dragon, but the bullets just bounced off, so i just poked him with my iron sword instead.
    I like number three the best for today and I think that many see the recent merger between Datatel and Sungard as a digital dragon.   So that we may begin sharpening our digital medieval sword in case this really is a dragon let’s first look at what is going on in higher education
    – See more at:
    Rising Cost of School
    The rising cost of tuition and fees certainly doesn’t bode well for higher education in the U.S.. A In a recent blog post by Michael Feldstein (2011) he uses a single slide by Anya Kamenetz shown below to sum up the problem:
    This picture is very sobering for all of us in higher education and we should not underestimate the challenge. Why do I bring this up this issue? Sid Hudson, long time Vice Chancellor for Legislative Relations for the Oklahoma Regents for Higher Education told the Oklahoma Council for Information Technology shortly before his retirement in 2009 that IT was in a better position to save money for institutions of Higher Ed than any other organizational area in higher education. While this may be true let’s transition for a moment and bring up what I see as the heart of the issue. The expanding demand for technology services in combination with flat or declining budgets is arguably the greatest core challenge facing education information technology ( IT) during the next few years.
    An additional related issue is our stakeholders are also changing. Many publications and authors have chronicled the rise of “The Millennials” the digital ready students of today and their expectations for college and university IT services. Although I don’t necessarily agree that it is just the younger users of technology who have greater expectations what is true is technology users coming on campus no longer care about network use policies, disk quotas and other limitations because public services offering free, practically unlimited storage for e-mail, videos, and other services abound. IT faces pressures from other directions. Many functions which in the past may have been solely the domain of IT are also being pulled into other areas. For example, an institutions web strategy and marketing efforts a few short years ago may have been under the sole control of IT as a institutions public relations function may have been more focused on traditional media. It would be very difficult today to not involve the PR director and possibly other institutional resources in the development of the digital marketing strategy. A few years ago this would have inevitably been called “One of those IT things”.
    In almost every functional area greater technical expertise is now available with many constituents interested and capable in the use of technology. In the past the IT manager may have been able to assert from a basis of unquestioned expertise a point of view on technology, that point of view might be now more frequently challenged by faculty, a dean, vice-president or even president. The perception by users is that campus IT should enable the same type of services that a user can find online for free or for a low cost is very real. Information Technology departments must learn to adapt.
    What are the kind of pressures being exerted on IT you ask? Tucci (2011) says, vice president of IT at the Business Development Bank of Canada Chantal Bezile’s,IT shop complains that the business departments within the bank are building their own applications. A few years ago, however, when these business lines first took matters into their own hands, central IT didn’t want anything to do with the effort. “It was small technology. It was not robust, but it met the business’ needs,” she said. Now there are business units that pretty much “have their own IT shops,” she added. “
    This is very relevant to the monumental change and the phenomenon Clay Christensen (2008) talks about when describing disruptive innovation. My favorite disruptive technology tale is the story of disruption and US Steel. This often cited story (one of many examples of disruptive technology) tracks the growth of American minimill steel makers, such as Nucor and Chaparral. Over time steel minimills displaced traditional American steel-makers such as United States Steel and Bethlehem — the integrated mills. The minimills entered the market at the low-end in undemanding applications such as rebar. Over time, and incrementally, the minimills improved their manufacturing technology until they were capable of manufacturing top-quality, high profit, steel. Inasmuch as the minimills had a cost advantage relative to the integrated mills, the traditional steel companies closed their mills and were driven from the market (Lawerence 2010).

    Figure (Phipps 2007)
    Essentially the moral of the story is this. “If we don’t wake up we will become obsolete.” Think of US Steel, add DEC computers, vacuum tube technology from the RCA TV and then think about education and how we have applied new exciting technology to an old outdated model. One thing that really stuck with me watching the acceptance of the open source world(probably because this so fits the open source attitude which has driven the core of my recent professional career) is the discussion of the concept of Peer Production. Peer production is a new way of producing goods and services that relies on self-organizing communities of individuals who come together to produce a shared outcome Benkler & Nissenbaum 2006). Peer Production relative advantage over that of the Industrial Model is Identifying the best available human capital using it collaboratively to highly refine and increase production. Dr. Jason Cole (2009) states that with a big enough network of people we can self Identify and allocate our self to the areas that we can add value. SCHOOLS are not set up on the peer production model. We as instructors are allocated to a Classroom! The teacher next door to you can’t remedy your problem because we are set up on an industrial production model and they are allocated to their classroom only!
    I have adapted the following chart over time (sorry I don’t remember where I originally got the idea) and it could possibly be relabeled “An Amazing Fact” rather than “An Amazing Trend” it might be more accurate in 2012 but at any rate it explains much of the disruption we see when describing disruptive forces in the higher education IT environment and it perfectly describes what I have seen in my career as an IT director in higher education.

    Quite simply many of the services I could provide at the enterprise level only a few years ago end users can get FOR FREE online in a number of places. The poster child for this is robust wireless access. A variety of internet cafes, cable services and other resources are but a few of the examples of what people now consider normal. In 1997 no one could come close to the 45MB connection to the internet we had. Now That doesn’t seem like that big of a deal,
    The other example I have seen relates to Learning Management Systems. In 1997 it was totally an enterprise application. Now ownership of a domain name at $10/year with a hosted account at any number of services at maybe $10/month any business who wants can create a training service/business if they have content which is of interest to their proposed audience. (Hey this sounds like the title for another post…How about “Become a School in a Day”)
    All of this is a drastic change for those who have been in IT management for awhile. It simply has not dawned on many IT directors in higher education that what they do can do can often be duplicated at a fraction of the cost. Mageau (2011) indicates IT directors are generally a conservative bunch. She quotes a colleague who says “They don’t want to make a mistake,” he explained. “They have responsibility for huge, complex infrastructures upon which their entire institution depends. So they’re pretty conservative when they have to make a decision.” I have found this very true. When we began the move to the open source learning management system, Moodle, very few institutions really wanted to hear about this free product. It was probably safer to pay the support contract and not risk making a mistake. Mageau also says, “That was an eye-opening insight for me. I associate technology with change; so IT leaders, it stands to reason embrace change, don’t they?”
    This brings me back to the Campus Technology Summit and what I view as a great opportunity for another open source tool, Kuali.   Although I have moved my institutions to various open source / free tools and admired the open source ERP systemKuali for quite some time afar, I have not been in a situation where switching ERP systems has been an option. At this meeting there were several sessions which talk about Kuali and I in particular which gave an overview of the University of Southern California’s conversion to Kuali.
    I think in many ways I am happy about not changing ERP systems…however, many of my peers over the course of my career have not been so fortunate.  I do have friends and peers who became unemployed when an ERP conversion/ project was over budget and beyond schedule   It appears to me with the merger of Datatel and Sungard (aka Ellucian) many more institutions will get that opportunity in the near future.   Kuali, certainly needs to be on the radar as a serious contender.
    There are several challenges for us is in effectively sorting through the multitude of options and choosing the correct mix of commercial and open source technologies and tools to be used in conjunction the commercial products we already use. The challenges are fundamentally the same in any size of institution or at any level of education as it relates to the deployment of technology and specifically open source solutions. These challenges include: 1) Can IT adjust and accept that cloud-based or open source solutions can work. 2) changing the mindset and culture of an organization so it can understand low or not cost does not always mean low value and 3) meeting high expectations with limited financial resources and finally and maybe most importantly 4) It is OK if you can’t control every aspect of every technology used at an institution.
    Benkler, Yochai, and Helen Nissenbaum. “Commons-based Peer Production and Virtue.” Journal of Political Philosophy 14.4 (2006): 394-419. Print.
    Christenson, Clayton, Curtis Johnson, and Micheal Horn. Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns. McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.
    Cole, Jason. “Innovation and Education: Surfing the Coming Waves of Disruption.” ASTE 2009. Streaming Meda, Anchorage Alaska. 24 Feb. 2009. Speech.…
    Lawerence, Katherine. “Rethinking the LAMP Stack — Drupal Disruptive Open Source Part 2 | PINGV Creative Blog.” PINGV Creative | Web Strategy • Design • Drupal Development. PingV, 2 Dec. 2010. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. a href=””>…;.
    Mageau05/01/11, Therese. “Making Decisions in a Sea of Change — Campus Technology.” Campus Enterprise Networking & Infrastructure — Campus Technology. Campus Technology, 01 May 2011. Web. 16 May 2011. a href=””>…;.
    Phipps, Simon. “The Wrong End of the Paint Stick (Simon Phipps, SunMink).” Oracle Blogs | Homepage. Oracle, 30 Aug. 2007. Web. 20 Jan. 2012. a href=””>>;.
    Tucci, Linda. “The CIO’s Dilemma? Disruptive Innovation vs. Performance Improvement.” CIO Information, News and Tips –, 30 Mar. 2011. Web. 14 May 2011.

  • The Technology Behind Indy Car Racing…"Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Engines"

    We are told the Indianapolis Speedway was built in 1906 primarily to be used as a test track by carmakers. The circuit launched its signature 500 mile race in 1911.   According to Dan Carney we can thank Indy for:

    1. Rear view mirrors
    2. Aerodynamics
    3. 4 wheel hydralic brakes
    4. Front wheel drive
    5. All wheel drive
    6. Turbo charging
    7. Seat belts
    8. Turbo engine
    9. Crash data recorders
    10. Renewable ethanol fuel

    Watching the Indianapolis 500 was always a Memorial Weekend tradition while I was growing up.  However, I had not paid too much attention to the Indianapolis 500 in recent years. The second week of May 2013 during the Hewlett Packard (HP)Technology Event  for Higher Education in Indianapolis my racing motor was revved up one again as I had the opportunity to:

    1. Ride in a Indy two seater
    2. Go behind the scenes and see how the cars that race at Indy are made in the Dallara IndyCar Factory in Indianapolis.   
    3. The primary purpose of the trip was to attend sessions which laid out HP’s computing roadmap for the next couple of years and  a secondary purpose was to tour the HP manufacturing plant in Indianapolis.   

    The ride in the Indycar was definitely a once in a lifetime or maybe even what some would call a bucket list event. I didn’t have it on my bucket list prior to this trip but I penciled it in while I was there. I didn’t know if this was OK but a cousin of mine had some pretty sage advice on this topic after I posted one of the event pictures to Facebook:   

    Sometimes that bucket list is made as we live life instead of as we think about living life!! Way to go on living life, many people would have stood on the side and never got in that car!

    I have been to many technology events over the years even some with notable entertainers and bands.  Up until this event my favorite had been sword swallowers and fire eaters.  I mean how in the world do you beat the excitement of a human stuffing a sword down their pie hole.  I’ll tell you how…  You put on a firesuit and zip around the track at the Indy Speedway at 180mph.  Not quite as fast as this years Indy qualifiers(Ed Carpenter 228+mph) and granted we did not go as fast as my last cab ride in San Francisco. but this now at the top of my “exciting scale” for conference events.   Exciting, oh yes……After the racing event we were getting back on the bus to head back for afternoon sessions the fine folks at HP tell us “we are going to have some exciting sessions this afternoon”…… exciting? Informative yes, Interesting..probably …. but exciting…..You have got to be kidding. I just rode around the Indy speedway at 180ish MPH in an Indy Car with racing legends Mario Andretti and Davey Hamilton.  My heart was still beating fast and still is a week later.  Way cool to say the least.  We knew we were going to the track, we just didn’t know who the drivers were going to be.  
    It was the second day of the sessions we took a field trip to the Indy Speedway.  The size of the place is enormous.  400,000 race fans attend this annual event.  Never have I felt anything like it:  It Felt like my head was gonna be pulled off. It was so loud with only three cars going I thought it was going to scramble my brains. I could have touched the wall coming down the backstretch. Which would of course been a bad idea as I would be typing with only one arm at this point.  I certainly have a new perspective when seeing drivers moving at high rates of speed in races only inches from each other.
    In the evening we visited the Dallara IndyCar Factory which is a joint venture between the IndyCar Experience and Dallara Automobili. It is located just southwest of the Speedway itself and is a short drive from Downtown Indianapolis – the Dallara IndyCar Factory is a destination for race-enthusiasts, and for rookies like me as well.  
    The Dallara IndyCar Factory is 23,000 square feet of interactive and hands-on exhibits centered around the engineering and technology of the world’s fastest sport! There are walls lined with the current IndyCar’s blueprints and design concept drawings.   The theatre gives a historical look at the past, present and future of Gian Paolo Dallara and his company, Dallara Automobili!      Visitors get the opportunity to witness IndyCar chassis being made and produced right in front of their eyes! The Dallara factory isn’t like the assembly lines and robot-assembled cars that come to mind when you think of car production; every Dallara chassis is handmade by one of the many qualified technicians in the Dallara factory.
    According to Chip Ganassi Racing Team Manager Grant Weaver the initial expense of an Indycar is about $375,000 for a rolling car. You add $100,000 worth of electronics.  Throw in a lease for an engines [from Honda], at approximately a million dollars per year per driver. Pay extra for the brakes and the drive shafts which don’t come on the car and all of a sudden there’s about a million dollars rolling around on the road.
    Other Observations:
    I posted on “Davey Hamilton & Me” at Indy Car Factory. I asked him if anyone had ever lost their helmet and he said one…it is a funny story.  The story goes something like this:
    A young man  who only had one arm got the chance to ride in one of the Indy Racing Experience two seater cars.   When sizing helmets he stated the helmet he was given  was too tight and so they then fitted a looser helmet.  So as the ride began he told them he felt the chin strap slipping up and over his chin.  When it slipped off the chin he grabbed the strap with his teeth.   He then lost the strap and it got caught on his nose.  The helmet was over course over his eyes and tugging on his nose and as he was finishing the ride they saw the helmet pop off and shoot way in the air.  When they arrived back in the pit his firemask was up over his eyes and he was yelling “my nose, is  my nose still there”
    Also according to Davey Hamilton the average day of a racer is as follows:

    1. Up Early to workout
    2. Team Meetings
    3. Lunch
    4. Drive simulators
    5. Work Out
    6. Meet with sponsors

    The hardest part is not physical, we are all in very good shape.  It is mental part, the multitasking required to drive a high speeds, inches from others going the same speed while at the same time communicating with your team.  At the end of a race you are  mentally exhausted -Davey Hamilton

    What a cool day….I smile every time I think about almost getting my face pulled off in the back of that car.

  • Why IT Departments need a 12 year old on staff

    In the later part of the summer in 2012  Google replaced Gmail video chat with Google+ Hangouts. “Unlike the old video chat, which was based on peer-to-peer technology, Hangouts utilize the power of Google’s network to deliver higher reliability and enhanced quality,” explains Gmail team blog post.   
    At Casper College we have been using Hangouts extensively  in recent months trying to determine the best ways to collaborate with this tool.  When I excitedly mentioned this experiment at home the other day my 12 year old, Jake, said.  I don’t see the big deal,  Elijah (his cousin) and I have been using that for years.  Of course I was dumbfounded.  All of our brilliantly executed experimentation blown out to the water by a twelve year old.
    As I quizzed him I did come to the realization that yes he had been using Gmail video since 2008 and maybe more importantly he has been around internet  video his whole life (2001) as I have been involved in distance learning and IP based video conference since the late 1990’s when Intel introduced the Team Station.  
    I asked Jake to jot down a few of his observations, since he is an old school Google video chat user and here are his thoughts:   

    Dad still thinks video is a big deal, but I consider it an every week use. my cousin and I use Google hangouts and have used it ever since we learned about it. You see, we don’t share screens or anything, we use it to chat and thats all. We do not have a Google+ account, we use our email accounts and do video only and as far as I know you can not share screens using google hangouts on your email, I believe you must have a google+ account for that.

    I had not thought about this but when using Google Hangouts for video only you don’t need a Google + account.  What you miss out on is the collaborative tools used for sharing screens, Youtube videos and other features.    
    Being twelve in today’s IT environment would many times be an advantage.  All of the capabilities  which have been added through the years seem normal.   The next best thing…..add a 12 year old to your staff.  It would provide invaluable insight

  • Lance Ford, Cisco’s Giant Digital Oak, was Planted by Oklahoma’s HB1815

    Cisco Systems top teacher training guru is Lance Ford from Howe Oklahoma.  Lance has done teacher technology training all over the country from the friendly confines of rural eastern Oklahoma.  Lance is what Cisco calls an educational advocate. He knows the ins and outs of video conferencing and he works with teachers across the nation on implementing video conferencing into their curricula, He is a multi-media specialist with teaching experience, technical experience, expertise with numerous technologies, and he loves to help teachers feel comfortable with technology.  Lance was president of the Oklahoma Distance Learning Association the year after I was President of that organization so we worked together many time times over the years.  Not only that, Lance is a great singer and all around fun guy.   I have said before and will say it again Lance is a giant digital education oak amongst a slew of tiny acorns.  I have included a couple videos below to give you an idea of what Lance does.

    Over the past few years, I had an ongoing conversation with my former Cisco Sales representative, Matt Peres, about their efforts to get Lance in front of hundreds of teachers to enhance their ability to use technology in the classroom.  I always responded by saying it is a valiant and commendable effort by Cisco, but what they are doing is not scalable.   Every once in a while during these conversations, I might concede that the mechanics of what Lance Ford does are shareable, but the passion of the MAC Jedi (aka Lance Ford and also the moniker on his vehicle’s license plate)  is not scalable. Should they quit, why of course not, but let’s not fool yourself about the reach of this type of program.  (NOTE: Matt left Cisco for VMware a couple years ago)
    So…is Lance Scalable?
    My position in this conversation is simply this: “ Lance is not scalable”   “Scalable” is a popular buzzword in the technology field that refers to how well a hardware or software system can adapt to increased demands.  For example a scalable network system is one that can start by supporting a few users and easily grow to support thousands of users.  When you build something that is scalable you can rest assured if you have invested in a scalable technology solution you can sleep at night because you have confidence you won’t outgrow it.
    I am glad Cisco is investing in people such as Lance.  Matt told me they had hired one or two additional educational advocates and it is certainly noble they are doing this, but I do wonder about the overall number of teachers this approach can really impact.
    So the final question in this conversation may be the most important one,    “How did Lance become Lance?” is really an important question.  For this one, I will move to the world of sport, specifically American football, to discuss.
    When the football coaching carousel is in full swing the term “coaching tree” is often tossed about by television commentators.  A coaching tree is similar to a family tree except it shows the relationships of coaches instead of family members. There are several different ways to define this relationship between two coaches. The most common way to make the distinction that a coach who worked as an assistant on a particular head coach’s staff for at least a season is part of the original head coaches, coaching tree.    I think I can relate this concept to the IT support and integration world.  In my personal IT support and integration tree, I have several individuals who at one time worked for me and have gone on to bigger and better roles in both the public and the private sector.  They are part of my IT tree I suppose.
    Most recently at EDUCAUSE 2012 in Denver I again got into the conversation mentioned above with Matt.who at the time was still our Cisco Systems account representative.  This time however Wes Fryer, Author of Speed of Creativity joined us.     I said do you guys know how Lance became Lance?      No was the answer so I pounced with a story  Please note, I am always up for telling a good story so here it goes…
    Over 15 years ago I believe the  IT support and Integration tree in Oklahoma began with a project known as the HB1815 Teacher Technology Training program.  This project directly impacted Lance’s style and teacher technology training all over Oklahoma.  I would even suggest it valuable to revisit the deployment of this project with newer technologies.  This program did a lot with a relatively small budget.     This project from many years ago had a tremendous cascading effect on technology support and integration in Oklahoma.  Lance is part of that cascading approach.  
    Yes, I do believe this HB1815 project has its own  IT support and Integration tree and Lance Ford is a branch of the original HB1815 teacher technology training program.  He told me he was in the second cohort of the program in 1997. The program ran from 1997 to 2002.  
    So how did Lance become Lance?   HB1815 planted the seeds for Lance to do what he does for a national audience.  Isn’t this cool?  One of the pupils in this program, aka Lance,  took what he learned and carried it further than the original teachers.   Shouldn’t that be a goal we have for all our students?
    Many of the concepts I see discussed in modern instructional tech literature were used in the original training for the HB1815 program.  In 1997 we began talking about how the “Sage on the Stage”  could become “The Guide by the Side” .   This is essentially what many today refer to as the Flipped classroom.  We talked about engaging students to humanize the distance learning process and using multiple modes of media to liven up the video conference.  These and much more were the gospel of distance learning spread early and often to those participating in the HB1815 project.  We were distance learning evangelists before it became trendy for technology firms to have a person designated as their “Whatever Evangelist”   
    Examples of resources we developed then such as the slideshow “Instructional Design for Distance Learning”  is shown below.  Interestingly, I believe these basic guidelines  are just as relevant today as they were then.   

    What was HB1815?
    The HB 1815 program began in June of 1997 when the Oklahoma legislature passed House Bill (HB) 1815, commonly called the “Telephone Bill.” It mandated the collection of approximately $7 million from telephone companies over a period of five years to support teacher training in telecommunications and distance learning. The ultimate goal: to place a “lead technology teacher” (LTT), an expert in technology infusion, in every wing of every school building in Oklahoma within five years. To organize the training effort, the Oklahoma Department of Vocational Technical Education (ODVTE), now known as Oklahoma Department of Career and Technical Education (ODCTE) took geographical factors and population density into account and divided the state into six consortia of educational institutions based upon geography and population density.  The Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technology Education (ODVTE), was the fiscal agent for the monies allocated by the legislature, called together focus groups from K-12, vocational, and higher education institutions in urban, suburban, and rural areas to discuss challenges facing the new program.   At the outset, the primary issues were disparity in available technology from building to building and district to district, lack of uniform technology use, differing viewpoints on who should provide training, varying delivery methodologies, and the short timeline to accomplish the goal.   The project wanted to include a diversity of people and skills requiring participants from K12 education , vocational education and higher education.  Also, they wanted a cross section of participants who were teachers as well as administrators.  I often joked I was picked from the southwestern  quadrant as I was the only administrator who could turn on my computer.…it may not have been far from the truth in those days.  
    Essentially the breakdown was the four quadrants of the state with an extra group in Oklahoma City and Tulsa.  All six consortia worked in conjunction with the ODCTE, the financial administrator of the training funds .

    In sparsely populated southwestern Oklahoma this project provided training at the local college site for over 400 K12, Higher Ed and Career-Tech teachers.  from throughout Southwestern Oklahoma during the five (5) years of the project.  At my institution sixteen (16) full time and Twelve (12) part time Western faculty participated in this project to enhance their ability to integrate technology into the teaching and learning process.
    About the HB 1815 Training
    The program ran from 1997 to 2002.  Many educational consultants today may not agree with the path chosen for the orginal HB1815 decision, but the ODVTE and focus groups decided not to follow the teacher-training model previously used in Oklahoma schools.  Prior to this program school districts normally contracted with experts from outside the field of education to train teachers to use technology. But according to teachers, this method was not effective. They stated  trainers did not know

    what teaching is all about

    and could not understand their needs as they had no idea about their minimal access to technology.   In response to these concerns, an advisory committee for each region chose ten teachers (NOTE: Remember my previous comment about wanting an administrator? Everyone involved wanted teaching backgrounds even for administrators such as me who were involved),
    Individuals completing the training cascaded from the Master Trainers were recognized as master teachers in their fields and recommended by supervisors, to become Master Trainers (MTs). MTs participated in ten (10) days of intensive training in what we called Level II competencies and develop a curriculum, based on the needs of their region, to address each Level II objective.  It was determined Level I competencies were something teachers should already know.  In practice as we were doing the training this was sometimes not true.

    Level I Competencies Level II Competencies
      • Turn on and shut down computer properly
      • Use the find utility to locate folders and files on the computer
      • Use the control panel to change system settings
      • Perform file management on the desktop including organizing files, folders, drives, volumes, etc.
      • Resize windows on the desktop
      • Maintain your system by creating backups onto storage media
      • Rename a file or shortcut
      • Start and exit a program
      • Open an existing document
      • Work within a document using copy, move, delete, save, and other editing and file commands
      • Use on-line help menus within a program
      • Use keyboard shortcuts
      • Print documents and other files within an application
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a word processor
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a spreadsheet
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a database
      • Develop a presentation using presentation software and importing clip art and pictures
      • Establish an Internet connection
      • Use an Internet browser
      • Search for on-line resources using a search engine
      • Send and receive e-mail
      • Identify and use proper Netiquette
      • Effectively integrate instructional technology into the curriculum and classroom
    • Make equipment and connectivity readily available
      • Develop techniques for integrating technology and Internet usage into existing curriculum
      • Develop an interactive Web page for instructional, administrative, and management purposes, for students to access on their own time and at their own locations
      • Convert learning modules to multimedia format, which may be used in classroom presentations, Internet, and other distance education media
      • Adapt content from existing courses to design an effective instructional format for distance delivery
      • Integrate multimedia and visual tools into curriculum delivery, including video, presentation graphics, and the Internet
      • Teach search skills and evaluation of on-line material to identify information for classroom use
      • Provide hands-on training in effective use of technology deployed in OneNet and other IETV interactive video classrooms, including an overview of design, planning, and management of distance learning courses
      • Develop a basic understanding of the distance education environment, specifically OneNet and other IETV classroom environments, including its capabilities and limitations
      • Use multiple delivery strategies effectively
      • Provide experiences that emphasize collaboration among peers, teams, or cadres
      • Produce multimedia components for integration into instruction
      • Promote learning processes that engage learners in the use of technology
      • Include in instruction models for active, cooperative, and collaborative learning among students and faculty
      • Discuss ethical and legal issues involving technology
      • Recognize and understand the roles and responsibilities of facilitators
      • Assist other teachers in distance teaching, preparing them to be comfortable with, confident in, and capable of using new skills
    • Model highly effective and innovative teaching using information technology

    Level I Competencies Level II Competencies
      • Turn on and shut down computer properly
      • Use the find utility to locate folders and files on the computer
      • Use the control panel to change system settings
      • Perform file management on the desktop including organizing files, folders, drives, volumes, etc.
      • Resize windows on the desktop
      • Maintain your system by creating backups onto storage media
      • Rename a file or shortcut
      • Start and exit a program
      • Open an existing document
      • Work within a document using copy, move, delete, save, and other editing and file commands
      • Use on-line help menus within a program
      • Use keyboard shortcuts
      • Print documents and other files within an application
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a word processor
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a spreadsheet
      • Demonstrate basic skills necessary to use a database
      • Develop a presentation using presentation software and importing clip art and pictures
      • Establish an Internet connection
      • Use an Internet browser
      • Search for on-line resources using a search engine
      • Send and receive e-mail
      • Identify and use proper Netiquette
      • Effectively integrate instructional technology into the curriculum and classroom
    • Make equipment and connectivity readily available
      • Develop techniques for integrating technology and Internet usage into existing curriculum
      • Develop an interactive Web page for instructional, administrative, and management purposes, for students to access on their own time and at their own locations
      • Convert learning modules to multimedia format, which may be used in classroom presentations, Internet, and other distance education media
      • Adapt content from existing courses to design an effective instructional format for distance delivery
      • Integrate multimedia and visual tools into curriculum delivery, including video, presentation graphics, and the Internet
      • Teach search skills and evaluation of on-line material to identify information for classroom use
      • Provide hands-on training in effective use of technology deployed in OneNet and other IETV interactive video classrooms, including an overview of design, planning, and management of distance learning courses
      • Develop a basic understanding of the distance education environment, specifically OneNet and other IETV classroom environments, including its capabilities and limitations
      • Use multiple delivery strategies effectively
      • Provide experiences that emphasize collaboration among peers, teams, or cadres
      • Produce multimedia components for integration into instruction
      • Promote learning processes that engage learners in the use of technology
      • Include in instruction models for active, cooperative, and collaborative learning among students and faculty
      • Discuss ethical and legal issues involving technology
      • Recognize and understand the roles and responsibilities of facilitators
      • Assist other teachers in distance teaching, preparing them to be comfortable with, confident in, and capable of using new skills
    • Model highly effective and innovative teaching using information technology

    Each region subsequently deployed and  refined a new curriculum while training thirty additional MTs in their region.  The training from the Master Trainers then cascaded to 1000’s of  Lead Technology Teachers ( LTT) who train and share ideas and information with teachers at their home schools.  These individuals then became the the approachable champions of technology” in their school.   
    The MTs used a ” teach-show-do-apply” method, filling most of the class time with self-paced, hands-on activities. The classroom is a community of 10 to 20  learners, with an MT acting as a facilitator (guide by the side) of discovery rather than as an instructor (sage on the stage) delivering packaged knowledge. MTs give examples, model methods, and guide attendees in revising existing curricular components to include technology where appropriate.
    Skills learned included:

      • presentation software,
      • desktop video conferencing,
      • offline browsing,
      • using scanners and digital cameras,
      • distance delivery,
      • legal issues and ethics,
      • electronic field trips and emissaries,
      • newsgroups and e-mail lists,
      • web page design,
      • advanced search techniques,
      • evaluation of online resources,
      • legal issues and ethics
      • creation and proper use of graphics, and  
    • overall technology integration

    Not a big deal now, but this was 1997 and many institutions at all levels were not far removed from having typewriters and dictation machines in some of their classrooms. Getting teachers to the point that technology in the classroom was transparent was an overall goal of the program.  
    Looking back at lessons learned from HB 1815
    People Matter.  I still hear this a lot, but when it comes to accomplishing something the people who make up your team really matter.
    Everything in life is about relationships.  I still call some of the people I trained with some of my closest professional friends.  
    True collaboration really works.  This was a collaborative effort between higher ed, vocation ed (Career Tech), and K12.  In Oklahoma, there is this passive aggressive relationship between higher education and vocational eduction.  There are various agreements which allow Career Tech students to get college credit but the reality is the two areas compete for money from the legislature.  This program took administrators and politicians and gave much of the development of the training curriculum to the people in the trenches…teachers from all levels.   
    Tunnel vision is not good even if it appears going through the tunnel is working.  This program focused on training teachers how to teach effectively with interactive videoconferencing technology.  When  our region hired the coordinator for the Southwest region,  we were not thinking about asynchronous learning.  However looking back it is obvious,  Frank Zittle, was right this one.  In fact one of my fellow MT’s, Scott Charlson, have said more than once, Frank was right”  The moral….pay attention to those outside your comfort zone.  You may learn something.    
    My personal observation is this is the best training program I have been involved in.  According to an article written in 2000,
    In a preliminary report to the legislative telecommunications task force, Dr. William A. Coberly (1999), Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Tulsa, declared that the program “has been very successful and cost effective . . . The vision of the legislature, the administration by the Oklahoma Vo-Tech System, and, most importantly, the enthusiastic response of Oklahoma’s teachers should be commended” (p. 4).
    …and that Matt and Wes is how I believe Lance Ford became Lance Ford.