Thanks for a great semester, PS 557 students!

I just wanted to thank my PS 557 students for a fantastic semester. You all responded to the challenge of engaging in active, project-based learning in the course, and did so with style and energy. I will treasure the memory of this semester, and hope you will as well. I am looking forward to reading your Kentucky Futures 2032 scenario reports on Thursday!


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Distributed Labs for Sciences in Higher Education

This post by John Timmer on “How to run a successful research lab without having a lab” at Ars Technica really got me thinking this morning.

One of the real difficulties with online or distributed higher education in the sciences is the problem of lab spaces. How, other than using an online simulation, do you get lab time for students in the sciences when they may rarely, if ever, come to a central, physical campus. An additional, and related, dilemma is that for many universities, they increasingly lack adequate, modern lab infrastructure due to successive years of budget cutbacks.

One possible way to solve this dilemma might be for universities to divest themselves of labs altogether, instead renting lab time from a network of independent co-working labs. Imagine if a university were to outsource all of its lab costs and maintenance to an outside provider or providers. Students could use a “lab fee” to book time at any number of community labs (like any other co-working space), perhaps subsidized by universities paying a larger membership fee to these private labs to secure booking privileges for their students. Universities could arrive at cooperative agreements with community labs in other cities to provide lab opportunities for their online students, much the way we already do with proctoring centers and agreements.

If we can outsource housing, food services, test proctoring and IT services, why not physical lab space as well?

I’d like to explore the capital requirements and potential business models for this type of service in more detail.

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PS 557 Students: OpenClass still balky for some. Here’s Friday’s assignment.

We’re still having some issues/delays in getting a couple of you added to OpenClass. For those of you who can’t access the prompt, here’s tomorrow’s assignment. Please email it to my UK Gmail address when completed.

  • You should have read Miller Chapters 1-3 & 5 by tomorrow’s class.
  • For Friday’s class, please prepare a 1 to 1-1/2 page summary (good, meaty bullet points are acceptable) of Chapters 1-3 of the Miller book. You should identify the key points and definitions, as well as a few questions to drive our discussion in class on Friday. I also want to encourage you to make some connections between some of the elements and data in the Measures and Milestones report and some of the points Miller identifies in these chapters.

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Welcome to PS 557 Spring 2012

Welcome to PS 557 Spring 2012 Kentucky Government and Politics! For those students who are not able to access our OpenClass site, you may find the syllabus here:
PS 557 Syllabus Spring 2012

The reading assignment for Friday is the 2008 Measures and Milestones report from the now-defunct Kentucky Long-Term Policy Research Center. You may access the report at

Here’s your assignment for Friday:

One task of every budding futurist is to keep abreast of current news and trends. To get started on this, I want you to use Google Reader to do some basic environmental scanning. For Friday, I want you to:

  • Find 10 online news sources or reputable blogs that report on issues relevant to Kentucky government, politics and/or policy. Open these up in tabs in your browser.
  • Log into your UK Google Account and then log into Google Reader. You can do this by logging into your UK Gmail account, selecting More from the top toolbar and then selecting Even More from the drop-down list. Scroll down until you see Google Reader on the right and then click on that link.
  • Use the orange SUBSCRIBE button in the upper left-hand corner of the Reader window to subscribe to these sites (press SUBSCRIBE then copy-paste the URLs from your tabs into the area provided, one at a time).
  • Create a Bundle of your subscriptions by going to “Browse Stuff” and then selecting “Create a Bundle.” Follow the instructions provided onscreen.
  • After creating your bundle, click “Create a Bundle Clip” for your blog or website. Copy the html code in the window provided.
  • Then, share the bundle with me by going to Submission to respond to this assignment. Paste the code into the submission window if it will allow you to do so. If not, then email me with the code in the body of your email.

If you cannot access OpenClass, please contact the Service Desk at 218-HELP (4357) to request access. If you do not have a UK Google Apps account, please go to to open your account. You MUST have a UK Google Apps account for this course.

Again, welcome to the course. I’m looking forward to a great semester working with you to explore the futures of Kentucky!

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Second Life at the University of Kentucky: Internet2 Day

Second Life has been an important part of my teaching at the University of Kentucky. You can see the course wikis recording my students’ adventures here and here. Second Life was always a great way for me to bring my personal interest in digital ethnography into my political theory courses to help the students to not just “read” theory, but also to “do” theory as well.

This past Monday I had the great pleasure of participating in a presentation on Internet2 Day about my teaching and learning work in Second Life, along with our Director of the Academic Technology Group (Wildcat Thursday), and incredibly innovative librarian (Alice Burgess) and a faculty member using SL to teach anatomy and physiology, Kezia1618 Landar. I’m the tall handsome fellow, Ricetopher Freenote, in the photo below.

UKSL on Internet2 Day 2011

I really enjoyed “getting the band back together” with Wildcat and Alice. It felt a lot like the early days of our Second Life work at UK. The UK Island has come a long way since then, due to the hard work of many faculty and staff on campus. Thanks to all of them for their hard work! For more info on teaching, learning and research with Second Life at the University of Kentucky, please visit:

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Getting Social in the Classroom: Teaching in a Web 2.0 World (SLIDES)

Since I’ve had a few requests for these, I just wanted to share my slidedeck from my September 17, 2010 presentation, “Getting Social in the Classroom: Teaching in a Web 2.0 World” for the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Kentucky.

To answer a couple of questions:

  • I use Slideshare to upload and publish my slidedecks. It’s free and easy to use, and in keeping with the theme of the presentation, takes a traditional activity (sharing of slides) and makes them more useful by adding a social dimension to it. This deck is posted on a new Slideshare account I’ve created, but you can view some of my past decks for courses at I’ll be moving some of the “greatest hits” from that account to my new account at soon.
  • Almost all of the photos in the presentation were found on Flickr’s Creative Commons pool and attribution is provided on each slide.

Thanks to everyone who came out Friday! And for those who were unable to make it (it was a glorious September Friday afternoon, after all!), I look forward to seeing you at my next presentation (I have an upcoming session on Copyright and DRM as part of this series to be scheduled for later in the Fall).

Originally published on

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Disruptive Technology for the Traditional Lecture Model

At the request of Vince Kellen, CIO of the University of Kentucky, I produced the following chart exploring a continuum of the potential of various technologies to disrupt the traditional lecture model of course delivery.

Lecture Disruption Technology Chart

(Chart (c) 2010 University of Kentucky All Rights Reserved)

The idea behind the chart is to examine a continuum of the potential for disruption to the traditional “sage on the stage” model of course delivery posed by a variety of technologies.

To the left of the chart, we find those technologies that are most conducive to the preservation and enhancement of the traditional lecture model. Technologies such as slideware (PowerPoint, Keynote) and the Learning Management System (Blackboard, Mookle, Sakai) serve to reinforce those traditional aspects of this model by making it easier to conduct extant course functions. As one moves to the right on the chart, however, we see the introduction of technologies that increasingly disrupt the lecture model, as well as what we think of as the traditional face-to-face course. Color-coded columns are an attempt to group these technologies together into categories. For example, I’ve placed Second Life and Adobe Connect Pro into the same column as they – at a basic level – seek to preserve an existing classroom form and function, but pushed out into the online setting. The goal of both in education has, heretofore, been an effort at preserving a synchronous environment. Certainly, Second Life can (and sometimes does) go beyond that, but in my analysis, has not gone as far as it could toward the asynchronous experience.

The maximally disruptive technologies on the right are categorized as such because they do the most to take learning outside the traditional classroom environment, bounded by static and predictable time and space, and move learning out into the world in an asynchronous manner.

Over the coming weeks, I will be writing a series of posts to further explain my thinking behind this continuum, and explore the technologies within each category and their disruptive potential.

Originally published at

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