Take Your Kyle to Work Day (take 1): @ The Letter M Marketing

photo-2As part of my “Take Your Kyle to Work Day” project, I had the unique opportunity to spend a day with the fine people who work at The Letter M Marketing. TLM has a long history, and an impressive list of clients.

What struck me most about TLM is their engagement with the community. They approach marketing as a genuine conversation. This conversation helps businesses and organizations tell their stories, build connections and co-create meanings.

So, what are you going to do now, Kyle?

question mark

cc: flickr.com/photos/kareneliot

That’s a good question. A very, very good question. Thank-you for asking. My previous post clearly states that I’m “on to new adventures“. To be honest, I’m not sure what those are yet. At present, everything is on the table for discussion. Type of work, relationship with work, location of work…

Today, when someone asked what was next, my response was, “Nothing for awhile. Then, something”.

A bit of nothing can be very educational. This “nothing” is keeping me busier than I’ve been in years. I’ve been reading, writing, enjoying coffee with good friends, and thinking a fair amount.

I’ll be blogging about some of this, so stay tuned. And, if you want to chat, let’s.

On to new adventures!

After 13 great and rewarding years as a staff member at the University of Guelph, effective today, I’m moving on to other adventures. Thanks to all my colleagues at the UofG for all their dedication, guidance, and friendship.

What’s next? Time to finish my graduate work, regroup, and consider next steps. (Ideas welcome!)

Best to reach me at kyle.mackie@gmail.com

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“Investment” is the new “Engagement”

I hear the word “engagement” daily, at least.

  • “I want to introduce new technologies into my classroom to promote student engagement”
  • “If we want this project to be successful, we’ll need to make sure the engagement of the staff”
  • “We’re looking for an approach that really encourages engagement”

cc: flickr.com/photos/iloveakira

The goal of having engaged learners, an engaged staff, an engaged team working on a project is an great one, and once met, there hopefully be success and happiness. I’d suggest, however, that there’s great value in moving the goalposts a bit, and considering the difference between engagement and investment. I think the difference is more than semantics, and more than just a tweak. I think that if the goal is “engagement”, the project will hopefully be successful, but if the goal is “investment”, the project surely will be.

A proposed continuum (and the spacing is deliberate):

awareness – interest —- engagement ———- investment

Thoughts?

My take on “IBM and Desire2Learn Take On Education Data Challenge”

It’s all over Twitter today:

This is an interesting step in data management and analysis and predictive analytics in education. I think what this brings to the front is that analytics is very much a business application, and that applying it to learning changes the education game, considerably. I’m not saying that it’s all bad. In fact, I think there can be a lot of good in it. With any discourse around this, I feel compelled to throw in a couple “let’s be cautious” and “consider the implications” type comments. I’m excited by predictive analytics. They’re neat, and I love all the pretty graphs. Should IBM and D2L be making conclusions and interventions based on the mass of data available? What are the implications and potential pitfalls of having edu-business-borgs making conclusions and giving advice? Consider what can’t and shouldn’t be counted. Let’s be sure to question the robots when they make decisions based on logic like this:

Gladys, Take a memo, and please clean up my dirty mouth

shorthand class

cc: flickr.com/photos/70251312@N00

“Writing obscures language; it is not a guise for language but a disguise.”
– (Saussure, Course in General Linguistics)

In September, I started to experiment with voice recognition software. The results were interesting, humourous, and inaccurate. I wrote a post about it on the blog I set up for my graduate research. At the time, I was experimenting to see what it means to capture the analytics of performance (or here, speech) to be replicated later. This experiment resonated with some of the work I’ve done in the past couple years with accessibility, speech recognition and voice commands.

Then this happened:
apple dictation

Apple’s new iPad (generation 3), has a Dictation option. The features page, suggests that:

Write an email. Send a text. Search the web. Or create a note. And do it all with only your voice. Instead of typing, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard. Then say what you want to say while your iPad listens. When you’re done, tap anywhere on the screen and, just like that, your spoken words become written words. Dictation also works with third-party apps, so you can do things like update your Facebook status or share a thought on your Twitter feed.

Interesting stuff. Now, before you jump on board, read this post and consider what information you might be sending and storing on Apple’s servers.

I’ve been experimenting with this dictation feature for the past couple weeks. On Monday, I lost a fight with the dandelions in my backyard. As a result, I’ve thrown my back out and I have difficulty sitting for an extended period of time. So, I’ve been using the dictation feature to answer emails, send out tweets, and I’m using it right now to compose this post. It seems to work pretty well.

I was showing it off to my kids this morning as replying to an email from a friend of mine. I asked my five years old son if he wanted to try it out. So, I suggested he say, “Looking forward to seeing you.” Somehow things got a bit garbled…and the result?

“Fucking sea plank.”

I’m not entirely sure what that means, but it resulted in me having to change my shirt when coffee came out my nose.

My take on Desire2Learn’s Learning Suite 10: Elegant and Extensible

passing car

cc: flickr.com/photos/wwworks

or, “Get out of my way and let me do stuff!”

I was honoured to be asked to speak at Desire2Learn’s Product Announcement yesterday. The event focused on the launch of Learning Suite 10. You can read all about it on their site.

I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working with Desire2Learn for over 12 years. I’ve seen the staff grow from a team of 5 coding in someone’s basement apartment over 400 people who make up the company today. It’s quite remarkable. I’ve also had the pleasure of seeing D2L’s software mature over the past 12 years to the world-class product it is today. Learning Suite 10 marks an important step in their evolution.

One of the things that sets D2L apart is their engagement with their clients, and that they actively seek out and listen to feedback from the community of users. D2L knows that I love to get sneak peeks at new tools, and I have a bit of a reputation for speaking my mind. So, at Guelph we’ve had guest access to Learning Suite 10 Early Access for about a month, to kick the tires.

This release, in a word is ELEGANT.

The layout is crisp, the navigation is slick, and the tools themselves fade into the background, which is awesome. It lets users focus on what’s important…teaching and learning. In some ways the best tools are the ones you don’t notice you’re using. It’s important for software developers to know when to get out of the way and let users focus on what they need/want to do. We shouldn’t have to discover the proper combination of clicks and to figure out how the tool was created in order to use it properly. First impressions of D2L’s Learning Suite 10 are that was built with this type of usability in mind.

It’s an elegant design. And what it creates is a solid foundation to work with and build on. I was happy to see in this release continued development on D2L’s Web services. These APIs will allow institutions like ours to build, integrate, and extend their teaching and learning tools and services.

I’m excited to start working with Learning Suite 10. I’m anxious to see how instructors and students start to shape this platform, and I’m looking forward to continuing to work with D2L on this and future developments.

Congratulations, John & Kenneth, Jeremy, the Brian’s, Heather…and all the rest. Great work. Keep it up!