Beginning of term

Shamanic meso-american woman playing the earth as a computer keyboardSystems or people? We can model learning in order to develop ways for our machines to acquire, store, process and apply data: information gathered from the world around. Although I put it as a vague question of preference at the start of this essay, it has many ramifications. Are people not just quite complex systems? And is complexity simply a diversion? Is it not a more simple question? Where are the boundaries and limits?

I ask this at the beginning of term because this is hurricane season for university administration people and systems in general, and has been in particular for my university at this moment. We are building a new student record system. Well, we are acquiring, localising and implementing a student record system consisting of many new – and large – components. And, it is the system we use to manage relationships.

Which means, for the moment at least, we need to manage relationships in a different way: through people not systems. Or at least we have – for the moment – to act as though people are different to systems. Or, maybe that systems are people?

One thing we do know about people is that they feel things when they are under stress. They feel things like anger, anxiety and fear. Can I repeat that, please, using “I-statements”? I feel angry, anxious and fearful when I am under stress. While I want to be careful about projecting those feelings onto colleagues, I also want to attend to others with empathy for the possibility that they might also be angry, anxious and fearful.

Brookes Blogs

… or does it? Blogging is growing like topsy at Brookes and across the academic spectrum, but what form should it take? Should the University have a hosted bog platform? Under what rules of engagement?

I have trawled around the site and found some of what is going on in out droplet of the blogosphere. If you are at Brookes and keep anything that might broadly be classified as a Brookes (or Brookes related) blog, please let me know.
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Interesting question: the requirements for a learning platform

I offer this as a component of an evaluation framework: what are the user requirements for different kinds of users of a VLE.

A professional acquaintance from another university is advising his department on the procurement of a learning platform. He asked me a simple question last night: “…is there a web site or paper that articulates the User Need [for a VLE] in ‘plain speak’?”

Simple, I thought. I’ll just search the JISC site for “vle user requirements”. After an hour trawling around on JISC, Becta and Ferl sites and going as far as searching research databases (Academic Search Premier and Web of Scence), I came up with the following. But, I was surprised at how the obvious question was not so easily answered. Surely we have all thought about this?
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Why WordPress?

I have been using TypePad for blogs and will continue to do so. The Brookes Benchmarking blog is TypePad-driven. So is myWORLD. TypePad is owned by 6 Apart, who also have LiveJournal. LJ was the first of the “friends” networks and developed a lot of social software, which is open source, as well as a lot of the ideas that have become web2 staples.

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