Archive for June, 2010

The Curious Commuter talks Higher Ed – Digital Dissertation

June 30, 2010 10 comments

A few weeks back a group of #SAChat tweeps were tweeting back and forth about how to start a dissertation and they had some interesting and creative ways to start (albeit suggesting them jokingly). See for yourself:


Now this got me thinking, when it comes time for my dissertation what am I going to do? What is it going to look like? Will it be bound? Or will it be an e-publication? What does the future hold for dissertations and the way in which they are defended? Could a dissertation presentation be engaging…without the presenter present?

Sounds like a question for the Curious Commuter to ponder, and I did, and here is my idea of the day worked out in an equation:

Dissertation + iPad + FlipVideo + Prezi = the Digital Dissertation.

Imagine this if you will, you walk into the room to defend your dissertation and you hand out iPads that you loaned out from your IT department. The iPads are preloaded with your digital dissertation. This dissertation isn’t an e-book, it isn’t a slide deck, it IS your presentation. You are just there to answer questions.

So how would this work? Well let me explain the equation above with some of the ideas that have come into mind (while you read, think about how this could be used during advising sessions, orientation sessions, staff meetings, leadership seminars, etc):

– Your dissertation – full of data, interview quotes, and all of your hard work. This is the foundation of this entire project.

– iPad – only this device (at the time of posting) is as capable and trustworthy for this type of presentation that involves many moving parts.

– FlipVideo – a portion of your dissertation is going to be quoting interviews that you’ve had with people. If they are in person, imagine being able to do more than type out the respondents answers but instead show the board the body language, tone, appearance, and life that the words have behind them. No more, Student A is quoted saying…but instead, watch Student A as they answer this question about their development. Better yet, imagine your board swiping their finger across the board and video of you welcoming them to your dissertation. You have a video that introduces your theory and perhaps show a video of it in action. Each chapter, the author explains the purpose and what the user should understand by that point.  How much more engaging can you get?

– Prezi – that’s how much more engaging you can get. Not only do you have the touch screen of the iPad controlling the videos (accessed via hyperlink through the text you wish to see the video of ) but now your board can move about the data and presentation with their finger tips using Prezi. No more flipping through to find an addendum. Set up the Prezi in a way that would be intuitive allowing the data to find the users rather than vice-versa.

And there you have it, the digital dissertation. This is no longer dropping a binded stack of paper on the desks of your reviewers while you answer questions and defend your research. The digital dissertation is a living document that requires its “users” (not a reader, you don’t just read a digital dissertation, you navigate it and utilize it to answer your questions) to be engaged with the materials it is presenting to them.

Once they are through with your digital dissertation, let the defense begin (which should be streamed live on UStream for friends and family to witness without having to travel).

As I said, imagine the application of this idea to a first-year experience course, or a capstone course where students have to design a similar presentation utilizing all aspects of technology at their finger tips.

The purpose here is to reinvent the way in which students (ourselves included) are demonstrating their application and understanding of the knowledge they are accumulating in our classrooms, at our institutions, in our residence halls, etc. A student could write a really well written and complex paper but can they actually demonstrate their understanding aside from spending tedious hours typing and editing?

Student papers, regardless of topic, serve as nothing more than cover letters to their educational knowledge. A candidate can look great in a cover letter, only to find out in real life, they have no such experience, aptitude, or promise. We need to bring our students’ knowledge to the next level and “interview” them. “That’s great you can write 10 pages on Chickering’s 7 Vectors of Development, but I want you to show me that you understand them. Interview people that you perceive to be at each stage, or provide friends the characteristics of each stage and have them act out each vector on this Flip video.”

The digital dissertation is neither the beginning or end, it is hopefully the kindling that starts a blaze of creativity in what is an archaic, aging, “tradition” of achieving educational prestige in the world. We have the tools. We have the creativity. Let us show you what could be and not be chastised for it.

That’s my idea of the day – who says it couldn’t happen,

Rock on,




Bumper Stickers = BumperBoards

June 29, 2010 3 comments

Easy idea on the drive in today thinking back to my Billboards post.

What is bumper stickers were customizable, living displays on the rear of your vehicle?

Imagine it, no more looking at bumper stickers from years ago “Super Bowl Champs…1985” or ones that were only funny during a certain period of time (i.e. the infamous “1-20-09” stickers) and the owners haven’t taken the razor blade to them to take em off.

Here is an idea – someone develop a durable, weatherproof, semi-indestructible LCD or plasma screen that is the size of a bumper sticker that can be installed on the back of a vehicle.

The bumper sticker is then linked to your dash which nowadays is most likely a 7 inch computer screen that has controls that allow you to surf the web or other various functions of the vehicle one more surely won’t hurt it.

So you have this little display in your bumper that you can then buy and or download bumper stickers of your choosing. Think about it. Many already do this with their phones, downloading custom backgrounds or creating their own to show off their technological prowess in Dreamweaver or MS Paint. What if you could show the rest of the world (or those fellow commuters) your skills?

Your car now becomes your own personal marketing device. What if you could have a bumper sticker that shows a link to your LinkedIn site? Or perhaps you want them to see your blog. Or perhaps you want to brag about the latest sports victory or defeat. Imagine your car turning into a mobile billboard for your thoughts, opinions, cheers, jeers, support, whatever it is you want to show off – you can. Your bumper sticker can be anything you want it to be whether it be a quote, a picture, a link, a smiley face, anything!

It could be managed either manually in the car or if there was a worry about freedom of speech and the obscenities that could follow, it could be managed by a host site that would beam the designs to your “bumperboard” (there I came up with a name for it on the spot) and you now monitored and all set. Update your bumperboard from your mobile device on the fly, update it from home, from work, from anywhere! (This is also another idea that I’ll get to later – message boards to thank people for letting you in a lane or curse them off for tailgating.)

These things could take off as quickly as the Facebook Bumper Sticker bonanza that was 2008/early 2009.

Why be limited by what you have to semi-permanently stick to your bumper when you can make it live?

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,


Lane closed: Merge @ last possible second…

June 28, 2010 1 comment

Doesn’t that annoy the heck out of you? You merged right when the sign warned you that the left lane is closed in 1/2 mile. But while you are waiting patiently in line to make your way past the construction up ahead, dozens of cars whiz by in the left lane to get to the front. They disregard the warning, whiz by, and get to the front of the line cutting the poor helpless car that can’t but give way to the obnoxious intruder.

Why can people get away with this in cars? If a cash register at the store closed abruptly, would we allow other people to take their carts and just cut in front of us in line? Of course not!

So here is the idea of the day to keep this obnoxious and societal problem at bay, portable rumble strips. Here is the scenario, the sign is posted telling traffic to merge right because the left lane is closed up ahead in one mile. Currently, the left lane stays open until it reaches that one mile point, which is typically a few yards from where the construction work is happening.

My idea is to make that wide open lane a little less appealing for people to fly ahead of the line on. Portable rumble strips could be deployed in this lane for that mile or half-mile before the actual merge has to take place.

This would discourage people from speeding ahead (or speeding in general) and will encourage traffic to form the single file line in a much more organized process. (Granted, people will fly ahead to the rumble strip part, THEN cut in line – possibly)

Regardless, if that open lane is covered with a portable rumble strip that can easily be deployed and rolled up this could be feasible.

I could be wrong but I think the idea of having these rumbles strips on the road, with traffic forced to merge in a more civilized way, will help these lane closures be somewhat more efficient and less of a general pain in the rear end.

This could either be brilliant and speed up the process of getting through a lane closure or it could simply move the general “cutting in line” from the point of construction to a mile back where the rumble strips are laying. Either way, no one in line is going to have people flying by them to get ahead, and that in my opinion is the most annoying part of sitting in a line.

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,


Categories: Ideas Tags:

Is that billboard talking to me?

June 25, 2010 1 comment

Billboards. I see them almost everyday, as I am sure most of you do as well.

When I see them I see something like this:

That says it all. Now I’ve raved about the usage of Twitter almost weekly on my blog. Just search “Twitter” and you’ll see a handful of entries on how to use this wonderful piece of technology. For this idea of the day – I am going back to the old school…AM radio.

What if, when you leased a billboard you leased a radio band as well? AM stations are mainly static, no one uses them. They start at 500AM and go up to 1600AM at intervals of 10 (why 10? I have no idea, there should be a 501AM 502AM).

So what if the US could lease these frequencies to larger radio stations (i.e. ClearChannel) 5 years at a time for a fair sum of money – which let’s face it, every little bit helps at this point. ClearChannel then leases the billboards to their clients and gives them the option of creating a radio spot.

Seems obvious to me that if we have AM tuners in our vehicles with all that static, why not make use of it all and make money at the same time? Now the billboards aren’t just staring blankly at you with their pictures and advertisement, they are talking to you and enticing you to take the next exit and check it out.

How this is not already happening?

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,


Categories: Ideas

Conference + Hashtag + Twitter = Backchannel Attendees

June 24, 2010 8 comments

This idea of the day was inspired by a number of different things; NASPA’s decision to stay in AZ for the 2012 conference, @ReyJunco thinking about boycotting it, @BreakDrink thinking about hosting a web conference in place of attending NASPA, etc.

While participating in a #SAChat this afternoon ( talking about terminal degrees in higher education, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the amount of participants, information, and connections that were going back and forth.

So you have a boycott of a national conference in my mind while I am participating in a chat via a #tag that involves close to (or over) 100 people in an active conversation about one topic.

Simple idea of the day here folks for those who participate in any type of conference that involves educational sessions. You host an ED session, it gets a hashtag with your session number, example: NASPA312, ACPA563, SMSX99.

Can’t make it to a session because you want to eat lunch? Follow the hashtag/backchannel discussion. Want to continue the discussion of the session with other attendees without requiring a lunch meeting? Follow the hashtag.

Choosing to stand for what you believe in and not attend a conference due to controversial location? Look at the program booklet online, note the hashtags of the sessions you want, bring your iPad/smartphone/laptop to the beach with a wireless signal – viola, you are now learning what you want on your own terms and at your convenience while contributing your thoughts to the topic.

Hashtags. Backchannels. Two words that the world didn’t know about until about 2 or 3 years ago and they could change the landscape of how conferences interact with its attendees.

And who says this backchannel trend has to stay within conferences? TV shows have them, granted they were grassroots and started by fans. But why not restaurants, or highways?

Imagine a conference being able to brag the following line after a national conference:

We had over 2,000 practitioners in one location discussing the newest topics and practices in our field. Not only that, we had over 1,000 practitioners following the conference from all around the globe resulting in over 5,000 conference related tweets and blog entries. What an amazing feat for this field!

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen? (which it will once I get to be chair of a regional conference, ha!)

Rock on,

Categories: Ideas


June 23, 2010 Leave a comment

You’ve seen me tweet about a restroom but automated here but this just came into mind as I wondered, well what if everyone can’t afford the fancy new automated toilets/urinals/faucets?

Um, here is an idea – make them foot operated. Seems ingenious yet no one ever thought of it.

No one wants to touch the handle on a urinal or a toilet do they? Of course not. And if they do, they run to the faucet to wash their hands (if they don’t…well that’s just nasty).

Put foot pedals in. Seriously, how hard could it be? At the base of the toilet/urinal just put a little peddle to flush. Voila! No hands touching nasty stuff, just the bottom of your shoe.

Same could go for faucets, which I’ve actually seen at Virgin Records in Times Square actually, step on the bar and water comes out of this pathetic little spout. Not efficient but still, a novel idea to keep germs off your hands.

But what about those in wheel chairs that cannot use their feet? Ok so make the handicap stall have a larger peddle for users to run over with their wheel. Done and done.

It just seems foolish to me in a world that is so concerned about spreading germs and contracting this flu or that flu or this virus, etc. Why not make things innovative so we don’t need to use our hands in typically unsanitary areas?

Use our feet, they are protected by the soles of our shoes, sandals, flip-flops, etc.

I seriously don’t understand how this wasn’t the next step before the automated toilets. Because even in the toilet, I kick that little nub to flush – my hand isn’t going anywhere near that. Especially since when you flush the toilet water jumps up out of the toilet. Yuck.

That’s my idea for the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,


*This post may or may not have been influenced by the World Cup and seeing how feet can do amazing things.*

A Tangible Internet

June 22, 2010 Leave a comment

@JeffLail is responsible for this post. You want to see his world? Check out his blog here:

In an off the cuff comment on Twitter today, I said this:

To which Jeff replied:

So there you have it.

My idea that stems from that is a neighborhood watch style program for the internet. I mean look around, Facebook refuses to add a “Dislike” button after numerous groups have formed asking for one. How do you create a LIKE without creating a DISLIKE? You don’t serve chocolate ice cream unless you can serve vanilla with it. Hello Zuckerberg?

You can Digg stuff, ReTweet things, suggest, bookmark,, yada yada yada – if you want some forums let you give posts a thumbs down or the occasional dislike. However, what happens then? Not a whole lot. If these sites that receive a thumbs down from visitors are anything like my students in the past, they hold their negative reviews (or judicial letters) on their doors with pride.

So, back to my tweet, the Internet is at the point that honestly, if it were a physical space I don’t think the Earth could hold it. If it did, it would look like something from Wall-E.

How did we get into this mess? Imagine for a moment that the every single web page on the Internet was say…a 8.5 x 11 piece of paper.

Imagine that you had to carry your identities/logins like drivers licenses. So I would have my Facebook license, Twitter license, WordPress license, MySpace license (long expired), Amazon license, Newegg license, Chase license, Honda license, Capital One license, and the list goes on. Your wallet would look more like a CD catalog than what you have in your pocket now.

That’s a whole different issue – and is your own mess. I want to go back to the web page litter that is all over the internet.

What if the Internet created a neighborhood watch? Imagine that if you had enough people “dislike” a website, that it would have to be taken down…forever. Or until enough people said no we want it posted. For instance, Arizona probably wouldn’t have a web page right now…or would it?

The purpose would be that why should people just start up blogs, write for a month or so, then abandon it. That would be like reading a book, carrying it around, then just tossing it on the street. Litter, litter, litter. Now if someone could say, “Hey you dropped your book…did you not want this?” then we would have one less useless URL floating in virtual space.

Imagine in your daily web browsing that you came across a vulgar site or a site that really is just a broke down, not updated in years, mess of a webpage. You retweet, share, do whatever you can to get people to vote this page down. Enough signatures, down with the site.

I’m all for freedom of speech and what have you, but unless you are going to contribute to the Internet with something worthwhile in the slightest sense of the word – think of something else or save it for the papers.

To sum this ramble up, the idea of the day is to have a self policing Internet where garbage is held accountable and reader worthy stuff is saved. Your followers are your court, and your neighborhood is the world. Think globally, act locally.

If you haven’t seen Contact, I recommend it (Way ahead of its time) because you never know who could be reading what you post (or where they are from).

That’s the idea of the day – who says it couldn’t happen?

Rock on,


Categories: Ideas