I'm in Las Vegas this week giving a presentation at the Annual International Symposium for Emerging Technologies for Online Learning, which is sponsored by the Sloan Consortium and MERLOT.
The Sloan Consortium, known as Sloan-C, and MERLOT, which stands for Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, are organizations that foster online teaching and technology development in higher education and have done so now for several years.
As an online university instructor, I try to demystify virtual education as much as possible because of prevailing myths and criticism that web-based learning is somehow inferior to instruction in regular classrooms. That's simply not true, and the explosive growth of online classes, accompanied by rigorous evaluation processes unparalleled in regular classroom instruction, is the most obvious evidence.
One way I try to demystify virtual education is by writing about the technology conferences I attend. These conferences often contain presentations about new technologies getting used in virtual and regular classrooms and discussions about the development of online faculty and students at universities throughout the country.
My presentation is titled "Virtual Cartography: Creating Interactive Literary Maps," which show examples of Google maps based on some famous literary texts. Through geographic information systems (GIS), students can now immediately "visit" street views of places in literary texts and follow routes taken by characters in novels, short stories and poems. Instructors can create specific maps for classes or assign map projects for students.
Other presentation titles I find interesting for today include:
"Developing a Virtual Community for Faculty"; "Not Your Mother's Wiki: Using Google Sites for Multiple Educational Purposes"; "Enhancing Online Courses with Streaming Academic Video"; "Einstein to Apple: Harnessing Technology to Engage Students in Science"; "Learning Technologies and Strategies for an Aging Population - Does One Size Fit All."
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It represents only a small fraction of presentations over one day of a three-day conference. A complete listing of the program is available here.
On another note, it's just as hot in the Las Vegas desert as it is back in Oklahoma, but I do have a spectacular view from my hotel room, which I shared above. I'll get back to political commentary on Sunday.