Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Yeah, dude....that would be me

And only me. I can't begin to guess how many times I said that last week.

One bit of housekeeping, first: I added pictures to the previous post. So if you read it without the pics, you might scan it again. I think it helps!

Anyhow...on with the show.

My college has these professional development seminars for the faculty, twice a year. This time, they wanted to focus on online learning. Cool beans. That means I get to reach more faculty and, hopefully, recruit more instructors in my program. Grow, grow, grow, little online program.

The speaker they brought in was from an east-coast school with literally 10 times the students we have. We have 6,000, so you do the math and you'll see that their program certainly has more budget, personnel, revenue....everything. I had to give this fella a heads-up that we deal with limited resources here.

"So, I'd like to meet with your instructional design team," he said to me, in a conference call. My boss snickered.

"Yeah," I said. "That would be me."

"Oh, ok," he said. "How about the people who maintain the course system?"

"Me. Again."

"I thought you were the program administrator?"

"Yeah. That would be me, too."


"How about your media specialist?"

"Hi. Again."

And I explained to him that "media" in our courses is a touchy thing. We don't have a good media server. It's on the IT agenda this year, along with 99 other important things to get done. So, we have to house media on an outside source, like YouTube or iTunesU, which causes other issues because people don't like to share their stuff. Like it's gold or something, that someone else will get rich for stealing.

"I'd like to have a conversation with your president," he says. Comes across a little like "Take me to your leader," but okay.

So Speakerman arrives in Western Colorado and makes his way to our lovely, but small, campus. I decide to sit in on all of his sessions, so I can hear what's said and answer questions. I also need to know what questions he's going to generate for me, when he's long gone.

The first flare went up when the issue of media came up. One of my faculty piped up: "I want to use video in my course, but I don't know where to put it or how. What's the best way to accomplish that?"

"No, no, no," he said to her. "You shouldn't have to worry about that at all. You want to use a video? You should be able to hand that to someone in distance learning and say, 'I want to use this. Make it happen.' Then, they do it for you."

WTF?? I think I just felt that bus roll over me. You know, the one I was just thrown under.

The faculty person looks at me like You never told me this.

"Wait a minute," I said. "The person you're saying to hand it to is me. And there's just me. They do have to learn how to upload and such themselves."

A friendly faculty voice said, "Yeah, she's gotta do it all. She needs help." Thank you.

Later that day, the IT folks and department heads loved to hear that each department needs their own media specialist who "makes it happen" for faculty. Sure, that's gonna happen. I mean, we're being told to cut budgets here, not increase personnel costs. Get real.

The second flare went up when he was used an example of his own course development process: "So, I might contract an instructor for a course, pay him the usual $10,000 to develop it...."

Heads turned to me. They get $900 for developing a course. If they speak up soon enough and the money isn't gone for that year.

In some of our one-on-one time, Speakerman and I talked shop. I inadvertently gave him the falre gun for this one. I mentioned that we're starting the process to replace our online system. We'll start a campus-wide discussion of it in the Fall. We have a two-year timetable for migrating to whatever new system we choose. I've already visited with a couple of vendors.

So, imagine my dismay when he said to the faculty in his last session: "You need to build your content outside of your online system. Because here's what's going to happen. Your system is going away in a couple of years. You'll have a new system. What will happen to all that work you've put into your content? It will disappear. They say they'll 'migrate' it, but it doesn't happen that way. I know because we did the same thing two years ago."

Did I say "dismay"? Oh, by that I mean, royally pissed off.

Panic ensued.

I think the bus backed over me. He advised them to build content on their own Web pages, using Drupal.

Do they know anything about Drupal? Do they know anything about Web pages? No. Who do they want to teach them?


Boy oh boy, do I want to do these seminars again....

I'm going to Reno next week. I get there at 9:30 AM. Is there a bar open then?


MamaGeek @ Works For Us said...

There is DEFINITELY a bar open then. :)

Blogget Jones said...

First of all, that's good to know! Second, how do you know that? LOL ;o)