TCC Reflections

Last week, I decided to immerse myself into the TCC Online Conference as fully as possible.  Having attended many conferences in person in the past, I was curious to see what it would be like participating in an online conference.   Rather then going into the office, I stayed at home so I could participate without distractions.

The format of the conference was interesting as it was generally limited to 20 minutes of presentation followed by 10 minutes of open discussion.  Since most of the speakers opted not to have their camera’s on for their presentation, it was less personal then I was used to but the anonymity of being online seemed to balance that as people were more then willing to throw out questions through out the presentation and the speaker was able to answer it when appropriate.   For some of the topics, I would have loved for the speaker to have more time.  I’ll have to check my notes but one speaker had a ton of information and slides that she blazed through during her presentation and it was a bit difficult to keep up with.  It was also apparent that some speakers were reading directly from a script as their delivery was fairly monotone and they didn’t respond to impromptu questions as readily.

Lonely On a personal note, I tend to find conferences fairly  stressful and tiring.  On top of trying to keep up with the  various topics, not being good with names, I struggle to  remember who I spoke with earlier in the conference.  That being said, I thought that the online conference  would simplify that.  In retrospect, it brought a whole  new set of challenges.  Being cooped up in front of a  computer all day with no face to face interaction was  also tiring.  I always enjoy seeing my family at the end of the day but was a bit happier at the end of each conference day.

emptydeskSecondly, its amazing how many distractions are around when the only person to keep you honest is the computer.  Every sound in the house screams for attention!  The beer in the refridgerator?  Calling my name!  (Note:  I was able to tune them out till the evening…).  Other then that, I noticed that:  1)  I didn’t brush my teeth till lunch time; 2) Nobody knows if you’re still in your pajamas past then; 3) I was free to snack and eat anything with garlic that I wanted to without offending them; and 4) I had way more junk food in my house then I thought.  Well, a bit less now.  Sorry, don’t judge me… I’m sure I wasn’t the only one.

Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.

If you knew what that said, you’re much nerdier (or cooler!) then I am.  According to the book (or movie if that’s all you’ve seen), the statement above is roughly translated as “One Ring to rule them all, One ring to find them; One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”  That’s the kind of wearable technology I want!  All kidding aside, a company called Logbar is out to create a ring that possesses quite a bit of power in its own right.  http://mashable.com/2014/03/03/bluetooth-ring/

ImageLogbar’s ring is designed to recognize finger gestures (not that finger gesture…).  Bilbo Baggins, I mean the ring wearer, can draw in the air to send text messages or open apps and access e-mail.  Very cool stuff.  For $145, via a kick starter campaign, you can have the one ring (or at least one of the first) to rule them all!  That being said, would I buy this ring?  Not likely.  When it comes down to it, I’m just not willing to plunk down a wad of cash on things that are just cool little gadgets but not necessarily life changing.  Too many of the wearable technology I see falls into this category.  Fitness monitors?  Why do I need to know how much activity I did today?  If I’m not sure about it, I should have gone out and exercised!

The wearable technology that I would really like to see is an unobtrusive blood pressure monitor.  Many of the wearable technology currently available are tools of convenience.  What I want are things that have a more significant health benefit.  As someone who has borderline high blood pressure, I would love to have a piece of wireless technology that could monitor that.  Like most wearable technology, it would need to be wireless, unobtrusive and capable of monitoring 24/7.  That way, I could track the activities that cause my blood pressure to rise as well as take steps to lower it when it does.

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Unfortunately, the problem right now seems to be not with the wireless technology but rather the medical technology.  This would seem to be the case for other health issues that could benefit from being used for wearable technology.  In addition to monitoring blood pressure, I’m sure people would love to be able to constantly monitor glucose levels, or even fatigue levels.  It’s the difference between aiming for a target (i.e., desired activity level or heart rate) and getting actual data warning of danger.  So while I’m not in a rush to go buy out to buy a fit bit, I’m keeping an eye out to see whats next.

Blog Reviews

For this weeks blog, we were asked to review the blogs of 3 class members.  While I’ve been lurking a bit (well not really lurking since blogs are meant to be read!), it was a good chance to take a closer look at some of them.

The first blog I took a look at was Chester’s blog (http://647eck.tumblr.com/).  In particular, I took a look at his entries on March 27 titled “To Mooc or Not Too Mooc”  and “To Flip or Not Too Flip” as the Shakespeare influence caught my attention.  What stands out to me in both of these entries is the organization of thought.  Both of the entries proceed in a very logical train of thought yet manage to come across with Chester’s personal touch or flair.  One thing I particularly enjoyed was the little asides that he added as footnotes to several of his blogs.

The second blog I looked at was Dave’s blog (http://dcypriano.tumblr.com/) and in particular his statement on mobile devices.  The first thing that caught my attention was the loud graphic at the top of the page.  Quite the attention grabber.  The content itself was clearly written and I found myself nodding in agreement as I agreed with many of his thoughts.  In particular, I agree with his statement “A poor lesson plan is still a poor lesson plan with or without a mobile device.”  Overall, the images that Dave has chosen (or created?) served as great for grabbing the reader’s attention and led nicely into each week’s subject.

The third blog that I chose to review was Ashley’s blog (http://ashalamida.tumblr.com/) and her flipped classroom statement.  I found it interesting and refreshing to hear her honest thoughts about the possibility of using technology to flip the classroom.  I agree with her in that I think there are many barriers to using technology in the classroom but would love to see the DOE test pilot this in a few schools.  I think that her opinions are probably reflective of many teachers and that the only way to really change this is through several documented success stories.

As a final note, I found it interesting to compare the 3 blogs side by side as all 3 were created in tumblr.  Not having any experience with this program, I found the variety in the different layouts intriguing as there seemed to be quite a bit of customization available.  Ashley’s layout was very appealing as it provided thumb nails of all of her entries and was able to tie in a variety of different apps (Animoto, BitStrips, and Screencast-o-matic to name a few).  Definitely a blogging application to consider in the future.