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5 Questions with… Adam Wandt

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Welcome to the first edition of ‘5 Questions’!

With so many great things going on throughout the CUNY community, I thought that podcasts could be a great way to help facilitate conversations within (and outside) the Commons. My first interviewee is Adam Wandt, who was willing to meet me via skype for an hour long interview. The 5 questions below highlight some topics covered in the interview, but I invite you to listen to the full podcast either through iTunes or directly from my Podcast Revolution Feed List. The podcasts are available in mp3 or m4a format, depending on which device you use to download your podcasts.

With the topic of ‘process’ coming up a few times throughout my interview with Adam Wandt, I plan to write a short post going through my process of creating this podcast and uploading it to iTunes. And now, 5 questions…

Professor Adam Scott Wandt is the Deputy Chair for Instructional Technology of the Department of Public Management at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and also serves as John Jay’s Provost Representative to CUNY’s Committee on Academic Technology (CAT), which is the group that was put together to start the Academic Commons. Professor Wandt started blogging about six years ago with the creation of his iDive Underwater Photography blog and started blogging on the Commons a few months ago with his Academic Technology: Research and Development blog .

1. What is your favorite aspect of the CUNY Academic Commons?

It’s the way people connect, without a doubt. If you look in social life how people use Facebook to connect to the outside, this is kind of like a professional version of that. It’s the connections that you make, the people you talk to that you ordinarily wouldn’t be talking to — that is kind of my favorite part.

2. Do you believe that blogs have some special type of social function?

They have several functions depending on why you’re blogging. Some people blog to report other people like myself in the academic technology blog, blog to start a conversation. I think there are many types of academic technology conversations that we either need to have or we’re in the middle of having and I think that the ones we need to have … certain blog entries of mine start to spark those conversations and the conversations that we’re currently having, hopefully I could add to those.

3. Have you ever stepped back and deleted something after posting?

I’ve added to a few things, I’ve posted some information and said maybe I should have provided additional information or hyperlinks so I’ve updated. I haven’t had the need or the want really to delete anything from my blogs yet, but I did do one video interview for one of my classes with a US Marine and after I conducted the interview with the US Marine, I was asked unofficially by some groups to take down the interview… After consulting about it and thinking about it for a while and actually even discussing it with some of our reference librarians at John Jay I decided not to take the interview down, but I understood the reasons why people did want it taken down.

4. Has Twitter changed anything about your blogging habits?

Every time I put an article up there I throw it out through Twitter and I’ll monitor the bit lead link to see how many people click on it… I use it to notify.

My use of Twitter itself is more as an academic technology research and development project to try to test out and develop Twitter to see if it can be used as an academic technology tool… It’s become a very quick way for me to throw things out to my students. In the past… if I had an article I would want them to read I would have to take a hyperlink , then I would have to go into an email program, then I would have to write out an email, then I would have to send it out. It’s not really so easy to do that if you have 60-80 students each semester and they’re constantly rotating. You have to keep a fairly signification email list if you want to be able to email things out directly from a laptop or from an iPad and not go through Blackboard. So one of the things Twitter has done for me is I hit a button, I type in a hashcode, maybe a line and then it’s uploaded to Twitter where my students — at their leisure — could check it and the whole process from my point of view takes less than 5 or 10 seconds.

5. There are a lot of different projects going on in the CUNY community. When groups are public it’s a lot easier to see the process of start to finish and I guess with private groups it’s a lot harder. Would you have any suggestions as far as people doing projects on the Commons to help other people to understand the process of collaborating and sharing things with each other?

Most certainly, my first thing is being that we’re in academia, being that we’re researchers we always need to remember exactly what you just said — that people could always learn from the process of what we’re doing. In that, there are certain things like keeping blogs, project blogs, there’s making information available as it could become desensitized. There’s running a project with the expectation of different types of publications at the end — certain publications towards one group, certain publications towards another. I think that whenever we go and we run any sort of research we need to remember number one that we’re doing it to grow knowledge and that eventually the knowledge that we’re growing needs to be disseminated and shared. One of the interesting things about studying technology is that more often than not we’re studying how that information gets shared; we’re studying the process of how things actually get done… I think that whatever projects we’re doing, if we’re going to sensitize and if we’re going to shield what people see, we need to realize in doing so that  the information that is being shielded should eventually be desensitized — if appropriate…

The other thing too is that people need to learn from process. Allowing people as you just said to see how things are done are important, but it always needs to be up to that individual or researcher or blogger or person — they always need to have the decision to say private, not private or when to publish… If everything that we’re doing is always open to full scrutiny the question then comes to will we be able to focus in on anything?

6 Degrees of the iPad

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Last week, the Commons bought a few iPads for the Community Team to experiment with and after spending some one-on-one time with an iPad and reading some great resources I wanted to write a review — 6 degrees style. *This is an overview of my experience thus far, incorporating information from member’s posts as well as outside resources and opinion. 

When it comes to the iPad everyone has an opinion. The last time I used an Apple product, I was a Media Arts student at USC so I am not that familiar with the iPhone and I’m new to the whole Apple App Store thing. Either way, I will try to present a review that is as objective as possible. My first thought as I held the iPad in my hands was this… 

image credits: http://gizmodo.com

Matt Gold (@admin) posted this flowchart on the Academic Commons Project Management Base Camp back in April as a visual resource for creating new help documents on the Commons. Luckily, I’ve been beating the odds of this flowchart, but I often think of it as I eagerly await the back-ordered case! 

Holy Credit Card Batman!

Why does Apple need my credit card information?? I use my Zune and Zune Pass to satisfy my music needs (in addition to Pandora), so I was a little disappointed that I had to download iTunes on my computer again in order to start the iPad. I had to create an account and give my credit card information… which I did … because I didn’t really have a choice. After forking over some personal information I was finally ready to see what this iPad thing was all about and why Obama wasn’t a fan

Apps

There are a lot of them. A lot of apps seem useless, as Obama suggested in his commencement speech at Hampton University. Obama claimed that with new technologies such as the iPad, “information becomes a distraction”.  This is how most headlines read, but what these commentators overlooked is that Obama said they can be used as “tool(s) of empowerment… the means of emancipation”. I’m going to give Obama the benefit of the doubt here about his understanding of technology, especially after @kdelorenzo said: 

“…during the inauguration Obama is reported to have greeted Aretha with “You’re on my iPod!” so maybe he was fibbing a bit. Or maybe his younger daughter programs and syncs it for him.” 

On this topic, I would have to agree with Bill Maher’s take that Obama is putting on a cutesy political act. Obama says he doesn’t know how to use an iPod because “Americans conflate out-of-touch with adorable”. Lest he forget the power of the Internet during his presidential campaign! OK, back to iPad apps… 

In addition to @omanreagan’s ipad posts from his blog about Apple technology, Michael has also written a blog post about “religion applications available for the iPad” from his blog about interdisciplinary studies in Religion. Talk about a ‘tools of empowerment’ — good stuff Michael, thanks for sharing! 

Other apps that I consider to be tools of empowerment include: 

  • Calendar (pre-installed) This is your basic calendar. I’m able to keep myself on a tight schedule with reminders and repeating events. It’s not as customizable as I was hoping for (no task organizer).
  • Mail (pre-installed) I’m able to sync multiple Gmail accounts as well as my CUNY email. Bonus.
  • Videos>Podcasts (pre-installed>downloaded via iTunes)  I’m currently learning how to fix redeye from the Photoshop//Power Tips & Tricks Podcast. I wish the iPad had the ability to go outside of iTunes… non-jailbreaking style.
  • Notes (pre-installed) I’m able to quickly take notes from a meeting. I can tag notes to find them quickly and email them to myself, but there’s no ability for bold, italic, color, underlining, etc…
  • Todo ($4.99)  While I was hoping this app was going to be free (or included within the Calendar app) I am glad I downloaded it! Todo helps me keep track of multiple projects both at home and at work and can send reminders via email. Highly recommended.
  • Pages ($9.99) Mac’s version of Microsoft Word. You can use templates and have greater control over the layout and font style than you can with Notes.
  • Keynote ($9.99) Syncs great with Mac Keynotes. I am able to edit presentations (with limited capabilities). 
  • iBooks (free) I was able to download a lot of free books by typing “free” into the search bar.
  • Free Books (free) The name says it all — good stuff!
  • Pandora (free) I can  listen to a custom generated mix (unfortunately not while doing anything else on the iPad… without jailbreaking it).
  • Pocket Pond (free) Watching goldfish swim and interacting with them is extremely calming after a long day at the office.
  • Disney Digital Books: Toy Story (free) I am able to multitask — I can some work done at home while providing interactive entertainment for my pre-schooler!
  • Siri (free) Possibly my favorite app thus far! (see video below). The speech recognition and overall intuitive nature of this app is incredible! My favorite part is when you say “remember,…” and it will send your speech to your email… or saying “tweet” and your twitter status update bar is brought up for you to do just that. This was originally created for the iPhone.

Thanks to Adam S. Wandt’s post we also now know how to shop for our groceries in under two minutes using the Fresh Direct app!

In non-iPad app related news I also share @awandt’s feelings of disappointment that the iPad has no forward facing camera and wouldn’t be surprised if AT&T network-related concerns were at the root of this decision. This camera (or lack-there-of) news was also revealed in @jugoretz’s post: Early iPod Thoughts.

There are some great aspects of the iPad and the overall intuitive nature is very user-friendly. There are also many features that fall short of what a truly innovative tool the iPad should be.

Lastly, the question that everyone is asking … or perhaps just @brianfoote — WILL IT BLEND???

Yes, yes it will.

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