Thursday, August 25, 2011

Mengenal jenis-jenis RAID

RAID stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive (Independent) Disks.
On most situations you will be using one of the following four levels of RAIDs.
  • RAID 0
  • RAID 1
  • RAID 5
  • RAID 10 (also known as RAID 1+0)
This article explains the main difference between these raid levels along with an easy to understand diagram.

In all the diagrams mentioned below:
  • A, B, C, D, E and F – represents blocks
  • p1, p2, and p3 – represents parity

RAID LEVEL 0


Following are the key points to remember for RAID level 0.
  • Minimum 2 disks.
  • Excellent performance ( as blocks are striped ).
  • No redundancy ( no mirror, no parity ).
  • Don’t use this for any critical system.

RAID LEVEL 1

Following are the key points to remember for RAID level 1.
  • Minimum 2 disks.
  • Good performance ( no striping. no parity ).
  • Excellent redundancy ( as blocks are mirrored ).

RAID LEVEL 5


Following are the key points to remember for RAID level 5.
  • Minimum 3 disks.
  • Good performance ( as blocks are striped ).
  • Good redundancy ( distributed parity ).
  • Best cost effective option providing both performance and redundancy. Use this for DB that is heavily read oriented. Write operations will be slow.

RAID LEVEL 10

Following are the key points to remember for RAID level 10.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sudahkah Anda Memiliki Mentalitas Elang?

Sudahkah Anda Memiliki Mentalitas Elang?

KOMPAS.com - Dunia kita memang penuh ketidakpastian. Seperti halnya cuaca yang belakangan ini sulit ditebak, apakah akan cerah, mendung, hujan, atau badai, sepak terjang dalam dunia ekonomi, bisnis, politik maupun dinamika di tempat kerja pun kerap sulit diramal.

click to enlarge

Seorang teman bercerita, ia pernah menghadapi "badai" dalam kariernya. Ketika baru saja dinobatkan sebagai the best employee untuk yang kesekian kalinya, tiba-tiba ia dipanggil oleh atasan dan mendapat vonis yang membuat ia shock, yaitu dibebastugaskan dari posisinya yang sekarang dan diminta standby untuk penugasan berikutnya. Di saat ia berharap diganjar promosi atas prestasinya yang baik, kenyataan yang terjadi malah sebaliknya. Di saat rekan lain yang berprestasi mendapat jabatan baru, ia malah merosot. Siapa yang tidak terpuruk menghadapi kenyataan seperti itu?

Dalam situasi seperti ini, sangat wajar bila kita merasa frustrasi. Ada yang mengklaim bahwa mereka sudah lelah dan tidak bisa melihat titik terang lagi. Kita juga bisa saja mencari alasan pembenaran diri atau memilih untuk berhenti dan tidak melakukan sesuatu. Dalam situasi gagal dan terpuruk tak jarang juga kita melihat ada orang yang menyalahkan kebijakan dan peraturan yang ada, menyalahkan atasan, pemegang saham, ataupun situasi monopoli yang dihadapi.

Teman saya yang dijegal kariernya mengatakan bahwa atasan barunya merasa tidak terlalu cocok dengan dirinya. Meski sempat jatuh terpuruk, namun ia kemudian memberi batas waktu pada masa meratapnya. Teman kita ini kemudian berusaha menelaah ke dalam diri pribadinya. "Saya banyak bermawas diri. Saya sadar saya mempunyai beberapa kekuatan, tetapi kelemahan saya pun ada. Mungkin selama ini saya terlalu congkak dan tidak siap menghadapi benturan", demikian ujarnya.

Ketika 6 bulan kemudian ia diberi penugasan baru, ia sudah siap dengan sikap mental yang lebih rendah hati, tetapi dengan semangat yang berlipat ganda. Sekadar karena ia sudah menggarap dirinya dan siap menggenjot kapasitasnya lagi.

Individu dengan mentalitas seperti teman kita ini, kondisinya bisa kita samakan dengan seekor elang. Pada saat ia merasa bahwa bulu-bulunya tidak kuat lagi, ia akan berdiri tegak di sebuah batu karang, di mana angin bertiup kencang merontokkan bulu-bulunya. Sesudah itu, ia akan bersembunyi di antara batu-batu dan menunggu sampai bulu baru tumbuh kembali.

Terbang "di atas" badai
Badai karier, badai ekonomi, atau badai rumah tangga, bisa dialami siapa saja. Situasi seperti ini pasti tidak disukai oleh kita. Namun, kita bisa belajar dari seekor elang, yang justru bisa memanfaatkan badai. Situasi yang sama ada di dalam filosofi China, di mana kata "krisis" mengandung makna yang sama dengan "kesempatan". Jadi, badai adalah kesempatan.

Bagi elang, hewan pemangsa berdarah panas yang mempunyai sayap dan tubuh diselubungi bulu pelepah, badai dianggap sebagai "kendaraan" untuk maju. Ia bisa terbang sama cepat dengan badai, sehingga akhirnya angin badai bisa mengusung dirinya untuk terbang lebih tinggi lagi. Di dalam dunia kerja, bisnis dan politik, kita tahu bahwa kemampuan untuk "terbang tinggi" memberi kita kesempatan untuk melihat situasi dari atas, sehingga kita bisa mempunyai visi yang lebih jelas dan kuat.

Tentunya tidak mudah bagi kita mulai mengganti paradigma untuk memandang masalah sebagai titik awal dari suatu kemenangan. Padahal seninya terletak pada pengaturan enerji dan menjaga kestabilan kekuatan, justru pada saat orang lain atau kompetitor sedang kehabisan nafas atau bahkan sudah tidak berniat mengejar lagi. Dari elang, kita bisa belajar untuk mengatur energi  dan kewaspadaan kita dalam menghadapi segala situasi, bahkan melakukan sesuatu yang tidak mungkin menjadi mungkin.

Seekor elang mempunyai hobi terbang tinggi, tidak kenal lelah, tidak pernah menunggu, dan tetap mencari kesempatan. Orang bermental elang adalah orang yang bisa menghempaskan kinerjanya dan memberi kontribusi yang berdampak besar, tidak tanggung-tanggung.

Obsesi pada peluang
Banyak dari kita terbiasa terpaku pada kelemahan diri (weaknesses) atau pada ancaman (threat) yang ada di sekitar kita. Keinginan untuk membuka bisnis baru atau melakukan langkah terobosan tak jarang terhambat karena kita sudah dipenuhi kekhawatiran tidak bisa bersaing dengan kompetitor, kekurangan modal, terhambat oleh policy, atau tidak punya SDM yang handal.

Jadi, kita memang perlu berhati-hati agar tidak berkutat dengan melihat kekurangan demi kekurangan sehingga kemudian merasa lemah dan tidak berdaya. Menganalisis kelemahan dan menghitung risiko memang diperlukan, namun yang lebih penting lagi adalah mengidentifikasi dan memfokuskan kekuatan diri dan peluang yang bisa menghasilkan energi dan daya dorong yang lebih besar bagi diri kita.

Orang dengan mentalitas elang, terobsesi pada kesempatan demi kesempatan yang ada. Ia pun sangat mengandalkan kekuatannya. Bila dulu kita familiar dengan konsep analisa SWOT (Strength – Weakness – Opportunity – Threat), kita juga perlu mulai berlatih untuk berpikir dengan konsep SOAR: Strengths – Opportunity – Aspiration – Result. Konsep yang ditawarkan oleh Stavros, Cooperrider, dan Kelly ini berorientasi "appreciative inquiry", yaitu menghargai dan menggali hal-hal positif dan kekuatan yang terlihat maupun tersembunyi dalam diri kita. Para ahli ini berpendapat: "Allow your thoughts to take you to heights of greatness".

Dengan pola pikir ini, kita mengisi diri kita dengan obsesi terhadap aspirasi dan kesempatan sehingga dengan sendirinya akan membawa kita dipenuhi optimisme untuk terus maju.

(Eileen Rachman/Sy
build-access-manage on www.dayaciptamandiri.com

Friday, August 12, 2011

Membangun website untuk Universitas dengan OpenScholar

Dalam beberapa kesempatan di pekerjaan, menemani lingkungan pendidikan untuk mengembangkan website universitas, sekolah selalu menjadi tantangan. Tantangannya karena :
1. tidak semua sekolah / universitas memiliki kepentingan untuk tampil 'baik' di dunia Internet
2. tidak semua sekolah / universitas peduli dengan ranking dalam dunia internet
3. tidak semua sekolah / universitas peduli dengan update yang harus dilakukan di websitenya.

Namun yang menarik di Indonesia, penggunaan webgonometric menjadi salah satu tolak ukur website universitas di Indonesia.

Salah satu software CMS yang menarik yang bisa digunakan adalah OpenScholar. OpenScholar dibangun di atas Drupal, sehingga mudah untuk dikostumisasi dengan cepat.


About

OpenScholar represents a paradigm shift in how the personal academic and research web sites are created and maintained. Built on the open-source framework Drupal, OpenScholar makes it possible to create academic web sites in a matter of seconds. Each web site comes with a suite of powerful tools from which users can facilitate the creation, distribution, and preservation of knowledge faster and more efficiently than ever before. OpenScholar supports customizable domains for every site, so site owners can keep their current domain name.

Create web sites on the fly

  • OpenScholar allows users to create genuine, feature-rich web sites on the fly in seconds.
  • OpenScholar is designed to host an unlimited number of web sites on a single installation.
  • Installing OpenScholar is as easy as installing Drupal.

Why OpenScholar?

Building competitive academic web sites can be difficult and is potentially costly. OpenScholar is a free, open-source solution with state-of-the-art technology out of the box. The user interface is logical and intuitive, making it easy for scholars to self-create, self-design and self-manage their own web sites and their content without having to know any programming code or HTML. OpenScholar is highly customizable from both programming and theming standpoint as well. Developers and designers can implement their own features and themes.

Designed for academic environments

OpenScholar is designed for academic environments as a tool for building academic web sites, such as a scholar's personal site or an academic project site. OpenScholar tools and features foster online collaboration and provide relevant site sections, such as "Publications", "Events", "Blog", "Classes" and much more.

It's easy to use, powerful and built on Drupal. OpenScholar is designed with the academic in mind, enabling the creation of feature-rich web sites with elegant styles.

Smart Publishing

The built-in WYSIWYG editor makes it simple to format text and add HTML elements. You can begin writing content from almost anywhere on your the site.

Semantic URLs

Increase visibility and optimize the availability of the sites' pages in search engines, such as Google and Yahoo! with semantic URLs. All pages will automatically have semantic URLs that correspond with the page's title.

Category Tagging

Organize content and enable visitors to find pages quickly with category tagging. The tools for multi-level category tagging come standard with OpenScholar.

Pluggable Features

OpenScholar comes with "out of the box ready" content features, which provide sections of your site. The Control Panel provides and an easy way to manage your site's features with a simple click. Features come with the ability to make their content "private", which means the content is only viewable to members of the site. See a list of pluggable content features.

Content Aggregation

Keep the web sites fresh by pulling in content from relevant sources using RSS. OpenScholar provides built-in tools for RSS feeds making feeds easy to set up.

Sleek Themes, Elegant Look and Feel

Browse and choose from a variety of sleek and elegant themes with the Theme Picker tool. Each theme includes the flexibility to use distinct color schemes to match a site's desired look and feel.

The Interactive Layout Tool

Design page layouts using a visual "drop-and-drop" blueprint of the site. The interactive Layout Tool provides an exciting way to arrange the content presentation on any site. Each site owner can design site-wide layouts or unique layouts for different pages of their site.

Social Collaboration

Maintain social networking on each scholar site, and/or on the entire installation. Site owners can create user accounts for colleagues and other stakeholders and invite them to be members of their site. There they can collaborate on projects or exchange thoughts and ideas. Site owners have full control of your site members' status and access to your site.
All content, from all scholar sites can be aggregated to create University-wide repositories for everyone's publications, events, announcements, etc.

Subscribe to Activity Rivers

Capture the pulse of what's happening in the scholarly world in your community with live activity updates. A scholar can choose to "follow" any of their colleagues' activities and get live updates of new posts, replies, and other site activities.

Share With Others

Easily share web pages on other social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Scholars have the ability to distribute bookmark links to variety of social network sites quickly as easily.

Analytics

OpenScholar is pre-configured to work with Google Analytics to capture reports of all site activity. Just provide your Google Analytics ID and data from your OpenScholar site will be sent to your Goggle analytics account automatically.

download disini : http://openscholar.harvard.edu/download


Silahkan hubungi kami untuk optimalisasi OpenScholar di lingkungan kampus / sekolah Anda.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Inside the Box: UCLA's New Portable Data Center


When UCLA found out that a planned upgrade to its brick and mortar data center was going to surpass the original budget estimate by several million dollars, it began thinking "inside the box"--and chose cargo-container computing.
The latest and potentially most powerful research data center at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) was delivered on the back of a flat bed truck from Austin, TX. It was put in place with a crane. The facility resembles the kind of container used to run portable recycling centers. But when it's fully loaded and performing research in physics, economics, genomics, and biochemistry, among other disciplines, the Performance Optimized Datacenter, or POD, will support more than 1,500 compute nodes. This far exceeds the campus' traditional "brick and mortar" data centers in sheer computing power, and yet it fits into a compact space of 40' x 8'.
The story of UCLA's "pod" began in January 2008. At that time, 18 clusters of high performance computing were being delivered from two primary locations, the Math Sciences data center and the Institute for Digital Research and Education (IDRE) data center. Between the two, researchers could run jobs on any combination of about 800 nodes. But capacity was fairly well tapped out, according to Bill Labate, director of UCLA's Academic Technology Services and managing director of IDRE.
IDRE works as a kind of shared service. "People 'buy' nodes and then we integrate them," said Labate. Technically speaking, users don't really buy the nodes and hand them over; IDRE does the purchasing, based on well researched specs that provide high value for a low price; operations are ultimately funded by the 175 research groups in 64 departments and centers on campus that partake of the center's services and equipment.
A Plan for Growth
Given that the IDRE center had physical space available, the Institute put together a proposal to increase computing capacity. It brought in a third-party data center engineering firm to do a quick estimate of what the project would take. The needs were substantial. The goal was to squeeze in 1,600 computer nodes; but the existing power infrastructure could only support about 400 nodes. Somehow, the center would have to be revamped to support the dramatically increased wattage required by those additional nodes and the cooling they'd require. The consulting firm's estimate came to $4.6 million. Based on that number, the university granted IDRE funds to do its build-out.
That's when IDRE knuckled under to sort out various configurations for the project. The center brought in another consulting firm to do a more detailed cost estimate. This time, however, the estimate for 1,600 nodes exceeded $7 million. A second proposal for an 800-node build-out came in at $4 million.
"We were stuck almost $3 million low in budget," Labate said. "We went through a whole series of [scenarios]: What if we only do this many nodes capacity? What if we go to these hot aisle containment systems? It got down to where it was almost ridiculous to do something with this brick and mortar data center."
Computing in a Box
At the same time modular data centers, also called "containerized data centers," were getting media attention. Sun Microsystems had previewed "Project Blackbox," in late 2006. In mid-2008 both HP and IBM began publicizing their modular data centers. All promised to reduce energy usage, a major consideration in data center expansion. According to a 2010 study by Gartner, energy-related costs account for about 12 percent of overall expenditures in the data center, a share that's expected to rise as energy costs themselves rise.
Labate began having conversations with people at other institutions that were trying these new kinds of containerized set-ups, including UC San Diego and Purdue University, both major research universities. "We started thinking, these modular data centers could be a viable alternative."
Due diligence led the university to settle on HP's pod for four compelling reasons: density, price, flexibility, and energy efficiency. The pod could contain 1,500 nodes, nearly the same count as the planned data center build-out; but the price would be only $2 million versus $7 million.
When IDRE was in the middle of its shopping, it discovered that not all modular data centers are alike. "Some of the modular data centers required you to have specific equipment--and as you can imagine, the equipment was specific to the vendor of that particular unit," noted Labate. "That would have forced us to standardize forever on that particular node, which is something we would never want to do. With the HP pod, we can put anything we want in there."
That flexibility is important. The various compute clusters on campus currently carry four brands of equipment in all kinds of configurations. But on a regular basis, IDRE goes out to bid on computing nodes to find the optimal combination of feature set for price. The current choice happens to be HP, he explained. "But that's not to say there might not be another vendor in the future that comes along that meets that price/performance curve."
As of August 2010, the minimum standards for those computer nodes are:
  • 1U, rack-mounted; half-width preferred (two nodes sit side by side in the slot);
  • Dual six-core 2.6 GHz Intel Core i7 or Xeon 2.66GHz CPUs;
  • 4 GB of memory per core;
  • 160 GB to 250 GB hard drive per node;
  • A Gigabit Ethernet port, DDR/QDR InfiniBand interconnect, and PCI-Express slot; and
  • Three-year warranty.
Preparing for Pod Arrival
UCLA placed the order for an HP 40c pod in October 2010. The vendor could have shipped it within six weeks, but, as Labate pointed out, "You have to build a site to put this thing on." Rather than going through the exercise of accepting delivery of a 43,000-pound retrofitted cargo container, stashing it somewhere, then hauling it out again for final placement, the campus told HP to keep the pod in its Austin factory until the site preparation was done.
   A crane lowers UCLAs pod into its new home, a former loading zone.
A crane lowers UCLA's pod into its new home, a former loading zone.
 
Working closely with the facilities and capital planning staff members, as well as HP, IDRE identified a former loading zone and storage area on the main campus that fit several criteria: The pod would be hidden so as not to mar the aesthetics of the other buildings on campus; it was sizable enough to accommodate not just one but two pods, for the day when UCLA decides to increase its high performance computing capacity; and the site could accommodate the major upgrade to power and chilled water that would be necessary for the running of both the new pod and the future pod.
To support the 110,000 pounds the pod would weigh once the equipment was in place, workers poured a concrete slab that Labate estimated to be between two and three feet thick.
   The portable data center in place. Loaded, it will weigh about 110,000 pounds.
The portable data center in place. Loaded, it will weigh about 110,000 pounds.
 
Labate noted that HP would have delivered the pod equipped with its computing components, ready to plug in and add to the network. That's the way it's promoted on the Web site: "fully integrated and tested ... as part of a complete data center solution." "We didn't want to go that route," he said. "It came from Austin to L.A. on a truck, and I didn't want to subject my equipment to that stress."
Insulation in the Extreme
Once the site was done and the pod delivered, a crane lifted the pod off the flatbed and onto the slab, and it was ready to outfit. On the interior, the pod holds 22 racks, each 50U tall or about 88 inches, along the 40-foot wall. Opposite is a narrow aisle wide enough for accessing and moving equipment.
To control the climate, blowers on the ceiling force air conditioning downward; hot exhaust goes out the back and rises up, enters the coolers, gets cooled, and sinks down again. Equipment located on the "hot aisle" side of the pod, where all the hot exhaust blows, is actually accessible from the outside. The pod is outfitted with sensors for temperature, chilled water supply, and humidity, as well as leak detectors under the water mains and overhead condensate drip pan.
Describing the pod as "really solid," Labate observed, "When you walk inside, with all of this equipment running and 36 blowers--it's extremely loud. You go outside, and you can't hear a thing. You can't feel anything on the outside. You don't feel cold when you touch the metal."
He estimated that the highly maximized environment saves about a third more power than that which would have been required by a brick and mortar data center.
"It's very Spartan," Labate said. "It's a purpose-built data center with extremely tight engineering for the purpose of being highly energy efficient. It's not something you want 10 or 15 people to try to get into. It's strictly made for the equipment, not the people."
Proximity to the other data centers was fairly unimportant to the placement decision, Labate said. All of the centers are linked over the campus networking backbone for Ethernet connectivity and interconnected by wide area Infiniband for input/output.
Because the pod's monitoring systems--both environmental and on the computing gear--can be managed remotely, Labate anticipated weekly visits to the pod to handle work that needs to be done. "The No. 1 thing is keep as many nodes up and running as possible. If we have a catastrophic failure, we're going to go fix it. But if a hard drive goes out or memory goes bad, we'll queue those up and send somebody out there once a week."
Mishaps and Skeptics
In the 10 weeks the pod has been in place, IDRE has loaded about 250 nodes into the racks--between 15 percent and 20 percent of capacity--which is just about where it needs to be right now. During a recent check, Labate said, the entire system was running at 95 percent--about 733 jobs--across all three data centers. "When you run on this system, you have no idea where you're running, nor do you need to know. That's all handled in the background with a scheduling system."
But there's still a bit of "teething" going on with the new environment. It hasn't been hooked into the campus alarm or fire systems yet. And, Labate added, more people need to get inside to learn about the new layout. In its short time on campus, that newness has already caused a mishap. Twice, the same vendor contracted to maintain the FM-200 fire suppression system has accidentally discharged the gas. "They know how to do FM-200. They're not familiar with the actual pod configuration."
As might be expected, the idea of a pod-based data center was off-putting to some of the data center technical crew, Labate said. "When the rubber meets the road, they have to be the ones to maintain it," he pointed out. "They have to work in it, put equipment in it."
IDRE sent a couple of people to the Austin factory to watch how the container was built. HP brought a pod to a local movie studio and members of IDRE took a piece of equipment there to see how it would fit. Eventually, the skeptics warmed up to the new approach. "They started to realize what it is," he said. "This isn't a building. It isn't a rehearsal studio. It isn't an office. It's a data center, period. That's all it is. It doesn't claim to be anything else."
So while most people were skeptical that this was actually a good decision, Labate noted, "in the end, it turned out to be probably the best decision we could have made."
About the Author
Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

'Narrate, Curate, Share': How Blogging Can Catalyze Learning

As I talk at colleges and universities across the country about the blogging initiatives I've led at the University of Mary Washington, Baylor University, and now at Virginia Tech, my audiences consistently ask about several issues. FERPA is one. Grading is another. But the fundamental questions have to do with the nature and value of the activity itself. What is blogging? Is it like an online journal? If so, how is a public journal of academic value? Should I give my students prompts? Will they think this is merely busy work? Should their blogs be about work done in specific classes, work done in several classes, work done outside of class, or all of the above?
These are all perfectly legitimate questions. And while I cannot always articulate my intuitions about the value of particular learning experiences or teaching strategies, I have come up with a conceptual framework that explains what I believe to be the core elements--and the essential worth--of a blogging initiative, either within a course or across an entire program. I've built the framework out of three imperatives: "Narrate, Curate, Share." I believe these three imperatives underlie some of the most important aspects of an educated citizen's contributions to the human record. And in my experience, blogging offers a uniquely powerful way of becoming a self-aware learner in the process of making those contributions.
"Narrate, Curate, Share" is the framework in place for the upcoming fall semester as the Virginia Tech Center for Innovation in Learning partners with Tech's new Honors Residential College to bring 21st-century innovation to the tradition of residential learning with a program-wide blogging initiative. Our goal is to enrich each student's individual learning, as well as to help the living-learning example of the Honors Residential College to influence and inspire the entire university. We wanted the rich individuality of each student's voice to be able to sound within a networked conversation that could scale across many contexts. "Narrate, Curate, Share" gave us the framework we needed to conceptualize and articulate these goals.
Here's how we've explained these three imperatives to the honors students themselves:
Narrate. Blogs are stories. Your posts tell the story of your learning. By telling that story, you're actually reinforcing your learning. Research shows that when people "think aloud" about what they're doing as they're doing it, they remember the information longer and attain mastery faster. As you blog, think of yourself as a storyteller, and don't overlook the details that make your story rich, exciting, and above all, your story. The story of your learning will include the work you're doing in the classroom, sure, but it will also include the informal discussions you have outside the classroom as you interact with your professors, your fellow students, and with all the members of the Virginia Tech community--and beyond.
Curate. To curate your stories is to go up yet another "meta" level, where you think about the larger story of the life's work you're building as a student at Virginia Tech. To be a good curator is to take pride in the elements of your blog and to think about the way your larger story comes across to readers. Just as a good museum curator arranges exhibits to draw the visitor in and heighten his or her experience, the good blog curator thinks about how to shape his or her blog and its contents to add value and interest to the reader's experience, and to the entire learning community. The result is a more comprehensive awareness of yourself as a learner and creator. You'll also be exploring the transformative possibilities of becoming a true "digital citizen."
Share. In Where Good Ideas Come From, Steven Johnson takes Pasteur's maxim that "chance favors the prepared mind" and revises it for the 21st century: "chance favors the connected mind." Sharing means finding and creating connections. It means creating a "serendipity field" that brings new opportunities for learning and creativity. Don't just wait for the world to come to you. Look for creative ways to get the word out about your blog, about the blogs in your Colloquium, or your other courses, or your residence hall. Network thyself! See "Amazing Tales Of Openness" for examples of the wonderful things that can result. You'll soon have your own amazing tales to contribute.
A Final Word. In his essay "How Blogging Changed Everything," Scott Rosenberg challenges us to think anew about the purposes of education: "It's a mistake to think of human creativity as a kind of limited natural resource, like an ore waiting for society to mine; it is more like a gene that will turn on given the right cues." The Honors Residential College's blogging initiative seeks to help you turn on that gene and lift your learning to a whole new level. So narrate, curate, and share. Participate in what Rosenberg calls "a new kind of public sphere, at once ephemeral and timeless, sharing the characteristics of conversation and deliberation."
Your readers await!
[Editor's note: For further reading, see "The Reverend Asked Me A Question"]
About the Author
W. Gardner Campbell is Director of Professional Development and Innovative Initiatives in the Division of Learning Technologies at Virginia Tech.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Rethinking the LMS

Rethinking the LMS

What's the future of the learning management system? What's its place in higher education environments of the 21st century? Will it even have a place in the coming years?
A panel of educators and vendors delved into those questions during a well attended session at the Campus Technology 2011 conference Wednesday. Of course, they came no closer to a final answer than the rest of the world, but their insights and arguments provided a rich, big-picture view of a question that a growing number of colleges and universities are asking.
"I'm inclined to say that the LMS has no future," said Gary Brown, director of the Center for Online Learning at Portland State University, "unless we understand that there are more valuable aspects of what's happening in instruction than what LMSes have supported today."
Brown was developing online collaboration learning spaces before there was such a thing as an LMS. He was lead developer of TLT Group's Flashlight Online, and he has built several online educational tools. He co-directs the AAEEBL ePortfolio organization and is a senior fellow with the Association of American Colleges and Universities working with the VALUE project.
Brian Whitmer was a bit more hopeful about the prospects for the LMS. In fact, he and fellow Brigham Young University grad student Devlin Daily founded an LMs company called Instructure in 2008 to develop and market their Canvas system.
"We felt that the learning management system had fallen into this rut of static content," Whitmer said. "We felt strongly that the human component had gotten lost. When we developed Canvas, we made sure that the communication between students and teachers would happen, but also that the student-to-student communication would happen on its own, whether or not the instructors were leveraging all of the features of the LMS."
The LMS won't disappear, he added, but it will probably evolve into more of a hub of resources, and that's something that universities are going to continue to want."
Phill Miller, vice president of product strategy for Moodlerooms, said that the LMS has "a great simplification" in its future. He said he expects a schools increasingly to demand solutions that allow them to do only what they do most often, but really well. "At least I hope that that's the future of the LMS because, if it's not, we're going to spend hours and hours and lots of resources trying to extend the LMS to be everything to everybody. And that's a problem."
Moodlerooms is the maker of joule, a learning management platform with open-source Moodle at its core.
Lucy Appert, director of educational technology for New York University, agreed with Miller. She said that the LMS has suffered from a tendency among users to want it to do too much with it.
"The LMS is a place in an ecosystem," she said. "People shouldn't try to leverage too much on one particular environment. I think the LMS has suffered from that. That's how you get a list the length of your arm, and it begins to institutionalize practices and pedagogies.... One of the things that faculty members have rebelled against is how the technology has forced people to think in particular ways."
"It's a legacy of where technology was at the time it was developed," she added. "But with Web 2.0, multiple points of access have opened up for students."
Appert co-chairs NYU's joint faculty and IT task force directing the NYU Sakai OAE project, and she leads the User Reference Group (URG) for the Sakai OAE Community Project. According to the project Web site, Sakai OAE is a new Sakai platform that "re-imagines technology-supported teaching learning and research, creating an open academic environment."
Mark Frydenberg, senior lecturer of computer information systems at Bentley University, said that if educators were honest, they'd have to admit that most use an LMS mainly "as a place to put stuff." He said that alternative solutions that allow students to create materials for classes could supplant the LMS.
"One of the things that concern me about using a traditional LMS in my classes is that the first thing students see on my Blackboard home page is 'Announcements,'" he said. "I'm the only person who can add an announcement. If my students want to share something with other members of the class, they can't do it there. They have to go to the discussion boards three pages deep where nobody is going to find it."
Frydenberg is a technology educator who introduced a new multidisciplinary course at Bentley designed to bring together students in business and liberal arts disciplines to explore the strategic and societal influences of Web 2.0 tech. He's also the author of Web 2.0 Concepts and Applications.
The panel discussion (entitled "Quo Vadis, LMS?") was in some respects a continuation of a conversation started in the July 2011 issue of Campus Technology magazine, noted the panel's moderator and the magazine's executive editor, Andrew Barbour. "It was so compelling that we decided to continue it here," he said.
About the Author
John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.

E-Textbooks: 4 Keys to Going All-Digital

E-Textbooks: 4 Keys to Going All-Digital

When Daytona State College, a 53-year-old former community college in Florida, now a state college offering a four year degree, set out to implement an all-electronic book program two years ago, its goal was to drive down the cost of textbooks by 80 percent. The school is well on its way to achieving that goal, and along the way it made some discoveries about what it takes to make a successful transition to e-texts.
"We got it going in the right direction," said Rand Spiwak, CEO of eText Consult and Daytona State's recently retired CFO, who led the school's e-text project. "But we had to adjust our expectations and assumptions considerably."
Spiwak partnered with John Ittelson, professor emeritus at California State University, Monterey Bay, and director of communication, collaboration, and outreach for the California Virtual Campus, to share their experiences implementing e-textbook programs with attendees at the annual Campus Technology 2011 conference in Boston last week. They discussed strategies for evaluating the benefits and cost savings of e-texts over paper textbooks, as well as some basic information attendees would need to pursue e-text implementations at their institutions.
Before starting his own consulting practice, Spiwak spearheaded the Daytona's e-text Project, which set out to replace traditional textbooks with digital alternatives, including e-textbooks and open content, for the entire school. He shared his experiences with conference attendees, and a list of essentials for any institution considering a transition to e-texts.
"We found at the end that our initial idea was very different from where we needed to be to make this thing work," Spiwak said. "We thought we'd have one device, deal with one publisher--every one of those early ideas were a mistake."
What do you need to implement a successful e-text program?
Start with a cross-platform e-reader software that will run on any device, Spiwak said.
"If the way our students read their e-text was based on where they bought the book, proprietary from a publisher or to the device, it would have been like asking them to manage five e-mail systems," he said. "It just wouldn't have worked. You want e-reader software that will run on any device, that will work with any publisher, both proprietary content and open content, and we found it best go with a third-party to provide that service. Agnostic of hardware. Very different from where we were two years ago."
Daytona also came to the conclusion that a successful e-text program would have to embrace technology integration.
"We wanted to make sure that, whatever happened with the tech, the student was left hanging with an e-book that he or she could no longer read," Spiwak said. "We wanted something that was open enough that, when changes in technology took place, the student could take advantage of it, or stick with what they had. We didn't want it to be like the slide rule users going to calculators, complete replacement all at once."
Daytona also abandoned its initial assumption that all of its 1,600 full-time and part-time faculty and 40,000 students would make the transition to e-text simultaneously Aug. 15, 2012. "It's doesn't work that way," he said. "Even though we had a faculty that was very interested in making this work, we figured out that you do it like you eat an elephant: one bite at a time."
Daytona rolled out its e-text program first with a small group of "pioneers," faculty who actually approached the administration to volunteer. The students in those classes knew in advance that they would 100 percent digital. That group of faculty then mentored other faculty members who wanted to make the transition. Between 10 percent and 15 percent of the Daytona State faculty came into the program per semester, strictly on a volunteer basis.
"We decided not to shove this down anyone's throat," Spiwak said. "When students saw their textbook costs drop, they demanded it, and faculty responded."
Daytona also found that, by guaranteeing publishers 100 percent sellthrough--that is, all students in a class would be required to pay for the text for that class upfront, something like paying a lab fee--the school had enough leverage to get the cost of the e-texts down by at least 60 percent, far less than rentals or even used texts.
"The publishers liked that idea," Spiwak said. "A lot."
"Many of our [community] college transfer students were spending more for textbooks--new, used, and rental; any combination--than they were spending on tuition," Spiwak concluded. "That's pathetic, and we knew we had to solve that problem.... By bringing the cost down of textbooks, we have really opened the door to many adults to higher education who might not have come at all. Our enrollment, with nearly the same head count, our FDT grew almost 20 percent. Because students were completing more classes, our retention rate in some developmental classes went from a miserable under 50 percent to a very positive 83 percent. Not many schools retain that many students from semester to semester, especial in college prep classes."
About the Author
John K. Waters is a freelance journalist and author based in Palo Alto, CA.
http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2011/08/03/E-Textbooks-4-Keys-to-Going-All-Digital.aspx?Page=2