Thursday September 27th marked the opening of this year’s Clifford Symposium, celebrating “Creativity and Collaboration.” With more than 30 events across multiple academic and artistic disciplines, the weekend offered everything from music and dance performances to panels on peacekeeping and entrepreneurship.
The annual occasion, which falls near the start of each academic year, is named for Nicholas R. Clifford, who taught history at the College from 1966 to 1993 and is a champion of critical inquiry. This year’s symposium was hosted by the Kevin P. Mahaney ’84 Center for the Arts in honor of its 20th anniversary.
Middmag caught the kick-off energy of the evening’s keynote speaker, Julie Burstein, and opening wire-walking event with the following video Dispatch:
Our first priority with the Segue from Segue project is to make sure there are technology solutions available to meet the needs of as many faculty, students and staff as possible. That said, we would like to also be able to support innovative uses of technology, particularly those innovations that may eventually be useful to the broader community.
To this end, the Curricular Technology team invited a number of faculty who are innovators to show us how they have been using technology and tell us what they need. Faculty who participated included Jeff Byers (Chemistry and Biochemistry), Hector Vila (CTLR), Enrique Garcia (Spanish), Hope Tucker (Film and Media Culture) and Roberto Veguez (Spanish). A number of academic liaisons also participated in this session. To learn more about what these faculty have been doing, see:
Google Apps doesn’t offer any tools or services that you can’t find anywhere else. As well, many of the Google Apps do not offer as many features as comparable applications from other vendors do. For example, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint offer many more features than their Google App equivalents. However, Google Apps for many people is “good enough” now to meet most of their needs. More importantly, Google Apps is continually evolving, adding new features and documents/spreadsheets and presentation made in Google Apps can be exported to many common formats such as .doc, .xls, .pdf… etc.
What really distinguishes Google Apps is real-time collaboration. That is to say, many people can work on the same document, spreadsheet, presentation or site at the same time. Google apps keeps track of all changes and allows collaborators to compare different versions and roll-back to earlier versions much like a wiki. Google apps lets you specify exactly who can access your documents/spreadsheets and presentations and what type of access they have (view or edit).
The implications of real-time collaboration on teaching, learning and research are profound. Faculty can give students feedback directly into the same documents that their students are composing in via inline comments. Students can collaborate on group projects and assignments. Faculty, staff and adminstrators can collaborate on research, grant proposals, initiatives and so on.
It isn’t that people couldn’t collaborate in the past, but that tools like Google Apps greatly reduces the barriers to collaboration, eliminating the need to exchange copies of documents, coordinate editing efforts, keep track of versions. Essentially, Google Apps enables what the Harvard Law School professor Yochai Benkler refers to as “commons-based peer production.”