A few months back I got an intriguing invitation. An organizer for the IT4BC conference, a gathering of IT staff from the province’s educational instituions, wrote to tell me that I had been nominated as a keynote speaker. An anonymous person suggested I would be an ideal choice to represent those who make life hellish for on-campus IT professionals. Really, I have pissed off so many IT people at UBC and beyond it could have been anyone.
Glutton for abuse that I am, I couldn’t resist. I submitted the following abstract for my opening talk:
Confessions of a Royal Pain in the Butt
Our keynote speaker has been working closely with UBC’s IT professionals for years, and has consistently vexed them with his unorthodox demands and unwillingness to specify use cases. Brian will attempt to defend his shockingly lax approach to planning as a grounded philosophy intended to foster user autonomy and innovation. He will also review some approaches to web strategy that are emerging outside of campus environments, such as open access to content and open APIs, and attempt to make a case why we need to learn from these efforts and apply them within our educational institutions.
I see that the organizers deleted my concluding sentence, which was: “Attendees are responsible for bringing their own projectiles.” I guess that means suitable throwables will be provided in the conference loot bag.
I intend to have some fun with this talk, but I also see this as a rare opportunity for useful dialogue, given the audience. As of now, I intend to cover some of the following themes or topics — but they have yet to cohere for me, so please excuse the mess:
* The rise of personal learning environments, and the contrast with the “course management system” approach.
* Rich online course environments that don’t use campus IT systems. The benefits of free third-party tools.
* The perils of pushing students to third-party tools, including conflicts with British Columbia’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA), which appears to make it illegal to require students to use American-based services (because that PATRIOT Act is whack).
* Why it’s pointless to plan in a traditional sense.
* The changing infrastructural environment (ie what happens when you can do massive web innovation on 6.95 a month).
* The importance of open content, open licensing, open formats (no matter what the topic is, you can bet I’ll work this stuff in for any talk I do).
* Mash-ups and open APIs on campus.
I am scheduled to give the talk Thursday morning, and the next couple days already look rather packed. So while I’m not quite panicked enough to send out one of my periodic cries for help, input certainly is welcome. And as the image above illustrates, I am hoping to employ the Blackall/Levine method of reworking CC licensed images, at least in part. So if there are themes, or better yet images, resources or examples you’d recommend, please (please! PLEASE!) feel free to pass them on.