I’m coming near the end of my first week at TRU. As expected, it’s been overwhelming on a number of levels – lots of new names and faces to remember (not one of my strengths), an environment to learn and adapt to, and heaps of basic tasks to work through in the standard employment disorientation procedures. People have been extraordinarily kind, accommodating, welcoming and fun. There are lots of exciting possibilities that I will enjoy inflicting on blameless readers over the coming months. But first, I would appreciate some ideas from you. At this point, I am not so desperate to escalate this to a full-throated Abject Cry for Help™, but any input is welcome.
One of the responsibilities outlined in my job description is oversight of TRU’s Open Learning Innovations Lab, described as “practical, applied research oriented towards improved user experiences and improved use of technology in online courses”. A space set up to support user testing, course reviews, delivering online sessions and to research and test new technologies. I think some work has been done in this respect. But if there is software or tools that you would recommend we install in the existing lab (which has a fair bit of decent hardware in a lab-type setting) please pass them on.
In addition, I would like to propose some acquisitions that might make the Lab a more inviting, interesting and perhaps useful place to be. One idea I intend to propose addresses “delivering online sessions”, which is setting up a mini-studio for doing virtual presentations… nothing too fancy, but maybe a machine preloaded and configured with a few different presentation software packages, a camera better than one found on most laptops, a decent microphone… Maybe take it a bit further, and have a green screen and some kind of simple screen switcher interface so presenters can move back and forth from slide, video and presenter views… or have them all on the screen like when Scott Lo took ds106TV for a test drive (or was that Gerry Todd?). I think a stripped-down version of the set-up UMW DTLT uses for its wonderful livestreams could be useful for communication and collaboration.
To take the idea a little further out, I thought the Vancouver Hack Space was an inspiring place to visit, and makes me wonder if there are similar things we might adopt to attract visitors and help create an atmosphere of playful, maker-like activities and attitudes. I don’t know whether a 3-D Printer can be placed within the scope and budget of the lab, but I would sure like to have one around. (And of course this is just one more way that UMW DTLT is already there.)
The lab has a cool bunch of people at TRU that function as an advisory group, and I am looking forward to meeting with them tomorrow. It would be great to have some good ideas to throw around.
What would you put in an open learning innovation lab?