Jim Groom is director of the Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies and adjunct professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia and a keynote speaker at Plone Symposium East 2012. The title of his keynote is: “Education Parkour: Tracking the Open Web for Teaching and Learning.” It will examine how a university’s ability to leverage the open web for developing an ever greater mechanism to innovate around research, teaching, and learning has never been simpler.

For more information and to register for Plone Symposium East 2012, go to: http://weblion.psu.edu/symposium.

What’s your background in using the open web for teaching and learning?

I’ve been teaching in higher ed for the last 15 years, and more focused in the space of ed tech for the last eight years. I think of myself more as vernacular academic then anything else, thinking that the impact of the web on our culture can really only be studied minute by minute without being fired or denied tenure by an instructional technologist. We are in the most important space in higher ed, in many ways, and if we don’t start understanding ourselves more as thinkers and less as servants than the whole enterprise could be in deep trouble.

Why is it important for universities to take advantage of the open web?

That question is equivalent to asking a delivery company back in 1910 or 1912 why they should take the invention of the automobile seriously, because it will change the face of the world we live in permanently and IRREVOCABLY!

Can you give a specific example of how the open web has enabled you to do something cool and effective (could be from your ds106 course)?

One thing that continues to amaze me is how the open web has allowed the a course I teach to bring more than 500 open, online participants into a course of 25 students to give feedback, model assignments, forge community, and generally demonstrate that the course can be a portal to a far richer, heterogeneous, and dynamic learning community then we could have heretofore imagined before the web.

What are some of the things you will talk about at your keynote?

I will talk about the fact that empowering students with their own domain and web hosting should represent the future of how we approach IT infrastructure in higher ed. I will talk about the role open source applications play in building new model for community in the virtual world that augment the learning communities already happening in the “real” world. I’ll also be talking about the open education movement, and how that parallels many of the values of the open-source movement, albeit with a number of subtle yet important differences. Lastly, I’ll be talking about the importance of experimentation and collaboration in higher ed at this moment, the future of the web is still to be determined, and given universities have been so instrumental in its birth, I want to believe they will remain equally important in its development.

You’ve been to State College before; what do you look forward to the most when you come here?

State College is the ultimate model of a learning community in that you’re basically an intellectual community on steroids—everything is bigger, everything is more intense, and everything is blue and white 🙂 More seriously, it’s a place that has been doing some of the most amazing work in instructional technologies for going on a decade, and there are few public universities that invest so much in so many good people—for me Penn State remains the model for putting the greatest value on people rather than technology—and that is a lesson so many universities and colleges have yet to learn, but it is also why Penn State is at the top of the food chain when it comes to ed tech—just to name one field they excel in.

Anything else you might like to add?

Where’s my Growler?

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