NERCOMP 2010 Recap

The last couple of days I’ve been in Providence, Rhode Island attending the 2010 NERCOMP Conference. NERCOMP stands for “Northeast Regional Computing Platform,” and it’s essentially the Northeast regional affiliate of Educause. And Educause is, to quote their website, “a nonprofit association whose mission is to advance higher education by promoting the intelligent use of information technology.” I’ve been a fan of Educause for many years, and recently, of NERCOMP. I attended the NERCOMP Conference in 2008 and found it quite valuable. I also blogged the 2008 Conference rather extensively here on DrThompsen.com.

This year I decided to not blog in real time, as I did a couple of years ago. Instead, I tweeted real time, and took session notes in MacJournal to review and distill later. Here are three of the best ideas I gleaned from the conference…

Course trailers. I love this idea, something they started doing recently for undergraduate general education courses at Harvard. Essentially, these are two minute “movie trailer” plugs, highlighting what a class is about and why students might want to enroll. I wish all of the classes in our department had trailers. Then I could just point students to the trailer when they ask “what’s this class about?” Sure, we can put a syllabus online, but a little web video could really sell a class, and give students a better feel for what they’re getting into.

Facebook pages for historical figures. Another great idea: have students create, maintain and role play as important historical figures in your discipline. The session I attended described how this was done in an abnormal psychology course at Emerson College. Students created Facebook pages for Sigmund Freud, Anna Freud, Carl Jung, B.F. Skinner, Aaron Beck, Victor Frankl and other important historical figures in psychology. Students said they much preferred this kind of writing to a more traditional paper assignment. This would be a great activity for classes that cover a lot of history.

Tech Innovations TV show. Stony Brook produces a series of short web videos featuring faculty doing innovative stuff with technology. Post the videos on a web page and promote it to other faculty, as well as students, administrators and the community. The videos could be interviews done in a studio, but they could also be just simple videos recorded in a faculty office or classroom using a Flip camera.

Speaking of Flip cameras, I presented a “poster session” on how we’re using these little gems, along with Podcast Producer 2 and Flowplayer in support of our public speaking courses at West Chester University. If you would like to know, here’s a link to the screencast of my presentation. I enjoy the direct interaction enabled by poster sessions, but I wished I had time to visit some of the other poster sessions. I hear there were some good ones.

NERCOMP 2010 was a great conference. I got some good ideas, and hopefully shared a few. The “swag” on the exhibit floor was above average, and the food was good and plentiful. I definitely hope to attend another NERCOMP conference in the future.

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