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July 11, 2007

Connecting the Dots: Cleveland Downtown Revitalization ... Smart and Green

A confluence of developments ...

Item 1: Today's Cleveland Plain Dealer editorial draws attention to "The city of Cleveland plan to pick several buildings along Euclid Avenue between Public Square and Playhouse Square - once grand but now mostly shabby and abandoned - and invest millions of dollars to put them in shape for new businesses and residents.... The project is ingenious because Cleveland's investment will buttress a combination of other development and incentives already at work in that zone."

If this was 1985, such a plan might be both a necessary and sufficient condition for what might constitute a "big bet" on the renewal of a slice of downtown.

Item 2: President Bush was in Cleveland yesterday talking technology, health care, and of course foreign policy. He visited GrafTech,the Cleveland Clinic and took a lunch break at one of Cleveland's favorite cholesterol-free deli corn beef sandwiches at Slymans. As it turns out, the President's invitational town hall gathering was held at the Intercontinental hotel where, at the very same time, on the very same floor some 200 Cisco Academy leaders from 30 states were gathered to talk about curriculum and the need to train the next generation of technology workers. Of course, this involves everything that a modern city needs to have skilled labor for including cabling, fiber optical splicing, plant wiring, switches, routers, wireless, securing the information age and so forth.

Cisco has a world-class practice on connected real estate that helps join these core job skill development requirements to the building or retrofitting of state of the art office buildings, campuses, museums, libraries and planned communities. Cisco has a long and distinguished commitment to the City of Cleveland and the region. With Cisco's largest wireless RF engineering team in the world situated in Richfield Ohio, just down the road from Cleveland, we should encourage the City, the developers, and the community at large to be sure that focus on 5 major downtown buildings are not only sandblasted, painted, and refurbished with new furniture but that the buildings are fully equipped with IP-enabled systems and sensors that provide a world-class demonstration of what "smart buildings" of the 21st century can do for business attraction, collaboration and innovation, and support for an end-to-end smarter work force.

Item 3: Last dot. 160 exhibitors are in Cleveland at the National SOLAR 2007 conference at the Cleveland Convention Center. The Great Lakes Science Center and a host of other local, regional, and national co-conveners are showcasing alternative power and renewable energy to thousands of visitors, scientists, engineers, and commercial interests.

As the City and the developer community focus on the First Five strategy to 'bring' back the 'identity' of our downtown, what better way to re-invigorate that identity than the re-imagining and re-inventing of Cleveland's downtown core as creative (E. 4th), smart (tech corridor) and green.

Connecting the dots is about creating and supporting a vision for the future of Cleveland and the region that coherently integrates and provides a common platform for our risk takers and entrepreneurs, civic leaders and developers, and joins our proud tradition of engineering know how and technology savvy innovation, along with the priority of educating a 21st century workforce, all together, to work together to engage in the art of re-inventing Cleveland as a 21st century city for the world.

Lev Gonick July 11, 2007

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July 10, 2007

Learning Outcomes and Information Technology

Yet another study suggesting this time that podcasting in the academy produces no pedagogical or learning outcome advantage.

Paul McCloskey, from Campus Technology reports that "a bevy of recent studies on students' experience listening to recorded lectures via podcasts confirms what many lecturers already know: that the pedagogical value of podcasts depends almost entirely on student motivation and the learning "context" of the application."

In a comprehensive survey of the latest academic studies on the impact of podcasting on learning and teaching, Ashley Deal, a researcher in the Office of Technology for Education & the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University, found that "podcasting does not contain any inherent value. It is only valuable inasmuch as it helps the instructor and students reach their educational goals, by facilitating thoughtful, engaging learning activities that are designed to work in support of those goals."

In a new article published this month by Educause Review, Case Western Reserve University educational technologists, Dr. Wendy Shapiro, Dr. Mace Mentch, and Michael Kubit share new findings from assessment research conducted here at Case on the use of video-centric course delivery platform developed here at the University known as MediaVision Courseware. According to the authors, since its introduction in the Fall of '03, MediaVision courseware, which provides searchable video over well over 4000 hours of introductory courses at Case Western Reserve University, the platform offering is consistently viewed by students as a significant contributor to learning success. In addition to demonstrable evidence of student motivation, the support of streaming media to assist in different learning styles, and careful analysis of time on task, and summative learning outcomes have contributed to a 98% customer satisfaction with the experience of having their educational experience at Case Western Reserve University augmented by Courseware. The assessment data of faculty engagement is equally impressive with Courseware leading to better teaching evaluations, modifications in time management and approaches to teaching in the classroom, and again summative outcomes for standard, introductory level courses. The technology platform also auto-generates mp3 files. However, according to the authors, students have consistent preferred the video experience over the audio-only delivery platform.

So, what helps to explain the difference between the enhanced rich media experience of a well designed learning platform (MediaVision Courseware) and the audio-only podcast world. I would start by observing that the video-centric experience of Courseware has been designed by Instructional Designers and based on motivation, engagement and collaboration with both faculty and students. Another important element is the commitment to assessment and mid-course correcting of the technology and the design requirements for supportig student success.

While there is no inherent pedagogy associated with any technology (or modality of engagement learners), the digital natives of the current generation of students and their faculty colleagues can leverage technologies like MediaVision Courseware when all parties are focused on supporting student success.

Lev Gonick
July 9, 2007

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