London Sends Christmas Greetings

London Sends Christmas Greetings

I’m gratified to have received this thoughtful Christmas card from Notre Dame’s London Program Staff. Truly honored to serve, Laura


Education Unbundled

Education Unbundled

Reposting from Michael Stanton,

An Entrepreneurial Weekend–Nov 9th


South Bend’s 2nd Startup Weekend

Startup Weekend is for you.
Have a dream? One you thought of long ago or one you thought of last week?
Have an idea? For South Bend or for the world stage?
Have a skill? Doesn’t relate to the web or business – no problem, bring it- it’ll be useful.
Startup Weekend is about community, fun, and learning. Filling a room with open-minded people who have the passion and drive to attend, who have a desire to help and engage our community, and who love what they do culminates in a safe environment for experimentation. Once the weekend is over many startup weekenders walk away with some great new friendships, shared experiences, and an extra pep in their step. Some will walk away with a new venture to work on; they may even have a team to work with. Either way, Startup Weekend is about connection, learning, and production – all of which you’ll only have a chance to experience if you attend.
Registration is only $25 for the entire weekend, Friday at 6pm through Sunday at 6pm – Come and go as you please. The event is free for spectators and children under 13. Snacks, drinks, and some meals will be provided.
The energetic mayor Pete will jumpstart the weekend Friday night, our facilitator – David is traveling to South Bend from Seattle for the event, and the President and COO of the first business at Ignition Park, Rich Carlton of Data Realty is one of our judges – ladies/gentleman, South Bend has a tech scene…get connected!

Register now, more information at

Creativity, Entrepreneurship, StartupWeekend, Garages and Warehouses

What percentage of recent startups began in a garage? How long do you work out of your garage before you can afford a regular office or manufacturing facility? If you had VC investors, should you accept their money and move out of the garage? Advantages of staying in your garage?


  • YouTube. Started in a garage.
  • Google. 1998. Started in a garage.
  • Apple. 1976. Started in a garage.
  • HP. 1939. Started in a garage.
  • Mattel. 1940’s. Started in a garage.
  • Amazon. 1994. Started in a garage.
  • MagLite. 1970’s.
  • Yankee Candle Company. 1990’s.
  • Harley Davidson. 1901.

See? It’s all about the garage. The metaphor for American ingenuity and innovation. So…

If you live in or near South Bend, Indiana you’re in for a treat the weekend of Nov. 9-11th.  Oh, and the event is being held, not exactly in a garage, but we think a warehouse comes close. For more information or to register:


[ does set designs, but I’ve seen real garages like this!]

Our SouthBend StartupWeekend “warehouse” is the former AJ Wright building in this short window of availability before new tenants move in to newly named: Interstate 80 Commerce Center, another innovative re-purposing!


Data, Research, Education and … Hunches

A national gas station chain opens a neighborhood store, adds a customer loyalty program, puts up a website to collect registration data, gets people to swipe the card at the pump whenever buying gas, while inside asks again for the card and/or zip code, pays out their incentives: coffee, frozen drinks, snack packs, cookies, crackers, 2-liter pops. A video camera records it all.

Another day, a researcher working on a project to determine the snacking habits of obese people versus non-obese people has just struck a gold mine if they can agree to responsibly treat this data in the aggregate only. (Didn’t the gas station promise not to share the data when they collected it? Maybe. Or maybe just not to sell it to companies looking for more consumers ). Canvassing begins, more data gathered, and correlation theories processed.

A couple months ago, in an entrepreneurial startup weekend, publically available data was called upon to inform or power a new phone app with predictive capabilities for determining the rise or fall of stock prices. That one’ll be hot. Publically available data …

Try this idea: Find existing data useful for research, and then create the questions which could be answered by its careful analysis.

Call it “Backward Research.” Start with a data set first. Ask questions later. Find data in existence, not just to be mined, but to be curated, aggregated, built-upon, re-defined, and continually expanded to provide answers to new questions, questions we weren’t capable of even dreaming until we’d gathered the data.

In the years ahead more and more data constructs will be created which are ‘living,’ persist over time, and therefore will be useful for ongoing research.

Education data is such data. Who owns that data? Who should own that data? We’re calling this burgeoning field learning analytics, but do we know what we’re really talking about?

K-12 students will be tested via computer in most of the United states starting 2014. Those results, mapped to the Common Core standards, will over time form a ginormous data repository. What rules will govern access to that repository? Should the state governments own it? Federal?

To what purposes could we put a repository of testing information for each child’s educational career ? I remember the Twitter backchannel asking those same questions during the Educause Midwest 2009 Keynote. Nancy Zimpher, then of University of Cincinnati, was telling us about a “virtual backpack” of student data which travels with the person from cradle through career. Nope, not science fiction.

While the future which the Tweeters in the room that day were cynically pronouncing was one of categorization and the creation of societal strata based on past performance such as late reading, or non-social kindergarten behaviors, which then solidified the students’ role in society forever, I would sound the alarm that now is the time to develop policy around such education data, policy which prescribes its appropriate and inappropriate use, policy which gives it an accountable owner, one beyond reproach, one with the best interests of the individual in mind. This is not the government, my friend. The government’s mission is to have the best interest of society in mind.

That data is here now. It will be aggregated. It will be researched. It should be researched. How and by whom are the questions…

There are dots to be connected. I would feel most comfortable if they were connected by researchers and educators at responsible higher ed institutions. Over at Music for Deckchairs, in the context of creating and curating educational content, Kate Bowles is making this connection, “The sudden partnership between venture-funded educational startups and traditional elite universities has thrown down a big challenge to less flexible models of higher education, especially outside the U.S. And the fact that we’ve typically bundled content, learning and accreditation under the broad heading “education” doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to keep them all contained in this way indefinitely.”

Michael Feldstein, commenting on Blackboard strategy via Ray Henderson, says, “…there are huge potential benefits to a true SaaS [Software as a Service]platform in terms of the value of the data that can be gathered. With analytics and adaptive learning being the huge buzzwords that they are, the future success of learning technology companies will largely depend on their ability to capture the data exhaust from students’ and teachers’ interactions on the platform and harness it to produce better learning outcomes.”

In all of this, who will speak for the student?

More Reading:

Researchers Digitize AIDS Quilt to Make it a Research Tool,” July 9, 2012.

Blackboard’s New Platform Strategy,” Annotated Link Here – Feldstein Quote. August 19, 2012.

The revolution might be televised,” July 22, 2012. Kate Bowles.

Adjuncts– What Those Disparities Are

If you expected my last post, “Adjuncts – Bless Their Hearts,” to be a whistle blowing article about my own institution, the University of Notre Dame, you were disappointed.

Sorry about that.

If there were a whistle to blow, I would’ve blown it. I asked Adjuncts how they’re treated. I turned up the corners of a rug or two. Notre Dame is working hard to eliminate what disparities may exist and to set appropriate expectations at hiring about how the position one is stepping into is positioned in the hiring college. But the disparities I spoke of as reported at other institutions, aren’t really in the hiring process, are they? This is what some of our institutions are doing to Adjuncts:

  • Creating and fostering an underclass of Instructors, including treatment in office space, in departmental meetings (invite and pay, or invite as truly optional, with minutes sent to those who couldn’t/didn’t make it), and in lack of respect for their academic accomplishments.
  • Underpaying for their time and effort (Do you pay for course preparation time?)
  • Not providing scaled benefits based on service hours, courses, or years’ affiliation. Being part-time for a long time should mean something.

Scaled benefits for part-time Faculty or Staff is something all of our institutions should consider, especially our tuition benefits. We should also look at employees who are in our “part-time” category, but for whatever reasons their workload is fulltime. Consider the Adjunct whose designation is part-time and yet teaches as many courses per semester as their “full-time” counterpart.

Adjuncts, face it, are  one of your institutions’ ambassadorships to the community. They are stakeholders too. Let’s recruit their loyalty and commitment just like we do alumni, community leaders, or any other stakeholder. Did you think of your benefits package as helping to accomplish these goals?      …Maybe you should.


Notre Dame’s Adjuncts:

“…fortunate to be able to draw on talented faculty from outside the University of Notre Dame.”

63 Notre Dame Adjuncts with LinkedIn Profiles

Adjuncts – Bless their hearts

Faith-based institutions.

We expect our part-time instructors to share our institution’s values, to represent us in work and ethic and lifestyle, to be careful in the leeway we give them to dissent, such that they represent their opinion as being their own and not reflecting that of our institution … yet, some faith-based institutions violate their own values in discriminatory compensation practices.

According to data collected at (which admittedly is light on input from those at faith-based institutions), work environment disparity exists on many levels: from access to printers, office space, departmental faculty events, and fitness centers, to compensation for course preparation time, and health and tuition benefits for self and family. In other words, the pay scale isn’t the only way part-time adjuncts’ standard of living is not commensurate with their academic knowledge and experience.

At John Brown University, a distinctively Christian liberal arts school, and #1 ranked in US News & World Reports’ 2012 Best Colleges in the southwest US, adjuncts are denied the same access to tuition benefits as their peers. One long standing adjunct, nominated by students this year for the teacher of the year award, has a daughter who has no chance of attending the very institution into which her mother daily pours her heart. Oh well, that’s the life of an adjunct. Tuition benefits for her full-time colleagues, but none for her. Bless her heart.

Whether you’re a faith-based institution, public or private one, think about “blessing” your adjuncts with esteem and status for starters. Branch out a little and make it a blessing in this world in terms that count both in this life and the next.

[My June “social justice’” column was about disparity in management, innovation and autonomy between Faculty and Staff, specifically IT Staff. ~LG]

Further Reading: