The Book Wars in my head

So this week’s topic is e-books. I have to grudgingly admit I am a huge proponent of e-books from a student aspect.  Last semester I had a class with one book that I rented from Amazon for $18 for the entire semester and another book that was an open resource on the internet – no cost.  How many classes can you say that!  Not so many for me, but it did open my eyes to the possibilities.  This semester I went first to e-books where I could.  Not only is it way more cost efficient, it is also much better on the back.  I use a Kindle, so one Kindle is way easier to carry than so many books.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore books. I have a regulation at work that I still get in paper, even though it is available in electronic form.  There is just something about thumbing through a regulation looking for answers that you just can’t get electronically.  I still have a library card, where I do most of my pleasure reading, proven by the stack of books on my bedside table.  I use my Kindle for pleasure reading as well because most publishers don’t publish the little novellas that come out between books in a series.

But I digress, kind of. I think I am not the only book nerd in the world, and I would bet that most college educators might be book nerds as well.  And that is what will keep e-books out of the classroom for some time.  When your favorite thing to do is book shop at the beginning of every new semester (yes, I know – book nerd!), an e-book just isn’t as satisfying.  I know it’s cheaper and I know my back will thank me for it but an addiction doesn’t speak common sense.

I think e-books are the way it will be and they are a good thing.   But for now, I think the tradition still outweighs the practical, at least for the book nerds.

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Social Media and Old Colonels

So this week I need to comment about social media in the classroom. I am not currently teaching but I can relate this back to my office situation.  So I work in a relatively small office in a small organization, there are ten of us in my department, and we seem to be divided in age.  About half of us (and unfortunately, I am one of them) are over forty and the other half are not quite or just at thirty.  I think this gap just becomes more apparent when you start talking social media and what you can do with it. The National Guard only recently started using You Tube and Facebook to disseminate information and I think that that reluctance is a reflection of the older staff at the headquarters level.  It seems like they are entering the “electronic age” unwillingly.  Now I realize that the military can’t conduct business using social media due to security issues but it could be used as a marketing tool, an information center or maybe even recruiting could start with social media.  In contracting, we work with the civilian sector more because our actions need to be transparent, and our younger members are way more comfortable using the social media tools that are lately available.  I think that as we swap out the old colonels with younger colonels, what is now innovative will become old hat.  I don’t think this is all due to age, I think some of it can be blamed on an opposition to explore new options.  I personally like social media and have a Facebook account (which I use regularly).  My boss (who is younger than me!) does not, but I believe he is trying to actively maintain a curmudgeon persona.  But I do think that the person who is more open to change is more resilient and better able to handle anything thrown at them, including social media.

History of Acquisition Training

So this week we studied blended learning and because I am such a nerd, the historical aspect of this subject really caught my attention. The fact that correspondence courses started in 1728 spoke volumes to me.  I have told everyone I have come across all weekend.  Not a lot of people, but enough.  It may be on the news.

I think that most people know that I work for the Ohio Army National Guard and have for almost 30 years. So I remember my office before computers and computer based training.  My first acquisition class was a correspondence course.  I got a book to study and my boss got a test for me to take, which I did and barely passed.  The military people studied a lot through correspondence courses.  I would see these yellow staple-bound books and knew that they were doing military correspondence training.  (They weren’t supposed to be doing it their desk, but… maybe that’s why the books were bright yellow, you could not hide them!)

In the early nineties, Congress passed the Defense Acquisition Workforce Improvement Act (DAWIA) which put education and certification requirements on buyers and contracting people within DoD. DAWIA also created the Defense Acquisition University (DAU), where we could get the training and continuing education opportunities required.  Early attempts at continuing education consisted of VCR tapes that we would pop in during lunch to learn a new process or just refresh us on an old process.  DAU quickly moved to CD’s, and then DVD’s and now have a full library of online continuing education modules to choose from.  I guess my point is that they have evolved with the times.  If you compare the timeline for the infographic at http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2012/02/23/300-years-of-distance-learning/ with the progression of DAU, I think you will find a very parallel path.  Thanks!