University of Minnesota

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LeapFrog Institutes preview

LeapFrog!As of January 1, I’ve taken on an additional role at the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota as head of the LeapFrog Institutes. I spent this afternoon piecing together a website for the new organization, which can be previewed here. As always, I invite your thoughts and comments on how the site can be improved!

The official “launch” of the site will occur by the end of this month…

LeapFrog co-seminar: Youth development in China and the United States

China-US LeapFrog co-seminar

Join students, scholars and guests from the University of Minnesota and our broader community to discuss LeapFrog futures for Chinese and U.S. American youth. Special emphasis will be placed on expanding learning opportunities across the full spectrum of education, work and life.

The co-seminar will meet on three Saturday mornings this spring at the University of Minnesota. Although the co-seminar is offered for credit, the meetings are open to the entire community. More details are available here. For further information, please contact us.

On being eleventh in the Big Ten…

MoneyLaw‘s Jim Chen (a former University of Minnesota law school professor and new dean at the University of Louisville) posted his take on Tom Sullivan’s defense of tenure related to the University of Minnesota’s quest to become one of the top three public research universities in the world (see also last week’s EF note). He wrote:

It is not inspiring but rather demoralizing for university leadership to speak of “top three” status when the real task at hand is simply trying to do better than eleventh in the Big Ten.

Bonzo at the Periodic Table adds:

Let’s hope that soon we can have a realistic conversation about “ambitious aspirations to be one of the top three public research universities in the world [sic].” We need to put this nonsense behind us and chart a course that will lead us to being in the top half of the Big Ten.

Ouch! …and probably spot on. It’s one thing to sound like a leapfrogger. But, it’s an entirely different thing to actually leapfrog.

Viva Leapfrog!

I’m still in Ecuador, using a public terminal with a slow connection. So, quickly…

Today’s Minnesota Daily posted a commentary by Thomas Sullivan, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost at the University of Minnesota, on universities as places and spaces for imagination. He writes:

I believe we must invite more of our students to directly participate in the imaginative process of problem-solving, including testing and evaluating potential solutions, as our University’s new student learning outcomes require. Such efforts take experience, passion, dedication, resources and uninterrupted periods of time and reflection. But this is the important imaginative space that only great universities can offer and sustain – spaces to optimize diverse, persistent, critical thought.

Although his message was focused on protecting tenure, it looks like he’s been reading about leapfrogging…!

Taking the co-seminar model to Quito

On Saturday, I’m off to Quito, Ecuador, the home of Guayasamin! I will present at the FLACSO 50th Anniversary Congress and at the Universidad San Francisco. The University of Minnesota-FLACSO Mexico co-seminar I taught with Arthur Harkins and Cristobal Cobo will be the primary focus of my talks. Since I will travel without my laptop (relying solely on the N800 and available wifi networks for Internet use), Dr. Jayson Richardson will guest blog next week.

Here is my presentation, in both Spanish and English:

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View the presentation full screen.

Planet 2.0 meets the USA

This has been a quiet blogging week due to FLACSO México‘s visit to the University of Minnesota. The visit has been very busy, and highly productive.

This morning, Education Futures contributor Dr. Cristóbal Cobo (read his blog) presented his ideas at a University of Minnesota’s Institute for New Media Studies and Digital Technology Center research breakfast on his new book, Planet Web 2.0: Collective Intelligence or Fast Food Media (English translation). The event was also webcast by the University’s Supercomputing Institute. (A link to the recorded video will be posted when it becomes available.)


A debate followed the presentation on the roles and values of online technologies. Most puzzling for academicians in the audience was how might reconcile the need for producing peer-reviewed, “academic” publications with freely available, open material. Whereas a journal article might solicit a handful of readers, an open document might bring in thousands more (for example, Planet 2.0, which was issued under a Creative Commons license, has already registered over 61,000 downloads in the first few weeks since its release). Our promotion and tenure process, however, recognizes only publications that appear in traditional print media. Why?

At the end of the event, Dr. Cobo was approached regarding an open sourced effort toward translating the book from Spanish to English by the Department of Spanish and Portuguese Studies. Planeta 2.0 approaches…!

Horizon Forum on October 3

flacso_logo.gifThe Preparation to Practice Group is pleased to announce that the first Horizon Forum meeting of this year will be held on October 3 from 8:30 – 11:00am in the historic Upson Room at the Walter Library on the University of Minnesota East Bank campus.

Two visiting speakers from the Faculty of Latin American Social Sciences in Mexico will discuss initiatives to bridge technologies between classrooms (co-seminars), and the use of electronic media in classrooms to completely replace traditional textbooks to transform pedagogies:

  • Giovanna Valenti, Director General, FLACSO México
    Internet-mediated co-seminars: Reflections on the Mexican experience
  • Cristóbal Cobo, Communications Director, FLACSO México
    Enciclomedia: Redesigning curricula with videos, text, virtual visits, sounds and images

Space for the event is limited! RSVP to me at

The Horizon Forum is an ongoing discussion group, focused on the role of innovation and the future of PreK-17 education. The Forum is sponsored by the Preparation to Practice Group in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

Validated parking and a light breakfast will be provided.

Planet Web 2.0

Cristóbal Cobo writes that his book, co-authored with Hugo Pardo, “Planeta Web 2.0, ¿Inteligencia colectiva o medios fast food?” (Planet Web 2.0: Collective intelligence or fast food?) is available for download under a Creative Commons license. In this volume, Cobo and Pardo reflect on whether the Web 2.0 trend is a creative phase, based on collective intelligence, or if the phenomena is simply another manifestation of fast food culture –or, if the trend is characteristic of a new evolutionary stage.

Cobo will discuss his book at an event sponsored by the Institute for New Media Studies at the University of Minnesota on October 3. I’ll post more details when they emerge…